Bi-Rite Creamery’s Balsamic Strawberry & Dark Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

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I, like many people, have control issues when it comes to ice cream.  When I was a kid and I tasted Blue Bell’s Cookies & Cream for the first time, it was over for me.  My mom would wonder in awe at how a gallon of the stuff could disappear from our freezer in a matter of days.   Now that I’m an adult, I mostly refrain from having ice cream in the house because I understand the power of my addiction.  But, then again…YOLO, am I right?  So I thought a good compromise would be to start making my own ice cream at home.  The quality would be better, I would find it more rewarding, and hopefully seeing with my own eyes all the effort (and appalling amount of heavy cream) that goes into making it, I might be able to refrain from eating an entire quart in one sitting.  Maybe.

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Seared balsamic-glazed flatiron steaks with spinach, lemon and olive oil

Balsamic Beef with Spinach

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a new cookbook on the blog – not that we haven’t been cooking much lately, but a couple of recent & great cookbooks have been dominating the JK kitchen this Fall & Winter. The next few posts should help get us back on the track of going through the entire cookbook collection, though. This cookbook, How to Cook Meat, has been on my shelf for years and years. It’s a fun cookbook to flip through, more as a reference on which cuts of meat come from where (on various animals), and how the fat/muscle content changes how you can prepare that cut. I tend to read it more for background material, but it does have a ton of recipes, and the few that I’ve made over the years have been good (if not spectacular).

This recipe for balsamic-glazed beef, however, was both easy to make and really tasty. I have a special place in my heart for the beef and balsamic vinegar combination. When I was in college, dinner was usually two frozen corn dogs. If I was feeling particularly health-minded, I might grab a handful of salad mix from the bag and douse it in some sort of vinaigrette as a side dish. At some point a roommate got disgusted with my dinner regimen and dragged me over to the Barney’s Burgers by our house in North Berkeley. The special that night was a balsamic beef burger, and on a whim I ordered it. It had never occurred to me that a flavor that seemed so intrinsically related to salad could have any use in cooking meat. That burger was amazing though – just the right blend of tart and sweet to balance out the beef flavor. It was so good that to this day I always keep an eye out for recipes involving meat & balsamic vinegar – if it’s on the menu at restaurant Karin and I go to, there’s a good chance that’s what I’m getting.

So after the fold, we’ve got this quick recipe – reduce some balsamic vinegar, sugar and black pepper into a thick, dark sauce, pan-fry some quality steaks, and while the steaks are resting saute some spinach and garlic in the pan you used for the meat. One saucepan, one frying pan, very little time spent hovering over a stove or preparing ingredients yields a really tasty meal. That being said, the next time I make this dish I will add some potatoes or a grain to go with it – gotta have something to mop up the balsamic glaze with after you eat all the steak!

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Tagine of Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Olives

Karin already talked about how awesome Claudia Roden’s cookbook Arabesque is here, so I won’t rehash all the nice things she had to say about it again. Suffice to say we are still enjoying it and cooking from it often.

A coworker of mine had a surplus of lemons, so when she brought a handful of them to work,  I thought I’d try my hand at a quick preserved lemon recipe in this cookbook. That turned out fairly well (recipe after the jump), but then I had a jar full of preserved lemons to use in the couple of weeks they were going to last for. I tried a handful of recipes in Roden’s book that called for them, going through about half the jar, and this was my favorite of the bunch. The sweetness of the preserved lemons balances out the saltiness of the green olives well and the whole thing comes together quickly enough to make it on a weeknight.

One note: The preserved lemons need to sit for up to four days before using them, so make sure you plan accordingly!

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Bagels!

Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, and while I’ve got some stuff in the works, I thought I’d post this photo since making these was fun and turned out so well. It’s a blog recipe, though it came from an author of one of our favorite cookbooks, so I’ll justify it in that respect. I’ve been wanting to make this recipe since right after Karin and I met and started cooking together, but never had the weekend time (or stand mixer) during graduate school to dedicate to the recipe. They turned out a bit lighter than I was expecting, but definitely delicious. The recipe is here – it would have been a lot of work to do it in one day, but spread out over two it was definitely manageable and fun.

Maybe I’ll try bialys next time…

Pot-Roasted Lamb with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes, and Spices

ImageAh, slow cooker meals. I love them so, so much. By the time you come home from work your house smells amazing, dinner is more or less ready, and you’ve forgotten all the work you did 8 hours ago before you started the slow cooker.  The trouble is that since slow cookers do save time, a lot of recipes for them rely heavily on shortcuts from processed foods, like canned soups, jarred salsa, ketchup, barbeque sauce, blahhhh.  I was determined to find a cookbook with a fresher approach to slow cooking.  So I checked a good looking one out from my library, Slow Cooking by Antony Worrall Thompson. Continue reading

My Very First Challah

“In America you can have a challah everyday.”
a Yiddish lullaby found in Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America

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Jacob and I recently made a big exciting addition to our kitchen: a lovely cherry-red Kitchen Aid Mixer.  I thought that baking a fresh challah would be a nice way to break it in, so I turned to our cookbook shelf to figure out where to start: Joan Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America.  After all, I was in America, and I wanted to do some Jewish cooking, so why would I look anywhere else?

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Gazpacho Andaluz

The Cuisines of Spain
It being tomato season, I thought we’d take advantage of it and make some Gazpacho for a quick weeknight meal, and get a chance to cook a vegetarian recipe from this Spanish cookbook I got a few years back. It’s part cookbook, part guidebook for Spanish culture and food. Because of that, this is a fun book to flip through when you want to learn the origins of a particular dish, get excited about a trip abroad or learn something about how Spanish chorizo is prepared. As a reference, or when you want to find a recipe quickly, though, its less useful. Regardless, this version of gazpacho is fairly straight-forward – prep time is minimal, and as long as you’re willing to wait for the soup to chill thoroughly, this is one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make.

Gazpacho Andaluz

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Cherry Pie: Part 2

Picking up where we left off with Cherry Pie: Part 1, this recipe from The Complete Book of Pastry goes through the steps to make a beautiful lattice crust cherry pie like the one pictured above.  You could make it for friends for a 4th of July BBQ, like I did!  Or just make it for yourself because you deserve your very own personal cherry pie.

In introducing this recipe, Bernard Clayton, Jr. sweetly describes a cherry pie is so special to him: “It was the first pastry my bride made, served and received with love.”  If that doesn’t warm your heart then you’re probably dead on the inside, and also I don’t think you’d like this cookbook.

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Cherry Pie: Part 1

imageI made a cherry pie a few weeks ago, with cherries I picked with my bare hands. Hands that would soon be stained red with the blood of a thousand cherries!  Making the pie was quite a process, so I’m splitting this entry into two parts: Crust & Cherry Pie.

I was introduced to cherry picking in June by my friend Hannah, who every season drives an hour north to visit a favorite cherry farm in Antioch, CA where you can pick and pay by the pound. It was so much fun!  Hannah, another friend Jessica, and I all spent a few hours moving from tree to tree, filling our buckets, sampling the cherries warmed by the afternoon sun as we went along. Before I knew it, I had 15 pounds of cherries in my bucket. The next step was to find something to do with them.

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