Category Archives: recipes

A Proustian Moment

Who is that outrageously adorable little Irish girl? Oh right! It’s me!

When I was three, my father took a sabbatical and moved my family to his birthplace of Cork, Ireland. For nine months, we lived with my Great Aunt Kal, the sister of my late grandmother. Auntie Kal was a wonderful woman who in many ways served as one half of a surrogate for the grandmother I never met. I don’t remember much from the following year–a game of blind man’s bluff in the greenhouse, playing in light dusting of snow, a particularly foggy day–but the one thing that I will always associate with my great aunt are her scones and homemade raspberry jam.

Sorry to go all Marcel Proust on you, but I don’t think there could be anything more perfect than Kal’s jam and scones. There are entire childhoods wrapped up in those scones; for me, being scolded for cutting my own hair (and then lying about it after very obviously throwing both the hair and the scissors in the kitchen bin) to sitting in a different kitchen a dozen years later, cheating at a crossword puzzle with my cousin by filling in the remaining boxes with whatever words would fit. I know my sister has her own stories tied to those scones, and I’m guessing Kal’s children and grandchildren have theirs as well.

Auntie Kal passed away while I was in college, and for the last few years prior to that, she was not in a state to be baking. The last time I had her scones and raspberry jam was during a trip to Ireland the summer that I was 17. Unfortunately, those final scones will forever be tainted with the realization that her sharp mind was already succumbing to dementia and that they would probably mark the last time I saw my Aunt as I remembered her.

Since her death, her recipes have been passed down to various relations scattered around the Anglo-Irish countryside. My cousins in Northern Ireland took over jam-making duties, while a cousin in Dublin is the keeper of the scone recipe. Both have generously shared the fruits of their labor, but an ocean is a long distance for a pot of jam, and scones do not travel especially well. I harassed both cousins until they handed over their respective recipes and cooking tips, and a year ago made my first attempt during a six-week visit with F and E in New Haven.

F found a nearby u-pick farm where you practically steal the fruit from the vines–something like $5/lb of raspberries. Sadly, we got super lost on the way and only had about ten minutes to pick two pounds of berries and so did not have a huge quantity of jam at the end of the day. I cautiously hoarded my share until my sister’s birthday and Thanksgiving so that my family could approve, and it was at least enough of a success that we tried it again this year.

This month’s six-week visit was scheduled for E’s house on Long Island. After F put the fear of God in her, she called nearly every farm in the surrounding region until she found one with raspberries. Our chauffeur, Matt I (also known as E’s husband) drove us there on Saturday, and we wrestled some bees to collect 6 pints of the best berries. These we supplemented with some frozen ones F had gotten at the u-steal farm in Connecticut, and we got down to making jam! I’m super lazy, though, so I just used pictures from last year.

Raspberry Jam

For every pound of rasberries, use a half a pound of granulated sugar (technically, the recipe we were given calls for equal weights sugar and berries, but we promptly ignored that and it turne out fine). This past time, we had three pounds of raspberries so:

3 lbs raspberies
1.5 lbs sugar
10 8 oz jars and lids for canning
2 large stock pots

To begin with, put the canning jars in the dishwasher. You want these to be extra clean so you don’t get botulism and die. If you don’t have a dishwasher, seriously? It’s 2011, people. Update your kitchen.

Next, wash all your raspberries! If you got them from a farm like us, you will probably find all sorts of new friends living in them and will want to cry as you spend hours trying to drown them all.

Now put all of your raspberries in a large pot. Turn the heat to medium and simmer gently for ten minutes. The rasberries will begin to break up and your wooden spoon will start to turn a pleasing shade of magenta.

Add the sugar. This is where it gets iffy, because the recipe just says, “stir until dissolved and boil rapidly until setting point is reached. Pot and cover in usual way.” That is not… terribly informative. Your guess is as good as mine on what the setting point is. Both times, F and I have just said, “Ok, I think that looks good?” and started canning. My best idea is to treat it like you would a custard–when it starts to thicken and covers the back of a metal spoon, call it a day.

I don’t want to be responsible for you dying from canning incompetence, so you should read about how to “pot and cover in usual way” in this handy-dandy canning guide from Ball.

You can put any leftover jam in a covered bowl in the fridge for your immediate eating needs.

Auntie Kal’s Scones

After some trial and error, I’ve come up with these Americanized measurements:

3 2/3 (3 lbs) cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of Salt
1 t baking soda
2 t cream of tartar
1 T sugar
Stick (4 oz) of unsalted butter
1 egg
1 cup (ish) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry ingredients and incorporate with a fork.

Crack egg into a liquid measuring cup. Add buttermilk on top of egg until you have 1 1/5 cups (half an imperial pint) of liquid. Whisk together lightly.

Add liquid to dry ingredients. Mix together with wooden spoon, and then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently, just until dough forms a soft ball. Flatten into a circle about a half an inch thick. Cut scones* and lay on greased (or parchment papered) cookie sheet. Brush tops with egg/buttermilk wash.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tops begin to turn golden brown. Serve warm with butter and Kal’s raspberry jam.

Tastes like childhood.

*In my memory, the scones were round with a fluted edge (this could be inaccurate), so I normally use a fluted biscuit cutter. But sometimes I also use a fluted heart-shaped cutter because it’s extra cute that way!

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles:

While we were at it, we also experimented with raspberry truffles. They were pretty epic, especially considering that we made up the recipe as we went along:

1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups dark chocolate, chopped (Do not use chocolate chips or I will come after you!!)
Plastic fork
Parchment Paper

Set aside 1 cup of the dark chocolate. Put the remaining chocolate in a medium bowl.

Cook the raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan on medium high heat until all the sugar is dissolved and the raspberries start to disintegrate: about 10ish minutes. Or not 10ish minutes–I wasn’t looking at a clock and have a bad sense of time.

Add the cream to the mixture and bring to a vigorous boil, until the mixture is relatively unlumpy. Turn off the heat and carefully pour the mixture over the 1 1/2 cups of chocolate. Wait about 30 seconds, and then stir till all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Cool on the counter until room temperature. Chill in the fridge for about an hour.

Set parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Remove ganache from fridge. It should be solid enough that you can roll into balls, about 1″-1.5″ thick. Place on the cookie sheet and chill for another hour.

Melt the remaining chocolate over a double boiler. If you want to get fancy, learn how to temper chocolate. But I’m guessing you either already know how or can’t be bothered. Break the center two tines of the plastic fork and use this to dip the truffles in the melted chocolate. Place them back on the cookie sheet and cool at room-temperature until chocolate hardens, or if you’re lazy and impatient, in the fridge.

Makes 12 truffles which won’t last long enough for you to take a picture.

Butter, Butter Everywhere (aka In Which You Learn to Make the Perfect Croissant)

When I turned 21, I was at the end of a 9 month vacation in Paris. Some people might call this time “study abroad,” but I would argue that the only studying I did was a lengthy empirical study of wine potability and pastry quality, punctuated by brief moments of class at the Musée D’Orsay. Not very convincing as I was supposedly doing half my coursework in Economics. Luckily, my parents seemed to fully embrace this hedonist lifestyle and for a 21st birthday present, they gave myself and L a class in croissant-making.

Absolute genius on my parents’ part. Croissants are delicious and notoriously difficult to make; the ones we can find in this country are complete crap 99% of the time. Mastering croissants would be an awesome addition to my pastry-making repertoire, something with which to impress people at parties for years to come.

The class was held at a massively posh cooking school nearby and proved to be pretty intimidating for both of us. L may know her way around a spice rack and a grill, but she is not historically a baker. And while I am a pretty successful baker, I’m really, really bad at following directions. I despise measuring things and always have this arrogant idea that I can improve a recipe, even if I’ve never tried it before. Unfortunately for me, the cooking class was run by the Anal Retentive Chef.

I wish I had the original recipe to share, but I think it’s at my parent’s house in South Carolina. However, it closely resembled the following (L can confirm that I am not exaggerating in the slightest):

250 g #56 Flour
325 g #62 Flour
16 g of cake yeast
250 g of water
330 g of butter
2 t salt

The combined temperatures of the flour, yeast, and water should be 102.5 degrees centigrade. Adjust the water temperature until the temperature of water + temperature of yeast + temperature of flour = 102.5 degrees

AND THAT IS JUST THE LIST OF INGREDIENTS! This recipe is insanely detailed. So it’s no surprise that when I got back to the states and tried to recreate it, it did not go well, not least because I was trying to find american substitutes for the flours and cake yeast. My mom can attest that several tries ended in abject failure and tears.

I had pretty much given up hope of ever making edible croissants when I found a recipe for pain au chocolat in Jacques Torres’ A Year in Chocolate. This is noteworthy for two reasons: pain au chocolat is just a croissant cut in a different shape with chocolate stuffed inside, and I trust Jacques Torres because he momentarily hosted the most useless (and also my favorite) show on the Food Network, “Chocolate with Jaques Torres.” If you did not have the good fortune to ever see this show, it usually began with a sentence like, “Bienvenue à ‘Chocolat weeth Jacques Torres.’ I ahm Jacques Torres, and today we weell be makeeng a meeneeahture Las Vegas out of chocolat!” And then he would make a miniature Las Vegas out of chocolate. It was both marvelous and pointless, and ergo extremely French. This is why Jacques Torres is a trustworthy source.

Not only did his recipe use readily available American ingredients and quantities, but it tastes the damn same as the Anal Retentive Chef’s recipe up there. After one last failure based on an extremely egregious typo (T of yeast does not equal t of yeast, you lazy frog!), I think I have finally mastered the art of croissant making. And now I will impart my knowledge onto you, so you can skip right over the tearful years of heartache that I spent trying to get it right. But be warned, the amount of butter you’re about to witness may stop you from ever wanting to eat a pastry again.

Croissants/Pain au Chocolat 
adapted from A Year in Chocolate by Jacques Torres

This recipe makes approximately 48 mini-croissants or 24 mini-pains-au-chocolat.
Prep time takes forever; normally I begin making the dough the morning before I plan to bake it. I’ve only made the recipe straight through once, and that was a week and a half ago at a former coworker’s house. It took most of the day. This was ok because I got to play with her six-month-old baby in between steps, but I would not normally recommend this course of action.

For the dough:

1 c (two sticks) plus 5 T unsalted butter
2 envelopes (2 1/4 t each) dry active yeast
1/2 c plus 1 T water
3 1/3 c bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup sugar
2 t salt
1/2 cup plus 1 T milk
9 oz dark chocolate, chopped

For the egg wash

1/4 cup milk
2 egg yolks
1 large egg

Even with this recipe, some of the ingredients look like the Anal Retentive Chef got to them. But this recipe works! This is one of the only times I will carefully measure things when cooking, and you should do the same. Note: the following assumes that you understand basic principles of baking, like how to roll out or knead dough. If these are not things you already have a handle on, this is probably not the recipe for you.

1. Set out butter to soften. Add yeast to the water, which you can use at any moderate temperature you like so long as it’s not particularly hot or cold. Melt 3 T of the butter and set aside.

2. Measure flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and milk, and stir briefly with a wooden spoon (about 5 seconds). Then, add the yeast and water. Mix until the dough begins to come together, and then begin to knead with your hands. After kneading for a couple of minutes, dough should come together easily in a ball, with moisture consistent throughout. Don’t worry if it’s still a little lumpy–the gluten in the flour has not relaxed yet (this means that the gluten has not had a chance to form long, tidy protein ropes, which makes though dough smoother and more elastic). Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.

3. Remove the plastic wrap and place on a lightly floured surface (always use a lightly floured surface for the rest of this recipe). Roll out into a rectangle approximately 8 x 15 inch rectangle (not an exact science–I roll it out to about the same size as my small silpat). Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

4. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and carefully spread the softened butter (2 sticks + 2T) over two thirds of it, leaving 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch around the sides uncovered. Once you have an even sheet of butter spread, fold the uncovered third over the middle third, and the final third over the uncovered third. This should look like an envelope:

5. Carefully roll out the dough again, into a slightly bigger rectangle this time. Take the shorter sides and fold them in, meeting in the middle. Fold one more time along the middle crease. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours, although 8-12 hours works best.

6. Remove from the refrigerator and roll out into a rectangle again. Fold into thirds one more time like in step three. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate one last time for two hours or overnight. The reason for all this folding is that you are creating thin sheets of butter in between the layers of dough. In the oven, the butter will melt and separate the layers of dough. This is what creates the flakiness of a croissant.

7. Roll out into a large rectangle until about an 1/8 of an inch thick (my rectangle is about 16 x 24). Trim off all the edges with a sharp knife. This may seem wasteful, but it allows the layers of the dough to separate more, creating a flakier pastry. When you cut the dough, you should be able to see the striations of butter in the edge:

8a. For croissants, cut into small isosceles triangles. You can experiment with sizes, but I like mini-croissants, so my triangles usually have a height of 4.5″ and a base of 2.5″ on average. To shape, take the base of the triangle and roll towards the tip. This should not involve effort–you do not want them to be either too tight or too loose. Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, tip down. Tuck in edges so it looks like a croissant.

8b. For pains au chocolat, cut in to rectangles, about 2.5″ x 4.5.” Just inside the first short edge, place a line of chocolate. Roll the dough over this first line, and place another line of chocolate. Finish rolling and place seam-side down on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Note: no matter what size pain au chocolate you are making, there should always be two sticks of chocolate involved. Anything else should be called “sham au chocolat.” In fact, if you are ever in a French pâtisserie and see that they are hawking one-stick pain au chocolat, turn around and leave immediately because it is clearly an inferior establishment.

9. Cover cookie sheet loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until they’ve doubled in size. This depends entirely on the temperature of your kitchen and will take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.

10. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove plastic wrap, mix the egg wash together and brush the pastries right before they go in the oven. For the pains au chocolat, cut two diagonal lines with a sharp knife in the top of each pastry.

11. Cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cool on a wire rack and eat while still warm.

Stray notes:

  • Often, I only make a third of the recipe at a time. After step 6, I will cut the dough into thirds with a sharp knife and freeze the dough I’m not going to use immediately. When you’re ready to make the rest of the dough, remove from the freezer the day before and thaw in the refrigerator.
  • If you are wondering why I didn’t suggest you use dark chocolate chips instead of cut-up chocolate. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but I choose not to use chocolate chips because they tend to have more emulsifiers and less cocoa butter so as to hold their shape when cooked–that is, they don’t melt as well as normal chocolate. And in general, I like to stick to the rule with chocolate the fewer ingredients is better. I usually buy my baking chocolate from that posh stand next to the cheese in Whole Foods with those big, rough-looking blocks of chocolate. They may look exorbitantly priced, but when you do the math per ounce, it’s not much more than buying Ghirardelli baking chocolate. In France, they sell sticks of chocolate expressly for the purpose of making pain au chocolat, but I have never seen such a thing in this country. One time, I carefully melted, tempered, and cut chocolate into my own pain au chocolat sticks. This is a huge waste of time and I cannot recommend it.
  • After that marathon baking day, my coworker asked how long they would keep for. I laughed because mine have never lasted more than 12 hours. (ok, more than two hours. Maybe only one.) If you do have any leftover, my best bet is to put them in an air-tight container and eat them within a couple of days.
  • I also use this recipe for the crust of my Springtime Ramp Tart, the food with which I terminated my brief foray into veganism. Most delicious thing ever. I will post the recipe for that sometime, but this is already way too long so I’ll hold off for now.

I may have just written a cookbook

This week has been a week of failing at Lent. First, I failed at my goal of blogging twice a week since I last posted something oh, a week and a half a go because I’ve been busy having my soul crushed by my job. Then, I (deliberately) failed at veganism since A, E, and F came to visit and it seemed unnecessarily cruel to make them eat vegan for four days when our visits seem to revolve primarily around food. We do an absurd amount of eating when we are together. The number of different dishes we make and consume during the course of a weekend is usually more than I would make in a month. It would be impossible to tell the story of our weekends together without talking about food.

Despite my love of food, I don’t want this to turn into one of those blogs where I try to take artsy pictures of food and share recipes I try. All the same, I’m very impressed with the spread we concocted this weekend, so I’m about to make an exception. In this episode: Pear salad! Butternut Squash Soup! Edible Brussels Sprouts! Lasagna! Sad Person Brownies!

A, E, and F arrived from their respective cities late last week, just in time for the start of the Cherry Blossom Festival. After seeing a ballet Friday night and then stuffing ourselves with homemade salsa and guacamole, we got up bright and early (for a Saturday) to make our morning paddle boating reservation on the tidal basin. From then, we never stopped–visiting two art exhibits, traipsing up and down the National Mall, taking pictures with cherry blossoms, walking by the White House, and most out of character for us, never breaking for sustenance.

There was, of course, a reason we hadn’t gotten food–all day, we’d been planning to eat lunch at Chick-Fil-A. For reasons I will never understand, Chick-Fil-A is apparently A Destination. There weren’t many options in DC, and the most convenient one was located on GW’s campus. It took us longer than we planned to make it there, however, and suddenly it was 4 o’clock, we’d walked at least 10 miles, and all we’d eaten was coffee and pastries one might get with coffee. Then, tragedy struck.

This feels like an extreme reaction, but who am I to judge?

Turns out the GW Chick-Fil-A is closed on Saturdays. I probably should have checked the hours, but Chick-Fil-A’s website sucks and I gave up after trying to look at the DC locations details for ten minutes. It was almost worth the two miles we walked to Foggy Bottom for this sign, though:

That, and there’s a Trader Joe’s in Foggy Bottom. After having given up on Chick-Fil-A, we decided our next course of action was to go home and start on dinner. I’m a member of a local food delivery service, Arganica, and like a CSA, you can purchase a random box of produce. F and I had been planning to make a mystery dinner out of one such boxes for a while, but we needed some extra ingredients. After standing in the world’s longest grocery store lines (at least fifty people long, easily), we carried our tired legs off to the metro and went home.

Here’s where this blog post turns into a full-on cookbook, as F and I started to prepare a five-course meal.

A totally appropriate amount of food for dinner for four.

It would have been easy to look up recipes for the ingredients we had, but we decided it would be much more fun to fly completely blind here. There were a few challenges; in the foreground of the picture you can see some weird looking tubers that we think are some kind of carrots, but we’re not sure, the only person who likes pears is E, and no one had even eaten much in the way of brussel sprouts because our parents hate them. We were not to be deterred, however, and everything turned out shockingly well. I did my best to record the recipes, though I am the first to admit that I’m terrible at following directions or measuring things so I can’t be held accountable for any cooking disasters that may result from the following:

Course One: Cheese Plate
Serves some people.

This picture was an afterthought. As you can see we had already made quick work of the cheese.

Variety of cheeses (Ours: Cotswold, Goat’s Brie, Delice de Bourgogne, Some blue cheese or other, Bloomsbury)
Bread or crackers

  1. Put cheese on plate.
  2. Eat cheese. With bread. Or crackers. Or nothing. The main goal is to get the cheese from your plate to your mouth, using whatever vehicle necessary. If you mess this one up, you’re an idiot and should probably skip the rest of this post.

Course 2: Tasty Pear Salad
Serves 4, unless those people are very hungry and don’t have several other courses to make it through.

This salad was light and delicious. The blue cheese and pears go together nicely, and the sweeter salad dressing complements the two nicely.

Technically we served courses 2-4 at the same time. Sneak preview of what’s to come!

For the salad:
Bartlett Pear
Head of Lettuce
Handful of Walnuts (Optional, only because I forgot to add them)
2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles
Dressing to taste

For the dressing:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Salt and pepper to taste.

  1. Wash and dry lettuce, tear into pieces and put into salad bowl.
  2. Cut pear into thin slices and add to salad.
  3. Mix dressing.
  4. Add blue cheese, walnuts, and dressing. Toss adequately.

Course 3: Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6-8, depending on how much you like soup.

If for some reason you are still reading this, this is a great winter soup. It’s kind of heavy, which is why I put the number of servings so high even though it doesn’t make a ton of soup. It would be better served alone with a salad than with all this other pomp and circumstance distracting from it.

After roasting the vegetables for the soup.

1 butternut squash
1 large yukon gold potato
3 small carrots*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 cup walnuts
4 cups vegetable stock**
bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin
black pepper to taste
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
blender, preferably immersion

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Find an appropriate casserole dish for roasting vegetables and add olive oil and half the salt.
  3. Wash, peel and cut carrots into 8 pieces and add to casserole dish
  4. Wash and cut the potatoes into 1- 2 inch cubes (don’t bother peeling–arsenic is good for you!) and add to casserole dish
  5. Quarter the butternut squash and toss in oil with other vegetables.
  6. Drizzle maple syrup over the vegetables and bake for 25 minutes
  7. When there are ten minutes left on the timer, add the walnuts.
  8. After the vegetables are cooled, peel the butternut squash and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put vegetables, stock, walnuts and bay leaf in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  9. Simmer for 20 or so minutes (forgot to record time here) or until vegetables are very tender. Somewhere in here, add cumin, rest of the salt, and pepper (I dunno, F did this part).
  10. Remove bay leaf (this part is important unless you want gross soup!)
  11. When soup is a little cooler, use and immersion blender (or normal works fine too, just more mess) while adding the yogurt.
  12. Reheat if necessary and serve.

*This was the point where we used those things we thought were just funny-colored carrots but might be something else entirely. Good luck recreating this recipe.
**I use homemade vegetable stock, which is delicious. You can use whatever vegetable stock/broth you like, but saving vegetable peelings and making stock out of them is really easy and non-wasteful. Just keep a gallon bag of peelings and sad-looking vegetables in the freezer, and when it gets full, dump it in a pot full of water, add some bay leaves and peppercorns, and then boil it for a really long time. Strain out the peelings, throw them in the compost, and make some delicious soup.

Course 4: Your-Parents-Lied-to-You Brussels Sprouts and Kale
Serves 4 brave souls

To be fair, A was not a fan of these. However, the rest of us thought they were delicious. That means that you will have 75% chance of liking this recipe. It’s scientifically proven! Four is a legitimate sample size, right?

Post-roasting, pre-pan-frying brussel sprouts.

12 fresh brussels sprouts
12 cloves of garlic
Bunch of kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Cut brussels sprouts in half and lay them in a metal baking dish
  3. Crush five cloves of garlic and distribute throughout the pan
  4. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
  5. Put in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until slightly crispy but not brown.
  6. Wash, dry and remove the stems from the kale and cut into large pieces
  7. Finely chop the remaining garlic, and toss olive oil, garlic and kale together in a bowl until kale is well-coated.
  8. Just before the brussels sprouts come out of the oven, melt the butter on medium-high heat in a frying pan.
  9. Take out the brussels sprouts, put them in the frying pan, transfer the kale into the baking dish and return to the oven.
  10. Pan-fry the brussels sprouts. Because of the butter, they will turn dark brown and crispy in some places, but they aren’t burnt.
  11. Bake the kale for 5-10 minutes, until crispy but not brown.
  12. Serve immediately, the brussels sprouts on the bed of kale.

Course 5: Overly Complicated Lasagna
Serves a lot. Especially when you’ve already eaten four other things.

So it’s a very strange dream of mine to make a lasagna completely from scratch–as in, I grow all the vegetables, make the noodles, make the sauce, make the cheese, etc. We didn’t go quite that far this weekend, but we came close. With DELICIOUS results. Obviously you could use canned sauce or pre-made noodles, but to be honest, the noodles were my favorite part.

Yeah, I was lazy with the pictures at this point. Mainly I just wanted to eat.

For the Sauce:
1 large red onion
3 pounds of tomatoes
1 bunch of basil, stems removed
1 head of garlic
1/2 cup white wine
2 T olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar

  1. Finely dice tomatoes and basil and set aside
  2. Finely dice onion and garlic and add to a large stockpot with oil
  3. Saute onions, garlic and oil for about five minutes, until they start to become soft
  4. Add tomatoes, basil, and wine and bring to a boil.
  5. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and sugar
  6. Simmer until it looks like lumpy tomato sauce, about 30 minutes

For the noodles:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Pinch salt

  1. Mix ingredients together, kneading for about 1 minute.
  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Dusting with flour, roll out into 1 mm thick strips as you as begin to assemble the lasagna. Hopefully you have a pasta roller, or else you should just sit in the corner and cry.

For the lasagna:
1 large yellow onion
1 head broccoli, stalks removed
1/3 pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed
1 Tablespoon olive oil.
Tomato Sauce
3 ounces baby spinach
16 ounces fresh mozzarella
Shredded mozzarella

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Chop onion, slice mushrooms, and cut broccoli into small pieces.
  3. Saute onions with olive oil on medium-high heat for about five minutes.
  4. Add broccoli and saute for a few minutes before adding mushrooms.
  5. Continue to cook vegetables until mostly soft, then remove from heat.
  6. Begin assembling the lasagna with a layer of tomato sauce in a 9×13 pyrex dish. Add the first layer of noodles on top. You don’t need to pre-cook the noodles, that’s the best part. They will cook themselves in saucy cheesey goodness since they’re not dry.
  7. After the first layer of noodles, do whatever you want, but I find that the following works well: fresh mozzarella, spinach, veggies, tomato sauce, noodles, fresh mozzarella, spinach, veggies, noodles, tomato sauce, shredded cheese.
  8. Bake in the oven until cheese starts to brown a little and the sauce is burbling around the edges, about 35 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Did you think I was exaggerating about our epic levels of eating? Cause I did not. This dinner lasted 5 hours. We were going to make some cookies for dessert, but instead we just drank lots of champagne. It’s a good thing we only see each other every six weeks, or I’d weigh about 300 lbs. Unfortunately, now everyone is gone and I am sad and I am making my way through a pan of brownies to distract me from my sorrows.

Depths of Despair Brownies
Serves 1 very sad person.

My life is very sad now because I have to return to the real world. I had a wonderful, perfect weekend with my friends and now they’re gone and I’m going back to work tomorrow and I’ll be vegan in a couple hours and IT’S ALL VERY SAD. These brownies will not make you feel better so much as help you wallow in self pity for how unhealthy you are after you’ve eaten the entire thing. MY LIFE IS IS SHAMBLES, OK? STOP LOOKING AT ME WITH YOUR JUDGY EYES.


Had to take this picture before things got too embarrassing.

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
handful nuts, chopped (option for people who are lame and like polluting perfectly good brownies)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. On low heat, melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan large enough that you won’t have to get another bowl for mixing. Fewer dishes should always be a goal for life.
  3. When butter and chocolate are fully melted, turn off heat and mix in sugar, milk, and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl (extra dish fail!), whisk eggs until light yellow. When chocolate is cool enough that you won’t get chocolate scrambled eggs, stir into batter.
  5. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  6. Add nuts if you have terrible taste in brownies.
  7. Pour batter into an 8×8″ greased pan. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or whenever you feel like taking them out since brownies probably shouldn’t be cooked properly anyway.
  8. Lick spoon. And fingers. And pan. And any other chocolate-coated surface you can find. Ignore your mother’s voice in your head telling you that you’ll get salmonella from the uncooked eggs.
  9. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares so you don’t feel as bad about eating 17 of them in one sitting.

Wow, did you really make it to the bottom of this post? You either really like to cook, have a food-pictures fetish, or are very, very bored at work. If it’s the latter, I’m sorry. We’ve all been there. Maybe you should put on some headphones and listen to an episode of This American Life, or go through the archives of xkcd and see how many of the comics you actually understand. Fantasize about the house(s) you would build if you won the $153 million powerball jackpot today, if only you would buy a ticket (mine has a three-tiered roof-deck, a library with simultaneously a skylight and the ceiling from the Kennedy Center Opera House, a greenhouse and a barbecue in the sky)! There are many ways to fill the long hours of your work day, just use you’re imagination!