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Washington, DC, United States
"A rose is a rose is an onion." -Ernest Hemingway


Garlic-Rosemary Focaccia

This moist, springy bread is a great appetizer or snack - and makes an excellent base for pizza or sandwiches.

For one 12" round loaf, you'll need:

+ lukewarm water, 3 tablespoons + 2/3 cup, divided
+ dry active yeast, 1 .25-ounce package
+ olive oil, 4 tablespoons + extra
+ sugar, 1 tablespoon
+ flour, 2 cups
+ garlic, 3 cloves + 2 cloves, divided
+ fresh rosemary, 1 sprig + 1 sprig, divided
+ salt, to taste

In a bowl, combine yeast, sugar and 3 tablespoons of water. Rest for 5-10 minutes, or until foamy. In the meantime, place olive oil in a small skillet over low heat. Crush 3 garlic cloves; add to skillet with 1 whole sprig of rosemary. Cook for approximately 5 minutes; pass through a sieve. Cool.

Add the flour, remaining water and 3 tablespoons of cooled infused oil to the yeast mixture. Mix gently until a ball forms. Lightly knead dough on a floured surface until soft and smooth. Transfer to a clean, oiled bowl. Cover, and allow to rise in a warm area for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil; oil. Mince reserved garlic and rosemary. Transfer dough to a floured surface. Using your fingertips, press dough into a round (or whichever shape you prefer), approximately 1/2" thick and slightly dimpled. Transfer to baking sheet. Brush reserved oil on dough, and sprinkle minced garlic and rosemary. Liberally salt.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy!


Spice Flats

These crunchy little bites are perfect with a mug of hot apple cider. (They rather remind me of ginger snaps - and you could definitely substitute ground ginger for the cinnamon, and make exactly those!) I got the idea to use sesame seeds from the Benne Seed Wafers that my mom makes. The nutty flavor from the sesame seeds balances the spiciness of the cookies, and they add a bit of texture.

For about 3 dozen cookies, you'll need:

+ butter, 3/4 cup, softened
+ sugar, 3/4 cup
+ ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons
+ ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon
+ ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon
+ 1 egg
+ flour, approximately 2 cups
+ sesame seeds, 3 tablespoons, toasted

Preheat oven the oven to 400 degrees F. In a food processor, grind the sesame seeds; set aside. (For more texture, leave them coarse.)

In a separate bowl, cream the butter, sugar and spices. Add the egg, and whip until evenly blended. Fold in the ground sesame seeds, and gradually incorporate flour.

Shape heaping teaspoons of dough into balls; crush into flat rounds between your (clean!) palms or with a floured glass. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Dot each cookie with a fork, as shown in the photo. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until crispy and lightly browned. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Biscuits

Look, I hate to brag, or anything ... but these are the bomb.

For about 10 large biscuits - perfect for bacon, sausage, eggs or any combination thereof - you'll need:

+ flour, 3 cups
+ baking soda, 1 tablespoon
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ sugar, 3 tablespoons
+ cold butter, 4 tablespoons, diced
+ cold shortening, 4 tablespoons, diced
+ cold buttermilk, 3/4 cup
+ honey, 2 tablespoons *
+ melted butter, 2 tablespoons

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Add the cold butter and shortening, and, using your hands, no matter what, mix until evenly combined. The mixture should be crumbly, and should clump up when squeezed. Add the buttermilk and honey, and knead gently until incorporated. As soon as you have a ball of dough, stop kneading.

Flour a hard surface, and roll the dough to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Use a round cookie cutter or a glass to shape the biscuits, and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each biscuit with melted butter. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet periodically if your oven is less-than-stellar, like mine. Enjoy!

* I decided to include honey because, really, nothing's better than a dollop of honey on a southern-style biscuit. I wanted to impart a hint of that sweetness into the recipe without compromising the integrity of a classic buttermilk biscuit.


Roasted Cauliflower Soup

This rich, thick soup is perfect for these chilly fall months - and it's a breeze to make!

For about 1.5 quarts, you'll need:

+ cauliflower, 6 cups, broken into florets
+ 1 onion, diced
+ 2 parsnips, peeled and diced
+ celery, 3-4 stalks, diced
+ 1 russet potato, peeled and diced
+ butter, 4 tablespoons
+ flour, 1/4 cup
+ vegetable stock, 3 cups
+ olive oil
+ S&P
+ 1 bay leaf
+ heavy cream, 1/2 cup
+ chili powder, to garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss cauliflower in 3-4 tablespoons of oil; arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, and liberally salt and pepper. Roast until evenly browned (20-30 minutes).

In a small stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and potato; saute until onions are translucent and potatoes are beginning to soften. Do NOT allow the mixture to brown. Add the flour; stir until a roux (a thick paste) forms. Add the vegetable stock and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, and immediately reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until thickened; remove from heat.

Remove bay leaf. If you have an immersion blender, you can add the roasted cauliflower to the pot, and puree until the soup reaches the desired consistency. If you're using a food processor, puree 1-2 cups of thickened stock and 1/2 cup of cauliflower at a time. For a really smooth final product, you can pass the pureed soup through a mesh sieve or china cap - but I like mine a little chunky!

Return to pan; swirl in cream and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chili pepper, if desired. Enjoy!