Monday, March 29, 2010

Fennel Dust

Fennel Dust
This chicken dish was so fast, easy and elegant (not to mention quite tasty too); it's definitely going to become a regular player around here. Complex flavors from very few ingredients... and did I mention that I didn't have to run to the store for any of it? That always makes me happy.

It's pretty darned impressive for a "pantry dinner". Quick weeknight dinner for two? Check. Fancy weekend dinner party for 8? Check. Unexpected dinner guests at anytime? Check. This recipe has got it covered.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fungus For... Like You Know... Ever!


These things are true...
  1. I love cooking with mushrooms. Their earthiness ups the flavor in savory dishes exponentially.
  2. We buy the bulk of our groceries at Costco (pun intended).
  3. Sometimes we can't use up all the mushrooms we buy at Costco before they go bad. It makes me sad, but the alternative is paying more for less (which makes me mad).
Now I can feel happy, empowered and thrifty all at the same time... and never throw another mushroom in the compost bucket again, even though it might actually be pretty happy there, come to think of it. In that case, how about "...and never throw money away on mushrooms that go bad before you can use them all". That's the beauty of dried mushrooms: they will keep indefinitely... forever in other words.
"It was full of little brown chips that looked like the shavings of some root. They were as light as feathers, and the most noticeable thing about them was their penetrating earthy odor... I bit off a corner of one of the chips I held in my hand, and chewed it tentatively. I never forgot the strange taste; though it was many years before I knew that those little brown shavings... were mushrooms."

-My √Āntonia by Willa Cather, 1918

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lemon Love

Oh, how do I love lemons? Here are but a few more ways...
  • Two of my favorite flavors together: Lavender Lemon Bundt Cake from williams-sonoma.com. It may be a little early for fresh lavender, but I always keep a jar of dried in the pantry.
  • A Lemon Crostata (only my favorite form of pie) from gourmet.com featuring a toasted almond lattice crust.
  • Lemony Angel Food Cake from marthastewart.com (originally published in the May 2009/MSL magazine, this version has been updated). Lemon cream frosting on top... yes, please.
  • Little Lemon Hazelnut Cakes at JoyTheBaker.com
Many of these recipes call for "cake flour" which usually brings me down real fast, since, just like buttermilk, I don't usually have any in the house. I know I can just go to the store and get some, but I tend to be a spontaneous baker: When I get the urge to make something, I want to jump right in and get started. If I don't have a crucial ingredient and can't substitute something I do have, I find something else to make. Well, now I never have to pass over one of those recipes again while sadly lamenting my lack of cake flour. Joy The Baker has busted up the mystery of cake flour and shows us how to make it at home from regular all-purpose flour (which I always have in the cupboard)... how very cool!