Thursday, March 29, 2012

maple oat scones

if i had a superhuman alter-ego, i think i'd be Maple Syrup Woman. or girl? maple girl, syrup woman?
i don't know, one of those.

maple syrup would be my superhuman fuel. i'd squirt maple syrup in bad people's eyeballs and chuck pancakes at their heads. hard, stale, not delicious pancakes.

i'd add extra maple syrup to nice people's waffles when they weren't looking.

i'd have access to only the strongest maple syrup, the kind that would make robbers stick to floors and walls.

my hair would be slicked back with maple syrup.

oh and my body would also move like spiderman.

if i win the lottery, this cRazy lottery that everyone in california is going nutty over, then i can spend more of my time developing the Maple Syrup Woman's body suit, and building her giant lair in canada.

for now, i'll just stick to admiring the sugar crusted tops of maple bottles,  and pouring it into scones.

these little dudes will warm up your chilly morning, in this slow transition into spring..

whole wheat pastry flour and oats keeps them light and nutty, maple syrup for sweetness, and butter for..butter.
they're a lovely happy medium between indulgent and wholesome.

and the perfect vehicle for that jar of jam you've been saving to open.

i stood at the counter and ate too many to disclose here.

..i mean, i'm obsessed with food and want my dream alter-ego to be maple syrup themed...
obviously i'm going to be immoderate sometimes.

Maple Oat Scones
adapted from 101 cookbooks

~can be made by hand on a work surface or in a bowl, or in a 
food processor. i'll include directions for both~

1/4 cup real, good quality maple syrup
7 tbsp cream, or half and half
2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
11 tbsp unsalted butter, cold, cut into chunks
1 egg, lightly beaten
raw sugar for sprinkling

preheat the oven to 400. line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
whisk together the maple syrup and cream into a small cup and set aside. combine the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt  in a bowl. 
if mixing by hand: dump flour mixture out onto a work surface or into a large bowl. cut in the butter using a pastry cutter, bench scraper, or fork, (i like using a bench scraper!) until the mixture resembles little pebbles in the flour. then add the cream and maple syrup mixture, mixing until the dough just comes together, don't overmix!! if the batter is too dry, add a touch more cream a bit at a time - you want it to just hold together. 

if using a food processor: put the flour mixture in the bowl of food processor fitted with blade. cut butter into the flour mixture, pulsing until it resembles little pebbles in the flour (about 20 quick pulses). now add maple syrup and cream mixture, and pulse until the dough just comes together, don't overdo it! add a bit more cream if the dough is too dry, until it just comes together. 

turn dough onto floured surface, knead once or twice to bring the dough together. to cut out scones, arrange the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle or circle. trim the edges and slice into nine squares or triangles. for round scones like you see here, scoop rounds of dough with an ice cream scoop or stamp out rounds with a biscuit cutter. 
arrange on baking sheet. brush them generously with the egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. 
bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden on the bottoms and tops. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

two green things: avocado toast + green juice

weekend getaways are GOOD. even if only for a day. it feels great to just drive away.

out on the open road, with green nature-y things all around you, and a costco muffin stashed in the glove compartment.

road trips are also code for eat all the pizza and pancakes and milkshakes as you possibly can. didn't you know?

by sunday night my stomach was pretty pissed off with me.

and it was fiending for green. not green sprinkles. green planty food.

i ran with the theme and came up with a major power lunch.
avocado toast. the most perfect simple delicious lunch. and juice that is GREEN.

this is what's in the juice: apples, cucumber, basil, and lime. it's frothy and fresh and surprisingly sweet.
don't fear the froth. it might look a little strange, but froth is a good thing.

kids will not believe you when you tell them it's really good. they'll make gross faces while you drink it.
ignore them, they're judgers by nature.

anyway, this lunch was good. i felt the nutrients and vitamins rushing back into my bod.
then, i made a coffee cake.

Apple, Cucumber, Basil, and Lime Juice
adapted from Goop

1 cup fresh basil
2 cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise
1 lime, skin and pith removed
2 apples, cut into wedges
1 inch knob ginger, peeled

starting with basil, juice everything into a glass. stir and drink. serves 2

Avocado Toast

1/2 avocado
sea salt
olive oil
rustic crusty bread

toast slice of bread. mash the avocado with a bit of lemon juice and sea salt. smear on the bread and top with another pinch of sea salt and drizzle of olive oil. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

parmesan soft pretzel twists

i come to you today lovingly, with a figure of speech lesson.

a simile: pretzels are like life.

they're misshapen, and look kinda weird at first. sometimes it seems like they might not come out right, like you're doing it wrong.
but in the end, they totally work out. they're oddball shape makes them even more beautiful.
and they taste phenomenal, especially dunked in mustard.

i wanna dunk my life in mustard sometimes. or perhaps my arm, i'd settle for an arm.

now a metaphor: pretzels are my life.

i would not exist, were it not for the pretzel. without its salty surface and tender chew, i would just die.
i need to eat them in order to live, breathe, and be content in my days.
they're just too good.

these pretzels you see before you, they are lovers, not fighters.

like most things, they are enhanced with cheese.
parmesan, though i imagine any gratable cheese would be just grand
GRAND, I tell you!

grand soft pretzels that fit right in my hand.

poetry is my thing today. i rhymed my order at the coffee shop. it was not on purpose, and i felt awkward about it after.

eat pretzel twists hot from the oven. maybe make something with cabbage, drink beer, and declare it German feast night!

maybe split one in half and make the sandwich of your dreams.

i wish i had enough leftover to make pretzel bread pudding with apples and cheddar and more mustard...but alas, i don't.

drats! rats! i love pretzels!

Parmesan Soft Pretzel Twists
adapted from Alton Brown, inspired by MB Post

1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, about 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
vegetable oil for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbsp water
coarse salt
grated parmesan, about 1/4 cup

combine the warm water, sugar, and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. add the flour and butter and using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. change to medium speed and knead dough until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 minutes. remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for approximately 50-55 minutes until the dough has doubled in size. 
preheat the oven to 450. line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with vegetable oil. set aside. 
bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8 quart pan. 
in the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 14 equal pieces. roll out each piece of dough into a rope, make a U-shape, and twist. 
place the pretzels in the boiling water, 2-3 at a time for 45 seconds to a minute, flipping over with a spatula halfway through. remove them from the water with a spatula and place on the sheet pan. repeat with the rest of the pretzels. brush the top of each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. top with a sprinkling of grated parmesan and bake until dark golden brown in color, about 12-14 minutes. 
eat warm, with mustard and beer. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

sesame honey roasted carrots

carrots are great for our bods. we've been told this for a long while now.
adults and doctors and wise people have always said things like:

did you know that beta carotene reduces the risk of getting cardiovascular disease and pumps vitamin A into your system?

when i typed that out i accidentally typed vitamin !

that should definitely become a vitamin when they run out of letters.
i'd absolutely take a massive vitamin ! supplement every day.

now, while i'd like to think that eating carrots will make my heart happy and let me put off getting contacts for another year, i'm not so sure they do much to enhance my brain cells.

this is the story of last night.

i got some carrots. they were beauty pageant winning carrots. i was excited about it.

i tossed them with flavors of sesame and honey. then i roasted them, slowly, til they caramelized at the edges and filled with tons of natural sweetness.

in a word, they were majorMajorDelicious.

they were eaten up like candy with dinner and then sir boyfriend and i were off to downtown la to see Of Montreal.

the car was parked on top of a random parking lot, and we were off to sway and head bob and act weird with all the other weird people.

three songs in and we realized neither of us had my car keys.
the rest of the night was spent worrying. acting mad. there was a good amount of profanity outbursts and feeling stupid.

my loving savior of a father had to drive out to hand us the spare set of keys at 11:30.

and then..they were in the car.

the keys were in the car. WHAT on earth is happening to my brain!?

thanks for nothing carrots.

Roasted Carrots with Sesame and Honey
inspired by Tender by Nigel Slater

2 lbs carrots
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp honey
sea salt
1-2 tsp sesame seeds

preheat the oven to 350. coat the carrots in the olive oil, sesame oil, and honey. lay on a baking sheet and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. bake for 20-30 minutes. increase the oven temperature to 425 and roast for 20-30 minutes more, until caramelized and tender. sprinkle with sesame seeds and let roast 5 minutes more. 
watch them disappear in minutes. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

chocolate peanut butter ball cookies

i've been kind of a neglecter, haven't i?

i've been making some moves in my life. nothing grand, but some baby steps.
i need baby steps and extra time to wrap my brain around semi-big decisions.

i've been anxious and excited and randomly jittery lately.
yesterday was everything i love about a sunday. i needed it, a normal, slightly lazy sunday with nothing on the agenda.

we woke up, it was early. we went back to bed.

we put on warm clothes and went out. to share breakfast, two spoons, sips of caffeine.

we walked in the wind and argued while smiling. we sat in the back row at the movies. i may have teared up a little and forgot momentarily about being anxious.

we cracked pistachios, we cleaned, watched basketball.
we put eyedrops in our eyes because it just feels so dang good.

we made spiced wine, and cooked dinner.
an arugula salad with avocado, brussels sprouts, and more pistachio nuts. and swordfish.

and then it was over. we nestled into the couch crevice and fell asleep.

the only complaint i had on march 18th was that i didn't have any of these cookies left.

they are chocolate peanut butter truffle ball cookies. it's very likely that they have already caught your eye.

dear joy the baker,

hey..hi. i've kind of had a girl crush on you for quite some since 2008. in my brain we're old pals and complete brainmates. i couldn't be more excited for you and yer bOOk(!!) as soon as i laid eyes on these balls, i just knew.
what i knew exactly, i don't know...but it was good.

i think you are the most wonderful. cue music (laaa thanksforthememoriesss laaaa mEOW!!) huh?swhat?sorry

love, your proud creepster friend who you've never met.

fudgy chocolate cookies. with a big boisterous ball of peanut butter. i threw on some glaze and some salt.
yes, you should make these sir.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball Cookies

for the peanut butter balls:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 tbsp peanut butter
few pinches of salt

for the cookies:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

to make peanut butter balls: in a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter, peanut butter, and salt. with clean hands, begin to work the mixture together. the butter and peanut butter should come together to create a stiff but pliable dough. roll dough between your palms to create 16 small walnut sized balls. place on a clean cutting board or cookie sheet, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and set aside. 
place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. line 2 baking sheets with parchment and set aside. 
to make cookies: in a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. set aside. 
in a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until thick and pale. set aside. 
place about 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. in a large heatproof bowl, combine butter and chips. place bowl over but not touching the simmering water. heat until chocolate and butter have melted together. remove bowl from heat. add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture and fold together. once entirely incorporated, stir in vanilla. fold in the flour mixture with a spatula until thoroughly incorporated. the mixture will be glossy and loose. 
spoon heaping tablespoonfuls of cookie batter onto the baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. bake for 10 minutes until crackled on top, but still fudgy in the center. remove from the oven and immediately press a peanut butter ball into the center of each cookie. the warmth will help meld the two together. allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 
cookies will last, well wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days. 

totally optional glaze: powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. + a sprinkle of sea salt. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

chocolate cherry skillet bread

i have a skillet for you.

it's not a skillet of eggs or pasta or bacon.

it's like a skillet of love.

because it's bread. fresh, soft, warm out of the oven bread.

perfumed with buttermilk and cherries and chocolate!
see, it is love.

this bread is too yeasty to be dessert.
but it's sweet and delicate enough that dunking it in soup would be a disgrace.

chunks of dark chocolate and dried cherries are folded into the sticky dough. as it rises in a heated oven, the warmth melts the chocolate and after a few punches and a knead or two, your beautiful dough has streaks of chocolate running through its bready veins.

this bread should be for breakfast, toasted with jam.
and the day after that, killer french toast becomes a priority.

on the flip side, this bread could very well be for dinner, with butter, maybe a chunk of cheese and perhaps a citrus cocktail.

invite a neighbor over. tell them not to get excited about eating salad or beef. 

if they sound bummed, tell them about the chocolate.

Chocolate Cherry Skillet Bread
adapted from Home Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw

1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup buttermilk, warmed (110F)
3 large eggs
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into chunks
1 cup dark chocolate chunks
1/2 cup chopped tart dried cherries
raw sugar, for sprinkling

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the buttermilk and let stand until foamy. about 10 minutes. add 2 of the eggs, the flour, and the salt and mix on low speed until combined. Add the butter and beat on medium-high speed until the butter is incorporated. fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed for about 5 minutes. the dough will be very sticky. add the chocolate chunks and cherries and knead just long enough to incorporate them into the dough. scrape the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles, about 1 1/2 hours. i let the dough rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 and then turned off. 
line two 10 inch cast iron skillets or baking pan of your choice with parchment. dump dough onto a lightly floured work surface and punch down. divide the dough in half and form into 2 rounds. while you lightly handle the dough, the slightly melted chocolate will form streaks in the dough. place each mass of dough into the pans, cover with kitchen towels and set aside to rise until puffed, about 1 hour. 
position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350. in a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with a splash of water. brush the surface of each dough gently with the egg wash. sprinkle the tops with a little raw sugar and bake until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. let cool slightly and serve. 
these breads are best served the day they are baked and best eaten warm. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

arugula pesto & fontina crostini + pickled shallots

i'm still learning about myself. i'm 23, so that's normal right?
we're always learning new small things about our weirdselves.

i'm making more of an effort to channel my astrological self and learn to balance things out, like ratios in baking, and life.

i've learned that i can function fine with a messy closet, but that i hope i'll stop being messy eventually.

i've learned that i'll just never be a glass-of-milk-drinking gal. glass of fresh almond milk, Yes.
cow milk, nay.
no, not even with cookies. i'll take those with ice cream, thank you.

i don't know myself well enough just yet to know what i would do if i was sitting next to carrot top on a bus. i have no clue what i'd do.

would i be quiet, look out the window, and keep it cool? would i laugh to myself and text people about it? would i try to punch his bulging shoulder? would i strike up a conversation and then say something weird, on purpose or unintentionally?
someday, i hope to have the answer.

one thing that i have been aware of for some time now is my behavior in office supply stores.

my brain creates an Instant Need(IN) for all kinds of things i spot as i casually browse the aisles, moving my way slowly to the aisle with the thing i needed in the first place.

this behavior also holds true for places like target, art stores, and whole foods.

so i should have known when i walked into office depot today to get new sharpies. i should have known i'd be walking out with graph paper post-its, mentos, and a rogue neon folder.

it's okay, odds and ends like these are totally life's simple pleasures.

other obvious simple pleasures include bread and cheese and being satisfied with yourself for using up leftovers in a delicious and efficient way.

efficiency is important, i've learned.
and so is the whole delicious thing, otherwise we wouldn't be satisfied...we'd just be pissed and eat cereal for dinner.

sometimes figuring out what to do with leftovers is fun. and sometimes it is a pain.
more often than not, a baguette can solve this problem.

refrigerator odds and ends are always lurking. a little leftover pesto, random fruits and vegetables here and there. precious wedges of cheese.
we need to put them on bread quick before they go bad!

this is what we have here. toasted baguette smeared with arugula pesto (from these beautious potatoes!), fontina, and some sweet pickled shallots.

they turned from snack to dinner quickly. i love them.

Arugula Pesto, Fontina, and Pickled Shallot Crostini
inspired by this sandwich

some baguette, cut into thin slices
arugula pesto
fontina, sliced
pickled shallots (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350. arrange baguette slices on baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. bake for a few minutes until lightly toasted. when cool enough to handle, slather each crostini with arugula pesto and then a slice of fontina. bake until the cheese gets melty. top with some of the pickled shallots and EAT. 

Pickled Shallots
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large shallot, thinly sliced

Bring the cider, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium flame. simmer for a minute, until the sugar has dissolved. then pour hot liquid over shallots in a small bowl or jar so that they are fully submerged. allow to sit for 20 minutes, then place in an airtight container until ready for use. this can be done up to a week before. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

twice baked pesto potatoes

dear teeth,
i know i've been eating a lot of peanut brittle. i'm sorry, that can't feel good for you.

dear otis redding,
you make my mornings, days, nights, and hours stuck in my car more enjoyable.

dear wine,

dear empanadas,
you're enticing. i'm really into you lately. you have so many possibilities in life.

dear really hot weather today,
i don't want to be a complainer, you were cheery and beautiful...but you made my fingers swell up and then my rings were borderline cutting off finger circulation. uncomfortable.

dear pesto,
you're pretty. and you make everything better. like sundays and sandwiches and potatoes.

dear twice baked pesto potatoes,

this might turn into a love letter. i'm a little smitten.
bright arugula pesto, parmesan, creamy potatoes, and crisped edges! you are the height of dinner perfection.

i might add some caramelized onions when i make you again very soon. i think this is a good call by me.

love, julia

Twice Baked Pesto Potatoes
makes 6 servings, or less if i'm there

3 russet potatoes
2/3 cup arugula pesto, or other pesto
2/3 cup creme fraiche
1/3 cup parmesan, grated, plus more for sprinkling
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp chives, chopped
salt and pepper

preheat oven to 350. wash the potatoes well. with a sharp knife score around the diameter of the potato, just piercing the skin. this makes it easier to cut in equal halves. bake the potatoes for about an hour, until cooked all the way through. remove from oven, and let sit until cool enough to handle.  cut each in half. 
scoop out the potato from the skins and put into a medium bowl. fold in the other ingredients and season with salt and pepper. spoon back into the potato skins. arrange on baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with parmesan. bake for 15 minutes longer until they are golden and melty. 

Arugula Pesto

3 cups packed fresh arugula
1 cup packed fresh basil
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4-1 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

place pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and chop until a coarse mixture. add arugula, basil, salt and pepper. with the blade running, stream in olive oil. add enough until desired consistency. taste and adjust seasoning to your liking,