A Tart, A Baby, A Breakfast

breakfast: yogurt, lemon curd, granola

Last week, a flat-rate box arrived at my door filled with the most amazing sight: dozens of Meyer lemons. Could anything be more heart warming for a Northeasterner this time of year? When the high for the day is 21ºF? With snow in the forecast for Friday? Maybe only that the box came from one of you — thank you, Ellen! You are a dear.

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Holly’s Babka

baked and cut babka

Last week, I visited my friend Holly — yes, Holly of challah lore — for coffee, conversation, and of course, a little snack, a slice of babka from a loaf she had made the previous day. Upon serving it to me, she, as if she were any of the women in my family, instantly began critiquing it.

It’s very lovely, she acknowledged, but noted it was kind of fussy to make, so much work for what it was. I, content as ever, tucked in but was happy to hear I was in good company. The dough was denser than she had hoped, and she wondered if she could just use her challah dough recipe as a base, spread it with a chocolate filling or Nutella, and shape it like babka.

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Vergennes Laundry

front door

There’s nothing like a good stomach bug to make you appreciate health, to inspire an outing in sub-zero weather, to revive an appetite nourished by ginger ale and dry toast for too many hours.

Last Friday morning, after a day spent on my deathbed, my aunt, Wren and I drove to Vergennes Laundry, a wood-fired bakery located in a former laundromat in Vergennes, VT. Run by a husband and wife, this gem of a café is the kind of place you could lounge in all day, beginning with a latté and croissant, moving onto fresh-squeezed orange juice and cheddar-and-tarragon gougères, finishing with an espresso and chocolate crème fraîche truffle. Every bite will make you wish you lived two doors down and kindle dreams of opening up your own Vergennes Laundry, which your town (that you love dearly) so desperately needs.

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Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse, And A Simple, Stinky Valentine’s Day Menu For Two

Julia Child's Perfect Chocolate Mousse

There was a period last summer when I was obsessed with making parfait, not the layered fruit-and-yogurt parfait, but the French parfait, which is like ice cream. The parfait-making technique calls for heating a sugar syrup to 230ºF, then pouring it into beating egg yolks. The hot syrup cooks the yolks as they whip, then whipped cream is folded into the mixture once it has cooled. The parfait is then frozen until serving.

I was intrigued by the method, which I had read about in the Tartine Cookbook, for a number of reasons but mostly because it allowed for making ice cream without an ice cream machine, which many people appreciate. And while I loved the taste and texture of the finished parfait, I never posted the recipe because parfait, despite not requiring an ice cream machine, isn’t necessarily a piece of cake to make. As I noted, it requires heating syrup to a precise temperature, pouring the syrup, which tends to get tangled in the whisk, into the whipping yolks, setting up an ice bath, folding in whipped cream, etc. — I don’t find these to be easy tasks. That said, parfait, which is French for “perfect,” is just about that, and I will certainly be revisiting the process this summer.

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Vanilla Bean Pots de Crème

bite of vanilla bean pots de creme

A few weeks ago, I snuck up to see my auntie in VT, where I spent most of the time on the couch in front of the fire, dogs at my feet, cookbook in my lap.

I was in a baking sort of mood and found myself engrossed in the dessert chapter of Bouchon, drooling over images of bouchon au chocolat (cork-shaped, brownie-like cakes) and dreaming of crème anglaise-soaked French toast. As I flipped through the pages, I drafted an ambitious grocery list, along with a mental wishlist of gadgets, including pots de crème vessels, flexi-timbale pans, and this Bouchon Mold, which I can’t stop thinking about.

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Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese with Curried Apple Chutney

smoked gouda grilled cheese with curried apple chutney

More often than I would like to admit, I open the fridge and think: How can this be? How can there be nothing to make for dinner? Again.

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Garlic and Thyme Monkey Bread with Spicy Tomato Sauce

just-baked monkey bread

This past fall, a friend who was traveling, cooking and eating her way through Italy, sent me the loveliest book: Pasta, a collection of recipes from the kitchen of The American Academy in Rome. She had learned about the book and the story of the Rome Sustainable Food Project during her travels, and found the recipes in the book, many of which she made during her stay, matched the food she was eating out and about on a daily basis. [Read more…]

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies

I need another cookie. You?
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Slow Cooker Flageolets, Gratinéed | Also, Bread Bowls

gratinéed beans

In the span of two weeks, I have managed to deplete a many-years-old supply of dried beans, freeing my pantry of half a dozen half-filled boxes and countless rubber band-bound bags (some holding mere tablespoons of beans). Yes, you guessed it, I have my slow cooker to thank for this small but very satisfying feat. The rebuilding has begun — just ordered more gigantes and flageolets — and it feels good.

What can I say, I’ve become a crockpot-for-beans evangelist. Here are a few things I’ve learned these past two weeks: [Read more…]

Homemade Bialys

bialys

This past fall, while teaching cooking classes, I met a man named Len, who loved to bake and who always showed up to class a few minutes early, ready to help with any remaining prep work, always with some sort of baking adventure to recount.

Before the last class, Len asked me if I had ever made bialys, which he had learned to make at a “bagels and bialys” cooking class held at the local community college. I hadn’t but noted I had made bagels once years ago and remembered it being kind of a process. Len assured me bialys were much simpler to make than bagels — no boiling required — and sent me the recipe later that night.

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