It’s caprese season!!! One of my quintessential summer food pleasures is a really good caprese salad, particularly when the tomatoes and basil are at their peak. But once you’ve have a burrata caprese salad, you realize you’ve been doing it all wrong with boring mozzarella!
What is burrata?? For the uninitiated, burrata is a soft cow’s milk cheese and from the outside it looks kind of like buffalo mozzarella. It’s made of mozzarella and cream, and has a smooth outer skin but then a creamy, slightly tangy middle. It is REVELATORY.
That tight ball of bland mozzarella will be gone forever once you’ve had burrata. It pairs wonderfully with things like tomatoes, peaches, and melon, and many people also put prosciutto crudo with it.
It’s bomb on a good Italian-style pizza or stirred into a pasta dish. You can learn more about it here.
One thing that’s critical—the simplicity of this dish means that you need to use the highest-quality ingredients you can find to make it amazing. In particular, using really good olive oil, flavorful tomatoes, and a good sea salt will make this great.READ THE POST
Fresh pasta con pesto has long-been probably my favorite food in the entire world. Seriously.
If you visit the Liguria region of Italy, you’ll get the opportunity to experience pesto in its birthplace, and it will almost always be served with the traditional trofie pasta.
“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”
~ Federico Fellini
I’ve talked about this more in my post on the food of Cinque Terre (one of my favorite places in the world!) but every time I visit those tiny fishing villages I look forward to gorging myself on platter after platter of trofie pasta with pesto.
If you haven’t made your own pasta before, it might seem kind of fussy and intimidating. But this Ligurian trofie pasta is really very easy, without dealing with eggs or any special equipment. All you need is a couple ingredients and your two hands!
It would even be a great activity with kids, or just a few extra people since the work will go much quicker and you can easily chat while you work.
I have a couple beloved variations of a gin gimlet on this site, but realized the other day that I’d never actually posted the O.G. And since the gin gimlet is one of the great classic cocktails, I need to rectify that.
I was doing some digging into the history of the gin gimlet and stumbled across this Chilled article that I loved…as someone who loves classic films, learning that gimlet was associated with Philip Marlowe was pretty cool.
For whatever reason, pavlovas feel super fancy, and I always have to remind myself that they’re actually really simple. And these mini pavlovas piled high with tart grapefruit curd, berries, and pillowy whipped cream are sheer heaven no matter the occasion.
So whether you want an easy make-ahead dessert for a dinner party, or just want to treat yourself, you need these in your life.
What’s pretty great is that they’re also naturally gluten-free, dairy-free (though you’d need to top them with something else), and unleavened. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE???
If you’re wondering how the chemistry works in this mini pavlova recipe, here are a few things to know about it:
- The vinegar (or some recipes use lemon juice, cream of tartar, some kind of acid) helps stabilize the egg white foam, and interferes with clumping; it helps prevent the effects of “overbeating” as well, usually where the egg whites collapse and weep (boy, don’t we all). Ultimately, it helps make the meringue a little chewy.
- Adding cornstarch to the egg white foam interferes with the egg proteins and provides a buffer to prevent overcooking. But too much cornstarch can make it almost chalky and too chewy, so don’t overdo it.
- The cornstarch and vinegar both act as stabilizers and help create that soft marshmallow-y center that the pavlova is known for.
I’m obsessed with this pink, shaggy mess! Ever since seeing Paul Hollywood make his chocolate cherry bread with Mary Berry on Great British Bake-Off Masterclass, I knew I needed it in my life.
I *have* thrown in the towel on trying to make my loaf look beautiful and neat, though. That shaggy mess becomes this golden, messy monster, and despite making it like 10 times at this point, nothing I do changes that.
But it is DELICIOUS and so its “informal” nature (to use a Mary Berry term) can be forgiven.
What elevates this from a basic loaf of bread is the incorporation of dark sweet cherries and a lot of dark and white chocolate.
The dark chocolate and cherries pair wonderfully, and the white chocolate ends up kind of melting away into gooey sweet pockets of sweet that burst in your mouth. I’M OBSESSED.
I have always started this in my stand mixer, but have tried mixing in the chocolate and cherries both in the mixer and kneading in by hand. Personally the mixer is way better and less messy, so I recommend going that way.
Despite being a massive Great British Bake Off superfan, I often find myself underwhelmed with a lot of Brit desserts (as they’re often a bit less moist than I prefer myself). But as I discovered on a trip to Scotland several years ago, sticky toffee pudding does NOT fall into that category.
In fact, I’m obsessed. This has a very “fall” feel to it (and that’s when I first made it), but this is true cold weather comfort food all winter long.
The thing is, I don’t like “toffee” at all, so I’d never paid this dessert any attention. I was excited to find that it doesn’t actually include any toffee, and instead is a moist treacly cake doused with buttery, sugary sauce.
(And even describing it like that would make me think I wouldn’t like it…BUT I DO. The world is a mystery.)
So is it a pudding or a cake?? Yes. British people call desserts “pudding”, which is baffling, and it’s definitely a cake. And if I understand correctly, it’s considered a “pudding” due to being more moist and having a sauce, rather than being super cake-like??
Brits, hit me up in the comments and help me understand…I’m reading between the lines of GBBO episode critiques.
As I’m one person and didn’t want to gain 32 pounds just from this recipe, I halved the recipe and it made 4 small ramekins. Halving is tricky with some of the amounts, but for any time I need to half a “3/4” amount, I shoot for halfway between 1/3 and 1/2.
I’ve been fascinated with the idea of trying out this Ligurian focaccia recipe ever since I watched the first episode of Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix.
I’d intended to just have it on in the background, but found myself mesmerized by the gorgeously-shot slow, close-ups of bubbling dough, shiny olive oil pooling in dimples, flaky salt showering over a pan. It hooked me good.
I’d been meaning to try out this recipe for months, but stalled and hemmed and hawed…something about figuring out the long first rise time and when the final product would be ready (for dinner time, ostensibly) seemed to trip me up. I wanted to actually ENJOY making this, not feel rushed or only half paying attention.
That seems silly in hindsight. But since I had some time over the winter break period to do whatever, whenever, I “scheduled” it for one of those chilly days between Christmas and New Year’s (though I celebrate neither of those) when the time kind of blurs together.
No one is really working, you’re not getting bombarded with emails, and you can just kind of…coast. Drink coffee until it’s time to drink gin. Watch the classic black-and-white “New Moon” for the umpteenth time. Maybe organize your closet. Lose a few hours reading. Wonder if it’s Tuesday or Friday.
Another Ligurian staple: Traditional Ligurian Trofie Pasta by Hand (with Fresh Pesto)
And between doing those things you can do the few steps it takes to pretend you’re as awesome and knowledgeable as Samin Nosrat and throw together this Ligurian focaccia. You’ll mimic her gentle movements, the dreamy glug of olive oil and sprinkles of salt.
Or, honestly, you’ll rush each step but still make sure that it has plenty of time to rise (THIS IS CRITICAL), and still end up with an addictive crunchy, salty bread. Because I learned that this recipe is so simple that if you’re only half paying attention you can still end up in the same place. It takes patience in the rising, but the actual hands-on steps are so easy.
What makes Ligurian focaccia different? Many people consider Ligurian focaccia (focaccia liguria, or sometimes focaccia genovese which is where the dimples are used) to be the most traditional Italian focaccia type, though there are other regional types.
You’ll find it all of the country, sometimes by itself or with toppings, or as the basis for sandwiches as well. If you see “pizza bianca” listed on a menu, this is basically just focaccia (sometimes with a little cheese as well) so don’t be expecting a real pizza.
So let’s try this, shall we?? READ THE POST
What could be better than bittersweet dark chocolate waffles drizzled in melted peanut butter and sweet maple syrup??
Nothing. The answer is nothing. Whether for an indulgent solo brunch, a romantic “breakfast for dinner”, or just because on a trying Tuesday morning, these waffles have your back. And they’re my new obsession.
Even though they were plenty delicious the first time I made them, I’ve fiddled with the recipe quite a bit to get it PERFECT. I made a few tweaks, both for flavor and texture as well as to slim down the calorie punch a bit.
For one, I didn’t want these waffles to be too sweet—after all, you’re putting syrup on them. So I backed off both the sugar and dark chocolate…we’re after bittersweet and indulgent (with toppings), but not rich or fudgy (which tend to make me a bit nauseous).
I also wanted to make sure the waffles got good and crisp, which the cocoa powder will fight against a bit. So after doing some research, I ended up using a little cornstarch and it does the trick nicely.
And then let’s talk simplicity…the original dark chocolate waffle recipe calls for separating the eggs and whipping the egg whites, then folding them in. Honestly, I’m lazy and rarely do that for waffles. I just haven’t seen a noticeable difference. But you do you.
Either olive oil or melted butter work in this recipe, though I tend toward butter myself. The butter should make it a little more crisp and impart more flavor, and the olive oil more moist.
Make sure you use a good quality dark chocolate, not like…Hershey’s. It really does pack a punch in this recipe so if you skimp you’ll notice it. I tend to have Ghiradelli baking discs on hand so usually use that.
Every year I make my own birthday cake, using it as an excuse to try something indulgent and a bit more complicated than my usual. But this year’s orange and salted honey cake was a disappointment. Just kind of meh. So about a month later I decided I deserved a re-do…and THUS these peanut butter, banana, and salted honey cream puffs were born!
This idea came out of two different things…I had wanted to to try my hand at choux pastry for quite a while. It’s an entirely new baking technique for me, and my obsession with the Great British Bake-Off had finally pushed me to needing to try it.
Secondly, the one bright spot in my sad birthday cake debacle was trying out pastry cream (custard) for the first time and falling in love with this subtle, addictive salted honey pastry cream. So I wanted that to play a role in this recipe somehow.
So then I thought, what goes with honey?? Peanut butter, of course! And if you’re a lover of the traditional “Elvis” sandwich, then banana as well. I liked that the banana brought a fresh flavor and different texture to the whole thing.
Overall, making the choux was really easy! Like, shockingly easy. Piping it was a bit tricky since I’m terrible at piping. My biggest frustration was that I didn’t have a piping tip big enough for good-size eclairs. So I mostly went with the cream puffs since those turned out awesome.
I needed to mix up my veggie side dish game recently, because I’ve overdone it a bit on the cauliflower front, as well as being very carb-heavy (lots of sweet potatoes and butternut squash).
Enter these crispy roasted brussels sprouts with balsamic and honey…
I’m absolutely in love with this honey balsamic brussels sprouts flavor combo…the sweet-bitter taste that soaks into the sprouts and softens them a bit. That, combined with the sea salt added before roasting and the deeply charred nature of the brussels sprouts, makes this dish truly magical.
The main change I’ve made from the original recipe is backing waaaay off the amount of dressing/drizzle. I’ve found that a 1-tablespoon-to-1-teaspoon ratio works best, and even sometimes a bit less than that (I eyeball when making for myself). You don’t want it sopping wet.