This post is way overdue. Last month, that’s right, in June. You know, that month that just flew by offering hardly any time to savor the beginning of summer. We’re in the thick of it here in DC in what feels like an extended July 4th hangover. And of course if you’re on the East Coast this week, you’re really feeling the heat. Well back when farmer’s markets were stocked with strawberries and asparagus, Mom came down to DC for a visit.
Sunday, we headed to Eastern Market and wandered the vendors, trying on hats and jewelry and sampling fresh peaches. We loaded up with veggies and fruits and snagged a fizzy ginger lemonade to go with Mom’s annual hot dog indulgence. The market was crowded, the sun was beating, and yet the morning was relaxing. From there we kicked it into high gear making one more grocery run before heading home, making a quick lunch, and launching into making these whole wheat graham crackers.
With Adam’s parents coming into town later that week for the US Open, I wanted to have a healthy tasty snack around. These graham crackers were just the ticket. Mom and I snuck a few just out of the oven. When Adam came home, he made the genius move of spreading nutella on them and topping them with slices of the fresh strawberries from the market.
Homemade Whole-Wheat Graham Crackers Recipe
From The King Arthur Flour website
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 to 3 tbsp milk (approx.)
- additional milk for glaze
In a mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking powder. In a separate bowl, beat egg till light, then add oil, honey and 2 tablespoons milk. Mom’s trick for measuring sticky things like honey (or peanut butter) is to use some nonstick spray in the measuring cup. Works like a charm!
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until you have a fairly stiff dough, adding additional milk if necessary (we did). Wrap dough in waxed paper and chill until firm, about 1 hour (or longer, if it’s more convenient).
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Divide the dough in half. Turn one dough ball onto a floured surface and knead gently until it holds together. Roll dough out till it’s about 1/16-inch thick; make sure rolling surface is well-floured, or you’ll have trouble transferring crackers to baking sheet.
Cut dough into 3-inch squares, prick each square several times with a fork, and place on lightly greased cookie sheets. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Brush the tops with milk and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crackers are lightly browned. Remove crackers from oven, transfer to a wire cooling rack, and cool completely.
Usually when chocolate chips are on the table, it’s for chocolate chip cookies. They’re easy, the ingredients are usually all in hand, and they’re delicious. This time, however, I changed it up a bit after finding this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
When it comes to baking a new recipe for the first time, I shy away from changing the recipe. This way I get a good feel for what textures and ratios that were originally desired. The cookies are nice and moist for a shortbread. The espresso is subtle but there. If I were to make these again I might add some chopped hazelnuts to the chocolate chip mix. Or, if you want to get really crazy, you could switch chocolate chips for toffee chips. Whatever your pleasure is with a little taste of coffee.
Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Smitten Kitchen)
- 1 tbsp instant espresso
- 1 tsbp boiling water
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temp.
- 2/3 c powdered sugar plus some for dusting at the end
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 c all-purpose flour
- 4 oz chocolate chips chopped or mini chips
Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid. Beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso. Add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate. Transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats or, if you do not have either of those, use a bare baking sheet without any nonstick spray. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. Transfer the cookies to a rack.
Dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving. These are great for dessert or breakfast!
You’ve all had them. Some of you have cooked them yourself. Now directions to Adam’s breakfast potatoes is hitting the world wide web. If you haven’t made these yet, here’s what you’ll need: potatoes (we’ve found Yukon Gold’s to be the best), butter, salt, one yellow onion, and seasonings like garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, and rosemary.
First dice your potatoes and cook them. Our method of choice is the microwave. For 5 minutes with tab of butter. You can also bake or parboil them. The microwave option is certainly the lazier choice that works best after a serious night of drinking.
Next, dice an onion. In a nonstick pan, saute the onions and set aside for later.
Wipe out the saute pan with a paper towel. Add butter (or olive oil) to the pan until just hot (don’t brown the butter). Add your potatoes so that each potato has one side touching the surface of the pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip the potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Continue until the potatoes are browned on all sides.
Season the potatoes with salt and any combination of the flavors below, or pick out your own! These can then sit on the pan on low for as long as it takes to cook the rest of breakfast. Make a little room on the pan and add the onions back into the mix. And then serve them up!
I was writing a comment on Sarah’s Cookie Cutter post when I realized that my response was going to be in depth and might be better in a post.
I too have no cookie cutters but, on a recent trip to Sperryville, VA, I was reminded of Heidi Swanson’s idea to rummage at flea markets or antique shops for things like cookie cutters. At an antique shop we happened upon in Virginia, there were lots of dishes, silverware, and other kitchen knick-knacks like those copper pots above. (There was also a 2 qt. cast iron dutch oven for just $15! If I didn’t already have a 3 and 5 qt dutch oven, that sucker would have been mine!) I hunted for some cookie cutters but came up empty. Anyway, some of the best metal cookie cutters are probably found at places like these – not to mention that they could be a steal.
In place of cookie cutters, things like a pastry wheel or pizza cutter are quick easy substitutes. You may not get the fanciest shapes but it gets the job done.
As for homemade crackers, I love this idea and have a number of recipes logged to try. Here are just a few:
Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers by Smitten Kitchen (she uses a drill bit for the eyes and mouth – too funny!)
Graham Crackers by Smitten Kitchen
Oatmeals Crackers by 101Cookbooks
Whole Grain Animal Crackers by The Cilantropist
If anyone makes any of these, or comes up with innovative cookie cutter replacements, fill us in here!
This books is a quick read that is certainly an indulgence for literature lovers. It offers a brief glimpse into the world of reeducation in revolutionary China but is much more about the coming of age of two boys through literature.
I’m not very good at spicy food. I’d like to be better, but I cannot help that I am unaccustomed to the heat having grown up eating food that was seasoned mostly with the most mild of mild heats (ground black pepper anyone?). I think there are a number of Forneys out there who share my experience. This is not to say, however, that I dislike spicy food. I love it actually. It is frustrating when you take a bite of something that you really enjoy and then BAM, the heat hits, your tongue is tingling, your lips crave water, your palette is ruined, and you’ve barely started dinner.
I have a solution for my unaccustomed mouth. For a few years now I have been working on eating hotter and hotter food on a regular basis (starting at just about mild).
As a part of this schooling, I made this turbot with harissa sauce. If you haven’t had harissa, be advised that it contains hot peppers, like serrano, seeds and all. A North African spice, also usually has cumin, lemon juice, garlic, and coriander. I picked up a premade container of it at my local store. A dish as tasty as this one does nothing but encourage spicy food eating behavior.
Turbot with Harissa Sauce
- 1 part harissa
- 2 parts plain greek yogurt
- juice of a lemon
- turbot filets
Combine the harissa, yogurt, lemon, cumin, and salt and mix until blended. Spread the sauce over the top of the filets and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. After ten minutes, scrape off the sauce, reserving it for later. Over medium-high heat, sear the fish on either side, about 2-3 minutes each side. Transfer the fish to an oven safe baking dish. Redress the fish with the harissa sauce and bake for 5-6 minutes, until the fish is white and flaky. Serve.
I found couscous and cumin seasoned sauteed leeks and kidney beans to be a great compliment to the fish. The crisp leeks pair well with the fish while the beans serve as a spice absorber for those moments when my mouth has just about had enough. Enjoy!
Spring is just around the corner here, but the chill in the air refuses to move on. When reading the April issue of Food & Wine, I came across a perfect in between winter and spring kind of dish in the “What to Cook Next” section. Alexandra Guarnaschelli provided a dish with warm seasonings that was satisfying without being heavy. And, of course, provided an excuse for opening a nice bottle of red wine.
Spice-Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomato and Red Wine
recipe from Food & Wine by Alexandra Guarnaschelli
- 9 skinless chicken thighs, fat removed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- canola oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- One 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, with their juices
In a large, deep skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. I used a large dutch oven since there was a lot going into this pot. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add half to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Pour off the fat in the skillet.
Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the cumin seeds and cook over moderately high heat for about 10 seconds, until fragrant (stay close, they become fragrant quickly). Add the onions and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, crushed red pepper and bay leaves and cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and simmer over moderately low heat for 5 minutes. Add the stock and the tomatoes with their juices and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken to the sauce along with any accumulated juices and simmer over low heat, turning a few times, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is flavorful, about 50 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and serve. We served ours over some brown rice. It certainly served as a delicious consolation that spring has yet to fully arrive.
All I have to say is, thank goodness for Yes Market that is on the first floor of my building. This little organic grocery store is a life saver when we are out of that one little ingredient we forgot to get, or are craving some dark chocolate at 8:30pm on a Wednesday night. This particular thank you is for the quick meal it provided for dinner with just a few ingredients; though I had a good amount of what I needed to make this dish, I lacked chicken, soba noodles, and shiitake mushrooms. Basically, I didn’t have the heart and soul of the meal and would have come up with saucy garlic ginger for dinner otherwise.
Spicy Soba Noodles (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 to 3 teaspoons chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled ginger
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- 10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 3 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced
- 8 to 9 ounces soba (buckwheat noodles)
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
Stir the sauce ingredients together until the brown sugar is dissolved. Smitten used a specific Korean chili paste that alas, I nor Yes Market had. The chili sauce worked just fine. Set this aside.
Over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until they are pale golden (about 4 minutes). Set aside.
Saute the ginger and garlic in the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until it is fragrant. Next add the chicken and the mushrooms and season with some salt and pepper. After about 6 minutes, add most of the scallions. Stir occasionally so that the chicken cooks evenly. Once the scallions are in the saute pan, turn the heat down to medium. Boil the soba noodles and edamame while the chicken is cooking. These will cook pretty quickly (4-5 mins or so). . Strain and add the noodles and edamame to the saute pan with the other ingredients. Add the sauce to the chicken and mushroom mixture and simmer for 1 minute. Add the noodles, edamame, and the sesame seeds to the pan.
Serve hot with the remaining scallions as garnish.
The other night Adam and I, along with a few friends, took part in Dining Out for Life in D.C. On this particular night, restaurants around the city agree to donate a portion of their proceeds (from 25% to a generous 110%) to the local agency supporting the fight against AIDS.
We chose do dine at a local restaurant, Posto. This is a place we’d normally visit for some delicious Italian food. Posto annually participates in Dining Out for Life and donates 100% of the proceeds from that night to Food & Friends, the local D.C. charity that benefits from this event. Food & Friends provides meals to families who are coping with AIDS, cancer, and other life threatening illnesses who cannot go to the supermarket or physically cannot make these meals themselves. What better excuse do you need to go out to eat and drink when that cash is also buying other people food! So find your city, gather some friends who enjoy eating and drinking, and dine out for life!