Thursday, August 21, 2008

MFK Fisher

“Central heating, French rubber goods and cookbooks are three amazing proofs of man's ingenuity in transforming necessity into art, and, of these, cookbooks are perhaps most lastingly delightful.”

-M.F.K. Fisher

Fisher, who passed away in 1992, wrote more than 20 books and published two volumes of journals. Her books dealt with the prepartion, history and philosophy of food. Here's one of the recipes from her book, How to Cook a Wolf:


In her words: “This frittata is a good dish. It can be made with almost anything: string beans, peas, spinach, artichokes. Cheese can be sprinkled over it. [As an older and easily wiser frittata cook I almost always, these richer days, add a scant cup of good dry Parmesan cheese to the eggs when I mix them. Often I add rich cream, too. How easy it is to stray from austerity!] Different kinds of herbs like sweet basil, summer savory, on and on, can change its whole character. And with a glass of wine and honest-to-God bread it is a meal. At the end of it you know that Fate cannot harm you, for you have dined.

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion or 3 green onions
1 clove garlic
5 small zucchini
1 large fresh tomato (or 1 cup solid-packed canned tomatoes)
1 tsp herbs, including parsley, sweet marjoram, or thyme
9 eggs
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in skillet and cook minced onion and garlic slowly in it 10 minutes. Add zucchini cut into thin slices. Add peeled and cut-up tomato, seasoning, and herbs. Cover, and cook until vegetable is tender. Take from stove and cool.

Beat eggs lightly, season, and mix with cooled vegetables. Pour back into skillet, cover tightly and cook over a slow fire until the edges of the frittata pull away from the pan. If the middle puffs up, prick it with a long sharp knife […or better yet, pull away from sides once or twice with large spoon, to let the soft middle flow outward].

When it is solid, brown lightly under a slow broiler flame in a preheated oven, cut in slices like a pie, and serve at once.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How 'bout them 'maters?

This weekend I made salsa featured in a recent Bon Appetit. You may not need a magazine to tell you how to make salsa (Tomatoes! Onions! Duh!), but if you’re looking for a new mix of veggies and spices to pile on tortillas, look no further. This recipe has it all- the fresh bite of summer produce, the spicy zip of smoked paprika and the sweet tang of red wine vinegar. Although, I did cut out the olives (because we have an olive hater in the house).

There was a little bit left over from a night with friends, and as I made salmon (with olive oil, garlic and capers) the next day, I thought, wouldn’t this salsa taste great if I pureed it and used it to top the salmon?

Sometimes I’m full of great ideas.

It seems the Washington Post thinks so, too! Check out this week’s food section, which is full of recipes for “tomato mousse” and the many ways to use it. Tomato mousse…who knew? I thought I was just getting crafty with leftover salsa.
And I totally agree with Andreas Viestad:
“The better the tomato, the less it should be subjected to cooking.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Orange Flower Wha?

While recently browsing one of my favorite sites,, I came across Clotilde Dusoulier’s (of Chocolate and Zucchini fame) “pantry”, or list of items she loves and recommends on the site (and yes, I can only hope that one day asks me to create my own pantry. But isn’t that every girl’s dream?)

Clotidle picked some real winners – dried coconut tops my list – and a few items I may disagree with (but hey, it’s her pantry! And she’s the one with a cookbook!) but I was most intrigued by her choice of orange flower water. A few months ago I purchased a bottle for a ricotta pie recipe that turned out not-so-hot for other reasons I addressed here. And so, with a failed (or at least not-so-hot) pie attempt and little interest in other uses for orange flower water, the tiny blue bottle was pushed to the back of the cabinet.

It surfaced against this weekend as I searched for ingredients to add to my granola bar recipe (and no, I didn’t put any in the granola.)So I find it fortunate that I noticed her pick today. Clotidle writes that a few drops of orange-flower water go a long way. It can be used to enhance fruit (like apricots, figs, strawberries, pears, or bananas. She recommends adding a few drops to fruit salads, fruit pastries or crêpes. My favorite suggestion (and the one I’ll try out tonight) is adding half a teaspoon of orange-blossom water to salad dressings. I’m always looking for something to spice up my favorite green salad.

Here’s a few other uses I found online:
To make a Victorian martini, add several drops of orange flower water to gin and vermouth.
Add it to your iced tea
Try using it in a Greek recipe, such as Kritika Patouthia.
Add a tablespoon into a rice pudding recipe

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm so granola

Really I'm not. I mean I recycle and I walk to work, (and I'm even polite to the Greenpeace people that smile too much and bother people on corners all over the city) but I also shower way too much, blow out my hair way too much, use way too much nail polish and have WAY too many shoes. But sometimes it's fun to pretend!

What I am is in love with this granola recipe...check it out on

(I bet these cuties looove granola)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Zucchini Blossoms

I’ve got this great dad, see, and every once and a while my mom drags him down to DC for a visit. It’s not like he doesn’t like me, it’s more like he abhors the traffic.

And I get that – he was born and raised in Delaware (like me) and has chosen to stay there his whole life (unlike me) and rather enjoys his short commute and plethora or parking options whenever he goes (really, really unlike me).

So when he comes to town (and you, too, mom) I want it to be extra-special. Brunch at Crème, mussels at Bistro du Coin, wine on our roof deck. Chewy chocolate chip cookies that stay uncovered on the counter, eaten between every meal. And special items picked with care from our farmer’s market.

I grew up with a garden, (courtesy of my dad’s sweat and hard labor) that stretched along the side of our acre-long backyard. So unlike now, as I have to pay premium prices and wake early to get the best of the produce at the market, as I child I merely walked outback with a bucket and started picking. I hope one day I can share the passion of gardening with my own children, the feeling of accomplishment as the first cabbage heads pop up, the carrots start to sprout, the beans are strung neatly on vines, placed in pods like pearls. The satisfaction of biting into a juicy red tomato or a fried green one. But for now I’ll rely on my market for fresh vegetables. And I’ll plot and plan. (Or, plan my plots!)

This weekend’s family visit (and simultaneous visit to the farmer’s market) called for zucchini blossoms. Beautiful, yellow leaves surrounded by pale green pricklies. Now I know that last month’s issue of Bon Apetit taught us that stuffing these lovelies with cheese was a bit passé, but it’s also incredibly delicious. And I’m pretty sure my dad’s not that concerned with being cool, anyway.

Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Ricotta Cheese
(Inspiration borrowed from Mario Batali’s Fiori di Zucca Fritti, naturally)

12 zucchini flowers
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese (I prefer to make my own, or use Keswick Creamery’s)
1 egg
1 small or medium onion, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground sea salt
Dash of ground black pepper
1 large golden tomato
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Basil leaves (fresh if you have them, but dried works fine)

Open the zucchini flowers and remove the stamens. Be careful not to rip the flowers. I found fishing it out with one or two fingers worked best. The stamens snap pretty easily.

In a bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg, onion, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Using a small spoon or scraper, stuff each blossom with the filling. Try to ensure that the filling is far enough into the flower that it won’t spill out too much into the pan when cooking. You may want to arrange the tips of the petals over the filling on the top, creating a cap. This will help with spillage, too. Set aside.

Chop up the tomato into cubes. Combine the tomatoes, ½ cup of the olive oil, vinegar and basil leaves in a blender and blend until smooth (the mixture will appear creamy). Pour the mixture through a strainer set over a bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Place 3 or 4 flowers into the pan and cook (spread them out and only cook a few at a time…they’re delicate when flipping and need the room), turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining batches.

Arrange 3 or 4 blossoms in a shallow serving bowl, and drizzle with the tomato dressing to serve.

I served these with a baguette, which was perfect for soaking up extra tomato sauce.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Peachy Caramel Coffee Cake

Is it ever really too hot to turn on the oven? It’s an issue surrounded by much controversy, really. You’ll read articles that tell you to take it easy in the summer, grill out, eat raw fruits and vegetables and keep your oven cooking to a minimum.

I’ve never been one to follow the rules.

My oven is always on…and I’m not even that crazy about my particular oven. In fact, I’ll venture to say that when I get a new oven, I’ll be lethal. No beef will go unbraised. No cookie will go unbaked (you hear that, New York Times cookie recipe? I’m talking to YOU).

If you’re tough…like me…and don’t use the 90 degree heat as an excuse to stay out of the oven, (or if you live in a small condo with no yard, thus no grill…and yes, this blog entry is really about the fact that I’m extremely bitter that I do not have a grill) this one’s for you.

Peachy Caramel Coffee Cake...because even tough guys like me love peaches.
(modified from Upside Down Coffee Cake, from
1/2 cup butter
2 cups light brown sugar
3 1/2 cups fresh peaches, pitted and sliced thin
2/3 cup margarine
1 1/3 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Extra Topping (optional)
1/2 cup butter
2 cups light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. You’ll need a deep sided 10 inch pan, like this one for this cake, because it rises a lot…If your pan has a removable top like mine, you should place it on a cookie sheet to bake.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter. Bring to a boil, then pour into the deep sided pan. Place sliced peaches on top of the brown sugar and butter topping.
In a large bowl, cream together 2/3 cup margarine and the white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Pour batter over caramel and fruit in pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving platter and carefully remove pan. Don’t be afraid if some of the caramel and fruit juices leak out of the pan…that’s why you used that cookie sheet!

You may want to consider making a little extra caramel topping to drizzle over the cake when it’s done baking. I would make this while the cake is cooking…you don’t want to make it too early on in the process, because the caramel can get hard pretty quick. This is a dense, sweet summer cake, and if you want to take advantage of the beautiful peaches, ripening as we speak, try this recipe.