Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lemony Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp

This is a wonderful and simple risotto recipe from Gourmet magazine.  I was thinking of making a shrimp and asparagus pasta, but then stumbled on this recipe, which looked so good and simple and creamy-delicious: I had to try it. 

Although making risotto the real way takes some patience and a willingness to be stuck in front of the stove stirring for about 30 minutes, it is actually incredibly simple and easy, and relatively fast.  I will be making this again!  Here is the recipe.

Lemony Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp
from Gourmet, May 2009
Serves 4 as a main course or 6 to 8 as a side dish

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth + 2 cups water (I used all broth)
3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, divided (I used 3 Tbs. and next time will use 2Tbs. as the full 4 seems unnecessary)
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used a savignon blanc)
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used a full pound of large shrimp)
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley


Bring broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  Add asparagus and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, about 4 minutes.  Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop cooking, then drain.  Keep broth at a bare simmer, covered.

Cook onion in 2 Tbs.  butter with 1/4 tsp salt in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, I minute.  Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed.

Stir in 1/2 cup broth mixture and briskly simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed.  Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring, and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy and tender but still al dente, about 18 minutes. 

Stir in shrimp and cook, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Then add asparagus, zest, remaining 2 Tbs. butter (if using), parmesan, parsley, and fresh ground pepper to taste. 

Thin risotto with remaining broth if necessary.  Enjoy!!

-- Anya

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Argentine Beef Empanadas

Yummy yummy yummy.  These are the second kind of empanadas that I made today (see the post for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas for the other recipe).  These are some tasty little morsels. 

They are classic Argentine beef empanadas, with green olives stuffed with pimento and yellow raisins in the filling, along with some cumin, honey, and hot sauce, making for a wonderful burst of sweet and spicy flavors.

 It's like a party in your mouth! WOW yes I did say party in your mouth... (i'm clearly a little off after rolling, filling, folding, crimping, OK?!).  Anyways...

The dough for these is a little intense on the calorie scale... it has 8 oz of cream cheese, 2 sticks of butter, and half a cup of heavy cream...

Yowzah!.. like I said... it is a bit much.  It makes for a very flaky delicious dough... and it rolls out beautifully...

However, you could use a lighter dough recipe and I may next time... (see dough for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas).

In any event, these were worth the time and effort.  One note is that this recipe makes WAY MORE than 26 to 28 as the recipe suggests.  I made 46 before I ran out of dough, and still had quite a bit of filling left over... So beware and consider scaling down the filling by 1/3 if you want. I froze the leftover filling and will make more of these when we run through the 46 that are already in the freezer!

Classic Argentine Beef Empanadas
From (and adapted from Mad Hungry via Serious Eats)

Makes about 45 appetizer size empanadas

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (use 85% lean, not the super-lean)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup pimento-filled green olives, sliced
1 cup golden raisins
2 tsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
several dashes of hot sauce, to taste
3 large eggs, separated

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, at room temperature (don’t use low fat)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
1 tsp. kosher salt
lime wedges, for serving

Prepare the filling: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion & bell pepper and sauté 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Raise heat to high and add beef. Cook, stirring constantly, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Use a spoon to scoop out some of the liquid; discard. Stir in cumin, olives, raisins, honey, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cook until the meat is golden brown, liquid has evaporated and flavors have blended, about 4 more minutes. Cool completely in the refrigerator. Stir in 3 egg whites when mixture is cool.

Prepare pastry: Process butter, cream cheese and cream in a food processor or electric mixer. Add flour and salt and mix just until combined and dough holds together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide into three pieces. Flatten into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. If the dough is chilled overnight, take it out for about 15 minutes before rolling out.
Dust a rolling pin with flour. Working with one dough disk at a time, place the disk on a clean, well-floured surface (I use a silpat mat). Roll gently from the center of the dough to the top and bottom edges and from side to side. Reflour the work surface and/or rolling pin, as needed. You want the dough to be thin but not transparent. 

Assembly: Use a 3 to 4 inch cookie cutter to cut out circles. Gather scraps together, re-roll and cut more circles until you’ve used up all the dough. Scoop some filling into the center of the dough circle (about 1 Tbsp.).  Wet the edge of the dough with water, using your finger to to rub. Fold the dough over to form a half-circle. Crimp edges with a fork, or fold over decoratively (using more water, as needed, to act as ‘glue.’) Repeat the process until all of the filling is used.

The empanadas can be frozen at this point, or placed onto a greased baking sheet. If baking right away, chill the filled empanadas for a few minutes. Prick the top of each empanada twice with a fork. Beat 2 egg yolks with 2 Tbsp. water and brush egg wash over each empanada. Bake 20 to 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven, or until golden brown.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm with lime wedges.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas

I am hosting my monthly ladies' night this week and decided the theme should be Spanish tapas...  so today I made 86 empanadas (yes, 86).  OK so I did not mean to make that many.  I am not a lunatic (only borderline people!).  Here's what happened.  I made two kinds: these vegetarian sweet potato and black bean ones, and Argentine Beef Empanadas recipe.  This particularly recipe said it made 10, so I one-and-a-halved the recipe, figuring 15 was a good number, and then realized this made 15 large empanadas... and I wanted smaller guys -- empanadillas really -- so, um, yeah, I ended up with 40 of these little guys.  

 It was a lot of work but they are really really yummy.  The good news is they freeze well!

These have sweet potato, roasted pablano, black beans, cilantro, green onion, cumin, and have a wonderful flavor.  

The dough that this recipe calls for is much lighter than the one I used for the beef empanada and was really good and fairly easy to work with.  It has canola oil, water, egg, cider vinegar, and flour, whereas the one I made for the beef empanadas is much heavier, with butter, cream cheese, and heavy cream.  I am not sure the high fat content is necessary, although it did make for a very flaky crust.  This is less flaky, but also less guilty!  


The only change I would make next time is just to roll out half the dough and cut out circles, rather than separting the dough into balls ahead of time, as the recipe suggests.  Separating first might be easier if you are making large empanadas, although I found it difficult to roll the dough out and end up with a shape that was circular... mine were all lopsided and funny looking.  So I ended up rolling out the dough and cutting out 3 inch circles (4 inch would be even easier to work with!)

OK here's how you make these delicious party empanadas.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas
adapted from Cooking Light, December 2010

(makes 10 large empanadas, or about 26-28 small empanadillas)



9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
1 large egg, lightly beaten


1 poblano chili
1 Tbs. cumin seeds, toasted in a skillet and ground  (I was lazy and just used 1 Tbs. ground cumin -- it worked fine)
1 cup mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. ancho chili powder (I used red chili powder)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For Assembly:

1 egg white, lightly beaten


For Dough: combine flour and salt in large bowl and whisk to blend.  Combine canola oil, water, vinegar and egg in a medium bowl.  Gradually add oil mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.  Knead lightly until smooth.  Shape dough into two balls, flatten into disks, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour, or overnight.

For Filling:  Roast poblano under a boiler, or over an open flame, turning until blackened all over.  Place in a paper bag; close tightly and let stand 15 minutes.  Peel chile and cut in half lengthwise.  Discard seeds and membranes.  Finely chop.   Put in a bowl with other filling ingredients and mash with a fork until combined.

Assembly:  Place one disk of dough on a floured surface and using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out from the center, turn a quarter turn and roll again, repeating until dough is thin, but not transparent.  Cut 3 inch circles (5 inches for large empanadas).  Place 1 tsp. filling (2-3 Tbs if making large empanadas) in the center of each circle.  Wet the edges of the circle with the lightly beaten egg white and fold dough over filling.  Press edges together to seal and use a fork or your fingers to decoratively crimp edges.  Cut two or three diagonal slits across the top of each empanada.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degree for about 16 minutes, until lightly browned.

Preparing ahead: To freeze, place empanadas in a single layer on a baking sheet in the freezer for about 1 hour.  Transfer to a sealable freezer bag and store up to 1 month.  To bake, place frozen empanadas directly on the baking sheet and into the preheated oven.  Add about 10 minutes to the baking time. 


Sweet potato and black bean chili... because winter will not end

Well since winter just will NOT GO AWAY, we have been having more chili... and fires... and cuddling up more in our blankets. 

poor betsi.  Look at her express another emotion...


(yawn) (winter is soooo boring!! can't we do something else?!).  They are too cute. 

Anyways, back to chili.  This vegetarian (and vegan) chili has sweet potatoes, black beans, chipotle chilies in adobo and is so delicious.  I love the sweetness of the sweet potato and honey against the heat of the chipotle chili.  It rocks my socks off. (not sure why I just said that...) but uh, yeah, it's pretty tasty.  And simple and fast too -- I have made it after work in time for dinner, no problemo.


1 Tbs. grapeseed oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo from a can, plus some of the sauce
2 Tbs chili powder
1 Tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 carrots
1 very large sweet potato, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 cans black beans
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
stock or water
maple syrup to taste
salt to taste


Heat grapeseed oil in large heavy pot (dutch oven is perfect) over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until transparent and soft, about 5 minutes.   Add garlic, saute 1 minute.  Add next 4 ingredients (chipotles, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon) and cook, stirring, until fragrant (1 or 2 minutes).  Add carrots, sweet potatoes and stir to combine, and then add balck beans, tomatoes, and stock or water to cover.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 20-25 minutes.  Add maple syrup and salt to taste.

Serve with your favorite toppings.  We had it with sour cream, jalepeno slices, green onion, and sliced avacado.   Yummy!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Irish Soda Bread: the story of how I won a competition and what I learned

So last weekend I participated in my first ever amateur baking competition at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany and... drumroll... I WON!

The competition had three categories (traditional white, traditional brown, and untraditional/family recipe) and 52 loaves were submitted.  I submitted loaves for all three (which required that I bake 6 loaves of bread) and I won the 1st place for prize for traditional white soda bread

Here I am receiving my prize:  Irish Soda Bread competition winners and here is an post about it from the local newspaper blog, table hopping.  (my claim to to fame!)

Here are the award winning loaves before they were packed up to go to the museum:

In preparing for this competition, I did a ton of research and read a ton of recipes and baked a LOT of Irish Soda Bread (15 loaves total!).  What follows is a description of what I learned, as well as some of the recipes and techniques I recommend trying.

What is Traditional Irish Soda Bread?
Although when most people think of Irish soda bread they think of the cakey bread that is studded with raisins and caraway seeds and is sold throughout America on St. Patrick's Day, real traditional Irish soda bread only contains these four ingredients: flour, baking soda (or bread soda), salt, and buttermilk (or sour milk). 

The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread has a lot of helpful and interesting information about traditional soda bread and its history.  It strongly admonishes anything with extra ingredients (raisins, sugar, eggs, butter) as NOT traditional soda bread.  If it has raisins, it is what is known as "spotted dog" or "railway cake."

The surprise for me is that, as good as the more cake-like soda bread recipes are, I really LIKE traditional soda bread.  It is dense and has a pure soda taste that is wonderful toasted with butter and/or jam and is a perfect compliment to a hearty soup, stew, or chili.  I think I will be making traditional Irish soda bread many more times in the future than the untraditional cake-like version.

Tips on Baking Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Although traditional Irish soda bread only contains the four basic ingredients listed above, and the competition rules were strict that no other ingredients can be added, there is still a lot of skill to making a good traditional soda bread.  The quality of the bread will depend on the quality of the ingredients and how similar they are to Irish ingredients, the measurements, and how the bread is cooked.

A note on flour:  For my award-winning soda bread, I used half unbleached all-purpose flour and half white pastry flour.  Pastry flour (or cake flour) is softer and is more similar to flour used in Ireland.  You can find pastry flour at whole foods stores or co-ops that have bulk items.  Odlums is a distributor of Irish flour and if you have access to that, that is probably even better.  Although my traditional wheat bread did not win, I think using part (or entirely) whole wheat pastry flour will result in a more traditional brown bread. 

Measurements:  Recipes vary in their proportions of flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk.  I used the measurements given on the website above by the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread (see recipes below).

Handling:  It is important not to over handle or knead the dough.  The dry ingredients should be lightly mixed together, and then add the buttermilk slowly,  mixing with your fingers or a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead just a couple times until the dough is cohesive.  Over-kneading the dough allows the gas to escape and will result in a tough bread.

Heat and cooking method:  In my experience, a hotter oven is better for traditional soda bread and, as suggested by the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread, baking the bread in a cake pan covered with another cake pan for the first part of cooking, and then removing the top to finish the baking process, works wonderfully.  I think this results in a moister bread.  It also more closely mimicks the "Bastible" pot that was traditionally used back in the day in Ireland.  I also tried using a dutch oven for the bread and this worked well too, except for some reason (i'm not sure why - something about the heat distribution) the cake pan method seemed to work a little better.

Preparing ahead: Soda bread, I'm afraid, is not one of those things you can prepare ahead.  Most soda bread dries out extremely fast and is not that great the next day.  Traditional soda bread seems to keep a little longer than the untraditional recipes, still tasting wonderful toasted for a couple days after baking.


Traditional White Irish Soda Bread:

4 cups white flour (2 cups all-purpose + 2 cups white pastry flour, if you have access to it)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
14 oz buttermilk or sour milk

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 425 F.   Lightly grease a 9 inch cake pan.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add buttermilk and mix with fingers or wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms.  Turn onto a floured surface and knead once or twice, just until cohesive.  Pat into a flat round and cut a 1/2 inch deep cross on the top with a sharp floured knife, going over the edges of the dough, to "let the fairies out."  Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes.  The dough will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom if it is done.  Cover with a tea towel (you can sprinkle some water on the towel to keep bread moist).  Eat immediately!

Traditional Brown Irish Soda Bread:

4 cups whole wheat flour (half whole wheat pastry flour, if you have access to it)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
14 oz buttermilk or sour milk

Instructions: Follow instructions for traditional white Irish soda bread (immediately above).

Untraditional Irish Soda Bread Recipes

Over the last several weeks, I also attempted several different recipes for untraditional Irish soda breads.  These recipes are as varied as you can imagine -- most have raisins or currants, some have caraway seeds, most have sugar (or honey), many have butter (as little as 2 Tbs and as much as 1 stick), some have an egg, some have 2 eggs, many have baking powder (some have cream of tartar), some have yogurt or sour cream, some even have orange or lemon zest or a bit of cardamom.  The variations are endless!  39 loaves of untraditional/"family recipe" breads were submitted at the competition last week and no two loaves looked alike.

So clearly I did not try all the variations.   Here are a few I tried and liked:

James Beard's Irish Soda Bread
(adapted by me as follows...)

James Beard's recipe is almost traditional, except for the addition of 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 tablespoon of sugar. 
I made a few changes, namely, adding raisins once (currants another time) and combining some yogurt with the buttermilk to make it thicker (which I read somewhere was more similar to buttermilk found in Ireland).  I also used pastry flour rather than regular flour, but regular flour would be fine here if you do not have pastry flour. 


3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup white pastry flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 T. sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk mixed with 1/2 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1 cup raisins (or currants)

Instructions:  Preheat oven to 425 F.  Grease a dutch oven or pie pan.  Soak raisins in hot water for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients.  Combine yogurt and buttermilk and add to flour mixture until sticky dough forms.  Knead gently on floured surface a few times until dough is cohesive.  Pat dough into a 9 inch round, cut a cross on top with a sharp floured knife, and place dough in pan and bake covered for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes.  Bread is done when dough sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

My Irish Soda Bread

After playing with a number of recipes, I sorta combined what I liked of them to come up with this version, which is what I submitted at the competition.

4 cups white pastry flour
4 T. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 T. cold unsalted butter, cut up into 1/2 inch pieces
9-12 oz buttermilk + 3-4 oz plain whole milk yogurt
1 cup of currants 

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 F.  Grease a baking sheet.  Soak currants in hot water for 10 minutes while you prepare other ingredients.  Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Using fingertips, pinch in the butter until a coarse crumbs form.  Drain currants and add to flour mixture.  Mix to evenly distrubte.  Whisk together buttermilk and yogurt and add slowly to dry ingredients, until a sticky dough forms (it should not be too sticky to handle).  Turn onto a floured surface and gently form into a flat round, approximately 9 inches in diameter.  Cut a cross in the top with a floured sharp kitchen knife.  Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes, until golden brown and a  toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Other recipes to try:  

This recipe from epicurious was good but a little too cake-like for my personal tastes.  I made it with part whole wheat flour and part white flour and decreased the sugar to 2/3 of a cup: 

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Caraway

I also intend to try this recipe but haven't yet, as it is the one from Cook's Illustrated and is also featured on smitten kitchen: Irish soda bread scones


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Norwegian Cardamom-Almond Tart

As my recipes on this blog suggest, I am a sucker for almond tarts.  Like it's kinda scary.  I think out of 4 tart recipes on here so far, 3 are almond tarts.  I just love almond paste/filling so much I could eat it with a spoon (did I just say that publicly??).  Oh well, this is an OK downside to have I think.  Anyways, given my love for almond tarts, when I saw this Norwegian Cardamom-Almond Tart recipe in Bon Appetit a few months back, I knew I had to try it.  I mean, fresh ground cardamom AND almond??  Ahem, yes please.  And it is so pretty with the crust cut outs on top.

This was my first chance to use these super sweet pie cutters I got for Christmas.   Awesome. 

 How pretty?

This recipe is also super cool in that you don't roll out the crust (which by the way has fresh ground cardamom in it too...amazing).  Instead you break the chilled dough into pieces in the tart pan and press it with your fingers to create a crust.  Then you use the bottom of a dry measuring cup to smooth the bottom and trim the edges.  This is genius, I think.  I like it love it dig it.  Check it out.

The filling has slivered almonds, powdered sugar, freshly ground cardamom, nutmeg, egg whites, vanilla, and egg yolk.  Super easy!  I took the recipe author's suggestion and freshly ground the cardamom.  To do this, you toast the whole pods for a few minutes in a dry skillet.  Then put them on a cutting board and crush them under the blade of a large knife.  Remove the shells and then take the small black hard seeds from inside and grind them in a spice grinder (I use a coffee grinder for this).  I think freshly grinding the seeds was worth it.  The cardamom flavor was incredible and permeated the entire tart.

Here's the recipe y'all!

Yarnell Family's Fyrstekake (Norwegian Cardamom-Almond Tart) 
 (pronounced FISH-dehk-kakah)

Bon Appetit December 2012

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. whole milk or heavy cream

Filling and Assembly
unsalted butter (for greasing pan)
2 cups slivered almonds
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk

Special Equipment: A 9" diameter fluted tart pan with removable bottom, decorative cookie cutters.


For Crust:

Whisk flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and sugar in medium bowl until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Beat in egg yolk and milk and then gradually add flour mixture.  Beat until just combined.  Pat dough into a ball; break off one-quarter of dough.  Form each piece into a ball and then flatten balls into disks.  Wrap separately in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Butter tart pan.  Break larger dough disc into small pieces and scatter over bottom of pan.  Using fingertips, press dough onto bottom and up sides of pan.  Use flat bottom of a measuring cup to smooth the surface and trim the edges.  Roll out smaller dough disk to about 1/8" thick.  Using decorative cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Cover and chill crust and cutouts for 1 hour.

Filling and Assembly:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pulse almonds, powdered sugar, cardamom, an nutmeg in a food processor until nuts are finely ground.  Transfer dry ingredients to a large bowl.  Using an electirc mixer, beat eg whites and vanilla in a medium bowl util medium peaks form.  Gently fold egg whites into dry ingredients. 

Whisk egg yolk and 2 tsp. water in a small bowl to blend.  Fill chilled crust with almond miture; smooth top.  Arrange cutouts on top and brush cutouts with egg wash.

Bake tart until crust and cutouts are golden brown and filling is set, about 30-35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. 

Tart can be made 2 days ahead.  Store airtight at room temperature.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes from Scratch

We had pancakes for dinner last Friday night.  I had buttermilk on hand and so I made them from scratch.  Added some blueberries and BLAM: dinner.  Um, this made more than the recipe said... dangerous stuff I tell you... we just kept taking more and more until this platter was almost empty and then lay on the couch, feeling full and syrupy and a little sick.  But yum.

LOVE. breakfast. for. dinner.

Here's the recipe (from Martha Stewart):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle
  • Fresh blueberries (optional)

  1. Heat griddle to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.
  2. Heat oven to 175 degrees. Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Using a pastry brush, brush remaining 1/2 teaspoon of butter or reserved bacon fat onto griddle. Wipe off excess.
  3. Using a 4-ounce ladle, about 1/2 cup, pour pancake batter, in pools 2 inches away from one other. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, about 2 1/2 minutes, flip over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.
  4. Repeat with remaining batter, keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve warm with real maple syrup.


Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach

Dishes like this make me like chicken again.  Not that I am a chicken hater or anything.  I used to like roast chicken and to prefer dark meat but in recent years I tend to find dark meat too fatty or too boring or messy or just don't want to deal with it.   I often grill or roast chicken breasts and I use chicken sometimes IN things.  But this dish made me remember something I had not had in a long time -- super ridiculously tender fall-off-the bone dark meat that you only get from braising and long cooking.  The spice combination just makes this dish awesome.  And I love spinach and chickpeas in pretty much everything.  Here's the recipe.

Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach
(from Bon Appetit January 2013)
Serves 6 


1 Tbs. vegetable oil
6 bone-in chicken legs (thigh and drumstick), skin removed (I used 5 and I accidentally left on the skin. Next time I would remove it, as it just got soggy and we pulled it off anyway.  but it did not detract from my love of the dish)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1Tbsp. grated peeled ginger
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground tumeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 15-oz. can chicpeas, rinsed
2 cups (or more) low-sodium chicken broth
5 oz. baby spinach (about 8 cups lightly packed)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves to garnish

Basmati rice or flatbread for serving.


Place a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  

Heat oil in large heavy pot over medium high heat.  Season chicken with salt and working in batches, cook chicken, reducing heat asneeded to prevent over-browning, until gorlden brown on all sides (8-10 minutes).  Transfer to a plate.

Add butter and oinions to drippings in pot, season with salt.  Cook, string often until onions are soft and golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. 

Stir in garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, tumeric, and cayenne.  Cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in chickpeas and 2 cups broth, then return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot.  Add more broth if needed to cover chicken about three-fourths of the way up.  Bring to a simmer.  Cover pot and transfer to oven.  Braise chicken until fork-tender (45-60 minutes). 

(NOTE: The chicken can be prepared up to this point 3 days ahead.  Let cool slightly, then chill, uncovered, until cold.  Cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.)

Using tongs and a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  Add spinach to pot, cover, and remove from heat.  Let stand until spinach is wilted, 5-7 minutes.

Stir yogurt into cooking liquid.  Season with salt.  Return chicken to pot.  Warm over low heat (do not boil or yogurt may curdle).

Transfer chicken to a large deep latter. Pour spnach and chickpea sacue over.  Sprinkle with cilantro.  Serve with Basmati rice or warm flatbread.  Enjoy!