Friday, July 30, 2010

It is Easy Being (Key Lime) Green

Janet here: I had never made a key lime pie before but have always loved them in restaurants. They're a great cheesecake substitute when you want something creamy but a little less dense. (Those moments are rare I admit, but when the craving is there you have to go with it — at least that's my philosophy.) Anyway, key lime pie is also a little bit of a rebel I think, the way it mixes its sweetness with a kick of tart. I love that about it.

This key lime pie is from one of my fav cooks, the Barefoot Contessa, and was ridiculously easy to make. I made it one day when my father-in-law was coming for dinner. It's a favorite of his and I thought it might cheer him up a bit after the death of his wife. Not sure the effects were long lasting but for just one little moment, he was one happy man.

Key Lime Pie


for the crust
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

for the filling
6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 14-ounce sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons grated lime zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4-5 limes)

for the decoration
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
thin lime wedges

heat oven to 350 degrees.
For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the sides and bottom are an een thickness. Back for 10 minutes. Cool completely.

For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in a bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest and lime juice. Pour into the baked pie shell and freeze.

For the decoration: beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie and decorate with lime. Freeze for several hours or overnight.

Rachel here: Because of the egg yolks this was a food I couldn't eat when I was pregnant. I am officially adding it to my list of foods to eat now that M is out and about. I'd always assumed it would be really difficult to make, but after reading this recipe it's seeming pretty doable. Such a summery food, too!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: Great Camps and Great Food

Janet here: While it may not seem as if a Great Camp in the Adirondacks is about food, for our family it is. That's because we have spent two weeks there just about every summer for most of the last 20 years. Only a trip to London, out West, a wedding and the birth of our grandchild has held us back.

I know we've been lucky as a family to make this happen for so long. I was sure that our children would begin to reject this rustic retreat on the shores of Upper Saranac Lake as they reached the teenage years and entering a technology-free zone for two weeks would become decidedly uncool. (Full disclosure: our rental cabin did get cable TV a few years ago, but the only way to get cell phone service is to stand on a picnic table by the dock and even then it's dicey.) Instead, I have been thrilled that they've continued to love it and that they've been clambering to return and worked to make sure their summer jobs allowed them at least one week with us in this very special place.

But on to the food: Since it's a vacation for me too, this is not a place for fancy food or elaborate dinners. Instead I whip up — and Rachel has jumped in as she's gotten older — dinners I can create from memory. It's a place where some of our usual healthier eating goes on vacation, too. I remember the excitement of our children when they were younger and were allowed to pick any kind of cereal they wanted. The fact that it was the color of the rainbow and had enough sugar to guarantee they would be hanging off the ceiling shortly thereafter didn't matter at all. And this was before the many nights of s'mores around the communal campfire and multiple visits to Donnelly's soft serve ice cream (one flavor a day: enjoy it or don't have any).

The kind of food didn't really matter. It was just the idea of eating together every night without an agenda or schedule that helped to make the food memorable. It's a memory we are hoping to bring to the next generation of Reynolds, hopefully starting next summer with the divine Miss M. And our children, now 25, 23 and 18, have already decided that some day, down the road, they will gather together with their spouses and children and share time together in the Adirondacks. I'll bring the cereal.

Rachel here: My mom completed this post without my input because I was having some internet drama. It was resolved, though, and so I just wanted to say that I love what she wrote. Our summers in the Adirondacks are one of my favorite things about my entire life and I cannot WAIT to bring M (and John! He's never been...tragic!) into the scene as soon as possible (it feels important that this start next summer). S'mores and cereal are just the beginning of the great food-oriented memories. There have been dinners of fish caught fresh from the lake, a 50th birthday celebration for my dad, G's first foray into the kitchen and a more general luxuriating around the table that is never quite mustered throughout the rest of the year. It's a great tradition my parents gave us (continued on from my dad's family...when M goes she will be the 6th generation of Reynolds to arrive in the mountains), the kind that has sated my brothers and me through and through.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Holy Guacamole!

Rachel here: There are few things better than good avocados, I think. I've always loved them, but once I became pregnant with M I became kind of obsessed because they're a superfood of sorts. A superfood that is easy to eat? Sold. At some point during my pregnancy I began eating avocados sprinkled with a dash of salt nearly everyday. Anyway, fast forward to last night and we're not only in the peak of avocado season but M was in the midst of a hearty evening nap.

The stars rarely align so nicely. Anyway, John and I tiptoed away from our sleeping baby into the kitchen and I sliced into the avocados I'd bought earlier that day. One taste and I knew that I'd be forgoing a more involved guacamole in favor of the simplest version possible. These were the creamiest, most perfect avocados around.

I made a little side salsa with the ingredients I'd bought on the chance that the avocados weren't so wonderful. We popped open a bag of corn chips and a couple of beers and stood in the kitchen relishing the quiet and each other's company as the evening settled in around us. It was so simple and so wonderful.

4 extra large avocados
1 medium white onion, diced
4 medium roma tomatoes, diced
1 small lime
1/2 a medium lemon
3/4 tspn. salt, divided

Scoop avocado into a medium bowl and squeeze the juice from one lime over it. Add 1/2 tspn. salt and mash with a fork (I like mine chunky). In a separate bowl (or the same one if the avocados aren't great), combine tomatoes, onion, juice from the half lemon and the remaining 1/4 tspn. salt. Mix and serve with the guacamole and chips. Enjoy!

Janet here: I don't make guacamole often for one simple reason: I would eat the whole damn bowl. Yup, I love it, especially guacamole that's got a little zing to it. Sadly in the Northeast, buying ripe avocados is virtually impossible so you have to plan ahead if you want to get your guacamole fix to give them time to ripen. (Another example of California's food superiority.)

Anyway if you want an avocado fix, this salad adapted from the Barefoot Contessa at Home does the trick quite nicely. It's easy to whip up and makes a nice side salad on a hot summer night when turning on the oven is the last thing on your to-do list.

Guacamole Salad
serves 4

1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced into 1/2 inch pieces, seeded
7 oz black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno peppers
1/4 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 ripe avocados, seeded and peels, 1/2 inch diced

Place the tomatoes, pepper, black beans, red onions, peppers and lime zest in a large bowl. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and cayenne pepper and pour over the vegetables. Toss well.

Just before you're ready to serve, fold in the avocados. Check the seasoning and serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blogs That Make Us Hungry: Circle B Kitchen

Rachel here: Maybe it's because it's been a while since I spent some quality time cooking, but blogs are making me seriously hungry these days and Circle B Kitchen is no exception. I discovered Patrice's blog through Apartment Therapy's The Kitchn (an excellent site in case you've never visited it) and am so delighted that I did. Patrice not only is a family-oriented cook, but she also has recently started doing her own Meatless Monday feature (yes!). Her blog is humble and enthusiastic and features a mouth-watering variety of recipes. She's currently obsessed with avocados--an obsession I am in FULL support of. Also, she featured an upside-down cake this past week which seems like a combination of the Plum Upside-Down Cake we featured yesterday and the Caramelized Apple Skillet Cake I made several weeks ago. Since these two cakes of mine are two of my favorites that I make, I'm excited to try Patrice's Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake.

Anyway, I'm excited about Circle B Kitchen for all sorts of reasons and--hopefully!--this will be reason enough to get you to click on over to Patrice's site. Let us know what you think!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Plum Upside-Down Cake

Rachel here: Contrary to the photos I'm offering up today, Plum Upside-Down Cake is amazing. This cake is fluffy and light and the perfect amount of sweet. Plums are everywhere around here these days and one of my favorite fruits so I'm always looking for ways to maximize my consumption of them (besides eating them raw...which I can do multiple times a day). Anyway, these photos are from the first time I made this cake, back in the days before M was even an idea...back, you know, when I made cakes for fun. I'm sure those days will return, though right now they seem pretty distant. Anyway, this cake is super easy and incredibly good and I highly recommend you make it as soon as possible. Your only problem will be sharing it.

Get the recipe (and see a better photo!) here. The only thing I did differently was add a squeeze of lime juice to the plums when I cooked them (I'm forever adding citrus to things). I totally suggest doing the same, though I can't imagine the cake isn't awesome without this addition.

Friday, July 23, 2010

When Slumping is Good

Rachel here: I have never made slump, though it seems like something I will make now that it's on my radar. Who doesn't love simplified cooking? Plus, it comes up in Little Women, one of my favorite books growing up (Oh! I just considered that M will read it someday and I got really excited...). I loved it for the reasons so many girls did, but also on two sentimental counts: my copy of the book was beautiful and a special gift from my dad and it was the movie I picked during the weekend G and S and I spent watching movies with our mom (one of the best. weekends. ever.). Anyway, it is most likely for these reasons that slump will appear on our table soon.

Janet here: I remember vividly our family watching Little Women, the one with Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder before she went all crazy. Peter was away and I had decided we were all going to eat whatever we wanted for the weekend, watch as many videos as we wanted and stay in our pajamas all weekend if that's what we wanted. I can't remember the other movies Rachel, G and S picked, but I remember so well the festive feeling and feeling as if we were getting away with something. It was winter I believe and it so cozy in our home. We picnicked on the family room floor and ate ice cream and other silly food. It really is one of my favorite family memories, made even more special because Rachel began calling me Marmy after that. Whenever she's written it in a note or email, I've always felt so loved.

But on to the slump. Some people call slump the lazy cook's cobbler. I say it's an easy way to have a fabulous fresh fruit dessert without turning on your oven in the heat of summer.

Plus I love the history of it. Slump, according to the Oxford Companion to Food, got its name because "the preparation has no recognizable form and slumps on the plate." It originated in New England when clever early colonists didn't have brick ovens so they made this in a pot over the fire. It apparently also goes by the name grunt because of the sound of the bubbling fruit. And, to tie this back to Little Women, it was immortalized by Louisa May Alcott, who called her home in Concord, Mass., Apple Slump and recorded a recipe for the dish.

Summer Fruit Slump
serves 6-8

2-3 pounds fruit of your choice, cut into wedges. I used peaches but nectarines, apples, and berries would likely work
3/4 cup sugar
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 heaping tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon each baking soda, salt, cinnamon
1 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup cold buttermilk

Slice the fruit over a bowl so the juice collects in it. Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt with the fruit. Coat well. Gently stir in the lemon juice. Pour fruit and juices into a 10-12-inch skillet with a tight lid. Let stand 15 minutes. Then heat the fruit on a low simmer, gently stirring occasionally to prevent the fruit from sticking to the pan. Simmer a few minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

For the dumplings, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the butter and toss until evenly coated. Cut the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until it's the size of peas. Add the buttermillk and stire until the mixture just comes together and forms a wet dough.

Place the dough in 6 portions over the fruit, distributing the dumplings evenly. Heat to a low simmer. Cover and simer until the dumplings are puffy and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Remove cover and cool 15 minutes before serving

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: Vegan = Tasty

Janet here: We are very happy to introduce Gigi, author of Veganville, who we gave a shout-out to a couple of weeks ago. As we said in our posting, Veganville is not your typical food blog. Gigi likes to throw it out there. This is cooking with an attitude. We think you'll get the idea when you read her guest post here. While I have basically avoided veganhood — who can live without dairy! — Gigi's blog has made me decide to give it a try. Here's hoping you're inspired too.

A while back, Janet and Rachel invited me to be a guest blogger. I’m really excited to be here at Life Told in Recipes. I just hope they remembered that I was coming. I noticed that other guest bloggers received some interview questions and a lead in. I flew all the way from Veganville too. Veganville is my place in cyber land. I’m a vegan food and fashion writer, sometimes irreverent essayist. I’m also the owner of Veganville a small vegan baking and cooking company in Berkeley, California. Hmmm wonder where they are…

Since I’m here, I’d like to mention that I never proselytize but merely expose some truths about certain industries. Today, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about my experience with Martha.

Martha is a thug! There was a time when Martha thrived on sustainable ingredients but that was before she did time in the pokey. I’m sure you’ve heard about her famous ketchup packets and cigarette butt gazpacho by now, but I bet you didn’t know that while doing time, Martha also made eyeliner from peas. She fenced a lot of local ingredients and always composted while in the yard. Martha stopped eating the green meat and slimy eggs and was one step away from Veganhood when she was released.

This was the first cake she asked for on the outside.

It’s made with 582 eggs. Think of the chickens Martha, they are not as free range as you think. There’s a lot of crowding and barbed wire going on in those places, Martha. Think of a prison for chickens. I think I might have heard Martha cackle “I don’t care GiGi - I’m out”.

I took the liberty to veganize some Martha cookies.

Martha’s in the Big House Carrot Sandwich Cookies

2 sticks Earth Balance softened

1 cup organic brown sugar

¼ cup water mixed with 3 teaspoons egg replacer

2 cups unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon ginger

½ tsp allspice

2 cups rolled oats

1.5 cups grated carrots

1 cup raisins


Heat oven to 350. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment. Cream together Earth Balance and both sugars on medium speed until fluffy. Add egg replacer and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices in separate bowl. Add gradually to Earth balance mix and mix until combined. Mix in oats, carrots and raisins until just blended. Shape a tablespoon of dough (a small ice cream scoop works well) into balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely before filling.

Vegan cream cheez

¼ cup Earth Balance (softened)

¼ cup Tofutti (softened)

2 cup vegan confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon non-alcoholic vanilla

Cream Earth Balance with Tofutti. Beat in confectioner’s sugar a half a cup at a time. Remember to scrape down the sides in between. Add vanilla last.

When the cookies are completely cool, spread about 1 T of vegan cream cheese on the bottom of one cookie and then sandwich it together with another. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Best Blue Cheese Cole Slaw EVER!

Janet here:
I have always been a fan of good cole slaw, i.e. the stuff that allows enough of the crunchy tasty deliciousness of the cabbage to come through rather than the glop that so often passes for cole slaw in restaurants. I figured the Barefoot Contessa, one of my culinary goddesses as regular readers know, was probably on to something with the addition of blue cheese. What I did not expect was to be transported into blue cheese rapture. If you love blue cheese, you will. love. this. Make it now.

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa at Home
makes enough for 6 unless you go crazy and eat most of it yourself

1/2 small head green cabbage
1/2 small head red cabbage
3 carrots grated
1 1/2 cups maynonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup blue cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley

Slice up the cabbage however you want to make it look like cole slaw. I cut the cabbage in half and then into slices and then into bite-sized pieces. People who have food processors can use that. The key is not to include the cabbage core and not to make the pieces too thick. Add them to a large bowl. Grate the carrot however you want. I used an old-fashioned hand grater. Fancy people will use food processors — and get done a lot quicker. Add to the bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayo, cider vinegar, celery seeds, salt and pepper. Add the cheese and parsley. Add to the veggies and toss. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to meld. Serve cold or at room temperature

Rachel here: Ok, so obviously I love blue cheese (it's mentioned in my post about foods I couldn't wait to eat once M was born) and I definitely love cabbage and so this cole slaw sounds nothing short of divine. Unfortunately, as John and I learned the hard way one evening a few weeks back, M doesn't do cabbage (supposedly lots of babies don't...and though she's a big spitter upper anyway, the fireworks after I ate cabbage caught our attention and have been avoided since I've steered clear of it). So anyway, I guess I'm going to have to add this recipe to my NEW list of foods I can't wait to eat once M and I are no longer attached at the breast. (I know I wrote yesterday that I love a good list, but I am getting a little tired of making lists of foods I love but can't eat...just so you all know).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blogs That Make Us Hungry: Dinner: A Love Story

Rachel here: Ok, so every Tuesday the blog or book that we feature is one that my ma and I feel fond of. This week, though, we're directing your attention towards Dinner: A Love Story. To say that I'm fond of this blog would be an understatement; I straight up have the hots for it. While I wish I could say that my mom or I were cool enough to know about this blog before the New York Times wrote their article about it, that's simply not true. However, I really don't care. Like the best of junior high crushes, now that Dinner: A Love Story has caught my eye, there will be no diverting my attention away from it.

Jenny (the mastermind behind DALS...who I officially have a friend crush on) has created a web haven for parents with her blog, a place where you are permitted--scratch that, EXPECTED--to serve frozen pizza for dinner sometimes and where her only goal is to encourage you to keep fighting to cook more dinners than not. M's diet consists only of breast milk and this already seems daunting to me...I can only imagine the difficulties presented when say, M starts informing me that she doesn't CARE for a particular meal/food group/color of food/food arrangement etc. Jenny focuses on dinners as doable and has created a website filled with delicious and accessible ideas.

My secret favorite thing, though, about Jenny is that she has written down every dinner she's eaten for well over a decade. While DALS is nothing short of a brilliant contribution to the food blogosphere, it is this idiosyncratic component to her inspiration for it that makes my heart skip a beat. I love nothing more than a good list, than a mini deconstructed documentation of a moment. I have been making them myself for as long as I can remember (my diary from first grade is filled with lists: favorite books, things my brother does that bother me, who I should invite to my wedding...yup, I'm a planner) and I can't imagine I'll ever stop. They are brain-clearing and moment-capturing, a reminder of the fleetingness of each mood and desire, an imprint of everything passing. This is where DALS originates for Jenny and it makes me really, really happy.

Anyway, check Dinner: A Love Story out. You just might swoon like I did.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Vegetable Tian

Janet here: Today's Meatless Monday offering is adapted from Susie Middleton's fabulous new cookbook called Fast, Fresh & Green. A tian for those who don't know — and I was among them until last week — is a Provencal summer vegetable gratin. Anyway, Susie's book offers a ton of great new ways to cook veggies or enhance your veggie input. It's great for vegetarians or carnivores who want to add a little pizazz to their vegetable sides.

I have made a number of recipes from her book already and everyone was a winner. This one is no exception. Add a little crusty bread, maybe some cheese and you are good to go.

Summer Vegetable and Tomato Tian with Parmesan Bread Crumbs
serves 6

1/2 cup plus teaspoon olive oil, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
2 smallish zucchini
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, about five
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 heaping teaspoon dried parsley

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a shallow 2 quart gratin dish with a little olive oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange juice, balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (She also adds 1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint, which is probably fine but I didn't have any and mine turned out fine.) Slice the zucchini thinly, add to the bowl and toss. Core and slice the tomatoes crosswise a little thicker than the zucchini, arrange them on a large dinner plat and sprinkle with 1/4 cup salt. Let both sit while you're cooking the onions or at least 15 minutes. Toss the zucchini in the marinade occasionally.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium pan. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until they become translucent and start to turn golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the gratin dish and spread in one layer. Let cool.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs (Susie, of course, makes her own. I don't) with 2 tablespoons of olive, two tablespoons of Parmesan, parsley and a pinch of salt.

Drain the juices off the tomatoes and zucchini. Starting at one end of the gratin dish, arrange the veggies in rows with the slices slightly overlapping. Maybe alternate one slice of zucchini with one of tomato or whatever you want. Sprinkle cheese over the zucchini slices as you go. Sprinkle any leftover cheese over the veggies. Drizzle the remaining olive oil and spring the bread crumbs over the top.

Bake until well browned all over the juices are bubbling, about 60-70 minutes. Susie says in the intro to this recipe that her secret is cooking this long enough for the juices to reduce and carmelize. I think you could make this with whatever summer veggies you like as long as tomatoes are one of them. At least that would be my vote. Enjoy!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Fruit Crostata

Janet here: I have drooled over the picture of the summer fruit crostata in The Barefoot Contessa at Home for years. For some reason, a crostata looks so sophisticated, so elegant, so European, that I assumed it was just something impossible to make. This past week I finally got up the courage to try it, and I am happy to report a success even though I will admit that I began fantasizing about how much easier this would likely be if I actually owned a food processor. (Yes, it's true, I am a culinary Luddite when it comes to certain equipment, but that's a story for another day.)

Anyway with fresh peaches and blueberries at just about every farmstand I pass these days, this is the perfect time to make this summery dessert. Serve it warm or room temperature, maybe with a little ice cream and voila! you're transported to a little cafe in Paris.

Summer Fruit Crostata

for the pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
6 tablespoons iced water

for the filling (makes 1 crostata)
1 pound firm, ripe peaches, peeled
1 pint blueberries
1 tablespoon flour plus 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

for the pastry
Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and toss quickly with your fingers to coat each cube of butter with flour. (I don't have a food processor so I just did this all by hand, dicing up the butter and then "pulsing" with my fingers. Not ideal I know but it worked.) Pulse 12-15 times until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the iced water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine but stop the machine just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board, roll into a ball, cut in half and form into 2 flat disks. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour. If you only need one crostata, freeze the other one at this point.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper.

For the filling cut the peaches into wedges and place them in a bowl with the blueberries. Toss with 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Place the mixed fruit on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border.

Combine the 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub with your fingers until it starts to hold together. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Gently fold the border of the pastry over the fruit, pleating it to make an edge.

Bake 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Let cool for five minutes and then use 2 large spatulas to transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: Food and Place

Janet here: While visiting Rachel and the divine Miss M! last week, I was amazed by more than just the newest Reynolds — hard as that is to believe. I was blown away by the supermarkets.

Now I've been to California before. I remember my father eagerly taking me to the local supermarket chain when they lived in Sunnyvale 20 years ago and, like a kid in a candy store, exclaiming over the size of the lemons! The freshness of the lettuce! The variety of plums! At the time, he and my mother had just moved from Maine, which wasn't exactly known for its fresh produce after, say, September. This was an era in which asparagus were really only available in the spring because that's the way things rolled. Now you can get asparagus practically year-round — not necessarily tasty asparagus but asparagus nonetheless. At the time, while I enjoyed a good melon as much as my dad, I wasn't quite as impressed as he was. I was, after all, 28 and, um, stupid the way 28-year-olds can be.

Now, though, the variety and general quality of the food around Berkeley completely blew my mind. I am used to buying most fruits, apples excepted, at least a few days in advance of when I would actually like to eat them because that's when they'll actually be ripe. Eating in the summer months, when more fresh produce is available, is obviously better all around in the Northeast, but when the fall comes, it's back to eating stewed tomatoes for another 9 months until real vine-ripened tomatoes are available. Those faux tomatoes supermarkets try to claim are ripe are just not and are virtually without taste.

So I found myself thinking about how differently I would eat if I lived someplace where fresh fruit and veggies were basically available all year. I also thought about how this availability and general insistence by a large percentage of the population that of course this is the way their food will be even impacts what kinds of meats and dairy products are available. Virtually none of the meats were pre-packaged as they are in the Northeast and the percentage of meats, poultry and fish that were natural, i.e. hormone/antibiotic-free, free range, organic, wild vs. farm-raised for fish, etc., was much higher than where I regularly shop.

It also got me thinking about class and food. This access to food like this is much more about what you can pay for in the Northeast than I think it is in the Berkeley area. (I say this without having done much research but I've got a hunch I'm right.)

What does all this mean? I'm not sure, but I left California feeling a little bit like I've got a raw deal in the Northeast and feeling a little annoyed that locavore living and eating isn't easier for us all. I'm certain we would all be the healthier for it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shrimp Salad

Janet here: It's hotter than Hades here in the Northeast, a distinct difference from the Bay area in California where the top temperature last week was about 75 degrees. I have to say I did not miss the heat and humidity of the Northeast. But here I am and so I decided to offer up something on the cool side for a hot night. Yes, you have to cook the orzo and quickly roast the shrimp either on the grill or in the oven, but that's temporary heat my friends. Add a little bread and you've got a complete (and delicious I might add) meal.

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad
serves 4
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa at Home

salt and olive oil
1/2 pound orzo
1/3 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I am kind of a fanatic about this part)
1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced in medium pieces
1/3 cup red onion, diced
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled

Heat oven to 400 degrees
Fill a pot with salted water with a splash of olive oil. Bring the water to a boil and add the orzo. Simmer for about 10 minutes until al dente. Drain and put in a large bowl.

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over hot pasta and stir well.

Place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and then spread in a single layer. Roast about 5 minutes. Don't overcook.

Add the shrimp to the orzo. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well. Add feta and stir. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow flavors to blend or refrigerate overnight. Bring back to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blogs That Make Us Hungry: Not Quite Nigella

Rachel here: Ok, so bear with me if this post stops (ok, possibly never quite starts) making sense. I've slept about 3 hours out of the last 36 and they haven't been consecutive. The lovely M has become quite the alert and curious little baby which is delightful and, well, exhausting. But anyway, that's really neither here nor there right now. The direction I am headed in, however, is a blog called Not Quite Nigella.

Before I go any further, I should give a nod to Ian, John's friend whose Stanton St. Farms blog we featured a few weeks back. Thanks for directing our attention towards Not Quite Nigella and, for those of you readers who haven't checked out Ian's blog, I'd highly recommend you do so.

Anyway, Not Quite Nigella is awesome. Lorraine Elliot is NQN and her blog is filled with food adventures, both in her own kitchen and in restaurants. My only lament is that she's based out of Australia (though she gets props for putting her recipes in both metric and non-metric terms), so while her restaurant reviews left my mouth watering, I don't think I'll be popping into any of her recommendations any time soon. The good news, though, is that there are plenty of recipes to try at home as well. And, to boot, Nigella herself has visited Elliot's site. Ooh la la! When I get back into the kitchen I am going to try her salt-crusted chicken recipe because John finds food shaped like animals amusing...oh, and because it sounds delicious, too. What will you try?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Meatless Mondays: Grilled Veggies

Janet here: I'm back from visiting the divine Miss M! and trying to get back in the swing of things. Rachel will begin to weigh in again as she starts to re-enter the world of the parenting and living, although I have to say, she and John have enough food to last at least another week thanks to the cooking I did while there. :)

Anyway it's Meatless Monday and you need to just ignore that piece of chicken on the plate. I had planned to make this fabulous vegetable tan but then I realized that I forgot to buy zucchini because I'm still getting settled back on the East coast after a day of flying. I will have this dish for next Monday, though, I promise.

In the meantime, you can make a whole meal of grilled veggies with a variety of sauces. This asparagus took about two minutes to grill, and then I just tossed it in some brown butter with pine nuts and lemons. It was terrific.

To make the entire meal meatless, just add some other grilled veggies, some rice or orzo and you are good to go. The amounts here are for just the asparagus, so if you add other veggies, you'll need to add more butter and pine nuts. Pick veggies that have a little oomph so they can hold up to the grilling. Some good options are peppers, eggplant, string beans, zucchini and mushrooms. Enjoy!

salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch of asparagus
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Heat the grill.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: The Family Cookbook Project

Janet here: We started Life Told in Recipes because we love cooking and we love serving the people we love good food. (It was also an excuse to talk on the phone every day.)

But the idea behind the blog was also to get other people talking about food and remembering their happiest moments sharing food with the people they love. With that in mind, we want to let you know about the Family Cookbook Project. Basically it's an online company that helps you organize all those family recipes into a printable product that you can then share with everyone in your family. They've got templates and timelines and suggestions for how to corral your family into this project. Yes, there's a fee, but it's reasonable, especially since what you have at the end is a piece of family history that will last forever.

I got interested in our family food history after my mother died and I discovered all the notes she had written in her cookbooks. They were an abbreviated diary of her life and while wonderful to have, I was left feeling incomplete. Why hadn't we talked about these recipes while she was alive?

The Family Cookbook Project is one way to make sure that doesn't happen in your family. Check it out. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blogs That Make Us Hungry: Veganville

Janet here: A friend tipped me off to the wild world of Veganville and I was immediately addicted. The author, Gigi, is unafraid to tell her world like it is, but it's so refreshing. And as a vegetarian myself, I am always so impressed by vegans; it's just so much harder to take that extra step of omission — no eggs! no dairy! — in my mind. Vegans make vegetarians kind of seem like wusses I think.

Veganville is not a blog of food porn where you're going to see high-end photography or even high level recipes. But what you will see is a regular person just throwing it all out there and making it real, and I just find that incredibly appealing.

Rachel here: The thing about veganism is that it can be super delicious (see my chocolate cake post here). As a carnivore, this is easy to forget. Gigi's blog is a great reminder, though, that eating super conscientiously can be not only delicious, but accessible, too. Plus, she's a Bay Area girl...and, you know, I generally think we rock.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Voice from the Past

Janet here: We're taking a bit of a hiatus this week as I head across America to visit Rachel and the new M! (Eventually I will write M's name without an ! but since she's only 2 weeks old and my first grandchild, I am entitled to a few more !!!!) Anyway we won't be doing our usual posts but we will have a few goodies to keep in touch and will come back with our regular posts next week.

So up first this week is this little number from Schott's Original Miscellany. We're trivia fans in this family so Schott's Original Miscellany is a popular book in our house and has a place of glory in our bathroom. (Enough said about that!)

Anyway among the many wonderful tidbits in the book are these maxims from Mrs. Beeton's Everyday Cookery, a 19th century book of culinary rules. She claimed that "if the novice will commit them to memory she will have before her the fundamental truths of the art of cookery." I won't list them all, but what do you think? Are these the fundamental truths or a bunch of hokum?

1. There is no work like early work.
2. Clear as you go. Muddle makes more muddle.
3. Dirty saucepans filled with hot water begin to clean themselves. (I wish!)
4. Wash well a saucepan, but clean a frying pan with a piece of bread.
5. Search for the insects in greens before putting them in to soak.
6. One egg, beaten well, is worth two not beaten.
7. Water boils when it gallops, oil when it is still.
8. When using ketchup, be sparing with salt.
9. A good manager looks ahead.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Blueberry Bread Pudding

Janet here: I fell in love with this delicious blueberry dessert the first time my mother-in-law served it. But when I heard it had bread in it — white bread no less — I was amazed. It just seemed so wrong to make a dessert with white bread as a main ingredient, sort of like cheating.

Anyway I quickly got over it and as you can tell from Rachel's comment, this has been a family favorite. It's like a little visit from Jan every time we serve it.

Rachel here: I love this dessert. I had no idea that my mom had the recipe (and now, of course, I do, too!) and was ecstatic when she mentioned that she did. This is seriously, seriously delicious AND it seems easy. Perhaps I'll bake this once I get back into the kitchen...someday.

Blueberry Bread Pudding

serves 4-6

6-8 slices of bread, crusts cut off
1 pint blueberries
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
cinnamon to taste

Simmer the blueberries, sugar and water for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Line a shallow bowl (try to do clear if you can because the pudding is so pretty so look at) with one layer of bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon

Pour half the blueberry mix over the bread. Line the bowl with the rest of the bread and pour the rest of the blueberry mixture over that layer. Chill for several hours.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: Straight from the Source

Rachel here: Perhaps it's too early for me to really articulate this experience. Breastfeeding, I think, is a landing in my body for me. I have gone from spending years starving and controlling food, desperate not to feel full, not to feel my length and weight, to now living in my body, fueling it in the name of sharing it to sustain M. Over and over again, M puts me back in my body and connects mine to hers, lending me both an expansiveness and a closed circuit at once--it is both thrilling and incredibly safe feeling.

A bizarre and breathtaking phenomenon has occurred in which I have gone from merely consuming food to becoming the producer of it for our baby. While I completely support women who end up going the formula/bottle route for the various reasons that that becomes the prudent course of action, I feel incredibly lucky to get the experience of breastfeeding my child. The connectedness that comes from it is both heart-stopping and calming and I feel incredibly and quite simply powerful for being able to feed our baby this way. It took M and me a day or two to really nail this joint project (with a lot of help from John) and I feel so fortunate that we stuck with it. When I feed her, I try to focus exclusively on her, to calm my body and slow my breath so that she is nourished both physically and emotionally. The result, of course, is a nourishing of myself unlike any I've ever known.


Ok, so I'm typing with one hand now as is often the case these days. I have repeatedly come back to this post in an effort to write a satisfying ending to it. Every time though, M wakes up and wants to eat before I get my thoughts together. I finally realized that that is my perfect ending.