I am starting a blog tradition borrowed from QuietDomesticity and originally from SouleMama.
{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Moments

A day without chocolate seems inconceivable to me. Nothing can replace the deep earthy flavor of chocolate as it melts in your mouth except… well an exceptional chocolate chip cookie. Actually, a chocolate chip cookie with walnuts is better than a plain chocolate chip cookie and white chocolate (which I don’t consider to be chocolate at all) with macadamia nuts and dried Bing cherries is a close second.

I don’t know of many people who like their chocolate chip cookies to be brittle and crisp. The best way to achieve soft, rich and gooey cookies is with a high fat content (aren’t most things better with more fat in them?) and also to use melted not softened butter. So that’s just what I do, I take a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe and melt the butter, beat it with regular and brown sugars, add eggs (not 1 egg, but 1 egg and 1 egg yolk), vanilla, flower, baking soda and of course… CHOCOLATE CHIPS. Last tip, don’t overmix the batter after you add the flour and stir the chocolate chips in by hand.

Ooey, Gooey and Delicious

This is just what you need to get through your Wednesday!

Dessert

Why do some renditions of even the most basic dishes like beef stew or meatballs turn out so well in the hands of certain cooks? Secret flavor bolstering weapons! I don’t profess to know all the secrets or have mastered all flavor profiles, but I do have some tricks in my pocket. So I am starting a series of posts where each post will introduce a little flavor weapon.

Today’s is anchovies. That’s right, anchovies… they are probably located in the very isle of your local grocery mart that you always pass through briskly. The one that also has pre-made taco shells, canned beans, asian odds and ends and holiday specials. Before I explain why anchovies are an amazing flavor booster, I would advise that you provision the very best you can buy or as Ina Garten would say, “Good quality anchovies“. I recommend ones that are produced outside of the united states, preferably in Spain or Italy and packed in olive oil and not salt.

Finally, anchovies are salty, meaty, oily, briny and most of all rich in umami. There are two ways to indulge in anchovy goodness… let it melt away into flavorful nothingness in your stews, roasts or pasta sauces or proudly display them atop your favorite tapas. To use in a stew (meat or fish), simply throw in 2-3 anchovy fillets into your pot when sauteing your mirepoix. They will melt away into the oil/butter and you and your diners won’t know they are there. You will notice a certain richness in your final product, a very meaty, earthy flavor that you can’t really pinpoint. Speaking of stews… a little wine, chicken or beef stock never hurt anyone either! The use of anchovies as proud leads in your dishes is reserved for another, longer post. Stay tuned!

Cookery Flavors

A delicious Thai dinner is never very far away in our house. The most recent one was a Thai Coconut Curry Chicken with Petit Peas that I cooked in 1 hr. When the weather is still a little chilly, I crave warm, mildly spicy flavors. The easiest is our coconut curry which can be made with chicken, fish, and shellfish. When we make it, our house always fills with the aroma of lemongrass and coconut.

Coconut Curry Chicken & Petit Peas

The added bonus is that we get to introduce at least the smells of lemongrass, ginger and coconut to our little culinary passenger. Sophia loves to smell new things; she brings her little nose to the food and takes a deep, deep breath. Whether this works or not, we are not sure. We are doing our best to get her used to the idea of experiencing new things.

Cookery

A welcome visit from the in-laws provided me with ample opportunity to indulge in my much-forgotten past-time: BAKING.

While they took Sophia for a mid-afternoon walk/nap, I jumped into action trying a new banana cake recipe with cream cheese frosting. I have made plenty of banana breads in my life, but it is simply too hard to pass up an opportunity to make cream cheese frosting!

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

As imagined and expected, the result was moist, decadent and just absolutely devine without being cloyingly sweet and too rich like many of our usual go-to chocolate concoctions often are.

Cookery Dessert

My parents in-law visited with us yesterday. We were looking forward to have two extra pairs of helpings hands with Sophia and maybe even garden a little. Although very sunny, the weather was still too chilly and instead we opted to do taxes (my husband) and bake (me). Before the baking, there was lunch to be made and I decided to continue paying homage to all the greenery with Zucchini Pancakes with Garlic Creme Fraiche. The pancakes take 15 minutes to make and have just five ingredients. They taste light, refreshing and perfect for a Sunday lunch which I like to have without too much fuss or work.

Zucchini Pancakes with Garlic Creme Fraiche

But for those who need something a little more substantial, there was Capered Tuna Salad. This is not your typical, heavy tuna salad! I use salty, briny capers to interject some of that missing salty flavor that somehow magically go missing from supermarket canned tuna.

Capered Tuna Salad

Finally, there was Grilled Chicken Sausage, Onion and Peppers.

Grilled Peppers & Onions

Odd combination it may seem, but it was a truly delicious and satisfying the brunch/lunch.

Lastly, credit is given where it is due: the hubby did the grilling and there is nothing that can substitute the flavor a charcoal grill imparts!

Do you have a favorite dish that you make for brunch? Share your ideas here.

Grilled Sausage, Onion & Peppers

Cookery

Spring is here and with it are unseasonably warm weather, spring flowers, greenery and locally grown produce. I am a huge fan of fast and fresh dinners and have many recipes that help me put a light and refreshing meal on the table in under 30 minutes. Quinoa with herbs is a healthy, low-carb, high protein side dish that I make in 15 minutes. I would typically call it Herbed Quinoa but my after happily chowing down on it today, my husband proclaimed “Don’t you use herb as a verb!.”

Herbed Quinoa

 

Cookery FriendsFamily

Until now, little Sophia’s adventures with food have not expanded beyond apple and prune sauce, pea, carrot, potato and sweet potato puree and of course mashed banana. It is hard to believe that a little person will have preferences and likes but it seems that banana and apple are clear favorites.

A meal, however, is not gourmet unless it is prepared with care, passion, elaborate techniques and flavors. We are beginning to expose Sophia to gourmet, richly flavored food early and are hoping to avoid protests in ethnic locales later on. To that end, we have augmented plain old apple sauce with cinnamon. Cinnamon is a warm, rich spice that manages to permeate the house even when used in small quantities. Apple and cinnamon are an especially great combination and we were unsurprised when Sophia happily dove into her dinner. A word of caution: cinnamon is a significant allergen, and I would advise that you use a stick instead of powdered cinnamon when making apple sauce and leave it in for just a few minutes at first to make sure your child does not have a reaction.

 

Tiny Tastebuds

Like most new parents, I could not wait until I could give real food to little Miss S. We finally got the go-ahead from our pediatrician to start solids when our daughter was 5 months old. Until recently, Sophia has liked everything. We’ve offered her oatmeal cereal, prune, apple, and banana. I could sense that our luck was about to change when we offered carrot, potato and peas. Just today, I prepared Mushy Peas and being true to my own conviction (presentation matters),  I presented them in a clear, shiny dish our Bubbie gave us.

Mommy's Famous Mushy Peas

Sophia tried a few spoonfuls and made it clear she was not impressed. She made a face, pursed her little lips and turned her head. Desperation took over me and I did what I promised myself I wouldn’t do: offered something else. I sprung into action grating a little bit of banana.

Mashed Banana

The soft, sweet, billowy banana went over with baby claps, smiles and lots of lip smacking. A quiet sense of panic took over me as I was spooning banana into our daughter’s mouth: am I destined to become one of those parents who is a short order cook at home?

Tiny Tastebuds

My husband and I bought our house last May when I was very pregnant. I spent the summer helping (supervising, really) updates to the inside. Meanwhile, many of our landscaping projects stood still. Now that spring is here, we have decided to make a significant effort on our front yard. Besides, I have grand plans to maintain a small vegetable garden from which our little girl will experience her many culinary firsts.

I must admit, while I love a beautiful yard and enjoy plucking a fresh tomato from a vegetable garden, I am not much of a gardener. I don’t enjoy playing with dirt and do not possess a green thumb. So if you cannot or do not want to take care of something, bring in someone who can and is willing.

We asked my parents for help and used our little five and a half month old daughter as ploy. The mission was “simple”: turn two ponds into flower beds and fence in a vegetable garden. While the dad and hubby were out excavating ponds and buying tons of soil and such at the local hardware store, I cooked away. The weekend menu took us to India and Asia. We started off with Chicken Tikka Masala for dinner on Friday.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Saturday night we moved swiftly east to Japan with Harumi Kurihara’s Simmered Pork Belly and a refreshing cucumber and wakame salad.

Simmered Pork Belly

The smell of sake and ginger permeated the kitchen on Friday night as the pork belly simmered.

Cucumber and Wakame Salad

The meal was satiating and satisfying — a welcome respite from a long day of work for everyone. Our feasting continued into lunch today when I sauteed some shiitake mushrooms with onions until golden, brown, delicious and oh so aromatic. I sandwiched the mushroom and onion mixture between two slices of rustic Italian bread and a healthy layer of shredded Gruyere. The sandwiches were grilled in a pan, weighted down with a spatula until golden, brown, and oozing with cheese.

Grilled Cheese

A crisp and tangy arugula salad with sherry vinaigrette was a perfect compliment cutting through the richness of the grilled cheese. Last, but not least and in my opinion never to be omitted, is desert! My mom was a champ and helped make peanut butter sandwich cookies with honey-cinnamon frosting.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

I find it very difficult to resist a quick trip to the kitchen for a cookie. Mom always taught me not to spoil my apetite for dinner which is Shrimp in Thai Curry. I suppose I could have taken a picture of today’s dinner and posted everything tomorrow, but patience is a virtue I work towards. Besides, who knows, maybe one of my readers will be so impressed with the food that they too will volunteer to work for food.

Cookery FriendsFamily