savory

post38 // french crêpes

good morning to you! or afternoon, or evening — just the time of the day you happen to be reading this. you’re in luck because whatever time it is, it’s time for a crêpe.

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crêpes have never been a routine meal of mine. i’m usually eating their cousins (a.k.a. pancakes and dutch babies), which i have more confidence in cooking. my memories of crêpes are special though, associated with château montebello, a hotel in quebec that my family used to drive 12 hours to each new years eve. the endless hot chocolates and crêpes at the hotel made up for the “when are we there yet” and often nauseating car rides for my brothers and i. year after year, crêpes with maple syrup were reason enough to go back.

since those days at montebello, i haven’t spent much time eating crêpes. until now! just two months ago i was invited over to my friend stella’s apartment, which she shares with her sister sarah. sarah is a francophile and has lived in france on-and-off over the years. she has a wonderful host mother from paris, who was visiting new york at the time. given my impending move to france for the year, the sisters thought that i should meet sarah’s host mum and experience a true french crêpe.

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aside from learning so much about paris, i learned how to make (and eat) many french crêpes that night. fast forward two months and sarah is now living with my family for the summer in washington, d.c. (her own american homestay of sorts!). within her first week here, crêpe ingredients were added to our grocery list.

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crêpes are an anytime meal. while we made these ham, egg, and cheese crêpes for dinner, they could just as well be your breakfast or lunch. the batter itself is simple, as sarah says, “think 4-4-2: four eggs, four cups of milk, and 2 cups of flour.” a bit of salt and vegetable oil added complete the batter and next is just the fillings. both sarah and sofie, her parisian host mum, cooked off the entire crêpe batter, kept the cakes warm, and then prepared the fillings right before serving. this is the best way to ensure your crêpe comes out hot. the batter will be much thinner than a normal pancake batter, so don’t be afraid if it looks runny! sarah describes that the consistency is best when it coats a wooden spoon upon lifting, but still drips back into the batter bowl.

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once you’ve cooked off all your crêpe batter and have a stack of eager cakes waiting to be filled, it’s time to load on the toppings. a couple good tips for fillings are to keep them thinly sliced so that they don’t overwhelm the crêpe, another being to spread your crêpe with sour cream (for flavor!) before adding the fillings. if working with uncooked eggs, cover your pan so that the egg can cook off while the rest of the toppings are melting together.

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folding the crêpe together at the end is a simple envelope fold. visually divide the crêpe into three, fold the bottom third up and fix it together by folding the top third down. you can use a little sour cream to seal. by this time, your egg yolk will have burst and it is seriously time to sit down and eat your crêpe.

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very soon, i’m sure you’ll be reading about all the different types of crêpes i’ll be trying in france. until then, i’ll be working on my own crêpe-making skills.

au revoir!

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p.s. this week’s other stuff!!!

i’ll admit to singing this with the windows down very loudly this past weekend. one of my favorites

obsessed with this account and their shop in greenpoint, bk

the drink of my summer (recipe comin’ soon to foodstuffs!)


french crêpes

makes 12 crêpes

fixings

4 eggs

4 cups milk

2 cups flour (all-purpose is fine)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil (+ more for coating the pan)

1 teaspoon salt

sour cream

toppings: parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, nutella, powdered sugar, maple syrup, etc.

special tools

a medium-sized fry pan

instructions

  1. mix the milk, flour, eggs, and salt together to form your batter. heat the fry pan over medium-high heat. prepare any toppings such as slicing or shaving the cheeses.
  2. pour a large spoonful of batter into the pan and move it around so that the entire pan is coated in a thin layer. let warm until the bottom side turns lightly brown. turn and repeat. take the crêpe off the burner and let it rest on a nearby plate. repeat until you’ve baked off all the crêpe batter.
  3. you can eat your crêpes now as is with sweet toppings but if you are looking for a more savory crêpe, keep your fry pan warm and add a crêpe back to it.
  4. top crêpe with a thin layer of sour cream. add your egg immediately to the center of the crêpe. as the egg begins to cook, add other toppings around it. cover pan until the egg cooks off and other toppings have melted.
  5. fold the crêpe in an envelope manner, as i described above. visually divide the crêpe into three, fold the bottom third up and fix it together by folding the top third down. you can use a little sour cream to seal.
  6. serve immediately and enjoy!

post37 // homemade bagels

hear, hear! homemade bagels! sure, going down to the corner deli and grabbing a bagel is easy when you live in bagel capital of the world. but if you live in a bagel desert or prefer a homemade version, keep moving your eyes down this screen for a week’s worth of heavenly bagel breakfasts, cream cheese not included (but highly recommended).

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as the daughter of a new yorker who lived in brooklyn before it was “brooklyn,” bagels have always been a part of my breakfast appetite. growing up, each trip to visit my aunts and uncles and (many!!) cousins in long island included a very large bagel breakfast with buckets of cream cheese. at home, sunday breakfasts to this day mean bacon and eggs, mopped up and sandwiched between bagels from pumpernickel’s, our quasi-new york deli down the road.

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i’ve always been curious to know how bagels are made. i truly didn’t have a clue until i decided to make them myself. all i could imagine was dipping the bagel dough in seeds or toppings like doughnuts when they’re fresh out of the fryer. and i wasn’t that far off! but there’s a lot more that goes into the dough-making and shaping of bagels before that step. above you can see my bagel dough after it’s been proofed. the dough itself is super simple = flour + salt + water + malt. i’m telling you, you can do it!

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the hardest part is shaping the actual bagels. as you can see, my rolled out dough isn’t *totally* symmetrical. but that’s okay! just attach your two ends together, roll ’em a bit to stick, and no one will care if your bagels are proportional. (this is a bit different if you work in a bakery 🤣.)  next comes the actual making of the bagels. for those of you who didn’t know how bagel dough is baked/cooked/made (like me), it’s first poached in boiling water, dipped in toppings (if necessary), and then baked in the oven. voila! that’s it, you’ve made bagels!

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my favorite part of homemade bagels is the diy toppings! you can add how much, whatever, or absolutely nothing to your bagels. they’re good in every way. i loved coming up with my toppings, mixing classics like sesame and poppy seeds with anything i could think up: lemon zest and sugar becoming my homemade bagel frontrunner.

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once baked, make sure you have cream cheese, butter, lox, jam, whatever your bagel vice is on hand. “fresh out of the oven” is a real thing and you’re going to want one asap.

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beware: once you tell your friends you made homemade bagels there will be lots of visitors to your house. i had friends show up in droves, just “stopping by” because they were “in the neighborhood.” and who doesn’t love bread.

last but surely not least, this week’s other stuff!!

this corgi cake by adrianna of acozykitchen is recipe #goals

my favorite bagel deli in nyc

this song is everything

okay, now go and have a bagel-filled day!!


homemade bagels

makes 8 bagels (slightly adapted from peter reinhart’s whole wheat bagels along with food52’s homemade bagels)

fixings

4 cups bread flour

3 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1 tablespoon barley malt

1 1/3 cup lukewarm water

1 tablespoon baking soda

4 tablespoons of each topping (cinnamon sugar! sesame! poppy! salt! lemon zest!)

cornmeal/semolina flour for baking sheets

special tools

baking sheets

parchment paper

instructions

  1. mix the bread flour, 2 teaspoons salt, yeast, malt, and lukewarm water by hand or with a mixer. either works!
  2. knead your dough on a lightly floured surface for 3-5 minutes. i used a marble board but you can use your counter or a cutting board, just make sure flour is on it. knead until slightly tacky.
  3. shape dough into a ball and plop it in an oiled bowl (just clean and use the same bowl you mixed with). cover bowl tightly with plastic and let rest in a dark, untouched place on your counter for 1 1/2 hours.
  4. in the meantime, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. once the dough has risen and swelled, turn it out onto a (very) lightly floured counter and divide it into 8 pieces. to shape bagels, roll them out into a foot-long log. moisten each end of your log and press the ends together, rolling together so that they stick to each other and seal. put prepared bagels on the parchment paper, at least 1 inch apart. let them rise for 30 minutes!
  6. heat oven to 425 degrees. remove proofed bagels and their parchment paper from the baking sheets. replace sheets with fresh parchment paper and evenly scatter a layer of semolina or cornmeal on sheets.
  7. fill 1/2-2/3 of a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. add baking soda and malt. drop bagel, one at a time, into the water. after 30 seconds, flip over, and after another 30 seconds, remove from water with a slotted spoon and place on the prepared baking sheet. sprinkle topping on bagel right away! repeat until you’re finished poaching all your bagels.
  8. place baking sheets in oven and bake for 12 minutes. rotate your baking sheet and bake for another 8 minutes. great tip from peter reinhart: “If bottoms are getting too brown slide a second baking pan underneath the first one for insulation after first 12 minutes.” remove from oven, let cool (maybe), and feast!

post31 // sweet potatoes with thyme

DSC_0193Thyme-Infused Sweet Potatoes

Like many people, I have a sweet tooth. I love cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, cobblers, crisps, ice cream, floats, the list goes on and on and on. However, recently I’ve been trying to substitute these cravings of mine with smaller portion sizes and sugar I can benefit from. High in fiber, potassium, and Vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are a starchy root vegetable that should be added to your grocery list ASAP. Low in grams, one sweet potato contributes an extensive amount of nutrients for its percentage of the recommended dietary allowment (RDA). Also beneficial, sweet potatoes are high in amylopectin, a digestible type of starch.

If those scientific benefits didn’t lure you in, then this taste will. Littered in thyme leaves and a kick from red pepper flakes, these sweet potato rounds are full of flavor. I promise they’ll keep you full for a long time and if you make the whole recipe at once, you’ll be able to add them to meals throughout the week!

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Thyme-Infused Sweet Potato Rounds

Adapted from Kathryn Matthews, Epicurious

Materials:

Large bowl to mix

Cutting board

Knife

Vegetable Peeler

Cup/spoon measurements

Baking sheet or baking dish (13X9)

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, minced

⅓ cup fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 thyme sprigs for garnish

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Extra butter or oil to grease pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease your baking sheet or dish with butter or oil.
  2. Combine all ingredients and toss in large mixing bowl.
  3. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheet or dish.
  4. Place on middle oven rack and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with thyme sprigs.

post29 // an o’donnell family staple: clams and linguine

ImageClams and Linguine 

Over every college break, I go home and I eat a lot. It’s no secret that I love to cook and upon arriving in a large kitchen, I can’t help but meet the granite countertop with a smile. Nonetheless, I’ve got some steady competition in the kitchen at home: my mother and father. I guess I didn’t have to spell out that my two older brothers don’t frequent meal-making times because those of you who know them, well you already knew that.

I’m lucky enough to go to a college that still fits an Easter break into their academic calendar. This past Easter break, my first meal home was Clams and Linguine. As my brother Jake’s favorite meal, it’s a no-brainer that this dish is a family staple in the O’Donnell household. It was definitely a part of the rotationhamburgers, pork and saurkraut, sausages and peppers—that made up my dinners growing up. As seafood lovers, pasta fans, and Italians at food-heart, Clams and Linguine is a perfect fit for the O’Donnell’s. Both easy to make and beautiful to serve, we pull our Clams and Linguine recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. We typically use littleneck clams and at times disregard the bottled clam juice. The clam juice you buy in the store can hold a lot of unnecessary sodium so to replace, we will use white wine and olive oil as our base. To take the recipe up a notch, you can buy homemade linguine to anchor your clams in. Our favorite place to buy the pasta? Vace’s in Washington, D.C.

Intertwined in a pool of linguine, the clams are abundantly spread within, beneath, and above the pasta. The meal transforms from a simple seafood dish to a full-on Italian meal with garlic, oregano, parsley, and plenty olive-oil to flavor. I couldn’t recommend an effortless course tastier than this, so make sure you jot the recipe down!

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients:

¾ cup best-quality olive oil

6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

4 dozen small clams, such as Littlenecks or Cherrystones, scrubbed, shucked, and chopped coarsely, all liquor reserved

About 2 cups bottled clam juice

½ cup finely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1½ teaspoons dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

24 fresh clams, in their shells, for garnish (optional)

1 pound linguine

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep heavy pot over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.

2. Combine the reserved clam liquor and enough bottled clam juice to make 3 cups. Add this to the pot along with the parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. The sauce may be prepared ahead to this point.

3. Meanhwile, scrub the garnishing clams, if you are using them, and put them in another pan with water to a depth of 1 inch. Cover, and set the pan over high heat. Shake the pan or stir the clams and remove them as they open. Reserve them in their shells. Discard any clams that don’t open.

4. Bring 4 quarts salted water to a boil in a large pot. Drop in the linguine and cook until tender but still firm.

5. Meanwhile, reheat the sauce if you have allowed it to cool. Add the chopped clams and heat gently; clams should not overcook or they will become tough.

6. Drain the linguine and toss it with the sauce. Serve it in the pot, topped by the clam garnish, or transfer to individual wide soup bowls and garnish each serving with the clams in their shells.

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep heavy pot over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.

Recipe taken from The Silver Palate Cookbook: http://books.google.com/books?id=pokLqCAZFh0C&pg=PA91&lpg=PA91&dq=linguine+with+white+clam+sauce+silver+palate&source=bl&ots=gziX–Z8sE&sig=ZWpeREXd34X3udDyiN7oIPYfUYo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LgJfU4PUMZHLsQSJyoCgDA&ved=0CEEQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=linguine%20with%20white%20clam%20sauce%20silver%20palate&f=false.

 

post18 // giada’s eggplant timbale: where meat, cheese, pasta, and eggplant reach an apex

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Stepping away from my traditional posts on Latin cuisine, I couldn’t resist writing about one of my favorite dishes of all time. As a big fan of many Giada recipes, this delicious Italian meal will leave you washing plates that have already been licked clean. If you’re unfamiliar with Giada de Laurentiis, I’m sorry. Then again, I’m not the sorry because you’re reading this post, which means you at least now know who she is.

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Look, there she is! Fitting that she’s holding an eggplant (wow, what a perfect transition into talking about the eggplant timbale!). Anyways, she’s got some great recipes, this one in particular coming from her book Giada’s Kitchen. For the past four years, my Dad Tom—who first inspired me to start cooking alongside baking— and I have cooked an eggplant timbale, fixing our previous errors each time and stuffing our faces together. I love cooking with my Dad and some of our recipe nights have been my greatest memories with him. But as any familial relationship goes, there are ups as tall as Kimye’s soon-to-be wedding cake and lows as low as the burnt bottom of a cookie pan that you just can’t quite scrape clean. While we struggled to agree on the pasta quantity that fills the eggplant covered pan, which then led to a time out for the two of us, I eventually won the portion squabble using my baking background as ammo for how to fill a spring-form pan. If this is the worst thing we’re fighting about, I think we’ve got it pretty good.

In terms of what this eggplant timbale actually is, let me explain. Tucked between the eggplant layering and the sprinkled pecorino cheese seen in the above photo is an outrageously delicious meat pasta made with Italian sausage, ground beef, onions, green peas, and mozzarella cheese. Despite two brothers who are not enamored with eggplant (unlike my Dad and I, self-trumpeted eggplant worshipers), the pasta makes up for what they perceive as a veggie distraction. I on the other hand, can’t help but enjoy every bite of my timbale helping, a tasteful blend of vegetables and cheesy meaty goodness.

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If you’re going to undertake this recipe, and it is an undertaking, please make sure to give yourself three hours from start to finish. Do not plan to do anything after you eat the meal because all you will want is your bed. Stick to the instructions! I cannot repeat these guidelines more to people I’ve shared this recipe with. If you don’t, you’ll wind up with a poor ratio between the different ingredients. With any extra pasta that doesn’t fit in the timbale, you can store it in a tupperware container for up to five days. That time period is the same for storing the eggplant timbale.

Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis:

Ingredients
2 medium eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch thick *I suggest buying the largest eggplants you can find
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound penne pasta
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian pork sausage
1/4 cup Marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups diced smoked mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus 1/4 cup
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan *You can use an 8-inch too, just be aware that you might not need as much eggplant

Directions

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or pre-heat a gas or charcoal grill. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the eggplant slices with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant until tender and colored with grill marks, about 4 minutes per side. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the beef and pork, and brown the meat, breaking it into bite-sized pieces with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the peas and marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheeses, basil, and cooked pasta. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the springform pan with the grilled eggplant. Be sure that the slices overlap and hang over the edge of the pan. Fill the pan with the pasta mixture, pressing down to make sure the pan is filling up evenly. Fold the eggplant slices up over the top of the pasta and add a few more slices on top to completely enclose the timbale. Bake the timbale until warmed through and the cheese has melted, about 30 minutes. Let rest on the counter for 10 minutes to set.

To serve, invert the timbale onto a serving plate and remove the springform pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese over the top. Slice and serve.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/eggplant-timbale-recipe.html