Tag Archive: food


This is one of those cakes that you can take ANYWHERE. Dress it up with fresh, barely-sweetened, homemade whipped cream and it’s perfect for a holiday or dinner party. Serve it as is with coffee. Make it with bananas instead of pears and take it to a neighborhood potluck.

It’s pretty perfect and very delicious.

Right now, I’m making the banana version to bring to our friends’ house, where it will be enjoyed as we watch the Patriots crush the Jets in tomorrow’s NFL play-off game.

Edited to add:  So, the Pats didn’t win, but the cake was still delicious. Also, I’ve decided that I’m going to experiment and make this with fresh, in-season cherries this Summer. I’ll let you know how it turns out. My bets are on scrumptious.

Pear-Almond Cake with Chocolate Chunks

(adapted from Rachael Ray)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large pears—peeled, cored and thinly sliced (or two sliced bananas, if you are pear-averse)
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks (I just chop a good quality bar into chunks)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the vanilla extract, and the 2 eggs until pale yellow, 1 to 2 minutes; whisk in the butter. Stir into the flour mixture until just combined.
  4. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and top with half of the pear or banana slices and half of the chocolate; repeat with the remaining batter, pears or bananas, and chocolate.
  5. Using a food processor, finely grind 1/4 cup almonds with the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Add the egg white and process until smooth. Drizzle over the cake and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then dust lightly with the confectioners’ sugar.
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Happy Mothers’ Day! I hope you all enjoyed your burnt pancakes this morning.

Awhile back, I mentioned that I was fooling around with coconut milk in the hopes of making some really good dairy-free chocolate pudding for Lilah, who is severely allergic to all dairy products.  I came across several decent recipes during the course of this little experiment, some with eggs, others with additional ingredients like tofu and lecithin. All of them were just OK – a little too eggy, a little too chemical, a little too sweet. They all lacked that smooth, creamy, deeply chocolate richness that I was so hoping for.

Then I saw this recipe. It originally called for whole cow’s milk, which I easily replaced with coconut milk and hoped for the best.

And, well, let me tell you:  It is THE BEST. I love it so much that Pee-Wee Herman would probably suggest that I marry it.

Not only is it the most delicious pudding I’ve ever eaten, but it is also the easiest pudding recipe I’ve ever made. No eggs, no weird stuff – just pure chocolate-coconut bliss.

You can thank me when you’re done licking the bowl.

Chocolate-Coconut Pudding

(adapted from John Scharffenberger via Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 6

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups light, unsweetened coconut milk
6 ounces 72% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler*. Slowly whisk in the coconut milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 20 minutes or so, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 4 to 6 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

2. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer** into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes.

3. Cover dish(es) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days (if you can restrain yourself for that long).

*You can fashion your own double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl over a pot of water. Just make sure the bowl fits just inside the top of the pot without falling in!  And please save yourself a trip to the ER by using good oven mitts when removing the bowl from the pot.

** I didn’t strain the pudding. The world did not end.

Pumpkin Bread

I ran out of snacks for the kids yesterday.  So, I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up a bag of peanut-butter pretzels to stave off any late-afternoon belligerence. When I got home, I started dinner, then decided to make a pumpkin bread for the kids to snack on during the next few days.  It’s easy to put together and I thought we had all of the ingredients…

And we did…except for the cinnamon.

Blerg. I hate waiting to cook when the mood strikes.

Thankfully, Michael picked some up on his way home last night, so I decided to get up early this morning and bake.  A literal wake and bake, if you will.  It was already in the oven before the kids left for school, the pumpkin-spice scent delighting them with the promise of a homemade treat this afternoon.

They were kind of bummed that I didn’t put chocolate chips in it this time, though.

I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for about a year, but I’m finally happy with my adjustments.  It’s definitely a keeper!

Pumpkin Bread

(loosely adapted from Simply Recipes)

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C olive oil (I know it sounds strange, but it really brings out the pumpkin flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can of pumpkin, preferably organic (I just think the organic stuff tastes better)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 C dried fruit, nuts, and/or chocolate chips, optional

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

2. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil until fully emulsified and pale yellow. Gently stir in the pumpkin, vanilla, and spices until the mixture is smooth.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture until they are fully incorporated, but being careful not to overmix. Gently stir in the optional ingredients if you’re using them.

5. Pour into a well-greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan or an 8×8 cake pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then turn it out and cool on a rack.

Makes one loaf, but can easily be doubled.  Enjoy!

Good Things To Eat

Because of this blog’s title, you had to know that I’d be talking about food at some point.

I love food.

And!  I’ve loved to cook since I was 7 years old, which is when my Mom first taught me how to make scrambled eggs.  At that point, she was taking a break from her 30-plus year teaching career and running a small-but-successful catering company out of our kitchen (obviously, this was way before you needed a license and a commercial kitchen to do such things).  Everyday, I’d come home from school, tell her about my day, and watch her cook for awhile.

I was fascinated and learned quickly.

By age 10, I looked forward to new issues of Bon Appetit more than my Mom did.

By age 12, I could make basic things – spaghetti, burgers, baked chicken, cookies, quickbreads, etc.

By age 14, one of my chores was to cook dinner once or twice a week.

At age 16, I cooked my first-ever “fancy” dinner for my high school boyfriend and he INHALED it.  This bolstered my confidence considerably.  (In hindsight, though, he was a growing, teenage boy and, even though he definitely liked what I made, he was probably just really, really hungry, too.)

At age 17, I hosted 20 guests at a dinner party for my parents’ 25th anniversary.  I made a lot different tapenades and served them with toasted baguette and vegetables.  Dinner itself was a buffet with lamb (mom helped a little with the lamb since I’d never made it before), pasta with pesto and tomatoes, stuffed peppers, and salad.  Dessert was fresh berries and cake…from a bakery.

At age 19, I came home for Mothers’ Day weekend and made wild mushroom risotto, grilled steaks, and a homemade ice cream cake. (There’s nothing to do in my hometown, so weekends home from college were always a good excuse to buy groceries with my parents’ money and play around in the kitchen.)

In my early 20’s, I lived in Europe and then lived off-campus when I returned, so I learned how feed myself well for very little money.  This skill came in handy again when, 5 years ago, my husband was suddenly laid-off.  With two small children and another on the way, it was a relief not to worry too much about getting food on the table. (Thankfully, he got another job 3 weeks before Aviva was born and he’s been working there ever since.)

In my mid-to-late 20’s, I was home on-and-off with babies and had some time on my hands. I worked on my techniques and started using a wider variety of spices.

Also, since my teens, I’ve been pretty keen on trying any and all types of cuisine.  I figured that the more I tasted, the better my own cooking would be.

Now, here I am, at age thirty-something. My Mom now thinks that I am a better and more adventurous cook than she ever was…and, man-oh-man, that is some high praise.  When I thanked her, she clarified, with a wry smile,  “But I’m still a better baker.”

That is very true, and due mostly to my flawed character.  I don’t have the patience for large scale baking projects.  If a baked dessert requires more than 30 minutes of prep time, I won’t make it. What I do bake, however, is always pretty decent.

So, now that you know how I’ve come to love food and cooking, I’m going to try to share good things to eat with all of you.  If I go to a good restaurant or try a new recipe, you’ll probably read about it.

You’re welcome.

I just realized that you’re probably wondering where I get my recipes.

The answer is: EVERYWHERE.  Online, cookbooks, magazines, friends, family, my own mind.  If it sounds good, I’ll give it a go.

Like this recipe here.

I’ve made it twice in the last three weeks and might make it again next week, I love it so. The kids love it, too, which surprised me because Noah and Aviva normally HATE spinach. It’s a good recipe to play around with, too.  Next time I make it, I’m omitting the bread, doubling the sauce – spices, vinegar, and all – and serving it over saffron rice.  Yum.

In my cooking, I always need to consider my Lilah’s severe dairy allergy, so I sometimes have to modify recipes to make them safe for her to eat. It can be tough, but we work around it and have found suitable replacements for most dairy products.  This week, she and I will be playing around with coconut milk in the hopes of making some amazing chocolate-coconut pudding.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  It will definitely be a delicious experiment.

Also, Passover ends tonight.  I plan to serve some citrusy grilled chicken alongside a simple pasta – spaghetti tossed with quickly sauteed garlic, baby heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, a handful of chopped kalamata olives, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and a squeeze of lemon – and celebrate not having to eat matzah for another year!

Remember, in junior high, when your pit-stained social studies teacher explained the meaning behind the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch”?

I think kids should learn that concept much sooner than 7th grade.

Perhaps a change in the curriculum is due.

Due like the $150 we owe to the school cafeteria because Noah has been buying lunch IN ADDITION to eating the ample lunch that I pack for him everyday.

ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY AMERICAN DOLLARS.

Since September, he’s been using his school lunch PIN-code to buy extra food. Last week, he was sent home with a detailed printout of his account along with a bill and a note from the cafeteria saying that we should regularly check his school lunch account online.

It was shocking to me.  Sometimes he bought as much as another full meal.  Other times, he purchased ice cream or cookies.  Either way, in the last six months, he’s augmented his lunch at least three times a week and it’s added up very quickly.

Because we pack his lunches, it never occurred to us to check his account.  He never complained about needing more food or mentioned buying extra from the cafeteria. We had virtually no reason to think that we owed a balance, nevermind one that surpassed $100.

Obviously, we needed to confront him, which we did after his sisters went to bed.

At first, he denied EVERYTHING.  But, given the fact that his school picture would have appeared to the lunch room staff every time he entered his PIN, we were pretty sure that the printout was legitimate.

We weren’t angry, but explained that we wished he’d been honest with us from the start and made it clear that we expected his honesty henceforth.

He grumped and grumbled and said we were being mean when we told him that his allowance money would go into a jar until he had enough to pay his debt.  He nodded begrudgingly when we explained that anymore cafeteria purchases would be met with severe limitations to his social life.

On the other hand (and with some supervision), he’s now allowed him to make his own bigger, better lunches.

A few days after we confronted him, he apologized and admitted the whole truth about buying extra food.

“I didn’t think it would cost anything”, he lamented.

“Everything costs something, Noah”, I said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Passover Productivity

Passover starts Monday night, so I spent all day today cooking as much as I could for our Seder.

By as much as I could, I mean a ridiculous amount of food.  Food which ate my day, swallowing it whole while I worked myself into some sort of wildly focused, domestic state of mind – a state which I counteracted with some riot grrl tunes, lest I allow myself to think I was going on this cooking spree for any reason other than my own empowerment.

Yeah right.

It was a crazy idea, a busy day.  And now I’m exhausted.

But, guess what?

I only have to make about 6 more things before Seder and I can do all of them on Monday morning.  My Mom is bringing the rest.  Hurrah!

Wanna know what I made today?  Of course you do.

– Brisket, nearly nine pounds of it braised slowly in a lovely, tangy sauce. The recipe is an oldie, but goodie. It’s something I remember my grandmother making when I was little.

– Chicken soup. The accompanying matzah balls will be made on Monday.

– Almond cookies, made from a recipe I stole from my friend, Lauren, and tweaked by adding some vanilla and cinnamon.

– Mashed sweet potatoes with some orange zest and caramelized onions.

– Chocolate-toffee matzah, two batches.  This is addictive stuff. You can’t stop after you’ve had that first bite.  And!  Once you’ve had it, you build up a tolerance that causes you to eat more and more each time.

I’ll post the recipes if I can figure out how to make a recipe category…

…which I’ll do after I have some well-earned hard cider and pre-Passover pizza.