Happy Weekending

September 30, 2011 § 5 Comments

Good morning! How did you all sleep? Wednesday night through Thursday I was dealing with an awful upset stomach. Thankfully it’s gone and there’s lots to look forward to this weekend. And it all starts tonight! This evening I’m headed to the Mac store on 14th Street to hear Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen (!!!) speak.  I can barely contain my excitement. Tomorrow I have my last Photoshop class (hopefully you’ll see the fruits of my labor soon), and on Sunday, I think it’s high time we check out the Brooklyn Flea.  Hopefully a lobster roll will be involved.

Thank you all for the amazing comments this week, you have no idea how much I appreciate it. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Photo Credit

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Cranberry Walnut Bread

September 29, 2011 § 7 Comments

I am so excited to tell you about this bread.  I know people have been going on and on about no knead bread (for like 5 years- no really), but it never gets old to me. If you haven’t made it, you need to, because I promise- it will be a huge boost to your ego.  I wasn’t particularly in need of a ego boost this week, but nonetheless, this loaf put a lift in my step.

My latest creation was a cranberry walnut boule, inspired by Lahey’s Carrot Loaf with walnuts and currants. I was so intrigued by this recipe, but since I didn’t have carrot juice on hand, I did without.  Suffice it to say this came out of the oven at around 3 pm Tuesday, and at 4 pm Wednesday, only a skinny heal of the bread remained.  On the one hand it’s a little scary to think about how much bread I’ve consumed, but more importantly, this is a clear indication of how good this bread is.  We’ve been eating it with a bit of butter, but I think it would also be wonderful served with a smear of good cream cheese.

Lastly- a tip for storing this bread!  If you plan to eat it within 1-2 days of baking (which you likely will), simply cut slices from end of the loaf.  To store, turn the boule upright (cut side down), on a cutting board. The rest can remain exposed!

Cranberry and Walnut No Knead Boule adapted from Jim Lahey’s Carrot Loaf

Makes 1 10″ round loaf

3 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp table salt

1/4 tsp instant yeast

3/4 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 1/2 cups plus 2 T water

In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, yeast, cranberries, and walnuts. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of water and mix dough together with your hands or a wooden spoon until you have a slightly sticky and shaggy dough (about 30 seconds). The dough may need a bit more water,  so add one tablespoon at a time until it’s slightly sticky.

Cover and let rise for 12- 18 hours, until the dough has more than doubled in size and the surface is studded with bubbles.  I tend to always do mine for the full 18 hours (my schedule just seems to work out that way). I’d recommend the full length to achieve the results I did, but I’m sure if you went a few hours shorter- it would be fine.

After the first rise, dump the dough onto a generously floured surface (it may need a little coaxing out of the bowl, just pull gently).  Liberally flour your hands and shape into a ball (as close to one as you can get- it will be fine!).  Next, take a dish towel, lay it flat, and liberally flour the center of the towel.  Transfer the dough to that spot, and gently fold the towel over the dough.  Let rise for an additional 1-2 hours until the dough has doubled in size once again, and holds an impression when gently poked with a finger.  If it springs back, let it rise 15 minutes more.

At least 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake your bread, place a large casserole dish or dutch oven (I use this one) in the middle rack of oven, and set temperature to 450 degrees. You want this dish screamin’ hot.

When your dough is done rising, open the oven, and with pot holders carefully place the pot on your stove. Set aside the lid.  Working quickly but gently, unfold the towel and invert dough into the pot. Place the lid back on and put the dish back in the oven.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Then, remove lid, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes uncovered, until the crust is a deep golden brown. Once achieved, remove pot from oven, carefully remove boule from pot, and let cool completely before slicing.

Let’s Get Organized

September 27, 2011 § 12 Comments

{Bag Hook}

While our apartment is far from completely decorated, we have managed to put away most of our belongings. Every tiny space requires special storage techniques, and I’m pretty excited about the ones I came up with for our new home. So excited, I wanted to share with you!

For day to day errands, I have a tendency to carry the same bag for months.  So while I don’t spend much time choosing which bag I’ll carry, finding where I last placed my bag is always a challenge. To streamline things, I decided to dedicate a hook in my front closet to my current daily bag.  I stuck it directly to the back of the door, so there’d be no excuse not to hang it there right when I get home.

{Fabric Wall Mount Organizer}

I tend to hate the look of filing cabinets, so I was thrilled when I happened upon this Fabric Wall Mount Organizer. While it’s advertised as a magazine holder, I find it perfect for storing files, work papers, and my stationary.  Hung above my desk, it not only keeps my work space clear but ads warmth and color to my home office.

{Mock Dresser}

Since our previous dresser literally fell apart as we were moving out of our old apartment (thank you Ikea), we planned on buying a new one once we got to New York.  But once we realized a dresser wouldn’t fit too well into our new bedroom, I decided to transform the bottom half of our book shelf into a mock dresser.  Aren’t these fabric bins fun?? I love the look of them and they make it super easy to grab socks, pajamas and gym clothes.

{Maximizing Cupboard Space}

Our kitchen actually has pretty phenomenal storage space.  We just had this one funny cabinet, that because of the shelf placement, had all this wasted space. To enhance our dish storage (please ignore my chipped plates!), I inserted a double decker cabinet shelf which creates the perfect divide between dish ware and food.

It may come as no surprise, but I am obsessed with organizing things.  I think my efforts are rubbing off on Brandon too- last week (on his own accord) he DIY’ed himself a belt hanger in our closet! I’ve never been prouder.  I’ve love to hear, what are your at home organization techniques?

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Feta Vinaigrette ( and a winner!)

September 26, 2011 § 11 Comments

All- so sorry about the delay over here! Thanks to a lovely ticket I received this weekend, I had to get my car inspected this morning.  Oh the anger. Anyway, moving on! I’m very excited to announce we have a winner for last week’s giveaway.  Lisa of Karma Per Diem– congrats!  Please email your address to clara.artschwager@gmail.com so I can get this fabulous prize to you. Thanks again to all who participated, I loved reading all of your delicious sandwich combinations.

Now- on to salad. A few weeks back I wrote a detailed post about how to make my salad dressing.  For this salad, forget that.  The magic of this salad is that the ingredients, when mixed together, actually make the dressing themselves. Yes you still use olive oil and vinegar, but everything is mixed into one bowl- no making a separate dressing. For someone who makes salad dressing almost every night of the week, this is a welcome change!

Here’s the breakdown: heirloom tomatoes, an English cucumber, some olives and salty feta, get tossed with a bit of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Then you let the salad sit. As it sits, the vinegar releases the juices in the tomatoes. As the juice mixes with the feta, it creates this incredible almost creamy-like feta vinaigrette. It’s downright addictive.

The thing is, you need really good heirloom tomatoes to make this salad happen.  Tomato season will soon come to a close, so I urge you, grab what’s left at your local farmer’s market and make this one this week. Another word of advice, never store your tomatoes in the fridge. Yes, never!  The cold makes them lose their flavor, so keep them in a bowl on your counter top.  And that goes for any type of tomato- not just heirloom. Got it? Cool.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Feta Vinaigrette

Serves 4

2 large or 3 medium heirloom tomatoes, cut into large chunks

1/2 and English cucumber, diced

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup chopped olives

5 T olive oil

3 T red wine vinegar

s+p

Place the tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives in a large bowl. Place the feta cheese on top. Pour the olive oil and vinegar over the salad, and sprinkle on a large pinch of salt and several grinds black pepper.  Toss the salad gently, so as not to bread up the tomatoes.  Let sit at room temp for one hour.  After one hour, taste for seasoning (you may need a little more salt or vinegar).  Serve immediately.  Salad can be stored in the fridge for up to two days, but it’s really best eaten the day of.

Bread Alone

September 23, 2011 § 4 Comments

Good morning! And happy Friday. What are you all up to this weekend? I am still in full get apartment set-up mode, and will be doing that for most of the weekend.  I plan on doing a house (or teeny tiny apartment) tour once we’re done, so stayed tuned!

Now, on to bread.  After reading this post, many of you commented on the bread featured in the sandwich. The bread is a whole wheat sour dough, sold by my home town bakery, Bread Alone. Thanks to the proximity of the bakery, my mother has been purchasing this bread for our sandwiches and weekend eggs and toast for as long as I can remember. Subsequently, it’s my favorite way to eat a sandwich or indulge in buttery toast.

In recent years, due to their popularity, Bread Alone has expanded across the East Coast.  I was thrilled to find that I could actually order their bread through Fresh Direct, our grocery delivery service. Lucky for you non-New Yorkers, though, you can order their goods online too. And if you’re ever in the Rhinebeck area (my hometown), be sure to visit one of their actual bakeries for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. They make amazing bagels too, and their toasted everything bagel sandwich with smoked salmon and caper cream cheese is to die for!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. And don’t forget, you have until this Sunday to enter my Barefoot Contessa inspired giveaway!   I’ll be announcing the winner first thing Monday morning.

Photo Credit: All photos from http://www.breadalone.com/.

Find Your Chickpea

September 22, 2011 § 3 Comments

Months ago, I read a post by Erin over at Fresh365 about chickpeas.Specifically, about finding your chickpea.  As a vegetarian, chickpeas are her go-to ingredient for creating an effortless but protein rich vegetarian dish. When friends question her ability to create innovative dishes while being a vegetarian, she urges them to “find their chickpea.”

I think I truly found my chickpea last March, when we went vegan for 3 weeks. During that time I began cooking with beans, especially chickpeas, all the time. We fried up a lot of chickpea fritters, threw them in salads, and made a ton of homemade hummus.  Nowadays I’ll always keep a can on hand, knowing I’ll throw it into some dish during the week.  Yesterday though, it dawned on me that I had never roasted chickpeas.  Pan fried, yes.  But roasted, no.  Inspired by many recipes online, I quickly threw together my first batch for lunch.  The results could not have been better, nor the process simpler.  The crunchy and salty warm beans served as the perfect addition to my salad.  These guys would also make for a great (not to mention effortless) appetizer or side dish.

PS:  Apologies for the quality of the photos, I’ve loaned out my SLR this week!

PPS:  If you haven’t done so already, there’s still plenty of time to enter my Barefoot Contessa inspired giveaway!

Roasted Chickpeas slightly adapted from Steamy Kitchen

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 T olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 garlic powder

several grinds fresh black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  While the oven is heating, drain and rinse your chickpeas, then pat them dry.  Be sure they are very dry, or else they will not crisp up nicely.  Place the chickpeas in a small roasting pan and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Roast for 30-35 minutes until the skins are crisp and golden brown in color.  Enjoy immediately as a snack or side dish, or serve over tossed mixed greens.

First Ever – Channeling Contessa Giveaway!

September 20, 2011 § 27 Comments

Friends, I was so blown away by the number of comments, new subscribers, and overall support from this post, that I decided it warranted something special.  A giveaway!  I’ve hesitated about doing one of these before, but for the first time, it just feels right.  As a thank you to all my readers,  I will be giving away my favorite Contessa cookbook- “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics.”  This book is Ina at her best, chock full of classic recipes for every season.

AND if you are a subscriber to Channeling Contessa, I’ll also send you a box of the Contessa’s Outrageous Brownie Mix.  To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite sandwich combination (with or without basil!) by 10 pm EST this Sunday, September 25th. If you’d like to be in the running for the  brownie mix too, simply subscribe to Channeling Contessa by that date and time as well. I will announce the winner next Monday morning. Good luck!

Update: Giveaway now closed.


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