Monday, January 31, 2011

Mini-Bundt Beauty

I love that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the Greek mother is trying to get her mouth around "Bundt cake." And I suppose I share a feeling of Bundt cakes being foreign, since I don't own a Bundt pan, and I have no idea where that Teutonic appellation originated. Oh, wait, I have the internet at my fingertips. Still, for a long time, my banana breads have been confined to loaf pans, those humble and useful servants.
But last summer I found a beautiful purveyor or ceramics. His name is Terence Tessem, of Tessem Stoneware. I can't link to a page because he doesn't have one! I imagine him holed up in a cold drafty barn of a studio in rural Pennsylvania, emerging only to follow the Renaissance Faires during the summer months. At any rate, I bought a mini-Bundt pan and a utensil-dryer. Fanciful, you say? Not practical, I hear? Not so!
I've used the utensil-dryer since last fall, and it's a tidy way of drying silverware that leaves more counter space for other dishes drying. Excellent. And pretty too.
But the the bundt has been a little harder to sell. Sitting on the bookshelf, it looked pretty, but it also got dusty. FINALLY, today, I saw my chance. I had bananas to use up, searched my Google Reader for banana cake, and presto!- Banana Espresso Coffeecake with Chocolate Chips. I figured I could halve the recipe and use my dish and end in some deliciousness. Actually, half her batter yielded two of my-size cakes! Woo-hoo! And they are delicious, just like the normal banana bread recipe I use, but in a fun shape.
Alterations for my version:
  • didn't have milk, used a dollop of greek yogurt and water
  • didn't use the glaze
  • halving the recipe led to a time of 36 minutes for the first crop and 34 minutes for the second (slightly less batter)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sicilian Sardines a la Squire, Squire, Hackham, and Dudley

I've done it again! My crazy mix of organizing recipes via Google Reader, an email folder, a web browser folder of bookmarks, and scattered among a few dozen cookbooks and a scrap recipe book-- the system has produced a completely new recipe!
Or at least a recipe that I didn't get from someone else. I used Mark Bittman's broiled sardines as an inspiration (SARDINES! APOCALYPSE!) and looked to an old favorite from Pink of Perfection: Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower Penne, which turned out to have anchovies, not sardines. And Bittman's had fresh sardines, not canned ones like I had in the pantry. So on to Bittman number two: Sardines with Bread Crumbs and Parsley. But I don't kep parsley around and my window plant is not healthy enough for a harvest. Are we seeing a pattern here?
Anyway. Sardines. Mark says that his Bread Crumbs and Parsley dish is Sicilian. I think I will call everything I make with sardines "Sicilian." Sounds better, right? Squire, Squire, 'Ackham, and 'old on!
And, wonder of wonders, I made a pasta dish without garlic- incredible, I know, but TRUE.
Here's my list of of what went in, in the order it went in:
olive oil, sourdough bread crumbs
olive oil, onion, salt n pepa, white wine, lemon zest, canned tomatoes, mustarded sardines (from World Market)
macaroni noodles

Now for a special challenge, try to make it from there! :-)

Saturday, January 15, 2011


WOW, a lot has been going on in my life. Sorry if anyone has been checking back hopefully only to be disappointed for MONTHS (sorry, Ginny). So here's a new post, about an exciting new addition to my kitchen!
Handcrafted Spice Rack, Made In USA
 For Christmas, my now-Certified-Contractor brother-in-law and my dad whipped up a spice rack to fit the specs for my little kitchen! It's great! And parts of it are cedar, so it's got a nice rosy hue. Best of all, it didn't even need Ikea-style directions. I just figured it out! I mean, one back, 3 shelf bases, and 2 sides, but still! So here's the "Before" situation:
My Creative interim solution
 And here's the area with a whole lot more counter space available for prep work!
With new spice rack
So there you have it, folks. My special new addition. When it takes so little to make me happy, why doesn't it happen more often, eh? Good question.
Next on the Agenda of Interesting Things today is a peek at my leftovers-filing/recipe-remembering system. As someone who does not want to waste food, I got into the habit of saving the half-cans of canned tomatoes or pureed pumpkin or sweetened condensed milk that I couldn't use all at once. Importantly, I labeled them so I would know what it was when I came upon it again (you'd be surprised how easy it is to lose something in a refrigerator and find it again-- hey! don't I know you?), and when it was made- my sniffer-test is not very well-developed.
For those of you who know of my similar limerence with paper products, you will not be surprised to learn that this is a great way for me to use scratch paper! I cut up a half-page of used copy paper into little slips, stick them on my fridge behind fun magnets, and when I need to label something, I've already got the cup of pens and the slip of paper in the kitchen, so I just need to get my Scotch tape from the bedroom and presto! Even little things like having 2 out of 3 materials on hand can make a difference in whether a habit takes hold or not, let me tell you.

These are some samples of my 'work.' :-)
The tags above were the ones saved as I peeled them off dishes to be washed because I thought them worth mentioning (but hadn't gotten around to it). Here they are, with brief commentary:
  • Celeriac-Parsnip-Garlic-Shallot Stoup (11-28-10)
    • I remember it wasn't quite there in the taste or texture departments, but it made good use of some clamoring-for-use vegetables in the fridge, and it was great for getting those servings of vegetables in! Don't remember where I found the inspiration...
  • Indian-Spiced Cauliflower (12-6-10) from A Single Gal's Guide
    • Yum. I didn't use potatoes because I don't eat them much anymore, but wow, yum!
  • Chunky Borscht (12-7-10) from
    • I didn't blend part of it, so it was a little too chunky, but was nice and warming and hearty for the cold.
  • Black Beans (1-2-11) from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
    • This was yet another attempt to get beans right. I so want to like beans! Cheap! Plan-ahead! Healthy! An empty canvas! For this round, I threw in a cinnamon stick for the last stage of cooking low, and boy did it flavor the pot! I was also out for longer than expected, so it cooked for longer than expected. Texture: win. (Not crispy like they were for Samit!)
  • Boiled & fried potato with 21-Seasoning Salute (from Trader Joe's) (1-6-11)
    • Yes, I did just say I don't eat potatoes much anymore, but I'd gotten this one potato and it was languishing without a purpose, so it got prepared in advance (boiled) then pan-sauteed in spices. It was scrumptious AND delicious at work, when popped into a quesadilla platform to make a version of the Spanish Omelette (below). 
  • Brussels sprouts, bacon, date, balsamic, and macaroni from Mark Bittman, aka The Minimalist (1-8-11)
    • OMG- yum! I don't like figs, but found out that I loved dates done right (pun: haha!) at my favorite eatery in DC, so I switched them out- both Mediterranean, right? This was delicious!
I'll try to get back to regularly scheduled programming and catch up on the highlight recipes and gatherings from the holidays. So do come back soon! :-)