Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

the king of fruits

Of course, because it’s me, there was Easter dessert. And it was not themed, either — not in terms of cuisine or holiday animals. (Read: there were no decorative bunnies or spring chicks.) No, instead I made a very yummy, near-summery mango and raspberry crisp.

I came to mango late in life. My first memory of tasting one links with my first week of college in New York: I was walking up Broadway toward Union Square with an enormous group of other freshmen (freshmen always travel in packs, don’t you know) and there was a woman hawking mango flowers. She shoved a whole fruit onto a stick, and after whacking it with a machete (or so has morphed in my memory) for 20 seconds, the skin was peeled and the succulent, juicy fruit carved into petals. It was as big and sweet as cotton candy. A mango lollypop flower.

It seems like mangoes have been cropping up everywhere in the last couple months. “Everywhere,” like “twice in the New York Times,” but bear with me. The recipes are gorgeously enticing. There was a mango tres leches cake the beginning of the month: a white cake buoyed by with whipped egg whites, soaked with a heavy cream/coconut milk/condensed milk sauce, and topped with a mousse-like mango cream and pureed mangoes. I’ve been dying to make it… and with less than ten days to go, I suppose I’d better heave-ho! And then just yesterday, a parade of recipes showcasing the so-called king of fruits: ginger-orange-mango smoothies, shrimp and mango tacos, mango rice pudding…

Well, there will be a time for all that. (Mangoes peak in the next two months.) Sunday night was crisp time. We so enjoyed them, their rich sweetness only deepened and accentuated by the cooking time and oatmeal-nut topping. I know you will too.

Mango Crisp with Raspberries

(Adapted from Cusine at Home magazine)

Serves 2

  • 1/2 lb fresh or frozen mango, diced into 1-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups, or about two mangoes)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp quick cooking oats, or old fashioned oats pulsed in a food processor
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 tsp flour
  • 4 tsp cold, cubed, unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp walnuts, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Toss together mango, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, cornstarch, lime juice, and salt. Set aside.

Combine oats, 2 Tbsp sugar, and flour. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or fork until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add walnuts and vanilla extract.

Divide mango mixture between two ovenproof ramekins or baking dishes. Sprinkle each with half the raspberries and top with oat mixture.

Bake until topping is golden and bubbly, about 30-35 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.


the best chocolate chunk cookies

After a party several months ago, I froze the half-dozen leftover chocolate chunk cookies for some future, unknown yet entirely foreseeable occasion when I’d feel like a intravenous shot of fudge. And then promptly forgot about them. I caught glimpses of them every now and then, like when I went rummaging in the freezer for some ice cream or coffee beans, but never thought of, you know, taking them out for a snack. Unthinkably, it seems, I’d forgotten that they were the best chocolate cookie I’ve ever had.

That changed this week. And I’m sorry, I know I swore off complaints about the weather, but I have to break: it’s the past seven days of gray skies, forty-degrees, and near-daily rain showers that drove me to the chocolate. Does anyone else feel cheated out of spring? True, our daffodils are very pretty. True, this month brought a couple truly springlike days, days when grilling felt slightly daring in the chilly-warm weather but the birds were singing. But otherwise, it’s felt like a warmed-over continuation of winter; it doesn’t have that lively spring air, the feel of awakening.

Long story short, it was a dreary Monday afternoon, I was yawning by four o’clock, I made myself a coffee and with the thought, Might as well do tea time right, pulled the cookie bag out of the freezer and blitzed one (okay, two) in the microwave for twenty seconds. I’ve kept it up every day since. I’m a creature of habit, especially habits with three kinds of chocolate.

Here’s the deal with these cookies. You melt together some butter and chocolate chips, and to this add all the usual ingredients — eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla extract. The key difference, of course, is that the foundation, the batter, is already quite chocolatey. Then you stir in the rest of the chocolate chips, so you get those delicious pockets of melted chips throughout the cookie when it’s fresh from the oven (or microwave). AND you top it with chunks of white chocolate. They are fabulous. They even make me perversely grateful for the dismal weather that drove me to them.

Dark and White Chocolate Chunk Cookies
(Bon Appetit Desserts)

N.B. The original recipe calls for half a cup of chopped crystallized ginger. I didn’t include it the first time because I didn’t have any on hand, and in times afterward I wasn’t interested in tampering with perfection. But I imagine the spicy heat of crystallized ginger would make a very interesting, grown-up addition. If you are intrepid enough to try, report back!

Makes about 2 dozen

  • 2 2/3 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour*
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional, see head notes)
  • 3 1/2 oz high-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir 2 cups chocolate chips and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until melted. Alternatively, place in a microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until just melted together. Cool 10 minutes.

Beat eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl until well blended. Beat in melted chocolate mixture, then vanilla, then flour. Stir in ginger, if using, and remaining 2/3 cup chocolate chips. Let stand 10 minutes.

Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing cookies 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart. Press white chocolate pieces into tops of cookies. Bake until cookies look puffed and slightly dry on top, about 13 minutes. Cool thoroughly.

*To make self-rising flour, sift or stir together 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt in a small bowl. Measure from this.

cooking with the doctor

When I woke up this morning, there was snow on the ground. It’s all melted into rain now, thank you for asking, but this mid-April brush with winter made me all the more excited, and grateful, for the hot (in both senses!) leftovers from last night, destined for today’s lunch table: Dr. Pepper pulled pork.

Considering I hadn’t even tasted Dr. Pepper at this time last year, this dish is a big step. Considering I don’t consider myself a huge fan of spicy foods, and this dish calls for a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, this dish is an even bigger step. And yet the idea of slow-roasting pork shoulder in both for five hours caught hold of me, if only for curiosity’s sake. (Billy is so lucky, to hear entreaties like “This sounds weird. Let’s make it for dinner!) We tried it last weekend and, with some trepidation, spooned it into corn tortillas with sour cream, tomato salsa, caramelized onions and red peppers, and a little jack cheese.

It was unbelievably good. The meat was quite spicy but a little sweet, with an almost barbecued flavor, and the smooth sour cream mellowed out all that heat. Matched with the acidity of the tomatoes and the deliciously sweet onions and peppers, and the cheese — I was just done. It’s the best slow-cooked meat I’ve ever had, and definitely the best pulled pork.

We made it again last night, less than a week after its first audition. It’s that good. I know it sounds weird, and you’re likely thinking, there’s surely a reason chefs don’t regularly baste their roasts with soda . . . but try it anyway. If only for curiosity’s sake. I think you’ll be converted.

Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
(Via the Pioneer Woman)

Enough meat for 10-12 6inch tortillas. How many that serves is between you, your guests, and your stomach.

  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs pork shoulder (also called pork butt; you can buy the whole shoulder, about six pounds, or packaged shoulder cuts, which are just the right size for this recipe)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, or about 3 ounces
  • 1 can Dr. Pepper, more to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Cut the onion into wedges and lay it at the bottom of a heavy dutch oven. Add the meat. Salt and pepper generously. Add the brown sugar and chipotle peppers, and pour the Dr. Pepper over it all.

Lid it, and cook in the oven until the meat is positively falling off the bone and pulls apart easily, about five hours. (Pictured in the photo above. If, after some preliminary fork investigation, your meat looks more like the photo at the very top of the post, it’s not ready. Return it to the oven, lidded, for another hour.) Using two forks, shred the pork, discarding big pieces of fat. Put it on the stovetop and keep warm until ready to use. Feel free to add some more Dr. Pepper at this point, just for kicks, for the meat to absorb.

N.B. Although I have not tried it this way, you could definitely adapt the recipe to a slow cooker — just cook it for longer, i.e. all day.

We love it in corn tortillas (ahem, not pictured) with salsa, sour cream, grilled onions, peppers, and cheese.

cooking up letters

I don’t know what Miss Manners or Ann Landers would say about this, but my thank yous to recommendation-penning professors have fallen into a pattern: a letter and some biscotti. I’m not quite sure how it happened. A compulsive gifter and, perhaps more to the point, an over-enthusiastic baker, I like to chase my cards with token gifts of thanks. And biscotti? Well, gift certificates feel a little too impersonal (not to mention more like money, which stumbles upon the awkward idea of paying off your professor), and cookies a little too juvenile. But biscotti? I mean, those are Italian. They are very grown up, not to mention they travel well and last a while.

I only have one (and a half! I saved a half!) biscotti left. But if I had an infinite stash, here’s who they’d go to: Dear Forever21, thank you for setting up an outpost in Iowa City. I’m informed I’ll be needing a maxi skirt this summer, and I’m betting you can do the trick for a couple pennies. Dear Anthropologie, the truth is, more than any particular designer line or dress shape or love of lace, I can’t quit your unabashed embrace of constant whimsy. It’s the sort of effortless, high-low, undone loveliness that I try to cultivate on a daily basis. It’s silly, but it’s inspiring. Dear Bank Account, is practicality really the most important consideration?

Dear Weather, I’m not digging your peak-a-boo sun routine, but these temperatures are pretty close to a home run, and I’m taking a vow of abstinence from complaining. Just … please hold out for our barbecue tomorrow night? Dear Katy Perry, When I’m driving with the girls I babysit and one of your songs comes on, odds are I change the station. What the hell is that “Peacock” song? Besides “INNUENDO DO YOU GET IT?” It is simply unendurable. But “Teenage Dream“? I’m a little embarrassed to admit how much I love it. It’s infectious and nostalgic and has this sweet, retro/new sound. And I definitely did not spend an hour youtubing Glee and Idol covers, thank you very much. Dear Boyfriend, I think your new retro Star Wars lunchbox shoe shine kit is perfect.

Sigh. Biscotti. They’re just the ticket.

Lemon-Walnut Biscotti
(Gently adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts)

Makes around 30 biscotti, depending on how you shape and slice them

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon peel
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg, beaten to blend
  • sugar for sprinkling

Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugar, and lemon peel in a bowl until fluffy. Add the egg and beat thoroughly. Add lemon juice, then flour mixture. Stir in walnuts.

Divide dough in half. Place each on a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper. Form dough into an 8-inch logs and flatten to 2 1/2 inch-wide logs. Wrap plastic around logs and chill until firm, at least three hours and at most two days.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unroll logs from plastic wrap and set atop baking sheet. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown and just firm to the touch, about 50 minutes. Cool logs completely and reduce oven to 300 degrees.

Using a long, serrated knife, carefully cut logs on the diagonal into 1/3-inch thick slices. Arrange biscotti, cut side down, on the same baking sheet. Bake until golden around the edges, around 10 minutes. They’ll crisp as they cool.

french onion soup

The weather has been such a tease lately. Seventies on Sunday, thirties this morning, it’s gray, it’s sunny, it’s in-between! Oh my. I made onion soup (B: “French onion soup?” Why, yes, is there any other kind?!) for lunch yesterday, one of the more gloom and doom days we’ve experienced in a while. For about an hour this morning (the hour when the sun was out), I wasn’t sure about posting a hearty soup-and-cheese-and-bread recipe today. But then the clouds came out to play, and it seems like a soup day after all.

This recipe is a total French classic, executed in a brilliantly simple style by Julia Child, who was not French but might as well have been. And while I usually attach the caveat of “this may not be authentic, but it is delicious!” to my recipes, this one is both. Ha! This is the one type of cuisine I can lay claim to.

It’s a double-edged sword, though, because I think when most people see the words “French Food,” they still imagine the fancy, the expensive, the impossible-to-replicate-at-home. This little ol’ soup could not be farther from such monikers. You brown the heck out of a pound and a half of onions in some olive oil, butter, and salt. You sprinkle in a little flour (to thicken) and you add liquid. Julia recommends beef stock and a splash of white wine, which is what I’ve used the past couple times with fabulous results, but my dad gets the same mileage out of water and sometimes chicken stock. You simmer it all together, the longer the better, and ladle it into a bowl with little floaters of toasted bread and cheese. Friends, this is one of the cheapest dishes you can make.

And before we go on, a word about that cheesy bread. I am, to my bones, no fan of the gratin top that accompanies 99% of restaurant onion soups. You know what I’m talking about. When the cheese gets all melted under the broiler and forms a sort of gooey lid over [soggy] bread and, beneath that, the actual soup. Not for me. The way I was raised, there’s a basket of toasted baguette rounds and a plate of grated cheese on the dinner table, and you adorn your own soup bowl moments before eating it. The cheese still melts, but the bread stays crunchy — and that textural contrast is, after all, the entire point of adding toasted bread to soup.

I hope I’ve made myself clear.

But even if you’re a devotee of the gratin top, you’ll love the soup underneath. Try it today! Before the weather gets nice!

Julia Child’s French Onion Soup
(Adapted Mastering the Art of French Cooking, with some proportions tinkering)

Enough to generously fill three soup bowls

  • 1 1/2 lbs or about 5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar (helps the onions to brown)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1 quart boiling low-sodium beef stock, or 2 cups boiling water and 2 cups beef stock (N.B. For this amount of onions, Julia actually recommends two quarts of liquid. I halved it, the first time by accident, and now because I find the soup so much thicker and richer for it.)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp cognac (optional; I omitted)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • several rounds of thinly sliced toasted baguette
  • 1 cup grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese

In a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot, melt the butter and oil together. Add the onions, cover, and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover, raise heat to moderate, and add salt and sugar. Cook 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions have turned an even, deep brown color.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.

Add the boiling liquid and wine. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes, skimming occasionally. Season to taste. (At this point, you can remove from heat and let the soup hang out until ready to eat.)

Just before serving, add the cognac. Pour the soup into bowls and add bread rounds and a generous handful of cheese. Enjoy!

a glass half-full

Here’s a story. Yesterday, it was seventy degrees, humid and gray and a little girl named Natalie thought it’d be the perfect time to stir up an inaugural glass of her favorite summer cocktail. It’s called a porch swing, and she drank it on her porch, which does not have a swing but even having a porch is pretty good, and honestly more than a lot of her friends can say. The Pimm’s No. 1 reminded her of that one time she sipped a Pimm’s Cup with orange and cucumber garnishes in a harbor cafe in Cyprus, and the fresh lemonade tasted like a backyard cook-out, and the gin was as nice as ever.

And she was happy.

The end.

Stir up some summer for yourself:

Porch Swing
(Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen, who had it from a Gael Green recipe.)


  • 1 1/2 ounces (or 3 Tbsp, or 4.5 cL, which is the unit our jigger uses) Pimm’s No. 1
  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 3 ounces homemade lemonade (recipe below)… add an extra splash if you’re feeling sassy
  • ice
  • 7-Up
  • several paper-thin cucumber slices, optional


My boyfriend would insist that I start with the admonishment to CHILL YOUR GLASS. A tall, thin Collins glass is recommended, but we don’t have those, and I’ve found the squat little tumbler pictured more than adequate. Even though it makes it look like I’m drinking an entire glass of Scotch.

Measure the Pimm’s, gin, and lemonade into the chilled glass. Add several ice cubes and top with 7-Up. Garnish with a few cucumber moons.

Homemade Lemonade
Juice your lemons into a measuring cup. (I only need one lemon to get the right amount for one drink, but buy a bunch and make a large batch of lemonade; it’ll keep in the fridge and is tasty without the alcohol, too.) Add an equal amount of simple syrup, and twice as much cold water.

EDIT: I bought cucumbers two days later. Here’s how it should look:

admittedly naive

Perhaps I was being optimistic to the point of foolish, but I honestly thought we were done with winter. In the past week and a half, all our snow from the Groundhog Day Blizzard melted. That’s feet and feet of snow, which usually hang about, browned with dirt and gasoline emissions, until May. We actually saw our lawn! Our green lawn! And not just us — the whole town melted. I quickly adjusted to hearing cheeping birds in the morning and to not needing gloves to drive. I guess the “record” in “record highs” should have tipped me off, though. Snow is back.

It returned on Thursday night, in powerful force as Boyfriend and I left Devotay with some out-of-town friends on a (successful!) school visit. Full of patatas bravas, zucchini and aioli, chorizo, bacon-wrapped dates, and paella, we lolled out of the restaurant into a bracing shock of freezing air and, yes, furious flurries. Boyfriend and I waited for a cab for over half an hour before finally hailing one that carved a tenuous, fish-tailing path up Burlington, over the river, and down Melrose Avenue. On Friday, the snow proceeded to melt, but then returned overnight. And I’m not going to sugar coat this, friends: I’m ready for spring! I’ve got slingbacks and sundresses and open-knit tops bookmarked on my browser and I just want to feel, you know, not ridiculous for that fact.

But today, this gray and snowy day, I am happy to hole up inside and nosh my homemade take-out. It is a great disappointment of life here that there are no good Thai restaurants in Iowa City. Chinese, yes; Indian, reportedly yes; sushi, surprisingly yes again. But the Thai food we’ve sampled has been dishearteningly bland and boring, nothing to inspire repeat visits. So I am really excited to have found an incredibly simple, tasty, and fast at-home version of that classic, pad thai.

Sure, whipping out a wok will never be quite as simple as dialing out for take-out, and I can’t promise that I’ll continue making it when I’m back in New York (for the summer, say): there are too many authentic, delicious, and reasonably healthy restaurant options in every neighborhood to send me on a hunt for rice sticks. But for now, for me — and for any of you looking to satisfy a craving that your neighborhood place cannot — it works beautifully. It’s best with shrimp, which the original recipe calls for, but I had no shrimp and extra sugar snap peas this morning, and the substitution was just dandy. Add some scrambled egg, bean sprouts, garlic, roasted peanuts and the inescapable lime quarters and you’ve got yourself a lunch, a dinner, or a movie-in-bed meal.

Pad Thai
(From Williams Sonoma’s Cooking at Home)

Serves 2


  • 4 oz rice vermicelli (long, thin noodles like spaghetti), also called “rice sticks,” and sold in the Asian section of most grocery stores
  • 4 tbsp canola or peanut oil
  • 1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs, thoroughly whisked together
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 green onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped roasted peanuts (to roast, bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes; or, saute in a hot pan for a few minutes until charred and fragrant), divided
  • 2 limes, quartered
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped


Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook rice noodles according to package directions. Mine take 8 minutes.

In a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tbsp oil, swirling to coat bottom and sides. When very hot but not smoking, add the shrimp and stir until pink and firm, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Add another tbsp oil to pan, swirling again to coat evenly. When hot, add eggs and stir until scrambled, about one minute. Add to shrimp.

Add the remaining 2 tbsp oil to the pan, again swirling to coat. When hot, add the sugar and fish sauce to pan. When the sugar dissolves, add the cooked rice noodles and toss with the sauce. Return shrimp, garlic, and eggs to pan. Add bean sprouts, red pepper flakes, green onion, and half the peanuts. Toss everything together and turn out onto a platter or individual plates. Garnish with remaining peanuts, cilantro, and lime quarters. Serve immediately and enjoy!