It’s summer! And in the past few weeks, I’ve had some extra time to make messes in the kitchens’ of friends and family. And since I instagrammed the *bleep* out of these kitchen adventures, your mouth may have watered from afar.
Have no fear, though! Not only will I guest chef in your kitchen (seriously, just invite me over)…but I’ve included recipes and tips below so you can bizzake with the best of them. I threw in one recipe with vegetables so that we could all pretend this was a healthy, nutritious sort of post (it is not).
The only rule? Have funsies - none of this stress in the kitchen crap. If it doesn’t work out, just take some ice cream out of the freezer and enjoy.
Fail proof tips:
1. Read recipes in advance so that you a) have all the ingredients and b) ensure that butter is uber chilled when it’s called for or at room temperature when that is demanded
2. Have a cold beer or drunken lemonade (dilute lemon concentrate, add whiskey + simple syrup; consider adding homemade iced black tea for extra flair) while you prep
3. Invite friends along to co-bake or - my favorite - clean the dishes when you’re done
Pie Crust!! Galette Crust!! etc
If you want to make anything with a nice pastry crust, I recommend always using this recipe via Chez Pim, because it’s the most fool-proof I’ve found of the crust varieties. You can sub in other types of flours, too. It’s not challenging, really, but it does require some planning because you have to chill the crust twice during the process. That said, it always makes an impressive crust and you can make in advance and refrigerate or freeze for future use.
If you have a marble counter top or marble “cutting board” that will work best for rolling out the crust, especially the final time. And to transfer the crust from counter to pie pan, I recommend gently folding in half twice and then transferring to pan and unfolding.
Oh, and if it’s warm out, I definitely recommend chilling your hands with cool water. I also recently chilled an empty wine bottle as rolling pin, which worked. You can also chill your rolling pin if you have a plastic or marble one.
Bottom Line: More than anything, temperature matters. If the dough gets too warm, just put it back in freezer/fridge. This may be frustrating, but definitely better than fighting with the dough and having your pie crust crumble/tear apart as you place in pan. So grab a chilled beer from the fridge, put on some Iggy Azaela & kick back for a few minutes.
Galettes are Pie’s Fuss-Free Cousin
And so so yummy. I recently made this one via Martha Stewart with peaches & nectarines, using the crust recipe from above.
… But Crisps & Crumbles are Even Easier
I used this recipe via Food & Wine when baking for friends in Norway and just subbed in apples (Granny Smith, since they tend to bake well) when I couldn’t find rhubarb.
I always opt for more cinnamon than the recipe requires, so season to your taste. I prefer using brown sugar with the fruits, not just for the topping. And this is at its best when served with a good vanilla ice cream (or, I suppose whipped cream would do the trick).
End result: I really liked this topping & made it again from my grandpa when I got back home. And the closer the fruits are to being overripe, the sweeter and better this tastes.
But if you are looking to experiment with fruits or check out a few toppings, this mix and match recipe from Martha Stewart also looks good.
Because I bought some nice pearl (or Israeli) cous cous and because we had cherries in the fridge and because I had to make a yummy, healthy-ish dinner for the fam on the fly I made up a recipe (that I certainly didn’t write down) that went something like this:
Warm olive oil in pan
Dump in 1 cup (ish?) of pearl cous cous and brown it a bit
In the meantime,
Dump a bunch of yellow raisins in a bowl, douse with molasses and some water; stir then let sit
Slice some red onion and brown on the stove in olive oil
Add thinly sliced carrots
Add possibly another vegetable that I’ve since forgotten
Now add water, salt, pepper, a lot of cinnamon and a bit of other spices that seem suitable and raise heat and cover to really simmer
Add in the raisins and their liquid
Cook until water has evaporated
Mix cooked cous cous with veg and bean mixture; add 1-2 cups of pitted, quartered fresh cherries
But, I realize this haphazard recollection makes for a poor recipe, so I would recommend taking this recipe from Martha Stewart, then swap in and out ingredients (instead of almonds, try pine nuts or instead of apricots tried dried or fresh cherries, etc)
The Snakebite: A Chocolate Cake to Please them All
And since everyone always seems to want chocolate cake, here is one of my favorite recipes, from one of my favorite sites: Food52. The sour cream and beer (no, the cake doesn’t taste like beer) consistently help make it an extra moist, rich cake. And the cream cheese frosting comes out nicely even if you can’t track down pear cider (although it does make it nicer).
It’s been a while since I’ve been here, writing. It’s funny – I actually have so many more things thrown at me these days, things that I should be processing, mulling over, making use of by writing about them. But, without my 30-45 minute daily subway ride, without my morning runs in the park with JV, I seem to have lost a bit of my space, my momentum for reflection. As last semester wrapped up, in the midst of finals and just before holiday break, a bunch of us lady MBA candidates got together for dinner. Because a break from studying sounded nice and because many of us would be jetting off to new locations in January. During dinner, a classmate brought up a lack of reflection in the program; that critique resonated not just with me, but with many of us.
For me, part of the problem with blogging is that, as a communications person, as someone who thinks that words are not just strings of letters but tiny ships carrying meaning from me to you. I have problems just sitting down, pounding out a bunch of words and posting. I might do that with school work
sometimes often, because deadlines and “this must be turned in” force my hand. It’s a bit like the exercise thing - where unless I have an hour or two I won’t bother to exercise. When, in reality, if I only spend ten minutes running, it’s better than not exercising at all. I’ve gotten better at the running bit, so let’s see if I can get better at the reflecting & blogging bit.
But this reflection drought isn’t just about how I prioritize things. It’s a difference, in part, in the type of program I’m in. My friends pursuing Masters degrees in social work and psychology seem to have a more structured format within their program for reflection, since its viewed as core to their work and to them being effective in their roles.
But, of course, it’s not just psychologists who benefit from self- and group-reflection. It matters in business too. This HBS blog piece discusses the power of keeping a five-minute daily work journal. An MBA student who had to write daily journal entries, despite her busy calendar and “greater priorities,” for a B school class, notes that she went on to integrate this practice in all of her future work, because it helped give her greater focus, patience, planning and personal growth. Not bad for 5-10 minutes a day.
Running outdoors has always been a place and time for me to think things through. Sometimes, bouncing ideas off the friends I’m running with, and sometimes simply soaking in the sunshine or the winter wind or the mist hanging above the meadow in Prospect Park and reflecting. And it seems I’m not alone. Matan Rochlitz, a filmmaker, noticed how his thoughts reassembled to make more sense while he swam. Hypothesizing that exercise frees our minds, he recruited Ivo Gormley to join him in videotaping people in a park in London while running, asking them questions. Often quite personal questions. The result: a charming 10-minute film, that captures amazing truths from runners of all ages and sizes, along with the shifting landscapes of the park as the seasons change. It’s charming and worth a watch.
The holiday break brought me home to the NYC area. Back to trains and subways shuttling me from friend to friend to family. And since classes were out, I was able to cozy up to books and notebooks and pens and headphones. Timid to take the full dive into reflecting (what if I discovered something I didn’t want to discover?!), I did begin jotting down notes to myself (a true sign of a shift in my B school life – when I lived in NYC I carried tiny notebooks with me religiously, always jotting down thoughts and musings). And in these last few weeks I’ve continued to think about the things that still have me intrigued, that demand some attention. So, I hope to share my thoughts right here, in the next couple of weeks, about these things.
What’s been on my mind?
If you have other ideas for exploration here on the blog, or want to co-blog with me, let me know.
In the meantime, though, let’s go Seahawks! #enjoythegame #puppybowlforever