Friday, April 17, 2009

quick eats

made these for dinner a couple weeks back and boy were they ever good. Then we had leftovers that I ate for a few days. I've been meaning to share them, because they were so simple and quick. I think they'll be really nice this summer. We could make them smaller and they'd be great as part of a cool dinner on a hot night, or as hors d'oeuvres.

johnnycakes with chili jam and goat cheese

1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar (I reduced this to about 1/6 c.)
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 Tbl baking powder
1 1/4 c. milk
2 large eggs, room temp
1/3 c veggie oil, plus a bit for the pan
2 Tbl unsalted butter

1 15-oz can of corn kernels, drained

4-8 oz goat cheese (we used chevre)

pepper jelly (we got pepper jelly with ancho chilis - it was all we could find at whole foods, but it was so excellent I encourage you to do the same! It was nice to have a little heat with the sweet)

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and stir until batter is just combined; fold in corn kernels.

Heat a saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat and rub with enough oil to coat surface. Working in batches, drop batter into the pan - basically, you're making pancakes. Make them whatever size you like. Cook about 60 seconds per side or until golden brown and heated through.

Spread each johnnycake with the jam and top with crumbled goat cheese.

We served ours as part of a makeshift feast for five, with some sauteed kale, some cherry tomatoes roasted with reduced balsamic vinegar and a fruit salad. yum.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

rainy night comfort food

there's a reason there are 1274 reviews of this recipe on Epicurious: the Double Chocolate Layer Cake is incredible! I don't really even like cake, normally, but this one is extra-special. The trick is pulling out before you think it's quite done: it results in the darkest, most moist chocolate cake I've ever had.I've never made their ganache coating, actually, but I've mixed this with a range of other fillings and frostings; it's such a reliable go-to-base. I'm not sure how many times I've made this now - maybe seven different birthdays? No birthday tonight; I promised C some soft, delicious sweet cake to comfort her. Maybe not the best thing for someone having tooth problems, but comfort is comfort, right? Right!

So I made one cake layer for her, and poured the rest as cupcakes so the bf could take them into the office tomorrow. But we'll have at least one tonight ourselves, with this big Sicilian blood orange that I bought as a special treat for us. It's been a wet and windy day, a bit on the cold side, and I have given up trying to force light "spring" meals for a few days. Nope, tonight we're going to have a potato gratin with leeks and fennel (and provolone and parm...) on a bed of frisee for dinner. And then you-know-what for dessert!


I hate to throw things out. I think that's because my parents always showed me (by example) how many things could be reused in creative ways; well, that and I'm kinda cheap. I like to get the maximum mileage out of stuff.

My friend E gave me a really nice clove-spice-scented soy candle a year ago, in a little mason jar. I used to call it the "study candle" and light it before I would read; it just kind of make the atmosphere nice and cozy-comforting, good for working and not feeling like I was missing out on life somehow. Anyways, I finally burned through the last of it, and put the candle in the freezer a couple weeks ago (I learned this trick from Martha; I freeze all candleholders to easily remove wax). Due to the odd shape of this jar, though, a lot of the wax wasn't burnt, and it seemed such a shame to waste. So after I carved it up and pried it out, washed the jar (we use mason jars to hold homemade salad dressings, chutneys, reduced vinegars and etc. in the fridge), I set the wax in a little metal bowl I could stand to sacrifice.

A bit of reading suggested that my linen kitchen twine might work as a wick (I'll let you know if this turns out to be a bad idea!). I cut a length of it and tied the end around a small ball of wax, squishing it into the bottom of a candle holder. I wrapped the extra around a pencil set over the top of the candleholder. I melted the wax in the metal bowl over a pan of simmering water. I was worried that pouring it all in right away might make that button at the bottom melt and release the wick, so I used an old plastic spoon to ladle the wax in, bit by bit at first, pouring the rest in after I was sure I had a good layer of solid wax holding that wick down.

turns out there was just enough wax to fill the candle holder, how perfect is that? I don't know if this is a new low (melting down and repouring candles), but I'm pretty excited to have another study candle. Obviously, I'm procrastinating at this very moment, so I probably need one to get me back on track!