We ate this last night for dinner. After all these years, do you think the boys shared it with us? Nope. Do you think the boys wanted to try it? Um, nope. Some things never change. I even made it vegetarian, so it would potentially appeal to my vegetarian son. No luck.
This dish was delicious as a vegetarian meal. I followed the recipe as it is written and simply omitted the pancetta and the anchovy. I can imagine that the recipe could be perhaps even better with these additions, but it was really great without them. It has a surprising amount of flavor, and the red pepper flakes add some nice heat. I liked this recipe because it called for canned chickpeas. Many recipes call for dried chickpeas which you have to either precook or soak overnight. I enjoy recipes that don’t involve starting the day before.
There are a million pasta e ceci recipes on the web. Some use short pasta, some long, some use lots of tomatoes, some not so many. Some recipes are vegetarian, others, like this one call for meat (but are excellent without the meat). Some are more like traditional pasta dishes, and others are soups. I am quite happy with this variation and will continue to use it.
When you chop the fresh rosemary for this dish, be sure to mince it well. It’s no fun to get a big piece of rosemary in your mouth.
Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)
Recipe from Cooks Illustrated
2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch pieces – (I skipped this to make the dish vegetarian)
1 small carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small celery rib, cut into ½-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, halved and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed, patted dry, and minced (I skipped this to make the dish vegetarian)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (do not drain)
2 cups water
Salt and pepper
8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) ditalini (short, round tubular pasta)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (~1/2 cup)
If using, process pancetta in food processor until ground to paste, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add carrot, celery, and garlic and pulse until finely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses. Add onion and pulse until onion is cut into 1/8- to 1/4-inch pieces, 8 to 10 pulses. Transfer pancetta mixture to large Dutch oven. Pulse tomatoes in now-empty food processor until coarsely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses. Set aside.
Add oil to pancetta mixture in Dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fond begins to form on bottom of pot, about 5 minutes. Add anchovy (if using), pepper flakes, and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas and their liquid, water, and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing Parmesan and extra oil (if desired) separately.
Yield: 4 – 6 servings
One year ago: Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Two years ago: Sugared Pretzel Cookies
Three years ago: Carrot Soup with Ginger and Lemon
Four years ago: Zvi’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Five years ago: Roasted Butternut Squash
Six years ago: Parmesan Cheese Crackers
Seven years ago: Cardamom Spritz Cookies
Eight years ago: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
This is a dessert that one of my sons has made several times recently. It’s certainly not fancy, nor is it particularly gourmet, but what it is, is delicious! It’s hard to go wrong with graham crackers, vanilla pudding and chocolate. I can do without the artificial Cool Whip, but it does make the pudding layer nice and fluffy. Next time I might try to substitute homemade whipped cream.
This dessert is a cinch to make because there’s no baking involved, primarily just assembly. You need to make it several hours before you plan to eat it because the graham crackers need to soften. It’s a real crowd pleaser. It would be great to bring to a pot-luck dinner if you’re in charge of dessert. It doesn’t always look beautiful when it comes out of the pan, but it tastes great. Our family can inhale the whole pan in a couple of sittings.
We have tried several different versions of frosting with this cake. The frosting in the picture is the frosting I use for a Texas Sheet Cake. It was slightly too thick for this recipe. I recommend the frosting recipe below. I have also heard that spreading some fudge sauce on the cake in lieu of frosting is very good. I think I’ll try that next time.
No Bake Eclair Cake
Recipe from Tip Hero
1 box (16 oz) graham crackers
2 packages (3.4 oz each) instant vanilla pudding
3 1/2 cups whole milk
8 ounce container of Cool Whip
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
3 Tablespoons whole milk
Whisk together the pudding and milk in a large mixing bowl until thickened, about 2 minutes. Fold in the Cool Whip.
Spray a 9×13 baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of graham crackers, breaking them in smaller pieces to fit the edges of the pan.
Spread half of the pudding mixture evenly over the bottom layer of graham crackers. Top with a second layer of graham crackers, followed by the second half of the pudding.Top with the third and final layer of graham crackers.
Whisk together the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, melted butter and milk to make the chocolate frosting.
Spread carefully and evenly over the third layer of graham crackers.
Refrigerate overnight so the pudding has time to set up and the graham crackers soften before serving.
Yield: ~12 servings
Two years ago: Eggplant Un-Parmesan
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Three years ago: Peanut Butter Blossoms
Four years ago: Ginger Scones
Five years ago: Cherry Banana Muffins with White Chocolate Chips
Six years ago: Classic Dinner Rolls
Seven years ago: Malted Milk Ball Cookies
I receive a bunch of daily recipe emails from cooking websites and blogs. This recipe caught my eye the other day. The sauce looked so luscious, yet so simple. I’ve said this before, but sometimes the best recipes are the most basic and uncomplicated.
The main ingredient in this sauce is Meyer lemons. If you want to try this sauce and you live in the Northeast, try it now. We’re right in the middle of Meyer lemon season. They are plentiful in stores right now, and I don’t often see them at other times of the year. For those of you that don’t know what a Meyer lemon is, it’s a round lemon that is a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange. They tend to be sweeter than traditional lemons, with a thinner skin, a rounder shape and a deeper yellow/orange color. I love them.
I loved the consistency of this sauce; it was nice and thick, and I also loved that it was so easy to make. It was done in under 5 minutes and was a great and beautiful addition to the salmon I served for dinner. The sauce has the tang of a lemon and a hint of sweetness from the simple syrup. If you try this and you find that your sauce is too thick, add a little water and keep blending until you get the consistency you like.
I have a Vitamix blender, which was perfect for this task. It ground the whole lemons like they were made of butter. In a matter of minutes, you never would have known that lemons, skin and all were the starting point for the sauce.
If you want to make this for a large group, assume a lemon per person. That way you should have plenty of sauce, with maybe even a little left over.
This sauce was delicious on salmon, and I plan to use it with other types of fish as well.
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The Simplest Lemon Sauce
Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com
4 Meyer lemons
4 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons water
Salt to taste
Make a simple syrup. To do th is, put the sugar and water into a sauce pan. Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook and stir for an additional 2 – 3 minutes. Make sure all of the sugar is completely dissolved. Cool.
Rinse the lemons, slice them in half and remove all of the seeds that are visible. It’s ok if a few seeds remain in the lemons if you can’t get at them easily. Add the simple syrup and lemons to a blender and blend until you have a smooth sauce. Salt to taste. If you think the sauce is too thick, you can thin it by adding a bit of water.
Yield: Sauce for 4 – 5 servings of fish
Two years ago: Chocolate Covered Digestive Biscuits
Three years ago: Candied Bacon
Four years ago: Barley and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pomegranate Seeds
Five years ago: Crab Meat Gratin
Six years ago: No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars
Seven years ago: Spritz Cookies
In college there was a small group of us who would bring vodka jello to parties. We did it for years, post-college too. My parents grew to like it, and they would serve red and green vodka jello at their annual Christmas party. I have lots and lots of vodka jello stories from giving it to strangers in airports and on the street, to having a friend’s wedding cake make out of it. Just the thought of vodka jello brings back floods of wonderful memories from college.
I have been making these Knox Blox for the boys for a while now, sans vodka, of course. They really love them. The four of them can devour a 13×9 pan in a single sitting. Recently they started to ask for layers of multiple colors in a single block. I think that’s a great project for them to try.
This recipe calls for four cups of liquid. If you’re making regular Knox Blox, use four cups of boiling water. If you want to make vodka jello cubes instead, and I highly recommend trying this and bringing them to your next party, use two cups of boiling water and two cups of vodka. Don’t boil the vodka.
One little bit of science: these Knox Blox are a colloid. A colloid occurs when you have tiny particles (not visible to the naked eye) that are evenly distributed throughout a liquid. They’re not dissolved in the liquid, but evenly distributed, and they won’t ever sink to the bottom or float to the top. A couple of additional examples of colloids are mayonnaise, shaving cream, whipped cream and hair gel. Milk is surprisingly also a colloid, but a thin one, with tiny particles of fat distributed throughout the liquid. That’s your science tidbit for the day.
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4 boxes of Jello (3 oz. boxes)
3 envelopes of Knox Unflavored Gelatin
4 cups of water
Bring the water to a boil.
In a large bowl, stir together the jello and the unflavored gelatin. Add the boiling water and continue to stir until all of the gelatin powder is completely dissolved.
Pour the jello mixture into a 9 x 13 pan. Let the mixture cool a bit on the counter and then cover it and put it into the refrigerator to firm up. It should be firm enough to cut in about 4 hours.
Cut into cubes and serve.
Yield: 1 tray
Two years ago: Sparkling Cranberries
Three years ago: Pressure Cooker Chicken Piccata
Four years ago: Pomegranate Berry Smoothie
Five years ago: Smoked Tuna Dip
Six years ago: Curried Rice and Quinoa Salad
Seven years ago: Maple-Braised Pork Chops
There’s a wonderful restaurant nestled on the edge of Madison Square Park in Manhattan where I’m told you get to take home some delicious granola at the end of your meal. The restaurant is called Eleven Madison Park. I have eaten there several times for business, but the meals were years ago, when Danny Meyer owned the restaurant, and before Chef Hamm started doling out granola at the end of your meal. How wonderful to be given something to eat for breakfast as you finish your dinner.
Speaking of being given something for breakfast, I just read an article that said one of the best hostess gifts to bring to a dinner party is something for the hosts to eat for breakfast the next morning. If they have slaved over a big, beautiful dinner, the last thing on their minds is cooking something for breakfast the next morning. I think a nice Mason jar full of this granola is make a perfect hostess gift.
I know I have a couple of granola recipes on this site, and I like them all, but this is my current favorite. I think it’s the tart cherries in combination with the toasted coconut chips that do it for me. The salt isn’t a bad addition either. One of my friends thought this granola was a little too salty for his taste, but I love it. I love the salty and sweet combination.
If you happen to live near a Trader Joe’s your in luck because they have everything you need to make this granola, right down to the dried sour cherries and coconut chips, which you might not always find at your local supermarket. Don’t be tempted to substitute the coconut chips with sweetened, flaked coconut, which you can find anywhere. The coconut chips make this granola special. If you’re not familiar with coconut chips, they’re nothing like a coconut version of chocolate chips. Coconut chips are dried coconut shavings that sometimes have a little salt and sugar added when they’re dried.
When I make this granola, it doesn’t stick around in my kitchen for long.
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Eleven Madison Park Granola
Recipe from NY Times Cooking
2 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup dried sour cherries
Preheat oven to 300. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, pistachios, coconut, pumpkin seeds and salt.
In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the sugar, syrup and olive oil until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Fold liquids into the mixture of oats, making sure to coat the dry ingredients well.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, and spread granola over it. Bake until dry and lightly golden, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times along the way. Don’t let the granola get too dark, or it will taste burned.
Remove granola from oven, and mix into it the dried sour cherries. Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container.
Yield: ~6 cups
Two years ago: Lemon Scones
Three years ago: Nutella Chocolate Cookies
Four years ago: Holiday Biscotti
Five years ago: Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushroom, Spinach and Blue Cheese Filling
Six years ago: Quinoa Pilaf with Pine Nuts
Seven years ago: The Ultimate Quiche
My parents host a huge Easter dinner every year. My mother has four brothers and in turn I have lots of cousins, who have lots of children. Easter is so much fun, complete with an Easter egg hunt for the kids, bunny sack races and other fun games, and an incredible meal. For decades my mother would cook the dinner, but once the guest list began to grow – sometimes we’re almost 50 – she began to have the meal catered. Her caterer of choice, who is now unfortunately out of business, always brought big pans of Hasselback potatoes. It was my favorite dish of the meal. The potatoes were thinly sliced and in an incredible sauce, which seemed to me to be made primarily of butter. I have tried numerous times to recreate them with no luck. My potatoes have been good, but not exactly the same. This recipe is the one that has come the closest. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s incredibly delicious and if you like potatoes and cheese, this recipe is for you. The tops of the potatoes get nice and crispy and the centers remain soft.
Be warned that this is a time consuming recipe. I recommend making the recipe when you have an extra set of hands in the kitchen. If one person can peel the potatoes while the other is cutting them, the whole process moves along much faster. Because the potatoes cook for at least an hour and a half, you’ll need to start this recipe at a minimum, 2 hours before you plan to serve it. It’s a great dinner party recipe.
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Cheesy Hasselback Potato Gratin
Recipe by Emily Weinstein from the New York Times
3 ounces finely grated Gruyère or comté cheese
2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cups heavy cream
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 to 4 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick on a mandoline slicer (~7 to 8 medium, but you might want to have a couple of extra on hand if the ones you slice don’t completely fill your casserole dish)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine cheeses in a large bowl. Transfer 1/3 of cheese mixture to a separate bowl and set aside. Add cream, garlic and thyme to cheese mixture. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add potato slices and toss with your hands until every slice is coated with cream mixture, making sure to separate any slices that are sticking together to get the cream mixture in between them.
Grease a 2-quart casserole dish with butter. Pick up a handful of potatoes, organizing them into a neat stack, and lay them in the casserole dish with their edges aligned vertically. Continue placing potatoes in the dish, working around the perimeter and into the center until all the potatoes have been added. The potatoes should be very tightly packed. If necessary, slice an additional potato, coat with cream mixture, and add to casserole. Pour the excess cream/cheese mixture evenly over the potatoes until the mixture comes halfway up the sides of the casserole. You may not need all the excess liquid.
Cover dish tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the top is pale golden brown, about 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and return to oven. Bake until deep golden brown and crisp on top, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven, let rest for a few minutes, and serve.
Yield: 6 servings
One year ago: Parker’s Split Pea Soup
Two years ago: Eggnog Doughnut Muffins
Three years ago: Chocolate Chocolate-Chunk Muffins
Four years ago: Baked Ziti with Tomato, Mozzarella and Sausage
Five years ago: Rosemary Parmesan Coins
Six years ago: Mashed Yellow Turnips with Crispy Shallots
Seven years ago: Big Dutch Baby
Today I’m going to digress from my typical food posts to share another recipe that my family uses quite a bit, especially during the summer. It’s a recipe for giant bubbles.
One of my sons loves to create things, so he built himself a giant bubble wand using dowels, rope and a weight. When we mixed up the bubble recipe, he was able to consistently make bubbles like you see in the photo above. That bubble was made last summer. They’re regularly, really huge.
This is a great outdoor project for kids. If they’re old enough, they can make the bubble mixture themselves. If they like to build things, they can create a giant bubble wand. If they want a quick and easy way to make giant bubbles, they can use some string and a couple of plastic straws. The directions for that can be found here. If you don’t happen to have glycerin around, you can usually find it at your local drug store, or you can order it from Amazon.
This is one of those recipes that has to sit for a while, so please plan ahead. Ideally the mixture should sit for at least an hour or more before you use it.
When the weather is warm, there are always guys in Central Park making these giant bubbles and looking for tips and it looks like they make a pretty penny. When the boys are a little bigger, maybe we’ll send them out to busk in the park so they can earn their keep.
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6 cups water
1/2 cup Dawn Dish Washing Liquid (ideally, original blue)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 Tablespoon baking powder (NOT baking soda)
1 Tablespoon glycerin
Mix all of the ingredients in a large dishpan. When you’re mixing the ingredients, try not to make too many bubbles, although you’ll need to make some in order to make sure the cornstarch dissolves. Let the mixture sit for 1-3 hours.
After the mixture has had a chance to sit, go out and have fun making giant bubbles!
Yield: Lots of giant bubbles!
Two years ago: Ranch Oyster Crackers
Three years ago: Shrimp Stew with Coconut Milk, Tomatoes and Cilantro
Four years ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Five years ago: Five-Treasure Fried Rice
Six years ago: Cream Biscuits
Seven years ago: Cinnamon Muffins
I have made a number of different apple crisps over the years, and this is by far my favorite. It’s simple, with no funny additions like Ina Garten’s lemon and orange zest or Al Roker’s Chinese 5-spice powder. It’s basically apples with cinnamon, sugar, nuts and butter. So simple, yet so delicious.
I don’t think you can serve a more perfect fall dessert than a warm apple crisp topped with vanilla ice cream. This dessert cooks for a long time, so your home will smell wonderful as it bakes.
If you’re wondering what the difference between an apple crisp and an apple crumble is, there isn’t much difference. Both refer to a baked apple dessert with a streusel topping. Here in the US, we tend to call them apple crisps. In the UK, they tend to call them apple crumbles. An apple cobbler is different; it has a biscuit top.
Jens, my college buddy, was visiting NYC when I made this apple crisp. He peeled the apples as only an engineer could. I have to say, it was very efficient. The next time I made this dessert, my son couldn’t wait to peel the apples. He has never before shown much interest in cooking with me, but with the addition of a power tool, he was all over it.
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Recipe from FineCooking.com
For the filling:
2-1/2 lb. apples (about 6 medium), peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced to yield about 6 cups
2 to 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
For the crisp topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (I like pecans)
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
Heat the oven to 350°F.
To make the filling:
In a 9-inch pie pan that’s 2 inches deep (or a similar baking pan), toss the apples with the sugar to taste, cinnamon, and flour.
To make the topping:
In a medium bowl, mix together all the topping ingredients with your fingers or a pastry cutter until small pebbly pieces of butter are distributed throughout the mixture. Sprinkle the entire mixture over the apples. Bake until the topping is golden and the fruit is bubbling and tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes for a large crisp and 1 hour for individual crisps. Cool slightly before serving.
Yield: 6 servings
Two years ago: Lemonade Cake
Three years ago: Creamy Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
Four years ago: French Silk Pie
Five years ago: Beef, Cheddar and Potato Pie
Six years ago: Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding
Seven years ago: Another Delicious Blueberry Muffin