Friday, June 28, 2013

The Hungry Dog gets a summer

While I remain largely afraid of pie crust, I've developed a certain level of comfort with the free-form tart, whose beauty lies in its rustic appearance. "Rustic" is also sometimes used as a synonym (in my house) for "patchy," ""shaggy," or "sloppy," but that's a little bit the point, isn't it?

Whenever I tell the husband I'm going to make a crostata, I'm guaranteed an enthusiastic response.  I think it might be his favorite type of dessert, although he's rather fond of crisps and crumbles, and I'm fairly sure nothing can beat a really good chocolate chip cookie. But in the moment--and that's all there is when it comes to dessert--the crostata (or galette, if you're feeling Frenchie) reigns supreme.

Speaking of French...we'll be headed to Paris this fall, the sequel to our 2011 trip in which we wondered what the hell we'd been doing all our lives, lollygagging around the US of A while a place like Paris existed. I mean, come ON. Paris is the best place on earth--with the possible exception of Kauai.

Anyway, we're heading to Paris, where we will once again unleash some abominable French on unsuspecting locals while eating as much bread and cheese as is acceptable without being asked to leave. Oh, there might be some wine, too. We're also looking forward to returning to some of those lovely museums we enjoyed. But mostly, we plan to settle into our Marais apartment for 10 days and pretend to be Parisians.

Anyway, I digress. The purpose of this post is to share the crust recipe from which this fabled crostata earns its stellar reputation. Don't judge...but it's a Giada recipe. It would be much cooler if it were Dorie Greenspan's or Julia Child's, but what can I say: I've probably made this dough 30 times and it works like a charm every time. As for the filling, I just use whatever I have. All you have to do is add as much sugar as you want, maybe a squeeze of lemon, a dash of cinnamon or cardamom if you're feeling froggy, and you're golden.

Not long ago, I made the strawberry and blueberry tart in the photo above. That was popular, and it might be a nice idea for your 4th of July. More recently, I made it with apricots and raspberries.

This, too, received excellent reviews. I actually preferred it to the mixed berry version, but I'm partial to desserts that are a little on the tart side...especially when there's vanilla ice cream involved.

I expect lots of y'all are having some hot weather and for a change, so are we.  Last night we sat outside for dinner without jackets on! If you don't live in San Francisco, you may not understand how weird and rare this is.  (As a point of reference, earlier this week we were running the heat.) It's even projected to be hot through the weekend, which means people will put on shorts, get in the water at Crissy Field, and sunbathe in questionably appropriate swimwear at Dolores Park.

So, happy summer and happy 4th of July. I have to say, given some of the Supreme Court's decisions recently (though not all), I'm feeling moderately patriotic these days. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't move to France in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Raspberry crumble bars

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...

Sunday, June 9, 2013


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?
The Knitters.

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:

Shaz at Test with Skewer
Zoomie at Zoomie Station
Sue at The View from the Great Island
Jessica at Jessica's Dinner Party
and my friend Ami at her new blog, Moonchild Maxwell

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?