Tag Archives: food


I was a very lucky guest at a knock-you-down-scrumptious dinner party last weekend. Good food was contributed and enjoyed by all, along with a certain amount of liquid refreshment. I had a great time, and I also enjoyed making an appetizer. All the parts are so pretty, and the result is so tasty – I can’t be selfish. Here’s how you do it.

Roasted Asparagus Crostini

2 bunches of pencil thin asparagus
3 cloves of garlic
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
2 dozen crostini, or 1 large baguette, sliced
cheese for garnish

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash the asparagus, remove the tough ends, and snap them into thirds (about 2″ lengths). Crush the garlic and toss with the asparagus, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on baking sheets and roast for 6-8 minutes (I usually do this in two batches, but if your oven is large they can all go in at once). Take the sheets out and toss the asparagus to turn them. Roast for another 3-4 minutes, until the asparagus is bright green and tender, and the tips are a little bit brown (which gives them that magical nutty flavor, and a tiny bit of crunch). Toss the roasted asparagus in a large bowl with the lemon juice and toasted almonds.

If you’re using a fresh baguette, toast (or if you’re really ambitious, grill) the slices before arranging them in a single layer on a serving dish or cutting board. Pour off a little bit of the juice from the bowl of asparagus, and brush it onto the crostini. Then layer small bunches of asparagus onto each slice, and garnish with a curl of your favorite cheese (I used Cypress Grove Midnight Moon, because it’s the cheese of the gods. True story.)

Crunchy, nutty, and green. Delicious.

the pink pickle project

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to a great food blog called Orangette. It’s become a favorite of mine for charming writing, and diverse and pleasing foods. It’s also how I discovered Etsy, so I owe Ms. Orangette a huge debt of thanks for changing my life. But this post is not about Etsy. It’s about pickled red onions, which are just as wonderful.

I’m a pickle fanatic. Dill, bread and butter, beans, beets, peaches, you name it – I’m a fan. I’d wanted to try Molly’s recipe for a long time, but have always been daunted by the number of steps involved. (You can find the recipe on Molly’s lovely blog here.) Last weekend, I finally bought a big bag of organic red onions and rolled up my sleeves, and the results were amazing. The project suffered an early setback when I knocked over a full jar of black peppercorns. Did you know that when you vacuum black peppercorns off of a hard floor, the vacuum will act as a grinder and spray chewed-up bits of pepper at you? You didn’t? Well, now you do. You’re welcome! I do it all for science (and a pepper-perfumed apartment). Fortunately, I’d already measured out the 20 peppercorns I needed for the brine, so Project Pickle went ahead after a brief cleaning detour.

The recipe is easy, but it really does take forever. The three blanchings are necessary to get the right flavor and still keep the onions crisp, but next time I may try increasing the amount of brine by half and doing the blanchings in a single batch, instead of three batches per blanching. I love a great pickle, but I also love my time. All the steps are very simple, though, and these are basically mistake-proof. The pickles are a heavenly bright pink, sweet and spicy and crisp. They also have absolutely no salt in them, which is a huge plus. Mostly, I’m just eating them cold, straight out of the jar, but I have it on good authority that they’re also tasty in a roast beef sandwich. I’ve replaced the jar of peppercorns, and I’ll definitely be making more when this batch is gone. Yum!

summertime. the livin’ is smoothie.

I’m living on fruit and yogurt smoothies at the moment, and they look so pretty I thought maybe I’d share. They’re extra easy. I bought a bunch of fresh fruit and froze it, so it’s easy to just toss in the blender whenever I want. My favorite of the moment is cherry, but I’ve also used blueberries and bananas. I use Wallaby fat free vanilla bean yogurt from Whole Foods, and whatever bottled orange juice is on sale. Toss equal parts yogurt, oj and fruit in the blender (if you’re using fresh fruit instead of frozen, use a little less oj), and blend on high until the fruit is chopped and the smoothie is frothy. For something less fruity, try oj and baby beets (available pre-cooked and packaged in the refrigerated section from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods). Enjoy!

saturday’s child is full of pie

I spent the better part of the day yesterday engaged in a labor of love that resulted, eventually, in a Pear Gruyere Pie. The recipe doesn’t belong to me, so it’s not posted here, but I’ve linked to it if you want to try it. The lovely and pie-centric Pushing Daisies aired its final episode two weeks ago, and Shana and I decided to save it until we had time to bake pies and celebrate/mourn properly. Yesterday was the day, so I made my pie and Shana made a sensational cherry pie and homemade vanilla ice cream. We had a simple dinner of cheese, bread and grapes, accompanied by a strictly necessary quantity of wine, and feasted ourselves on pieapalooza and grief as only true TV fans can do.

The weather in Chicago this week is pie-unfriendly, so I had the air conditioner on high and a couple of times I had to throw the dough in the freezer while I was working to keep it from absorbing too much moisture. There were a few places where the crust was too thick and didn’t quite crisp all the way through, and the filling could use some extra pow; next time I make it I think I’ll try adding some citrus to the poaching syrup. Still, all things considered, I think my pear pie turned out beautifully and I’m going to enjoy having both pear and cherry leftovers this week.

Au revoir, Pieman. Goodbye, Chuck and Olive. Kisses to Digby and Pigby and Aunts Lily and Vivian (I bought an eyepatch because of you). Emerson Cod, I hope to see you around. I’ll miss you.

etsy in action: i’m peckish.

1. Choose Your Own Pickle Adventure Pack
2. Vanilla Caramels
3. Cherry with Honey and Balsamic Vinegar
4. Kumquat and Tangerine with Vanilla
5. Black Licorice Caramels
6. Pickled Golden Beets
7. Spicy Garlic Dill Pickled Green Beans
8. Tomato with Vanilla Beans

A short and sweet post this week, my darling followers. I don’t have time for writing; there are pickles to be eaten, and duty calls. This week’s Etsy in Action is in praise of edibles. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the delights available in Etsy’s Plants & Edibles category, but I have three scrumptious sellers to recommend.

My favorite Etsy purchase of late is my Choose Your Own Pickle Adventure from sardineandanchovy. In between sneaking cold, crisp dill green beans out of the fridge, I tweet about it, I text about it, I call people to talk about pickles. The Choose Your Own Pickle Adventure pack offers your choice of three types of pickles from a tempting selection. I went with Garlic Dill Green Beans, Spiced Peaches and Golden Beets. Each one is a perfect, briny, sweet or savory revelation. I’ve been eating peaches for breakfast and dessert, beets with my dinner, and green beans whenever I want. That’s right, I’m a grownup. On summer vacation. I can have a pickled green bean at 2 a.m. if I want.

An earlier but highly recommended purchase was from lemonbird jams. I discovered lemonbird when she was featured in Daily Candy this past winter, and the happy find coincided with an obsession for roasted pork loin. Cherry with Honey and Balsamic Jam was a serendipitous match for a perfectly juicy, caramelized roast. I also bought Tomato Jam with Vanilla Bean, which was a sweetly subtle treat and wonderful on toasted multigrain bread.

My first order from CaramelJubilee was intended to be a gift for my father. I’d noticed her intriguing black licorice caramels and was pretty sure my dad would be crazy about them. I ordered a half pound each of vanilla and black licorice caramels. They arrived, and out of a strong sense of public service (really, I couldn’t send a gift of food without making certain of it first, could I?) I tried them. One of each. I’m a lifelong fan of vanilla caramel, and these are lovely: rich and smooth and definitely a superior vanilla caramel. But the licorice caramels were the stuff of instant addiction: also rich and smooth and with a hint of vanilla, and the most scrumptious, perfectly balanced burst of black licorice! Yeah, my dad didn’t get any of that particular order. I sent him something else. I don’t even remember what. However, last Christmas, I got over my selfish greed and sent him a package of black licorice caramels, and I was right: he is crazy about them.

Snack on, shoppers.