Friday, May 20, 2011

Roasted Baby Fingerling Potatoes

I've been obsessed with these teeny fingerling potatoes ever since my sister-in-law served them up on Easter Sunday. They are, arguably, the best roasted potatoes I've ever eaten with their exquisitely crisp exterior and tender, fluffy middle. Spiked with a hint of fragrant rosemary and pungent garlic and sprinkled with a touch of sea salt, they taste like the best french fries ever--even my uber-picky thirteen-year-old loves these (admittedly with ketchup, but whatever. He's eating a whole food, for Heaven's sake!).

Potatoes like these used to be cast-offs, tossed in the rubbish heap (or given to the help) when potato fields were harvested. Now the secret's out and folks harvest potatoes early on purpose because they are so, so wonderful and tender. Sometimes they have wee fingerlings at the farmers' market. I've also seen them at Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Regular fingerlings work well too, but you'll need to cook them a little longer.

I tossed mine with spring garlic (the early harvest kind that you don't need to peel), olive oil, rosemary, thinly sliced lemon and sea salt. I cannot describe how amazing my house smelled. But trust me, it did.

I slice the leftovers in half, brown them in butter then serve them alongside scrambled eggs for breakfast. Mmmm.

Roasted Baby Fingerling Potatoes with Rosemary, Garlic and Lemon
Printable Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Yield: serves 4


1 pound tiny fingerling potatoes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 a lemon, cut into slivers
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss potatoes with garlic, rosemary, lemon and olive oil on a large sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Bake for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and crisp on the outside and are tender when pierced with a knife.

3. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Warm Roasted Veg and Bulgur Salad

I keep explaining to my newly-minted vegetarian daughter that those who choose this lifestyle must eat a lot of whole grains and vegetables as a part of a healthy and balanced diet. Heck, we all do! But despite the fact that she used to eat just about anything, she's not only eschewing meat...she's become extraordinarily picky and learning the hard way that when you don't eat what I've prepared for dinner, you get a piece of fruit, and generally go to bed hungry.

Sigh. I was so hoping that as my kids grew, they would become less and less picky, not the other way around. Ah well. It just means there are more leftovers to bring to a neighhbor's monthly ladies' night--they loved it by the way. I hope you do too!

I like to roast a huge batch of veggies so I have plenty to add to dishes throughout the week. Try them on a green salad, over pasta, on pizza or in soup. Or just enjoy them as a side dish on their own.

Warm Roasted Vegetable and Bulgur Salad

Printable Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Yield: serves 6-8


2 zucchini
2 Japanese eggplants (the long, thin kind)
1 yellow onion
2 red bell peppers
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
1 head of garlic
2 cups bulgur
4 cups vegetable stock
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme and basil are all good)


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Slice zucchini and eggplant in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2 inch thick slices. Peel and cut onion into similarly-sized chunks. Remove seeds and core from the bell peppers and chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Place all the veggies on a large sheet pan (if it seems too crowded, use 2). Add the cherry tomatoes. Break apart the head of garlic and discard any excess papery skin. Sprinkle the cloves over the vegetables.

3. Drizzle the veggies with 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss well to combine. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the vegetables and garlic are tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet.

5. Meanwhile, heat broth in a medium saucepan. When it boils, add bulgur and return to a simmer. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Remove lid, toss with a fork and let cool for 10 minutes.

6. Whisk 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large salad bowl. Add warm bulgur and toss to coat completely.

7. Squeeze garlic from its skin and discard (skin). Toss garlic, and all the rest of the veggies with the bulgur until evenly combined. The juice from the tomatoes will add extra moisture to the salad. Taste for seasoning and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the top with finely chopped fresh herbs (like parsley, thyme and basil). Serve warm or at room temperature. Drizzle with additional olive oil and vinegar if desired.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Spring Harvest-Fennel & Sausage Pizza

Sometimes, nature makes runts. In the barn, in our family (is it rude to call my preemie a runt?) and yes, in the garden. I don't know if it was lack of sun, or overcrowding, or both...but the fennel I had planted in my winter garden was a little on the lean side. Instead of the usual plump bulbs, I had supermodel-thin ones--long and leggy, with a glorious green and frilly crown. What they had in looks, they lacked in substance (I'll refrain from getting too metaphorical here...but it's hard). I was really hoping to be able to grow some sturdy stalks with a little junk in the trunk.

But I had waited long enough and needed to harvest what was left in the garden to make room for my tomatoes, and squash and peppers.

The carrots we scrubbed and ate raw--they were gobbled up in a matter of moments, as were the few peas left on the vine. With the fennel, I decided to use it to top Friday's pizza, along with some spicy Italian sausage.

Luckily, the thin bulbs did have quite a bit of sharp, anise flavor, as did the tops, which I sprinkled on as a garnish after the pizza came out of the oven. It was a delicious way to use up the last of harvest. Now bring on the tomatoes!

For best results, cook your pizzas in a HOT (500 degree) oven, and on a pizza stone. I like to cook it until the crust is crisp and blistered on the edges. Homemade dough is super easy to make (I promise), but store-bought, fresh dough can be good in a pinch. Look for it in one-pound bags sold at Trader Joes or other specialty markets....or try asking your favorite pizza joint if you can buy a couple pounds of dough.

Sausage & Fennel Pizza

Printable Recipe

When it comes to flavor and value, homemade pizza is the way to go. If you don't have a pizza stone (or pizza pan), don't fret--just cook it on a regular sheet pan. You may not have the same crisp dough, but it will still be light-years above the stuff that comes from your local pizza joint. You may find it so delicious and easy to make that you decide to invest in a pizza stone and pizza peel, which can be found in practically any kitchen supply store.

Prep time: 30 minutes (not including dough)
Total time: 45 minutes
Yield: serves 3-4


1/2 recipe pizza dough (or a one-pound ball of dough)
1 pound of spicy Italian sausage
1/2 cup of your favorite Marinara or pizza sauce
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (reserve some of the green fronds for garnish)
olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees one hour before you plan to bake the pizza if you have a pizza stone (which should be on the bottom rack of the oven). If you don't have a pizza stone, just heat it right before you bake the pizza.

2. Carefully stretch or roll the dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. If the dough seems tight, let it rest for 5 minutes, then try stretching it again. Cover with a clean cloth and set aside.

3. Remove sausage from its casing and crumble into a hot skillet. Cook until sausage is browned, using a spatula to break up any large chunks. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel.

4. If you're cooking the pizza on a pan, lightly flour it and place dough in the pan at this time. If you are using a pizza peel, lightly flour the peel and set the dough on top of it now.

5. Spread the sauce over the dough, leaving a one-inch border all around the edge. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, again leaving a border. Top with the cooked sausage and fennel slices.

6. If using a peel, carefully shake the pizza back and forth over the peel to make sure it will easily slide into the oven. If it seems stuck, carefully lift the edge in a few places and blow some flour under it. Carefully shake it again. It should slide easily. If not, repeat with the flour. Slide the pizza into the oven directly on top of the stone. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is crisp and blistered. (If you're using a pan, just place the pan on top of the pizza stone).

7. Use the peel to remove the pizza from the oven. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with reserved, chopped fennel fronds. Slice into 8 slices and serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What is Normal? And Link Love

On the Ides of March, my contract with my biggest freelance gig was terminated (six months early). Though it was no fault of my own (I fell victim, like so many during these difficult times, to "restructuring" and new management), it has been a bit of a blow to my ego. No longer can I claim that I work in recipe development...rather it has been relegated back to the hobby category. A hobby I am piss-poor at, apparently, as I cannot seem to make it to this space on a regular basis.

It's amazing what happens to time. I thought things could get back to normal, like how it was before I was working so much. I expected that hours would unfold before me and my days would be filled with productive and fulfilling home-keeping activities (closet organization, anyone?). But instead, those hours have vaporized and I feel as busy as before--and who wants to clean closets anyway?

Instead, I've been reading books, gardening, cooking and actually enjoying my food rather than worrying about documenting and photographing every last step, and as usual, shuttling my children to their ever present afternoon activities. It's been an adjustment, for sure, but one that I'm learning to embrace. And I thank you for your patience as I navigate this new normal for me and my family.

Today, I have no original recipe to share, but instead want to share some things I have been enjoying in the past few weeks....

  • You must try this honey lemon glazed chicken. You may never roast chicken any other way again. Read the accompanying article if you have time....and if you know Piero Incisa della Rocchetta and can introduce me to this man, please let me know.
  • These cookie bars are to. die. for. The recipe makes a huge pan of them, so we were able to enjoy them all week. Swoon.
  • I've been planting my summer garden this past week and cannot wait to sink my teeth into a fresh, homegrown tomato still warm from the sun. Check out this amazing heirloom seed company called Baker Creek. Their story is fantastic and their fruit and vegetable varieties are unusual and wonderful.
  • I just finished this book. It's a bit racy...okay, a lot racy, but the story is fascinating and it's TRUE. The author also has a blog (she recently showed photos of her raised garden bed).
  • Can't get this song out of my head. I love this quirky, country girl band--and so does my daughter.
  • And finally, this lip balm is the bomb. I should buy it by the case. It's so soft and moist and gives your lips the faintest tinge of pink.
I hope you are enjoying lovely spring weather in your part of the world....and I'll be back in a day or two with a new recipe for pizza!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother Lovin' Coffee Cake

If you love your mother, then make her this cake for brunch on Mother's Day. It will make up for all the times you sassed her, threw temper tantrums, upchucked on her pants, left sippy cups of milk to spoil under the car seat, told your teacher you were pretty sure she was 57 (when she was 30), kept her up all night nursing, kept her up all night wondering why you had broken your curfew, rolled your eyes at her, shrugged off a hug, crashed her car, or lied right to her face.

She's probably forgiven you already, but this very cake will make all those tortuous years she spent raising you almost a figment of her imagination.

This cake's rich and buttery crumb is moistened with a touch of sour cream and a perfect ribbon of brown sugar crumbs ripple through the center. Topped with more crumbs and a glaze made from pure maple syrup, this is honestly the best coffee cake I have ever tasted.

So delightful is this cake, that your mom, in a moment of pure bliss and delusion, might even ask you to move back in with her. You should politely refuse, of course, but offer to make this cake again sometime....And if you're lucky, your kids may make it for you someday too.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Recipe Adapted from Barefoot Contessa
Printable Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yield: serves 8-10


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole fat sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Crumb Topping:

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces


1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

2. Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until thoroughly combined. Add vanilla.

3. In another small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. Add half the flour mixture to the bowl and beat gently. Add the sour cream to the bowl and beat again. Then add the last half of the flour mixture, beating only until just combined.

5. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and to make sure that all the ingredients are totally incorporated.

6. Make the crumb topping. Mix the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt together in a small bowl. Add the butter and cut in using a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers until small crumbs form.

7. Pour half the batter into the prepared tube pan and spread evenly around. Sprinkle half the crumb topping onto the batter, then top with the remaining batter. Carefully spread the batter around to cover the crumb topping, then sprinkle the top with the remaining crumbs.

8. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack in the pan for 30 minutes then carefully remove from the pan and transfer the cake to a serving plate, crumb side up.

9. Make icing by whisking powdered sugar with maple syrup until smooth. Drizzle over the top of the cake and serve warm or at room temperature.