Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Fool with Ruby Port Wine


My goodness, is it still strawberry season? It feels like it's been strawberry season for ever. You think I'd be bored of strawberries by now... but... well, I'm not. Call me crazy, but this week I sort of, well, splurged. I bought 8 lbs of strawberries. But they were only $1 a pound! The temptation was too hard to resist. I know. I'm so weak.

The thing is, I'm having a hard time coming up with creative ideas for what to do with all these strawberries. I already made jam. Got any other suggestions? (But please. Don't suggest I eat them plain. I've already eaten 4 lbs that way.)

Ok, I lied. I'm a big fat liar. I did come up with this. It's a strawberry fool. And as Nate, His Pickyness said, "wow. this is pretty good!" See? if His Pickyness likes it, you will too. It's practically a law of physics.

A fool, by the way, is a fruit puree folded into whipped cream, usually accompanied by some kind of liquor. (A fool is also something else that is fun to joke about, but I'm not going to start dragging out the ol' Shakespeare references today). It's great for summer... because you don't have to turn on your oven. Or your stove. And no fancy-pants equipment or ingredients required! Well, except for the port. But I don't think buying a bottle of port is especially punishing. Poor me, what will I ever do with the rest of this bottle of delicious port? It's going to be some hard labor finishing it off, I tell you. (sarcasm? yes). On the other hand, if you just decided to skip the port, this would still be amazing. I'm really humble about my recipes, can you tell?


But seriously, this recipe is simplicity at it's finest, and also? Will totally knock your socks off. Or your guests' socks. They will be wondering how many hours over a hot stove you labored to make this beauty, and also, where are their socks? (I know, that was awful. Let's just get to the recipe, shall we?).

Oh, and also? If you have any suggestions for using up the rest of these strawberries, I am all ears. Please. Save me from these 4 lbs of strawberries.


Fresh Strawberry Fool with Ruby Port Wine

2.5 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon ruby port wine

Whip 1 cup whipping cream in a stand mixer. When cream begins to form soft peaks, add 1/4 cup sugar. Whip on high until stiff peaks form. Don't overwhip - you'll make butter. (true fact).

Place 2.5 cups strawberries in a blender.

Add 1/4 cup sugar

Puree until just smooth. It's ok if there are a few small lumps. They are tasty, tasty lumps.

Add 2 cups strawberry puree to whipped cream. (reserve 1/2 cup strawberry puree for later).

Add 1 tablespoon ruby port wine to whipped cream and strawberries.

Fold strawberry puree, ruby port, and whipped cream gently together.

layer whipped cream mixture together with reserved strawberry puree. Swirl it around to look really artsy and impressive.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Practically Perfect Oven Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter


I know what you are probably thinking: plain ol' chicken? Hmm. Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks. I like my meat with some flavor thankyouverymuch.

People of the internet, if you thought that, you would be seriously and sadly mistaken, and obviously, you also have never tasted a well roasted chicken before. If you had, you would never have uttered such blasphemy against chicken. Really. Because roasted chicken, in all its simplicity, is glorious. And this particular recipe is killer.


I think one of the most difficult adjustments to life at home with baby is the lack of structure inherent in my days. Work provides natural structure to life: working then playing, waking then sleeping, the rhythm of life is clearly defined by the demands of your job and the position of the sun. But when you have a newborn baby, all the boundaries disappear: working, not-working, sleeping, and waking begin to blend together into a mushy purple haze. Like suddenly, it's 5am and you stumble out of bed for the umpteenth time to feed the baby, snuggle down on the couch with him, and then suddenly you jolt awake (did I fall asleep during a feeding again?) and it's 6:30am, and the half drunk bottle of milk is mushed up against the sleeping baby's nose, and your boobs are aching and leaking like fountains because you missed your 5:30am pumping session. Where exactly was the sleeping/waking, working/not-working line there? I don't know, the line went AWOL a long time ago. It now seems perfectly normal to sleep in the middle of the day and run a load of laundry while watching Battlestar Galactica and feeding the baby at 4am.

Under such circumstances, you sort of have to cling to whatever structure you can make for yourself. You need something to distinguish night from day, and weekdays from weekend (because as as we have already established, motherhood is a job with no breaks, weekends, or vacations). For me, that means it's really important to do something different, anything different at all really, to make Saturday and Sunday special and different from the rest of the week.


One way to do this is make up a weekly chore routine: you know, Monday grocery shoping, Tuesday library, Friday laundry and farmer's market, etc. It's important to not allow myself to do "work" (ie: do the laundry and the housework) on Saturday or Sunday. It's important to go to church and the beach on the weekend. And finally, I think it's important to have Sunday night dinner. I like the idea of having a "big" family meal on Sunday night, a meal that is a little special, a little more fancy than usual. I just decided to institute this ritual this week because I am sick of the monotony and sameness of baby care, but I think it's a great tradition to have, regardless of whether you are currently enslaved to a newborn's needs or not.

I honestly can't think of a better dish to start this weekly tradition off with than this roasted chicken recipe. I have been making different versions of roasted chicken for years, but this one is hands down my favorite. It's so good that Nate (he is so gosh darn picky too!) who professes not to like chicken because it's "boring," spent most of last night gushing about how good this was. It's simple and elegant, bursting with flavor, and meltingly tender.


Practically Perfect Oven Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter
Adapted from Bon Appetit January 2001

Hi internet, I'm German. I have little square hands, a ridiculous amount of hair, and I cook with butter. As you make have noticed by now, this is not a low fat food blog. Yes, all my recipes have like, a million pounds of butter in them. But please chew on this little nugget: when I was pregnant my doctor made me meet with a nutritionist, and my nutritionist said butter is ok. Yes, you heard me right. BUTTER IS OK! Sure, butter is made of fat, but a) hydrogenated, trans-fat, high-fructose corn syrup, preservative laden junk food is much worse for you and you probably indulge in that occasionally and b) a little butter goes a long way to making you feel fuller faster, and it helps keep your blood sugar levels lower. So like, when I asked him if it was ok to have toast for breakfast, he literally told me "only if you have butter on it." YES.

So please enjoy this recipe in all it's herb butter glory, and if you start to feel a twinge of guilt about the butter, just remember: Beck's nutritionist said it's ok!

What do I need for this fabulous recipe?
1 roasting chicken 4-6 lbs
, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup butter
(1 stick, or 120g) softened but not melted
1 tablespoon fresh thyme + 3 large sprigs
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley + 3 large sprigs
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary + 3 small sprigs
kosher salt
cracked pepper

roasting pan and rack
cotton kitchen twine
meat thermometer

Amazing but optional gravy
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons thickening flour (all purpose flour, or gluten-free sweet rice flour or arrowroot starch)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and position rack in the lower third of the oven.

Here is a picture meant to represent all the things you should have for this recipe: See that bottle of wine? pretend it's a really a box of chicken stock. And pretend that little jar of coriander isn't there. I have this terrible habit of taking pictures of the wrong ingredients. Soooooory.

Get your herbs. Take 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary, and 1 tablespoon parsley and chop finely.

Mix chopped herbs into butter, along with 1 pinch salt.

With your fingers, loose chicken skin. Slide your fingers under the skin starting from the neck side, and working your way to the legs.

With your fingers, spread 3 tablespoons of the herb butter mixture under the skin. Make sure it gets spread around over the breast meat and legs. Sprinkle outside of the skin with a pinck of kosher salt and some cracked pepper. Spread an additional 2 tablespoons of the herb butter on the outside of the skin, over the breasts and legs.

Stuff the cavity with the 3 sprigs thyme, 3 springs parsley, and 3 sprigs rosemary.

Tie the chicken's legs together with cotton kitchen twine, and tuck the wings under.

Place chicken on roasting pan.

Roast chicken in 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, and brush skin with herb butter. Roast chicken for 30 more minutes. Remove from oven, and brush skin with herb butter a second time. Replace chicken in oven, and roast until thigh meat registers 180 degrees on an instant read thermometer (about 30 minutes). Remove from oven, and brush with herb butter. Let rest for at least 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.

Amazing but Optional Gravy

Tip chicken up to allow any juices from the cavity to drain into the roasting pan. Remove chicken and rack to a cutting board for carving. Set roasting pan over a burner on high heat, and add 1 cup chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, and scrape up any bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Strain into a sauce pan.

Add any left-over herb butter mixture to the sauce pan. Add 2 tablespoons flour (sweet rice four, arrowroot starch, or corn starch if you are cooking gluten-free, all-purpose flour if you are not). Bring to a boil, and whisk vigorously until sauce comes together and thickens. Add more flour to thicken, or more stock to thin.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Easy Peasy Blender Hollandaise Sauce with Tangerines and Lemon


I'm going to tease you with eggs benedict but not give you a recipe until tomorrow. Aren't I mean? I'm so mean. Watch me being so mean. Can I console you a hollandaise sauce recipe? Because you have to make hollandaise if you are going to make eggs benedict, right? See, there's a purpose to the meanness.

Hollandaise sauce makes me so happy. So lemony, so buttery, so velvety drizzled over asparagus or poached eggs. It's just, you know, such a hassle to make. And sometimes, it doesn't come out and it curdles. And it doesn't keep well, so you have to eat ALL of it or else throw it away. It's kind of a bummer.


Luckily we can have it when we have brunch at a fancy restaurant, right? WRONG. Honestly, you should never eat restaurant hollandaise sauce. Ever, ever. Just, go read Kitchen Confidential and you'll understand. Mmm. Bacteria soup. So healthful. (Sarcasm friends, in case you weren't sure).

All of that conspires together to mean that I only ever enjoy hollandaise sauce about once a year.

Until now.

This particular recipe is easy peasy. Seriously! All you need is a whisk and a blender. I have never made an easier hollandaise sauce, and it keeps like a dream. You know what that means? I CAN HAVE IT EVERY SINGLE DAY. Um, until it runs out I guess. But I have a container of it in my fridge right now, ready to be drizzled over my next poached egg on hot buttered toast (hallelujah!).

You better believe I am going to enjoy it.

Easy Peasy Hollandaise Sauce with Tangerines and Lemon
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

5 tbs tangerine juice
(from fresh, ripe tangerines, if possible.)
3 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs water
5 large eggs
1/4 tsp white wine vinegar (or other white vinegar)
1.5 cups butter (3 sticks, or 3/4 lb), just melted

Stuff you Need
A wisk
a small sauce pan
a blender


Take your 5 teaspoons of tangerine juice

And your 2 tablespoons of lemon juice Combine 5 tablespoons tangerine juice with 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a small bowl.

Got your five eggs? Separate the yolks from the whites. I do this by straining them through my fingers. But do it however you like. And save those whites for an omelet or something. No need to be wasteful.

Combine five egg yolks in a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water. Whisk constantly over VERY LOW HEAT (the lowest your burners will go), until yolks are frothy, and just starting to thicken. Remove from heat, and add 1/2 of the tangerine-lemon juice mixture to stop the cooking. Continue to whisk constantly.

Put the mixture into your blender, and add remaining juice mixture, 1/4 teaspoon vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Puree.

Reduce blender speed to low. In a slow stream, add three sticks of melted butter. If necessary, add butter in batches, pureeing on low between batches.

Drizzle over something yummy.

And look how well it stores! Still liquid and drizzleable, even when cold! See, I'm not really mean. I am so nice to you. You may now shower me with appreciation.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Crispy Chewy White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies (gluten free! or not.)


I would like to announce to the entire world, via the internet, that I HAVE ALREADY LOST ALL THE BABY WEIGHT. Yeah me! I rock!

Well, "technically" I have 4 lbs to go, but my boobs have grown from tennis balls to small watermelons, so I think that those last 4 lbs doesn't count. I mean, 4 extra lbs of boobs isn't exactly anything to complain about. right? Women pay thousands of dollars to plastic surgeons for 4 lbs of extra boobs like this, so I'm going to call it even and say that in only 5 weeks, I HAVE LOST ALL THE BABY WEIGHT! And I have great boobs!

I totally deserve a cookie. So I made myself some.


And by the way? These cookies are excellent. What better way to reward myself than with a totally awesome melt in your mouth cookie? Gluten, no gluten, I can't even tell. You can make them whatever which way you want to.

What I like, nay LOVE, about these cookies (besides the whole oatmeal and white chocolate part) is the texture. Often gluten-free anything is texturally horrible - crumbly and dry, or gummy and wet. Same goes for oatmeal cookies (gluten or otherwise), which are often cakey, crumbly, and dry. But these cookies are nothing of the kind; they defy stereotypes. They are crisp, buttery, oaty, hearty, and chewy all at the same time.

Can't eat gluten? Maybe you have been living under the perception that oatmeal is off limits. WRONG! Recent research has shown that oats do not contain gluten. Any gluten in oats is the result of cross-contamination during growing and processing, and gluten-free oats should now be available at your local health food store. I have been using Bob's Red Mill rolled oats, and Bob? I love you so much. Thankyou for giving me oats again. I am dedicating these cookies to you. Well, that and my body's return to pre-pregnancy jeans. I love you, pre-pregnancy jeans!


Crispy Chewy White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Cooks Illustrated

you will need this stuff:
1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
1/3 cup quinoa flour
1/4 tsp xanthum gum
1 pinch salt
(1 cup all purpose flour can be used instead of the GF flours and xanthum gum)

1 + 3/4 sticks butter (14 tbs)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg from a happy, free range chicken
1 tsp vanilla
2 + 1/2 cups GF rolled oats
1 + 1/4 cups white chocolate chips (use real chocolate! buy a 6oz bar if necessary)


PREHEAT your oven to 350 degrees, and mix together flours and xanthum gum

Cream together 1 + 3/4 stick (14 tbs) butter, 1 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Beat together on high until butter lightens in color (about 5 minutes). Try REALLY hard NOT to sample. Because if you do, well, you will probably start to feel sick. Not that I would know.

Add 1 egg and 1 tbs vanilla, and beat until fully incorporated.

Gently mix in flour mixture on medium setting.

Add 2 + 1/2 cup Oats.

Add 1 + 1/4 cup white chocolate chips. Mix gently together until incorporated.

Divide Cookies evenly into small balls, about 2tbs each, and set on parchment paper on a cool cookie sheet (a hot sheet will make cookies melt prematurely).

Bake 15-20 minutes, until cookies are golden. Let cool, then transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cherry, Cherry, Quite Contrary


It may be that while at the farmer's market last week, I bought a pound of the season's first cherries. And it might be that I had all sorts of wild plans for what to do with those cherries. Clafoutis. Cherry Pie. Cherry Preserves. Sweet cherry icecream. Something tasty to share with you.

Well it might have happened that I may have had a little sample of those cherries. And it's entirely possible that those cherries were absolutely delicious.


There may have been a little snacking here and there while I tried to figure out what to do with them. I may have required a few extra samples as to ascertain the best flavor pairings. It was purely scienific. Honest.

I was really careful not to eat too many. Yes somehow they all disappeared! Only the ugly ones were left. I have no idea how. It's a mystery. Probably some cherry bandit sneaking in and gobbling up all the cherries while I wasn't looking. Yep. That's probably it. So you see, it's the bandit's fault I don't have a cherry recipe for you.


Lucky thing the Farmer's Market is tomorrow. I think I'll get 2 lbs this time. Cause, you know, that pesky, cherry-eating bandit might be back.