Crying Onions

Almond Biscotti
July 31, 2009, 2:11 pm
Filed under: desserts | Tags:

Biscotti are the ideal dessert because they’re incredibly simple to make, but they seem complicated and fancy. You may have always been content to buy them at the grocery store, but once you make them, you’ll wonder exactly why you were paying over $6 a bag for something that costs well under $3 and takes less than 10 minutes of active time to make.

Biscotti means “twice baked,” and thats what these cookies are. First, a whole blob of dough is baked. Then, it’s sliced and baked again in its typical stick shape. Another advantage of making biscotti yourself is that you can choose how crunchy you want to make them, from moist and crumbly to break-your-teeth hard. I’d recommend against the second extreme.

Here, I use sliced almonds, but there are thousands of variations on biscotti. Perhaps some of them are slightly more difficult than others, but this one is dead simple.

Recipe after the jump…


Zucchini and Carrot Fritters
July 29, 2009, 7:06 pm
Filed under: appetizers, main courses | Tags:

I learned my lesson this time: don’t make things that require standing over the stove on a hot, humid summer day. That said, the final product of my sweat and tears was both simple and delicious, and would be a great meal to make on a cooler day in the summer, when zucchini is pouring in like a flood. After all, there’s only so many times you can stick zucchini on the grill, mix it in with pasta, or add it to a salad. Sometimes, you just need a little crunch.

Carrots are almost the opposite. Ever-present, carrots are ubiquitous yet frequently ignored except as a trusty constant in salads and a crisp, healthy vehicle for dip. While people attempt to find different uses for zucchini (even baking it into cakes to add moisture), the carrot is mostly ignored.

Make the carrot fritters first, because they’ll retain their crunch better than the zucchini will. While they’re cooking, you can keep the finished fritters on a plate in an oven set to warm to keep everything hot.

Recipe after the jump…

Roasted, Marinated Tomatoes (aka the best tomatoes ever)
July 27, 2009, 6:06 pm
Filed under: sandwiches, snacks | Tags:

Growing up, I was never a big tomato fan. On pasta, I tolerated tomato sauce, but preferred garlic and butter (and in my later, more sophisticated years, garlic and olive oil). Even as I get older, some of that still hasn’t changed. I will eat tomatoes, albeit grudgingly, and I’ve learned to enjoy tomato sauce, caprese salad, tomato bruschetta, and all of the finer tomato things. What I hadn’t learned to enjoy was tomatoes on sandwiches.

Until now. These tomatoes are perfect. Roasting gives them sweetness, and also levels the playing field a bit for off-season tomatoes. This means that you don’t need to resign yourself to mealy, flavorless tomatoes in the dead of winter (unless you’re committed to buying local, in which case you might still have some problems). The marinade soaks into the tomatoes, making them melt in your mouth with a rush of fresh, herbaceous, garlicky, sweet tanginess unmatched by anything I’ve ever eaten before.

In short, I love these tomatoes. They’ve officially made a tomato convert out of me.

Recipe after the jump…

Homemade Grenadine Syrup
July 25, 2009, 1:30 pm
Filed under: drinks

Have you ever wondered about that red stuff they used to put in shirley temples when you were a kid? It’s called grenadine, and most of what you can get in a store is basically sugar-water with added red dye. Maybe you think its cherry flavored, or maybe you think its strawberry flavored, or maybe you even just think it’s red flavored.

Well, I can’t speak for the store bought stuff, but true grenadine is actually pomegranate flavored (hence the name: french or spanish speakers may recognize the words grenade or grenada, meaning pomegranate). It’s super easy to make, and the real thing is just a whole different experience than what you’re used to. It’s not quite as in-your-face RED, but its flavor is a bold balance of sour and sweet that can’t be matched by the fake stuff. It keeps forever in the freezer (and stays pourable), and it’s a great thing to have available when you are just looking for something different.

Summer is here, and it’s time to relax and have fun in the sun, so stir it into lemonade to easily get pomegranate lemonade for a little variety. Of course there’s also lots of alcholic drinks you can make (tequila sunrise, anyone?) if that’s more your style. Or you can relive your younger years by treating yourself to a shirley temple every once in a while.

Recipe after the jump…

July 24, 2009, 3:30 pm
Filed under: sauces | Tags:

I recently purchased a food processor, and I’ve been itching to use it. True, it takes some serious time to clean, but there’s a magical joy in watching the blades go around and realizing “hey, I’m not working one bit to do all this chopping.” If you don’t have a food processor, you can do the chopping for this recipe by hand, and honestly, it’s not that much more work.

According to the font of all knowledge, the name chimichurri is a bastardization of the name of either Jimmy McCurry the Irishman, Jimmy Curry the Englishman, or James C. Hurray the Scot. Either way, it’s an especially fun-sounding name that perfectly describes this vibrant, zesty sauce composed primarily of parsley, garlic, and olive oil.

Look at this beautiful green bowl of deliciousness.  It’s so green!  So fresh! You’re probably wondering what you can do with it. I’m glad you asked. It can be a sauce for chicken, meat, or fish. You can use it as a marinade for meat. You can use it instead of the usual toppings on a baked potato. Wherever you add it, you’ll get a bright, satisfying zip that will have you thanking Argentina for their culinary contributions.

Recipe after the jump…

Lemon Squares
July 23, 2009, 6:52 pm
Filed under: desserts | Tags:

Every recipe has a story, and the important one here is not how it came to my family (a tale that involves a bassoon and m&ms among other characters), but how it changed me.

This was the first recipe I ever made, and it has all of the elements that conspire to get a little kid excited about cooking and baking. First, it’s sweet but lemony, so you know it’s going to be tasty. Second, it involves getting your hands dirty (which may not be fun for the adult who has to clean up after a messy child has left greasy fingerprints all over the kitchen, but is certainly fun for the kid). Third, it’s easy. Lastly, it’s a crowd pleaser, so you get that kind of “ooh, ahh, yum” feedback that makes you want to go back into the kitchen to make it again.

Oh, and they freeze beautifully, and are best eaten straight out of the freezer, so they’re a great thing to make on a rainy day and keep on hand in case of company (or, more likely, in case of sudden lemon square cravings).

Clearly, my mom knew what she was doing on that fateful day when she said to me “Josh, honey, if you want lemon squares, I need you to help me make the crust.”

Recipe after the jump…

Honey Feta Spread
July 22, 2009, 6:20 pm
Filed under: appetizers, snacks | Tags: ,

I’ve always loved feta cheese. It’s creamy, but not overly rich. Salty, but with a background tanginess that balances things out a bit. It seems that feta is primarily known for its presence in greek salads, but it’s just begging to be used in different ways.

When feta is cooked, it doesn’t become ooey-gooey like mozzarella or fontina. Instead, it retains its shape, becoming soft and spreadable but with a hint of its signature crumbliness. Honey brings out the creaminess in feta, downplaying the saltiness just a bit.

This is one of those dishes that keeps you in limbo for a little while before you finally give in to liking it. No doubt it’s a weird combination of flavors, and at first it’s confusing. But then you’re intrigued enough to take another bite, and you realize it’s interesting. Another, and you just might like it. Another, and you’re on your way down that dangerous path towards eating the whole thing. Fortunately, with only 3 ingredients, it’s really easy to make in small batches (actually, it’s really easy to make, period).

Made in a larger batch, this would also make a great dish for a party.

Recipe after the jump…