This week, for the first time in a few months, I had my canning pot on the stove. I had a mountain of carrots from my winter CSA that needed some attention, so I made a batch of vinegar pickles. When it comes to carrots, we’ve had an embarrassment of riches this winter and I’ve been trying to work through them every which way I can. A couple of disclosures are necessary here. First, I don’t exactly love carrots. Second, there are still plenty of carrots left in my crisper so I welcome your favorite carrot recipes in the comments. (If you’ve been keeping up with the podcast, this isn’t the first you’ve heard of my carrots.)
My carrot situation got me thinking about how my approach to preserving has changed since I first started. My initial excitement pushed me to try as many new recipes and flavor combinations as possible, whereas now I’ve settled into a more practical approach. Rather than daring flavors, I’m drawn to simple, tried and true recipes for those times when there’s a little extra of something. Preserving has quietly taken its place in my culinary habits, which I realize has meant I’m writing about it here less. (Consider this a very public mental note to try and change that a bit in the upcoming season.) Most of the time, I find myself turning to my reliable recipes by other folks, recipes that I’m happy to make without any real changes.
This carrot daikon kimchi from Doris and Jilly Cook is one of those recipes. I find myself coming back to it every year around this time. If you’ve yet to try fermenting vegetables, this is an ideal starter project. I cruised around the greenmarket yesterday and all the ingredients, except the ginger of course, are available now. I typically double the batch when I make it and leave out the scallions and pepper, but take a look at the original recipe and do what suits you. We use this as a condiment to accompany eggs and hash browns, grain dishes, and—most joyfully—on nachos. My mini-batch of fermented watermelon radishes that you see above was darn pretty, but I’m still perfecting it. I just started an “in-between season preserving” pinterest board to help me collect not-quite-spring inspiration. What kitchen projects are carrying you through to warmer weather?
I was SO HAPPY to see this tutorial from Choosing Raw on how to make green juice in a blender. This is an idea that has been knocking around my juicer-less brain for a while now, but I imagined that it would result in a big, green mess. Not so! (This is the tutorial that I told Kelly about on the podcast yesterday.)
Blood Orange Liqueur from Yossy at Apt 2B Baking Co. Enough said!
This post from Sassy Radish (!!!).
I love that Megan from Stetted made a home coffee bar part of her kitchen remodel.
A different take on granola from Naturally Ella.
The art in film ends from Art and Lemons. (So stunning!)
This auto-immune disease meme.
These coconutty bars from What Julia Ate seem like a less processed version of scotcheroos.
Finally, a couple of things I was happy to be a part of:
There’s a boozy buttermilk shake in my latest for Serious Eats plus two other drinks that feature Creme Yvette.
I was humbled to be mentioned in this great piece on food bloggers and feminism over at Ms. Magazine.
There’s this line from my college thesis, the little collection of poems that helped me stumble out into the world with my first degree in creative writing, that I consider one of the few salvageable things in it. I’m horrible this way, doubling back and dismissing things I’ve written when they lose their luster. I know I’m not the first or only one to do this, but—geez—it’s no good. As soon as something isn’t shiny and new in my mind, my impulse is to burn it to the ground and make something shinier and newer. I’m getting better. Kelly and I talked about this on the podcast this week and I mentioned that I really feel like I’m getting more patient with my creative self as I approach 30. (God, I am SO PSYCHED to be 30, but that’s for another time.) So far, this has been my favorite part about getting older.
The line from my college poem is something like, (I cannot give you the exact line because I’ve successfully eliminated any paper trail and three hard drive crashes later, there isn’t electronic evidence. And, well, I feel absurd quoting myself, but here we go…) “we throw bread in the air and hope for birds.” I remember liking this line at the time, feeling that bit of tense energy that comes when you’ve written something that connects with something else somewhere and it is good. Now, I look at those words and admire just how emo they are. It’s real early-twenties vulnerability that I bet I wouldn’t be able to write now.
Here’s the best part: for the past year or so, I’ve been ears deep in giving myself to new creative things and if that isn’t just like throwing bread in the air and hoping for birds then I don’t know what is. This is why I’m shutting down this OMG I’M ALMOST 30 nonsense because rather than writing a cute metaphor for taking risks I’m getting better at actually doing it. I’m quite sure it took me longer than it takes most folks to muster the confidence to do this, but here I am.
I have a vegan cheesecake to share with you. It’s not at all related to getting shit done unless a non-dairy cheesecake represents a risk for you, in which case I suggest you buck up and put some cashews in a blender. I know that for some of you, no amount of adjectives will convince you that this treat is just as creamy, tangy, and rich as its dairy counterpart, but it is all of those things. I also like this recipe because, save for the meyer lemons, these are ingredients that I tend to have on hand.
adapted from My New Roots
Vegan Meyer Lemon Cheesecake
- 6 medjool dates, halved and at room temperature
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 1/8 t salt
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
- juice of 2 meyer lemons
- zest of 2 meyer lemons
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 1/3 cup liquid coconut oil
- 1/3 cup agave
- Rub coconut oil on a 6-inch springform pan and set aside.
- In a food processor or mini-chopper combine the dates, pecans, and salt. Blend until uniform and the pecans look like a very coarse meal.
- Press the pecan/date mixture into the springform pan using your fingers to achieve a relatively even thickness. Set aside.
- Strain the cashews of their soaking liquid and rinse them well. Place them in a blender with the remaining ingredients.
- Blend on high until the mixture is very smooth. This took me about two minutes of blending and I had to stop and scrape the sides a few times.
- Pour the filling mixture onto the crust and smooth the surface. Cover with foil and place in the freezer until solid.
- When ready to serve remove from the freezer 30 minutes prior to serving and immediately remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Garnish with candied meyer lemons (see notes below) if desired.
- Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge.
- If you prefer not to use agave or don’t need this to be vegan, replace the agave with honey or another liquid sweetener of your choice.
- To pretty it up, I followed these instructions from Martha Stewart to candy a single meyer lemon for a garnish.
- Before I had my 6-inch springform pan, which is now one of my most beloved, I made a version of this in a saran-wrap lined round pyrex and it worked ok. I left enough extra saran-wrap that I was able to use it to pull out the cake
- This can be done in a normal (ie: $20) blender. No Vitamix here
- I ordered my meyer lemons here.
The folks over at Blisstree recently asked me to develop a brunch recipe for their cooking series called “Brunch-off” using a seasonal ingredient of their choice. Well, when I found out my ingredient would be kale, you can guess how psyched I was. I used this fantastic gluten-free seeded bread recipe, which is a new favorite of mine, to make a rustic, winter kale salad panzanella. Head on over to Blisstree for my Kale Salad Panzanella recipe.
This was my second attempt at gluten-free panzanella, so I feel like I’m working toward a good strategy for successfully making this bread-heavy dish gluten free. My first tip for gluten-free panzanella is to really toast the bread. It lends some extra crunch to the salad and helps the bread hold together. The second thing I learned is that a successful gluten-free panzanella will require less liquid/dressing than regular panzanella for the same reason: the bread will hold together better. Finally, I really loved how this turned out with a whole grain, seeded bread compared to the more traditional white bread.
I also wanted to share a couple other recent projects I’ve been working on that I suspect you might enjoy.
Nicole Taylor, aka @foodculturist, has been posting a cookbook a day on instagram in celebration of Black History Month. Such a cool project.
The gluten-free chocolate chip cookies from Cookie + Kate are next on my to-make list.
Sprouted Kitchen makes these DIY Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups sound so easy.
Casey’s review of Pizza Hut’s new “sliders” on Serious Eats is hilarious and involves her cat Harry.
This sweet potato fry primer and recipe from My New Roots has serious potential to make it into regular rotation.
After being tempted for the past few years, I finally treated myself to some meyer lemons from Lemon Ladies Orchard. If you want to do the same, do it soon as they’re nearing the end of their season.
And, finally, congrats to Beth, random #28, for winning my Classic Snacks Made from Scratch Giveaway. Thanks everyone for entering! If you weren’t as lucky as Beth, buy Classic Snacks Made from Scratch now.
The first time I met Casey Barber I was so psyched to interview her for the podcast and when we bonded over peeling the marshmallow coconut skin off of Sno-balls, I knew she was exactly the person you’d want on your side for DIY snacks. At that point, her book, Classic Snacks Made From Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-name Treats, was in its earliest stages and I have been anticipating it ever since.
Classic Snacks Made From Scratch is full-color, has that lay-flat binding that I wish was required of every cookbook, and is packed with gorgeous photos. The one thing that really stuck out to me is how simple the recipes are, in the best way. I certainly never imagined that it was possible to make Corn Nuts at home, let alone with only four ingredients, but Casey makes it happen.
I have seriously fond memories of globby tapioca pudding on fast-food salad bars (remember when Wendy’s had a salad bar?!), but am slighty embarrassed to admit that I had never thought about making it myself. The recipe in Classic Snacks Made From Scratch made me realize that tapioca is basically the easiest pudding to make ever. I successfully cooked some up while multi-tasking (not my strong point) and it totally took me back.
I had a minor freak-out when I realized there was a recipe for homemade Sour Patch Kids in the book. I’m just the sort of weirdo that has citric acid and copious amount of powdered gelatin stashed in my pantry, so these also came together so easily. (If you’re not my sort of weirdo, there’s a really helpful resources section at the back of the book to help you find stuff like citric acid.) The instructions and recipe headnotes in Classic Snacks Made From Scratch include phrases like, “The sugar will form a big, scary, hard clump when it hits the gelatin, but don’t worry,” which is exactly how I want to be talked to when dealing with anything that’s 300 degrees. In other words, the book is totally approachable.
To celebrate the launch of Classic Snacks Made From Scratch, I have one copy to give away. Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win by 5pm ET on Friday, February 22nd (US and Canadian entries only and one entry per person, please). I will choose a winner at random.
Sour Patch Kids
- For the Jellies
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime, lemon, or orange juice or bottled cherry juice
- 1/2 t citric acid
- 1/2 cup water, divided
- 4 (1/4 ounce) envelopes powdered unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 T powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- 1 T cornstarch
- 1 T granulated sugar
- 1/2 t citric acid
- MAKE THE JELLIES: Whisk the fruit juice and citric acid with 1/4 cup water in a 2-quart straight-sided saucepan until the granules are fully dissolved. Sprinkle the gelatin as evenly as possible over the surface; it will absorb the liquid on it own without whisking or stirring.
- Whisk the sugar with the remaining 1/4 cup water in a separate straight-sided saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, uncovered, stirring until the sugar fully dissolves. When the liquid starts to bubble, stop stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan. Cook undisturbed until the sugar reaches 300 degrees on the thermometer. You'll notice the liquid thicken to a more syrupy texture as the boiling slows and the bubbles become less "furious"--but a thermometer is the most surefire way to know when you've reaches the right temperature without undercooking or overshooting.
- Carefully pour the hot sugar into the gelatin and place the saucepan over medium-low heat. The sugar will form a big, scary, hard clump when it hits the gelatin, but don't worry: gently and continuously stir over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, and it will soften and dissolve until there are no more clear lumpy bits. If the liquid starts to boil, lower the heat.
- Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square glass baking dish and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.
- COAT THE CANDIES: Whisk the powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl, and whisk the granulated sugar and citric acid together in another small bowl. Set aside.
- Set a wire cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet, making sure the rack fits comfortably inside the "walls" of the sheet.
- Lightly dust a cutting board with powdered sugar, spreading it with your hand to make an even dusting. Carefully lift a corner of the set gelatin block and peel the candy out of the pan and onto the cutting board. Flip over once so that both sides have a fine coating of sugar. Slice into a dozen 1/2 inch strips and cut each strip into 5 candies, each about 1 1/4 inches long.
- If the candies are starting to "weep" and get goopy and sticky first dredge them in the cornstarch-powdered sugar mixture, a few at a time, tapping on the side of the bowl to remove excess powder. Then toss them in the sugar-citric acid mixture. If the candies are dry to the touch, simply coat them in the citric acid mixture.
- Let the coated candies dry for 8 hours on the cooling rack until the coating is hard and crunchy.
- Store the candies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to a week.
Cocktails that I really swoon over tend to fall into two camps: herbal/floral and brown. This one, as you see, falls in the former. I’m a fan of floral tastes in general—I have exactly one kitchen cabinet’s worth of “pantry” space and still have bottles of both orange blossom and rose water. Priorities.
The floral notes in this cocktails come from Creme Yvette, a once-forgotten liqueur with notes of violet, berries, vanilla, orange peel, and honey. A 750 ml bottle will run you just under $50 and for me that definitely falls into splurge territory. However, since it’s not the starring spirit in a drink, it should last you just short of forever. And if you’re a person who is inclined not to ignore that holiday later this week, a bottle of this terribly lovely liqueur and couple of these ruby hued cocktails would be a fine way to celebrate.
This drink is essentially a Blue Moon, but I had some blood orange juice leftover from my Serious Eats piece, so I plugged that in here. The result is a pretty, not-too-sour gin cocktail with all sorts of nice berry and floral flavors.
Blue Moon Cocktail Variation
- 2 oz Hendrick's Gin
- 1/2 oz Creme Yvette
- 1 oz Blood Orange Juice
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker.
- Strain into a coupe glass and serve.
This Is Just To Say
I did not share
my rangpur lime bars
It’s just that
I’ve been so busy
and it’s easier to grow
citrus in Queens
than it is to get
film developed at CVS
(The idea for rangpur lime bars is Yossy’s and the recipe that I used is David Lebovitz’s. Gluten-free folks, I used 100g superfine brown rice flour, 20g tapioca flour, 20 g gluten-free oat flour, and 1/4 t xanthan gum for the 1 cup of AP flour that the crust calls for.)
When I started a podcast, I knew right away that I loved it. I was enamored by the parallels between recording a conversation and taking a photograph—the feeling of creating an artifact out of the everyday. Almost immediately, I also began to see ways that I could make the podcast better, but I knew I’d have to step back to make it happen—to give myself the time and space to re-imagine and find a willing partner in crime. Well, let me tell you, I’m a big ol’ Virgo and “stepping back” does not come easily.
But I did and I’m so happy with how it turned out. I’m really excited to finally share the new Alphabet Soup featuring Kelly Bakes! The podcast still combines the two things I love most—food and writing—but, now I get to talk about the stuff I like with my friend Kelly. Every. Single. Week. She’s funny and drinks bourbon. I think you’re going to like her.
Our new episode will be live tomorrow, so head on over to Alphabet Soup and subscribe on itunes.
In the name of tackling big, bad problems with small changes, I’m here to tell you to make masking tape a staple in your kitchen. Even the most conservative estimates about how much food we waste in a year are staggering. As much I try to make my kitchen a low-waste operation, I know the biggest trigger for me to waste food is when I don’t remember how long something has been in the fridge. All too often, this leads my food-borne-illness-paranoid brain to throw something away “just to be safe.”
After meaning to do it forever, I took a cue from my short stint in a professional kitchen, and stashed a sharpie and a roll of masking tape in the drawer with my kitchen utensils. I now try to be in in habit of labeling everything from homemade syrups to refrigerator pickles to egg whites. Basically, anything that hasn’t been slapped with an expiration date. It not only makes me more confident that foods are still good, it gives me a greater, at-a-glance sense of what needs to be used up and when. The tape peels off easily and in my experience it doesn’t leave any residue.
How do you cut waste and stay organized in the kitchen?
More masking tape in the kitchen ideas: