Lemon and zucchini tea cakes

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I have not been taking full advantage of summer produce this year. Most of this is because since I no longer work in an office, I no longer have a farmer’s market magically pop up in the street in front of my place of work once a week. I used that as a nice little 15 minute break from office air conditioning, walking around, checking out the goods, and riding up the elevator with a few bags of freshly picked, local produce in my arms. Now, I actually have to make some effort to go to the farmer’s market, and although it isn’t a hassle at all, I have to think about it, and I only seem to remember it an hour after it’s closed. Continue reading “Lemon and zucchini tea cakes”

Strawberry pie

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I went strawberry picking on Friday and had a bounty in the fridge. Unlike last year, when I worried about the fruit going bad in the fridge, it’s only been a few days and I already no longer have any left. By Sunday, the strawberries had disappeared into stomachs, mousse, and this pie. Really mostly this pie. Because of it, I need to go picking again. That’s not a bad thing, though.

This strawberry pie is actually pretty similar to the summer berry pie that I love to make around 4th of July. For this one, you make a sort of jam with strawberries that you then toss more strawberries into, and then you dump it all into a graham cracker crust. No baking (except the crust) and really minimal effort. It’s one of the best ways that I can think of to highlight the spring fruit– it’s not too sweet and retains a lot of the essence of fresh strawberries since they’re the main ingredient. Plus, it comes together in the time it takes to pick all the strawberries. Continue reading “Strawberry pie”

Rhubarb compote

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I recently discovered rhubarb. I knew what it was, and I had some ideas about what it tasted like, but I’d never actually eaten it. I remember when I was little there was a patch of rhubarb in my parents’ backyard, but my mom cut it down because my dad and I wouldn’t eat anything that she made with it. Tasting it now, I understand why I didn’t want it as a child– I wanted all things sweet, and rhubarb, although it can be a little sweet if you dump sugar in it, is really tart.

Also, rhubarb is funny looking. Who expects something that looks like this to taste good? I see chard when I look at that picture, not something that will turn into a delectable spring treat. But when you simply chop up the pretty pink stalks, toss them with some sugar and a spoonful of water, and let it all boil down for several minutes until everything falls apart, it becomes something that you don’t want to stop eating. Continue reading “Rhubarb compote”

Pear and hazelnut frangipane tart

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There is a huge container of Nutella sitting in my pantry. It’s bigger than the biggest one in the store. In fact, it is this. Can you believe it? Is that enough Nutella? Well, I don’t want to be the person to say “Of course that is enough Nutella” because that’d bite me in the butt someday. I actually just found a giant 11 kilo (almost 25 pound) jar of Nutella online, so the huge amount in the pantry has been one-upped. But it’s still a lot.

I’m talking about Nutella because I think it’s the most common way that a lot of us have eaten hazelnuts. I can’t even think of a time I’ve eaten something that’s just hazelnut, not chocolate and hazelnut. Maybe hazelnuts aren’t a southern thing? Pecans definitely are a southern baker’s go-to nut, but they’re also sort of everyone’s go-to baking nut. Maybe I should try to help change this, though, because hazelnuts are awesome. Continue reading “Pear and hazelnut frangipane tart”

Red wine poached pears

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Now that I’m back from afar, it’s back to cooking and blogging and vegetables and all of the normal stuff. I actually had planned on continuing to blog while on my trip; the new posts you saw were things that I’d preemptively written in preparation of not being in the kitchen, and I thought that I could continue to write and give you some real-time stories of adventure while away. That whole idea failed though–I emailed Ben when to hit publish for those two posts and quickly gave up any ideas of writing when I realized that typing more than a paragraph on an iPad would be an enormous and practically impossible feat. However, I had gone ahead and prepared a few dishes that I wanted to share, so now I’ll get started on that!

The most pressing thing that I have to share are poached pears. Poached pears, specifically red wine poached pears, are God’s gift to humans. The pears themselves are tasty, but the reduced wine syrup that’s lightly spiced, slightly fruity, and velvety sweet, is what really brings us a little heaven on earth. I dream of using the winey syrup in every way imaginable: Alongside the pears (of course), poured over vanilla ice cream, as a base in which to nestle a slice of flourless chocolate cake, out of a dog bowl so I can lap it up whenever I wish. Continue reading “Red wine poached pears”

Chocolate spice cake

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Valentine’s Day is coming up, and if you’re going to bake something to show your loved ones some affection, it’s time to get down to business. There are two days (maybe more like one and a half) left to decide what to make, so there is plenty of time to get started on a fancy, complex recipe. But if you’re like me, you want to make something delicious that’s not too complicated and is also a bit different than the ordinary chocolate chip cookies, brownies, or– dare I say it?–store-bought chocolates. Continue reading “Chocolate spice cake”

Candied orange peel

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I promised you a citrus recipe, so here it is. It’s probably not what you were expecting. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting either, but you might see that here sometime this month too–it just depends on my schedule and how much room there is in the fridge.

The story of my journey to make candied orange peel: I am a big fan of the public library. I go to it at least once a month, and more often than not, I end up in the cookbook section. There are so many cookbooks there, even more cookbooks than at a bookstore! The Dewey decimal system for cookbooks is pretty odd, though; I haven’t yet figured it out, but I’m certain that there are sections for regional cooking, desserts, baking, cookies, grilling and vegetarian recipes, among others. I never know where the sections are until I start seeing titles like The Cake Bible, Cakes for Dummies and riffs on that huddled together. It’s pretty easy to deduce what the section is once you’re staring at it, though. Continue reading “Candied orange peel”

Whole lemon bars

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Earlier this month, I was in a major cooking rut. I didn’t cook much over the holidays, and it was tough to get back to normal. There were loads of sweets in my house (if you can resist 70% off Christmas candy, then you are a stronger person than I), and I wanted the stash to be whittled down a bit before I began to add onto it with homemade goodies. I enjoy baking much more than cooking, and since I wasn’t doing that, I didn’t really want to do any of the food preparation thing. I did, though, and I’ve made it to the top of the hill. The Rolos are also mostly hidden in the depths of the pantry now; hopefully, they’ll be a happy surprise in a couple of months. So straightaway, it’s back into the kitchen, and especially back to baking. Continue reading “Whole lemon bars”

Boozy eggnog

I have a tale to tell about this eggnog. I found the recipe in the summer, and I filed it away for more appropriate weather, knowing that there’d be a wintertime function where it’d be appropriate.

Of course a wintertime event came (the cookie party that I can’t stop talking about for some reason), and I was prepared. I bought extra eggs; I bought extra milk. I was quite excited– I’d never had homemade eggnog before, and I really like eggnog. The store bought stuff seems to get a bad rap in some circles, but regardless of the questionable ingredients they have, I like the thick, sweet libation. Of course homemade would be even better, so I had no hesitations.

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Raspberry streusel bars

raspberrybars5Dating someone who doesn’t love sweets and baked goods is a real downer for me; I love them so much that I always need to have something in the house. Sometimes my something sweet is a cake, sometimes cookies, sometimes there are desperate times and it’s semisweet chocolate chips.

Since I always want to eat baked goods, I make them pretty often. Unfortunately (but also fortunately), I frequently am the sole person who eats the batch of whatever has been prepared. Every now and then, though, I’ll make something that tempts Ben, and the next thing I know, it’s gone the next day. These raspberry crumble bars are one of those few and far between baked goods. Continue reading “Raspberry streusel bars”