Ricotta-topped Skillet Bread

October 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

This morning, I didn’t hit the snooze button. The air was still frosty when I stepped out the door and when I stopped at the light, running down to the lake, I noticed that I could see my breath. There were just a couple of people out on the path this morning—a few middle-aged women, one of the cross country boys, an elderly man sitting on the side of the canal, bike parked. He was fishing in the green canal behind the lake and passing him the first time, I briefly wondered what exactly he was hoping to catch in the mucky water. When I passed him for a second time on my return, he was pulling a tiny fish from the water and dropping it in a plastic bucket. Call me overly sensitive maybe, but it was a sad moment, though he was perfectly cheerful as he waved hello. The fish was so minuscule that it couldn’t possibly have more than a bite of meat on its skeleton and the hooking and dumping of it in the bucket seemed so needless, so arbitrary, and I couldn’t help but think about how awful it would be to start one’s day by purposely killing something.

That said, I kept running. It was a beautiful, chilly morning — the sun was out, crisp leaves crunched underfoot and to top it all off, the Canucks’ season opener is tonight. I was planning on getting into the kitchen sometime this weekend, but events seem to be getting in the way. Things are starting to catch up to me, both running and school-wise. My first 20 miler of this training round is this weekend (P.S. if you have any Philadelphia eating recommendations, please shoot them my way!) and I need to finally make my way through the Faulkner novel that will make up most of my junior paper. In my room, I’ve flipped the 2012 calendar I recently bought to October 2012 and started using it anyway, just to keep myself organized. Sure, the dates are two days off, but it was a necessary move.

If I could be in the kitchen right now, I would be making something like this cornbread. I started with this recipe, but quickly flew in all different directions. I used half quinoa flour and half white flour instead of whole wheat flour. Sweetened ricotta from the local Italian grocery replaced the pour-over cream. A couple of handfuls of flax seeds added a whole lot of chew. I omitted the cooked quinoa. I halved the sugar, but if I were to make it again, I would add it all back. I ate it from the skillet, with a healthy drizzle of wildflower honey.

My summer so far

July 16, 2010 § Leave a comment

I feel as though I have been absent for a very long time. Like the days have gotten ahead of me and it’s somehow 1 a.m. and I’m not home yet but it feels like I just left the house for work. The recipes have gotten ahead of me, the bookmarked ones have been adding up and the ones I have made have been disappearing before I have a chance to think about them. There were the molten chocolate cakes (baked in my new cake pans) that we made one night in about twenty minutes, which disappeared just as quickly. The blueberry crumb bars, of which I cut a small sliver to save — gone by the time I got home from work.

But despite these disappearances, I have been learning quite a bit about food. We made risotto, using the entire box of rice, quickly realizing just how much rice an entire box of rice is. We pan-fried risotto balls, stuffed with fresh mozzarella and breaded, the next night for dinner. Perhaps a better day of cooking was when we had tomato-mozzarella tart for dinner and plum clafoutis for dessert. The plum clafoutis was easy to pull together, the crepe-like batter is simply poured over cut plum slices, skins on and everything.

Plum Clafoutis
From Gourmet Magazine

1 lb black or red plums, pitted and cut into eighths
2 tablespoons Armagnac or other brandy
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar, divided
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400ºF with rack in middle. Butter a 2-qt shallow baking dish.
Toss plums with Armagnac and 1 Tbsp sugar in a bowl and let macerate 15 minutes. Transfer plums to baking dish with a slotted spoon and pour juices into a blender. Add eggs to blender with milk, butter, flour, salt, extracts, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and blend just until combined. Pour over plums.
Bake until puffed and just set in center, about 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then dust with confectioners sugar.

Another time…

…we excursioned to the fish market by the waterfront and bought live lobsters and soft-shell crabs…then looked up how to cook them. The lobsters sat on our kitchen floor for a bit while we boiled them one by one in the small pot and fried the battered crabs until brown and crispy. I made a honey cornbread to go along with the seafood and one of the boys grilled fresh clams in the backyard.

About two weeks later, I headed over to the Eastern Market after work (which I hear is better on weekends) and bought crushed-chili hummus, stuffed grape leaves and chocolate cream ravioli, which didn’t totally win my heart. Perhaps it was the disconcerting idea of chocolate pasta, but I ate it feeling like it was all a bit strange. We’ve spent Friday evenings at the jazz concerts in the Sculpture Garden on the mall, dining on crusty bread, hummus, guacamole and sangria. And late weekend nights at Five Guys.

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