I cherish my mornings at home. One of the many pleasures of being my own boss is that I can decide how I want to start my day. There are subtle differences to each day, like whether I get myself onto the elliptical for a little workout. The one thing that remains the same is that I take Maki out to let her do her doos. As soon as I get back, I pour myself a mug of coffee and prepare something to nibble on. I go through phases with my breakfasts. It can be a taco with a fried egg and sliced avocado, or some scrambled eggs with sauteed kale. I’m also not opposed to just reaching for a container of leftovers. Cold veggie fried rice? Perfect! Right now, however, I’m into granola. Yes, I know it’d be so much easier to just grab a box at the grocery store, but I’d be missing something so wonderful if I did that. Like a lot of foods, I feel very strongly about what’s in my granola. There should be a variety of textures going on. I don’t want it too sweet.
This particular granola recipe was inspired by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque’s fabulous book Brown Eggs and Jam Jars. And the timing couldn’t have been better. You see, Eric and I recently tapped our maple tree out back. He hooked up a spigot that was fitted with a tube that ran into a five gallon water jug. Within a day and a half, the thing was full. Since I’m the one who works from home (when I’m not out on a shoot), I was in charge of boiling the sap down into syrup. The process was not nearly as complicated as I thought it’d be, though the four hours it took (using three large pots) made me question how often we needed to do this. The result was wonderful, a light amber colored syrup with a natural sweetness that one only really finds in this or honey. I should also note that there’s a section in Aimée’s book on harvesting maple syrup. Just another reason to order a copy.
The bottle has been sitting in the fridge for a few weeks. I’ve struggled to find a use for it. And that’s why I was so excited to make this maple granola. I like a lot of things in my granola, so I loaded it with dried fruit (cherries and cranberries), sunflower seeds, pepitas, chopped walnuts, and, of course, oats. After it’s tossed together with the maple syrup, a couple tablespoons of butter, and a sprinkle of salt, I baked it in the oven until golden brown.
So, thank you Aimee for your beautiful, inspiring recipe. I hope everyone goes and picks up a copy of your book right now.
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Steam clouds the kitchen windows so much that I can no longer see outside. On the stove, water boils violently in a large pot. I put my cold hands above it and goosebumps immediately form all over my arm. The front burners are at work on the asparagus, peas and garlic (oh, so much garlic) and the aroma is equally satisfying. All day, I’ve been anticipating this dish: a big bowl of linguine in a creamy carbonara sauce. I’m usually pretty good at restricting my pasta consumption to a couple times a month and typically it’s freshly made. But I’m not in the mood to fuss over dough, so a box of dried pasta will have to suffice.
I’d been eying a carbonara recipe from the gorgeous new book from Teri and Jenny that focuses on various ways to prepare eggs. I love eggs in all forms: poached, scrambled, fried, deviled, even pickled. But, for me, eggs are a breakfast food (with the exception of a salad niçoise, one of my favorite summer lunch or dinners). I don’t go to eggs for a quick weeknight meal. Tonight, however, I’m going for it. Thanks to their book, The Perfect Egg, I’m preparing my very first carbonara. Working with eggs has never freaked me out. I make aioli all the time, so I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long. Whisking together the sauce isn’t complicated, just be sure to remember to reserve some pasta water (I almost spilled it all out in the sink).
Some lemon juice squeezed in at the end takes this from being a stick-to-your-guts kind of meal (ideal for some of those blizzards we got hit with back in February) to something perfect for a cool spring night. Not to mention the bright green on top of the pasta. Just a reminder that we’re getting closer and closer to summer.
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There are a lot of Passover dishes to get excited about. Matzo ball soup, for one, is a favorite. No matter your preference of dense or light and fluffy, those dumplings always please. Gefilte fish, too, is consumed in great quantities and, personally, I can’t get enough of it. Served with spicy beet horseradish, I’m perfectly happy with eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are also the sweeter elements of the Seder: haroset (chopped up fruit and nuts) and tzimmes, baked root vegetables (such as carrots and sweet potatoes) with honey and dates. Those two are easy to love.
But no one gets excited about matzo kugel. Often bland and heavy, a savory kugel typically consists of mushrooms and onions. To my surprise, many recipes contain dairy, too. For a kosher household, like my parents’, where brisket and chicken soup will be served, the use of heavy cream and butter (you know, the good things in life) are out of the question.
So, here was my challenge: to create a flavorful kugel sans dairy. Using a recipe from Cooking Light as a guide, I prepared a spinach-artichoke kugel, speckled with chopped roasted red pepper and diced parsley. It’s a surprisingly light kugel, which I attribute to the extra egg whites. A little smoked paprika and cayenne pepper provide a kick that will surely make it a great addition next to roasted meats. For those vegetarians at the table, this could easily be a full-on entree, accompanied by a great big salad.
Additional recipes to serve during Passover:
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