I turned 40 a few months ago, but I’m still trying to learn some new tricks. I’m getting deeper into yoga and meditation, practicing being more chilled out, trying to apologize less, and generally owning my shit. It’s up and down. We’re still learning, ya know.
I’m also trying to learn how to make bread. This is not really something you can learn from books or TV. Bread making is tactile. Yeast is a living thing that needs attention. Bread dough can be different from one day to the next. It’s a beast that I don’t fully understand. We’re getting to know each other. It’s a process.
This Tear & Share Flower Bread is pretty approachable. It uses a mix of white bread flour and whole wheat flour giving it a hearty texture. It’s sorta cute without involving any complicated braids. Don’t be afraid. You can totally do this.
The petals are perfect for dipping into soup, and the center can be sliced for toast or whatever, or just torn off into hunks fr more dipping. Do what you want. It’s gonna be tasty.
Let’s do cool new things. Let’s make bread. It’ll be awesome.
I’ve got a tasty little side dish for you along with a bit of a confession. People might think that because I write a food blog, and I talk about food all the time, that I probably make elaborate meals every night of the week. In real life, I usually don’t cook more than one thing at a time. With the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I pretty much never make more than one dish from scratch for a meal.
Because of my laziness, side dishes often get shafted. Then again, I guess part two of this confession is that we sometimes have side dishes or dips or appetizers as dinner and skip a main dish all together. I try to act like an adult when people come over, but my husband gets weird non-dinner on a regular basis.
This English Potato Gratin is absolutely good enough to be its own thing. Of course, I’d also strongly encourage you to serve it alongside a beautiful roast chicken or even at a holiday dinner. It’s creamy and subtle, but in no way lacking in flavor. Just make sure you don’t skimp on the salt. A nice sprinkle of coarse sea salt on top before serving will really make it sing.
Unlike other gratins I’ve made in the past, the potatoes are actually boiled in the milk mixture to make sure the potatoes are perfectly tender. It also negates the need to fiddle with shingling your potato slices. Just boil them until they’re soft and then transfer them however they fall to your baking dish, then transfer that to the oven to brown on the top.
I hope you make this English Potato Gratin. Serve it with something delicious, or not. Just don’t skip this recipe. It’s gonna be awesome.
So… If you follow me on Instagram, you might know that I broke my finger over the weekend. Instead of going to see Captain Marvel on Saturday morning, we spent the day in the hospital waiting to have surgery. I had two wires drilled into my finger, and it’s now splinted and bandaged. I won’t be seeing that finger again for three weeks.
It’s painful and annoying, but probably the most frustrating part is not being able to cook. I’m thrilled to get out of doing the dishes for a few weeks, but today I needed to peel and chop sweet potatoes, and you can’t do that one handed. You think of the pinky on your non-dominant hand as relatively insignificant, but when you can’t use it, you suddenly realise you actually need it for quite a lot.
Lucky for you, I made this Bacon Corn Risotto for you before my finger snapped. I wish I had a never ending pot of it. This is not a traditional risotto recipe, and when I made it the first time, I was skeptical, but after the first bite, all doubt disappeared. The mix of creamy rice and sweet crunchy corn along with the salty crisp bacon is absolutely ideal.
It was the addition of Greek yogurt that really threw me, but it give the risotto a perfect hit of acid and ensures that it’s ultra creamy. If you can stop yourself from going back for seconds, you can stretch this into three servings, which makes lunch the next day absolutely heavenly.
Life never seems to stop laying challenges at our feet. As long as we continue to rise up t meet them, life is good. If we can chase them with Bacon Corn Risotto, all the better.
Put a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Use scissors to slice up your bacon directly into the pot. Cook your bacon, stirring occasionally, until crispy, then remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel lined plate.
You’ll want about a tablespoon of bacon grease left in the pot, so if your bacon has given off a lot of grease, you may need to drain some off. To your reserved bacon grease, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the white parts of your sliced green onion, and cook over medium low heat to soften for about a minute.
Add the rice and toss it in the fat to coat every grain. Let this cook for a few minutes to get toasty. When it starts to smell nutty, you’re ready to start adding stock.
Add the stock about a 1/4 cup at a time, stirring all the while, until the liquid is absorbed before adding another 1/4 cup of stock. Keep adding stock until it’s all absorbed. It will take about a half hour.
Once your rice has absorbed all the liquid, stir in the corn, and let it cook for a few minutes to heat up the corn.
Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the yogurt to combine. Give it a stir and taste before you add salt and pepper to taste.
Basically everyone on Instagram is on a major organizing binge right now. Whether Netflix has them KonMari-ing their lives or they’ve finally decided 2019 is the year they’re becoming a minimalist, my stream is full of people putting things in order and clearing things out. Somehow they still seem to have five hundred pens and fifty pairs of shoes, but to each their own.
I learned a few years ago that the best way to simplify your life is to move to a different country with only what you can carry in your two suitcases without going over the airline’s weight limit. I’ve done this three times now, so my brain is pretty well trained to resist bringing clutter into my life. We’ve bought a flat now, so I’m finally letting myself collect books again instead of going to the library, but other than that, if it doesn’t serve a purpose that can’t be fulfilled by something I already own, it doesn’t make it into my home.
There are a couple of spots in my house that can get a bit clutter from time to time. You guessed it, the fridge and the pantry. That’s why baked pasta is so genius. This Pepperoni Pasta Bake was made with two half full bags of pasta I had languishing in a cupboard, two half full bags of shredded cheese from my fridge, and the pepperoni I had leftover from this pizza. Cleaning up never tasted so good.
The recipe below is really just a suggestion. You can use any type of pasta, so long as they’re of similar shape and size so that they have a relatively similar cooking time. Use any type of melty and mild cheese such as mozzarella, fontina, provelone, or even a mild cheddar. You could also add any bits of leftover meat hanging out in your fridge. I used pepperoni, but salami, sausage, or ground beef, pork or turkey would all be awesome. You can make your own sauce, but I always use my favorite jarred pasta sauce because I’m lazy. In terms of measurements, just eyeball it to balance out what you need to use up. Go with your gut, and your taste buds will be rewarded.
It’s always the right time to learn how to live with less, go lighter through the world, and simplify your life. Why not keep it delicious while you’re on this journey. Pepperoni Pasta Bake is a great way to start.
Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and lightly spray a casserole dish with oil.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, then add your salt. Dump in your pasta and cook as long as it says on the package for your chosen shape. Give it a stir occasionally to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick together.
When the pasta is al dente, drain it, and return it to the pot, off the heat. Add the pasta sauce, about two thirds of the cheese, the pepperoni, and the crushed red pepper flakes to the pasta. Stir well to combine everything.
Transfer your pasta to your casserole dish, then sprinkle the rest of the cheese evenly over the top.
Bake your pasta for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese. If you prefer your cheese to be a bit more brown, you can just keep it in the oven for longer.
Allow the pasta to cool for at least five minutes before serving.
Recently I had the pleasure of reading Nigella Lawson’s first book, How to Eat, cover to cover in bed like it was a novel. This book reminded me so much of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Even though Nigella never went to Le Cordon Bleu like Julia, I think it’s safe to say she’s inspired millions of home cooks to get in the kitchen and create something special.
And as much as I adore Ina, the thing that makes Nigella my favorite is that even though her father is a Baron and she no doubt has buckets of money, she never makes me feel inferior. She’s honest about her food, has notoriously terrible knife skills, isn’t afraid to take shortcuts, and just truly seems to love food.
One of the first “recipes” in How to Eat is roast chicken. This is such a simple British classic, and yet I seem to always overlook roasting a whole chicken. In the book, this is much more of a story than a traditional recipe, all about how her chicken compares to her mother’s, and it just made me fall in love with her even more.
Being a recipe hoarder, I tend to skip over things that are excessively simplistic, thinking it hardly counts as cooking. But the whole point of cooking is eating, and a roast chicken is simple, flavorful, and comforting. It’s takes all of five minutes to prepare, and the oven does the rest, so you could easily cook a small bird even for a week night dinner. And if, like us, you’re only serving a couple of people, you already half the work done for at least one more meal by using the leftover chicken in something else.
Nigella has inspired me not to overlook the simplistic, as this is where we can sometimes find the most enjoyment. Go ahead and make a simple, unadulterated roast chicken. It’ll be awesome.
Remove your chicken from the packaging and place it in a roasting pan. Shove your half a lemon inside the cavity of the chicken. Spray your chicken all over with olive oil. Just a quick spritz. You don’t need to drown it. Season all over with salt and pepper.
Pop your chicken in the oven for about an hour and a half. Check the packaging for a suggested cooking time for the size of your specific chicken. When it’s done, the skin will be crisp and golden and juices should run clear.
Allow the chicken to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving and eating.
To save the leftovers, allow the chicken to cool, then just get in there with your hands to pull off any remaining meat. Pour any juices from the roasting pan over the leftover chicken to help prevent it from drying out, then clamp on the lid of your air tight container.