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Here’s a fairly recent Long Distance Kitchen recipe that came from Smitten Kitchen – Rhubarb Streusel Muffins.  It might be a little past rhubarb season now, but it would also be good with other not-too-sweet fruit (or maybe reduce the sugar if you use something sweeter).  The rhubarb chunks in here did end up pretty tangy, although in hindsight I might have sliced it a bit thick.

I didn’t have white whole wheat flour handy, so I followed Deb’s recommendation and used 3/4 cup white flour and  3/4 cup whole wheat flour in the batter.  Streusel is always tasty – this one was fairly crumbly but good.

Being not-too-sweet, these were good at breakfast.  Not a recipe that wowed me, but I’d recommend it.  I accidentally bought twice as much rhubarb as I needed, so not too long after I was looking for another rhubarb recipe and found one in King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking for a very similar coffeecake.  The recipe is for Peach Coffeecake (recipe on a very unattractive random website) but includes a rhubarb variation, where you increase the sugar and switch rhubarb for peaches.  This recipe also calls for a whole wheat/all-purpose flour blend and the rest of the ingredients are similar, except for a larger quantity of sugar.  Maybe it’s just my sweet tooth talking, but I thought the tart/sweet balance was a little better here, and it certainly got devoured (and one pan got delivered to some new parents).

Sadly, no pictures of the coffee cake survive.  When rhubarb season rolls around next year, I might try making a combination of these recipes – somewhere in between the two levels of sweetness.

Another recipe to make you yearn for summer – Scalloped Tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen.  Which leads me to a confession – I much, much, much prefer cooked tomatoes to raw tomatoes.  Sure, I like a nice caprese salad, but the star there for me is the mozzarella.  I like a slice of tomato on a sandwich, or the occasional bite of a really perfect tomato in a salad.  But I could quite happily never eat another raw tomato, as long as I still got them cooked.  Sauce, soup, pizza – bring it on.  And now, scalloped tomatoes.

I neglected to take pictures – it’s not very photogenic – but Bronwen has some up.  Unlike a lot of cooked tomato recipes, this one manages to still feel pretty summery.  It has a nice amount of basil to complement the tomato, and the bread and cheese round things out nicely, making this substantial enough for a hot day, or good as a side dish.  The leftovers hold pretty well, and you could even eat them for breakfast with an egg.

Okay, now I wish it was tomato season again.

Just thinking about this coleslaw makes me feel like it’s summer again!  Actually, I think the weather this month has been better than the weather in June, when I assigned Smitten Kitchen’s Not Your Mama’s Coleslaw.  October is actually sunny so far, although a little chilly, while June was pretty gray.

For the record, my mom makes a yummy coleslaw, although it’s pretty different in flavor from SK’s.  Hers is more tangy and sweet, with cabbage, carrots, and pineapple, while SK’s isn’t sweet at all and has a sort of earthier flavor with the blue cheese.

I started with some absolutely delicious farmer’s market carrots – seriously, I just wanted to gnaw on them.  Since this recipe calls for 4 large carrots, I think it’s important to get ones that taste good on their own, since the flavor really comes through.  End of carrot lecture.

Then you take half a head of green cabbage and half a head of red, and slice them up as thinly as possible.  I don’t know why, but thin-sliced cabbage tastes better.  It doesn’t make any sense, but I found myself reluctant to eat the thicker pieces in the coleslaw.

Toss together the cabbage, shredded carrots, and some chopped parsley.  Stop to admire it:

Is it not a thing of beauty?

So then you make a dressing from mayo, mustard, apple cider vinegar, celery seed, salt and pepper, and crumbled blue cheese, and toss the dressing with the vegetables.  Unless you like a lot of dressing, you have enough to make two batches of coleslaw, or to just use the leftovers as salad dressing.

If you like blue cheese, throw it all in.  If you’re not sure, add it a little bit at a time.  I happen to know some major blue cheese fans, and I like the stuff myself, so in it went.  It makes a big bowl, so I served it up when we had a crowd over for dinner.  It went over well, and it’s the kind of coleslaw to convert people who’ve only tried the mushy, pale green kind.

Bronwen made her own mayonnaise, which makes sense considering she’s not a big mayo fan and wanted to make it as tasty as possible.  I’ve always been perfectly satisfied with Trader Joe’s mayonnaise, so I used that quite happily.  It’s not a very runny dressing, which helps for non-mayo fans, although there are always hold-outs.

I’ll definitely be pulling this recipe out again next summer – although probably only when there’s a crowd to feed.

An embarassing length of time ago, I assigned Smitten Kitchen’s Chewy Granola Bars for a Long Distance Kitchen recipe.  I am finally telling you about them.

I chose the recipe because I wanted a break from toast-with-almond-butter for breakfast.  Delicious as that is, variety is even better.  I was both pleased and disappointed with the results.  Here’s what happened.

You start off by putting your dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls.  For the dry ingredients, you use a lot of oats and then 2-3 cups of whatever combination of fruit and nuts you prefer.  I used pecans, walnuts, unsweetened coconut, dried cherries, and sunflower seeds, although I don’t remember the exact proportions.

I loosely chopped the nuts and cherries in the food processor, although they ended up a little uneven and I might just do it by hand next time.  Then you mix in those liquid ingredients (I used canola oil instead of the butter, but coconut oil would’ve been better if I’d had some around) and add some almond or peanut butter if you like (I used almond).  Then you press the mixture into a pan and bake.

Look, it’s like a little advertisement for my honey suppliers!

Here’s where I may have had some issues.  I doubt myself.  Did I mix things thoroughly enough?  Did I press them firmly into the pan, or did I press half-heartedly?  Should I have let them bake even longer?

Why do I doubt myself?  Because delicious as they were, my granola bars weren’t so much bars as just…granola.

I let them cool completely before I cut into them, but still!  Still the crumbling!  I suppose, now that I reread the recipe, I could’ve tried sticking them in the fridge for a while.  They were tasty, but in no way portable or bar-shaped.  They were also sweeter than I expected, and I think next time I would cut back on the sugar even more than suggested.  Or maybe use a different fruit, or less of it.  Dried apples might be nice.  I’m determined to try again and make this work.  I need a breakfast that I can wrap up in a napkin and take to work if I’m running late, and crumbles just don’t cut it.

Gosh, now I’m ready to try another batch!  Check out Bronwen’s (much neater, less crumbly) version, too.  Hmm, maybe my wet/dry ingredient ratio was off…?  I won’t rest until I find out!  Okay, that’s a lie.

I don’t know a thing about Indian cooking, other than the fact that I enjoy eating it on occasion, and that I’d never made it myself.  Until today.  Still, I cheated a little because Bronwen supplied with me with all the spices – make it super simple, but also meaning that I don’t have more sitting around, waiting to be used up.  Probably for the best.

Last week’s recipe from Bronwen was for chana masala (recipe courtesty of smitten kitchen).  Now, since I’ve never had this dish before, I didn’t have anything to compare it to, or any standard of greatness.  I also had no idea what to expect in terms of how hot the dish would be or what the flavor combinations would do.

Thusly, many tears were shed over the onions.  The recipe called for two, which seemed like an awful lot, but they cooked down a lot.  I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with a hot pepper before, but I chose what the nice guy at New Seasons said was the mildest of the lot, and survived with my tongue intact.  I thought I had some fresh ginger, but it turned out to be inedible, so I tossed it and added some powdered with the spice mix.  I wasn’t sure exactly how much to brown the onions, since they weren’t brown at all after ten minutes, so I went a little longer before adding the spices.

I was lazy and used canned everything, although I’d like to get into the habit of using dried beans.  The tomato chunks were larger than I would’ve liked, so I sort of broke them up with the spoon as they simmered.  I like tomato flavor without too many actual tomato pieces, unless we’re talking awesome late summer fresh tomatoes, preferably served with mozzerella or on a sandwich.  But I digress.  As the recipe mentions to do, I used the juice of a whole lemon instead of amchoor powder, which in my inexpert opinion worked very nicely with the spices.

As Bronwen mentioned, most of the effort is prep, with a little bit of stirring.  Super easy, and apparently it’s the kind of thing that reheats well.  I’m also going to experiment with freezing some, because boy howdy, I’ve got more recipes waiting and not enough people to force feed my leftovers.

Not very photogenic, but filling and satisfying.  The spice level came out just right for my taste – enough to make my stuffed up nose run, with a small burn on the tongue, but not that level of heat where you’re desperate for something to cut it.  If you like that kind of heat, a hotter pepper or more cayenne would probably do the trick.  But when you’re not allowed any delicious dairy-based sides to cut the heat, not-too-spicy is perfect.  As you can see, I ate mine with basmati (and some Trader Joe’s naan to snack on since I was cooking hungry).

Next up: Annie’s Cannellini and Pearl Barley Soup, which I have to make Saturday if I’m going to stay on track!

October 2021

Flickr Photos