Okay, Internet. This is it. This is me getting back in the blogging game after a 6 month hiatus.
Why did I leave?
It wasn’t you, internet, it was me!
Back in September/October, I started a new job(ish). I was promoted and moved to a different department within the same company. Starting a new job, even though this one involved working with the people I’ve known and enjoyed working with for the past year, was overwhelming. It took me quite a while to “catch up” and get in the groove. This new job is also a lot more creative and less administrative than my old one. That took some adjusting, too.
That, combined with the fact that I spent Dec-February training for a marathon meant Batch-22, and cooking in general took a backseat to running, thinking about running, stretching and sleeping. There were a lot of stir-fries, friends. More than I’m proud of.
Why am I back?
Because I missed blogging and you! Batch-22 motivates me to try new recipes and practice taking pretty pictures. It reminds me that I love food and cooking and making tasty things for my friends, coworkers, and roommates. It also forces me to make something other than stir-fry for dinner.
So I’m back! But this won’t be the same old Batch-22. I want to focus things up a bit more. There will be more cooking than baking and I’ll be using more whole foods and simple ingredients. And, to start off, I’ll be posting just twice a month, instead of every week. Finally, I’ll be focusing in on budget-friendly recipes. Ones that are delicious, not too fussy, and make a lot of leftovers.
Sound good? Here goes.
Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
For the cake:
- butter for the pan
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour)
- zest of 2 large grapefruits
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
- 1/3 cups non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
For the Syrup:
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup grapefruit juice
For the glaze:
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
- a pinch of salt
Start on the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan.
Whisk the sugar and grapefruit zest in a large bowl; be sure to bruise the zest. Whisk in the oil and one egg at a time. Mix until completely combined.
Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Then, in a liquid measuring cup, combine the yogurt and grapefruit juice (just 2 tablespoons). Add the yogurt/grapefruit juice concoction to the sugar, zest, and eggs. Then fold in the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top and tap the pan against the counter to burst any air bubbles. Bake for 45-60 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.
While the cake begins to cool, make the syrup by dissolving 2 tablespoons of sugar in 1/3 cup of grapefruit in a saucepan over low heat. While the cake is still warm, use a spoon or brush to spread the syrup over the cake.
While the cake cools and absorbs the syrup, make the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, salt, and remaining grapefruit syrup in a small bowl. Pour the glaze over the completely cooled cake. Slice and serve!
Apologies for the radio silence over the since the beet pasta. Actually, I’m not sorry. I’ve been out living life. The past three weekends I have been gallivanting around. FIrst to New Jersey to visit my grandmother and meet a tiny adorable kitten, then to visit my mom in Connecticut, and finally out to Western Massachusetts where H and I made a whole bunch of delicious foods.
Seriously. A whole bunch. I’m talking cream of cauliflower soup, honey-oatmeal bread, butternut squash risotto, and braised brussels sprouts. Oh, and there’s also the tomato-apple chutney,curried apple chutney, and apple sauce — all of which were canned.
But I think my favorite bit of cookery from last weekend was these cinnamon buns. They’re a sugary, buttery, gift from heaven slash a Betty Crocker cookbook from the early eighties.
Perhaps the most magical bit of this (at least to me) is that they are full-gluten pastries. Yup, I’m back on (or off?) the wagon. After 4 years of gluten-abstinence and a few weeks of careful reintroduction, I feel pretty confident saying that my gluten allergy is a thing of the past. Huzzah!
Now on to the recipe.
Recipe from Betty Crocker, circa 1981
For the dough:
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (105 – 115 degrees)
- 1/2 cup luke warm milk (scalded then cooled)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
For the cinnamony innards:
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cinnamon
For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the dry dough ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until combined. Add the milk, egg. and butter to the bowl, and beat until a smooth ball of dough forms.
Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for five minutes, until it becomes smooth and elastic. Toss in a greased bowl, turn the greased side up, cover with a clean cloth and place the bowl in a warm sunny spot to rise. Let the dough ruse for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until it doubles in volume.
When the dough has almost finished rising, line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Divide the risen dough in two. Roll half the dough into a long, thin rectangle (Betty suggests 15″ x 9″) and spread butter over the entire surface. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar over the buttered dough, leaving about a 1/4 inch clear on all sides.
Beginning on the long edge, roll the dough into a dight log and slice into 1″ slices. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Place the slices cut side down on the parchment paper, cover and let rise for another 30-40 minutes until the rolls double in size. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, remove and let cool.
In a medium bowl, blend milk and powdered sugar until smooth. Smother cooled rolls in glaze, devour immediately.
I have a confession to make. I’m a recovering beet-hater.
It’s true. Until 2010, I was convinced that beets tasted like dirt. Then I spent a semester in Denmark and ate my weight in pickled beets (and dried fruit & nuts; but that’s another story for another time).
When I returned to the states I was hooked. Pickled beets — or at least good pickled beets — aren’t as readily available here, so I started roasting ’em. And I fell in love.
Roasting beets takes forever. And your hands get all stained, but the time and effort is totally worth it for a truly delicious melt-in-your-mouth roasted beet. But what I love about this recipe is that there is no roasting required for delicious, earthy beet taste and none of the au de dirt!
I think I’ve talked before about my roommate’s dad and what an AMAZING cook he is and the ADORABLE cookbook he made for her when she graduated from college. This recipe is one of his. I adapted it ever so slightly to make it vegetarian. And all I can say is YUM. Thanks for the gift of beet pasta, Mr. B! I can certainly see this becoming a winter staple in Apartment 20.
- 5 medium-sized beets
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1 lb pasta (I used gluten-free penne)
Peel beets and cut into 1 inch pieces. Combine beets, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until the beets are chopped very fine. Transfer the beet mixture to a skillet, and sautee over medium heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat, add wine and broth, and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
Meanwhile cook pasta until al dente. Drain and combine with the cooked beet mixture. Stir in parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
These are the pancakes I wanted to make you last year on Mountain Day. But it took me by surprise! This year, though, this year I’m a bit psychic. I came THIS CLOSE to posting this recipe yesterday, but a little voice inside of my said, “No. Wait.”
And low and behold, today is Mountain Day!
For those of you not in the know, Mountain Day is a magical wonderful surprise that comes once a year to students at Smith College (and select other New England colleges). The president surprises us at 7am on a random fall day by ringing the college bells and cancelling ALL CLASSES.
Yeah. It’s amazing. Smithies celebrate by sleeping in and going apple picking with their friends. Then they spend the afternoon baking apple pies and cooking apple sauce. They gorge themselves on apples until they feel slightly ill (or was that just me?)
Sadly, there is not mountain day in the real world. This morning, I’m headed off to work. Though I will probably eat farmer’s market apples for lunch and whip up a batch of these tasty cornmeal apple pancakes for dinner.
Happy Mountain Day, Smithies! And happy apple-cornmeal pancake day to the rest of you!
- 1 1/2 cups (gluten-free) flour
- 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons canola oil or melted butter
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups+ diced apple (I used honey crisp)
In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix well to break up any lumps of flour.
Pour batter by quarter cups into a hot, oiled skillet or griddle. Top each pancake with apples, and flip when bubbles form in the batter. Remove from the skillet, top with butter and copious amounts of maple syrup. Serve immediately. Indulge.
Sometimes I think food is too beautiful to eat. I felt that way a lot in Paris. Particularly in chocolate shops and bakeries.
Sometimes food is art. And I just feel weird about eating art. You know?
But then I do it anyway. Food is art. Delicious, delicious, art.
I really worried that I’d have a food/art quandary when it came to this ratatouille.
But then I put it in the oven for the better part of a Sunday evening and it smelled so good that I dug in immediately and burned the roof of my mouth.
It was worth it. Don’t worry.
Single Skillet Ratatouille
recipe slightly adapted from Eat This Poem
Red Pepper Sauce
- 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
- 1/2 orange pepper, diced
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 14.5-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
- Salt and peper to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large or 2 small Italian eggplants
- 1 large zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 large yellow squash, sliced into thin rounds
- 4 to 5 roma tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Line a baking sheet with foil, and preheat the oven to 450 F. Place peppers cut-side down on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool. Pinch skins to remove, and chop.
Reduce the oven temperature to 275 F.
Add olive oil to a large (10 inch) cast iron skillet and warm over low heat. Saute onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add undrained tomatoes, chopped pepper, thyme, and bay leaf to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Then puree in a blender until completely smooth. Pour into the skillet, but reserve 1/4 cup of sauce.
Beginning on the outside edge, arrange eggplant, zucchini, and Roma tomatoes neatly in the skillet, let them overlap so that 1/4 inch of each slice remains exposed. When the skillet is full, drizzle the entire dish with olive oil and sprinkle with additional thyme.
Cover pan with foil and bake for 2 hours. Uncover and cook for 30 additional minutes.
Whisk 1 tablespoon of oil with balsamic vinegar and reserved sauce to form a vinaigrette. Drizzle overtop of ratatouille before serving.
Even though I’m a 24-year-old, fully employed, college graduate living on my own in The Big City, I rarely think of myself as an adult. Sure, I have health insurance, a 401K, and a disgustingly large rent bill, but I can’t fold a fitted sheet to save my life. What’s more, I frequently dispatch emails in ALL CAPS, and eat fro-yo for dinner more often than I’d really care to admit.
See? Not an adult.
Another trait that I feel brands me as a perma-child is my inability to neatly slice and remove brownies, blondies, and the like from a pan. I’m pretty much physically incapable of serving anyone an aesthetically pleasing bar. This may have something to do with the fact that I tend to like my brownies ever so slightly undercooked (CHILD!!) but it’s a bit disheartening as a food blogger to actually cook something all the way through and try to serve it up in an aesthetically pleasing manner only to wind up with a plate full of mushy squares.
All this is to say, these blondies are delicious. And I’m sure that someone who is not me could manage to get them out of a pan with style and grace.
Sigh. Or you could just eat them straight from the pan. Not that I did that.
(I totally did.)
adapted from Cookies and Cups, yields 20-25 blondies
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs (I used flax eggs, 2 tablespoons flaxmeal + 6 tablespoons warm water)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 10 oz jar lemon curd
- blueberry jam
Preheat oven to 325° F, line a 9×9 inch pan with foil and grease well.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with a electric hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then add the dry ingredients (reserving nuts). Mix until combined and fold in the almonds and pecans.
Spread half the dough along the bottom on the prepared pan. Use a tablespoon to dollop lemon curd evenly over top. Cover with remaining dough and top with several tablespoons of jam. Use a knife to swirl the dough, lemon curd, and jam together.
Bake for 30-35 minutes until the dough sets. Edges should be golden brown. Be sure not to over-bake. Cut into squares and serve.
Let’s talk about salad. Not lettuce-y salad. Because, come on. Who has the time or refrigerator space to store a bunch of rinsed, lettuce? I’m talking about salads that aren’t strictly salad-y. Fake salads. Faux salads. Falads? No. No, let’s not go there.
My favorite kind of salad is the kind that I can eat now or later. The kind of salad I can make a big batch of when I’m feeling feisty and then not have to eat it all at once. The kind of salad that gets better after a night or two in the fridge (leftovers are a girl’s best friend. Never let anyone tell you otherwise).
I’m talking about lemony grain salad with crisp veggies.
Salads are not made of lettuce alone, friends. That’s a life lesson from me to you.