daring baker's challenge: lemon meringue pie

pucker up!

this was my first daring baker's challenge. even in this short month, i have learned so much, read many a cool blog, and "met" some very awesome fellow bakers. lemon meringue pie was chosen by jen at the canadian baker. i was excited because this recipe was quite different than others that i am used to. there were a couple of things that made me pause ... like the cornstarch thickening method, the lack of mentioning the fork prick for blind baking (although that could have been somewhere else in the book, and assumed throughout for the recipes), the long heating time, and adding the juice at the end of the thickening process. but one baker's worries are another baker's quirks so i was looking forward to seeing whether this would all come together.

unfortunately it did not!

nice crust
first, the good ... i would have preferred a pâte brisée crust, but i was super excited that for my the first time i was really patient, and trusting, about the crust. typically i overwet my dough, because it seems incredulous that something so dry and crumbly can come together for a dough. it tastes okay, but is never as flaky as i hope. this time, i really put faith in the process. when i balled it up to refrigerate i was like this is never going to work. but when i rolled it out, it was perfect, or at least as close to perfect as it has ever been!! so score one for the crust.

lemon soup?
but now the bad ... my lemon curd was coming along beautifully, thick and smooth. then i added the lemon juice and it became a watery disaster. now, this could be a case of bad recipe method, or my worries willed it to happen, or just plain bad luck. but in any case, it wasn't salvageable. i did fill the pie, and topped with meringue, but the filling just never came to set.

all in all, i'm so happy i tried this out. it's not ending up as one of my favorite recipes for lemon meringue pie, but it's been such fun trying it out with the other daring bakers! i look forward to what next's month challenge brings!!

because there was such inconsistent results by my fellow daring bakers, i can't whole heartedly encourage others to use this recipe. but because some people did have success, if you want to try it yourself, go to jen's blog here.

and to read everyone else's lemon meringue challenge, visit the daring baker's blogroll!

well, it did look pretty on the outside!


green is good

homemade pesto

what is your quick dinner meal? for me, it's pasta. and not only is it quick, but versatile too. with the average 12 minutes of boiling time, you can get ready all sorts of things to go with it. cherry tomatoes and olives. primavera with any combo of veggies. spinach, ricotta, and roasted garlic. i mean, what doesn't go with pasta?

raffetto's raviolis

tonight we used some leftover pesto sauce for a dinner of raffetto's spinach-cheese raviolis, topped with sautéed arugula and garlic. it made for a very green dish. but it was simple, quick, delicious.

pesto raviolis with arugula and garlic: serves 2

1/2 lb spinach raviolis
2 tsp pesto sauce
3 cups arugula
1 clove garlic, sliced
olive oil
1 tb butter
salt + pepper
hot pepper flakes
grated parmesan

1. bring pot of salted water to boil. cook raviolis until they float to the top, look puffy and tender. drain with a slotted spoon and into a bowl.

2. gently toss raviolis with butter and pesto.

3. over medium heat, sauté garlic until toasty; add arugula, season with salt and pepper, and cook until wilted. for presentation purposes, it's nice to place arugula on top of plated raviolis, it helps it stand out against the pesto green. however, if you prefer, you can also toss all together. garnish with grated parmesan and a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes.

pesto raviolis with arugula and garlic


butter is a sweet baker's best friend, part deux

breton is just a frenchy euphemism for butter

one thing i have had to do as i pour over my baking recipes is suspend my disbelief at how much fat product goes into these things. i mean, yes, i know baked goods are not a dieter's dream. and now i don't even blink when i see a recipe with 1 cup butter. but my gosh, 8 ... EIGHT ... packs of cream cheese for cheesecake??!! holy crap. no wonder my butt got big, sheesh!

but i'm also one of those bakers who shun the "light" versions of our favorite baked goods. *maybe* if it's using applesauce. but otherwise, it usually looks like crap, and tastes like dry grit. no offense to those bakers out there who might do amazing things with those light versions. but my philosophy is that if i want a brownie, i will eat a brownie. and if i shouldn't eat a brownie because i can't button my pants, then i should go eat some apples instead of pretending like i'm eating a brownie.

with that said, tonight i also made these buttery beauties, which come to us from the french region of brittany. so go ahead, treat yourself. and then i'll see you at the gym tomorrow!

impatiently cooling

breton biscuits: makes about 2 dozen
from martha's baking handbook (2005, p. 86)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, plus 4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temp

1. sift both flours, baking powder, and salt in large bowl.

2. in mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed until doubled in volume and pale yellow, 2-3 minutes. add butter in four parts, beating until completely combined after each, about 1-2 minutes total. with the mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; beat until combined.

3. turn dough out on floured surface. divide in half, and flatten into disks. wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

4. preheat oven to 325F. line two baking sheets with parchment. generously dust a large piece of parchment with flour. place one disk of dough in center and roll out to slightly thicker than 1/4 inch. transfer to baking sheet (on the parchment) and chill until firm, about 15 minutes. repeat with remaining dough. you can stack in the freezer.

5. remove one sheet of dough and transfer to clean work surface. using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter, cut out ronds and place 1 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. gather scraps, roll out again, and cut out more rounds.

6. in small bowl, whisk the whole egg and 1 tb water; brush over rounds. let stand 5 minutes and brush again. using a paring knife, score each round in lattice pattern, making sure not to cut all the way through. repeat with remaining dough.

7. bake, rotating halfway through, until cookies are amber on top and deep golden around edges, 18-22 minutes. make sure not to underbake them or they will not be crisp. transfer parchment and cookies to rack to cool completely.

breton biscuits + a cup of tea = sweet dreams!

lemon sugar snaps

i am in love with lemon

this weekend the mimis are traveling to pennsylvania for a family party. perfect timing to share my new found love of baking! i decided to do a cookie platter, namely for two reasons: 1. it's a 2+ hour drive, so i'd rather not bring anything delicate or layered. and 2. well, i've only been at this the past month, so i'm keepin' to the basics! oh yeah, and 3. i don't have any cake pans yet!

one of the cookies will be these little lemon lovelies. i hate winter, but i love the citrus that winter brings. and it's freshness complements the other (relatively) heavier cookies. they were refreshingly sugary and lemony, but with light air pockets that made each bite heavenly.

i had so much fun rolling them out

when i was a little girl, i LOVED going to arthur treacher's. and ever since, i always thought THAT was "tartar" ... a creamy, gooey, necessary yet tasteless condiment for deep fried fish and fries. now that i'm a big girl, i have learned there's another so-called "cream of tartar", which wiki conveniently likes to point out is definitely not related to my beloved tartar sauce of yonder. my little girl dreams are ruined!! haha.

lemon sugar snaps:
makes about 4 dozen

from martha's baking handbook (2005, p. 93)

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temp

1 cup sugar, plus more for coating

1 large egg

grated zest of 3 lemons

1 tb fresh squeezed lemon juice

1. in bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

2. in bowl of mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. add egg, zest, and lemon juice; beat until combined. add flour mixture; beat until just combined.

3. transfer dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

4. preheat oven to 350F. line two baking sheets with parchment. place sugar in shallow bowl. shape leveled tablespoons of dough into 1-inch balls. roll balls in sugar to coat completely, and place about 3 inches apart on baking sheet.

lemon + sugar = yum

5. bake, rotating halfway through, until edges just begin to turn golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. transfer cookies to rack to cool completely. enjoy the lemon and start dreaming about spring!

betcha can't eat just three!


hhdd 17: pizza night!

hhdd in all its pre-baked goodness

i have only been in this blogging world (reading and posting) for about two months, but i am crazy about all these blog events! they are just so darn fun. i love to see what everyone else does, i love trying to come up with something creative. oh yeah, and i love the eating part! :)

so here's my third event. hay hay it's donna day hosted by 80 breakfasts. i never even heard of donna hay (the horror!) until i stumbled upon this event. i have to admit i was more attracted by the idea of making pizza than about honoring this special lady; although reading over some of the past events makes me excited for next month's too!

mr. mimi making the donna hay pizza pie

pizza. gosh, i LOVE pizza. i could eat it every day of the week. i could eat it for lunch *and* for dinner. i love it with lots of veggies and fresh mozzarella. i'm lucky enough to live in one of the best cities for amazing pizza, but i've always been wanting to make my own. finally last month i made my first pizza, although with a dough from the local pizza joint. i was eager for a second round, with a "real" dough.

it ain't delivery, it's homemade!
adapted from donna hay, modern classics 1, p. 186

1 tsp active dry yeast
pinch sugar
2/3 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tb olive oil
fine cornmeal for dusting

1. place yeast, sugar, and water in bowl. set aside until bubbles form.

2. add flour, salt, and oil and mix to form smooth dough. knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

3. place in oiled bowl and allow to stand in warm place until it has doubled in size.

4. preheat oven and baking stone to 425F. divide dough into three. dust work surface with fine cornmeal; stretch and push dough to desired thickness.

5. top to heart's desire and bake on baking stone (or tray) for 10-15 minutes until golden and crisp.

6. enjoy your amazing personal piece of heaven and vow never to get delivery pizza again! :)

we decided on three pizzas tonight ...

mediterranean style with marinated artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella, rosemary olives, hot pepper flakes, and homemade pesto sauce

classic garden style with tomato, arugula, garlic, and goat cheese

mexican style with red peppers, corn, olives, jack cheese, scallions, and chile adobe sauce

tips for the above: get the best artichokes you can find. we were lucky to get some marinated hearts in fresh bulk (rather than the can/jar stuff) that were amazingly soft and sweet. sauté the arugula with some garlic before topping. not only is this flavorful, but it helps control the excess moisture when baking. if using fresh tomatoes, squeeze the seeds out to help with the moisture too. toss corn in olive oil, salt and pepper so that it roasts on the pizza instead of baking away to dryness.

two weeks

until new york's primary. it seems like eons away. i'm 99% sure who i will be voting for. i don't look at the personalities first, i.e. i don't say i like hillary because of X or i don't like edwards because of Y. i decide, first, for myself, what qualities and policies i find most important in a president. you know, there's deal breakers and then there are top priorities and then everything in between. and then i look at the candidates and decide from there, who most fits those qualities ... without falling into the trap of thinking my choice has to represent every single one (i'm a realist; i know no one is going to promote legalizing gay marriage or oppose the death penalty).

i respect differences, and i appreciate hearing barack supporters and john cheerers (well, i guess that gives my vote away huh?) but what i don't understand at all is the vehemence towards hillary, particularly from fellow democrats. yeah, i get that republicans hate her, and that undecided voters might not favor her either. and i honestly understand why democrats may not vote for her in the primaries. but i don't understand the comment, presumably coming from democrat leaning voters, that i hear over and over again in blogs and articles ... "if hillary is the presidential nominee i REFUSE to vote for her." why not? so if you can't vote for barack in november and the choice is between, hypothetically, hillary or mitt you'll vote for mitt just because? just because you "hate" hillary or think she's insincere or bitchy or whatever personality trait you despise? i'm not a party line girl, but i mean, COME ON!

maybe that's just heated primary talk. you know, people passionate about barack or john or dennis. believing in their man, wanting to win, wanting hillary to lose. but you know what? you'll never hear a hillary fan on a blog saying "i refuse to vote for obama if he is the nominee" ... we may not fancy him or think he's the best but we don't hate him. if the choice is between barack or mike we won't go scurrying to the baptist. refuse is a strong word, and should be used wisely. we don't refuse to take back the white house. we will refuse to let the republicans continue for four more years!


beef stew and cheddar biscuits

all i have to say is for the past two games (at least) all the "experts" were unanimously picking the giants to lose. not one picked for the giants! as if getting this far was a fluke. and you know what? frick you! because BRING ON THE PATS ... THE GIANTS ARE GOING TO WIN AGAIN!!!!

okay, back to food. so for tonight's game winning dinner, we cooked up some beef stew. wow. i haven't had beef stew since like 20 years ago. and it was great. but you know, honestly ... i think i'm over the meat eating thing. i've only had it for the past month, and probably only maybe 5 or 6 times. but it's kind of making me feel icky. it just doesn't taste pleasurable to me, on my tongue or in my belly. i'm not sure if it's psychological (carcass eating was always a turn off to me) or if because i'm just not used to it anymore. i haven't eaten meat for the vast majority of my adolescent and adult life. it's just not in my taste buds anymore. we'll see what happens.

however, bread is always in my taste buds!! haha. so to go with the stew, i decided on some buttermilk cheddar biscuits. wow. but for a different reason. these were awesome. they didn't brown as much on the top as i would have liked, but damn they tasted good.

buttermilk cheddar biscuits: makes 1 dozen (i made about 30, oops!)
from martha's baking handbook (2005, p. 32)

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tb plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 cups (9 oz) grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 3/4 cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing

1. preheat oven to 375F. in large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. using pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture is coarse crumbs with few large pieces. add cheese and mix in.

first mix

2. pour in buttermilk and fold into dough, incorporating all crumbs, until it just comes together. dough will be sticky; do not overmix.

3. turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. with floured fingers, gently pat dough about 1" thick. do not overwork dough. use 2" round cutter and cut out biscuits.

4. place biscuits about 1" apart on unlined baking sheet. generously brush with buttermilk. bake 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden and flecked with brown spots. transfer biscuits to wire rack to cool.

cheddar biscuits

beef stew: serves 6-8

1 1/2 lb chuck steak (on the bone)
6 large carrots, 1" sliced
5 yukon gold potatoes, 1" diced
1 large onion, 1" diced
2 leeks, 1" sliced and cleaned
1 bunch celery, 1" sliced
2 tb tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves
salt + pepper
olive oil
1 package vegetable broth (32 oz)

1. cut beef into 1" cubes; reserve the bone. season the beef with salt and pepper and toss with flour.

2. heat olive oil in large dutch oven or pot at medium high. sear beef cubes in hot oil until it is browned on all sides. more than likely you'll need to do two batches; if you overfill the pot, there won't be enough room and it cools the pot, resulting in less efficient searing.

3. take beef out of pot and drain on paper towel. heat a little more olive oil and add the carrots, celery, onion, and leeks, stirring to coat. add tomato paste, and stir. caramelize all vegetables, about 10 minutes.

the mirepoix plus leeks and paste

4. add wine, reduce by half. add garlic cloves, bay leaves, and broth. add beef and bone back to pot, stir to combine.

5. bring stew to simmer. continue simmering for 2-3 hours, until the beef starts to tenderize. skim throughout as necessary.

6. take out bone, add potatoes, continue simmer until tender, about 1 more hour. you may have to add some water if stew thickens too much. turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

the winning meal to arizona, baby!


seared scallops

seared scallops with vegetable gratin

in most cooking, but especially for seafood, simplicity is best. start with the freshest pieces of fish or crustacean, and you hardly need anything but a fry pan or a broiler and a splash of lemon.

tonight i was intending to do my vegetable gratin for the weekend cookbook challenge. but when we were shopping for ingredients, we saw a special on sea scallops from long island. they looked beautiful and we couldn't resist. we thought it would be a perfectly light, but luscious, balance to the heavier gratin.

to season smaller crustaceans like scallops or shrimp ... put in bowl, sprinkle seasoning on top, then toss gently until it is all coated.


tossed to marinate

seared scallops: serves 2

1 lb sea scallops (make sure they are dry, and not treated)
old bay
salt + pepper
hot pepper flakes
olive oil

1. preheat oven to 375F. rinse scallops and drain. season and let marinate for 1/2 hour.

2. in hot skillet, heat olive oil. pull scallops out of the bowl and onto a paper towel to get rid of any excess moisture. when oil is hot, place scallops gently into skillet. reduce heat to medium.

3. be patient! don't touch or turn scallops until they release from the pan. this gives you the crispy golden top.

4. once turned, put skillet in oven and cook for 5 minutes. serve with a splash of lemon.

note: you don't have to use the oven; however, unless i'm eating sushi or tuna, i like my fish well cooked through. if you prefer it more medium, skip the oven and just cook both sides in the skillet.

weekend cookbook challenge 24: veggin' out

over at sara's i like to cook, she's hosting the 24th edition of weekend cookbook challenge. this month's theme was "veggin' out" and i was excited to get back to my favorite cookbook, vegetarian cooking for everyone by deborah madison. we haved used this one quite a lot over the years, and it remains my faithful standby for delicious vegetarian cooking.

i poured through the pages, wanting to make something seasonal, and definitely something i haven't made previously. i found the perfect idea with her golden gratin of rutabaga, turnips, and carrots.

julienned vegetables
if your new year's resolution included losing weight, well unfortunately this recipe won't be for you! ms. madison does love her butter and dairy, and uses both copiously in many of her recipes. but it was a delicious, creamy gratin. and yet, there was no cheese, so (relatively) healthier than traditional gratins. she says it could be a main dish, but i think it's too heavy. it was, instead, a perfect side dish for us.

so here is my humble first post for weekend cookbook challenge 24: veggin' out!

golden gratin of rutabaga, turnips, and carrots: serves 4-6 as side dish
adapted from vegetarian cooking for everyone (1997, p. 280)

1 tb butter, and more for dish
béchamel sauce (instructions below)
12 oz rutabagas, peeled and julienned (for tips on julienning vegetables, click here)
12 oz turnips, peeled and julienned
10 oz carrots, peeled and julienned
1 small onion, diced
salt + pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1. preheat oven to 375F. lightly butter a gratin dish (2 qt). while the béchamel sauce is cooking, boil the rutabagas in salted water for 2 minutes and drain.

2. cook the onion in the butter in a small skillet over medium heat, about 8 minutes. combine with the rest of the vegetables. season with salt and pepper and transfer to gratin dish.

3. use a ladle, and pour sauce over top. cover with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and golden on top, about 45 minutes.

béchamel sauce

bubbly and golden

served with seared scallops

simple béchamel sauce

2 cups milk or vegetable stock, cold or room temp
4 tb butter
3 tb flour
salt + pepper
1/2 cup cream, optional

1. melt butter in a heavy saucepan. add flour, stir until it combines into paste (called a roux). it should look like wet sand. reduce heat to medium. slowly stir until it has a nutty aroma, about 5-6 minutes.


2. whisk in cold milk until smooth. reduce to low heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. adjust thickness with vegetable stock.

3. season with salt and pepper. whisk in cream.

pointer: when thickening something (like a soup, sauce, etc) one item has to be cold or room temp and the other one has to be warm/hot. in this example, the roux is hot, and the milk is cold. however, if you pre-made the roux, you would have to heat up the milk before whisking in.

tools of the trade: using a mandoline

julienned rutabaga, turnips, and carrots

so your recipe calls for "julienned" vegetables. what to do? sure, you could use a knife and slice really insanely thinly. but the easier method is to use a mandoline. many people are afraid (and rightly so) because the blade is super sharp and one slip and that tip of your finger is out of here!!

but with a few pointers, you can be confident in using a mandoline. and impress all your friends! julienned veggies! waffle cut french fries! the possibilities are endless.

1. make sure the base is secure. this seems like a duh point, but don't go blaming me if your mandoline slips on the counter!

2. if julienning carrots, don't take the root off. using the root base gives you something to hold on to and keeps your fingers away from the blade.

roots are your mandolining's best friend

3. for bigger root vegetables, cut into smaller sections if necessary. don't try slicing up a huge rutabaga because it will be unwieldy.

4. don't keep a vegetable in a round shape. cut each side so you have multiple sharp, straight edges to use.

carrots cut on a bias for a straight edge

this short edge is sliced, not the long side

5. hold the vegetable with your fingertips, not with your whole hand. it's similar to knife skills. your fingertips create more stability. most mandolines come with some contraption to "safely" hold the vegetable. but it is very cumbersome and gives a false sense of security.

fingertips only!

6. go quickly!! this sounds counterintuitive to being safe. but if you go slowly, the vegetable is apt to get stuck in the blade, and with it, who else knows. if something does get stuck, don't use your fingers, but use another piece of vegetable to push it out.

fast and steady wins ... and saves your fingers!

7. don't slice away to oblivion and go trying to use every last scrap. keep your fingertips at least an inch away from the blade. then just use those scraps for compost or stock.

note: for the purposes of full disclosure, these pointers are courtesy of mr. mimi ... he is the professional here, i'm just the dorky blogger :)


corn custard with chorizo and mushrooms

when i told mr. mimi that i was going to start eating some meat again, it is true, he was a happy man. maybe a little too happy because after his first trip to the saturday farmer's market after i let go of my veggie ways, he came home with the skinny chicken (for that soup my coughing throat was waiting for) *and* ground turkey (for that mr. mimi's dad's famous tuscan meatloaf) but *also* chorizo. huh? i never asked for any chorizo!

sigh. so it's been sitting in our freezer for the past month because i just wasn't feeling it. when i have a good vegetarian alternative, i really don't feel like having the "real" thing. for instance, i really like my veggie meatballs in homemade marinara with a big bowl of spaghetti. and i like my smart bacon better than the real thing. and the same goes for my boca italian sausages and bratwurst ... i really like them! i use them to replace almost all my sausage needing recipes and it's never failed. so yeah, i know chorizo isn't the same thing as bratwurst, but i just wasn't feeling the need to eat it.

but after googling around and passing on the clams, jambalya, and the usual chorizo recipe ilk, i found this one on epicurious. 100% of reviewers said they would make it again and that's rare! i mean, 86% or even 97% but i've never seen one hundred. plus it had eggs and corn and cheese. ymm, some of my favorite fatty carby foods!! :)

based upon reviewer's suggestions we tweaked some of the amounts in the recipe. it's a little busy to prepare in the beginning but then it's baking for an hour ... time to relax, set the table, and savor the wonderful smell coming from the oven.

i'm not really a chorizo fan, but i have to say i loved this dish. it was so light and filling at the same time. we served it with a side of sautéed spinach with shallots. it was a perfect meal for this (almost) snowy evening!

because good in means good out, if you live in new york, buy local!!! these are our favorites:
chorizo from flying pigs farm
eggs from mc mahon's farm
milk from ronnybrook

corn custard with chorizo and mushrooms: serves 8
adapted from gourmet (nov 2005)

1 lb chorizo (casings discarded, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise in 1/3 inch slices)
1 lb cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tb finely chopped fresh jalapeno chile
4 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed (about 2 packages)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup fine yellow coarnmeal
2 tb sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped scallions (about 6)
2 1/2 cups monterey jack cheese, coarsely grated (about 1/2 lb)
olive oil

1. lightly oil a shallow baking dish (3 qt capacity; we used our le creuset oval gratin). preheat oven to 375F and put rack in middle position.

2. heat oil in skillet over medium high heat, then sauté chorizo, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 6-8 minutes. transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain oil, then transfer in a thin layer to baking dish.

3. reserve fat in skillet and heat over medium high, sauté mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. add chile, stir, and cook until softened, about 1 minute. transfer in a thin layer, on top of chorizo, in baking dish.

mushrooms on top of chorizo layer

4. purée 2 cups corn, cream cheese, cornmeal, and sugar in food processor until as smooth as possible (mixture will still be grainy). whisk together eggs, milk, and salt in large bowl until combined well. whisk in corn purée, scallions, 1 1/2 cups cheese, and remaining two cups corn until combined. pour baking mixture into baking dish. sprinkle the top evenly with remaining cheese and a few turns of cracked pepper.

whisk in corn, scallions, and cheese

pour mixture on top of mushrooms/chorizo

5. bake until set, puffed, and golden, about 50-60 minutes. let sit for 10 minutes. serve with a nice sautéed dark leafy green or crunchy green salad.


corn custard with chorizo and mushrooms


winter tomato soup and dinner rolls

still feeling under the weather, exhausted and coughing. i've felt like this for a month, with varying degrees of intensity. sure it's nice to call out sick and have a four day weekend. but really, it gets kind of old and boring and completely a waste of time. by now i would happily trade in all my sick days for the quarter if i could just feel better.

but since today was better than yesterday, i dragged myself out of bed and took a short walk around in the sun. i also was in the mood for a simple dinner of creamy soup. ginger carrot was on my mind as a spicy balm to my scratchy throat.

of course you can't have soup without some bread! i really enjoy baking bread. i love the smell of the yeasty beasties (that lovely phrase came from somewhere else, but i have forgotten ... if it's yours, i'm sorry!) i love the feel of the dough, the kneading and the folding. i love the oxymoron of forced patience. of course mine isn't quite up to the best of the city's bakeries (i'm personally partial to here and here, ahem, even if that last one isn't *technically* a city bakery at least it's still new york). but nothing beats that taste and smell fresh out of the oven in your own kitchen.

i didn't want to be laboring under something difficult or timely, so i found a quick little recipe for rolls. after i tried one of these light, fluffy, buttery dreams of a carb, ginger carrot didn't seem to fit the bill anymore. mr. mimi suggested something a little more homey and classic. and it hit the spot perfectly!

no-knead dinner rolls: makes 18
from martha's everyday food magazine (dec 2007, p. 93)
(i halved this recipe and put into a 9x9 pan and it was fine)

2 cups warm water (105-115F)
2 packages (1/4 oz each) active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
4 tb butter, melted, plus more for pan and brushing
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp salt
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping

1. pour warm water into large bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. add sugar, butter, eggs, and salt and whisk to combine. add flour, mix until incorporated and sticky dough forms. brush top of dough with butter. cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. turn dough onto well floured work surface. roll dough into thick log. cut into 18 equal pieces (cut in half, and then each half in thirds, and another thirds, etc).

4. brush 9x13 pan with butter. flatten each piece of dough then fold edges toward center, pressing to secure, until smooth ball forms. place each roll in pan, smooth side up (three rows of six). cover loosely with plastic wrap and rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.

5. preheat oven to 400F. brush rolls with butter. bake until golden, about 35-40 minutes. serve warm!

i love my rolls :)

winter tomato soup: serves 4

1 shallot, diced
1 large garlic clove, sliced
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced, white parts only
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tb white wine vinegar
1 can chopped tomatoes (if this was summer, you'd be using "real" ones)
1 tsp paprika
salt + pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
chopped chives for garnish
olive oil
1 tb + 1 tsp butter

1. heat olive oil and about 1 tsp butter. lightly sautée shallots, garlic, and leeks until translucent. add vinegar, reduce. add carrots and tomatoes, season with paprika and salt and pepper. simmer until carrots are soft, about 1 hour (because the tomatoes will thicken, add water if soup looks too thick).

2. add cream and then purée with a burre mixer (or use a regular blender) until silky smooth. bring back up to a simmer and if you're feeling decadent add a monté au beurre (about a 1 tb butter) and mix in until incorporated.

3. serve and garnish with a drizzle of cream and chives.

this ain't your mama's can of campbells!