Saturday, January 21, 2017

Spellbound Petite Sirah 2014

I picked this one on the theory that I would drink it while reading this week's book, A Discovery of Witches. Then the virus happened, and work was insane, and no reading has been done this week -- not even out of January, already behind on my Goodreads goal.

Oh well. At least the wine is good? This is a dark wine, and the first word that came to mind on tasting it was "jammy." It's not sweet, but definitely fruit-forward and pretty strong stuff. I like it, but it really needs something to go with it. 

The Prettiest Lemon Cake I Ever Threw Away


Last weekend seems like a lifetime ago. I've been doing a lot of nesting, whether due to the winter gloom or general anxiety over the political landscape, and I decided to take some of that energy and turn it into a cake. This beautiful lemon poppyseed cake, using a favorite recipe from one of my favorite books, Baking by Flavor.

That was the weekend the norovirus visited our family. Even the cat got sick, although that was probably not related. Days passed; even as our appetites recovered, the cake never got touched. I considered taking it to the office, but the idea of making all of my co-workers sick gave me pause.

So today I threw it away. Perhaps I will make a different one this weekend.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Chateau de Sours Bordeaux 2010

Undeterred by the poor showing made by last week's new wine, I again ventured to the local packie and selected something more or less at random -- my only rule being that it had to cost less than $20, since I don't want this experiment to bankrupt us.

I liked this one quite a bit. Kind of assertive, but I don't mind that, and there's a lot going on flavorwise -- I am not a wine taster, and I am not going to attempt to use their jargon. This would go well with lots of "big flavor" winter menus.

New Recipes - 2017 Week 2

As national politics threatens to become ever more chaotic, I have responded by a) paying closer attention to the news than I used to and b) nesting furiously, well aware that this is no real defense, and not much of a psychological one, even.

It's what I've got, so I'm going with it. Traditionally at the start of the year, too, I fling energy into "projects." I set wildly unlikely goals on Goodreads, renew my determination to lose that ten pounds, write down everything I do as a form of encouragement -- and I decide, again, that I should try more new recipes. I managed three last week, and today a sick 6yo is keeping us housebound and quiet, so I thought I would take a moment to write them up.
  • Red Lentil and Spinach Tikka Masala - I did an unusual thing and made this on a night when no one but me would eat it. It's easy to make and provides generous portions (I still have some in the freezer). Will definitely make it again.
  • Fresh Orange Scones - I'm not sure if I did something wrong when I made these. My dough did not look anything like that pictured, but was quite crumbly. This made them much like another scone recipe I make all the time. They tasted fine, and the glaze was really good, but I might have to mess with a bit and see if I can figure out why the difference. I still like Panera better.
  • Tuscan Chicken Skillet - Another dinner-time hit, easy enough for a weeknight and almost ridiculously flavorful. 
 Even if I don't make any other new recipes in 2017, I'm happy to have made these experiments. Things fall apart, but at least we're eating well.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Firesteed Pinot Noir 2013

One of the (many) things I want to do this year is try some new wines, rather than automatically buying the same thing all the time. I started off with this one for the best possible reason: I liked the label design.

http://www.firesteed.com/our-wines/firesteed-oregon/pinot-noir/


Unfortunately, the contents were thin and harsh-tasting. It was drinkable, and better with food than by itself, but not a pleasure. Will not repeat this one. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Years Eve 2016

We had a very quiet conclusion to 2016, just the five of us and my in-laws, who came down from Maine for a combined Christmas-birthday-New Years Eve. In between opening presents and eating, quiet reigned. Toys were played with, books were read, and naps were taken.

I kept the menu simple, at least in theory -- having forgotten what a pain white sauce can be to make, I muffed it the first time and had to start over.
  • Prosciutto and Gruyere Pinwheels. These are mandatory for holidays at this point. So easy and so good. 
  • Seafood Macaroni and Cheese. I indulged my weakness for crab here, which was fantastic albeit pricey. 
  • Salad of Winter Greens, Walnuts, Roasted Beets, and Goat Cheese. Whew. Really tasty and easy to throw together while the macaroni bakes.
  • For wine I put myself in the hands of the liquor store employee who intercepted me at the door - I know my limits. She directed me with supreme confidence to Falanghina, which I have never heard of before. What little I know about wine does not extend to Italian varieties. We had a bottle from Terredora Dipaolo, and one from San Salvatore, and they went very well with the meal.
Most of us made it to midnight and watched the ball drop via internet stream. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Peanut Butter Cookies

After two weekends spent mostly away, last weekend I buried myself in my kitchen. Among the results were these peanut butter cookies. The recipe comes from Joanne Chang's Flour -- one of the things I miss about working in Cambridge is easy access to the branch there. Their cookbook is gorgeous, but I haven't had much chance to make anything from it.

I've never been a huge fan of peanut butter cookies, but these might be my new go-to.

Note: This dough includes a three-hour "rest" phase.

As with all baking recipes, pause once in a while to scrape the mixer bowl with a spatula and make sure everything is evenly incorporated.

1/2 c unsalted butter at room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
1 c packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 c chunky peanut butter (I used Jif)
2 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt

In a mixer bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (around 5 minutes with a stand mixer). Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly combined. On medium-low speed, beat in the peanut butter for another 2 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add this mixture to the butter-sugar mixture on low speed. Mix just until everything is evenly incorporated.

For best results, scrape into an airtight container and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least three hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Drop the dough in 1/4-cup balls onto a baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly. Use a fork to make the traditional cross-hatch pattern (dip the fork in water to keep the dough from sticking).

Bake cookies 18-20 minutes or until just brown around the edges and still soft in the center. Cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.