Tart-Pie Dough Made Easy & A How-To Video

For some reason, when I was first teaching myself how to bake, I set my sights on making all kinds of fresh tarts. I had my heart set on it-set on mastering my own, made from scratch, tart dough (or pate brissee.) And, it took a long time for me to master it. I am not sure that I have even mastered it as of yet, but at least I no longer mutter curses while I am making it. And I no longer have to throw the whole batch in the trash because I have tried to roll it so much, that it has become a gooey mess. Nor do I have to make all my tarts with the push in method because rolling it is too tricky. And at this point, that is mastery enough for me.

One of my biggest problems when learning to make my own dough was that I read over and over not to use too much flour when rolling my dough.


Turban Squash and Spicy Kale Barley Risotto

Turban squash is a very unusual squash in appearance. It's colors striate between green and orange and white, it's squat in shape and has a knobby head. But after buying my first turban squash, I grew quite fond of it, almost attached to it. It just might be the most beautiful of all the winter squashes. Which is why it is most recommend for use as a tureen, and why it took me nearly a month to take my turban squash out of the fruit bowl, and cut it open for this risotto style barley dish.


Butternut Squash Winter Salad

As soon as the weather changes, I feel like salads are undeserving-ly forgotten about. We enjoyed them during the summer, and partly through autumn. They were our go-to lunches, and sometimes dinners. Easy to throw together, refreshingly light to help cope with the summer heat, and even exciting in their endless possibilities. So why is it that we neglect them come November? It just doesn't seem right that we abandon such a dish, especially one that has been so good to us.

And so, I have decided not to; I will not abandon the salad during the winter months.


Delicata Squash Pie & A Happy Thanksgiving

Once again, Thanksgiving has come and gone like a flash in a pan. The bird has been carved, the dishes washed, and there is a refrigerator stacked with multiple Tupperwares of thanksgiving dishes. The left over sandwiches are soon to come.

I am not sure if your Thanksgiving experience is anything like mine, but here, getting ready to feed 27, we did some prep work on the Wednesday before T-Day, but regardless of how much was prepped, it was still a mad dash on Thursday. The kitchen was full from eight in the morning, and as it got closer to turkey time, it got more hectic. Yet somehow, even though you are not sure how it will all get done, it always does, and it is always an amazing spread.


Acorn Squash Stuffed Nut Loaf

Nut loaf will always remind me of Paris. Not because they serve nut loaf in Paris; I am not sure that any Parisian has even heard of it.  But because that was where I was when I first heard of it, and tasted it. I had no idea what to expect, I was fearful that it would be very dry and leave a funky after taste like so many meat dishes reinvented into vegetarian soy dishes tend to be (even though I did have confidence in the cooks.)

And with such an unappetizing name as nut loaf, I was doubtful. But despite it's bad fortune, nut loaf is awesome.


Savory Grey-Blue Hubbard Crumble

Of all the winter squash varieties, I would say that the grey-blue hubbard is by far my favorite. It's not only it's unusual impressionistic color that appeals to me, but also it's tear drop shape. It's funny because something about this squash reminds me of a pregnant woman. It looks more of a work of art than a fruit, and it reminds me of the deep beauty you can find in nature.


Buttercup bread with walnuts & candied ginger

There is nothing better than this time of year. The temperature has dropped, the nights are longer, and you know that the holidays are just around the corner. While summer is a great time of year, Autumn is a great time to spend in the kitchen. It's not too hot to bake and there are a bunch of fun new fruit to play with.

I have always loved it when winter squash becomes available at the grocery store. They come in all different interesting shapes, colors and sizes. It almost felt like going to an exhibit rather than the grocer.


Dulce de Leche Cake with Slivered Almonds

Cake is such a glorious food. It indicates birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and festivities all around. Even everyday cakes feel celebratory. People get excited when there's cake, and even more so when it is freshly made homemade cake.

The funny thing is that I don't even really like cake all that much.


Chickpea & Potato Curry

Curries have always been, in my mind, an exotic, passionate, and complicated dish. Not exotic in that you have to travel to far and distant lands to get some; no, we can even get it in a box at the local grocer. But exotic in the sense that the flavor takes you somewhere else, and you can taste a world of culinary culture and history. A seemingly infinitely complex flavor of many different spices and seasonings used to arrive at a perfectly balanced curry.


Whole Wheat Mosaic Crackers

Crackers are an unassuming stable in our kitchen. I never really gave them much thought. I just bought them at the store if I had a desire for some, and that was it. The thought of ever making my own crackers never really crossed my mind.

And then one day it hit me, of course, it might be kind of cool to make crackers.


Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes

Halloween was always a beloved holiday growing up. My parents put a lot of effort into decorating the house, building scarecrows, adding cobwebs, really getting into the spirit. Our house was one of the spooky ones on the block, the lights turned off, a Halloween soundtrack playing loudly, and also one where the kids were sure to score big on candy.


Peruvian purple potatoes with Crema de Rocoto

Eight years ago, I got my first real college job. One that does not include taking orders behind a counter. At that new job, I developed a strong friendship with a girl from Peru. She spoke very little English, and I knew very few words in Spanish, yet somehow, we hit it off.

Once she invited me over to a family barbecue, I think it was for her daughters birthday. It was so sweet of her to include me, but honestly it was an awkward affair


First pumpkin recipe of the season - Soup!

I love pumpkin soup. I am not sure if I always have, but it sure feels like it. I love it curried, plain, or straight from a box. I think it's one of the greatest soups there is. Really, I cannot think of something much better to do with a pumpkin than to make it into a soup (or a carriage.)

And to be honest, I never really stick to the same pumpkin soup recipe, I just sort of wing it every time, and every time I am happy. But this time, I was especially pleased. So pleased that I had to make note of the recipe. Because this pumpkin soup recipe has quite a bit of depth to it. The flavor doesn't just stop at pumpkin,


Endive, Apple & Walnut Salad

The weather has turned in Miami. When you step outside, things feel different. There is a breeze, and it is cool and refreshing, the humidity has lifted, and it is enjoyable to sit outside. It feels amazing, and the best part is, it's going to last. While autumn certainly feels very different here than in most parts of the country, it still has a similar effect. We bring out our sweaters, and start cooking fall meals.

My mother always made this salad this time of year, and it was always one that i looked forward to its return on the table. Slightly bitter, a hint of sweetness,


Homemade Mayonnaise - In under two minutes!

Maybe it has something to do with having been raised by Belgians, but in my house, we always had mayonnaise. And I'm not talking about the goopy white stuff that you buy in a jar at the grocery store. I'm talking about freshly made, mustard spiked, mayonnaise. The kind of stuff you don't just use to tie a tuna salad together. This stuff is so much better then that, and deserves so much better.


Apple crumb pie and a birthday

 Since I started learning how to bake almost two years ago my husband has been requesting that I make him an apple crumb pie. He would always recall a time that one of aunts brought over apple crumb pie, he couldn't remember if it was homemade or store bought, but either way, he said it was amazing. And he remembers having two pieces. It was that good.

And so as I would flip through a cook book, and ask him, what should I bake this weekend, he would always say apple crumb pie. I would sort of shrivel my face and shrug,


Roasted eggplant - Hanging on to summer

Eggplant is an impressive vegetable. I am not sure what it is, but eggplant has a very mysterious, almost mythical quality to it. With its royal purple hue, and alluring figure, I find it hard not to pick one up while shopping for produce, particularly when they have overgrown to the size of a small watermelon. And it always reminds me of summer, so while the final days of summer are passing by, and the weather is finally beginning to cool and the humidity lower, I celebrate with slow roasted eggplant.

Eggplant is one of those vegetables that takes center stage at the table.


Walnut & Sweet Potato Pasta

I love sweet potatoes. I love that they have an ugly exterior, yet reveal their brilliant orange when cut in half. I love that they are suggestively sweet, and can just as easily be used in a savory dish as in a sweet one. And I just love it when I get sweet potatoes in my Farm Fresh Miami bag, it's like getting a surprise chocolate bar in the lunches my mom would pack me for school.

It's hard to fight the urge I get when I come across a sweet potato. I just want to cut them into wedges, season, and bake them into delightful sweet potato wedges.


Pluot compote and almond crumble sunday.

I am a pretty healthy eater, but I have always been a sweet person. Chocolate in particular is my Achilles heel. If I were forced to eat just one thing for the rest of my life, it just might be, most probably would be, chocolate. When hearing the dessert specials at a restaurant, I usually just hear, blah, blah, chocolate mousse, blah blah blah, double chocolate cake, etc. I love good chocolate, very dark, slightly bitter, and complex in flavor chocolate, but I will even eat it when its not so good, overly sweet, and probably really just corn syrup masked as chocolate.

That is why it was a bit of a surprise when a craving for this vanilla ice cream dish, drizzled with pluot compote and topped with almond crumble came to mind. And you know what, it was even better than I thought it would be.


Another beautiful bag

This week we received another beautiful bag from Farm Fresh Miami, and i was delighted by what I found inside. Not only did we get more of those delicious pluots I have been harping on about, but we also received white peaches, apples, midnight oranges, radishes, green chard, broccoli, zucchini, green lettuce, roma tomatoes, red cabbage...oh, and how could I forget, sweet potatoes. (All this organic produce for $33 bucks a bag, I still can't believe it's true.)


Yay for sweet potato wedges!

Summer has not even come close to an end here in hurricane season Miami, yet i am eating sweet potatoes. And you know what, it's so good. I usually associate sweet potatoes with fall and winter, but since I keep getting them in my Farm Fresh Miami bag, I keep enjoying them. And really, what time of year isn't good for sweet potato wedges. They're easy to make, are so delicious, work as a side dish for almost any meal, and is also great as a movie time snack. Something I have been enjoying more and more of since the non stop rain has been keeping us indoors.


Cucumber Mint Salad

I know. Two mint salad recipes in a row. It's a bit much. And if I am going to be completely honest, I will tell you that I have quite a few more salad recipes where mint plays a star role. I guess I am really smitten with mint. Especially during the summer.

And also, when I have an herb in the fridge, I have to use all of it. I certainly can't let it go to waste. Nope. I have a real aversion to letting any food in my fridge go to waste.


Cool Fruit Salad - A la Emmaline

 Can you possibly think of a better fate for summer fruit than as a salad. Simple, evoking the fruits natural sweetness, highlighting their peak flavors.  When I was a kid, I thought fruit salads were boring. Man was I wrong. Fruit salads are amazing, and I love them. I want it for breakfast, and after dinner. (I seem to do that a lot though, eat the same thing over, and over, and over again. A little obsessive I suppose.)

But back to fruit salad. Another great thing about them; they are so easy to make. All you have to do is a little chop, chop, chop... mix ... and then wait for the flavors to deepen.

Farm Fresh Miami - An Organic Buying Group

Farm Fresh Miami, run by Erica Rullman, provides fresh, mainly local, organic produce at great prices. If you live in Miami, I highly recommend you join. The produce is always fresh and flavorful. I just had the most amazing pluots of my life, and I also now know what a pluot is thanks to Farm Fresh.

Since Miami is a sweltering sauna during the summer, little of the produce comes from South Florida, but as it  begins to simmer down, more and more of the fruits and vegetables come from local farms, guaranteeing a real freshness.

 One of the things I enjoy about it is the surprise element. Since I don't choose what veggies I buy, it forces me to eat things I might not normally eat, and to cook things I might not normally cook. I have developed a bunch of new recipes. If you find yourself eating the same thing every week, this might be just what your taste buds need.


Classic Hummus

So here is a quick post for a quick easy dish. It is another middle eastern fare. I think in the middle east they understand the types of food that are agreeable with heat.

Hummus is a great summer dish. It's another one of those that does not require you to turn up the temperature in your home, creating a mini sauna. You just collect your ingredients, combine, process, and done. And if you eat this along with tabbouleh and maybe even make a sandwich out of the two, then you have gotten yourself a complete meal without a lot of trouble (or heat.)


Tabbouleh - the perfect summer salad.

There is something about reaching august that makes me want to have little to do with the oven/stove area of the kitchen. I have gone through the heat of June and July without any effects on my desire to sauté or bake. But come august, I've had it. I no longer want to eat anything hot, I crave fresh brisk flavors. Maybe that's because in Miami, August is the muggiest of the three months of summer. Or maybe it's because salads and summer go so well together.

Either way, tabbouleh, a middle eastern salad, is a great dish to make if you are feeling the same effects of summer. It's brisk and refreshing flavor make it a perfect item to bring along on a picnic, or to eat standing up, straight from the bowl, after all the ingredients have been mixed.


Pizza on the Grill

Pizza. The universal food. If you have a picky eating, there's pizza. Not sure what to have for dinner, there's pizza. Bored, eat pizza. It is hard to find a person that honestly doesn't like pizza. And what's not to like. Melted cheese, hintingly sweet tomato sauce, crisp bread with a soft doughy crust. Just a pizza margherita takes three of our major food groups and presents them just right. Add a little prosciutto and arugula and you have yourself a well rounded meal. And pizza makes you want to eat right.

Pizza is communal, pizza is fun. You can eat it with your hands, with a knife and fork, hot from the pizza box, or cold from the fridge.


Big Pod, Little Bean, Big Flavor

During my twenty-eight years of eating, i have never once been tempted by those overgrown, bulbous bean pods that occasionally pop up at the grocery store. No way. If I couldn't see the big picture, the possibly meal, by looking at the prospective fruit or vegetable, I was moving on. I have become more adventurous as my relationship with food has developed. 

It is a natural growth we all go through. As our tasted buds fade away, we can enjoy bolder tastes. I see it with my nine year old niece. Her diet consists of pasta with no butter, white bread with no crust, and chicken with no spices. She has recently started fanning out. She plays around with eating greens, she tasted a falafel, she is on her way to discovering a whole world of exciting flavors and textures.


Sweet-smellin' homemade Granola

I did not grow up in a granola household. No, I grew up in a carnation instant breakfast house, with the occasional weekend crepe feast. My parents being from Europe did the best they could to adapt to this American life, but as there was no boulangerie on our suburban street corner to get our pet't dej, breakfast became a meal that was in a way ignored.

That is not to say that I didn't eat well as a child, between homemade pasta and bread, i was definitely spoiled with good food. And that is not to say that i didn't Love my carnation instant breakfast, and i still kinda do (- it's chocolaty richness, and pebbles of not quite mixed in mix that pop in your mouth. The best.)

But discovering granola was like finding the golden egg of just good for you comfort food. And not just any kind of granola, but home made granola. The kind that fills your home with the sweet aroma that hugs you. There is nothing like it. I have had the store bought variety, and they do not compare, it is a whole different universe in the world of cereals.


Nastalgia with a side of Gazpacho

Summer will always remind me of Gazpacho, and Gazpacho will always remind me of the summer in Barcelona. The summer my husband and I spent learning Spanish (hopelessly), when we were just engaged. Walking to and from the beach, by the powerful smell and intoxicating flavor of white peaches in the peak of ripeness, watching bad American films, playing Gin Rummy, and drinking gazpacho.

Not just any Gazpacho, but the gazpacho that comes out of a milk carton, sold in the oddly scarce grocery stores, that tastes best when grabbed from the fridge door, and drunk straight from the carton.


A Simple Start.

Three bean salad.

I had never heard of it until a friend took me to an independent sandwhich shop where they accompany their wraps with a small serving of it on the side. While the wrap was good, I would have gladly given it up for ten more servings of their three bean salad. For a little salad, it sure packed a hit of flavor. Summer flavors. It awakened and refreshed.

I had to have more. A lot more.

And since going back to Limoni (the sandwich shop) for every meal was not an option, I set to work in the kitchen with a pile of beans. A little tinkering...omit the vinegar, squeeze of lime, a bit more, cilantro garnish, dash of salt, and I got it. Oh sweet heaven, i'm in love.

I am not certain that it is the same salad I first sampled. But I am certain that it is delicious, and madly addictive. And that everyone I mention it to asked for the recipe, and then become addicted as well. Then it spread to their family and friends. A small phenomena that swept my world.