After a lengthy winter (for usually balmy Durham), the recent arrival of warm weather has caused a SURGE of greens in my garden. I was a bit over-zealous in March when I planted spring crops (er twelve Romaine plants and six spinach), and now, I can frequently be seen toting bags of freshly-picked lettuce to work and bequeathing it to friends willing to eat a lot of salad. Combined with the arrival of everything fresh at the farmers market, I have to exercise a lot of control to make sure I’m using up these greens before they go to waste. I tire of salads quickly, so I thought I’d try a different take.
In a move that surprised me, the staunch supporter of cheese pizza with as few toppings as possible, this flatbread pizza has almost nothing on it except vegetables. I coupled a large wad of my most recent harvest of spinach leaves with some young onions and green garlic, two ingredients I rarely work with but was curious to explore.
And because I couldn’t quite bring myself to omit cheese entirely, just a bit of asiago, which is ever the friend of garlic-y, onion-y things.
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Last week, I started a giveaway for a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook signed by Deb Perelman, the esteemed food blogger and author of the book! The book is full of recipes for every occasion, thoughtful commentary, and useful kitchen tips. I love my copy and am excited to share!
And the lucky winner is… Diane H, whose favorite breakfast is fruit pie! (Check your e-mail so we can arrange the shipping of the book!)
Thanks to everyone who participated! Get out there and get cooking!
The internet is full of food blogs, and though I’ve been a bit busy for leisurely reading lately, I read quite a few of them. I love to see what other bloggers are cooking, writing, and photographing; each one is hugely inspiring. One of my favorites — I adapt quite a few recipes from her posts — is Smitten Kitchen, crafted by the clever, snarky, and talented Deb Perelman. Her site is gorgeous, her archives well-organized, and if you’ve never taken a look, I highly recommend it. In fact, Smitten Kitchen was the first food blog I ever read, and was a major source of inspiration for me to start a food blog of my own.
Today is a special day here at 30 Pounds of Apples… it’s my two-year blogoversary! And to celebrate, I have a copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook — signed by Deb Perelman herself — to give away to one of you!
Last fall, Deb’s work jumped out of the internet and onto my bookshelf when she released a cookbook. After receiving a copy as a Christmas gift from my fabulous sister, I spent quite a bit of time and many post-its paging through her book marking up recipes I wanted to try. And this one, for these luscious, savory breakfast buns, was at the top of the list.
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The last three days, I think I’ve been on my first faux-cation. That’s right. A vacation that’s not real. It’s not like I’m actually even on vacation but just not going anywhere, which is a staycation. I’m not on one of those. I just emerged from one of the more intense periods of work I’ve ever experienced, culminating in a hugely successful film festival. It was fun in that mind-bending, 17-hour work day sort of way, ya know? Rewarding, exhilarating, but exhausting. And since we wrapped up late on Sunday night, it has been nearly impossible to force myself to do ANY activity that remotely resembles work: putting dishes in the dishwasher, cooking at all (seriously, I feel like I’m at the beach, we’ve been eating at restaurants with patios to take advantage of the nice weather), grocery shopping, nothing. Each time I’ve tried to get something done, I drift into daydreams of real beach vacations, lazy days in the sun, and the slower pace that simply MUST be coming soon.
But I miss you guys. I miss testing recipes, playing with food, editing photos, and writing to you. So I finally got myself back on track, though admittedly, the “recipe” that follows is vacation-inspired, and possible even in a stress-triggered faux-cation.
I made some dang strawberry ice.
Why? Because summer is coming, which brings lemonade. And strawberry lemonade is the best lemonade, and hiding strawberries in ice cubes seemed like fun! It’s an easy, splashy way to step up your beverage game at summer cookouts and spring brunches. And all you need to make it is ice, sugar, water, and your favorite ice cube tray.
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There are some foods that have always been magic to me. Tortillas, croissants, tortellini, cream puffs… those dreamy little bites that all seem borderline impossible for a person in a home kitchen to make. Incidentally, jam also mystified me. Perhaps it was really the canning part that seemed so out of reach, for until a couple years ago, I never canned my own.
I’ve learned, however, that jam is actually quite simple to make, and it doesn’t necessarily require large batches and canning. It seems you can boil together almost any fruit and have jam in a matter of minutes, ready to serve warm or to store in the fridge for many days.
This treat is a celebration of quick jam, a blend of two early harbingers of spring: strawberry and rhubarb.
While bundled stalks of rhubarb have graced the tables of the farmers market since early February, strawberries have only recently returned to the scene. Last week, a few pints of these precious red fruits have appeared between towers of broccoli and leafy greens, and just like every year, I could hardly wait to get my hands on some.
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It’s been a little bit nuts around here. A thrilling combination of crunch time at work, a few too many personal commitments, and many of my previous daylight-hours devoted to recipes that didn’t turn out to be blog-worthy has created a bit of a lull here in 30 Pounds land. It’s amazing how days can slither into weeks when you’re busy.
In times like this, I work really hard to avoid the temptation of picking up take-out on the way home from work every night. I make a plan for every meal I want to cook that week and buy all the groceries required. Many of these meals are combinations that have never made the site: a simply cooked pork chop, wild rice, and sauteed vegetables, for instance. But to really defeat the take-out temptation, I’ve been resorting lately to my FAVORITES.
Since starting this blog, I’ve discovered some truly magical meals that taste, every time, just as miraculous as the first bite. Here are a few of the meals I come back to, again and again, because I know them well enough to whip them up without a fuss and I know they will trump the take-out.
Penne alla Vodka. Chopping shallots, garlic, and parsley is the only labor intensive element to this delightful meal. It’s been one of our favorites for years, a dish that I not only make during busy moments like this but also as a centerpiece at dinner parties and group meals. There are few pastas that I enjoy so much as this one.
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Brad and I sometimes grapple a bit when it comes to ordering pizza. Brad likes lots of toppings: meats, mushrooms, onions, veggies, goat cheese, herbs… and I actually like those, too. But if I ever have a choice, if I’m ever ordering pizza just for me, I get cheese. Beautiful, glorious, unadulterated cheese pizza.
But the shocking truth is that until last week, I’ve never made a cheese pizza at home. I know. I know. I can’t explain myself. I’ve been making pizza regularly now for a couple of years, but I’ve always dressed it up. It was high time I build my own perfect cheese pizza from scratch.
This pizza started with my go-to pizza crust recipe. I have another crust that I really love, but I only make it when I have excess whey from a batch of homemade mozzarella. This recipe, on the other hand, is super-easy to whip up when you need dinner in less than an hour. It’s a no-fuss crust that requires little resting time and rolls out easily.
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I don’t have a rice cooker. I also don’t let that stop me from making fluffy mounds of rice. And since I appear to be in the mood for cooking dishes that work nicely with this versatile grain, I thought I’d tell you how I go about making a batch of rice quickly, easily, and without anything you don’t already have.
Rice, as you know, starts as solid grains with the potential to develop into light, airy morsels of goodness when cooked well. The internet seems to be full of horror stories about rice cooking that turn these grains into batches of starchy paste or edible kernels still solid in the middle and decidedly un-fluffy, and rice cookers are offered as the suggestion for remedying these problems. I learned to cook rice, from my mom, with nothing more than a pot and a lid, and I’ve always been pleased with the result. Plus, the method is really easy: in fact, the hardest part is leaving it alone so the rice can do its job.
Here’s what to do:
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The food-focused internet is positively abuzz with recipes for Chinese dumplings, stir fries, and noodles to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It doesn’t seem to matter what I’ve packed to eat for the day: just a few minutes skimming my Google Reader has me craving Chinese food well before lunchtime.
Aside from vegetable-packed stir fries (and an occasional, unbelievably tasty batch of potstickers), I don’t cook a lot of Chinese food at home. Most recipes tend to call for ingredients that I don’t usually have on hand, and it’s soooooo easy to order takeout. But I was recently invited by a fellow blogger, Diana of Appetite for China, to participate in a “Virtual Potluck” to celebrate the New Year and the release of her new cookbook, The Chinese Takeout Cookbook. She posted six sneak-peek recipes from the book on her site. And my only task? Make one, adapted it to my own needs, and post! How could I resist?
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I can’t really express in words how much I love pizza. The enormous quantities of free pizza I ate at college events (and, let’s be honest, continue to eat at college events) has never quelled my craving for crispy pizza crust topped with any manner of sauces, cheeses, meats, pineapple, spinach… gaaaah. I really love pizza.
And I really love that I can make it at home. No, I don’t have a 900°F pizza oven. And yes, I do have a pizza stone. But! I didn’t until only a couple years ago, and though I really love my pizza stone, I’m here to tell you that you can cook beautiful, crispy-bottomed, bubbly-topped pizza at home TONIGHT with no pizza stone.
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