Showing posts from 2015

Swiss Muesli Breakfast Brioche

During winter break, one needs decadent breakfasts to go along with the decadent dinners, only ensuring that one's diet in the new year is based on a month of over-indulgence and excess. No wimpy breakfasts around here, my friends. Thus, I whipped up this brioche. "Whipped up!" you might snarl and scoff. Yes, I say, whipped up . This is remarkably easy, and the only thing that it needs is time. You don't even need to knead it. Five years ago, dear friends of ours swooped down from Seattle years ago--the he  in this couple is a delightful bread baker, and he swore by this cookbook:  Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day .   Upon their return to Washington, they sent the husband and I a copy of this book , and we have been all the better for it, if our waistlines have not. The premise of the book is that you should have pre-mixed, pre-risen, high-moisture dough hanging out in your refrigerator for that moment when a fresh bread hankering strikes you. Then you si

Radishes with Anchovy Butter and Salt

One of the simple French pleasures is to pair radishes with butter. The snap of the radish is cooled by the butter and tempered by the pinch of salt: the end result is a simple appetizer fit for any coast of Northern France. Sure, you can spruce it up with heirloom radishes (which if you can get your hands on White Icicle radishes to pair with the more easily found French Breakfast, your plate will be all the more spectacular). You can also trot out some fleur de sel (sea salt), traditionally hand-harvested off the coast of Brittany: it is the caviar of the salts. And you should definitely use the best butter you have on hand. However, the simple red globes (usually Cherry Belle ) found at the local supermarket with some butter and table salt will do you just fine. I promise. As for the anchovies, the husband says they are optional, which technically is true, but their addition here punches up the saltiness of the butter and ensures that I am the only one who gets to eat

White Bean, Warm Radicchio, Crisp Bacon Crostini

  For Christmas Eve dinner, I make morsels and sauces, which as you know, is my favorite kind of eating. I head out with the husband to procure raspberries, chocolate-covered almonds, brillat-savarin cheese , assorted meats, olives, and marinated mushrooms. I pop open a bottle of champagne. Then we settle in for the annual showing of It's a Wonderful Life or Rudolph . This year, I added these crostini to the buffet.  Bitter, savory, and salty, they were a delightful addition. The warm bean mixture gets a bit of a kick from the red pepper flakes; the thyme and bay leaf lend a savoriness and a depth to this base for building a tower of goodies atop toast. The radicchio needed a tad more sugar than I put in it (so I added a little more to the recipe below--the kind folks at Sunday Suppers  call for 1/2 teaspoon. I called for 1 teaspoon, and added the step of tasting the radicchio to be certain on your sugar content). And the bacon is just gilding the lily. Finally

Warm Duck Salad with Plum-Ginger Dressing and Sesame

What a strange week this has already been.  On Monday night around 2 am, we felt a jolt to the whole house. Ever my father's daughter, I went downstairs in the dark to grab my iPad to figure out just how strong that short but solid temblor was. I checked earthquaketrack  and usgs . Neither showed our quake. I kept refreshing the webpages, but still nothing. First I convinced myself that it must have been a minor earthquake, like a 1.0 or 2.0 and the epicenter just so happened to be under our house. Then I convinced myself that I had dreamed it (hey, by then it was 3 am), but I was certain that the husband, who had fallen back to sleep, had felt it too. Confused, I fell back to sleep. At 7:30, I woke to find this in the backyard.   So I guess they aren't kidding when they say that earthquakes feel like a truck hitting your house.  Or a tree, in this case. Thankfully, no one was hurt (although a branch did go crashing through the neighbor's window, which could hav

Moo Goo Gai Pan

In 2008, I had the opportunity to go to China--a trip I never really imagined possible. My father is the only one of my parents who had ever travelled abroad, a trip he took with his school when he was 18. And while I had been to Europe, I had not really imagined that I would be lucky enough to travel to Asia.  Thus, when the opportunity presented itself, I snapped it up.  In a whirlwind 10 days, I travelled to China with a colleague and set out on an adventure to some of the cultural hot spots of central and northern China. While there, I wandered among the food vendors in the  night market  with my colleague in  Kaifeng , ate fermented vegetables for breakfast outside of  Houjia village , sampled noodles in a noodle house in  Xi'an , grabbed Chinese pastries in  Zhengzhou  before my colleague dragged me into the red light district (he was the more adventurous of us both), and ate  lychees  at the fanciest hotel I have ever stayed at in my entire life while in Be

Bolognese Meat Sauce

Oh, friends, I love this basic meat sauce.  Our copy of  Marcella Hazan's  Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking  is splattered and stained--but most so on the pages for this sauce, for it is one that has served us quite well for many years. The first time the husband (who is generally the one who makes this recipe, and on whom I blame those splatters and stains) made this sauce, I declared it Mom Sauce. My mother used to make meat-based spaghetti sauce all the time when I was growing up. Usually, she would throw this in the slow cooker in the morning, and by dinner time (yes, 5:30), we had an beefy and tomato-y sauce for over cooked pasta. Indeed, this sauce tastes like an Illinois kitchen in the early 80s. In the good way. I know, I know. I don't always talk about my Midwestern meals with the breathless quality I reserve for the California cuisine I now cook. But this standard Italian dish is worth every sigh, every ooh, and every ahh. Marcell