Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Roast Cauli

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 head of cauliflower, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Heat your oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Combine the cauliflower, garlic, onion, olive oil, and kosher salt on the sheet pan and use your hands to make sure the vegetables are coated with oil.  Roast for 45 minutes or until the cauliflower and onion are golden brown and starts to char on the edges.  Sprinkle the parmesan over the cauliflower and serve immediately.

{printable recipe}

Apple Upside Down Cake

Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce

I have a love/hate relationship with CSA’s.  I love the premise…buying local fruits and vegetables to support the farms and growers in the area.   Or, as one of the more popular local CSA’s says:

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a mutually beneficial relationship between farmers and the community. Participants provide funding for the farmer in advance of the growing season in exchange for produce when it’s ready. Items vary according to the season. They could be beets, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, a watermelon — whatever is ripe for picking.

Sounds like a win-win, right?  As much I want to say the answer is yes, I can’t.

Because a traditional CSA obligates you to participate every week for the length of the season. Considering that I don’t know what life is going to throw my way from week to week to week, how in the world does it makes sense for me to commit to 24 weeks of anything, let alone produce buying?  Not to mention the fact that despite my best intentions, sometimes the produce I bring home doesn’t get used up in a week.  It often lingers and takes up the limited amount of storage space in the crisper and on the counter.  If I manage to line up a weekend get away, I can skip my pickup but I’ve still paid for that week.  So in the larger picture the produce just got more expensive on a per item basis.

Selection flexibility varies by grower.  Some prepackage the shares which means that you get what you get.  Other growers allow you to pick your items week to week from whatever they have available.  There is no set guideline so it is up to each CSA to decide how much flexibility you get in selecting your items.

Did I mention that you pay up front for your spot?  Prices vary but a full share (typically 6-8 selections per week) will run between $500 and $600.  Averaged out, it’s about $20 to $25 per week which certainly is a great value.  But I would be hard pressed to come up with that kind of cash in a single transaction.  Sure you can sign up for a half share for a slightly lower cost or split a share with someone.  And some CSA’s even allow you to pay the cost in three or four payments.  Personally, cost has been probably the biggest factor preventing me from really jumping on the CSA wagon.

My last issue with CSA’s is that the pick up isn’t convenient for me.  Could I get myself to the farmer’s market at 8am on a Saturday?  I suppose.  But I’m not inclined to.  Could I arrange to get to a pickup location on a weekday?  That’s even less likely given that I’ve usually got a small person in tow and at the end of the work day, neither of us wants to sit in rush hour traffic to pick up some veg…we’d rather go home and veg.

These are the reasons that I have poo-pooed CSA’s.

But then I stumbled across a CSA, on Facebook of all places, that seemed like it had been created just for me.  There’s no long term commitment.  I get to decide from week to week if I want to purchase anything.  That alone makes me giddy.

No long term commitment means that I pay as I go.  So I don’t have to come up with a chunk of cash to “secure” my share at the beginning of the growing season.  That makes my checkbook happy.

There are multiple share sizes…fruit share, vegetable share, half share, full share, double share, dairy share, egg share.  The choices are almost dizzying.  So I’m able to select the option that is right for me.  As if that wasn’t enough flexibility, I can request a substitution here and there.  If they can accommodate the request, they do!  In my last pickup, I was able to sub out two butternut squash for the week’s kale and watermelon…I totally got the better end of that.  And if I want to add some a la carte items, I can do that too.  I’ve come home with local butter, bacon, and berries thanks to a bit of impulse buying at pick up.

As if that wasn’t enough to arouse my interest, I get a three day pickup window.  All I have to do is say which day and be there between Noon and 7pm.  Seriously, even I can fit in a ride down the highway at some point on a Saturday or Sunday….sometimes even a Monday if the stars align.  That makes my overprogrammed schedule happy.

My discovery of this Wendi-friendly CSA is how I came to be in possession of a crate of local Honey Crisp apples.  On a weekday afternoon.  At home alone.  When The Universe gives me this kind of gift, you better believe I take full advantage of it.

So I pulled out a recipe for Apple Cake with Caramel Sauce and got peeling, chopping, and baking.  I may have taken a few liberties with the recipe and had a complete fail on my first attempt to get the sugar to cook into caramel, but I reveled in the luxury of having the freedom to get my hands, and my pans, dirty, and in finding a CSA that works on my terms.

Apple Upside Down Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2013

BAH Note:  Bon Appetit gave this a fancy French name but when you strip away all the fancypants Francais, it’s an apple upside down cake.  I think the cake shines brightly enough on its own that I’m saying the caramel sauce is optional.  If you’d like to exercise that option, click on the link to Bon Appetit above and you can access the caramel sauce recipe.

  • 10 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 pounds tart apples (Pink Lady, Honey Crisp, Braeburn), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/2″ thick
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9″ round cake pan with parchment.  Butter and flour the pan and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add apples and 2 tablespoons sugar and cook until the apples become golden brown, approximately 10 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Allow the apples to cool slightly while you prepare the cake batter.

Whisk together the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Spread the apples into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Pour the batter over the apples and bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, approximately 35 to 45 minutes.  Transfer the cake to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  Flip the cake out of the pan onto the rack, remove the parchment, and allow the cake to cool completely.

{printable recipe}

Parmesan Chicken Breasts

Parmesan Chicken Breasts

Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5 to 7 ounces each)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (use the good stuff here)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (a herb infused olive oil is lovely for this)

Heat oven to 450 degrees and line a half sheet pan with foil.  Place chicken breasts on the prepared pan.  In a medium bowl, combine the parmesan, panko, salt, and olive oil. Pat the panko topping onto the chicken and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the topping has browned.

Braised Onion Tart

Do not be fooled by my crappy photo.  There’s a lovely picture of Braised Onion Tart in February’s Bon Appetit.  If you want the glamour shot, look there.

Note to self: Check the ingredient label the next time you think of buying store brand puff pastry.  It wasn’t until I took my box of Giant brand puff pastry out of the freezer that I noticed it was made with margarine.  Who the hell uses margarine in puff pastry?  I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t happy with the flavor or the texture of the pastry.  It also didn’t brown well.

But I am confident that those shortcomings were the result of my poor, generic puff pastry choice and not of the onion tart itself.  The 59 cents, or whatever it was, that I “saved” by choosing the store brand was no savings whatsoever.

So what’s the take away here?

  1. Fancy cameras do not ensure you won’t have a crappy photo.
  2. Bargain puff pastry is no bargain.
  3. Splurge on the good stuff and then make a braised onion tart.

Braised Onion Tart

Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2011

BAH Note: There’s a whole component in the BA recipe for roasting onions to use for the tart.  While that’s great, it also adds nearly 90 minutes to the process.  I elected to use some of the Braised Onions that I had stashed away in my freezer.  I thawed them in the fridge, then while my puff pastry was thawing on the counter I heated the thawed onions in a skillet until most of the liquid had evaporated.

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 cup Braised Onions
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and sliced thin
  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry on a sheet of parchment to a rectangle approximately 14×10. Fold a 1/2 inch edge in towards the center on all sides to form a 13×9-inch rectangle. Transfer the pastry (on the parchment) to large rimmed baking sheet. Press firmly on the  pastry edges with fork to form a rim.

In a small bowl, mix the crème fraîche, salt, and pepper. Using the back of a spoon, or an offset spatula, spread the crème fraîche mixture over the crust to the folded edges. Arrange the apple slices on top of the crème fraîche and then top with the onions.

Bake until the crust is light golden brown and the crème fraîche topping is bubbling, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and serve.

{printable recipe}

Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I’m calling this Coconut Cake a happy accident.  Although, in the moment there was very little I was happy about.  I started out to make a batch of Ina’s Coconut Cupcakes for a coworker’s birthday.  And I failed spectacularly.  Instead of the batter rising nicely to form perfect cupcake tops, it spread all over the top of the ungreased muffin tin.  The result of which was two dozen decapitated cupcakes.

It was not a pretty picture.

But it was a pretty funny picture and when I posted it on Twitter I got some great comments.  @breadandputter asked “who came along and chewed off all the tops?”  And @creativculinary said “Oh no…not Ina. Not coconut. Not cupcakes?”   She also suggested that I use a “high altitude” explanation to account for the carnage.  If my house even sat on top of a hill I’d run with that idea.  Sadly, the fault was squarely on me.

And I still had nothing to take to work for the birthday celebration.  Despite the fact that I was pretty steamed about the three sticks of butter that got sacrificed in the name of cupcake mutilation, I laid another two sticks out to soften while I washed the bowls and beaters and grody muffin tin with the caked on remnants of my failure.  By the time Coconut Cake was mixed, baked, and cooled I may have had a little bit of an attitude.

But there was still frosting to make.  In spite of my crankiness towards the cake, the frosting and I were on great terms.  It whipped up in no time and spread beautifully onto the layers.  Once the final bit of cream cheese goodness had been applied, I mentally moved on from Coconut Cake.  I even put the recipe in the recycling bin without transcribing it for the blog.  I was ambivalent about its very existence after a day that involved 6 sticks of butter, 10 eggs, and 5 cups of sugar.

At work the next day, we cut into Coconut Cake.  And I came home and dug that recipe out of the recycling.

The cake was moist without being wet or soggy.  And the coconut in the batter gave it an unexpected texture but didn’t overwhelm the cake with a coconutty flavor.  As a vehicle to move frosting into my mouth, it was excellent.  Once everything came up to room temperature after spending the night in the refrigerator, the frosting was smooth and creamy; not overly buttery and not overly cream cheesey.  There was the added bonus of apricot jam mixed into the frosting between the layers.  It worked perfectly with the rest of the flavors.

So yes, Coconut Cake was a happy accident.  Coworkers were happy.  I was happy.  The only person not happy in this whole thing was The Mistah.  He didn’t get to sample the cake.  But don’t feel sorry for him.  He’s got two dozen mangled coconut cupcake bottoms to tide him over until I pull the next treat out of the oven.

PS – Don’t be fooled by that less than sexy picture above.  That’s what happened when I didn’t get a shot of the cake at home and had to use the office’s aged digital camera to document its existence.

Coconut Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2011

BAH Note: Make sure you use a container that will hold at least two cups when you mix the baking soda into the buttermilk.  The buttermilk will react with the baking soda and the mixture will double in volume.

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar or 1 cup sugar and 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • 2 sticks butter at room temperature
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (vanilla salt if you have some)

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line two 9″ round cake pans with parchment rounds and spray the prepared pans with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the flour and coconut in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk and baking soda.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar for approximately 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks and beat to combine.  Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.  After the last of the flour is added, stop mixing once the batter is just combined.

In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form.  Mix 1/3 of the whites into the batter and then fold in the remaining whites until just blended.

Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and bake for approximately 35 minutes or until the cakes are set and a tested inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a crumb or two.  Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes before turning them out onto racks to cool completely.

{printable recipe}

Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2011

BAH Note: My butter wasn’t exactly at room temperature when I made the frosting.  But after a few moments in the mixer, everything was just fine.  Be sure to start the mixer out on LOW speed or you will have powdered sugar all over your kitchen.

  • 3 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons jelly, jam, or preserves (optional)

Combine the sugar, butter, cream cheese, and vanilla in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the sugar starts to work into the butter and cream cheese then increase the speed to medium high until completely smooth.

If adding a fruit filling in the frosting between the layers, transfer about 1 cup of the frosting into a separate bowl.  Mix in the fruit filling to taste before spreading it onto the top of the bottom cake layer.  Top this with the top cake layer and use the remaining plain frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.  Sprinkle coconut over the top of the cake and press some into the sides as well.

Let the frosted cake set in the refrigerator.  Allow it to come just to room temperature before serving and store leftovers in the fridge.

{printable recipe}

Apricot Miso Pork

I know you’ve seen this pig before but you’ll have to forgive me.  I’ve been awful about documenting some of the food I’ve been cooking.  But I don’t want my lack of photos to keep you from something as good as Apricot Miso Pork.  In fact, I don’t know what you have planned for dinner this weekend, but scrap whatever it is and make this instead.

The only bad thing I can say about AMP is that each time I’ve made it, I’ve managed to set off my smoke detectors.  Those things are really sensitive to a change in temperature and when I open my oven door to baste the pork, they start screaming.  So please make a mental note that you may want to remove the battery from yours before you begin…just don’t forget to put it back after you’ve enjoyed a meal of perfectly glazed pork.

Apricot Miso Pork

Adapted from Bon Appetit, January 2011

BAH Note: Even though I have access to an Asian Market, I get my miso at Whole Foods.  The only reason for that is that’s where I found it the first time I ever bought it.  So I’m used to the brand they carry.  So much so that I made The Mistah take a picture of the container so that he could pick up a tub when we ran out recently.  He scoffed at my peculiarity…until he tried the pork.  Also, I fought the desire to make a substitution for the champagne vinegar.  It’s not something I usually stock and I hate buying specialty ingredients. Deciding to go ahead and buy it was the best thing I could have done.  The champagne vinegar gives the glaze and the sauce a special, bright punch.  If you’re so inclined, you could substitute white wine for the chicken broth.  I’ve made it both ways and can’t decide which I like better.

  • 5 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1/4 cup brown or red miso
  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 – 3 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Combine preserves, miso, vinegar, and orange zest in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes until the preserves melt and the sauce thickens.  Set aside about three  or four tablespoons of sauce.

Pat the pork dry and season with a bit of kosher salt.  If using two thin tenderloins instead of loin roast, tie them together with butcher’s string being sure to tuck the thin ends underneath. Place on the prepared sheet pan.

Roast for 10 minutes and then use a pastry brush to baste the pork with some of the reserved glaze.  Continue to roast until the pork registers an internal temperature of 160 degrees, basting every 10 minutes.  If the glazes starts to char, carefully drape some aluminum foil over the top of the pork and continue to roast and baste.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and rest for 10 minutes, covered with foil, while you finish the sauce.

Add the chicken broth (or wine, if using) to the remaining glaze still in the sauce pan.  Whisk to combine and cook for about 5 minutes or until reduced to about 2/3 cup.

Serve the pork slices drizzled with the sauce.

{printable recipe}

Tomato Fennel and Crab Soup

In my post cookbook breakup period, I’ve been looking for new inspiration.  So in addition to trolling the blogs for new recipe ideas, I’ve casually started buying cooking magazines again.  I figure if I can spend $29.99 on a cookbook that I only grab a few recipes from and then neglect on the bookshelf, why not spend $2.99 on a magazine that I can tear the pages from and then recycle?  The math might not add up but the space reclaimed on my bookshelf is priceless.

Tomato Fennel and Crab Soup

Adapted from Mark Bittman, Bon Appetit January 2011

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can vegetable broth
  • 8 ounces crab meat

BAH Note: You’ll want to be sure to pick through the crab meat for any small bits of shell or cartilage.  Even in the dead of winter, I was able to find crab at the grocery store.  I think I used Phillip’s lump and it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven set over medium high heat.  Add onion and fennel and cook until softened.  Add tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer the soup for 10 to 15 minutes.

Working in batches, carefully transfer the soup to a blender and process until smooth.  Return the soup to the pot, taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as desired.

Add crab to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes to warm through.  Serve immediately.

{printable recipe}



Cucumber Tzatziki

I’ve officially given up on trying to grow any vegetables here at the BAH compound.  My experiment in container gardening was a complete disaster and my failure to remove the offending containers from the back porch is a daily reminder of that.  The only thing that I was able to propagate was a bumper crop of weeds.

In that perfect world of mine, I would have a wee patch of garden overflowing with tomatoes, squash, peppers, and cucumbers.  Universe, are you listening?  I get it.  In my life, I may never add master gardener to my list of accomplishments.  Clearly, you have other life lessons in store for me that take precedent.  So I will quit fighting it and rely on the generosity of those who aren’t horticulturally challenged when they offer to share the bounty of their garden with me.

Cucumber Tzatziki

BAH Note: Slather this on your sandwich, use it to dip fresh veg, or gobble it up on toasted pita.  There really isn’t a wrong way to enjoy this.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 28 ounces plain yogurt (not low or non fat)
  • 3 medium cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • kosher salt
  • ground celery seed
  • ground corriander seed

Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and line with several layers of cheesecloth or paper towels.  Empty the container of yogurt into the lined strainer and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours to drain.

Meanwhile, coarsely grate the cucumber and place it in a second strainer placed over a bowl.  Let stand for 3 hours to drain, squeezing out any excess moisture after 3 hours.

Once the yogurt has thickened, transfer it to a medium bowl and discard the liquid.  Add the grated cucumber and dill and mix well.  Season to taste with kosher salt, celery seed, and corriander seed to taste.

{printable recipe}

Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze

I don’t have much of a story to go with this recipe.  I can tell you that I “forgot” that the fish needs to marinate for 30 minutes before going into the oven.  I can also tell you that I was quite unhappy when I “remembered” this fact having come home hungry, late, and sweaty from a trip to the gym.  I guess the last thing I should tell you is that The Mistah and I kept giving each other big thumbs up signs when we finally sat down with Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze.  We were too busy stuffing it in our mouths to use our words.

Salmon with Sweet Chili Glaze

Adapted from Bon Appetit

BAH Note: I can’t claim this trick as my own but I want to share it with you.  The person who sent me this recipe said her secret to broiling the salmon was to cook the salmon on the center oven rack for 6 minutes and then move it up to the top rack for two minutes more.  Obviously, you’ll want to position your racks before you turn the broiler on.  But I used her method and had great results despite my unnatural fear of the broiler.   According to the original recipe, you’ll have enough sauce for six salmon fillets.  I put half of the sauce in the fridge to use at another time.

  • 1/4 cup Asian or Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 salmon fillets, with or without skin

Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and coat lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the chili sauce, soy sauce, and ginger in a small bowl.

Place salmon fillets on sheet pan (skin side down if applicable) and spoon chili sauce mixture over the top of the fish.  Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Set the oven to broil.  Using a spoon or pastry brush, baste the salmon with any marinade that has spread onto the sheet pan.  Broil for 6 to 10 minutes or until browned in spots and nearly opaque in the center.

{printable recipe}

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes

I am bad with numbers.  Really, my SAT Math scores were dismal.  For example, my math skills are so bad that when a  cake recipe calls for 8 inch or 10 inch pans (and I only have 9 inch pans) I will either decide not to make the recipe or forget about pan size altogether and make cupcakes.  My brain does not calculate volume.  That’s how The Mistah and I started out with a recipe for Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake but ended up with cupcakes instead. Continue reading “Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes”