Eating With My Fingers

I love flatbread.  I adore the taste, the crispness with just the right amount of give – but really, flatbreads; naan, parathas, pooris, even pita bread – are a means to an end. They give me the freedom to eat with my fingers. The smallest bit of bread makes any dish manageable with just a thumb and two fingers.

For some Westerners it’s a skill that has to be acquired. Not for me. I jumped right in on my first trip to India  – to the astonishment of my Indian family.  Eating with your hands gives you a new way to appreciate the texture of food and for me, turns every bite into a conscious act.  If I could get away with it, I’d ditch the silverware at every meal.

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Wild About Nettles

Recipe: Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Stinging Nettles

Wild food has a primal call. Catching a fish, digging clams, hunting (I suspect), and even picking a stinging nettle. Okay, there’s no danger involved with nettle gathering – being stung by a nettle is a weird, tingly sensation, but really not painful at all – but it’s still empowering.

So when a friend offered me one last chance to gather nettles this year, I didn’t hesitate, in spite of the persistent rain. (Once the nettles are more than a foot or so high, it’s too late to harvest. Older plants don’t taste great and contain calcium crystals that are hard to digest) Mid-May is really late for gathering nettles, even here in the Northwest. We were lucky to find any.

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Sticky Buns: Brioche, Butter And Another Tuesday With Dorie

Recipes: Brioche and Pecan Sticky Buns

Sticky buns epitomize all that’s wonderful about weekend breakfast; indulgence, leisure, hanging out with people who are happy to see you in your pajamas, and of course, an excess of butter.  They go perfectly with strong coffee too. And because I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the hosts for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, I get to share the sticky bun recipe from Baking with Julia with you.

I’ve eaten and baked many a sticky bun.  I’ve even written about them before. But this sticky bun recipe – made from brioche dough, is a keeper. Watch (part 1 and part 2) Nancy Silverton – the contributing baker and driving force behind the La Brea Bakery – make these sticky buns for Julia Child.  See if you don’t end up wanting to run into the kitchen and bake.

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Of Granola and Grey Hair

Recipe: Cacao Nib Granola

Granola is a loaded word. Even today, it’s not just about the cereal – it’s about a lifestyle. Especially if you make your own – something I’ve been doing for years.  For a long time I thought it wasn’t really worth blogging about, till I gave some to a friend and she started raving about it.

Eventually every food blogger posts a recipe for granola, anyway, right? Just as it was in the ’60s it’s certainly one of the gateway foods for a do-it-yourself lifestyle.  Ironically, the word granola was once a trademark; a cereal created by Kellogg’s, in the 1880’s, consisting of baked and ground  oats, wheat and cornmeal.

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Mango Lemon Cake

It’s Tuesday – and that means a new challenge from the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group. I almost skipped this one.  The last two weeks have gotten away from me – mostly in a good way: dog classes, a photography workshop, social events, and even some gainful employment.

But really, my reluctance was mostly about the 1 ¾ cups of cake flour called for in this week’s recipe for Lemon Loaf cake. As I move more and more towards whole grains (if I can make bread without white flour, surely I can make anything without it!) I’m more and more reluctant to let more processed flours creep back into my diet.  But cakes without white flour are a big challenge. And I signed up for Tuesday’s with Dorie to become a better baker, so I don’t think it’s a great idea to pick and choose the challenges. If I’m in, I’m all in.

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Easter Pizza

I’m always excited when I come across a dish I’ve never heard of – like the Pizza Rustica I made for today’s Tuesdays with Dorie challenge.  This dish is a savory pie – closer to a quiche than to what most of us think of as pizza.  Rustic Pizza is a traditional Easter dish in parts of Italy and well known to many Italian Americans as cold cut pie.  In Naples, they call it Pizza Chiena, or full pie.

Whatever you call it, the fillings often contain ricotta and pork, and the crust is always made with sugar.

This posed a couple problems for me. First the pork – I went a whole year of Charcutepalooza only eating pork a few times and I didn’t want to make an Easter pastry K.M. wouldn’t eat. But luckily, Charcutepalooza solved that problem – I already had home-cured duck prosciutto and duck salami on hand.

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Indian Carrot Pudding with Raisins and Pistachios

Recipe: Indian Carrot Pudding with Raisins and Pistachios

Confession: I’ve never eaten carrot halwa in India.  Yet it is one of my favorites – and a dessert I’ve been making for nearly two decades.  It’s a good thing I live with someone who knows how it ought to taste and can veto any adaptations that go too far. But I still think it’s safer to call my version carrot pudding.

Indian sweets are a special treat. A few of my favorites include kalakand, laddu, pesta barfi, and peda – we don’t buy them very often, (though there are local sources) and I have yet to attempt to make them. When my Mother-in-law comes to visit with a box or two, we cherish them till every bite is gone.

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