April was my favorite month so far on Hellobee! Let’s dive right in…
Two-Ingredient Pancakes: Have you seen these out and about the web yet? I’m still impressed by how just two ingredients (neither of which are flour) can make something so similar to a traditional pancake. We’ve been making them for a while now, so I posted a recipe along with tips for making them even better.
Homemade Whole Grain Pop Tarts + Easy Chia Strawberry Jam: Flaky hand pies with a strawberry jam that sets in minutes, thanks to chia seeds. These are a morning treat without the sugar crash.
Beet, Carrot, and Apple Smoothie: Smoothie season is (finally) here, and we kicked it off with one of my favorites – a slightly sweet combination of roasted beets, carrot, and apple. The flavor will pick you up as much as the color.
Crispy Baked Sweet Tater Tots: I can’t leave well enough alone, so I swapped out white potatoes for sweet potatoes and added an extra crunch with sprouted quinoa. The polenta-crusted variation is equally delicious. Both were dipped in ketchup. Mmm, ketchup….
DIY Healthy Smash Cake: A sweet-but-not-too-sweet banana cake with a tangy Greek yogurt frosting. Decadent enough to be called dessert but also a great stand in for breakfast. Z absolutely loved it.
That’s it for April, and I’m already excited about May. I’ll be expanding on some topics from earlier this year and focusing more on saving time and money in the kitchen. Did you know I take requests? Let me know any recipes or food-related concepts you’d like to hear about, and I’ll do my best to cover them.
I know for a lot of people ramps are the culinary symbol of spring’s arrival, but it’s another member of the allium family that gets me excited about the return of warm weather: chives. When I was farming, chives were the first sprouts to emerge from the still-cold ground, insisting that temperatures were sure to rise soon. Their gentle onion flavor brought new life to the tail-end of last year’s potatoes and a hint of excitement to routine morning eggs. Their herbaceous scent and taste were a promise of the tender spring vegetables just around the corner.
With my farming days behind me (and, I like to think, in front of me), seeing chives pop up in the garden or park elicits feelings of excitement and renewal in me, and I start thinking ahead to the succession of early season crops my family will enjoy in the next couple months. I look forward to the first weekend I can make these savory, yeasted waffles, loaded with chopped chives and topped with yogurt. We’ve been making them for years now and had the pleasure last weekend of sharing them for the first time with Z, who unsurprisingly devoured them with enthusiasm.
The recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s overnight waffles; in fact, I never though of making savory waffles until Mr. Bittman suggested some in his variations of the original recipe. Our adaptation incorporates the flavors of sour cream and onion chips but with the flavor complexity of a risen bread. The time needed for the yeast to work its magic is both an advantage and disadvantage: you have to think to make these the night before, but then when you wake most of the legwork is completed and you’re just minutes away from a deliciously unique breakfast.
Sour Cream & Onion Yeasted Waffles
adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 c finely chopped chives
1 egg, separated
sour cream or yogurt, for serving
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast, flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the milk, then stir in the butter until smooth. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise overnight.
2. In the morning, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and preheat your waffle maker. Use a stand mixer or handheld mixer with a whisk attachment to beat the egg white just to stiff peaks. Stir the egg yolk and about 3/4 of the chives into the batter. Fold in the egg whites just until almost all white streaks are incorporated.
3. How you cook up the waffles will depend on your waffle maker. Mine does not need butter, oil, or nonstick spray. The batter will expand further while cooking so don’t overfill your waffle iron – err on the side of too little batter until you figure out how much to use for each waffle. Place the waffles in the preheated oven while you cook the remaining batter to keep them warm and crisp. Garnish with yogurt or sour cream and the remaining chives.
This week over at Hellobee I’m sharing a recipe for whole grain pop tarts + an easy chia jam, and that project reminded me of the savory pop tarts I saw last November on Reclaiming Provincial. The hankering for those has floated in and out of my mind for months now, so I aimed to finally quench it with this ricotta and caramelized onion variation. I’m calling these “savory” because the filling is absent fruit or refined sugars, but the creamy ricotta and deeply caramelized onions have a slight sweetness enhanced by a splash of tangy balsamic. So, while not a dessert by my standards they certainly stimulate my sugar-craving taste buds – just the scent of them baking gets me salivating.
Actually, even though these were really delicious I still can’t shake my appetite for Carey’s kale, garlic, and cauliflower puree version. Perhaps only a truly savory pop tart will quell the urge. Back to the kitchen I go!
Ricotta and Caramelized Onion Pop Tarts
1 recipe flaky tart dough, below
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c whole milk ricotta
1 recipe caramelized onions, below
1. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle 1/8-inch thick. Cut smaller rectangles to desired size – I like 4-inch x 5-inch. Re-roll the scraps to cut more rectangles.Use a pastry brush to brush the egg lightly over the pieces of dough.
2. Spread about 2 tbsp of ricotta on half of the dough rectangles, stopping about 1/4-inch from the edges. Top the ricotta with caramelized onions (evenly distribute the entire caramelized onion recipe) and top the onions with a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Finally, top all the filled tarts with the remaining dough rectangles.
3. With the tines of a fork, press the sides of each tart together and poke some holes on the top to allow air to escape while baking. At this point, you can freeze the tarts to bake another day or refrigerate them on a baking sheet for at least 30 minutes prior to baking.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. bake the tarts until golden brown, about 20 minutes (add about five minutes for frozen tarts). Serve warm or room temperature.
Makes 8 4-inch x 5-inch tarts
Flaky Tart Dough
1 1/4 c whole spelt flour (or whole wheat, or all-purpose)
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces and refrigerated until cold
6 tbsp ice cold water
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the cold butter cubes and incorporate using a pastry blender until it averages pea-size pieces – some will be larger and some smaller.
2. Drizzle the water over the butter-flour mixture and stir until the dough starts to come together. Use your hands to bring the dough into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or overnight. Bring the dough out of the fridge about 15 minutes before you want to use it so it softens just slightly.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
big pinch of salt
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1. Add the olive oil to a medium pan over medium-low heat. Stir in the onions, salt, and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deeply golden, about 30 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to low and add a splash of balsamic. Stir and cook for another five minutes so the onions absorb all of the vinegar and caramelize further.
March started with one of my favorite cold-weather meals and ended with a spring holiday project. I wish I could say that means it’s warm outside now, but not quite. The days are getting longer, though, and I think the sunshine is positively affecting my demeanor – and my work! I didn’t think about it when we rented this place, but the window for food photography on the first floor of a Brooklyn apartment is pretty narrow. That window slims to almost nothing when you factor in cloudy days and a barnacle baby.
So, here’s to more vitamin D and more photography practice. Until then, here’s a recap of last month:
Super Simple Meatballs in Tomato Sauce: Lamb meatballs with cumin, coriander, and parsley braised in the perfect weeknight tomato sauce. The fat from the meatballs makes the sauce even better.
Gluten-Free Spinach Muffins: This one wasn’t much of a conversation-starter but I’m calling it a diamond in the rough. They’re not the prettiest to look at but taste great and pack a nutritional punch. Perfect for a new mom’s freezer stash of snacks.
Chia Seed Baby Food Purees: Three crazy good purees for adults and babies alike, along with my research and thoughts on chia seeds as a baby super food. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.
Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs: If you’re just seeing this for the first time, definitely bookmark or Pin for next year. It was more fun than I anticipated and surprisingly successful. I was amazed at the dyes I could easily make from common groceries.
This week over at Hellobee I’m sharing a project on dyeing Easter eggs naturally. I tried numerous foods to determine which ones yielded the most vibrantly colored eggs. Although some dyeing agents produced dull hues, I was pleasantly surprised at how brilliant some of the results were. You won’t believe what onion skins can do!
Anyway, my experiment resulted in something else: a LOT of hard boiled eggs. I’ve been eating them straight up, with just a sprinkle of salt, but I’ve also made multiple batches of egg salad. My go-to is a pretty standard mix of mayo and a hefty dose of spicy whole grain mustard – the kind with a horseradish-y kicks that clears the sinuses. For the occasional egg salad sandwich, this combo is what I crave, but when I’m a week in and still have a dozen hard boiled eggs left I need a change of pace.
Enter the beet and egg salad. I love how the beets add a little more structure (and a lot more color!) as well as a subtle sweetness. Cumin adds another earthy dimension balanced by bright orange and fresh cilantro. Add just a dab of mayo for creaminess and you have an addicting flavor profile.
In case you think the combination of flavors sounds strange, perhaps it would be helpful to know I’m not the only one who enjoyed it. I brought this beet and egg salad to a lunch with friends and they ate it just as eagerly…good thing I took these photos before our gathering!
Beet & Egg Salad
3 medium beets, roasted, peeled, and chopped
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1/2 an orange, zest and juice
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp mayo
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 big pinches of salt
Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir until combined. Serve with bread or toast.
Last weekend, Z turned one year old. It’s true what they say: The days are long but the years go by quickly. I’ve barely had time to reflect on the past 365 days of parenthood…or maybe I just perpetuate busyness to keep that emotional beast at bay. In short, it’s just as life-altering as everyone says it is, although I’m guessing the ways it changes you varies from person to person.
I find myself wanting to be consciously considerate of and support others more than was on my radar in the past, despite having less free time.
Instead of a drive to make money to support a growing family, I’ve found a renewed energy to make career moves and, more generally, life choices that support a content and sustainable future. I am effecting the world my husband, son and I will live in years from now.
On a less serious note – It’s been a heck of a year! Despite the low lows, we ended with a net high. I have a feeling this year will be even better.
We have friends whose daughter was born the same day as Z, so we had a small celebration together, involving little more than takeout and time spent enjoying our babies. The little more being the cake I made, a spiced sweet potato cake barely adapted from the My New Roots pumpkin cake. It was vegan, to satisfy the other family’s dietary preferences.
If you ever need to make vegan frosting, here is the simple method I used. Put two or three cans of coconut milk (depending on the size of your cake) in the fridge or freezer, so the solids separate from the liquid. Whip the solids with a bit of maple syrup and a splash of vanilla extract. If you need a thicker frosting, add in powdered sugar as needed. That’s it. And it’s delicious.
(Oh, and don’t put colored sugar on your cake too far in advance, unless you want this tie-dye look I ended up with.)
Well, I started the month on a high note and then things kinda leveled out. I suppose it will always be the case that some posts are more popular than others, but it’s still amusing how far off base my predictions can be. I was talking to my sister about it, and she said sometimes it’s the content she almost doesn’t even publish that ends up being a hit. Anyway, here is a summary of my Hellobee contributions this month…
Baby and Toddler Vegetable Finger Foods: I departed from my typical recipe format to discuss an approach to prepping vegetables for babies and toddlers for the week in one session. Nothing revolutionary, but I find sharing these ideas can be motivating. Plus, I really wanted to take this photograph.
Baked Falafel Finger Food: Just falafel, baked into a “fry” shape and therefore easy for little hands to hold. And baked for a less messy eating experience. We eat beans shmooshed into various shapes regularly.
Avocado Fries: Again, to make on-the-go eating a little cleaner, these are simply avocado slices coated in almond meal (so they are gluten-free and paleo) and spices then baked. Eating at home? Pan-fry these bad boys – it’s like eating fried butter.
Weeknight Pad Thai: Did you know Pad Thai is ridiculously easy to make at home? And fast. I omit the sugar and reduce the oil called for in most recipes and pump up the veggies. Takeout = obsolete.
Still learning, but I’m having a good time! Which is your favorite?
I’ve been making donuts. Baked donuts, but don’t go thinking that these are healthy because they are baked. Hot out of the oven they take a lavish bath in melted butter and then roll around in a sparkling sugar mixture. They are soft and yeasty on the inside, sweet and crunchy on the outside. You will be seeing more of these donuts.
If Z’s dimpled hands can tell us anything, it’s that the donuts are delicious. Actually, his hands can tell us more than that as he is starting to figure out this whole “signing” thing. For the past few months I’ve been signing things like “more”, “all done”, and “milk” and he’s just starting to mimic them back to me, often true to their meaning. I can feel a revolution in our relationship occurring; this leap in communication is so helpful and makes him seem so grown up to me. I alternate between thinking he’s becoming independent so quickly and knowing he’s still very much a baby.
I’m still striving to find balance in the time I spend with Z, preparing our meals, working out, making a career for myself, and socializing. I’m not sure it’s possible to do all of them justice. A friend told me perhaps the best I can do is neglect them equally. In practice, the first two happily get the lion’s share of attention, which means we’ve been eating (oh, and drinking) deliciously. Some of my favorites:
Salt & vinegar potatoes from 101 Cookbooks, which we roasted instead of grilled. Oh, and these oatmeal cookies from the same source. Seriously, Heidi puts out the best flavor combinations: fennel and poppy seed in my oatmeal cookies? So fancy.
Lots of homemade bone broth, left to simmer for 24 hours or more. With a base like that, every soup is amazing.
And things I want to try:
I have a lot of fun activities keeping me busy over the next couple weeks, including another catering gig and Z’s first birthday. I won’t wait until the excitement is over to check in again though – I have some really great dishes to share with you!
Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I started blogging for Astor Center at Tasting Notes. (Gulp, that also means it’s been almost a year since Z was born…but that’s another post for another time…)
For this February, I posted a recipe for Mexican hot chocolate truffles just in time for Valentine’s Day. No reason to post it earlier than this week anyway as they only take a few minutes to come together. I love a good chocolate truffle, and these are no exception – the perfect balance of sweet, bitter, and spicy.
To mark this blogging anniversary, I wanted to highlight a couple of my favorite contributions from 2012:
Personalize Your Pasta: This post is all about ways to make homemade pasta (even more) special. It starts with a tutorial for making fresh pasta at home and follows with tips for incorporating herbs, spices, and vegetables into the dough. One of my favorites, for both appearance and flavor, is parsley pasta. Come to think of it, a unique fresh pasta would be a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, too!
Balsamic Braised Chicken: You guys, this recipe is so delicious. I was surprised that so few ingredients (not to mention pantry staples) and only a few minutes of prep time could result in such sophisticated flavors. Make this before winter is over!
You can see all of my Tasting Notes posts here. Now, to start brainstorming a delicious March recipe…any suggestions?
Despite the hours I spent laboring in the kitchen for a catering gig this weekend, I was eager to make brunch for friends this weekend. I enjoy the challenge of limitation; in fact, it can be a great way to get out of a cooking rut. Restricting ingredient options forces me to be more creative…or at least find inspiration from someone on the internet. I recently started a Pinterest board called “for the vegans in my life” as a reference for such situations as this recent meal, and there are a few bloggers whose work shows up on that board most.
For this brunch, I used two recipes from Laura of The First Mess, whose photos and flavor combinations are gorgeous and exciting. (Speaking of pictures, after snapping the above of roasted carrots our guests arrived and the camera was stowed.) We started with her za’atar roasted carrot salad (I purchased cashew cream cheese and doubled the amount of avocado) and finished with the humble chocolate cake (using peanut butter instead of biscoff for the glaze). Those dishes plus walnuts, dried pears, and dried figs from the farm left us feeling nourished and a little spoiled, so, just about perfect!
Those same friends have a daughter born on the same day as Z, so we will be cooking dinner together next month. I’ll be making a vegan cake without refined sugar for the occasion – hopefully I’ll think to take some photos to share with you.