making wheat thins

I wish I could take credit for this recipe. As an obsessive wheat thin eater, I knew when I saw Deb Perelman’s post on homemade wheat thins from earlier today that I had to try to make them too. (In my defense, while I do eat a lot of these crackers, I hadn’t realized until this was in fact posted today until I went to give her the credit for the recipe.) They taste a lot like the real thing – the thinner you can roll the dough, the crispier they’ll be. But like her, (and knowing myself) the yield to time spent ratio isn’t quite enough to keep me from buying family-sized boxes from the entirely, but I will definitely make these from time to time.

All credit goes to Smitten Kitchen! To read Deb’s post and see her recipe, click here.

*Deb mentioned that her crackers tasted butterier after sitting for a few days – but I noticed that mine tasted quite a bit butterier than the boxed wheat thins right out of the oven. This could be because I used Earth Balance in place of butter (recipe worked all the same.) In addition, I found that while I was rolling out the first half of the dough, the other half started to soften too much and became more difficult to work with. I would suggest keeping it cool in the fridge while you work.

roasted tomato ketchup

I love ketchup. And am not against Heinz, by any means.

But in the past year or so, I seemed to have developed this obsession with making condiments. That might stem from the fact that sauces, dips and the like have always been my favorite part of a meal. I love smoky hot sauce on over-easy eggs, almond and peanut butter with strawberry jam or concord-grape jelly on whole-wheat toast, and all kinds of salsa, hummus, mustards, and tapenades. For some people, a meal doesn’t feel complete without some kind of meat or animal protein. For me, it’s incomplete when I am not able to accompany the main deal with some kind of sauce – you get the idea.

So since I’ve crossed the line into making my own (aioli, mustard, salad dressings, etc.), I’ve discovered that there are some things that are definitely worth the time, effort, and cost, while others really are not. So this ketchup-making is a bit of a surprise, even for me, because I had long-since ruled ketchup out on the time-commitment qualifier.

A few years ago, in my college house on Hampton Street, I spent an entire Saturday making ketchup. I went and bought a food mill on Friday night, then 20-odd pounds of tomatoes at the farmers market the next morning. Back home, I proceeded to peel, seed, and mill the tomatoes, and eventually to reduce the seasoned mixture. In the end, I could not believe that my ketchup tasted nothing like ketchup (Heinz), and that the seemingly full and heavy 20-lb. box only filled three (tiny) jars.

For my second attempt, I believe the time was well spent. Skins (and some seeds) are in the jar, but the flavor is wonderful, and the 6 medium-size plum tomatoes yielded an entire 12-oz, Rainbow Co-op purchased bottle. No food mill required.

roasted tomato ketchup 

(adapted slightly from my new roots)

6 (medium) plum tomatoes – roughly 1.5 pounds

2 T olive oil

coarse grain sea salt

one large yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 bay leaves

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/8 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar preheat the oven to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. slice the tomatoes in half & core, then set on the tray, cut-side up. drizzle with 1 T of the olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. add the onion and garlic, and cook until just translucent, 5 minutes or so. then add the salt, some black pepper, the bay leaves, and coriander. cook together for a few minutes, stirring, then add the balsamic vinegar to the pan. remove from the heat. in a food processor, puree the slightly cooled tomatoes. remove the bay leaves from the onion mixture and add to the food processor, pureeing until quite smooth – (leave it running for 1-2 minutes). once finished, put the entire mixture through a fine mesh sieve, using the back of a wooden spoon to get as much liquid back into the pan as possible. Heat the strained mixture on medium (careful, it will splatter) and bring to a simmer. Then lower the heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, until slightly reduced. Stir in apple cider vinegar. Will keep for a little over a week in the fridge!

butternut and pesto calzones

a lot has happened since I wrote my last post over, (ahem), four months ago. when I last wrote, I had just settled into a new apartment in the south end of boston–and apparently, that’s when the fall semester took ahold of me. I researched and wrote about bagels last fall, a lot of research and a lot of writing, which also meant I ate a lot of bagels. also, at the end of october, jon came to visit me in boston and we got engaged! so between the gastronomy program, wedding planning, the holidays, multiple moves, and now, the start of my thesis project, time has been flying by.

this semester is my last in the gastronomy program at BU. in addition to my final project, I’m taking culinary tourism with dr. lucy long, which has been a great elective so far. it seems slightly fitting to my being in transition this spring too–with all of the moving around I kind of feel like a tourist myself.

so, to fill in the spaces, after the semester ended in mid-december, I packed up my apartment with the help of my parents, and made the twelve hour trip back to michigan. leaving boston was definitely bittersweet. I have a lot of friends there and it was hard to say goodbye, but the prospect of finishing my thesis was also pushing me forward. in a lot of ways, starting my thesis has helped me realize how all of my work since the start of the gastronomy program last january has been leading me to this point. as to not to give away too much too soon about my project, i’ll say this much for now. I’m in san francisco part-time, (and in kalamazoo the other part of the time), and working once again with la cocina. I’m looking forward to being able to share more of my work later.

on sunday afternoons, I have been enjoying making bread and other staples that can be used for meals throughout the week. this past sunday I made oatmeal sandwich bread, slightly adapted from orangette, and I will say it was the most successful loaf of sandwich bread i have ever made. It’s ever-so-slightly sweet, a tad dense, and really great for my lunch of choice, peanut butter toast. the loaf has almost lasted through the week; so adding it to the weekly sunday repetoire will work out nicely. the other thing I’ve been making a lot of is heidi swanson’s pizza dough, which I freeze in three or four sections and pop into the fridge as needed.

since jon and I have been eating a lot of pizza, I decided to make calzones, instead. 

butternut squash + pesto calzones (makes two)

1/4 batch pizza dough, recipe here (in her recipe, adding olive oil is optional, but i highly recommend it, it makes all the difference)

2-4 T. pesto, recipe below

1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (I used almond cheese, which melted and worked nicely)

1 cup butternut squash mixture, recipe below

salt and pepper

I bought pea shoots at the farmers’ market last weekend and wasn’t sure what to do with them. It turns out they make a pretty nice pesto.

pea shoot pesto

1 small bunch pea shoots, rinsed and dried

2 small cloves garlic

juice from one lemon

3/4 cup cooked white beans

1-2 T. fresh rosemary

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp. salt

combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and smooth. the pea shoots I used had a pretty strong flavor, so I adjusted slightly with more beans, more rosemary, and a touch more salt and tasted again. you won’t use all of it for the calzones, so freezing a portion of it might be a good idea unless you plan to eat it some other time that week.

roasted butternut squash

2 cups cubed butternut squash

1 red onion, cut into 6-8 wedges lengthwise

1 T. olive oil


combine the onion and squash on a baking sheet, and toss with olive oil. sprinkle salt and bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees, until squash cubes are soft but don’t start to break down. set aside and allow them to cool.


cut the piece of dough into two equal sizes. on a floured surface, roll out each piece into a square or rectangular shape, whichever you prefer for working in the filling. once they are rolled out, divide the amount of pesto, cheese and squash between the two. spread the pesto on one side of the dough, top with the cheese, finish with the squash and season with salt and pepper. fold the empty side over and pinch the edges closed with your fingers. brush with olive oil and create small slits in the top of the calzone to release steam.

cook the calzones on an oiled sheet for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, or until the edges begin to brown and the dough is no longer sticky.


new york + settling in

I have a new appreciation for hot plates and toaster ovens.

this weekend I moved from an apartment in inman square to a studio in the south end. trees line my new street, I’m a ten minute walk to my favorite espresso royale caffe and flour bakery, and am getting acquainted to the mini-fridge, microwave, and bed doubling-as-a-couch lifestyle.  although i may feel differently come december, it turns out my concerns about not having an oven were at least somewhat unwarranted. tonight for dinner I made quinoa with a few drops of olive oil, arugula, salt and pepper, and topped it with two eggs, chopped avocado, and grape tomatoes. all on a single-burner hot plate (the quinoa was made first). living here and cooking this way will force me to be creative with food, again. i’ll have to forgo some of the staples i’d ordinarily rely on this time of year like roasted squash, and baked oatmeal isn’t anywhere in the foreseeable future–but that’s alright. I’m just thankful to be here.

earlier in the week I went to visit my cousin, christina, in new york. turns out that megabus is amazing. I never took the bus to new york last spring, for some reason, but it was really easy and well worth the $26 round-trip ticket. I spent part of wednesday afternoon wandering around the east village and at ost cafe on the corner of 12th and avenue a, waiting for christina to finish work. this was my view from the cafe window. hopefully during the course of the fall I’ll have time to make a few more trips to the city. until then, i’ll be posting more of my toasted, re-heated and single-pot meals.

millet bread

It’s so good to have another option for breakfast. Last year when jon and I were visiting Anne in Philadelphia, we went to the reading terminal market as part of our downtown tour. amongst a million options, I ended up choosing a cup of coffee and millet muffin from metropolitan bakery: it was nutty, had a crunchy top but surprisingly light and pleasant middle, not too sweet. it was delicious. I’ve been meaning to attempt a replication ever since, and was inspired once again this morning when I woke up and saw the glass jar of millet sitting next to the sink. as I am currently without a muffin tin; I used a small loaf pan instead which worked great.

forty-five minutes later i had successfully recreated the market muffin in a small apartment kitchen in san francisco.

millet bread

(slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks) 

1 1/8 cups whole wheat flour

1/3 cup raw millet

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup almond milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup honey

1 T. lemon zest

1 T. lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and butter the loaf pan.

Combine the flour, millet, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter, honey, and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the flour is just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the pan.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the top is brown and just barely begins to crack. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then serve with honey butter.

*I substituted earth balance for butter to make the recipe dairy-free.

meyer lemon bars.

meyer lemons made my day yesterday.

the idea for making lemon bars first presented itself through a seasonal cooking assignment i was given for my food writing class.  i felt fortunate that my afternoon taken up by grocery shopping, scrubbing lemons, measuring flour and taking photos could be written off as homework, but leisurely afternoons have been few and far between lately, so i’ll take them when I can.

meyer lemon bars

adapted from smitten kitchen

1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking sheet.
2. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 4 minutes.
3. In a bowl with a wooden spoon, combine the flour and salt. With the electric mixer on low, add the flour to the butter until just mixed.
4. With your hands, gather the dough into a ball then press it into the greased baking sheet, building up 1/2 inch edge on all sides.
5. Chill the crust for 15 minutes.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges are lightly brown. Cool the crust to room temperature.

4 eggs, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest, grated
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1.  In a metal bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour.
2. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, cut into squares, and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

a new cookbook + cowboy cookies

after a trip to brookline booksmith on wednesday afternoon and finally deciding to purchase the tartine bread cookbook, i was inspired to bake something. when i say inspired to bake something, i don’t mean that i was quite ready to bake bread. this cookbook purchase was well thought out, and after some careful reading and time to shop for the correct ingredients, i’ll be ready to give it a try.

instead, i decided on making some cowboy cookies. my mom makes something very similar, called ranger cookies, that were what i was thinking of when i started looking for recipes. the difference between the ranger and cowboy cookies are that the chocolate chips in the cowboy cookies are replaced by rice krispies in my mom’s version. whichever you choose, both are delicious!



quinoa falafel

it all started with my first trip to whole foods in boston yesterday with my roommate, jessica. even when i go to whole foods with a very specific grocery list, (or like yesterday, not intending to buy more than something small to eat for lunch), i am so easily distracted by hundreds of other things on the shelves. my ability to be inspired by a single ingredient could fill a volume of cookbooks–i think all i need now is to clear up my schedule for the next few years to try them all out.

yesterday my extra purchase was a pound of rainbow carrots. this recipe is a slight variation of a really wonderful original from one of my favorite food blogs, sprouted kitchen. the first two times i made the falafel, i followed her recipe verbatim–the only reason this recipe is slightly changed is because i didn’t have the exact ingredients to mimic the sprouted kitchen recipe when i started making dinner last night. so instead of walking to the store, i just made something similar with the ingredients on hand. as i’m writing this, i am finishing some of the leftovers from last night. it’s simple to make & makes about one dozen, one inch falafel cakes.

quinoa falafel

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

15 oz. garbanzo beans

2 eggs

1 cup thinly chopped carrots

1/2 of a small red onion, diced

1 tsp. each of sesame seeds, cumin and coriander

2 T. olive oil

salt & pepper

combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. i’ve found that if i use an immersion blender or food processor to puree at least 1/2 or 2/3 of the mixture, the patties stay together a lot better when they’re being cooked. heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and drop the falafel mixture by spoonfuls into the pan. cook at least 3 minutes on each side, over medium heat, and remove from pan. these are delicious on their own, or eaten in a pita with some chopped tomatoes, parsley, and yogurt-tahini sauce (the recipe can be found on the sprouted kitchen blog). enjoy!

a few flights, snow + dinner

yesterday when i flew back from san francisco, i found michigan in full-fledged christmas mode. its as though kalamazoo has been tucked into a big snow globe–giant snowflakes have been drifting out of the sky all day–and its really beautiful.

even though i haven’t quite adjusted to the colder weather or made it out for a walk, i wanted to take a few pictures of the snow outside the window when i woke up this morning. this post is for jon.. i can’t wait for christmas.


kale + lentil soup

4 leeks

2 sweet potatoes, peeled & cut in 1/2 inch dice

1 bunch of kale (i used the curly variety, but would recommend lacinato if you can find it)

1 T. olive oil

28 oz. can diced tomatoes

1 12 oz. can tomato puree

6 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup lentils (brown or red)

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves

10 fresh basil leaves

1/2 tsp. roasted red pepper flakes

kosher salt & black pepper, to taste

start with the leeks–cut off the dark green portion and the root end, then cut them in half lengthwise, into a half-moon shape. cut into 1/2 inch pieces. rinse and dry to make sure all of the dirt is gone. remove the stems from the kale, and chop into strips. heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, and saute the leeks for 3 minutes. add the diced tomatoes, and cook for 5 more minutes. then add the chicken broth and bring it to a boil. once boiling, add the remaining ingredients, season, and stir together. allow the lentils to cook until tender, at least 30 minutes. serve with parmesan cheese if you like.

brussel sprouts + eggs

preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil. take 30 or so brussel sprouts, trim off the ends, and slice in half lengthwise and place on the sheet. if they’re on the larger side, quarter them. drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. roast for 15 minutes. they’re delicious eaten with an over-easy egg for breakfast.