(Chocolate) Hazelnut Butter

Toasted hazelnuts (or filberts as we used to call them in Oregon) are one of my favorite snacks. Between growing up in Oregon and Germany and lots of time in Italy, hazelnuts are in my blood. If you grind them up with a little salt, honey, olive oil and cocoa powder (optional), you get a spectacular treat. Eat by the spoonful, spread on toast, top your granola . . . good lord, it’s delicious! It’s a bit more like a nut butter than Nutella but the cocoa puts it in Nutella territory for sure. Try it without first and see what you think.

 

If you happen to have nuts in their shells, get cracking! It took me just about an hour to crack a pound of filberts yesterday. The nuts will be fresh and delicious (they keep better in shell) and you’ll save lots of $ but by all means use whatever you can get your hands on.

 

A jar of this makes a fantastic gift for someone you really love! And speaking of gifts, Cook With What You Have gift certificates make a good one too! Food makes people happy and we all need to eat so why not make it really delicious?!

 

(Chocolate) Hazelnut Butter

–adapted from Debbie Driscoll

 

Yields about 3 half-pints (ideal size for gift-giving)

 

If you use the cocoa you’ll need a little more oil to keep the texture creamy. It will be very creamy, even with less oil, when you’re making it but once you refrigerate it will solidify a bit more and get crumbly. Still very delicious but harder to spread.

 

1 lb shelled hazelnuts

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup), more if you want a sweeter version but start with this

1/4 cup olive oil (or more neutral oil like sunflower; make sure if using olive oil, it’s not at all bitter or it will overpower the nuts) + more if you’re using the cocoa powder (see below)

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (more to taste)

3 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

 

Spread nuts on a sheet pan and toast for about 15 minutes or until quite toasty smelling and a shade darker. Put toasted nuts on a dishtowel and let cool for a few minutes. Then use the towel to rub the skins off the nuts as best you can. Some will certainly remain, which is just fine. Collect the nuts, leaving the skins behind and put them in a food processor. They should be mostly cooled by now. Process for a few minutes, scraping the sides whenever needed until the butter forms and it moves in a big clump, about 3-4 minutes. Add the honey, salt and 1/4 cup oil and continue processing for another minute or so, scraping the sides as needed. Taste and see what you think. If you’d like, add cocoa and another 2-3 tablespoons oil. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, if needed. Then try not to eat it all right then and there!

 

Portion into 1/2 pint jars and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 

When Olive Oil & Salt Aren’t the Answer

 

“Just sauté in olive oil, season with salt and enjoy!” I say this a lot. Sometimes it’s true but sometimes it’s really not what’s needed. Tonight I had a large turnip, 1 leek and some yellowing stalks of celery. Luckily I also had a little knob of fresh ginger and some garlic and a few tangerines and my pantry always has sesame oil and soy sauce. And I had a block of tofu! And pretty much every time I’m at the store I buy a bunch of scallions and cilantro so there was that. It’s a habit that makes many meals so much better and why you see this usual greenery as I’ve come to call it in so many of my recipes. The mint in my garden has withstood the freezing temps and is still thriving so I also tossed in some mint. So I made up a sort of teriyaki tofu with turnips, leeks and celery and served that over rice. It was great. My kid who “hates” turnips ate all the vegetables and I enjoyed it much more than I would have a pan of sautéed vegetables with nothing but salt and olive oil.

 

It’s really not that most people don’t like vegetables. It’s just that preparation matters. It’s fun to prepare vegetables in ways that makes the most of the situation–the ingredients and the proclivities of the eater! No, we don’t always or even often have the bandwidth for any of this but sometimes the soy sauce, sesame oil, plenty of ginger and the usual greenery-formula is just what we need!

 

P.S. Do you need a gift for someone in your life who likes to cook and would enjoy the free-wheeling cook-with-what-you-have mo? Give the gift of a Cook With What You Have gift certificate! No clutter, no postage, just daily inspiration, flavor and good health!

 

Teriyaki-ish Tofu with Random Vegetables

 

1 block (usually about 8 ounces) firm tofu, briefly pressed between plates to remove some of the liquid, then cut into cubes

2 tablespoons oil

1 large turnip or 3 cups of whatever vegetables you have (carrots, peas, green beans broccoli, cauliflower, etc), finely chopped

1 leek or 1/2 onion, sliced

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced (optional)

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted for about 2 minutes in a dry skillet (optional)

Rice for serving

Marinade

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon or more, favorite chili sauce like Sriracha

1 tablespoon ginger, grated on a microplane or very finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced or grated on microplane

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Juice of 1/2 lime

1/3 cup orange juice

 

Cook rice.

 

Mix together all ingredients for the marinade. Put the tofu cubes in a baking dish and gently toss with half the marinade, making sure they’re in one layer.

 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over high heat and add tofu and cook for 5-7 minutes or until browning in spots. Remove tofu from pan and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon oil and saute turnip, celery and leek or whatever vegetables you’re using, stirring often for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are just softening. Add the remainder of the marinade to the vegetables and mix well and cook for another minute or two. Serve vegetables and tofu over rice and garnish with herbs and scallions and toasted sesame seeds, if you’d like.

 

Fudgy & Quick Chocolate Cookies

Need a gift for your child’s teacher? A sweet treat to bring to a party? Or just something to have on hand? These are the quickest and one of the most satisfying cookies I know. I vary these each time I make them. Sometimes I use whole-wheat pastry flour, sometimes spelt or sometimes just all-purpose. Around the holidays I use golden raisins and candied orange peel but sometimes it’s dried cherries or apricots. And sometimes I swirl in a few tablespoons of orange marmalade or other jam instead of the dried fruit.

 

So if you have 20 minutes (that includes the baking time!) and some cocoa on hand and a few other pantry basics you can have your chocolate/cookie fix or a gift in no time.

 

–adapted from pastry chef, writer, food stylist and friend Ellen Jackson

 

You mix these incredibly easy, fudgy cookies right in the saucepan.

 

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spelt or whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup granulated sugar or coconut sugar
*1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed) or coconut sugar
generous 1/3 cup plain, whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cups dried fruit or 1/3 cup jam (see headnote) (half and half chopped golden raisins and candied orange peel is my holiday favorite as dried sour cherries or cranberries

 

*I just made this live on a TV show and realized after the fact that I forgot the brown sugar! They are still really delicious so if you like dark chocolate and want a minimally sweet cookie, go ahead and skip that part!

 

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, soda, and salt and set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars. Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until just mixed. Add any dried, fruit nuts, and/or jam. If adding jam just gently swirl it through the batter, don’t evenly mix it in or it will get a bit lost in the final cookies.

 

Drop by level tablespoons 1 inch apart onto baking sheets or use a #40 cookies scoop (3/4 oz). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until almost set. Don’t over bake and err on the side of underdone, if you like moist, chewy cookies that is. They will firm up as they cool. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

 

P.S. Do you need a gift for someone in your life who likes to cook/bake? Give the gift of a Cook With What You Have gift certificate! No clutter, no postage, just daily inspiration, flavor and good health!

 

Noodles, Broccoli & Peanut Sauce for Busy Nights

I want to be making pies and testing side dishes but the reality of running a small business is one of constant hustle. And mostly I enjoy the hustle because I know you all want to be nourished everyday, feel good, and enjoy flavorful food without breaking the bank.

 

Sometimes my busiest days (when the pizza shop on the corner seems best, which it sometimes is!) are when I land on something noteworthy. When I feel pressed by work and family demands and budget constraints, I know you know the feeling. However, most of you don’t spend your busy days thinking about and working with food. Since I do, short-cuts and flavor combinations are top of mind and I get to share them with you and short-circuit some of that practice-makes-perfect time for you!

 

This recipe uses a couple of tricks:

  • cooking broccoli (or whatever veg you have) in the same pot of boiling water as the noodles (sequentially, although you can certainly time it to do them together as well)
  • making a quick marinade for the tofu and then adding peanut butter and water to it to make the sauce

 

For lots and lots of tricks and recipes you should subscribe! Or if you need more ideas for Thanksgiving sides or pies the Seasonal Recipe Collection has you covered (I’ve created tags Thanksgiving Side and Dessert to organize them all neatly for you). Use the discount code THANKS for access to the site for just $3.99/month.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Soba Noodles with Broccoli, Tofu and Peanut Sauce

 

While I have several similar dishes on this site this combination really works well AND is a good template–different noodles, different sauce, different veg. To make this sauce I add peanut butter and water to some of the marinade for the tofu. It streamlines things a bit and gives the dish variety without too extra much effort.

 

Variations

  • substitute ramen, rice noodles or spaghetti
  • substitute any cooked/roasted vegetable you’d like such as cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, kohlrabi, summer squash, green beans, snap peas, etc.
  • substitute this Chili Tahini sauce 
  • Substitute leftover chicken or other meat for the tofu (no need to bake, just toss with a little of the marinade)
  • Pan-fry the tofu instead of baking it, especially if you’re in a rush

 

Serves 4-5

 

6 ounces soba noodles (or other noodles, see variations)

1 block (usually about 8 ounces) firm tofu, briefly pressed between plates to remove some of the liquid, then cut into cubes

1 large stalk broccoli, stems peeled and then cut into small chunks and florets cut fairly small as well for about 5-6 cups

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped

Marinade

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon hot pepper (optional)

2 teaspoons ginger, grated on a microplane or very finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated on microplane

Juice of 1 lime

2 teaspoons sugar or other sweetener, more to taste

Sauce

1/2 the above marinade

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

3-4 tablespoons water (or however much you need for just pourable consistency)

 

Hot sauce for serving

 

Preheat oven to 400

 

Mix together all ingredients for the marinade. Put the tofu cubes in a baking dish and gently toss with just shy of half the marinade, making sure they’re in one layer. Bake tofu for 20 minutes.

 

Meanwhile bring a pot of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt. Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the noodles to the pot and cook according to package instructions. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water and set aside in a bowl. Toss the noodles with about 1 tablespoon of the marinade and the scallions and cilantro.

 

To the remaining marinade, stir in the peanut butter and water until you have a good consistency. Taste and add soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice and or/sugar as needed.

 

Assemble the noodles, broccoli and tofu on a platter or mix together in a large bowl and serve with the peanut sauce.

 

On Time, Frugality and Satisfaction + Delicious Rice Patties

We’re all busy. We have dozens of competing needs. We all need to eat. Should we even cook?

 

There is no one or right answer. For me, however, cooking is a creative outlet, it saves money, gives me (some) control, grounds me in the seasons and my place on the planet. And it’s an expression of love. The money saving part is about using up the things I buy. It’s also about imagining a meal in the bits and pieces in my fridge and pantry to tip us towards eating in rather than grabbing pizza at the neighborhood shop (which we certainly do) or running to the store.

 

I have days where I wish dinner would just materialize. Since it never does, I’ve been thinking about what makes pulling together a meal less irksome on a busy day? For me, it’s the moment when my brain, muddled by too many to-do lists, somehow lands on an idea . . . . The idea might be sparked by a small container of leftover rice I spot. It might come from considering what my now-pickier adolescent son might eat using what I already have in the house (it’s a good thing I stock pasta, rice, couscous and polenta since he’d live on carbs alone). I had one such idea recently–rice patties with lots of herbs, egg to hold them together, a little leftover green sauce and a little cheese. I started grinning like a goof ball as the idea took shape. 10 minutes later we were eating them. They were really good!

 

I’m not always as gleeful as I was with the rice patties but the actual making of whatever it is, is satisfying. And if an idea does not materialize I go through my mental check list of standbys as I peruse the fridge and pantry: lentil soup, peanut/sesame noodles with whatever veg/herbs I have, frittata, curry, can-it-be-put-in-a-burrito?  It’s food after all and I pretty much always love to eat. And getting up from my computer to make that happen is almost always a good thing!

 

Lots of practice has made this way of cooking so fun and effective and I’ve been thinking about how I want Cook With What You Have to be a resource to short-circuit years and years of practice by guiding and giving permission to be creative, to be scrappy, to have that bunch of wilting cilantro or leftover rice be your inspiration that leads to something delicious and satisfying. Or if you already have all those years of practice, then for it to give you ideas to keep having moments of glee!

 

P.S. The E-books I’ve been writing are a very good way to be keep the inspiration going when dinner doesn’t just materialize:)!

 

Rice & Herb Patties

 

You can make these with nothing but leftover rice, a couple of eggs, and a few herbs or spices but there are so many options! And ratios and quantities are totally up to you and what you’re needing to use up. This batch included about 2 tablespoons of leftover Green Sauce (the simplified version w/out egg). Just be sure to add more eggs and/or cheese if you increase the amount of rice so that the patties stick together.

 

Variations

  • Finely chopped leftover cooked vegetables are a nice addition
  • Add a little soy sauce and/or fish sauce and toasted sesame oil
  • Add chopped capers and/or anchovies and garlic
  • Add minced, fresh chilies
  • Serve with hot sauce or plain yogurt or spicy mayo
  • Substitute other cooked grains for the rice, like quinoa or barley.

Serves 2-4, depending on what else you’re serving

 

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

2 eggs

1/2 cup chopped, leafy herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, dill and/or mint

1 scallion, white and green parts thinly sliced or 1 tablespoon onion, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch or two of red pepper flakes (optional)

1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar or cheese of your choice

Oil, for pan-frying

 

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, making sure to break up the rice well. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add spoonfuls of rice mixture to the pan, flatten slightly and cook for a few minutes until golden brown. Carefully flip and cook until browned and a little crispy. Repeat, adding a little more oil to the pan, with remaining mixture. Serve as is or with your favorite hot sauce, plain yogurt or spicy mayo.

Love Your Leftovers! + Chard, Tomato & Peanut Stew

Do you ever start thinking about the delicious leftovers you packed long before lunch time? I do! Some nights I want to cook new things but often I am relieved to find something edible and ready in the fridge. And I think we conservatively save $1,500/year by my husband taking leftovers to work. Making enough to be able to save that portion or two for the next day feels like free (and very delicious) food the next day!

 

So I’ve written an E-book focused on dishes that do well the next day or the next! The book costs $4.99 (but is free to subscribers to the Seasonal Recipe Collection so if you’ve been fence sitting on that one, subscribe!)

 

These dishes will make you start thinking about lunch long before you should be;)! There are salads–yes, ones that are fantastic the next day–soups, stews, stir-fried noodles, frittatas, curries and gratins. And the flavors span the globe with a deeply fragrant Red Lentil Dal to Stir-fried Ramen Noodles to Chard, Tomato and Peanut Stew.

 

Chard, Tomato & Peanut Stew

This comes together quickly and is rich (though vegan), and fragrant and suitable for many different leafy greens–mustard greens, collards, kale or turnip greens. You could substitute chickpeas for the potatoes or sweet potatoes.

 

Serves 4 +

 

2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon grated or minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Jalapeno chili, minced or 1/4- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups canned or fresh tomatoes, diced, or 1 1/2 cups roasted tomatoes, chopped or quickly blended for a smoother stew
2/3 cup peanut butter
4-5 cups water depend in how thick/thin you want the stew
1 bunch chard, washed and leaves thinly sliced and stems finely chopped (or other greens, see headnote)
4-5 small potatoes or 1 large sweet potato, scrubbed and cut into small bite-sized pieces or 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (see headnote)
Salt
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice or vinegar (to taste)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced (I didn’t have any for the version above and it was still fantastic)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

 

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, chard stems, garlic, ginger and hot pepper and stir well. Saute gently for about 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Put the peanut butter in a blender with 1 cup of the water and briefly blend. Add this mixture as well as the remaining water, the chard and the potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook gently for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Cook uncovered to thicken a bit if it’s too thin for your taste. Stir in the lime/lemon juice or vinegar. Taste and adjust with salt if needed.

 

Serve topped generously with cilantro, scallions and roasted peanuts. Feel free to pass your favorite hot sauce as well. Serve as is or over rice.

 

On Food & Love & Adolescence (+ Stove-top Mac n Cheese & Zucchini Lemon Bundt Cake)

My son is almost 13. He loves food. He used to eat most things I made. One of the ways I show my love for people is by cooking for them. Vis a vis my son that expression sometimes feels like a fine line between loving and spoiling. “Would you like a poached egg or crepes for breakfast?” is a common question proffered on week-day mornings in our house.

 

These days he wants no breakfast or maybe one or two bites of something. Why? In part because he went to bed too late and has no time, in part because maybe he’s really not hungry in the mornings, and I think in part because he’s rebelling against our expectations of him, including basic caloric requirements. . .

 

I’m so wrapped up in feeding and nourishing people that when my own son walks out the door (in a huff often) with nary a bite and then comes home having eaten only a fraction of his lunch I wonder how he can thrive. When I ask him he says: “Look at me! I’m fine! I’ll be the first to know when I’m not!” And he is thriving, I can see that he is.  And yet it’s hard for me to just let him be. He tells me I care too much and need to chill. I’m working on it. I am!

 

After he left in a huff this morning (because I asked whether he was going to drink his smoothy–which he didn’t) I’ve gone about my work day. I have plenty to keep me busy but then I see an overgrown zucchini on my counter and think of the Zucchini Lemon Bundt Cake he used to love (would he still love it?!) and whether I should make it when I’m done with my work.

 

I think I won’t make it because I need to find different ways of showing him my love my right now. And of course I’ll keep making things I think he likes but I’m working on expanding my love/parenting tool-kit . . .  like more listening and less talking.

 

He does consistently like my quick stove-top Mac n’ Cheese so if you find yourself in the presence of a hungry adolescent or really anyone who needs to eat and isn’t particularly into vegetables, give it a try!

 

Quick Stove-top Mac ‘n Cheese

 

Variations

  • Add vegetables such as peas, broccoli, cauliflower or finely chopped kale or chard about 3 minutes before the pasta is tender.
  • See this cauliflower pasta and this Brussels sprout pasta for similar dishes with vegetables.

Serves 2-3

 

1 1/2 cups tubetti (or ditalini or small elbow macaroni)

3 1/4 cups vegetable broth, chicken stock or water (if using water you’ll need 1/4 teaspoon salt)

1/2 cup heavy cream

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar or other grating cheese or a combination of cheddar and Parmesan

Salt, to taste (you won’t need much or any at all if you’re broth is salty–the cheese adds salt too)

Fresh parsley, basil or chives, for serving (optional)

 

Put the pasta and broth or water and salt in a medium saucepan and stir well and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 9-10 minutes uncovered until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is tender. At this point add the cream and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes, stirring often, until it thickens slightly and is nice and saucy.  Stir in the cheese and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. This quick version thickens a lot as it cools and is best enjoyed right away.

When you Start Thinking About Lunch at 10am . . .

For once I was grateful that my son dislikes (well, hates!) eggplant. I got all the leftovers to myself today at lunch-time (yes it may have been an early-ish lunch).

 

I made my first Eggplant Parmesan of the summer last night. I didn’t start cooking until 6:05pm and we had dinner at 7pm and the last half hour of that the dish was in the oven. So it can be done on a weeknight!

If you like eggplant but no one else in your family days, still make it. Leftovers are so good! And you may even convert a few doubters. . .

 

Weeknight Eggplant Parmesan

 

First of all I don’t salt and drain eggplant. I used to but don’t think it made a big difference especially with nice fresh eggplant. In this preparation it also doesn’t seem to need lots of oil and cooks up perfectly in just a tablespoon of oil. The dish is so flavorful and not at all heavy like some versions I’ve eaten (and enjoyed!) over the years.

 

Serves 4-6

 

2 large globe eggplants, sliced into ¼ – 1/3 –inch slices lengthwise or into rounds

Olive oil

Salt

3 generous cups tomato sauce (recipe below, or your favorite version) heated up

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons chopped basil

2 cups (or more) grated Parmesan or aged Asiago (less expensive & still delicious alternative)

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the largest skillet you have over medium-high heat. Add eggplant slices in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a few minutes and when the underside is nicely browning in places, flip and cook for a few more minutes until the slices are tender (but not falling apart) and browned. Remove from pan, add another tablespoon oil and repeat with remaining slices.

 

Heat up the tomato sauce with the minced garlic and basil, or just stir in cold if you’re in a hurry and you made the sauce earlier. Spread just a little tomato sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 13” baking dish (or something similar), cover with a layer of eggplant and spread a thin layer of sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients, ending with either eggplant and cheese or sauce and cheese.

 

Bake for 25 minutes or so until everything is bubbling and the cheese is browning on top. You can run it under the broiler for a few minutes if you want more color. Serve hot or warm.

 

Simplest Tomato Sauce

 

Tomatoes, olive oil, salt. That’s it. When the tomatoes are good it’s honestly all you need. And I make sauce with slicer and heirloom tomatoes, not just sauce types, all the time. It takes a little longer to cook down because they’re so juicy but with a little patience and high heat it’s pretty quick too.

 

Olive oil

2 lb +/- fresh tomatoes, diced (I don’t usually bother pealing and seeding them)

Salt

A little butter, to finish (optional)

 

Coat the bottom of a wide skillet with olive oil. Heat over high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes and a few pinches salt. Stir well, turn down to medium high and simmer, stirring often, until sauce thickens to your liking. Taste, adjust seasoning with salt and a tablespoon or two of butter, especially if the sauce is quite acidic.  Butter is THE perfecter of tomato sauce. Serve over spaghetti with Parmesan and fresh basil.

Late Summer Treat: Apple Dumpling

Be forewarned that you may find yourself eating too much of this or making it several times in a row or making lifelong friends with whomever you share it. I made this for our street’s block party last night and found myself scraping the corners of the pan in the dark to retrieve the last of the sticky caramel.

 

Gravenstein apples are ripening here and I’ve made two batches of this in the last week with more to come! It’s fun to experiment with different types of flour here so by all means use half whole wheat or whole spelt. The syrup might seem like too much but trust me, it’s not!

 

This does not take very long to prepare and bakes in 25-30 minutes. The biscuit dough comes together in a few minutes so pre-heating the oven and chopping the apples is the primary task. I’m a fast apple chopper but you’ll get faster, if you aren’t already, if you make this a few times!

 

And speaking of speed, if you have your regular meals sorted, possibly with the help of my new E-book  A Little Prep, A Lot of Freedom, about which I’m very excited, you’ll have time for things like Apple Dumpling!

 

 

Apple Dumpling

Serves 6-8

 

Biscuit dough:

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour or a combination of whole wheat pastry flour and all purpose

1 teaspoon salt

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

6 tablespoons cold butter

2/3 cup milk (preferably whole)

 

Filling:

About 4-5 medium/large apples (Gravensteins or other tart, baking apples are particularly good but use whatever you have), peeled cored and either thinly sliced or cut into small chunks (It’s important that the pieces are quite small so they cook quickly enough)

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup raisins (optional)

 

Syrup:

10 tablespoons butter (1 1/4 sticks of butter)

Scant 2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

 

Whisk the salt, baking powder and flour in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or work it into the flour with your hands, until the butter ranges in size from large peas to coarse meal. Add the milk and incorporate quickly with a fork. Stir until the dough comes together and then turn out on to a board and knead quickly to bring together into a homogenous dough. You only want to knead it for a few seconds. It doesn’t have to be completely uniform.

 

Sprinkle your counter with a little flour and roll the biscuit dough into a thin (¼-inch) rectangle, about 11 x 17.

 

Heat the syrup ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil and take off the heat.

 

Spread the chopped apples evenly over the rolled out dough. You want to pack on as many apples as you can but you will be rolling up the dough so keep that in mind. Sprinkle the apples evenly with the sugar and cinnamon and raisins, if using. Now carefully roll up the apple-filled dough starting on the short side. Roll as carefully and tightly as you can.

 

Slice the rolled up dough into 1 ½ -inch slices with a serrated knife (a bread knife works well) and arrange them, cut side up in an 8 x 13” baking pan, packing them in quite snuggly next to each other. Pour the syrup evenly over the rounds and bake until the apples are tender and the syrup is bubbling and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 400 if the dough is browning too quickly. Let cool just a bit and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream or just as is!

 

 

A Little Prep, A Lot of Freedom + Nicoise Salad

Hard-boiled eggs with gray rings around the yolks? There are far worse things in life. However, I am so easily pleased by simple things such as nicely cooked eggs. And a few, simple well-cooked elements, like eggs, beans and vegetables, make for lovely meals in myriad combinations.

 

I’ve been immersed in my most recent e-book–A Little Prep, A Lot of Freedom–and have been practicing what I preach. When I have a spare hour, I cook a bunch of vegetables, make a vinaigrette, toast some seeds and cook beans and then come dinner time, things come together with minimal effort. Take the classic Nicoise Salad: to make it all at once is straightforward but it does involve cooking 3 different things (eggs, potatoes, beans), making a dressing, etc.  However, with the vinaigrette already done and the potatoes and eggs already cooked, it’s pretty effortless.

 

This idea of prepping a handful of building blocks is about really cooking by using your senses and preferences within whatever constraints you have. It’s kind of the antithesis to meal planning in that you prep not knowing what exactly you’ll do with these elements but that they are there for you, for any need that arises. It’s how my family eats often–different base ingredients, different sauces, same method of balancing flavor and texture! The new e-book includes a dozen recipes/templates as well as a handy guide of how to get 7 elements prepped in an hour. It embodies the cook-with-what-you-have method and makes those simple pleasures a daily reward! 

 

Happy prepping & cooking all this mid-summer goodness!

 

P.S. And here’s another favorite salad (chickpeas, arugula, tomatoes, etc.) I recently made on air using the same vinaigrette included below, in case you’d like a visual!

 

Cook-with-what-you-have Nicoise Salad

 

This classic salad is actually a wonderful template. Cooked and raw vegetables, savory dressing, tuna, chicken or just vegetables are all delicious variations. 

 

Serves 4

 

 ¾ lb cooked green beans
1 lb boiled potatoes, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large tomatoes, cut into 3/4-inch wedges
4 hardboiled eggs, sliced
2 5-oz cans albacore tuna or fresh if you have it, seared and sliced (optional, see headnote)
Handful brined or oil-cured olives, halved or 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
4 cups lettuce, arugula, tender mustard greens, washed and torn (optional)

Vinaigrette:
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme

 

Put all dressing ingredients in a pint jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well until emulsified. Taste and adjust with more vinegar and/or salt or whatever else you think it needs. It should be bright and strongly flavored.

 

Toss the lettuce, if using, with a little of the vinaigrette and spread on a platter and arrange the eggs, beans, potatoes, olives, if using, and tuna on top. Generously drizzle the dressing over everything. 

 

 

Pasta Carbonara, a Spring Template (Many Green Things are Delicious Added to this Classic)

I cook as an expression of love and gratitude and hope and memories and nostalgia. I cook because I simply like to cook and express those feelings, and others. I also sometimes cook, not exactly as bribery, but as way to improve my 12-year-old’s mood.

 

Pasta Carbonara is pretty much a guaranteed mood-booster in our household. I like Pasta Carbonara, the Roman pasta dish of pancetta, egg, black pepper and Parmesan–brilliantly made in way that the residual heat of the just cooked pasta and a little hot pasta cooking water, cooks the eggy/cheese/peppery sauce.  But I like a little greenery, actually a lot of greenery and in the spring there are many ways to modify/augment this quick classic.

 

In this version I sauteed four heads of green/new garlic to which I then added the bacon (I never stock pancetta) and then when the dish was finished, stirred in three cups of radish seedlings (from my CSA) which just wilted from the heat of the finished dish. I loved this version, my 12-year-old not quite so much! Oh well!

 

Alternatively you can toss sliced asparagus or snap peas in with the pasta for the last few minutes of cooking and then drain them all together (don’t forget to save out 1/2 cup of cooking water) or stir in sauteed leafy greens of any kind or tender pea shoots. The silky sauce that defines carbonara is such a nice foil for all these green things.

 

May it lift your mood or those at your table!

 

P.S. I seem to be on an Italian kick these days. Here’s a quick TV segment featuring a Spring Vegetable Ragout. You can employ this method with many different spring vegetables from radishes to fava beans to leeks and garlic scapes.

 

Pasta Carbonara with Green Garlic and Radish Seedlings (or whatever greenery you’d like)

 

If you don’t have radish seedlings you can toss sliced asparagus or snap peas in with the pasta for the last few minutes of cooking and then drain them all together (don’t forget to save out 1/2 cup of cooking water) or stir in sauteed leafy greens of any kind.

 

You can also skip the bacon or pancetta. The garlic adds lots of flavor as do the greens.

 

Serves 4

 

3-4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon or more, freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
2-4 stalks green garlic or small new garlic heads or 2 cloves mature garlic, finely chopped
2-3 oz pancetta or bacon, diced (optional–see headnote)
1 lb spaghetti, linguine (or other shape of pasta)
3 cups radish seedlings or tender pea micro-greens or other other greens (see headnote)

 

Heat the oil or butter in a small skillet over medium heat and gently cook the garlic for about 5 minutes or until softened and fragrant. Take care not to brown or burn it. Add the bacon/pancetta, if using, and turn the heat up a little and cook until it has rendered its fat. Take off the heat and set aside.

 

Beat the eggs in a bowl and add grated cheese, salt, and plenty of pepper. Cook pasta in generous amount of salted water.  Scoop out and save ½ cup of cooking water and then drain when pasta is al dente. Return pasta to the pan (off the heat), add garlic/bacon, egg mixture and a bit of the reserved cooking water and mix well. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg and create a lovely sauce. Add more cooking water if it seems at all dry; you want a silky sauce. Serve hot with extra cheese if you’d like.  Carbonara is traditionally very peppery so don’t be shy with the black pepper.

 

Fresh Herbs: A Case for the “Living” Pantry

When you think of pantry basics, rice, pasta, eggs, spices, oil, vinegar and so on come to mind. How about herbs, fresh, leafy herbs? You might be thinking “Really, herbs?! On the contrary. They can be expensive and half of them rot before I use them!”

 

In order to make them part of your pantry you have to use them and use them without a recipe telling you to, because most recipes don’t or do so in such tiny quantities that the rest of the bunch is likely to come to a slimy demise in your vegetable bin.

 

Whether you buy a bunch of fresh herbs when you’re buying your milk, eggs, etc. or you plant some low-maintenance ones–like chives and parsley–in a pot by your front/back door, the return on investment can be big. When it comes to flavor, nutrients, and color, herbs are simply the best! Herbs like parsley and cilantro pack an anti-oxidant, mineral, and vitamin-rich punch. I started using lots of herbs in my cooking because they added so much flavor to simple dishes. And since they were growing in my tiny garden they were always just there and free and why I got so used to using them. So when I was out of lettuce for my son’s sandwich once I put parsley on it instead. (He still loves parsley and asks for it now.)

 

Mediterranean cuisines bring us herb-rich pestos and sauces and Persian and Middle Eastern foods are packed with mint, parsley, cilantro, dill and more. Beyond these classics, I like to take a cook-with-what-you-have approach to using them because I do think of them as part of my pantry.

  • Shower them on bowls of leftover rice, along with a fried egg and hot sauce
  • Blend 1 cup of parsley into a few tablespoons of tahini with some lemon juice, garlic, water and salt for a beautiful and delicious sauce for roasted vegetables, grilled meats, salads, grains or beans
  • Add them to quesadillas or burritos
  • Stir into mac and cheese or most any pasta dish
  • Layer on sandwiches instead of or in addition to lettuce
  • Get creative with the pesto method; use parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds or cilantro and walnuts

Spring is the time to plant these hardy herbs like parsley, chives, and mint. And when it’s warm enough basil, cilantro, dill etc.  You’ll have your “living” pantry always at the ready and for a fraction of the cost, as the plants will produce for many months.

 

So, use those herbs you buy or plant. Experiment, have fun, ask yourself “why not add a handful of dill to this salad or stir into those scrambled eggs or top that bowl of soup?”

 

 

How to Make the Most of Green Garlic Season + Pasta w/ Green Garlic Recipe

Fresh spinach pasta with green garlic, slowly cooked in butter

Green garlic–the immature stalk of garlic before the cloves start to form–has all the fragrance and charm of garlic without some of the bite/heat that develops with maturity. Green garlic is one of the first signs of spring in farmers’ markets in the Pacific Northwest. It looks like a skinny leek or green onion and you can use the tender part of the green stalk as well as the white/pink portion.

(I used some on air this week while talking about spring greens and herbs! It’s a fun episode!)

You can use lots of green garlic, both raw and cooked–especially cooked slowly in butter like for this pasta dish–for a sweet, fragrant, and savory addition to many dishes (eggs, beans, grains, meats, potatoes, other alliums, etc.). As the stalks get a little thicker and tiny cloves start to form you can peel off the outer layer or two but still use some of the stalk as well.

 

I use it, liberally, anywhere garlic is called for. It’s delicious in soups and salad dressings and added to dips and particularly homemade mayonnaise–a green garlic aioli, really!  Unlike mature garlic, green garlic needs to be refrigerated and used within a week.

 

Happy Spring!

 

P.S. I’ve just recorded this video on pantry stocking and my concept of the “living” pantry aka herbs you can easily grow in a pot by your front door!

 

P.P.S. If you want access to 22 more recipes for green garlic (!) or maybe more importantly, quick ideas for most any vegetable or herb to keep you eating well and feeling good every day subscribe with discount code eatwell for $3.99/month or $45/year. I promise that the ideas and tips and recipes will save you many times that amount by cooking-with-what-you-have rather than making lots of last minute trips to the store.

 

Pasta with Green Garlic

 

If you have access to fresh pasta, buy or make some! I used fresh spinach pasta from a local market but also enjoy this with regular, dried pasta.

 

Serves 4-6 (or 3 if you love pasta as much as my family does)

 

5 stalks green garlic, trim the top 1/3 – 1/2 of the stalk and peel away the outermost layer and mince the rest

2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil but butter is particularly good here)

Salt

1 lb tagliatelle or spaghetti

3/4 cup grated Parmesan

Freshly ground black pepper

 

Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and a pinch or two of salt and cook, turning down to medium-low or even low, stirring often until softened and fragrant, about 7-8 minutes. You don’t want the garlic to brown or burn.

 

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously (1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt) and cook the pasta until al dente. Right before you drain the pasta, scoop out 1/2 cup of the starchy, salty cooking water–this will help make the sauce.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot along with the garlic, plenty of black pepper, the cheese and a little of the reserved cooking water. Mix well and adjust with a little more water if things are dry. The garlic and cheese might clump a little but it will be delicious! Serve right away, maybe with a green salad!

 

 

Chewy Granola Bars (that don’t fall apart)

 

It’s cold here in the Pacific Northwest and just today it really started to get me down. Creating something in the kitchen (unlike budget planning and sales/marketing work) always lifts my spirits. These bars will give you a serious boost and keep you going while you chase down tax documents or write marketing plans or get frustrated with your children or just need a snack or breakfast or dessert. They might also help you use up bits and pieces–I finally used up some golden raisins leftover from holiday baking last year in this batch.

 

Type of seeds, nuts, spices, nut/seed butters are all up to you. These are not very sweet and only a little crunchy around the edges though if you made them thinner and baked them a little longer they would be more so. I really like the chew and that they actually stick together . . . no trail of oats and bits following you around with these.

 

And please look around my new website. I’m happy and proud to share it and would love to know what you think. Here’s a quick site demo video focusing on some of the new elements of the site (I’ve added resources related to my journey with breast cancer) so you can have a look at the back-end that’s All yours if you subscribe! And for you special blog followers use discount code eatwell19 for 30% off!

 

Enjoy!

 

Chewy Granola Bars

You could add ground cinnamon or ginger or instant espresso powder.

 

2 cups rolled oats

½ cup seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower)

1 cup nuts, roughly chopped (I used mostly almonds)

½ cup finely shredded, unsweetened coconut

1 ½ cups dried fruit, chopped up a bit (I used mostly golden raisins, some dates and a handful of dried mulberries)

2 tablespoons fruit juice (I used 1/2 a grapefruit’s worth)

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon almond butter (tahini, etc.)

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon honey (a little more if you like a sweeter bar)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)

½ teaspoon salt

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9 x 13″ pan with parchment paper.

 

Since my dried fruit was really dry I squeezed half a grapefruit over it and let that sit while I toasted the oats, etc. I liked the little added tartness it added but if your dried fruit is not so dry you can probably skip this.

 

Spread oats, nuts and seeds on a sheet pan and bake for 6-8 minutes until toasty smelling and the oats are a bit golden. Dump into a bowl to cool.

 

Turn oven down to 350.

 

Warm nut/seed butter and honey in a small saucepan until it’s nice and runny.

 

Put (somewhat) cooled oat mixture in food processor with coconut, dried fruit + juice, cocoa and salt and pulse a few times. Add almond butter honey mixture and pulse again until well mixed but still has plenty of texture. Spread evenly in pan and press down evenly with a lightly oiled hand and bake ate 350 for 18-20 minutes. Partially cool then cut and store.

Savory Breakfast Fun

I eat savory breakfasts more often than not; usually in the form of leftovers of some kind, even leftover salads and slaws. This bowl of savory bits is much prettier than my leftover salads and it’s fantastic, if breakfasts like this are your cup of tea. It’s sort of like a savory bowl of granola, at least sharing the yogurt part and the (salted) toasted sunflower seeds. Hot sauce stands in for maple syrup and any kind of cooked bean (or grain) provides the heft. My usual greenery (parsley and/or cilantro and scallions) is key and a little diced radish, carrot, kohlrabi or something else crunchy is nice. You could toss in kimchi or capers or any kind of pickles really. . .

 

Of course this would make a nice lunch too. However and whenever you might consume something like this, enjoy! And a healthy and happy New Year to you all!

What if the Leftovers were so Good you Couldn’t Wait to Eat them Again and Again?

 

Before I forget: I’m teaching a Cooking Class on December 11th. Come make cherry pie, beautiful winter salads and bright sauces that make everything better and will balance out all the heavy holiday fare! It will be a fun, festive and delicious evening. 2 spots left!

 

Would it be worth slowly cooking something, like this Chickpea (Chorizo) Chili, for a couple of hours? Or maybe you folks with Instant Pots can adapt this, but it’s pretty hands off so maybe a good weekend project or it can bubble away while you’re watching a Great British Baking Show one evening  . . .

 

I made a big pot of this invented-on-the-spot Chickpea (Chorizo) Chili on Sunday and we’ve enjoyed it in various forms most days since. The fresh chorizo was an addition on the second day and if you eat meat, this variation is really fantastic. I added mustard greens on another occasion, just while heating it up had it with an egg on toast one morning and with cilantro and scallions another time and just plain the very first go around.

 

Having something so flavorful and nourishing and complete ready to be warmed up and dressed up has been a gift this week. Would love to hear your variations or additions so report back if you make it.

 

Happy cooking!

 

Chickpea (Chorizo) Chili

 

Whether you add the chorizo (or other sausage or meat) or not, this long-cooked deeply flavored sauce-y stew is fantastic. You could serve it over rice or boiled potatoes or as is with a salad or over mashed potatoes and turnips, as I have here. You can also decrease the cooking time and still get good results but it won’t be quite as luscious.

 

Serves 4-6 (and makes fantastic leftovers)

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 jalapenos, minced (seeds removed for a milder version) or some dried hot pepper if you don’t have fresh ones, to taste

2 small stalks celery, finely chopped

1 teaspoon pimenton (smoked paprika)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup roasted tomatoes, finely chopped or 2 tablespoons tomato paste or some chopped sun-dried tomatoes

4 cups cooked (or canned) chickpeas, drained

2 cups chickpea cooking liquid (or water, veg or chicken broth)

2 cups canned tomatoes

Chopped cilantro and thinly sliced scallion, for serving (optional)

8 ounces fresh chorizo or ground pork or beef (optional)

Rice or mashed vegetables, for serving (see headnote)

 

Heat the oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, celery, chilies, pimenton, salt and pepper and saute gently for about 10 minutes, until fragrant and softening. Add the roasted tomatoes or tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Add the chickpeas, canned tomatoes and liquid and bring to a simmer. Gently simmer, partially covered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. You want a nicely thickened consistency. If it’s at all watery, turn up the heat, remove cover and cook until saucy.

 

If using, crumble the chorizo and cook in a small skillet until browning and just about cooked through. Add it to the chickpeas and continue cooking for 10 minutes or so. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve, as desired.

Elderberry Juice

I grew up drinking elderberry juice (Holunder saft) in Germany in the winter time to help with my persistent coughs and colds. I hated it. My mother made it and I don’t think strained it very well and it was gritty and bitter and awful.

 

Fast forward 35 years and I make it myself and love it. I make it from dried elderberries this time of year when colds are lurking around every corner. Supposedly elderberry juice, extract, tinctures and capsules activate our immune system and reduce symptoms of common cold and flu. I love the taste and somehow am comforted by it even though I disliked it so as a child. I also make it with cinnamon, ginger and a little lemon and honey so the pronounced elderberry flavor is balanced out a bit. You can buy all these elderberry products but making this juice is pretty simple and much less expensive. Some stores and co-ops sell bulk dried elderberries or you can order them online.

 

Elderberry Juice

 

Yields 3 pints

 

3/4 cup dried elderberries
1 1/2 quarts water
4-5 slices fresh ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 thick slices of lemon (including peel)
1/3 cup honey

 

Put everything except the honey in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a gentle boil. Turn down and simmer, partially covered for 40 minutes. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Stir in the honey, strain the juice and pour into jars, leaving plenty of head space. Freeze 2 of the 3 jars and keep the third on in the fridge.

 

I add hot water to about 1/4 cup of juice and drink like tea or sip a little of the juice cold.

 

Fun with Food & Give me 30 Seconds & I’ll Give You 30 Days!

6pm rolls around these days and dinner happens and it’s good and we all are nourished but I haven’t found the time for real fun in the kitchen for a bit. My hope is to make this fabulous concoction at least once in the next few weeks. It’s simple to prepare but takes 2 hours to bake. That roasting pumpkin smell though and the whole, beautiful, glistening orb stuffed with whatever you want really, is just fun. Use rice instead of bread, add lots more herbs or meat or mushrooms or whatever strikes your fancy.

 

And speaking of fun, tell me why you cook. For fun? To de-stress? To have control over what you eat? I’ve created a super quick survey and I want to know how and why you cook. Give me 30 seconds of your time (to fill it out) and I’ll give you 30 days free access to the Seasonal Recipe Collection, just in time for Thanksgiving.

 

Thank you! And happy cooking and happy Thanksgiving.

 

Pumpkin Stuffed and Roasted
–adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around my French Table

 

1 pie pumpkin, about 4 – 5 lbs (just adjust the amount of filling if your pumpkin is smaller or larger – though you don’t want to go too much larger as it takes awfully long to cook)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/3 lb (or slightly more) stale bread, sliced and cut into ½-inch chunks
1/3 lb cheese, such as sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Emmenthal or a combination, cut into ½ chunks or grated
2-4 garlic cloves (to taste), finely chopped
2-4 slices bacon, diced and cooked until just crisp (optional)
¼ cup chives or sliced scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ cup of cream or half and  half
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 

Preheat oven to 350F.

 

You can using a baking sheet, a pie pan (as seen above), or a dutch oven with a diameter that’s just a tiny bit larger than your pumpkin. If you bake the pumpkin in a casserole, it will keep its shape, but might stick to the casserole, so you’ll have to serve it from the pot which is fine too.

 

Using a sturdy knife, cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin. Cut a big enough cap that it’s easy to hollow out the inside. Scrape out the seeds and strings from the cap and the inside of the pumpkin. Rub the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper and put it on the baking sheet, pie pan or in a pot.

 

In a large bowl toss the bread, cheese, garlic, bacon, if using, and herbs together. Season with pepper and salt and pack the filling into the cavity. The pumpkin should be well filled—you might have a little too much filling, or you might  need to add to it. Stir the cream, milk and nutmeg with a bit of salt and pepper and pour it into the filled pumpkin. You want the liquid to come about half-way up the cavity. It’s hard to go wrong though. Better a little wetter than too dry.

 

Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours—check after 90 minutes—or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove the cap for the last 20  minutes or so of baking to brown the top and let any extra liquid evaporate. Transfer carefully to a serving platter if you baked it on a sheet. Serve, scooping out plenty of pumpkin with each serving or serve it in slices.

Have Quince? Make This! (Apples and/or Pears would also work)

A bunch of leftover-sliced baguette, a bit of ricotta and a bowl of quince turned into this magic yesterday. The idea for this cook-with-what-you-have Ofenschlupfer (say that five-times in a row, quickly:) came to me as I was biking home from a bi-monthly breakfast I cook, with said leftover baguette in tow. Ofenschlupfer is a German variation of bread pudding and I grew up eating it in the fall made with apples. But quince! Quince, with all their tart, fragrant, wonder take this to another level. I just had a bowl of it for lunch. I could not help myself!

I tossed this together without referencing any Ofenschlupfer recipes but the basic combination of egg, milk, sugar, spices, bread, and fruit is pretty forgiving and you could just as easily dice stale bread instead of keeping the slices whole, substitute apples and or pears (bosc or other variety that will holds its shape when cooked) and change up the spices. But do be on the look-out for quince!

The cook with what you have philosophy of using what you have, combining things creatively for maximum flavor and fun in the kitchen is at your finger tips through the Seasonal Recipe Collection. Imagine getting ideas for any vegetable or herb you have on hand! Subscribe, if you haven’t already! Use discount code FALL for 20% off the already reasonable price for just $3.99/month or $39/year!

 

Quince Ricotta Ofenschlupfer (Bread Pudding)

 

For the quince:

4 medium quince, cored and peeled and cut into chunks (quince are very hard and this takes a bit of doing but it’s worth it, I promise)

2 strips of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler)

2/3 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

 

For the custard:

3 large eggs

1 cup (whole) milk

2/3 cup ricotta (that’s what I had leftover–you could add up to 1 cup for a slightly richer version)

Zest of half a lemon (or whatever you didn’t use for the quince), finely grated

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Couple pinches salt

 

8 ounces sliced bread/baguette (nothing too whole wheat or dense here)

Butter to grease the pan

2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons turbinado (or regular granulated) sugar

 

Preheat oven to 350

 

Put the quince, strips of lemon peel, 1/3 cup sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook gently, covered, for about 7-10 minutes until the quince are just tender but still holding their shape. The time may vary a bit depending on your quince but check often since some turn to mush quickly.

 

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs with the milk, ricotta, grated lemon zest, spices, sugar and salt.

 

Generously butter an 8 x 13 or comparable baking dish. Put a single layer of bread in the dish. Pour half the custard over the bread and top it with half the quince. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, finishing with quince and drizzle any liquid from the quince over the top. Gently press down on the whole thing to make sure the bread is soaked. Dot top with butter and sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30-40 minutes, but check a bit earlier, until the custard is almost set. Remove foil and bake until set, finishing under the broiler for a little more browning. Serve hot or warm for dessert or breakfast, lunch or dinner!

 

 

Cook With What You Have


Facebook Instagram
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: