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.

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.

IMG_5093

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.

IMG_5094

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.

 

IMG_4853

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.

IMG_4835

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!

 

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve gained new appreciation for lots of things I’d never before considered before I became a walking dairy cow mom.  Showers, for instance.  I didn’t know I was such a proponent.  (In fact, I am pretty sure I was on the low end of the shower bell curve.)  No longer, my friends.  I am PSYCHED when I get to shower.  Ramps are another biggie – our first bout of activism: lobbying our condo board association to reinstall a lobby ramp.  Chairs with arm rests – helpful to have something to push off of when trying to stand up.  My friends, who brought us lunches and dinners and sent me funny Bitmojis and fruit to the hospital.  My mom.  Oh, my mom.  My mom was everything those first few weeks.  Cook, grocery shopper, house cleaner, baby changer, bottle washer, life giver.  At one (let’s be honest, very low) point, I found myself breastfeeding my baby in a Wendy’s parking lot, my mom spoon-feeding me a Frosty, and I realized: this is motherhood, and it is NEVER. GOING. TO. END.

I also have a new appreciation for one-handed meals.  And a fast and loose definition of what “meals” entail – these cookies, for instance.

IMG_4813

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, brought to room temperature
  • 1 super ripe banana
  • splash vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 – 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • optional – pecans, almonds, your preferred nut.

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl.  Slowly beat in the egg, banana and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and fluff it all through with a fork; slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture.
  3. As a last step, stir in chocolate chips, coconut & (optional) nuts.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to measure out about half a scoopful onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for about 9-12 minutes, depending on your oven.

 

The Verdict:

Goodness these are delicious and I am pretty sure that’s not just because I am always ravenous.  Fluffy and light, they don’t keep longer than a day or two before they start to lose their texture…which wasn’t a problem around here.

 

French Onion Mac + Cheese

Probably exactly what you need, right after the new year starts, is a recipe that combines two of the most wonderful, cheese and carb-laden treats known to humankind into one unholy meal.

Well, I can say that at least around here, “losing x pounds” didn’t make it to the resolutions list this year.  #pregnancyperks

I won’t lie to you: this recipe takes a while (about 2.5 full hours, from start to finish).  BUT, it’s worth it.  And not just if you’re pregnant.  So let’s get to it.

French Onion Mac + Cheese

IMG_4262.JPG

for the bechamel

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk (or cream, if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • salt & pepper
  • crushed reds
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar

for the onion mixture

  • butter/olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions, sliced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • a dash of honey
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups beef stock (to make this veggie, obviously, just use veggie stock instead.)
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme (you might want to tie these up into a bundle)
  • 1 bag arugula
  • 1 box pasta (I used cavatappi, which winds its way so delightfully around each onion slice, each delightful bite of cheese)

for the topping

  • about 1/2 cup panko
  • about 1/2 cup parmesan
  • (a little parsley, if you have it, would be nice right at the very end)
  1. Start your onions, which take the longest.  Heat a bit of butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Add onions, cover, and cook down, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.
  2. While the onions are going, start your bechamel.  Over low heat, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan; add flour and stir constantly to combine for 2-3 minutes.   Increase heat to medium, and slowly add the milk or cream; stir until thickened (this takes about 5-6 minutes; add more flour if you need).  Lower the heat, & season with s+p and the crushed red peppers.  Fold in the gruyere and cheddar until the sauce is melty and delicious – set aside and try not to eat.
  3. To the onion mixture, add garlic and dash honey.  Cook another 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions start to caramelize.  Add wine and beef broth and stir, scraping up the bottom bits.  Add the thyme and let the mixture cook down, until the liquid is almost gone.
  4. The previous step will take a while, so this is is a good time to start your pasta water boiling and to cook according to directions.  Drain and set aside when done.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a baking pan.  In the onion pot, mix together the arugula, pasta, onions, and bechamel.  Make sure it’s thoroughly combined before you pour into the baking pan – snag the bundled thyme as you do so.
  6. In a small bowl, toss together the panko and parmessan, and then spread this over the top of the pasta/onion mixture.  Pop the whole thing into the oven for 35 minutes.

IMG_4265.JPG

The Verdict:

You can taste how long this takes to make (in a good way, I promise).  It’s got serious flavor, from first bite to finish.  It’s two of the best meals ever, on one plate – how could you not love it?  Just make sure to serve with a side salad – you’ll want something a little…lighter.