Sunday, August 26, 2012

Brunch Dish: Apricot Crisp

Early last month I put up an invite to brunch featuring this delectable apricot crisp, and two of my lovely friends responded. Not only did they come over for brunch, they brought some delicious beverages: iced coffee, pineapple raspberry smoothies, and watermelon mint juice. YUM! It was so fun baking for them and catching up over good food and drinks. I'm hoping that I can open up my home (and my kitchen) more and more as we transition to fall. There's just something about good food and good conversation that makes me really, really happy. And, you know, it keeps me from eating an entire pan of apricot crisp.

close-up, pre-oven

close-up, bubbly and brown

amidst the supporting cast

with a dollop of greek yogurt (for contrast!), and bacon

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fun fact friday: Trader Joe's return policy

It has come to my attention that many people are unaware of Trader Joe's return policy, which means that a lot of you are missing out on the weird and wonderful products hiding on Trader Joe's shelves.

"Try something and don't like it, bring it back for a full refund!"
What that cute, old-timey baseball player is saying is that you can buy anything--say, those weird-looking brown rice, agave-sweetened rice krispie treats, that end up tasting like sawdust held together with sweetened glue--decide you hate it, and get your money back. They don't harass you, you don't need a receipt, and you don't have to wait in a special line, which means there's really no reason not to take advantage of their policy. So, go crazy!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

On failure

I've been baking and cooking (successfully) since I was ten, which means I've been at it for over half my life. Why I am telling you this? Because my long history in the kitchen means that I've failed a lot. I've become pretty good at impressing people with my cooking, but that's because no one was around to see me under mix my cashew brioche batter, short change the liquid in my short rib braise, overcook the custard base of my coffee ice cream, and put my chocolate cake in an oven that wasn't turned on for 50 minutes, among other blunders. (And these all happened in the last four months). What I'm trying to get at is that I know a lot of people are intimidated by cooking/baking and give up when they make a mistake (or several). But I don't let failure keep me out of the kitchen, and you shouldn't either.

Here are just a few of the recipes I screwed up (but will try again). Maybe you'll master them on the first go!

Cashew Brioche
Short Ribs Braised in Coffee Ancho Chile Sauce
Coffee Ice Cream
Farmer's Secret Chocolate Bundt Cake

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bag Lunch: Gazpacho

I've been wanting to make gazpacho for years, but never felt like it was the right time. Enter in New York's blazing heat wave. Bingo, gazpacho time. Now, before you stop reading because you don't like tomatoes/cucumbers/bell peppers, I want to encourage you to try this recipe. It is exactly what you want to be eating on a hot, humid day: bright, cool, refreshing, delicious. It would be great for a summer picnic or potluck, too, because it's cheap to make, produces a huge amount of food, and is easy to transport (though you'll need bowls)! Oh, and did I already mention that it's delicious?!

There is gazpacho under that mountain of feta, I swear.
You can find everything you need up top, through the link, but I have two tips. When chopping your vegetables in the food processor, leave them a little course to give your gazpacho more texture (if you like that sort of thing), and pair it with some sort of protein and a grain so that you have a complete meal. I'm having mine with feta mixed in and crackers on the side, but some crusty bread and shredded chicken would be tasty, too.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Brunch Invite

My friends Paul and Sarah gave out the best wedding favor I've received: bamboo utensils (of which I took about three...) and booklets filled with delicious looking recipes that are significant to their relationship. Brilliant! I've been wanting to make this fantastic-sounding breakfast apricot crisp ever since.

photo copyright (c) smitten kitchen

BUT I'm trying to, you know, not be a fatty, so I'd like to invite you to come over for brunch this Saturday. I'm serious. You bring the coffee, I'll provide the crisp and bacon. I think I'll be able to feed 4 with this thing.

Want to come over?

Monday, July 2, 2012

On Persevering

The last seven-plus months have been . . . difficult. Not bone-crushingly difficult, sure, but kind of hard.

lost my chief taste tester to Oklahoma.
moved for the first time in 3 1/2 years (no small feat in New York City). 
learned to share a kitchen with two strangers.
felt horrified, confused, and generally lost when it came to feeding myself after reading The Omnivore's Dilemma.
suffered extreme guilt and anxiety every time I sat down to blog (anxiety thanks to being a perfectionist, an Assistant Editor, and big sister to a photographer).

But I enjoy chronicling what I've made and I really like hearing that something I've cooked has inspired a friend to try something new. So, I'm going to scale this thing back (less photos, less words--current rambling post aside) and try to become a more efficient communicator.

If you follow me on instagram (emelliaz), you know I haven't stopped cooking, I've just gotten a little self-conscious about this blog. Bear with me. And now, I leave you with a random image from last week.

Coney Island. Trust me, you don't want to see what the beach itself looks like.
Oh, and did I mention that my ancient (five-year-old) macbook is dying, making it really annoying to write and compounding the anxiety problem mentioned above? Donations welcome.

More soon,


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Brunch Dish: Brown Sugar Roasted Bacon

Easiest recipe ever. Just grab a package of bacon and some brown sugar.
  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Open package of bacon.
  • Arrange bacon in a single layer on a baking rack set over a baking sheet. (It may seem like overkill, but it helps make cleanup easier to line the baking sheet with foil).
  • Sprinkle each slice of bacon liberally with brown sugar.
  • Place in oven for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the thickness of your bacon and how crispy you like it).
And voila! Salty, sweet, perfectly prepared bacon. People will be very impressed with you and your skills. I made this for a brunch potluck on Sunday and it received rave reviews. (Is this special bacon? What did you do to this bacon? Why does it taste so good? )
Making bacon in the oven ensures that it bakes evenly, not to mention that you can make more pieces at a time than in a skillet. And baking it on a rack means that excess grease drips onto your baking sheet. Plus, you don't have to worry about burning yourself with grease splatters. Seriously, do you need me to give you more reasons to make your bacon like this, people?