Good Enough

I have said in the past that there’s no such thing as too much pesto and I stand by that, but wow the freezer’s getting full and we sure do have a lot of garlic scapes.

scape seasonWe turned to the internet, like you do, and came across this recipe for pickled scapes. We won’t know just how good they are for six whole weeks, but I have a feeling we won’t think we made nearly enough.

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Kiss the Cook

Word to the wise: when choosing a life partner, be sure they like garlic as much as you do.¬†You want them to be so distracted by their own garlic breath they don’t notice yours.

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At our house, dinner prep begins with chopping garlic more often than not. That being said, this recipe uses a ton of garlic even for us. Other than that bit of work, though, it’s quick to throw together, and it makes enough to keep us in leftovers for a good while.

You’ll notice I don’t give amounts for the spices. Don’t panic! I’m not cooking dinner, you are, and you’re going to make this your way. If you end up over-spicing, just serve it with some extra rice or wrap it in a tortilla; under-spicing, sprinkle on some more curry powder. Once you’ve made it a couple of times you’ll have found your perfect balance.

Curried Peas

1/2 cup chopped garlic

Olive oil

Curry powder

Ground black pepper

Red pepper flakes (optional)

3 Tablespoons butter

2 bags frozen baby peas

3 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Fill half of a one cup measure with chopped garlic.

Sprinkle a layer of ground black pepper over it.

Add a few red pepper flakes if you like.

Pour olive oil over the garlic to fill the cup measure.

Melt the butter in a very large frying pan on medium high heat.

Sprinkle curry powder over the surface of the butter. Don’t be shy.

Add the olive oil and garlic.

When the oil and garlic are dancing, add the peas.

Before stirring, add another layer of curry powder, along with a bit of black pepper.

Continue to cook at medium high for 5 or 10 minutes, until the peas are warmed through, stirring occasionally.

Add the chickpeas, topping with curry powder as you did with the peas, then stirring and cooking til everything is hot.

Serve with jasmine rice.

No Muss, No Fuss

Little did I know, as a teenager eating soup at my boyfriend’s house, that 30 years later that same soup would be a long-loved staple for our kids.

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Every family develops its own food culture. We construct it without intention, for the most part, picking up bits and pieces along the way, but it becomes infused with meaning. What this soup means to me is this: Welcome. No need for fuss. We’re family.

Vegetable Soup

6 or 8 or 10 carrots – whatever you’ve got – peeled and sliced

Celery, optional (My mother-in-law says yes. Everyone has their shortcomings.)

1 onion, peeled, quartered, and sliced thin

lb can crushed tomatoes

8 oz tomato sauce (whatever you use for spaghetti is fine)

1/4 cup barley

6 vegetable bullion cubes

4 cups water

Bring everything to a boil in a large pot, then turn down the heat and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes, until the carrots are soft.

Health Food

You know when people say, oh, just a small piece for me, it’s so rich! And you think, rich = delicious; I’ll take a slab, thanks.

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Or is that just me?

This cake has no flour in it, so it’s naturally gluten-free, which I gather means it is just as healthy as apples or marshmallow fluff. How you’ve managed to stay alive without it I do not know.

Fudge Cake

1 cup butter + 3 Tablespoons butter, separately

8 oz bittersweet chocolate + 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, separately

1 1/4 cups sugar

6 eggs

1 cup cocoa powder

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375.

Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking oil.

Melt 1 cup butter with 8 oz bittersweet chocolate.

Pour that into a bowl, then add the sugar.

Add the eggs, stirring well.

Sift cocoa powder into the mixture and stir til blended.

Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 35 minutes.

Let it cool for 15 minutes, run a butter knife around the edges, release the spring, and remove the sides.

Leave it on the counter til it’s cool to the touch, then cover with a sheet of waxed paper, wrap in tin foil, and stick it in the fridge. Overnight is ideal, but as long as it’s cool through you’re good to go.

About an hour before you want to eat it, pull it from the fridge, remove it from the bottom of the pan, set in on your serving plate (upside down if you prefer a flat top) and prepare your glaze:

Melt 3 Tablespoons butter with 4 oz bittersweet chocolate.

Remove from heat and add milk, honey, and vanilla.

Pour onto center of cooled cake, then spread with the back of a spoon. I like to cover the top and let it drip down the sides a bit, but you do you.

Once it’s glazed, store it at room temperature in something airtight.

Mix and Match

Granola is a perfect foundation food.

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If you’ve got some in the house, you’ve probably got other things that will go well with it. With milk and raisins you’ve got cereal. With yogurt you’ve got a parfait. With nuts, dried fruit, seeds, and/or chocolate chips you’ve got a bowl full of yum, and a good source of energy to boot.

Granola

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

5 cups oats, or 4 cups oats and 1 cup nut of choice

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 cup maple syrup

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pinches salt

Mix the ingredients in the order listed, stirring til well combined.

Spread in a thin layer on two silpat, parchment, or tin foil-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes, then stir it around a bit.

Bake for another 15 minutes and stir again.

Bake 10 more minutes, and you’re done.

Store in an airtight container.

Two of a Kind

Let’s get back to bread, because what’s better than bread, really?

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This is a traditional challah, comfort and family and warmth braided in dough. The recipe makes two loaves, because you will need to eat it plain, and with butter, and in sandwiches, and as french toast with strawberries and cream cheese, and let’s face it, one loaf simply will not do.

Challah

1 1/2 cups very warm water

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

5 egg yolks, + 1 for glaze

1 1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup + a generous Tablespoon sugar

5 1/4-6 cups flour

Combine everything but the flour.

Add 5 cups of flour, stirring with a spoon after each cup is added, until eventually you need to get in there with your hands.

Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary until you have a dough that is not sticky and is easy to work with.

Continue kneading for a few minutes.

Set the dough back in your bowl, cover it with a towel, and leave it to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces.

Divide each of those pieces into three parts and roll each into a snake about 18 inches long. Keep the middles of the snakes a bit wider than the ends.

Line 2 baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

Lay 3 pieces of dough on each baking sheet, side by side, almost touching.

On each sheet, begin in the middle and braid towards yourself, then turn the baking sheet and braid from the middle towards yourself again, this time moving the outside snakes under the center one rather than over. At each end tuck the dough under. This will give you a neat braid.

Cover the loaves with a towel and put them back in your warm spot to rise for an hour.

About 45 minutes into that hour, preheat your oven to 350.

When the hour’s up, mix up one egg yolk with just a little bit of its white and brush that over both loaves.

Bake for 25-30 minutes – no longer. I find 28 minutes to be perfect, but it will depend on your oven. The crust should be soft and golden, the middle airy and not dry.

Alternatively, you can bake this in loaf pans, braided just as above.

Bar None

If you’re going to make jam bars with store-bought jam, it has to be Polaner’s.

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There are rules in life, and some just aren’t worth breaking.

Jam Bars

1 cup oats

1 cup flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, heated 10 seconds in the microwave

10 oz jar Polaner Raspberry Spreadable Fruit

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine dry ingredients.

Work the butter into the dry ingredients. You’re shooting for a crumbly mixture, with no big chunks of butter. Little clumps are ok.

Press 2 cups of the mixture into a square baking pan.

Spread jam on top. This is a bit tricky, but don’t shoot for perfection. As long as there’s a bit of jam in each section, it’ll work out ok.

Sprinkle the remaining mixture on top, and press it down lightly with your fingers.

Bake for 35 minutes, until lightly browned.

Let cool and cut into squares, then wrap each individually for an on-the-go snack.