Thursday, June 23, 2011
This was Ryan’s first father’s day so I had grand expectations of rising early (umm, not that I have a choice) and whipping up a fantastic coffee cake that would be warm when he and Peter woke up. Xavier chose that morning to sleep in so instead we had coffee cake for dessert after my mom’s egg, cheese, bacon and buttered toast breakfast. Talk about indulgent.
I had always wondered what that delicious brown sugar crumble on top of good coffee cakes was made of? Butter. And why coffee cake was always so moist? Butter and sour cream. And how do you get really tart rhubarb to be edible? Sugar.
I followed this recipe almost exactly but I just mixed the cake all at once instead of following the directions of adding ingredients bit by bit. Like I said, Xavier had slept in. I also don’t think you need all that crumble on top so next time I would probably even half it. There is always the rest of the day to get your fill of butter.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Everybody has their favorite comfort food. The predictable beef stew over mashed potatoes, Reuben sandwiches and white rice with soy sauce (maybe less predictable!) are on my list. However, chicken parmesan is hands down my go to meal when I’m craving a hot, steaming plate of pure comfort. The problem with comfort food is that usually I’m craving it because I’m exhausted, tired, grumpy, or hung over. When I’m in that state, the last thing I want to do is cook.
Luckily chicken parmesan has been Ryan’s territory ever since he whipped it up one evening as I lay comatose on the couch after my 16th nursing session of the day. Xavier was just a few weeks old and I was having a hard time finding time to heat up food, let alone eat. I remember opening my eyes groggily and seeing crispy chicken covered in mozzarella and tomatoes over a heaping pile of pasta. You know when you are eating a meal and each bite feels like it’s literally putting life back into your system? There is no better meal for that task than chicken parmesan.
Make it one more time before summer gets too hot. There are a million ways to cook it but I find the simplest to be the following:
1) Drench chicken breasts in egg and then bread crumbs flavored with oregano, salt and pepper.
2) Sear in a cast iron skillet and then transfer to an oven with a chunky tomato sauce (made ahead or store bought) and mozzarella.
3) Serve with parmesan and pasta. I like bucatini the best.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Split pea soup is predictable. Onions, carrots and some sort of ham product usually dominate. While I still want to buy a ham hock one day as a right of passage, the traditional spin on the age-old favorite didn’t appeal to me last week. However, I was determined to use up the split peas hogging my precious cabinet space despite the muggy heat.
Heidi Swanson has a great twist on the usual comfort food in her new cookbook Super Natural Every Day. She calls it “Split Pea Soup with Brown Butter, Coconut & Chives” but I simplified it a bit to avoid venturing out to the grocery store for chives and to cut down on the butter a bit. It was fanstastic.
Combine 2 tablespoons butter, 1 chopped onion, 3 crushed garlic cloves and 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes in a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook until onions are soft. Add 5 ½ cups of broth and 1½ cups split peas. Cover and simmer until lentils are tender (30-50 minutes...keep checking). When the lentils are done, remove from heat and add ½ cup of coconut milk or a bit more depending on your preference and 1 tablespoon curry powder. Puree.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Babies don’t sleep late on weekends. If I had to wait for my friends to wake up for brunch before I ate on Saturday mornings, I would be one grumpy, hungry girl. To solve the ‘problem,’ Ryan and I have gotten into the habit of making breakfast first thing in the morning as an appetizer of sorts to a later brunch with friends. Usually it’s Trader Joes pancake batter that does the trick, but occasionally I feel guilty and try to make a healthier version (See earlier post on pumpkin pancakes.)
A few weeks ago I opted for whole-wheat oatmeal pancakes. It’s a bit of extra work but if you start at 6 a.m., you’ll have plenty of time!
Soak ¾ cup quick-cooking oats in ¾ cup buttermilk while you prepare everything else (about 10 minutes). Whisk together ¾ cup whole-wheat flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Stir in a lightly beaten egg, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, a little over ¾ cup buttermilk and the now soggy oat mixture. Cook like you would regular pancakes. Eat. And wait another 6 hours for brunch.