My iPhoto library is full of good intentions--all kinds of things I've made over the last few months, photographed for you, then never posted about. Like these delicious raspberry crumble bars I made back in...January? February? And here it is mid-June! Oh well, better late than never.
Like all Ina Garten recipes, this one starts off with a hefty lump of butter and a steady stream of sugar. Pile on some raspberry jam and you're looking at a major toothache. But, they're worth it. I think the real secret is the granola in the topping. And if you happen to have good homemade granola on hand (sans fruit), so much the better.
These bars are simple as can be and crazy delicious. Your only effort is in remembering to soften the butter. The husband and I gobbled a few after dinner the first night I made them and the next day, I brought some in a little paper sack to my friend, Amy. We ate gigantic plates of Hawaiian food for lunch and then went our separate ways. On the way home, she texted me that she had eaten all the bars in the bag in a matter of minutes. Let me back up and say: unlike me, Amy is not gluttonous in the least. She could be--she's about 10 feet tall and thin as a rail. But she's moderate. Also, she works for a food magazine and is always the beneficiary of the test kitchen. So, when she likes something, it's officially good.
It just happens that I have black raspberry jam on hand, as well as a fresh batch of granola. Better put the butter out...
Camille recently tagged me with this little game making the rounds--reveal 11 things about yourself, answer 11 questions, and pose 11 questions to five blogger friends. (Thanks, Camille!) As The Hungry Dog has been languishing as of late, I figure what better way to kickstart it than by talking about myself? How fun for all of you. 11 things about me
1. I have recently taken up meditation. Every morning, between the dog walk and the beginning of work, I do a 10 minute session. I cannot explain how much this tiny investment of time and focus has changed my outlook, feeling of peace, patience, and overall well-being.
2. I like to give compliments and I don't understand when people are stingy with them. There are easy and difficult ways to be kind in the world, and paying compliments is among the easiest. They cost you nothing.
3. Although I have never been a picky eater, I have now fully embraced two things I used to detest: eggs and coconut. This just goes to show that even when you think you won't change your mind about something, it can happen without your permission.
4. My favorite albums are: R.E.M.'s Murmur; Pavement's Wowee Zowee; Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker; and Jack Johnson's On and On. Each one reminds me of a particular happy time in my life.
5. I'm alternately extravagant and thrifty. Example of extravagance: there's a kind of cracker I've discovered that the husband and I are in love with. It's $9 for about 16 crackers. Example of thrift: I use the same comb I've had since high school. It's missing some teeth but I don't see what sense it makes to buy a new one if this one still works. Did I mention I graduated from high school in 1991?
6. In college, I was an extra in the movie "Strange Days."
7. About 8 years ago, I considered going to pastry school. I toured a local school
and did a short, informal apprenticeship at a well-known restaurant
here. After seeing the pastry chef break down in tears over a burned vat
of quince paste, I decided being a professional cook was not for me.
8. My nicknames include: Chuck, Shortie, Cubby, Smalls, Bunga, Fritzy, and Auntie Bowwow.
9. If I could only keep one cookbook, it would be Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, because, aside from my parents, it is responsible for teaching me how to cook. If I could keep another, it would be Firehouse Food, because every recipe is a winner.
10. My favorite smells are: coffee brewing, rice steaming, chicken frying, and lemons.
11. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard is something my late father-in-law used to say: "Take care of you and one more." To me, this is not just about tending to your partner, kid, or parent. It's about extending yourself to people beyond your circle, even to strangers, being generous and empathetic. I think if more people did this, the world would be a better place.
11 Questions from Camille
1. What was the last concert you went to?
2. What was the best concert you’ve ever been to?
The Rolling Stones. 3. Name your top three favorite spices and what you like to do with them.
Cardamom, in baked good; smoked paprika, with roasted meats or potatoes; and grated nutmeg, with any bitter green.
4. Wine or beer?
5. Do you have a pet? What is the most surprising thing he or she has ever done?
I have a labrador retriever that doesn't like to retrieve and doesn't care about the water.
6. Where have you traveled that you most want to visit again?
7. What movie can you recite by heart?
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall."
8. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
9. What was the last book you read?
"Beautiful Ruins" by Jess Walter.
10. Where do you like to sing?
11. When do you feel most content?
Swimming at Kahalahala Beach in Kauai.
11 Questions for my friends
For these I am tagging:
1. Who or what has had the greatest impact on your life?
2. What is your favorite thing to cook?
3. Where do you hope to travel next?
4. What is your dream job?
5. Favorite book?
6. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
7. What is your greatest talent?
8. What skill do you wish you had?
9. Do you prefer sweet or savory?
10. Have you ever lived abroad? If so, where?
11. What motivates you to keep blogging?
Just down the hill from us is an outpost of La Boulange, a local string of Frenchie-type bakeries with delicious pastries, tartines, and the omnipresent macarons. We usually pop in there on Saturday mornings while out with Soph and pick up a quarter loaf of their multigrain, a couple of almond croissants, or, on occasion, a bite-sized fondant au chocolat.
I was pleased to come across the recipe for these little gems in the local paper, which, while largely deemed in this household the most embarrassing "news" paper on the planet (a frequent theme for front-page stories is then-and-now pictures of celebrities) does have a decent food section (though not in comparison The New York Times or Los Angeles Times, but I should just let it be, shouldn't I.)
These dense little guys are just what you need to propel you through a sleepy afternoon, or to finish off a lovely dinner. They're baked in muffin tins but the batter doesn't fill them up entirely, so what you end up with are smallish little cakes, kinda sunken and gooey in the middle.
And what goes perfectly with a mouthful of chocolate? A tiny cup of espresso, ideally made in this ridiculously cute contraption I just purchased.
I have made this cake (recipe here) exactly once and have become completely obsessed with it. No joke. I made it Sunday, finished it Wednesday, and have been waiting what I estimate the appropriate amount of time is before I can make it again (I think one week, so three days to go).
You could use regular oranges of course. I'm not sure it would make that much of a difference. What is important is having decent olive oil, because it calls for quite a bit--2/3 of a cup. Sounds like a lot, and it is, but on the bright side, the cake is butter-free. So, if you're reading things like this these days, which advocate the olive oil-based Mediterranean diet, you can feel reasonably good about this as a dessert choice...minus the fact that it calls for a cup of sugar, which I must concede is quite a lot for a single layer cake.
I baked the cake in 9-inch springform rather than a loaf pan (I don't care for cakes shaped like bricks--so homely!) and it baked for 38 minutes and came out perfectly. Tweak your baking time according to the pan shape/size. I also skipped the blood orange compote, although not because it didn't sound delicious. I just ran out of blood oranges. This cake would also be nice with a little citrus glaze, but it's not necessary. (Neither was the whipped cream I whipped up while alone with the cake one afternoon, but it just seemed like the thing to do. Is whipped cream for one the ultimate luxury or the hallmark of depression?)
In addition to being dead simple to make and incredibly delicious, this cake also scored in the longevity department, staying totally moist (sorry to use the most abhorred word in the English language but there really isn't a synonym for it) for FOUR DAYS. All things considered, this cake is perfect.
I've liked scallops for as long as I can remember. When I was little, my dad would make the smaller bay scallops, cooked in a scampi style with butter and garlic and served over rice. I developed quite a taste for them at a young age, which is funny, looking back--how many kids who don't live in France shovel in mouthfuls of scallops soaked in butter and wine?
I thought the little ones were special enough, but when I got older and was introduced to the majestic sea scallop, the bay scallop's bigger and more elegant cousin, I wondered why I'd been deprived for so long.
These days, I don't cook scallops too often, and not just because they are expensive. They're rich, and, I suspect, not too good for you. But here's the funny thing: we've got a little scallop luck at our local market. Two times in a row now, the husband has gone to pick up a few scallops. The first time, we were doing surf 'n' turf and so only needed four scallops to go alongside our steak. The butcher gave him six--then charged the wrong price by half.
The second time, the scallops were the main event. The husband asked for 8. Once again, the butcher--a different one this time around--gave him more--10!--at half the price.
(Although a scallop lover, I do not need to eat five. And so, as you might guess, Sophie, the farm dog from Idaho, got her first taste of scallops that evening. Her eyes transformed into spinning scallops and have not stopped since.)
While for the moment we are scalloped out, I wanted to share this unusual recipe, courtesy of Dorie Greenspan, so that you too might indulge your scallop love. It's from her French book and is called Monkfish with Double Carrots.
"Hey, dummy, monkfish isn't another name for scallops," you're saying. Totally. I actually know that. But, monkfish isn't available in my market--or maybe even in California. I have no idea. I just know I never see it. Dorie suggested a few other options, including scallops.
This is a lovely recipe, super simple but deceptively refined. The rosemary adds an herby dimension to keep the carrots from being too sweet but the real star (besides the scallops) is the bacon. As you know, bacon and scallops are the savory equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter. I couldn't find plain carrot juice so I used carrot-orange and I think Dorie would agree no harm was done.
I'm a bit late, but who says you can only bake something sweet for your sweeties on Valentine's Day? This is surely not the case in my house, and so although I'm four days past the holiday, why not whip up these cookies for someone you love? Better yet, have someone make them for you.
I decided to make the biscuits because we recently discovered that our svelte little Soph had gained about 12 pounds since last June, getting her up to a hefty 83! While it's generally indelicate to divulge a lady's weight, I actually think dogs really do adhere to the bigger is better philosophy. But, it was decided that in addition to more walks (good for all parties involved), we should cut down on her kibble, and give her some healthy, homemade snacks. Sophie was not happy when we told her about the diet...
but has been pleased by the addition of these cute biscuits, which I felt might be a novel if short-lived distraction for her grumbling belly. I'm 100% sure she doesn't appreciate the bone, heart, and dog-shaped cookie cutters the way I do, but the cook's happiness is not irrelevant.
The chocolate hearts can, naturally, be eaten on their own, but they are particularly delicious served alongside coffee ice cream. The biscuits are best literally snatched from the hand that feeds you, carried to another room, and crunched into a thousand crumbs over the rug that some moron just pointlessly vacuumed.