In the Kitchen Now

In The Kitchen Now: Korean Stewed Tofu with Green Onion Salad and Crisp Bacon by Cynthia Raub

Subtle is rarely a word used to Korean food and this dish is no exception. I'm in a tofu phase right now and I want to eat it in every way possible: in soups, fried in squares with soy sauce, and baked and tossed in salads. Although I love tofu in all of the various preparations, this one is my favorite. I went back and forth between calling this a Korean style mapo tofu, but I decided against it. It's similar in that the tofu is stewed in a fermented chili sauce, but this version does not include the distinct Sichuan peppercorn. While the chili sauce makes the tofu piquant, pungent and dare I say, peppery- the green onions makes the dish... pervasive. In case it wasn't robust enough, the addition of bacon lardons for a crisp chew rounds out the texture and adds a deliciously fatty depth in every bite. 

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Korean Stewed Tofu with Green Onion Salad and Crisp Bacon

In The Kitchen Now: Roasted Eggplant and Pickled Beet Sandwich by Cynthia Raub

roasted eggplant and pickled beet sandwich

Eggplant. Does that word entice you or does it make you shudder and gag? What about pickled beets? Is that sexy-talk or nightmare city? Eggplant doesn't regularly show up in my shopping basket at the market, but when I saw this recipe on my Facebook feed, my interest was piqued and I began to crave it. I picked up a few small, taut and shiny aubergines and headed home to my multiple jars of pickled beets. Yes, multiple (very large) jars of pickled beets- courtesy of Costco and my BUY ALL THE PICKLES! tic that acts up for every shopping trip. This sandwich is complex in flavor but not in preparation or cooking. The roasted eggplant is deeply luscious and sweet; the beets and herbs are bright and merry, and the sherry-garlic mayonnaise is a punchy creamy spread that deliciously pools in the crannies of the bread. This messy and loose vegetable sandwich delivers so much flavor despite it's very humble ingredients.

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Roasted Eggplant and Pickled Beet Sandwich

In the Kitchen Now - Oatmeal Fruit-Nut Bars by Amy Cantu

I needed a snack to bring to my 18 month-old's play group, so I started sifting through the pantry to figure out what I could make in about 30 minutes - that's about all this tired mom had left to give because the kids were asleep and my soft, cushy bed was calling. I remembered seeing these Oatmeal Fruit-Nut Bars in the Weelicious Cookbook; a half-hour later, the house smelled like cinnamon, and I had the perfect snack for both toddlers and adults alike! They're not too sweet, taste like a bowl of oatmeal loaded with my favorite toppings, and perfectly portable.

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Oatmeal Fruit-Nut Bars

In the Kitchen Now - Salmon Cakes by Cynthia Raub

For Easter dinner, my husband Michael cooked a delicious and ginormous (11+ pounds) salt-crusted Atlantic salmon for our extended family. Needless to say, everyone was sent home with leftovers and we were eating salmon for days. The past week we have enjoyed: salmon with Israeli cous cous and roasted vegetables, salmon flaked on top of a bagel with whipped cream cheese, salmon on grilled toast with a fried egg... you get the picture. Once we whittled the container down to the last 1/2 pound, I checked in with my girl and (unbeknownst to her) mentor Ina Garten and she (and Google) recommended I make her Salmon Cakes. These beautifully browned, tender and flavorful cakes can be enjoyed as an appetizer, for brunch (with poached eggs, duh), or served with a salad for a meal. 

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Salmon Cakes

In the Kitchen Now - Hasselback Potato Gratin by Amy Cantu

In my search for a potato recipe to grace our Easter table, I stumbled upon the Hasselback Potato Gratin from The Food Lab cookbook by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. These potatoes are a twist on Swedish Hasselback Potatoes, which are essentially fanned baked potatoes, and Potatoes Au Gratin - layers of thinly sliced potatoes baked with cream and cheese. Hasselback Potato Gratin gives you the best of both worlds: crispy potato edges encrusted with cheese and soft, creamy potatoes waiting just underneath. Genius. Simply Genius.

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Hasselback Potato Gratin

In the Kitchen Now - Hot Cross Buns by Amy Cantu

Easter is tomorrow, and I had Hot Cross Buns on my mind - soft, pillowy, lightly sweet rolls, studded with little nubs of dried fruit. Doesn't that sound heavenly? This recipe is a little bit traditional and a little bit different - traditional in that I stuck to the flour-water paste to make the crosses on the tops, but a little bit different in that I added vanilla and cardamom and sticky honey tops to these spiced buns. Happy Easter!

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Hot Cross Buns

In the Kitchen Now - Mussels with Tomato and Fennel by Amy Cantu

Mussels with Tomato and Fennel

Cynthia and I were busy cooking up a brunch to bring to a family who just had a baby and also another family who recently lost a loved one. (More on that meal in another post.) Our friend, Grace, stopped by to help and also brought her two little ones to join our group of kids running amuck in the backyard with Grandpa Audy. We cooked all afternoon, but still needed to feed ourselves and the kiddos. These mussels took only 15 minutes to cook, and tasted as good as anything you'd eat at a nice restaurant. The kids loved prying the shells open and using them as "funny spoons" to scoop out the insides. It was a beautiful feast to end our productive and chaotic day!

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Mussels with Tomato and Fennel

In the Kitchen Now - Lemon Ricotta Pancakes by Amy Cantu

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

I might have a small obsession with lemon. So, if you see me cooking up a lot of lemon recipes, you'll know exactly why. I love the light, fruity tang that lemon adds to everything it touches. This morning, I woke up knowing exactly what I wanted to make for our Sunday breakfast - Lemon Ricotta Pancakes! These are ridiculously light and fluffy, but also soft and custardy from the ricotta. It's delicious!

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes