Category: traditional with a twist

Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.

Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.

So I get married, Jay goes to Europe, and I get the urge to make a cake.

I never, ever make cakes. Mainly because I’m impatient, an you have to wait for cakes to cool before you take them out of the pans, then cool enough to frost them, etc. It’s a pain in the ass. I am not a cake person. Cupcakes, yes! Those are fun. And they cool fast. But cakes? No. Especially layer cakes. OH MY GOD HOW ANNOYING ARE LAYER CAKES?!

So I cheated with this one, and made it one layer. And added lime zest. And candied limes.

Zesting limes!

I had a lot of limes.

About three/four weeks before the wedding I got sick. Really sick. Bronchitis and sore-throat-like-swallowing-knives-sick. I was sick for well over a week, and my stubborn ass wouldn’t go to the doctor. Then, four days before the wedding, Jay got sick.  FOUR DAYS. He (thankfully) went and got super antibiotics and by the day of he felt fine. Then, the day of the wedding, my dad was sick. Two days after, my mother got sick. What the what? I’m telling you- people are dropping like flies around here. Stupid early spring sickness.

Continue reading

Quick pickled giardiniera-style veggies.

IT’S SPRING! Oh man. Spring, how I’ve waited for you. Can we be best friends? Okay, maybe not, but can I at least try to jar you up and save you? Forever and ever and ever?! *siiiiiiigh* I don’t know, maybe winter just felt too long this year, maybe I’m just in an overly romantic mood since I’m only married for about, oh, 10 days… whatever it is, it feels so good to have SPRING here. It’s been an unseasonably cold spring so far, but this week it’s supposed to be in the high 60°’s F. Exciting!

Spring means summer is coming. Summer means sunshine, longer days, and veggies. Fresh from the garden.

Mixed vegetable giardiniera for spring.

A lot of people hear the word “giardiniera” and cringe. In Italian families, it’s often taken for granted and force-fed to you. It’s also most commonly found crammed flavorlessly into mass-produced jars in an aisle in the supermarket. But it doesn’t have to be that way! We can take it back!

Not to get all Norma Rae, but for real. Giardinera can be a delicious and wonderful way to preserve and make use of any extra veggies you may have, or just ones you want to use to create a beautiful looking jar. Giardiniera means pickled vegetables, or pickled “garden” (giardino). It’s also known as “sottaceti”; or “under vinegar,” which basically leaves it open to a lot of interpretation. So you can use really any mixture of vegetables that strike your fancy. It doesn’t even have to resemble a traditional giardiniera!

Mixed vegetable giardiniera- or pickled veggies!

Is that not beautiful?

There is no reason it has to be flavorless, or boring, either. But I’ll get to that in a second.

Continue reading

Oui, oui: savory cheddar madeleines.

Savory madeleines with cheddar, dill & onion!

Have you ever had a genius idea and had to act on it immediately? Okay so maybe my idea for these madeleines wasn’t really genius, but either way I had to act on it immediately. I had just gotten inspired by flipping through the book Madeleines: Elegant Tea Cakes to Bake & Share by Barbara Feldman Morse.

In the book, there are recipes for both sweet & savory madeleines, as well as ones with fruit & nut and other unexpected varieties. I was sent the book to review back in October, but then I got sick, so I kind of put it back on the shelf (literally). But I saw it on my shelf and decided to get crackin’ on something delicious.

Savory cheddar, dill and onion madeleine recipe!

This recipe is not in the book; instead its an adaptation of one of the recipes plus ideas from my head and from another recipe in the book. I wanted to make a savory madeleine, one that you could eat with soup or as a snack. And one of my favorite types of biscuit or scone is a cheddar/dill kind. Jay always has fresh dill around- he not only makes homemade chicken soup from scratch, but also likes to eat it on sandwiches (seriously). And the onion? Well I just thought that it’d be a great addition.

And as far as the book goes… it’s great. While I didn’t use an exact recipe from it this time, I’m sure I will be in the future. A lot.

Continue reading

Black bottom, a new rhythm.

I love pie plates. Whenever I see one, I’m drawn to it. Big ones, small ones, ruffled ones, plain ones. I love them all. I don’t even make pie that often, but for whatever reason I just love ‘em. I don’t have all that many… maybe 6 or 7. But I just adore them. And really, when one has so many cute pie plates, they ought to be making more pies, amirite?

However pies are usually not my bag. I can make them just fine, but the crust is a pain in my ass & I’m always paranoid that the filling won’t set. I’m more comfortable with cakes than pies.

Black bottom oatmeal pie from a recipe by Four and Twenty Blackbirds pie shop.

Every once in a  while, though, a pie recipe crosses my path and I think “Holy crap that sounds good.” This is one of those. Truth be told most of the pie recipes from Four & Twenty Blackbirds are those kinda pies. Like that salty honey pie.

Continue reading

Hard cider jelly… yes please!

When (if ever) is it appropriate to quote Destiny’s Child when posting a jelly recipe? Just asking for a friend.

“I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly”: A few months ago, the folks at Woodchuck Hard Cider asked me to create some recipes with their ciders. They sent me a bunch of different ones to sample & create with, and when I got them it was so hot out I couldn’t even think of cooking. So, I made a cocktail. And it was delicious.

But now that it’s fall, and it’s apple-time, I started thinking about those other ciders. And I thought, “Why not make a hard cider jelly?” I did it with champagne, Guinness, and tea (twice! No- three times!), so why the hell not use a hard apple cider?

Jelly made from Woodchuck hard apple cider.

Continue reading

Sweet Preservation: mint julep preserved peaches!

An easy canning recipe for mint julep peaches! #sweetpreservation

This is my second year being a Canbassador & participating in the “Sweet Preservation” canning event, using stone fruits provided by the Washington State Stone Fruit Commission. On their Sweet Preservation website, they provide recipes, labels & even a Preservation 101 page to get people canning. Last year I received some amazingly beautiful Sweet Dream peaches & Honey Royale nectarines from them, and I made vanilla brandied peach jam, peach & pepper salsa, and nectarine basil preserves as well as made a beautiful crostata from the leftover peaches (& I even froze some). And this year, it’s peaches once again! This time, it was gorgeous Sierra Rich peaches.

No kidding- these were 22 lbs. of the most beautiful fresh peaches you’ll ever see.

Continue reading

Sweet cherry cream pie for the 4th of July.

There really isn’t anything prettier in the summer (in the U.S.) than seeing Old Glory flying proudly. Even better when accompanied by the sound of fireworks popping in the sky & the smell of burgers cooking on a charcoal grill. ‘Murica. F*$k yeah. Yet another thing that’s awesome about America: pie. Specifically, cherry pie on the 4th of July. Eff you, Arthur, you won’t spoil my fun!

This pie is a kind of cherry custard pie, being that custard is made from egg yolk & cream & that’s what you combine with cherries in this filling. A refreshing change from the ordinary cherry pies you see this time of year!

Sweet cherry cream pie with coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream!

My pie pan was a bit smaller so I halved the filling recipe & it worked out just fine, a bit flat on top but otherwise fine. If you’re using a pie pan larger than 9″, then you’re good to go with the whole filling amount. Out of all the pans I have, I wanted to use a teeny tiny metal one. Go figure.

Continue reading