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Blueberry Days [Blueberry Scones & Blueberry Coffee Cake]

7 Aug

I’d always look forward to the end of summer when I was younger. It sounds crazy for any kid to WANT summer to end, but I loved the fall. I loved the back-to-school excitement, buying all my school supplies and new school outfits. I loved raking pine needles and red-orange-brown maple leaves into piles, feeling so accomplished when I’d see them all tucked into big black garbage bags (even though the yard would be covered with leaves again within two days). And I loved going apple picking.

When you’re a kid, there’s something so magical about running around to pick and gather something that you can actually eat. Because when mom comes home from the grocery store with a bag of apples or a box of blueberries, it’s just not the same. You can’t feel the energy and sunlight and crisp fall air, or be awed by the efforts of the universe that went into creating that piece of fruit (granted, there are few things that don’t awe a six-year-old).

It’s fitting then, that just before heading off to college, my friends and I went blueberry picking. It was sort of a farewell to childhood (as was watching the last installment of the Harry Potter movies). Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t indulge our childish sides every so often. This isn’t the last time we’ll go blueberry picking.

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Coffee Hostess Cupcakes

26 Jul

I think if happiness were a food, it would be cupcakes. Well actually, that’s debatable, since ALL food makes me happy.

But there’s something about cupcakes that just makes me feel all warm and happy and smiley (part of it could have to do with cakespy‘s incredibly cute cupcake cartoons). You won’t see me grinning quite as much at a slice of pizza, as much as I love myself some pizza.

So if cupcakes are happiness, they are the perfect subject for this post. Because I don’t think I’ve felt so happy for years. My mom is so accustomed to me spilling out all my troubles to her that she is pleasantly surprised when I tell her no, nothing is worrying or bothering or stressing me. And I really can’t think of a single thing that could cause me trouble right now, except maybe the possibility that this won’t last forever. But that’s an inevitable problem of life– time is limited. So that one doesn’t really count. On to cupcakes!

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Swedish Visiting Cake

27 May

When I visited Paris in April, I’d grab breakfast from Eric Kayser every morning before heading off to tackle the city’s food. It was just around the corner from my hotel, and as I passed it every day walking to the Metro, I’d inevitably be tempted by one of the delicious-looking treats and breads. Warm baguettes with chunks of salty Comte, pain au raisin with coffee, chunky and complex walnut-chocolate chip cookies…

But my favorite was the financiers. Buttery but not greasy, sweet but balanced, they were like glorious muffin tops (the best part of muffins, of course) with crisp-chewy caramelized edges. I only wished I could reproduce them when I returned home.

Without realizing it, I found all the elements of financiers that I loved– in this Swedish Visiting Cake. I actually decided on the recipe because I was on a lemon spree (after making some incredible lemon bars) and the cake seemed quite simple to make. The beautiful photos over at honey & jam didn’t hurt either.

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Potato and Leek Quiche

18 May

Have you ever woken up one day with the memory of some perfect [insert food name here] on your mind, before promptly embarking on a quest to find the “best” ? You swear you’ve had that perfect slice of carrot cake or juicy burger or fluffy quiche, but you just can’t seem to find one that measures up to your lofty ideals. You come close, yes, but that only makes the search even more frustrating, more teasing.

Enough of this suspense and drama. This quiche is awesome. Everyone should eat it. Continue reading

Summer Lemon Bars

11 May

Isn’t it wonderful when you make something that you truly enjoy eating- something that you would gladly pay money for (that is, if you hadn’t just fixed it up yourself at home)?

I usually find that when I cook or bake foods, I don’t really feel like eating them (though that never really stops me- I eat them anyways!). There’s just something infinitely more appealing about food that someone else prepares for you.

Maybe it’s because after putting so much time into making a dish, you just can’t bring yourself to end its delicious existence. Or maybe it’s just because along the way you’ve so filled yourself up with the spoonful-tastes of sauce and the finger-licks of batter that you’re simply too full to enjoy the final product!

These lemon bars are an exception. Even though I licked up much more than a finger’s worth of batter, I still had room for an embarrassing number of lemon squares after dinner. (I had to make sure they tasted good, after all…!)

They’re so easy to put together, irresistibly bright and tangy, and they freeze well- perfect to save for those afternoons when you’re craving something summery and bright.

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Mint-Chocolate Brownies

4 May

I’ve learned that in the food world, it’s so easy to go from being conscious and ingredient-aware to being flat out pretentious and snobby. I admit, I’ve fallen into the latter all too often, especially when I scoff at other people’s baked treats-from-a-box. After reading all my food blogs and recipes, I (arrogantly) think that I know food, that I do food right, more than anyone who eats fast food or makes brownies from a box.

Except brownies from a box…are pretty amazing. Making brownies from scratch- melting the chocolate, whisking in this and that- it all just feels excessively laborious considering how good brownies made from a mix can be.

Maybe it’s just the familiarity, the childhood memories of baking the Betty Crocker mixes with my sister and thinking that we were such good cooks. There’s that certain burnt-chocolatey taste that only seems to come from brownies from a box (especially in the chewy-crunchy edge pieces- my favorite!) and I simply cannot manage to recreate in homemade brownies.

Another added plus: with less time spent on preparing the actual brownies, it opens up more opportunities to play with the flavors and additions.
Take these mint chocolate brownies, for example.

I’ve been craving mint chocolate brownies for a few weeks now. The fudgy brownie, the creamy, light green mint topping, the ganache-like chocolate shell. I never really ate them much as a kid, yet suddenly I longed for all the non-existent memories attached to them, embedded in their familiarity.

But when I’m really craving something, I don’t have the patience to make it from scratch. I usually end up buying it (and more often than not, being disappointed), or I try to find some shortcut that will get the food I crave in my belly ASAP. So here comes in the brownie mix. Literally five minutes later, the brownies are in the oven, and I can focus on getting that minty green color just right. It’s really a snap to pull together now- so easy, that I almost feel guilty. Almost. But I’m too busy stuffing these delicious bites of fudginess in my mouth.

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Middle East-inspired sandwiches

23 Jun

Light and refreshing open-faced sandwiches. Multi-grain bread (topped with all sorts of grains and seeds- yum!) schmeared with labneh (a yogurty Lebanese dip), sprinkled with zaatar, olives, mint, onions, tomatoes, and garlic, then crowned with a few cilantro leaves.

No recipe here. I personally find recipes for things like simple sandwiches, salads, pizzas with pre-made bases, or foods with pre-made everything somewhat insulting and restricting. I don’t think I need instructions on how to assemble a sandwich- that’s the beauty of them! But ingredients are a great place to start for inspiration…

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