Welcome to the September edition of Let’s Lunch! This month, our theme is pickles. I am a big fan of a fresh pickle; the full-sour is, well, a little too much sour for me, but I will be delighted to eat a half-sour any day. The beauty of the fresh pickle is that you can do it with almost any vegetable (I’m fond of radishes), and without having to commit precious kitchen space to cucumbers you are not going to be able to eat for a couple of weeks.
Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch! For July, we’re taking advantage of the warm weather (at least here in the northern hemisphere!) and focusing on meals al fresco, from dinner on the patio to your Fourth of July picnic.
Now, I like a good picnic as much as the next girl, but my most cherished memories of outdoor meals are from long days on the river in a canoe. My best childhood friend and I made a tradition once we were old enough of making an annual canoe trip on one of the local rivers. The livery would put us into the water eight miles up a broad, lazy river, and we’d spend all afternoon exploring, sunbathing, and swimming before making our way back down just in time for dinner.
Naturally, serious provisioning was required for such a demanding endeavor. The contents of the cooler varied from year to year, but we usually took chicken, Bugles, a few ripe plums, lemonade, and our staple: a batch of butterscotch brownies. Chewy, nutty, and full of brown sugar, we’d bring the whole batch and they’d be gone before we reached the livery again.
The recipe follows after the jump; take some along on your next hike, or just whip up a batch for dessert, but don’t expect them to stick around — they’ll be gone before you know it!
Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch fruit fiesta! It’s still slim pickings here in New England as far as seasonal fruit goes, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite cocktails with the last of the winter citrus. Grapefruit may be a winter fruit, but this cocktail is pleasantly summery to counteract all the gray weather we’ve had lately. And any good fiesta needs a drink, right?
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
3 ounces fresh pink grapefruit juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
3 mint leaves
Mint sprig to garnish
Combine first four ingredients in a shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a rocks glass with ice and garnish with mint sprig. Enjoy!
Still hungry? (Or thirsty?) Check out the other offerings on Twitter, hashtag #LetsLunch, or below:
Rejuvenating Balinese Green Apple Salad at Spicebox Travels.
Cantaloupe Pie at Tea and Scones.
Mango Refrigerator Cake at Asian in America.
Sticky Pears at Monday Morning Cooking Club.
Welcome to the April edition of Let’s Lunch! This month’s theme is blissful simplicity: three ingredient recipes. I’m not normally a pared-down sort of a cook, with one exception: the preparation of beautiful seasonal produce. Sometimes, it’s best just to let Mother Nature speak for herself.
Coincidentally, this is the time of year when I inevitably become obsessed with spring produce. You will note that I do not say that this is the time of year when spring produce shows up in our local farmer’s markets. This is the North, folks. This is just the time of year when I feel like it ought to be showing up. I’ll be delighted to see it in another month when it actually arrives.
In the spirit of spring fever, however, I picked up some lovely asparagus that probably flew here from California, and gave it just a tiny bit of help to make it special with a dash of truffle oil. Turns out, this may be just enough to tide me over until May.
Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch! The delectable theme for March is dishes inspired by literature. For a compulsive reader like me, it was hard to know where to even start. I’ve been reading and dreaming about things my favorite characters ate since preschool. (Anyone else remember Bread and Jam for Frances? How about the scene in Little House in the Big Woods where Laura and her family make maple sugar candy by pouring syrup into the snow outside?)
Welcome to this month’s Let’s Lunch! I’m sure you hardly need to guess what this month’s theme is; is anyone capable of thinking about anything today but the arrival of the Winter Olympics? Naturally, being as obsessed with Greek food as I am, the Olympic theme immediately suggested Greece to me, but a brilliant friend did me one better by pointing out that the lighting of the torch cries out for things that are on fire. (I swear I am not a pyromaniac, but is flaming food not more festive? Come on.)
Having spent my childhood making regular pilgrimages to Greektown for dinner, saganaki (pan-fried cheese) immediately sprang to mind. We ordered saganaki every time we went, and while the process of having it brought to the table (“OOOOPPPAAAAAAA!!”) was intermittently terrifying, it has remained one of my favorites. This would be a great snack for the opening ceremonies.
Since this isn’t a breaded, deep-fried number, you need a cheese that will actually hold up to being pan-fried instead of turning into a puddle in the bottom of your pan. I use halloumi, but Greece has a whole slew of delicious sheep’s-milk cheese that will also fit the bill, including graviera, kefalograviera, and kelalotiri. I have also seen kasseri frequently recommended for it, but my own personal experience with kasseri was that it was too melty for the task. If you find you’re having that sort of issue with your cheese, freezing the dredged slices before frying and then using rather a high heat may help.
Cheesy deliciousness after the jump.
Oh, Germany. I do so love the way you make new words by jamming existing ones together. How else would we end up with a word like kummerspeck? In case you hadn’t heard it before, kummerspeck translates to “grief bacon,” meaning the weight you gain from emotional overeating. How do we not have this word in English?
Grief bacon is the theme for this month’s Let’s Lunch. Being as the holidays are just over, I could take this as an opportunity to post a healthy recipe to address the results of the seasonally traditional overeating, emotional and otherwise, but what fun would that be? Bacon, frankly, makes pretty great cause for grief bacon, but if I am feeling really down, I prefer to be beaten soundly about the head and shoulders with the Stick of Chocolate. (And Scharffen Berger makes some really great chocolate chunks for just that purpose. They are SO my favorite.)
After the jump, the brownies I want when I am In A Mood, preferably a trifle undercooked, and always chocolated to the teeth.
It’s time for our holiday edition of Let’s Lunch! This month’s theme is things that are both edible and decorative, and, wow, doesn’t that cover a lot of ground at this time of year? Maybe I’m biased by my gigantic sweet tooth, but I feel like there’s nothing more decorative than a lovely plate of Christmas cookies and treats. Or at least, it’s decorative for the ten seconds between the time that it comes out of the kitchen and the moment when all that’s left is that weird thing your crazy neighbor brought by yesterday and the painfully overbaked M&M cookies from that batch that was in the oven when your mom called.
In recent years, I’ve taken to doing caramels as a festive way to greet friends and family at this time of year. I know that may sound intimidating for those who haven’t made candy before, but it is crazy easy if you a) do not ever walk away from the pan, and b) have an accurate candy thermometer. I admit, this last item can be a challenge – I bought two thermometers and found that they sometimes gave me readings as much as 30 degrees apart – but assuming you get a good digital thermometer and pass that hurdle, you’re golden.
Because I continue to be obsessed with pecans around the holidays, I put together the little gems above. Recipe after the jump!
Welcome to the October round of Let’s Lunch! This month’s theme is guilty pleasures. Since around here are in the painfully, painfully brief season when fresh figs are available, I thought I’d share one of my favorite indulgences: starting the day with an opulent breakfast of fresh figs and ricotta.
I love a fancy breakfast. Let’s be honest: despite the fact that nutritionists are constantly telling us that it’s important to eat breakfast, it’s hard to make time to actually have a real meal at that hour. Life gets in the way. So there’s something especially indulgent-feeling about sitting down with a real treat instead of a bowl of cereal or a breakfast bar.
I do try to eat something for breakfast. I also try not to start my day with a big bowl of full-fat cheese. But hey, fresh figs are worth it, don’t you think?
Figs and Ricotta with Honey
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
A pinch of salt
2-3 fresh figs
Freshly ground black pepper
Honey (I used orange blossom)
Fresh mint or rosemary, finely chopped
Stir a pinch of salt into the ricotta and place in a bowl. Quarter the figs and arrange them on top of the ricotta. Give a few grinds of pepper on top, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle with your herb of choice. If you use rosemary, as I did, be sparing and make sure to give the leaves a light chopping first. Mint you can use more freely.
Still hungry? Check out the other offerings on Twitter, hashtag #LetsLunch, or below:
The Breakfast Club at Sandwich Surprise.
Shoulder Pork and Ham deconstructed at Insatiable Munchies.
Nutella Cookies at The Little Good Ride.
Halayang Ube at Asian in America.
Mars Bar Slice at Monday Morning Cooking Club.
Japanese Crisp Choco Bites at A Tiger in the Kitchen.
Homemade Biscuits and Sausage Gravy at Dreaming of Pots and Pans.
Dark Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Raspberries and Lemon-Scented Cream at Spicebox Travels.
It’s time for this month’s Let’s Lunch round! This month’s theme is pie. You might say that this is the perfect time of year for an apple pie recipe, headed as we are here in the Northeast straight into apple-picking season. I have to admit, though, I never think of fruit pies when someone says “pie”; my mind immediately goes to pecan, buttermilk, fudge, and all the other delicious, nutritionally irredeemable confections of my youth. That being so, I thought I’d bring you a straightforward favorite my grandmother used to make: chocolate pie. This is a simple recipe — so simple it might well have come off a can label sixty years ago — but I promise, it’s 100% delicious. There’s a reason my family keeps coming back to it decade after decade.