Thanks, 2009

December 31, 2009

I went to work after a five-day fiesta of holiday spectacularness and tried to get a couple of things done.  Really I did.  But alas, my return was less than impressive.  I can’t quite bring myself to confess  just how long it took me to compose half a dozen  e-mails with clumsy fingers that seemed to be receiving instructions from a pudding-filled skull.  I finally gave up–in part because of the garbagey quality of what I was turning out, and in part because the office assistant was piercing me with looks that I was slow to interpret as “if you leave, I can leave!  no one else is here!  what the hell, woman?”

And so I came home and undertook a much more successful pursuit: one that involved eating capers straight from the jar and feeding bits of prosciutto to the Giant Kitty.  And look, I even managed to make a pizza!

Pizza dough

  • 1.5 cup white flour + 0.5 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  1. Combine the water, honey, and yeast.  Let this initially less-than-attractive fluid rest for 3-4 minutes, until it’s all jolly and bubbly.
  2. Add flour; knead.
  3. Let the dough rest in a warm and cozy place for 30 minutes while you look at Facebook photos of that high school friend who really let herself go.  Call your husband to have a look.
  4. Knead the dough again; let it rest for another 20-30 minutes.
  5. Roll out the dough, add toppings, and bake at 400F for 15 minutes.


  • 4-5 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • prosciutto
  • capers
  • cheese (we used Chimay vieux just because that’s what we had)
  • arugula (add this after the pizza is done but still sitting in the oven for a minute or two)

We are detoxing between two weekends of incessant festivities.

(But, you know, there’s still room for some almond+fig spread.)


December 26, 2009

Why do I even bother with multi-step dishes when something this simple makes people swoon?

  • goat cheese
  • capers
  • roasted tomatoes
  1. Tomatoes go on top of the cheese.
  2. Capers go on top of the tomatoes.
  3. Everything goes into the oven: 10 minutes at 375F.


December 22, 2009

We marked the solstice with colcannon.  An Irish dish–albeit loosely interpreted–somehow seemed suitable for the shortest day of the year, since the Irish strike me as folks who know a thing or two about darkness.


  • 5-6 medium red potatoes
  • 1 turnip
  • 1/2 rutabaga
  • 1/2 head cabbage, cut into strips
  • 1/2 bunch kale, cut into strips
  • 1 medium leek, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk or kefir
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the potatoes, parsnip, and rutabaga in a pot of boiling water until soft.
  2. Drain; mash with buttermilk and a touch of salt.
  3. In a separate pot, saute the onion for 2-3 minutes.  Add the cabbage, kale, salt, pepper, and a splash of water; steam on low heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Toss in the leek and cumin; cook for another 2 minutes.

Now, you can simply serve the cabbage+kale+leek mixture on top of the mashed roots.  I happened to also want some black beans + paprika (prepared along these lines)–and yes, a poached egg, for a touch of sunshine on this darkest, longest of nights.

Ugly-no-more pie

December 21, 2009

Remember my ugly but delicious pie?  The one that made my colleagues gasp in a not-so-good way when I pulled it out for lunch?

Well, it’s been bugging me ever since, and with a rapidly growing sense of urgency.  See, my Unbelievably Adorable Dad’s birthday is coming up soon and I very much want the pie’s flavor –but not its looks–at our party. Really, one should not have to celebrate getting within a year of Medicare eligibility with a breathtakingly unattractive dish.

And behold!  The problem has been solved.  Thanks, Serious Eaters, for your many good ideas.  It was actually Chef R0bert’s observation–that the following ingredients, mixed, were simply not going to produce an appetizing concoction–that made me slap my forehead and realize that I should simply layer them instead.

Baby portabella + butternut squash+kale pie

  • 1 pie crust (yours or Pilsbury’s; I’m not going to judge)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1lb baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 butternut squash, microwaved (like this) and disemboweled
  • 1 fistful of kale, ripped into bite-sized pieces and steamed for 5 minutes
  • 1 14oz can roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle pepper (or more, if you’re like me and like FIRE)
  • salt to taste
  • a toss of blue cheese

You will notice that kale and blue cheese are the only deviations from the original recipe.  The kale is there because I desperately needed something green all of a sudden, and the blue cheese joined the party simply because that’s what we had this time around.

  1. Sautee the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for a couple of minutes.
  2. Pour the mushroom mixture into the pie crust.  Top with layers of squash, tomatoes, kale, cheese.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350F.

Is this not SO much better?


December 19, 2009


December 18, 2009

Come on, you know you’re interested despite the funny name!

As usual, I’ve taken some liberties with the original recipe.  May the gods of sticking to a formula forgive me.


  • 1 package fillo dough
  • 1lb cottage cheese (mine was small curd, fat-free–but feel free to improvise)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • a handful of dill, chopped
  • salt to taste (1/3 teaspoon is a fine starting point)
  • olive oil
  1. Saute the onion until it’s soft and translucent and luscious.
  2. Loosely whisk the eggs; add cottage cheese and salt.
  3. Fold the onions and dill into the egg+cheese mixture.
  4. Ok, ready to layer?  This is where you are allowed to get a bit grumpy.  I sure do.  (And then I remember my own grandmother, who made her own fillo dough once a week… and I go from feeling grumpy to feeling like a bit of a loser).
  5. Actually, the rest is quite easy.  After you oil the bottom of the baking dish, you will: a) put down a sheet of dough; b) brush it with olive oil; c) repeat… until you have approximately 5 sheets down.
  6. Top with 1/3 of the egg+cheese mixture.
  7. Add another 4-5 sheets of dough (don’t forget the olive oil).
  8. You get the idea: another 1/3 of egg+cheese goodness, another 4-5 sheets of dough…  The top layer should consist of 4-5 layers of dough and 1 sacrificial sheet that’s going to protect the loveliness underneath while it’s in the oven.
  9. Bake at 375F for ~45 minutes.

You’re probably thinking, “Hey, this is a lot like baklava.”  Oh, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things my people can stick between layers of fillo dough!  The possibilities are endless.

Is it possible to resist a recipe that contains the line “beat the living crap out of it”?  If you are me, it most certainly is not.  So, reader Carrie, you had me at “crap” when you answered my cookie plea with your Funfetti recipe a couple of weeks ago.

But wait…  What was this Funfetti thing that I was supposed to purchase and beat into submission?  It sounded intriguing and entirely inedible.  This was clearly going to involve a trip to The Big Grocery Store, which I usually skip in favor of  shops where I can find mysterious animal parts, Buddah’s hands, and partially Americanized folk just like me.

And so I ventured  into The Big Grocery Store and found Funfetti (holiday version, even!).  But then I realized that I hadn’t brought Carrie’s recipe and had no idea what else I needed; oops.  So, I got some eggs (that’s what the Funfetti box suggested, both in writing and in pictures) and assumed I would be more or less set.

Wrong.  Apparently, I was supposed to get Cool Whip.   But I plowed on, figuring that the Funfetti mix would be difficult to offend (it looked so resilient! like something that would survive a nuclear holocaust).  And indeed, the substitutions that follow turned out to be just fine.

Funfetti cookies

  • 1 box Funfetti mix (set sprinkles aside)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  1. Combine everything and–you knew this was coming!–beat the living crap out of it.  (I sure hope you have a free-standing mixer, because you will essentially be handling wet cement.)
  2. Place teaspoon-sized drops onto a greased cookie sheet and drop some sprinkles onto each.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375F.

Disclaimer: I did not contribute a single shred of creativity to this recipe.  (But, I did learn what Funfetti is.  And I made some tasty, tasty cookies.)