Friday, April 29, 2011
My mother likes to entangle herself in other people's lives.
She wants to know all of your personal sordid details. All the time.
I think my brother and I bore her. Just a little bit. We have no sordid details.
We do, however, have review books! And index cards!
And most favorite customer status at Staples!
Those don't interest her.
And well. My sister? She probably does have sordid details...but she's so young that my mother wants nothing to do with them. Don't ask, don't tell, ya know? Although it's probably more like, my mother asks and my sister stares her down in the silent and stolid way that 15 year old's do. You know how it goes.
Anyways, it really should have come as absolutely no surprise to me then when she spent the entire car ride back from the Boston Marathon...all 220 miles...all four hours and twenty minutes. Discussing Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
Oh, sorry. "Diana" and "Charles". Because they are, apparently, on a first name basis.
The main topic of conversation revolved around whether or not Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth orchestrated Princess Di's death.
Ever the conspiracy theorist, and ever the lover of Princess Diana, my mother is certain that they did.
When my brother and I rolled our eyes and told her that we had our doubts (my sister was too busy texting her boyfriend for the 532nd time that morning to listen or care), she insisted on calling my father and asking his opinion. At 8:30 in the morning.
I'm sure he was pleased.
It's hard not to get sucked into all the hype about the Royal Wedding, however, and though I have absolutely no desire to gossip about what happens behind the closed doors in Buckingham Palace, I have to admit, I'm certainly excited to see what Kate looks like in her dress, how her hair is done, and what the wedding cakes look like.
My mother, I'm fairly certain, will be watching with tears in her eyes. Firstly, because I missed my chance at marrying Prince William and secondly because. Sigh. Don't they grow up so fast?
And so, in celebration, I've made a dish by one of Britain's most celebrated chefs, Mr. Jamie Oliver, who I adore not only for his charming good looks but also because he is on a mission to fight childhood obesity and revolutionize the way people everywhere think about food. Two things that I strongly believe in.
Given that I am an absolute Indian food fiend, this vegetable jalfrezi certainly seemed like a good way to go. And though it is likely incredibly inauthentic (I mean...it has balsamic vinegar in it), it is still absolutely delicious and completely accessible, even to the home cook who thinks they don't like curry (cough mom). Stuffed with vegetables of every color of the rainbow and making enough food to feed a small army, it really is the perfect dish to jump start your weekend. Or the marathon of wedding coverage you're about to watch. No judgment.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
2 cloves garlic
a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 fresh green chile pepper
a small bunch fresh cilantro
1. First peel the garlic and ginger. Put a frying pan on medium to high heat and add the cumin seeds, brown mustard seeds, and coriander seeds. Lightly toast for a few minutes until golden brown and until they smell toasted. Remove the pan from the heat.
2. Add the toasted spices to a food processor and whiz to a powder. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until you form a smooth paste.
Serves 5-8, adapted from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
1 medium onion
1 fresh red or green chile
a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
2 cloves garlic
a small bunch fresh cilantro
2 red bell peppers
3 ripe tomatoes
1 small butternut squash (or 20 oz pre-cut butternut squash from trader joe's!)
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup jalfrezi curry paste or the recipe above
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Peel and chop the onion. Roughly slice the chile pepper. Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic. Chop the cilantro. Put a large casserole-type pan on medium to high heat, spray with cooking spray, and cook the onion, chile, ginger, garlic, and cilantro for 10 minutes or until soft and golden.
2. While these are cooking, half, seed and roughly chop the bell peppers, break the cauliflower into florets, and quarter the tomatoes. If using a whole butternut squash, remove the seeds, and chop it into small pieces. Add the peppers, butternut squash, drained garbanzo beans and curry paste to the pot. Stir well to coat everything with the paste.
3. Add the cauliflower, fresh and canned tomatoes, and the vinegar. Fill the empty garbanzo bean can with water, pour into the pan, and stir again. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, covered. Check on the curry after 30 minutes and if it still looks too liquidy (mine did!) then leave the lid off for the rest of the cooking time. When the veggies are tender, taste and add salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice (I ended up using half a lemon).
This is my submission to this week's I Heart Cooking Club!
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I am slowly but surely learning that all of life's most important lessons can be learned from baking.
First there was the mint chocolate cupcake debacle in which I learned (a) that sometimes listening to authority really is important to do, (b) sometimes listening to authority involves actually reading directions and not deciding that you are the queen of cupcake baking and so rules and ingredient lists do not apply to you, and (c) when your gut instinct tells you that your batter is too dense...then it's probably right. Because your gut instinct has eaten a lot of batter.
It would have been nice if I had actually learned those lessons.
Especially the first two.
Because then maybe, in addition to learning the genetic mutations of every autosomal recessive disease known to man along with the chromosome on which they occur, I wouldn't have had to also learn that sometimes bad things happen to good cakes.
Sometimes you really do need to line the bottom of your cake pans with parchment paper. Sometimes PAM For Baking just won't cut it.
Sometimes your roommate will find you lying on the kitchen floor in fetal position because all three of the layers of the rubix cube-designed cake that you were going to make her for her birthday broke into a million pieces when you tried to invert them onto a cooling rack.
Sometimes you realize that you really need to vacuum the floor next time before you decide to lie on it in fetal position.
See. Many life lessons. All wrapped up in one cake.
But then, of course, there's also the final and possibly most important life lesson that is to come of this. Which is that everything happens for a reason.
You see, it was Sophie's 27th birthday. And she, being the true (adorable!) engineering school nerd that she is, was super excited about the fact that her age is now a perfect cube (3x3x3=27). (Not that I think you guys didn't know what that meant, but when I told my physical therapist that her age was a perfect cube, he looked at me like I had six heads...so I'm just covering my bases.)
So then I got it into my head to make her a rubix cube cake. Basically, a triple layer square cake filled with mango curd, topped with ganache and decorated with fondant to look like a rubix cube. It was going to be a real masterpiece.
And then I ended up with cake broken all over my kitchen table. Really delicious cake. But broken, nonetheless.
I had already made the curd, so I did what any normal person would do in such a situation. I made cake pops. Using the mango curd as the binder instead of butter and confectioner's sugar. And covered in a vanilla-infused chocolate ganache with sea salt mixed in.
Mini rubix cube-shaped cake pops. Which, though they are not as gorgeous as I would have liked them to be (hey, it was my first time working with fondant!), were amazingly delicious. Jaw-droppingly delicious. Addictively delicious.
So...yeah. Sometimes bad things happen to good cakes, it's true. But sometimes bad things are really a blessing in disguise.
Ah, the profundities of cake baking.
As an aside, I will be donating baked goods for a virtual bake sale that will run from May 4-6, in which all of the proceeds will go to Massachusetts Komen for the Cure. If you ever wanted an Eats Well With Others treat sent right to your door, then this is the opportunity! Specifically, I'll be offering up a batch of my crazy insane crystallized ginger dark chocolate brownies. You don't want to miss out on this! I'll remind you when it's time to bid.
Vanilla Bean Cake
Makes enough for 1 8-inch triple layer cake, 15 HUGE cake "cubes" or probably 60 cake pops, adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 whole vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 sticks plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups almond milk
5 egg whites
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Butter the bottoms of the 8-inch round cake pans. Line each with a round of parchment and butter the paper. NOTE - This step is critical! I didn't have any parchment paper so I decided to be all cavalier and do without...and then the cakes broke when I tried to invert them. Doesn't really matter if you're making cake pops but if you want a functional triple layer cake, then do this!
2. Place the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of your mixer. With the mixer on low, blend well. With the tip of a small knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl. Add the butter and 1 cup of the milk to the dry ingredients and mix to blend. Raise the speed of the mixer to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with the vanilla extract and remaining 1/3 cup milk. Add this to the batter in 2-3 additions, scraping down after each one. Divide among the three prepared pans.
4. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then invert onto a cooling rack. Remove the paper and cool completely.
Vanilla Bean Mango Curd
Makes about 3-4 cups, an Eats Well With Other Original
2 cups sugar
8 tbsp corn starch
4 tbsp flour
1 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups worth pureed mango flesh
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 egg yolks
4 tbsp butter, softened
2 cups boiling water
1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and flour. Gradually blend in cold water, mango puree, and lime juice. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan and mix.
2. Add the egg yolks and butter, blending until smooth.
3. Gradually add in the boiling water, stirring constantly.
4. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring gently with a spatula and scraping the bottom to prevent burning. Once the mixture begins to thicken, reduce the heat and simmer for one minute.
5. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Vanilla-Infused Chocolate Ganache with Sea Salt
An Eats Well With Others Original
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl.
2. In a pan on the stove, heat the whipping cream and butter until just boiling. Turn off the heat, mix in the vanilla, and pour over the chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted. If the mixture is still lumpy, microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth. Stir in the sea salt. Let cool until you can stick your finger in for 5 seconds without burning it.
For the Cake Pops:
When the cake is cool, put it into your stand mixer and mix, using the paddle attachment, until it is completely torn apart. Add the cold mango curd to the mixture and mix until incorporated. Refrigerate mixture for at least an hour.
Remove from the fridge and roll the dough into cake balls of desired size, placing them onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Mine were HUGE almost cupcake sized masses, but I was going for excess. Put in the freezer for 2-3 hours.
Dip the cake balls into the ganache, either using toothpicks to dip them if they are small or chopsticks if they are larger. Put back on the baking sheet and put in the freezer until chocolate has set. Decorate as you wish. I made marshmallow fondant to get the Rubix cube look, following this recipe, but I think they'd be great with some white chocolate drizzle over the top!
This is my submission to Dessert Wars! The prize pack this month includes:
I am also submitting it to the Culinary Smackdown: Mango Desserts!
Monday, April 25, 2011
After a failed attempt at a post-marathon run this weekend in which all of my old injuries plus some potential new ones decided to rear their ugly heads, I did what any normal person would do. And tried to drown my sorrows in peanut butter.
But really, as delicious as peanut butter is, it doesn't really solve any problems. Sure, it tastes great for the first few spoonfuls, but then it starts to feel like a bad one night stand. So then you, again, do what any normal person would do and attempt to throw it out of your room or out your window or whatever you do with those guys who you really just don't want to wake up to the next morning (no judgment).
(Not that I would know anything about this. Right now, the only one night stands I'm having are with my medical boards review book. And that's more like a six week stand than a one night stand. However, it will probably culminate in me throwing something out of my window. Or in me hopping on a plane to San Francisco to restart my life as a fugitive/pastry chef. So really...maybe they are pretty similar.)
(And no. I'm not joking about that last part.)
So then it's about 6pm and you feel like you really need to redeem yourself after all the sleaze and Skippy Natural you've just endured. This is when the skies open up and Heidi Swanson's new (gorgeous amazing must-buy) cookbook opens up in front of you. And though you want to make everything all at once, I think we can all agree that it's a ravioli kind of day.
Oh yes. Bad run, bad sex, whatever it is that ails you. Stuffed pasta is totally the cure.
So ravioli salad it is.
You mix up that cilantro pesto, tear up those olives into little itty bitty pieces. Mix everything together.
And upon taking your first bite, realize that someday there will be a good run. Someday there will be a good guy. Someday you won't have to remember which bacteria produce urease and which don't.
And right now. There is a delicious ravioli salad.
It's enough to make life feel pretty damn good. For one meal, anyway.
At this week's Eat.Live.Be. we are talking about what we can't live without in this healthy living journey. I have a few things. One. You guys. No, seriously. You all keep me motivated to keep cooking good food and writing. You make me happy. You give me something to look forward to in every seemingly unending day of studying. Love ya. Two. Pasta. For very similar reasons. A life without pasta is like a night without stars. Or something like that. And I know it gets a bad rep, but prepared the right way, it really can be good for you! Three. My cookbooks. I find nothing more relaxing than paging through a beautiful cookbook and finding inspiration within its pages. I flip through one every night before bed. So soothing.
So tell me, what do you guys need to have in order to keep you going? And feel free to check out the other Eat.Live.Be. bloggers' must-haves!
- Sarah Caron from Sarah’s Cucina Bella
- Cate from Sweetnicks
- Chris Arpante – Melecotte
- Patsy – Family, Friends and Food
- Claire – Cooking is Medicine
- Sarah Rogers – Sarah’s Sweet Creations
- Rivki from Healthy Eating for Ordinary People
- Claudia from Journey of an Italian Cook
- New Jersey Epicurean
And also...because I'm curious and because this fabulous website, SkinnyScoop, piqued my curiosity with a similar poll they have on their site...
I'll tell you my number if you tell me yours...
Ravioli Salad with Black Olives and Pepitas
Serves 4, adapted from Super Natural Every Day
1/3 cup pepitas, toasted
1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
reserved pasta water
fine-grain sea salt
1 lb fresh or frozen ravioli (I used two boxes of butternut squash ravioli from Trader Joe's!)
1 bunch asparagus, ends cut off and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped or torn
1. Bring large pot of generously salted water to a boil. In the meantime, begin to prepare the pesto. Combine most of the pepitas, cilantro, parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp of the olive oil and blend either in a food processor, with an immersion blender, or with a blender, until smooth. At this point, you can either drizzle in another 1/2 cup olive oil (as Heidi suggests!) or do what I did, which is wait until your pasta is done and then add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pesto to loosen it. Taste and add salt and more lemon juice, if needed.
2. When the water boils, add the ravioli and boil until they float or are cooked through. About 1 minute before the ravioli are done, add in the asparagus. Drain immediately (reserving 1/2 cup water!). While the ravioli are still super hot, toss with a big spoonful of pesto and leave it for a few minutes just to let it soak in a bit. Then, mix in the rest of the pesto, the olives, and the remaining pepitas. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I am submitting this to:
Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Theresa of Food Hunter's Guide.
Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya of My Sweet and Savory
Maniac Meatless Mondays hosted by Rebecca Jean of Midnight Maniac
Friday, April 22, 2011
Banana Split Sandwich on Peanut Butter Banana Bread and a Mexican Torta from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches
I knew that I had officially fallen in love with Brian when, approximately an hour into our meeting on Monday, he looked me straight in the eye and said to me, "You need to cut out this healthy shit."
I'm sure I laughed in some sort of adorable way, especially because I know that he loves vegetables almost entirely as much as I do. But I knew what he meant. Butter is the spice of life and there is no two ways about it.
It must have really resonated with me, though.
Because I came home and, without even realizing what I was doing, baked a loaf of peanut butter banana bread. Cut myself two slices. Covered them with more peanut butter and more bananas and some chocolate and raspberry jam. (For good measure. And because my thighs were too sore to protest. I am so not morally opposed to kicking them when they're down.)
And called it lunch.
Well I'll be damned. So. Satisfying.
While I would like to say that this all came about through some kind of divine intervention and that around mile 21 of the marathon a higher power whispered the idea into my ear in some kind of sordid and downright dirty attempt to push me through to the end. Well. I can neither confirm nor deny that. (The last thing I need right now is for "schizoid personality disorder" to weasel its way into my medical records...)
Much more likely, it was the voice of Susan Russo, the author of the blog Food Blogga, who has been tempting me with this sandwich for weeks now. Ever since I got her new cookbook - The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches - to review, in fact.
This book is really a treasure trove for anyone who likes sandwiches. And even if you think you don't like sandwiches...it's just because you haven't seen this book. It is written in encyclopedia format with the sandwiches listed from A to Z and a little historical note accompanying each recipe. Plus each sandwich gets its own picture. I love that in a cookbook.
From the instant I got it and flipped through it's pages and tried to convince myself that if it was an encyclopedia, it was meant to be studied and thus it was totally reasonable for me to toss my medical boards review book aside in lieu of conquering this adorable tome. From that very first second. I knew that I wanted to make both a savory and a dessert sandwich. There was no two ways about it.
So first, there was the torta. Layers of avocado, eggs, chorizo (or soyrizo in my case), refried beans and hot sauce. All evened out by a cooling spread of crema on either end. It really does come together to be a beautiful amalgam of flavors and textures. The hallmark of a good sandwich, if you ask me. (And perfect for an Easter Sunday brunch! How timely!)
The dessert sandwich proved much more difficult to decide upon. I woke up in cold sweats. Many nights in a row. Trying to decide between the banana bread sandwich and the banana split sandwich.
So then in true Eats Well With Others fashion, and with a little bit of goading from Brian, I went the way of excess. And just had both. In one.
I would recommend that you have this for Easter brunch as well. But isn't this holiday supposed to be about sacrifice? And, well. This sandwich involves nothing but gluttony. Beautiful, glamorous, gluttony.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
In case you're looking for another Easter brunch treat, check out the Italian Easter Bread I made last year! So. Good.
Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Makes 1 9x5-inch loaf, adapted from Cooking Light via Joy the Baker
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup AP flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 (heaping) tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (I used three)
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
3 tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350. Grease and flour a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, or in another medium bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, peanut butter and butter. Whisk in the eggs and sugar. Blend until no sugar lumps remains.
4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stirring until just incorporated. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean (I use chopsticks). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before running a butter knife along the edges and inverting it onto a wire rack to cool.
Banana Split Sandwich
Serves 1, adapted from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches
2 THIN slices of banana bread
butter for greasing bread
1/4 banana, sliced on the diagonal
1 tbsp peanut butter
1-2 tsp chocolate sauce or hot fudge or one Lindt chocolate truffle, sliced
1 tbsp raspberry jam (or strawberry or pineapple or a combination!)
1. Grease both sides of the slices of banana bread with butter. Cook on a grill pan (or stove or George Foreman) for about 2 minutes/side or until nicely browned.
2. Spread peanut butter over one slice. Top with banana. Drizzle chocolate sauce on top or place slices of chocolate on top. Smear jam over the second slice of bread. Sandwich together. Enjoy.
(Vegetarian) Mexican Torta
Makes 1, adapted from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 link (soy)rizo (I used Trader Joe's brand, you can also sub in 1/4 lb chorizo!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tsp hot sauce
1 tbsp crema (I used Greek yogurt)
1 roll, preferably a telera roll if you can find it!
2 tbsp refried beans
2 slices ripe avocado
1. Warm oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and chorizo and saute about 5 minutes or until meat is browned and crisp. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Add to skillet. Stir frequently until eggs are cooked through yet still soft.
2. Spread crema or Greek yogurt on both halves of the roll. On the bottom half, add refried beans. Top with chorizo-egg mixture and avocado. Serve immediately.
I am submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once.
DISCLAIMER - Although I received this product for free, I did not receive any monetary compensation for doing this review. My thoughts and feelings on it are entirely my own.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I considered bringing home a t-shirt that said "I ran the Boston Marathon and all I got was a farmer's
But I ended up keeping all my toenails. So it just didn't seem right.
Plus that's a pretty reductionist take on 26.2 miles, which somehow managed to feel like a lifetime. And also like five minutes.
But let's start at the beginning, shall we? Or where we left off?
Justin and I in Athlete's Village. Shivering. Freezing. Drinking coffee like it was our job. (And it was. Anything to ensure that you won't have food jostling around in your stomach at mile 22.) Two port-a-potty trips (TMI? These are the realities of marathoning. Such is life.) and two hours later, he headed over to line up as he was in the first wave (jet-setter that he is) and I set about finding my cousin Meghan who had just arrived. Another port-a-potty trip and about an hour of calm-inducing gossip (seriously, there is nothing I love more than gossip) and we were off!
The first 13 miles were a blur. I felt good, I was speeding along way faster than my projected goal I had Glee blasting in my ear (well, first I had Goljan's pathology, which was a sad attempt to study while I ran. Then I decided that Goljan was a sadistic ass for trying to talk to me about granulomas and tuberculosis while I was in the middle of a perfectly lovely morning. And he had to go.)
My one complaint is that it was hot. Really hot. Like oh-my-god-I-feel-like-I'm-either-going-to-melt-on-this-pavement-or-vomit hot. Neither of which happened. But you get my drift. Temperature-wise it probably wasn't that bad but the sun was directly in front of us. Which made for one very lovely sunburn, let me tell you.
The Wellesley scream tunnel was around the half marathon point. Picture a wall full of girls, all carrying a sign that says "Kiss me, I'm insert descriptor here". Kiss me, I'm Canadian. Kiss me, I have a red thong on. Kiss me, I like beer. You name it, there was a sign for it.
And that, my friends, was the last time I remember feeling really good. Around mile 14/15 my quads started to cramp up. At first it was just an ache near the lateral edges of both my knees. I was expecting to see my mom and family around 16.8 so I just told myself to keep going until then because I knew that seeing them would give me the energy to keep on keeping on.
But then. I didn't see them. And that's when things started to get really rough. Each step was a mental battle. I walked the hills. I stretched frequently. I reverted back to running for four minutes and walking for one minute, which used to be my old run/walk strategy (as opposed to what I had been doing which was running a mile then walking a minute).
It was hard.
I'm not really sure what I was thinking through all of this. Because you don't really think. You can't think. You just go. Wait for each mile marker to come. Try to listen to the people around you screaming the name that you've duct taped to your chest. Smile at all the "GO TEAM"'s you get, since you're wearing your Team in Training shirt.
But then once you round that corner onto Boylston. A corner that you've rounded so many times before. A corner that is rife with memories from when you lived in Boston and you were so utterly happy and had all of the best friends a girl could ask for living just a few doors down the hall. Once you see that finish line. It's all worth it.
Final time - 4:33:42. A little less than an hour slower than my first marathon. But given the state of my legs these past few months. Pretty rock star.
This marathon was definitely harder than my first. I wasn't as well trained, due to all my calf issues (which were shockingly non-existent during the race!). The course felt hillier (even though I'm now staring at the elevation map from my first and that is just not true). But it was amazing nonetheless.
It's freed me.
When I got injured last year, I think part of me felt like I had lost my identity. I could no longer run marathons. Heck, I could no longer run at all. Something that was a huge part of my life, of how I defined myself, had been taken away from me. And it was devastating.
But I'm back. I am that person who I used to be. Under all the stress fractures and calf injuries, I can still do what I love. And so maybe what defines me is not the fact that I can run marathons but the fact that I have the mental ability to persevere through anything. If there's one lesson to be learned from Boston, it's that.
(And also that doing hill repeats while training for my next marathon - Nike Women's in SF in October - is definitely a good idea. Definitely.)
More of a curry than a chili, I made this a few days before I left and it was so lovely to come home to yesterday. It has a really interesting flavor, especially with the smoked paprika that I used (and that is now my new favorite spice!) and is filled with so many good fats and fiber that it will keep you full for a looonnnggg time. All the better to sustain you during those long hours of studying. Or running. Or chasing children around your living room. Or whatever endurance "event" you're participating in.
Also, thank you SO MUCH for all of your support! Knowing that so many of you were out there rooting on me definitely kept me going and whenever I felt like I couldn't take another step I thought of you guys. Propelling me forward. Pushing my legs further than they knew they wanted to go.
Vegetarian Chili with a Cashew Pistachio Sauce
Serves 6, adapted from 660 Curries
2 cups dried pinto, red kidney, or black beans, or a mixture of the three
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely choppd
1 large carrot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/2 cup pistachio nut meat
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnishing
1. Rinse the beans in a strainer. Put into a pot, cover with water and let soak overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain, put back in the large pot, cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for about 1 hour or until tender. Drain and set aside when done.
2. While the beans are cooking, prepare the nut sauce. In a blender or food processor, combine 1/2 cup water with the nuts. Blend until you get a gritty paste. Add 1 cup water to the blender and pulse. Set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, carrot, garlic, and chilies. Cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to brown. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, cayenne, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, salt and turmeric. Lower the heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until tomatoes start to thicken, roughly 10 minutes.
4. Add the nut paste to the pan. Toss in the cooked beans. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the ingredients don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add more water (if necessary) to reach desired consistency. Season with salt to taste. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro or parsley.
Like all good chilis, this tastes better the day after you make it. And especially good the day after you've run a marathon. Just saying.
I am submitting this to My Legume Love Affair, which is being hosted this month by Jaya of Desi Soccer Mom! And also to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays!
Monday, April 18, 2011
A lot of things happened on the way to Boston.
My mom told my brother to slow down approximately 32.6 times. And on that six tenths of a time, he darted his head around and threatened to make her eat "ethnic food" for dinner if she didn't keep the backseat driving to herself. She shut up after that.
And I laughed nervously.
Because I knew (secretly) that I was going to make her eat "ethnic food" for dinner that night. We had a date with six fantastic bloggers at my most favorite Afghani restaurant in all of Boston, you see. And I wasn't about to miss it for the world. Besides, she's the mother of a food blogger and she has to get used to it one of these days. Tough love is how I roll.
I put my feet up on the dashboard more times than you can count on both hands and feet. And my mother told me stop at least 12 times. Until I told her about our dinner plans.
Then she was rendered truly speechless.
And after that. Because I was feeling honest and virtuous and all sorts of good inside. And because good measure seemed like something I should get a handle on.
I told her that the cookies she was eating. Had beans in them.
My brother turned a lovely shade of Pseudomonas aeruginosa-pyocyanine-colored blue-green. Because he had eaten three within five minutes of me entering the car.
Hey. It's my marathon day. I can make people cry if I want to.
That was only on Sunday.
Today it is Monday. We have survived Afghan food. And 220 mile car rides. And approximately 562 index cards.
And now, because it is 7:20 AM EST. We are in Athlete's Village in Hopkinton, MA.
Well, I am in Athlete's Village in Hopkinton, MA. I am sitting here with my friend Justin. Trying to talk about anything that is not the fact that in a few minutes I am going to have to run for four and a half hours straight. Maybe more.
And then, all of a sudden. I am blindsided by reflection. Haze.
Wait. How did I get here again?
There was a day when I woke up during my sophomore year of college and decided to go to the gym for the first time in my 20 years of life.
Which somehow turned into a marathon in October of 2009. San Francisco. Team In Training. (For life.) Mostly a blur but from what I can remember, there was a best friend at the end of the race screaming like only best friends can because I had done it.
Not only had I finished my first marathon. But I had BQ'ed.
Boston qualified. The pinnacle of marathoning.
And then, just as suddenly there was injury and pain. Pelvic stress fractures followed by strained and broken and absolutely livid calves.
And now. Here we are. Finally. Athlete's village. 2011.
Yeah. A lot of things happened on the way to Boston.
On your mark. Get set.
Three. Two. One. Here we go.
I made these cookies before I left because, well. It seemed inappropriate not to. More cake-like than cookie, they are delicious pillows of cinnamony sweetness that are chock full of good wholesome ingredients. Like great northern beans. And dates. And olive oil.
Best part is? You don't even have to run a marathon to eat them. Score.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen LARGE cookies, adapted from 101 Cookbooks
2 cups rolled oats (I used steel cut)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350 and place a rack in the top third. Line a cookie sheet (or two!) with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Pulse the oats in a food processor until they resemble a coarse flour. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and whisk with the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt.
3. Pulse the beans and olive oil in the food processor until they are creamy. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and pulse until smooth.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until they start to come together. Sprinkle the dates on top of the batter and stir until everything just comes together.
5. Place the sesame seeds in a bowl. Make each cookie with a scant 1/4 cup scoop of dough. Roll each scoop into a ball then coat it with sesame seeds. Set each ball on the prepared baking sheet and with the palm of your hand flatten the dough just a bit. Repeat with remaining dough, leaving at least an inch or so between each cookie. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the sesame seeds around the bottom start to get golden.
Friday, April 15, 2011
I think we were all a little worried yesterday when I turned the flame on the stovetop to high and plopped an eggplant on top of it.
And then grilled it.
On my stove.
In my defense, it was sunny with blue skies outside. Definite grilling weather.
I was cooking with the seasons.
At least that was what I told Sophie when she tapped me so politely on the shoulder and said, "Uh, Joanne. Something's burning."
Nope. Not burning. Well, yes burning. But intentionally so.
(And no, in all of my arsonist fun I did not throw my review book or my index cards onto the smoldering flames. But don't think that that thought didn't cross my mind.)
It's just that, you know. Sometimes when it feels like summer, you have to ignore fire safety laws and grill things on your stovetop. That's just the way life is.
This was probably one of the first recipes that caught my eye in Ottolenghi's eponymous first cookbook. For, I think, obvious reasons.
Roasted butternut squash. Eggplant. Pomegranate molasses. And a good healthy dose of playing with fire.
It's like he delved into my head and created something based on the myriad crazy things he found there. (And yeah, I think we're all a little bit lucky that he stopped at "playing with fire". He must have gotten the PG-13 version of my brain.)
And, I'm going to be honest with you, I was unsure of how much I liked the finish product. At least at first. I made that eggplant puree and tasted it. Arched my eyebrows in quite the doubtful way. Headed off to the gym. And came back to find that the flavors had melded quite beautifully.
The burnt smoky eggplant pureed with the sweet-tart pomegranate molasses and thrown atop roasted butternut squash that has caramelized oh so nicely in your oven. That you, to top it all off, absolutely must eat with your hands.
Definitely worth almost burning down your apartment for. Definitely.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Burnt Aubergine and Pomegranate Molasses
Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main, adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
1 large butternut squash
1 tbsp green, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
10 g sliced almonds
Basil leaves, for serving
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
1 medium eggplant
150 g greek yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cilantro
1 clove garlic
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Trim the top and bottom half of the butternut squash and cut squash lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Cut each half into 2 cm wedges. Place the wedges on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.
2. Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Mix together all of the seeds and almonds and scatter on a baking sheet. Toast for 5-8 minutes or until slightly brown and fragrant.
3. For the sauce, if you have a grill (which I do not) place the eggplant on the very hot grill for 30 minutes or until the skin has clearly cracked and the eggplant feels heavy and soft. Or, do what I did, which is line the stovetop around one of your burners with aluminum foil. With the heat on medium-high, place the eggplant on top of the grate above the flame. Roast for about 13-14 minutes, turning frequently, or until eggplant skin is crack and the eggplant feels heavy and soft, as described above. Let cool for a few minutes. Make a long cut through the eggplant and scoop out the flesh. Leave the flesh to drain in a colander for a few minutes, then chop it roughly.
4. In a bowl, mix together the eggplant, yogurt, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, cilantro, and garlic. If you wish for smoother consistency, through it in the food processor and give it a whirl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Place the squash on a serving plate, sprinkle with seeds and basil, and serve with the eggplant sauce.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
This week has been non-ideal.
I've sat. A lot.
I own 300+ index cards. With really weird words on them.
And this is only day five of studying. Out of about 50. Let's not do the math and find out how many index cards I'll have by then. They'll outnumber my cookbooks. And then I'll really be in a sad state.
However, if you were ever thinking of investing in anything. I have insider info. Index cards are the new Microsoft. Really. They're gonna be big.
Just, you know. Don't forget the little people on your way up. Specifically the ones who are buried in index cards with no money to eat because they have spent it all at Staples. Ahem.
Can I also tell you that for the last two days, I have sat next to a beautiful specimen of a male in Starbucks? He's also studying for something. He sits and writes copious notes, totally enmeshed in his own world. While I sit and pretend to write copious notes and sneak furtive glances at him to see if he's sneaking furtive glances at me.
He's not. He has this little thing that I like to call "focus". I should ask him where he found it. Because I need me some of that.
And then, to top it all off.
There was this dish. I don't know if you've noticed this, but there are four pictures of that gratin and one of the fish. Can you guess which I thought I was going to like more?
Can you guess how wrong I was?
Well, in case you ever thought that things were always peachy in the Eats Well With Others kitchen and that everything always turns out marvelously and beautifully and has multiple cherries on top. I am here to tell you that that is not quite true.
This gratin was a disaster. It was so incredibly tasteless that I had to throw it out. And I don't readily throw out food. But it was just a waste of calories that I wanted nothing to do with. How this could have happened with cheese and corn and potatoes all mixed together in one dish, especially when they really look so pretty together, I just don't understand.
Maybe that's the problem with that boy who sits next to me every day. Maybe he's beautiful on the outside and all messed up and commitment-phobic on the inside. Sigh. Likely. He's not good for me. I should sit somewhere else today.
But in better news, this fish, which I had such low hopes for. Was amazing. There's something about the ratio of coriander to salt to pepper in the rub that you sprinkle over it before baking that turns it into something wonderful and addictive.
So if there's anything I want you to get out of this. It's that you shouldn't underestimate the underdog.
And that you should take equal numbers of photos of everything you cook. Just in case.
And index cards. Don't forget the index cards.
As I've mentioned before, I will be running the Boston Marathon on Monday! If you wish to get real time updates as to how I'm doing, you can sign up for Athlete Alert, which will basically text message you or email you (whichever you choose) as I pass certain milestones (5K, 10K, etc.). Here is the link to sign up. My bib number is 13830!
Halibut with Zucchini Salsa
Serves 6, adapted from Bon Appetit August 2010
10 oz zucchini, trimmed and chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small white onion, chopped
5 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 jalapeno,seeded and chopped
2 1/4 tsp coarse kosher salt, divided
1 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 tsp ground coriander
6 (6 oz) halibut fillets
1. Combine zucchini, cilantro, onion, lime juice and jalapeno in a blender or food processor. Add 1 1/4 tsp coarse salt. Puree until salsa is smooth. Transfer to small bowl.
2. Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil. Coat with nonstick spray. Combine black pepper, coriander, and remaining 1 tsp salt in a small bowl and stir together to mix. Pat fish dry and sprinkle on all sides with the spice mixture.
3. Arrange fish on prepared pan and broil until just opaque in the center, about 3-4 minutes a side.
4. Transfer to plates and spoon some salsa over it. Serve with remaining salsa.
Poblano, Potato and Corn Gratin
Serves 4-8, adapted from Bon Appetit April 2010
2 tsp olive oil, divided
2 large poblano peppers, stemmed seeded and sliced into skinny strips
1 1/4 lb yukon gold potatoes cut into 1/8-inch thick rounds
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella
1 1/2 cups almond milk **next time I would use less, maybe 1 cup!
2 tbsp AP flour
3/4 tsp salt **next time I would use more, maybe 1-1 1/4 tsp
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400. Spray a deep dish glass pie dish or cast iron skillet with cooking spray or rub with oil. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add poblano strips and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Arrange 1/3 potato rounds, overlapping slightly, in prepared pie dish. Sprinkle 1/3 poblanos over it, then 1/3 of the corn and 1/3 cheese. Repeat. Top with remaining potatoes, poblanos and corn, reserving the last 1/3 of the cheese. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet.
3. Whisk milk, flour, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Pour over potato mixture in the pie dish. Press down on the potatoes to submerge them. Cover tightly with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with cheese and continue to bake until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
I am submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted by Anh of A Food Lover's Journey.
Monday, April 11, 2011
My mother called me two days ago to try to convince me that being a vegetarian would send me into early menopause.
"But I saw it on the news!" she exclaimed, as if that made it the gospel truth. As if some holy and all-knowing being had come down and whispered it in her ear. You know, the all-knowing being otherwise known as the Good Day New York Fox Five news crew.
Right. I changed the subject.
A few minutes later. "But Joanne, why don't you just eat chicken?" Because to her, chicken isn't meat. Chicken is oxygen, vegetable, mineral. The be-all and end-all of everything one should eat over the course of the day. The pinnacle of all that is good in this world. So obviously, as a vegetarian (or more accurately, pescatarian) I should eat it.
(As an aside, this recent vegetarianism/pescatarianism change of mine may or may not be permanent. I make no promises and refuse to hold myself to anything. But so long as I don't crave meat, I'm not going to eat it. Deal?)
Well, I have news for her. If I ever crave a meat again...I highly doubt chicken will be it.
My point being that most people are completely clueless about what vitamins, minerals and supplements they actually need in their diet. Understandable. Considering that the medical community really has no idea either.
Studies have not been done. There have been no randomized control trials. It's all just one big guessing game.
In that same conversation, my mother also told me that she was going to start taking glucosamine. For her joints. Uhhh what? Do you have arthritis? I asked her. Nope. Then don't waste your money.
As you may or may not have guessed, our topic for this week's Eat.Live.Be. is vitamins, minerals, and supplements. Also, as you may or may not have guessed, I am very brusque when it comes to this subject.
I am probably also going to offend people when I say that, on the whole. I don't believe in them.
Let me qualify that. I don't believe in them in pill form. Rather, I truly believe that if you eat a healthy well-balanced diet, you will never need to take another vitamin, mineral, or supplement again. And it will actually be better for you, because vitamins and minerals are absorbed and utilized much better when you eat them than when you swallow them in a pill. Take vitamin A, for example. Vitamin A eaten in food can do no wrong. You can not get too much of it and it will make you have gorgeous skin, better vision, and prevent cancer. If you take too much of it in pill form, however, it can give you osteoporosis, altered mental status, and is toxic to a fetus. Why? It all has to do with the preparation. The chemical structure in the pill is not the same as that which is eaten, so they do different things.
The other problem I have is with all of these random supplements. Biotin, coenzyme Q, glucosamine. Yes, we use them in our bodies ALL THE TIME. But there really is no proof that they are even absorbed in our intestines when we take them in a pill. Much better, in my opinion, to just eat good food and let your body do what it's been doing throughout all of evolution and make them itself from the building blocks you give it.
This all being said. There are people out there who have real serious metabolic deficiencies and cannot make these. In which case, listen to your doctor. Take the supplements. Some really are crucial...like iron for those with anemia, or B12/folate for those who are pregnant, or calcium for those of us who were underweight for a period of time and thus suffered from two very inconvenient pelvic stress fractures. So yes, I do take calcium. To be precise, I take Citracal. 2 tablets, twice a day when I remember (so four tablets total), but always at least once a day. But this is only because my orthopedist and rheumatologist absolutely ordered me to.
I'm sorry if I came off as severely didactic and critical in this post. This probably stems from my mother and co. calling me at least once a week to tell me that she has found the supplement that is going to cure her of all ailments in life and help her to live forever. I also have relatives who take, literally, a sugar pill every day (granted it's not your usual glucose but some weird kind of sugar) that they swear cures multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, etc. and proceed to try to argue with me about it at every family gathering. I'm a scientist! I try to tell them. Show me some real scientific data! Otherwise, I'd rather just eat my fruits and veggies. They taste better anyway.
What do you guys think about all of this? What vitamins, minerals, and supplements do you take (I promise not to judge! To each his own!)? Write about it on your blog and link up here or leave a message in the comments!
And be sure to check out what the other Eat.Live.Be. bloggers have to say!
- Sarah Caron from Sarah’s Cucina Bella
- Cate from Sweetnicks
- Chris Arpante – Melecotte
- Patsy – Family, Friends and Food
- Claire – Cooking is Medicine
- Sarah Rogers – Sarah’s Sweet Creations
- Rivki from Healthy Eating for Ordinary People
- Claudia from Journey of an Italian Cook
- New Jersey Epicurean
Now let's get this pasta back in the limelight, where it belongs. This is a dish that is chock full of vitamins and minerals. It's high in thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium. It's a nutritional rock star.
Not only that, but it is the best baked pasta recipe that I've ever had. That pine nut/pesto crunch topping...sent me spiraling into food heaven. I basically want to top all of my pasta dishes with it from here on out. Or just eat it by the spoonful. Every day for the rest of my life. That seems rational, right?
Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch
Serves 6-8, adapted from Bon Appetit March 2011
1 unpeeled large eggplant (1 1/2-1 3/4 lb), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups grape tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic, divided
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups (firmly packed) fresh basil leaves, divided
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts (or 2 tbsp pine nuts and 2 tbsp almonds for those of us who forget we don't have 1/4 cup pine nuts)
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice (San Marzano please!)
1 cup almond milk (original recipe calls for heavy whipping cream)
1 lb rigatoni
Mozzarella for grating over the top (original recipe calls for 1 lb, but I used WAY less...maybe 1/4 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Add eggplant and peppers. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and add to sheet. Drizzle veggies with 2 tbsp oil. Toss. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast veggies until tender, stirring often, 35-45 minutes.
2. Combine 2/3 cup basil, 1/2 cup parmesan, pine nuts, and 1 garlic cloves in mini processor. Blend until crumbly. Season with salt. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
3. Blend tomatoes with juice, cream/almond milk, 1 1/3 cups basil, and 1 garlic clove in processor until smooth. Season sauce with salt and pepper.
4. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return to pot. Toss with veggies, sauce, and 1/2 cup parmesan. Transfer to a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella and pine nut topping.
5. Bake pasta until heated through, 25-35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.
I am submitting this to:
Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Sweet Artichoke
Meatless Mondays which is hosted by Chaya of My Sweet and Savory
Maniac Meatless Mondays which is hosted by Rebecca Jean of Midnight Maniac
The Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
Friday, April 8, 2011
I don't like to label myself, but did you know I'm "the weird girl"?
Did you know that when I take naps, I sleep with my head at the foot of the bed and my feet on my pillows?
Or that I get really grossed out when I find coffee grinds in the sink?
Or that I actually like doing the dishes? (But only when there are no coffee grinds involved. None. At all.)
Don't tell any of the virile 20-something men you know about these things. I need to keep all my options on the table. Because, you know. Who really wants a future wife who freaks out about coffee grinds?
If you could also not mention the fact that I still have fifteen cans of pumpkin sitting on my shelves (to which I may or may not have assigned names, dates of birth, and favorite colors, thus making it all the harder to actually use them) and that I crave pecan pie in the middle of April. And, you know. That I would be perfectly happy to live in a world where the only two months were October and November. That would be awesome, too.
In my opinion, though, when you crave something as utterly specific as pecan pie, you have no choice but to do something about it. Even if it's April. Even if, as of tomorrow, you are going to have to start studying for the medical boards for 12 hours every day (and yeah, I wish I was exaggerating too). Even if you are going to be running 26.2 miles on broken calves in a week. Even if you are going to start training for another marathon with Team In Training almost directly after that. Even with all of these weird, random things going on in your life. You just have to do it.
And with a recipe this rock-star good. You really have no excuse. There were lots of pecan pie bar recipes I could have chosen from, but what I liked about this one was that it used honey instead of corn syrup. I really hate using corn syrup. It makes me shake in really unattractive ways. Thus counteracting any kind of appeal that may arisen now that I am "the girl who makes pecan pie bars", weird notwithstanding. So, yeah. If you want to tell your 20-something virile male friends that. And leave out all the rest. And then send them to NYC by red-eye because I'm still looking for men whose arms I can fall into at the end of that marathon next week. That would awesome.
Pecan Pie Bars
Makes 1 9x13-inch pan, adapted from Gourmet
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz pecans (about 2 cups)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp half and half
1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces. In a food processor, process the first four ingredients (butter through salt) until mixture begins to form small lumps. Sprinkle into a 19x13x2-inch pan and with a metal spatula, press evenly onto bottom. Bake shortbread in the middle of the oven until golden, about 20 minutes. While shortbread is baking, prepare filling.
2. In a food processor, coarsely chop the pecans. In a heavy saucepan, melt butter and stir in brown sugar, honey and cream. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
3. Stir in pecans. Pour pecan mixture over hot shortbread and spread evenly. Bake in the middle of the oven until bubbling, about 20 minutes.
4. Cool completely in pan and cut into 24 bars. Will keep, covered, for 5 days at room temperature.