There are premature wrinkles around my knees. My mom always thought the tan kids were cuter than the pale ones, so sunscreen went to the extent of a quick swipe of Bullfrog across the lips and nose. People would throw stones at her with the research they have now. My sister and I were adorably bronzed through our childhood, at the cost of the aging knee caps I have now.
I studied my face in the mirror the other day, not out of vanity, but out of amazement that it has changed. This face has taken me through falling in love, loss of family, disappointment, living abroad, challenging jobs, late nights with girlfriends over bottles of wine, moving… you have a list of your own I’m sure. Somewhere in all of that, I’ve grown up. By no means do I feel I’ve suffered hardship, but lessons have been learned that changed me.
There is more life to look forward to, and for that I am grateful. Ambitions float around my head, unorganized, and mixed with the fear of failing. My face will continue to evolve; there will be more love and more loss. The wrinkles on my knees will get deeper; a reminder to me of long Sundays at the beach with my family, tuna sandwiches and boogie boards. I appreciate the momentum that life has, that things change beneath your feet and you don’t always realize it until the ground has since shifted.
So, in honor of wrinkles, we made bread. A hearty compact-english-muffin-type bread, full of texture. It takes time and some unique components, but completely worth it. Just like life.
BIG SUR BAKERY HIDE BREAD // Makes 16 //
The recipe is straight from the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook (of which I won from Dana! The astriks indicate what I used of the options).
5 Cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour
½ Cup Flax Seeds
½ Cup Sesame Seeds (I used toasted seeds)
2 Cups Oat Bran
¼ Cup Sunflower Seeds
½ Cup Millet*, Quinoa, Poppy seeds or Amaranth (or any combination)
1 tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/3 Cup Beer
2 ½ Cups Buttermilk*, Milk or Half and Half
Oven to 375, Middle Oven Rack
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the beer and buttermilk (or alternative). Use a wooden spoon or your hand to mix the wet batter. Sprinkle some flour on top, and put it on a floured work surface. Gently roll is out to form a loose log, about 2-3 inches in diameter.
3. Cut the log into 1 ½ inch slices and give them a little pat into a patty form. Don't make them too small, they get dry. Lay on the baking sheet. Bake on the middle rack for 40 minutes until golden. Remove and cool.
4. For serving, slice open and toast. They have a raw bread flavor inside (like a bagel or English muffin) so toasting is crucial. Goes excellent with a schmear of Butter/Jam/ Soft Cheese!
My grandma, more formally known as 'Memaw', has been very supportive of my cooking endeavors. She doesn't like to cook, but she does read homey magazines and frequently rips out recipes with pretty pictures and passes them on to me. I wish I could do justice to how excited she was about her recent gem, as she told me she found a recipe for an 'egg pizza'. It took me awhile to figure out what she was describing, as she is not quite fluent in food vernacular. I came up with my own version for my sweet grandma who is so easily impressed. Whether you are an old friend to the frittata, or believe this is a pizza, it's tasty.
I have shared with you how I love breakfast, love eggs in particular and this recipe is no exception. I'm not one for pie crust, so I find this more intriguing than quiche. It is an economical option because you really can throw any vegetable into the eggs and it works. Kind of... use your better judgement carrot or beet lovers.
LEEK AND SPINACH FRITTATA // Serves 6
I like to use more whites to make it a bit lighter, if you like a richer egg dish, use 10 whole eggs.
2 Whole Eggs
10 Egg Whites
1/3 Cup Milk
2 Leeks, White and Light Green Parts, Thinly Sliced
1 tbsp. Butter
1 Cup Fresh Steamed Spinach
¾ Cup Shredded Cheese (I used Goat’s Milk Gouda)
2 tsp. Hot Sauce (Tapatio, Chalua etc)
1 Cup Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Halved
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Preheat oven to 500’
1. Warm the butter in a saucepan (preferably non stick) on medium heat, add the sliced leeks and sauté until they begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, egg whites, hot sauce and milk. Incorporate some air and break them up, whisk about 4 minutes, yes, your arm will start to hurt. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Squeeze as much water possible out of the steamed spinach, give it a rough chop, and squeeze again.
4. Distribute the leeks in the pan, as this will be your frittata base. Turn the heat back to medium and pour the egg mixture on top. Scatter in the chopped spinach and the shredded cheese and allow the mix to sit for a minute. Use a spatula to lift up the sides.
5. As it starts to firm up, lay your tomatoes on the top, cut side up. Put the entire pan into the oven on the top rack. Let it bake for about 8 minutes and check. It should be set, but still have a little give when you push on the middle. Remove and let it cool a bit before serving. Goes well with some fresh chopped basil and a dollop of greek yogurt.
The season does not matter, it is ALWAYS an appropriate time for ice cream. I know there are a few wackies out there who are ‘not dessert people’, but ice cream… greek yogurt… cookie chunks and cinnamon? Come on. I will MAKE you a dessert person.
The original thought was to do a light, refreshing frozen yogurt. But somehow, seeing as it was Hugh’s birthday and all, we ended up with rich, creamy goodness with big chunks of fresh cookie strewn throughout. It seemed the best option, since I normally get scolded for digging out the cookies from our store bought cookies n’ cream. This was my turn to give back after all the caverns I’ve carved through many ice cream cartons past.
GREEK YOGURT ICE CREAM WITH GOODIES // Makes a rough half gallon // Ice cream maker necessary, organic dairy products preferable
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Cups Whole Milk
2 Cups Greek Yogurt
6 Extra Large Organic Egg Yolks
1 ½ Cups Granulated Sugar, Divided
1 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
2 Cups Fresh Chocolate Chip Cookies, Roughly Chopped*
Pinch of Salt
*Make your own chocolate chip cookies if you have time to spare. If you use store bought, Immaculate Baking Co. makes a natural product , as does Pillsbury with their new ‘Simply’ branding.
1. In a heavy saucepan, bring the cream, milk and one cup of sugar to a simmer. Stir to dissolve the sugar and scald the cream. Turn off the heat and let it sit a moment. Stirring to cool off.
2. In a large heat proof bowl, whisk the egg yolk with remaining half cup sugar. Add a half cup of the warm cream mix to the egg yolks and whisk to bring the temperature up as to not scramble the eggs. Add remaining cream mix to the yolks and incorporate.
3. Pour the mix back into the saucepan, and simmer on medium low and whisk periodically. The mixture should thicken enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. About 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
4. In a larger bowl, make an ice water bath. Put the saucepan in the ice bath to cool to room temperature. Stir every once in awhile. This will take about ten minutes.
5. Add the cinnamon and greek yogurt and whisk well to combine. Put in the fridge to cool for a half hour.
6. While this is cooling, bake your cookies. Bake them a good two minutes less than normal so you get a very soft, delicate, almost raw cookie.
7. Pour the cold cream mixture in the ice cream maker, and turn it on. All makers are different, it will probably take about a half hour for it to firm up. Add in the cookies when it is the consistency of soft serve. Transfer to a container and freeze for a few hours to harden, or overnight. Stays fresh about 4 days.
Originally, panzanella was a Tuscan salad made of day-old bread, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, salt and vinegar. Over the years, there have been renditions with fall vegetables, sweet fruits, grilled versions and more. The 'crouton' being the only ingredient that stands strong in all circumstances.
This seasonal panzanella takes all of about 20 minutes to throw together. If you have time, you can roast your own peppers, boil your own chickpeas and blend your own pesto. However, if you need to save yourself a few steps, these items are available, pre-made at a grocery or health food store. If you have a local farmers market, especially in California, tomatoes, peppers and greens are plenty. This recipe is a starting point, but use this as an opportunity to use your fresh produce or appropriate leftovers.
END OF SUMMER PANZANELLA // Serves 4 as a side
3 Cups Whole Grain Bread, in 1’ Cubes
½ Cup Roasted Red Peppers (make your own or use a jar)
2 Medium Heirloom Tomatoes
½ Medium Sized Red Onion
1 Cup Garbanzo Beans, fresh or canned
1 Cup Basil, Roughly Chopped
1 Cup Arugula
¼ Cup Toasted Pine Nuts
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Garlic Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
PESTO DRESSING // Pesto recipe found (here)
3 tbsp. Pesto
2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
Oven to 400’
Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet, drizzle with the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and toss them around in the baking pan. Give a generous sploosh of salt and pepper and toast in the top rack of the oven for ten minutes. Toss them around half way through baking time.
Prepare your veggies. Give a rough chop to the roasted red peppers. Slice the tomato into cubes, leave them seeded. Slice the red onion as thin as possible either with your amazing knife skills or a mandolin.
In a large bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes (and some of their juices), red onion, red peppers, garbanzo beans, arugula, half of the basil and pine nuts.
Combine the pesto ingredients together with a small whisk. Drizzle desired amount onto the panzanella and toss. Serve immediately once tossed, soggy croutons aren't so good.
I’m not sure why I’ve been so intimidated to make my own pizza dough. It has a quick list of about 4 stand by ingredients and reaped a priceless amount of self accomplishment. I watched the dough ball slowly expand and immediately texted Hugh to mark my success. I used a combination of unbleached flour and whole wheat, resulting in a hearty yet pliable dough.
The attractive thing about pizza to any home cook, is that it is a blank canvas for flavors. You can use whatever cheese you have, maybe some leftover shredded chicken, marinara sauce or pesto. I wanted to wish my beloved figs a fond farewell this season, so a savory flatbread was just the place for final enjoyment. At some point this holiday weekend, I'm sure you'll be eating outside, and likely with other people. I've YET to meet someone who does not like pizza. Unless you're some low carb, gluten free, fat free diner, in which case Hugh will gladly consume your portion.
RUSTIC FIG AND GOAT CHEESE PIZZA // Makes 2 large, or 4 small pizzas
2 Cups Unbleached Flour
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 to 1 1/4 Cup Water
1 tsp./ Half Packet Quick Rise Yeast
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp. Sea Salt
3 tbsp. Fresh Chopped Chives
12 Fresh Figs, Sliced
½ Cup Soft Goat Cheese
½ Cup Fresh Shaved Parmesan Reggiano
¼ Cup Red Onion, VERY thinly sliced
¼ Cup Fresh Chives
2 Cups Organic Mache (Lambs Lettuce)
2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Turn your grill to medium high heat.
1. Make the dough according to instructions on Mark Bitten's blog. Please note I used 2 Cups Unbleached Flour and 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour which provided both a chewy and crispy texture when pulled thin enough, I also added fresh chives for a bit of color and zing. This needs to be done 2 hrs. in advance.
2. Once you've made your dough, divide it and pull it out to desired size. With your hands, rub a little bit of oil on one side, and put the oiled side down on the grill. Close the lid and grill for about 3 minutes.
3. Flip the dough over and push the dough down with a spatula to create a thinner flatbread (if you desire... I desired). Evenly distribute the sliced figs, goat cheese, parmesan, chives and sliced red onion across the dough. Give it all a generous grind of pepper and sprinkle of salt. Close the lid and grill for another 6 to 8 minutes untill all toppings are melted and there are grill marks on the bottom of the dough.
4. In the meantime, toss the mache lettuce with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper.
5. Remove the flatbreads and top with a hefty handful of the dressed mache. Chomp away while its hot!