Cherry Clafoutis

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In France, they say ‘cerise’

Cherry Clafoutis is a dessert that’s easier to make than properly pronounce. My mom’s directions for making clafoutis are as follows: “pour palačinke batter over cherries and put it in the oven.” The only messy part of this recipe is pitting the cherries – a task I didn’t particularly enjoy as a 5 year old child. I realize now why my mother’s directions for clafoutis are so straight-forward. She leaves out the part where I do all the grunt work and end up covered in cherry juices.

Because Hillary and I are too structured of people to actually follow the palačinke batter + cherries advice, we use Mimi Thorisson’s recipe from A Kitchen in France. Mimi actually doesn’t pit her cherries, which is something my pre-k self would have been very happy about. If you’d rather not throw caution to the wind, try these pitting methods or pick up a special pitter.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled + extra butter for cake pan
  • 1 LB cherries, pits removed
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  •  3/4 cup + 1 TBS whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • Powdered sugar for *dusting*

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Pit the cherries either with a pitting tool or using a chopstick.
  3. Butter a 9 inch round cake pan. Arrange the cherries in the bottom of the pan.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds.
  5. Whisking gently, add the milk and then eggs (one by one). Add the melted butter and whisk until the batter is nice and smooth. Pour the batter over the cherries.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 30ish minutes.
  7. Place the pan on a rack and let cool for at least 1 hour.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Best Office Lunch

Prosciutto + Mozzarella Sandwich
Highlight of the workday

Lunch al Desko seems to be the new hot thing these days. It’s the simple idea of bringing in leftovers or making your lunch instead of buying the same basic Sweetgreen salad/California roll/Deli panini. Despite sparking ridiculous “challenges” like #Cook90, I’m in full support of the ham sandwich’s newfound trendiness. My favorite office lunch happens to be an upscale version this classic brown bag staple. I’ll usually make a prosciutto & mozzarella sandwich when I already have one or more of the ingredients at home. Let’s say there’s some arugula and bread from last night’s dinner; at Noon, I’ll run out to Whole Foods for mozz, prosciut, and peppers. These three ingredients cost just as much as salad or sushi, and there will be leftovers for an pre-dinner snack.

Economical, resourceful, and delicious, Lunch al Desko definitely deserves its recent buzz. Admittedly, the prosciutto & mozz  sandwich is my definition of “best.” So tell us your favorite office lunch in the comments! But it better not be “1 can of chickpeas.”

Ingredients

  • Prosciutto
  • Fresh mozzarella, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 roasted pepper, sliced into strips
  • Arugula, or whatever greenery you have on hand
  • Long roll, ciabatta, or baguette
  • Pesto, optional
  • Olive oil & red wine vinegar, optional but recommended
  • Salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Pro-tip: try to get the roasted pepper from the grocery store salad bar. Pour the olive oil and vinegar into the same container as the roasted pepper.
  2. Prep the mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, and pepper on a plate. Cut bread lengthwise. If using, spread pesto on the bottom half.
  3. Layer on prosciutto, mozzarella, roasted pepper, and arugula. Drizzle oil and vinegar, sprinkle salt and pepper.
  4. Cut into two even halves.

Weekday Shrimp 3 Ways

When planning our meals for the week, Hillary and I always keep an eye out for the shrimp sale at Whole Foods. Any opportunity at double-digit discounts shouldn’t go to waste, especially on these precious prawns. In order to always take advantage of the sale,  we have an eclectic roster of shrimp dishes to satisfy any particular craving. The first (and easiest) recipe in this trio of dishes provides the dry spice of cumin, paprika, and cayenne. Next is the butter+oil+garlic+wine+lemon formula for classic shrimp scampi. The last dish, a Thai inspired yellow curry,  takes some more time and ingredients, but will probably end up being the star of your weekday menu. Not surprisingly, these three recipes, along with the previously shared Hot n Honey version, come from true masters of the weekday dinner: Mark Bittman and Melissa Clark. We hope you share our excitement next time you see “YOU SAVE: $11.99 /lb” on some fancy shrimp at WF.

The Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish – Mark Bittman

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and dried
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp hot paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne (optional)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric (optional)
  • Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
  1. Prep spices on small plate and make sure shrimp are dry.
  2. Pour oil into a large skillet, swirling the oil so that it covers the bottom of pan. Turn heat to low and add garlic. Cook until the slivers turn golden, about 2 minutes.
  3. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp. Add your plate of spices to the pan. Stir to evenly distribute the spices and then leave alone. Shake the pan a couple times over 5 minutes. Shrimp will be nicely coated and pink.
  4. Garnish with parsley and serve with white rice.

Shrimp Scampi – Melissa Clark

  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  •  cup dry white wine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pinch of red chili flakes
  • Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Pasta or bread
  1. Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and stir constantly until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add wine, salt, chili flakes, black pepper and bring mixture to a simmer. Let it reduce by half, while stirring. This should take just 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp and saute until just pink, about 2-4 minutes. Add parsley and squeeze in lemon juice and stir to incorporate. Enjoy with pasta or bread!

Shrimp in Yellow Curry – Mark Bittman

  • 2 TBS neutral oil, veggie or canola will do.
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 TBS minced ginger
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes or fresh chilies
  • 1 TBS curry powder
  • 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 lb medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 TBS fish sauce
  • ¼  cup minced cilantro/mint leaves for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped peanuts for garnish
  1. Prep onion, garlic, ginger, chilies and make sure canned coconut milk is stirred.
  2. Pour oil into large, deep skillet and turn heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, ginger and chilies and stir frequently making sure veggies don’t burn. After 5-8 minutes, the mixture should be soft and pasty. Add curry powder and cook for another minute.
  3. Pour in coconut milk and raise the heat to medium-high. The mixture will get nice and bubbly. Stir occasionally until almost all liquid has evaporated.
  4. Add the shrimpy’s and salt + pepper. Stir frequently, the shrimp will release their liquid, making the mixture more curry-esque again. Cook until shrimp turn pink.
  5. Add 1 TBS of the fish sauce and taste. Add more if you’d like. Serve on top of white rice, garnished with chopped cilantro or mint and peanuts. I like to add some chili garlic sauce for an extra kick.

Details: Each of these feeds 2-4 people!

Canelés de Bordeaux

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Powder sugar perfection

Canelés are the perfect treat. They’re bite-sized, super sweet, crunchy and custardy. You can enjoy with a morning coffee, as an afternoon snack, or have a couple after dinner for a little sweetness. And when sprinkled with powdered sugar, they’re très photogenic – perfect for Instagram.  We discovered this recipe via Luke’s mother, who mastered making canelés by following a recipe in Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in FranceProper French pastry chefs use copper molds, but a silicone mold (recommended by Mimi) makes life a lot easier. The only qualm we have with canelés is that they require some serious patience! You must make the batter at least 24 hours in advance. We suggest making the batter Saturday morning so that you can enjoy these little gems with Sunday brunch…and lunch, dinner, and midnight dessert!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups + 2 TBS whole milk
  • 1-2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup dark rum (tip: we bought two mini bottles of Kraken Black Spiced Rum)

Directions:

  1. Note! Batter must be prepared at least 24 hours before baking, so plan ahead.
  2. In a medium saucepan set at medium-low temp, whisk together milk and vanilla seeds. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Let it rest for 5 minutes then transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Whisk in the sugar and flour slowly, avoiding any lumps. Add egg yolks one at a time and mix until incorporated. Stir in the melted butter. Pour in the rum and whisk the batter until smooth. The batter should have the same consistency as palachinkes (aka crepes).
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours (can be up to 48 hours).
  5. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  6. If using silicone canelés molds, you do not need to brush with butter. Copper/metal molds are trickier to use. Consult more professional canelés-makers for suggestions.
  7. Fill molds about to 2/3, be very careful to not fill too much. Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes then turn down the oven to 350°F and bake for additional 50 minutes.
  8. Let canelés cool in their molds for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar when you’re ready to enjoy!

Details: Most silicon molds hold 15 or 16 canelés, we had a bit of batter leftover once our mold was filled.

Baka’s Palačinke

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Luke demonstrating perfect palachinka form

I am a proud half-Croatian, which means even though I can’t speak a full sentence, I can still root for the soccer team and visit family on the beautiful Dalmatian coast. One of the biggest treats of growing up with a Croatian mother was the occasional palachinka (known as crepes to most) breakfast. This recipe comes from my grandmother, “Baka” in Croatian, who happened to celebrate her 85th birthday earlier this week. Baka’s recipe calls for seltzer or club soda, which gives the palachinka a perforated appearance. As I demonstrate above, the key technique for palachinka making is a tight roll and an even sprinkling of powdered sugar. Jam and nutella make the perfect filling for this classic Croatian breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1 1/4cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • Dash of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup seltzer
  • 1/4 cup canola oil for pan/skillet

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, mix the dry ingredients. flour, salt, and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.
  2. Whisk the wet mixture with the dry ingredients, being sure to add slowly or in couple of batches. After fully incorporated add the seltzer. It is important that it be added last! The palachinka batter should have the texture of melted ice cream. If it does not, adjust with extra milk or flour. You can refrigerate for 30 minutes and up to 24 hours or start cooking right away. A crepe pan is ideal for cooking, but a small skillet will also do.
  3. Heat the pan to medium-high and add about a teaspoon of oil. Swirl the oil around the pan.
  4. Lift the pan off the flame and pour about 1/4-1/3 cup of the batter to the center of the pan. Swirl the batter around until it covers the pan evenly. Cook on one side for 2 minutes and then flip with a silicone spatula or spoon (wooden spoon works well too, just don’t use anything with sharp edges!) and cook on the other side for 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Important note! Cooking time will get shorter and shorter as you go because the pan will get hotter. Adjust accordingly. Check out these visuals to study up on the swirling and flipping technique.

Serve with a variety of jams and ideally Nutella. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top for a little flair and extra sweetness.

Details: Makes 8-10 crepes.

Classic, Simple Banana Bread

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Baked to ~ perfection ~

Often, we purposefully set aside a couple of bananas, letting them get seriously ripe. We love a pile of black speckled bananas because it gives us the perfect excuse to make a loaf of banana bread.  And if we are ever lacking enough bananas, there’s a good chance our bodega on the corner will have an excellent selection of extra ripe bananas. This is Luke’s recipe (originally sourced from Nigella Lawson) and he is the b-bread maker. But I am the expert on moistness.  And, strongly believing moistness is a vital characteristic for perfectly baked banana bread, I always insist that we take the bread out of the oven a bit earlier than Nigella suggests. Despite banana bread being Luke’s domain, he begrudgingly listens. The result (in my opinion): perfectly baked b-bread.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBS whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3-4 **very** ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and butter and flour a 9 x 5 inch bread pan.
  2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt) in a medium sized bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Then add the mashed bananas, whisking until incorporate with eggs and sugar.  It’s ok if there are a few banana lumps. Next, with a wooden spoon, stir in walnuts and vanilla extract.
  4. In 3 batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon until relatively smooth.
  5. Pour mix into loaf pan.  Give a few shakes to make sure the mix is even in the pan.  Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (Nigella’s suggestion.  We typically cook closer to an hour).  You can tell when the bread is ready by inserting a toothpick into the middle (the thickest part).  When you remove the toothpick, it should come out fairly clean.

Details: Makes one 9 x 5 inch loaf of banana bread.

Perfect for breakfast, though we also enjoy a slice toasted in a buttered skillet with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert!

To print the recipe, click here: Classic Banana Bread