Tag Archives: Spring

Nocello-Spiked Carrot Cupcakes

Nocello-spiked Carrot Cupcakes

Welcome to …. CARROT WEEK!! Last week’s theme featured asparagus, so I thought I would continue on the spring produce path with Bugs Bunny’s ever-so-versatile favorite.

When pondering what I should do with carrots, it occurred to me that in all this time, I have yet to blog a recipe for any kind of carrot cake. I felt I should correct that.

Nocello-Spiked Carrot Cupcakes

Carrot cake comes in many, many forms (layer cake, sheet cake, bundt cake, cupcakes…) and there are about as many versions as there are bakers of carrot cakes. Some have raisins, some have pineapple, some have nuts, some do not, and the ones that do have nuts cannot agree on which type of nut should be in there. Should it be walnuts, or almonds, or pistachios, or hazelnuts, or pecans? Although come to think of it, I did not see any carrot cake recipes containing peanuts…

Nocello-Spiked Carrot Cupcakes

Anyways. I wanted to keep the carrot part rather pure, so I opted for no raisins or pineapple; and then I came across a recipe for boozy carrot cupcakes, and well, I looked no further. Nocello is walnut liqueur, and since walnuts and carrots are good friends, it’s a perfect addition. It’s also pretty good on the rocks. Just FYI.

You could certainly make this without the liqueur if you don’t want to buy a bottle, but it’s really, really good with the alcohol, and I’ve given you an idea of what to do with the rest of the bottle, so just sayin’… Enjoy this one, y’all!

nocello-spiked carrot cupcakes

Source: The Boozy Baker by Lucy Baker

Ingredients:
CUPCAKES:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
¼ cup walnut liqueur, such as Nocello
3 large eggs
3 cups peeled and grated carrots, about 1 lb. whole carrots
¾ cup chopped walnuts

FROSTING:
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese, at room temperature
3 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tbs walnut liqueur

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; or grease with cooking spray. Set aside.
Make the cupcakes: whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, canola oil, and walnut liqueur. Whisk in the eggs, 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and whisk until mostly blended. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold the rest of the flour mixture in. now fold in the carrots and walnuts.
Using a greased ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tins with the batter, filling each tin about three-fourths full. Bake the cupcakes until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes. Then remove them to a wire rack and let cool completely.
When the cupcakes have cooled, make the frosting. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer about 2 minutes, until very fluffy. Add 1 cup confectioners’ sugar plus the salt and continue to beat until smooth. Taste, and add up to 1 cup more sugar as desired, being sure to beat until smooth. Add the walnut liqueur and beat until incorporated. Spread the frosting over the cooled cupcakes.

Veal Oscar

Veal Oscar

Happy Friday! I’m wrapping up ASPARAGUS WEEK with a doozy of a good one, y’all. This dish is elegant, beautiful and delicious. A perfect option to have in your arsenal of tricks for when your boss is coming for dinner (does that still happen, ever?), or to make something special for your significant other, or to impress a hot date. Because this one is very impressive, y’all.

Veal Oscar

veal oscar

One recipe note: this does call for making béarnaise sauce. And béarnaise sauce can be tricky to make. I scrambled the egg yolks on the first go and had to start over. The other tricky part is that once you’ve made the sauce, you have to let it sit while you make the rest of the dish, and keeping béarnaise sauce at the perfect temperature so it doesn’t break on you can be a tightrope walk. So, if your sauce isn’t cooperating 100%, I say it’s perfectly fine to use a dollop of mayonnaise or a few drops of heavy cream to help it out. I mean, come on, you’re making this meal to impress your boss or to get laid, not to take a final exam at the French Culinary Institute. In this instance, a little cheating is perfectly okay and you should not feel bad at all.

Veal oscar

Okay, now for our recap of ASPARAGUS WEEK!

First up, I began the week with an insanely delicious Shaved Asparagus Pizza. There are no words…

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

Then, I took a little detour from Asparagus Week by participating in the fantastic Secret Recipe Club and showed y’all a Homemade Pizza Sauce, which will forever replace the canned stuff for me.

Homemade Pizza Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday we got back to asparagus with a Grilled Asparagus Panzanella, which I shared over at my friend Tara’s blog, Noshing with the Nolands. It was awesome, and a perfect way to usher in some warmer weather.

Grilled Asparagus Panzanella

 

 

 

 

 

And yesterday, I became a member of the Department of Redundancy Department by sharing Shaved Asparagus and Spinach Salad, which was beyond amazing so I stand by it.

Shaved asparagus and spinach salad

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s an asparagus recipe round-up from the blogosphere! Enjoy!

Asparagus and Cheese Tart from What Megan’s Making
Asparagus, Artichoke and Shiitake Risotto from Smitten Kitchen
Baked Parmesan Asparagus “Fries” with Lemon Garlic Aioli from Simply Scratch
Caramelized Leek and Asparagus Salad from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Egg, Country Ham, Asparagus and Leek Pizza from Farm Fresh Feasts
Pesto Tortellini Salad with Asparagus from The Kitchen is my Playground
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus from Cooking on the Front Burner
Roasted Asparagus with Bacon Vinaigrette from The Texan New Yorker

Veal Oscar

{One year ago: Slow Cooker Refried Beans}

Source: adapted from Tyler Florence Family Meal by Tyler Florence

Ingredients:
BEARNAISE SAUCE:
¼ cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 large shallot, minced
¼ cup champagne vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine
3 large egg yolks
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt and black pepper

VEAL:
8 very thick asparagus spears, bottom 2 inches removed
4 veal cutlets, about 3 oz. each
About 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 shallot, peeled and sliced into thin rings
Canola oil
Fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish

Directions:
First, make the BEARNAISE SAUCE. In a small saucepan, combine the tarragon, shallot, vinegar, and wine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until reduced by half, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and set it over medium to medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer.
Place the egg yolks into a stainless steel mixing bowl and whisk vigorously for a few seconds, until pale yellow and fluffy. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. While whisking continually, SLOWLY pour the melted butter into the egg yolks. Continue whisking vigorously until the sauce is smooth and emulsified, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down on the water if necessary. Stir in the shallot mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm (turn the heat on the saucepan to low) until ready to serve. While you’re working on the veal, stir the sauce occasionally to see how it’s doing. If it’s too thick, use a little heavy cream; if it’s breaking on you, use a dollop of mayonnaise.
Now make the veal. Fill a high-sided large skillet with a few inches of water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Drop the asparagus into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain the asparagus and either plunge them into a bowl of ice water, then remove once they’ve cooled, or drain them into a colander and run them under very cold water until they have cooled. Set aside.
Place each veal cutlet between 2 sheets of parchment paper (or 1 large sheet folded in half). Using the smooth side of a meat mallet to pound each cutlet to an even ¼-inch thickness. Cut each in half cross wise. Place 1 asparagus spear on each cutlet half and roll into a cigar.
Place about 1 cup flour in a shallow dish or plate and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the veal rolls in the flour by rolling them across the plate. Tap off the excess. Repeat with each asparagus spear and set them all on a plate.
Place the remaining flour in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Separate the shallot slices into rings, discarding the smallest ones. Add to the bowl of flour and toss until coated. Set aside.
Wipe out the skillet you used to blanch the asparagus, and melt the butter in it over medium-high heat. Add the veal rolls, making sure not to crowd them, and cook, turning at least once, for about 8 minutes total. Remove to a plate and set aside.
To the drippings in the skillet, add enough canola oil to make a nice film across the entire bottom of the skillet. Add the shallot rings and fry for just a couple of minutes, tossing a few times, until browned and crisp. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Now you are ready to assemble this bad boy. Line up the veal rolls on a platter and generously spoon béarnaise sauce over them. Sprinkle some crispy shallots on top, then garnish with some torn tarragon leaves. Serve immediately, two veal rolls per person.

Shaved Asparagus and Spinach Salad

Shaved Asparagus and Spinach Salad

Welcome to another day in the week of ASPARAGUS!! So, I know that this post may sound a little redundant within my Asparagus Week. I mean, I’ve already posted a recipe featuring shaved asparagus, and then yesterday I posted an asparagus salad. Surely I could have found something different to do with asparagus than putting shaved asparagus in a salad? Yes, I could have, but what can I say? The heart wants what it wants, and when my heart ran across this recipe, it started to pitter-patter quite loudly and eagerly, and I felt involuntarily compelled to follow its lead.

asparagus close-up

asparagus bundle

Fortunately, my heart did not lead me astray at all – this salad is fantastic! It’s so clean and bright and healthy; and I think I could eat this once a week all year, if only supermarket asparagus tasted good all year long. As we all well know, it does not. But this salad should definitely become one of your staples during asparagus season. It’s just so perfect! Easy to throw together, too. Enjoy this one, guys!

shaved asparagus and spinach salad

Shaved asparagus and spinach salad

{One year ago: Cajun Crab Cakes with Jalapeno Tartar Sauce}

Source: lightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, April/May 2011

Ingredients:
3 tbs white wine vinegar
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs honey
1 tbs finely minced shallot
Kosher salt and black pepper
¾ lb. thick asparagus
3-4 handfuls baby spinach
½ cup toasted, peeled and chopped hazelnuts
2 ½ oz. shaved Pecorino Romano cheese (use your vegetable peeler)

Directions:
First make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, shallot, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Do not snap the tough ends off the asparagus. Place one stalk on a cutting board, and hold it by the tough end. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus in one long motion. Repeat until you can’t shave any more of the green off; at this point, just snap the tender part from the tough end and discard the tough end. Repeat with the remaining stalks.
Toss the shaved asparagus with 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette and let sit for 10 minutes. You can let it sit longer, but just know that the longer it sits, the more it softens and the harder it is to toss with the rest of the salad ingredients.
Add the spinach and hazelnuts to a large salad bowl, then add the asparagus shavings along with the remaining dressing. Toss to combine, then shave the cheese over top. Serve immediately.

Grilled Asparagus Panzanella

Grilled Asparagus Panzanella

Hey guys! I am continuing my week of ASPARAGUS recipes by guest posting over at the fabulous food blog Noshing with the Nolands! My friend Tara is on vacation and I am so honored to be taking over her blog for the day.

Tara asked me to make something for Spring, and this fits in with my asparagus week so perfectly; so I made this wonderful panzanella with grilled asparagus. (Click HERE for the recipe!)

grilled asparagus panzanella

It was beyond delicious, y’all. Asparagus is in season and so gorgeous right now, and a lighter salad is so perfect if you’re one of the lucky few ushering in warmer weather. I’m not one of those people. Today’s high is 30 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m not bitter.

Anywho, be sure you click on over to Tara’s blog for this fabulous salad recipe! And be sure to check out the rest of Tara’s wonderful blog while you’re at it.

Grilled Asparagus Panzanella

{One year ago: Pickled Jalapenos}

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Shaved asparagus pizza

Happy Sunday evening! I’m so excited because I am finally returning to my themed weeks!! I’ve missed blogging this way. So this week’s theme is….. drum roll please…… ASPARAGUS!! Asparagus and I have become great friends over the past several years (of course I hated it growing up), and to me it’s the perfect vegetable to usher in the spring season.

asparagus shavings (for pizza)

We’re starting the week with a delicious and beautiful pizza, which I couldn’t get enough of; Matt felt the same, and I’m sure we both deserve a medal for allowing the other their fair share of leftovers. I know either of us could have easily hoarded them all for ourselves.

shaved asparagus pizza

Shaved asparagus pizza

This pizza will go down as one of my favorites, one I will probably make every spring at least once. You should too. Enjoy!

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Shaved Asparagus pizza

{One year ago: Tomato Cornbread}

Source: adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Ingredients:
1 lb. fresh pizza dough
½ lb. thick asparagus
2 tsp olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 oz. goat cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 F. Grease a round pizza pan and sprinkle with a touch of cornmeal if desired. Roll or stretch out your pizza to fit the pan. Par-bake it for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, leaving the oven on.
Meanwhile, prep the asparagus. Do not snap the tough ends off the asparagus. Working with one spear at a time, hold it by its tough end and lay it flat on a cutting board. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the asparagus into long strips. Keep going until you physically cannot make it work anymore, then snap off the tough end. Discard the tough ends and place the shavings in a bowl. Toss them with the olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the par-baked pizza crust from the oven. Crumble the goat cheese and place the crumbles evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the parmesan evenly over the crust, followed by laying the mozzarella slices on top. Pile the asparagus on top.
Bake the pizza for 10-15 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are browned. The asparagus might be lightly charred. That’s a good thing.
Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with the scallions. Let rest about 5 minutes, then slice and eat!

Rhubarb Scones

rhubarb scones

A few days after thinking I was done with rhubarb for the season, I walked into my grocery store, all naïve and unsuspecting, to find some unbelievably gorgeous rhubarb staring at me. It taunted and tempted me for the entire five seconds I spent debating whether to buy it. Yep, I was powerless to resist the beautiful rhubarb and it went straight into my shopping cart.

stalks of gorgeous rhubarb

Matt had recently seen an article on NPR’s website about cooking and baking with rhubarb, and it featured some rhubarb scones. And since I haven’t made scones in a few months (e-gads!), I suddenly knew what I would do with the awesome vegetable that doesn’t taste one bit like a vegetable.

rhubarb scones, unbaked

These scones were quite delicious – everything you want in a perfect scone. I wanted to blog them today, in the hopes that it’s still rhubarb season where at least someone lives, so maybe at least someone can go out and make them very soon.

Rhubarb Scones

I’m not sure how much longer I’ll have access to the beautiful stalks myself. And if rhubarb is done for another year where you live, then by all means, bookmark or pin this recipe for next year. Because you absolutely should not miss out on these amazing scones!

Rhubarb Scones

Source: adapted from Food52

Ingredients:
3 full stalks of rhubarb, trimmed and thinly sliced into 1/4-1/2″ pieces (if your rhubarb is pre-trimmed, you’ll want about 14 ounces)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, toss rhubarb with 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Sift flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until butter is the size of small peas. Add in sliced rhubarb, vanilla extract, and cream. Stir together with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Flour your hands and knead for about 1 minute, until the dough completely comes together.
Transfer dough to a floured surface. Pat it down to a rectangle about 1/2″ thick. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 8 roughly even rectangles. Arrange on prepared cookie sheet and sprinkle the remaining sugar on top of each scone. Bake about 18 minutes or until golden on top.

Rhubarb Ginger Soda

Rhubarb Ginger Soda

Can you believe it is almost June 1st??? Ack! That little fact prompted me to post this recipe today. It’s my last rhubarb recipe for a while, and I definitely want to post it before rhubarb goes out of season, which for me will be in a few short weeks if not sooner.

chopping rhubarb

Homemade soda is really kind of cool. And no, I don’t have one of those fancy schmancy soda fizz-making contraptions you see on TV. You don’t technically need one to make soda at home. Soda (or pop, or coke, or whatever you call it) is really just a flavored, sweetened syrup combined with club soda or seltzer water. Easy!

rhubarb ginger syrup for soda

I loved rhubarb for this one since it’s in season right now, but I will certainly be playing around with the concept in the future. I see a big future for homemade sodas; you can control the ingredients, use less sugar than commercial cans (and no high-fructose corn syrup!), and you can actually use fresh ingredients. Woohoo! The types of syrups you can make are pretty much limitless, and I think it will be lots of fun.

homemade rhubarb soda

A few weeks ago I had a pickled jalapeno soda at a restaurant in Chelsea, I would love to try and recreate that one in my kitchen. I’ll let you know! In the meantime, see what you think of this homemade soda.

rhubarb ginger soda

Source: adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

Ingredients:
½ lb. rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups water
1 tbs fresh lime juice
1 coin fresh ginger
2 tbs sugar
Sprig of fresh thyme
2 cups club soda

Directions:
Combine the rhubarb and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is almost dissolving. Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the rhubarb. Discard.
Add the lime juice to the rhubarb water, along with the ginger and sugar. Raise the heat to medium-high. Cook at a low boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the mixture is slightly reduced and thickened.
Remove from the heat, add the thyme, and cover. Let steep for 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and add sugar if needed (I found this step unnecessary). Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a jar or bottle and let cool completely.
To serve, fill two tall glasses with ice. Add 1/3 cup of rhubarb syrup to each glass, then top each glass with 1 cup of the club soda. Serve immediately.

Rhubarb Jam Tart

slice of rhubarb jam tart

Happy Memorial Day everyone! I hope you’re all having beautiful weather, wherever you are, and that your day is fun, tasty and safe. Matt and I are chilling out with cold beers, spare ribs on the grill, and a cherry almond galette that we have almost demolished.

short bread dough

short bread dough fitted in tart pan

As promised last week, here is a delicious way to use up that leftover rhubarb jam. This tart is scrumptious, beautiful to look at, and it really could not be simpler to throw together. The crust is more like short bread than pie dough, so you don’t even need a rolling pin.

slicing a log of dough

The topping is so cool; it’s actually circles of the dough placed evenly across the jam, and it makes for such a pretty scalloped looking tart. The instructions said to roll the dough into a log and then thinly slice it into rounds. I did that, and my slices weren’t completely cooperative. I had to smash some down with my fingers because I hadn’t sliced them thin enough, and for whatever reason I found it difficult to roll the log into an even circular round, so my slices were a bit misshapen.

rhubarb jam in tart shell

I think it might have been a little friendlier to just roll out the topping dough and stamp out circles with a small biscuit cutter. But since I did not do it that way, I couldn’t say for sure. And if I tell you to do that, I’ll be breaking my no-rolling-pin-needed promise. But next time, I think I will try that. And if you try it that way, please let me know how it goes.

Rhubarb Jam Tart

Rhubarb Jam Tart

I’ll conclude this Memorial Day post by saying a huge and sincere thank you to all our men and women in uniform. Your service is greatly appreciated. And thank you to your families for enduring their own sacrifices to let you protect us.

slice of rhubarb jam tart

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
9 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, whole
1 large egg, separated
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 1/3 to 2 cups rhubarb jam, or any other homemade or store bought jam or marmalade you have lying around
2 tbs turbinado

Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a food processor, mix the butter and 1/2 cup sugar together until smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk (keep the egg white from the second egg on hand for later) and almond extract and beat until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until the dough just comes together. (I used the stand mixer).
Transfer about one-third of the dough to a lightly floured counter and shape it into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed. Alternately, if you’re planning to use the roll and stamp out method, you could just shape it into a disc and then refrigerate.
Transfer the remaining dough to a greased or buttered 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Using your hands, press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet. Refrigerate the dough-lined pan until firm, at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spread the jam evenly over the dough in the pan. The amount used here will depend on how much you have; the original recipe called for around 1 1/3 cup, but I used 2 cups and it worked just fine.
Cut the chilled log of dough into very thin discs with a sharp paring knife. Arrange them slightly overlapped in concentric circles over the jam to form a top crust. Whisk the remaining egg white with a teaspoon of water until frothy; brush evenly over the tart lid and then sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of the turbinado (I found mine needed slightly less). Bake until the top crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely, then slice and serve.

Peanut Butter and Rhubarb Jam Sandwiches

PB&J

Last night I had a version of my recurring nightmare. My recurring nightmare, which I have every couple of months or so, is that I’m back in law school (and that right there is quite enough to qualify it as a nightmare, trust me); so anyway, I’m back in law school, and exams are imminently approaching, and I realize that I somehow forgot I was in school and that I haven’t been to class all semester. Yet I paid for the semester, so I don’t want to just say screw it and no-show for the exams. So I’m studying like a maniac to test on subjects with which I’m not remotely familiar, and then I wake up as I’m sweating bullets through an exam I’m not at all prepared to take.

making rhubarb jam

Last night was another version of the same thing. I was a contestant on “The Voice” – team Shakira! – and somehow I’d made it to the final show. By the way, this is even funnier if you’ve ever heard me sing. So I was prepared for all the ensemble numbers, but somehow I’d forgotten that I would have to do a solo, and I hadn’t prepped a song for it. I figured I’d have to wing it, but I was terrified because I didn’t even know the words to the song I’d been assigned. So I sang it onstage in front of a huge audience, and did the whole elementary school choir “watermelon” trick on the parts I didn’t know. Except that doesn’t exactly work on a solo… I awoke as Matt was trying to find a diplomatic way of telling me that it had really sucked.

white bread dough

I don’t know what’s going on with my subconscious. Sometimes it’s just better not to ask why. Did I mention that Rachael Ray was one of my competitors on Team Shakira? Yeah, I don’t want to know…

white sandwich bread from scratch

sliced white sandwich bread

Like with this sandwich. I’d just as soon you didn’t ask why I felt compelled to take the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, one of the quickest and simplest sandwiches to make ever, and turn it into the single most complicated sandwich I’ve ever made in my life by making the whole thing from scratch. Because honestly, I don’t know, and finding out might be rather frightening. So I figure, best to just leave it be and enjoy the sandwich!

peanuts

homemade peanut butter

This was the typical PB&J, with only the three ingredients, but for whatever reason I insisted upon making all three elements myself, from scratch. I have to say, it was the best PB&J I’ve ever tasted; it’s amazing how much extra sugar and salt is added to store-bought peanut butter! I’ll definitely keep making my own nut butters.

peanut butter spread on bread

homemade rhubarb jam

And I suppose I’m glad I did this at least once. Enjoy this recipe, whether you decide to make all of it, none of it, or any one part of it!

Peanut Butter and Rhubarb Jam Sandwich

WHITE SANDWICH BREAD:

Source: adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

Ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 tbs lukewarm water
3 tbs sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 generous tbs kosher salt
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup nonfat dry milk powder
Cooking spray

Directions:
In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let it proof for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the flour, salt, melted butter, and milk powder to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
Once the yeast has proofed, add the mixture to the stand mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on medium-low and let the dough hook knead the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough becomes soft, pliable and smooth. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon or so of flour, and if it is dry enough that it’s taxing the mixer, add a tablespoon or so of room temperature water.
When done kneading, cover the bowl with a clean, damp dish towel and let it rise for 1 hour, until about doubled in size.
Spread a thin film of oil or cooking spray on your rolling surface (counter or cutting board). Grease a standard loaf pan and set aside.
Transfer the dough to the counter and roll it into a 5×8-inch rectangle. Starting with the narrow end, roll it into a log and pinch the seam closed. Make sure the ends are tucked in nicely and evenly. Transfer the log to the prepared loaf pan. Lightly grease a sheet of plastic wrap, lay it over the dough and let it rise until it is 1 inch above the rim of the pan. This can take up to two hours, possibly longer. I got impatient and probably should have let mine rise more. Oops.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the pan halfway through baking. It is done when the top is golden brown and makes a hollow sound when tapped. Turn over the pan to release the loaf immediately and let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

PEANUT BUTTER:

Source: adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

Ingredients:
1 lb. shelled raw peanuts, preferably not organic*
½ tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
2 tsp honey, or more to taste
4 tbs canola oil

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, or just until they begin to brown. You’ll smell them. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.
Place the peanuts, salt, and honey in a food processor. Blend for 20 seconds. With the motor still running, drizzle in the oil through the chute, and process for another 30 seconds. Stop the motor and check for seasoning. Add more salt and/or honey, then process for another minute or so to reach your desired consistency.
*Matt was reading the other day that organic peanuts have a fungus that naturally grows on them that can be harmful if consumed too often or in too high a dose. Best to be safer and buy non-organic, since those peanuts will be treated with an anti-fungicide.

RHUBARB JAM:

Source: ‘wichCraft by Tom Colicchio

Ingredients:
4 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups plus 1 tsp sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp powdered fruit pectin

Directions:
In a bowl, combine the rhubarb, 2 cups sugar, and lemon juice. Refrigerate overnight in a tightly covered container. The next day, in a small saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the pectin and remaining teaspoon of sugar. Temper it by adding small amounts of the hot rhubarb mixture and quickly stirring it. Add it to the rest of the rhubarb and return the saucepan to the heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and place into a clean container with a lid. Once it has cooled down, close the lid and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
This makes probably way more jam than you’ll need for a few sandwiches. Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing next week what you should do with the leftovers. And it’s really yummy, so don’t miss it!

Dilled Veal Meat Loaf

Dilled Veal Meat Loaf

Aahhh, meat loaf. It’s the ultimate comfort food, isn’t it? I’ve always associated meat loaf as a colder weather dish, definitely not spring fare. But when I saw a recipe for meat loaf that used veal, not beef or pork, and included lots of dill, an herb that undeniably shouts SPRING! well, I knew that May was the perfect month for making such a dish.

unbaked veal meat loaf

My hunch was correct. This meat loaf was incredibly light and moist. The flavors were spectacular, with the dill being very present but not at all overwhelming (as dill can sometimes be). It was such a cheerful and happy spring meat loaf! I would gladly make it again.

sour cream mustard dill sauce

Some recipe notes: I found this in a Steven Raichlen book, which of course called for grilling it, but which I didn’t feel like doing at that moment, so I adapted it for the oven. Also, the recipe as written had no topping or glaze or anything. And while I’m all too aware that the old school tomato sauce topping can be a little icky and flavorless, I thought nothing at all was a bit odd. So I came up with a mustard dill sauce for serving alongside. It married with the meat loaf quite nicely and really rounded everything out.

Dilled Veal Meat Loaf

Another note/pet peeve: never cook meat loaf in a loaf baking pan. Always shape the loaf on a greased baking sheet. This way, the top will brown and caramelize, and it won’t be swimming in the excess water and fat. If you cook it in a loaf pan, it basically just steams, whereas on the baking sheet, it can properly roast.

veal meat loaf

Source: adapted from BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen

Ingredients:
Olive oil
1 small to medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ lbs. ground veal, preferably humanely raised
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3 tbs finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tbs finely chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup fizzy club soda
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ cup sour cream
2 generous tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs finely chopped fresh dill

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle with olive oil, then add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and let cool a little bit.
In a large bowl, add the veal, bread crumbs, egg, egg white, parsley, 3 tbs dill, club soda, salt and pepper. Add the sautéed onions and garlic. Using a large spoon or clean hands, mix everything together until just combined. Do not overmix.
Dump the meat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and shape into a loaf. Insert a meat thermometer into the center. Bake until the thermometer reads 170 F, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the sour cream sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mustard and 1 tbs fresh dill. Refrigerate until needed.
Remove the meat loaf from the oven when done and let rest for about 10 minutes. Then slice and serve with the sour cream sauce.