Leek Fritters & Garlic Lemon Cream (SK recipe)

You know those bus ads that roll past you with some amazing picture of someone doing something somewhere ridiculous and at the bottom it says “taken with an iPhone”?  Yea, so my iPhone pictures don’t look anything like that.  (Maybe because my life doesn’t really look like this. Although I did pay for the ridiculous storage upgrade so I can now take thousands and thousands of pictures of baby, all doing the same thing, lying on our bed. Maybe not the same thing.)

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from thinking: now that it’s awful and dark and rainy out, maybe the iPhone camera will be able to create some magic in the kitchen.  First up, these leek fritters, taken unabashedly from the Smitten Kitchen, in honor of Rosh Hashanah.  Yes, I know that latkes are for Hanukkah and moreover, that they’re made with potatoes.  But who wouldn’t want to start the New Year, though, with some fried onions with cream and garlic?

Leek Fritters

  • 3-4 large leeks, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly crosswise
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced down to the white parts
  • about 1/4 cup flour
  • dash garlic powder
  • dash crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • butter
  • for the sauce:
    • about half a cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
    • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
    • juice from 1/2 lemon
    • a bit of lemon zest
    • pepper, salt to taste
    • optional: dash hot sauce
  • additional eggs, for frying and serving on top

**tip: if you’re serving these for dinner, this makes a comfortable amount for 2 people for dinner.  Otherwise, double the recipe if you’re serving 4, etc.

  1. Prep your vegetables.  Trim the leeks, leaving the white and pale green parts.  Cut them lengthwise and slice them thinly crosswise.  Slice up the scallions, discarding the bottom parts.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil, and boil the leeks for about 3-4 minutes.  Drain, and then wring all the water out using a dish towel, paper towel, or cheese cloth.  Try to get out as much water as you can.
  3. Mix the leeks and the scallions in a large bowl with your fingers, making sure to break up the clumps of leeks that will form after you wring them out.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and garlic powder.  Add to the leeks/scallions, and then add one egg.  Give it all a stir so a lumpy batter forms.
  5. Preheat an oven and a baking sheet so you can keep your batches of leeks warm.
  6. Over medium to medium-low heat, heat more butter than you think your heart wants, and then add little drops of batter to the pan, smushing each little drop so it forms a flat pancake.  Fry each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  When nice and toasty, transfer to the warmed oven.  Repeat until you finish off the batter.
  7. While your fritters cook, mix together your cream sauce by adding the sour cream, garlic, lemon, lemon zest, salt, pepper and hot sauce together and whisking.
  8. When the last of your fritters is sitting in the oven, fry up a couple of eggs to finish off your meal.  Serve hot.

The Verdict:

Deb Perelman promises that these keep well in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for about a month – simply warm them up in a 325 degree oven to get them nice and crisp again.  The Husband and I have no idea if this is true, because we gobbled all of these right up.

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Cranberry Grapefruit Muffins

Here are just a few ways you can tell I’m no baker.

  1. I measure things in “handfuls,” “bunches,” “splashes,” and other oh-so-specific terms.
  2. I (always, always, always) eat the batter.  Even pancake batter.  Raw eggs, bring it on.
  3. After the first round of pancakes/muffins/coookies/insert-the-baked-good, I will often end up with just enough dough or batter to make just one GIANT insert-the-baked good.  I always go for it.

Despite being no baker, I don’t let a little thing like recipes get me down.  I had a grapefruit going bad and I didn’t want to do the healthy thing and just eat it for breakfast on its own, so I added sugar and butter and sour cream and flour and all sorts of things that are absolutely no good for you, and THESE turned out.  They were absolutely delicious.  I even measured along the way, so I could try to replicate them some time in the future.

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Cranberry Grapefruit Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 2 medium-sized eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • juice from one grapefruit (about 1/2 cup)
  • zest from 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • about a cup dried cranberries

**I bet these would be awesome with added almonds, coconut flakes, etc.  Since I don’t want to be the only ones eating them (as in, the Husband isn’t a fan, and baby is on a milk-only diet), these versions did not include those.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly butter or add baking liners to a muffin pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, add sugar and the 2 eggs.  Whisk together, then add the vanilla extract, milk, grapefruit juice and grapefruit zest.  Slowly stir in the sour cream.  Finally, whisk in the room temperature butter – you don’t want overmix or you’ll make it a little heavy, but you want the butter throughout.
  4. Slowly (slowly) add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, careful not to overmix.  Add the cranberries (and any other extra ingredients) at the end and give everything a stir.
  5. Evenly divide the mix to the muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes.

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The Verdict:

So when I made this batter, I made exactly enough for 13 muffins.  That’s right.  One full tray…and then one more go-round in the oven for just one more muffin.  It’s lucky 13 for me, though: I could eat one and no one ever has to know.  Which is a good thing, because your family is going to want the other 12.

 

Pesto & Ricotta Gnocchi with Spicy Tomato Sauce

A long, long time ago, when our budget for fun far outstripped our budget for Amazon Prime diaper delivery services, I planned a little bachelorette party for my BFF, Jessica. And because we both have the same definition of fun, i.e. pasta, cheese, and wine, a cooking class was in order.

Now I know how to make pasta out of cheese.  Serve this with a glass of red wine and just tell me you’re not having fun.  I dare you.

 

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for the gnocchi

  • 15 oz container whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • pinch salt
  • pinch white pepper (black pepper also works)
  • optional – very small pinch nutmeg
  • fresh chopped herbs – parsley or basil
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (a bit more if the dough is too wet)
  1. Stir together ricotta, pesto, eggs, cheese, salt, pepper – and if desired – a very small pinch of nutmeg.  Very slowly add the flour, stirring gently to form a soft, wet dough.
  2. On a well floured surface, divide the dough in half, and then in half again.  Roll out a quarter of the dough into long rope and then cut crosswise into one inch pieces.  If you want little ridges, press each gnocchi with the back of a fork.  Stick them on a piece of parchment paper (to avoid them sticking) while you turn to the next section of dough.
  3. Repeat step 2 with the next section of dough – two ropes is probably more than enough for two people, so feel free to freeze the rest.
  4. Bring salted water to a boil in a deep skillet (to give you more surface area) and drop each gnocchi in individually, taking care not to drop them on each other.  They will sink to the bottom, rising to the top when they’re done (about five minutes or so per batch).
  5. Lift out cooked gnocchi with slotted spoon and proceed to the next batch.  Serve with tomato sauce below.

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for the spicy tomato sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 red or sweet onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • crushed red peppers
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • pinch sugar
  • a few sprigs basil
  • optional – big scoop of pesto
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan.  Add the onion and cook down 3-4 minutes; add garlic and cook another minute or two.  Add crushed red peppers – as much as you can stand!
  2. Add tomato paste, red wine, and tomatoes.  Stir the whole thing together and cook a few minutes.
  3. Add salt, pepper, sugar, basil and pesto, if using.  Bring to a boil, and then cover, simmering over low heat about 30 minutes.  Discard sprigs of basil before serving over the gnocchi.

 

The Verdict:

This was a veritable party in our mouths…all fun & games until the Little Man woke up.  But no worries – we have more gnocchi dough in the freezer!

 

[recipe tweak/do-over] SK’s Shaved Asparagus Pizza

I recently realized I am THAT lady. The one I’ve certainly felt badly for, but banned from my brain because I never thought I would be her.

This was the moment of realization: I was walking home from work, and I dropped my hair elastic.  To retrieve or not retrieve?

Pros

  1. I’d really like to tie my hair up.
  2. I’m grossed out by other people’s hair ties on the ground.  Like, seriously, you don’t notice when all of a sudden your hair springs loose?
  3. I don’t want to be a litterbug.
  4. I’d really like to tie my hair up.

Con

  1. The ground is really far away.
  2. Really far away.

I did not retrieve my hair elastic.  I am a litterbug.

As you can imagine, I’ve also been a bit of a disaster in the kitchen.  However, I was very proud of myself when I looked in the fridge about a week ago and realized I could basically recreate Deb Perelman’s shaved asparagus pizza (which I attempted here before) from things already in my fridge.  Even better: all ingredients were within easy reach & didn’t require bending down.  Some liberties, of course, were taken.

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Smitten Kitchen Shaved Asparagus Pizza

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • about 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 (prepared) pizza dough (Trader Joe’s) – we used Trader Joe’s – plus a little bit of flour for rolling the dough
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • sprinkle of Parmesan
  • 2 eggs – you’re going to poach these, & it will be awesome.  I find Alton’s instructions turn out the most consistently well-cooked eggs.
  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
  2. “Shave” the asparagus by holding by their (untrimmed) ends against a flat cutting board and running a sharp vegetable peeler across the spear.  I found that using a cheese slicer works best.  Repeat until you have a big pile of asparagus shavings, and then toss them in a small bowl with the onions, olive oil, Balsamic, lemon juice, and a pinch each salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  3. Roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface; sprinkle a bit of the flour on the bottom of your baking sheet and then transfer the dough to the sheet.  Spread the ricotta lightly over the dough, top with asparagus and onion mixture.  Drizzle with a little olive oil if you like, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and then pop the pizza in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are browned and the cheese is bubbly.
  4. Top with a poached egg and serve immediately.

The Verdict:

Yup, we’ll be having more of this in the future.

 

 

 

Apple and Cheese Curd Scones

My sister came to visit last weekend from Minneapolis (key player in gathering of the 32.8 pounds of apples).  Just before she boarded her plane, she texted my husband and me that she was bringing a special surprise.

Of course, we should have responded that her visit was special enough and yada yada.  Which of course we didn’t do.  Almost in unison, Husband and I texted back: “Jucy Lucys!?!?”

These are the kind of people we are.  We assume that bringing a burger stuffed with hot, melty cheese  across state lines is perfectly normal.  My sister kindly noted that these probably wouldn’t be delicious by the time she arrived, but promised she was bringing something equally tasty.

Holy (bag of) cheese curds.  My sister knows me all too well.  We adapted a Smitten Kitchen recipe and made a (small) dent in our 32.8 pounds of apples.

IMG_4106Apple and Cheese Curd Scones

  • 3-4 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks/slices
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar plus a bit for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • bag of Minnesota cheese curds…or about a cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large eggs

**NOTE: We doubled the recipe (single recipe listed here)…which I don’t really recommend, unless you have a standing-bowl mixer or a very, very large food processor.  It made the dough sort of hard to manage.

  1. Position a rack at the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Placed peeled and chunked apples in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them until they take on a little color and feel dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. . Let them cool completely but leave oven on.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together and set aside. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, along with cooled apple chunks, cheese, cream and one egg. Sprinkle flour mixture over the top and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix (you may need to get handsy here, as we did.  This dough can be sort of gloppy and wet.)
  4. Generously flour your counter top and place the scone dough on top of it, sprinkle with more flour.  Use a rolling pin (you may want to actually cover the dough with saran wrap, to minimize stickiness) to roll the dough out.  Use a glass or circular cookie cutter to cut the dough into cookie-like scones.
  5. Transfer cookie/scones to a baking sheet ined with parchment paper. Leave at least 2 inches between each scone.
  6. Make your egg wash: beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle them with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  7. Bake scones at 375 for about 30 minutes. Devour.

IMG_4046The Verdict:

These scones/cookies/whatever they are…they’re amazing.  Amazing.  The dough, which seems so unpromising, turns into the perfect combination of savory, sweet, and just…carby goodness.  Good thing they’re so deliciously addictive: they get less flaky as the days wear on, so feel free to eat them all up, and quickly (we stored about six, unbaked, in the freezer.  SERIOUSLY looking forward to them.)