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sweet thang

I love when my kitchen sings to me. Sometimes it’s a tender falsetto, other times it’s methodical rapping to a hot beat. Whatever the harmony, when ingredients come out from the shadows of my cabinets and refrigerator to reveal themselves, the song is so sweet.

This time I cooked up some quinoa with vegetable stock, according to the package’s directions (and no matter what that package says, add a bit of butter while its cooking). Meanwhile, I sauteed greens in olive oil (you can use whatever you have on hand; I had arugula leftover from a pesto recipe, and a bunch of fresh spinach that was on its way out). Soaked golden raisins (I hate the regular kind) in hot water until plump and tender, then drained. Combined all of the above, along with a healthy amount of pine nuts. Seasoned with S & P and I was good to go.

Not sure if my S.S. was expecting this for breakfast, but that’s what he got. And he wasn’t sad about it.

This would make for a lovely side dish, but has enough going on to shine as a main entree. Plus, quinoa is a complete protein, providing all the itty bitty amino acids our bodies need to, you know, do its thing. And that’s something to celebrate. In your underwear, of course.

Sometimes, citrus is not optional–it’s mandatory. Such is the case with this dessert (or hell–why can’t it be breakfast, too?).

You could make your own ricotta, but let’s tackle that at another time. Instead, purchase whole or part-skim ricotta and combine with sugar, to taste. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. Top with blackberries.

Despite its simplicity, lemon ricotta with blackberries is delightfully refreshing on a warm evening.

I made these oatmeal bars using this recipe. Swapped the raisins for chocolate chips, since that’s all I could scrounge up in the pantry, but honestly, I think these would fare best with dried fruit. More appropriate for breakfast than dessert, make these hearty bars to enjoy with your morning coffee.

I will be experimenting with these oatmeal bars, trying to make them healthier so that you’ll feel good about how you look in those little undies.

As much as I love cooking, I look forward to the nights of ordering takeout, eating in my underwear and watching TV. And nothing rounds out the experience like a hunk of cake. That’s where Dao Palate comes in.

It’s a vegan joint in Brooklyn, and it’s my new favorite place to get delivery. I’ve only gotten a few dishes so far (I’m sure that’ll change by tonight), but I have sampled (scarfed) their peanut butter bomb more than once. I even ordered it–and only it–after eating Dao Palate leftovers, because the cake didn’t make it to the fridge.

It’s that good.

I went to brunch with some of my favorite people on the planet last week at Essex Restaurant in Manhattan. My meal was just fine–nothing unbelievable, but solid nonetheless–but something on the menu caught my eye and made me want to recreate it at home:

Bananas foster…topping.

And yesterday I had everything at home to make it happen:

Melt butter in a pan, sprinkle in sugar (brown is preferred, but any will do, really) and cook briefly until it starts to turn golden brown. Toss in sliced bananas and then carefully (I’m serious) add a bit of rum. Tilt the pan just slightly to ignite the liquor, and once the flames die down, season with cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a tiny bit of salt.

The restaurant served this atop French toast, but I imagine the best home for it is over a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I’ve never considered myself domesticated, but this year I did something that I have never done before: made Christmas goodies for my coworkers, family, and my S.S.’s parents. I know, I’m impressed as well.

In addition to preparing my favorite biscotti (click here for the post and recipe), I also made peppermint bark. Now, I didn’t quite realize what a big deal this stuff is around the holidays, so while it may seem a bit redundant to you, it’s totally new to me.

Crush candy canes in a plastic bag with something hard (I used the back of a spoon, but a hammer or rolling pin will do the trick), and set aside. Melt white chocolate over a double boiler and then spread on a parchment paper-lined sheet pan. Pop in the freezer. While that hardens, melt dark chocolate in the same manner and then layer the white chocolate with the dark stuff.

Before putting it back in the freezer, sprinkle the top with the crushed candy canes, gently patting the bits into the dark chocolate. Freeze until hardened and serve immediately, or keep in the freezer for about two weeks.

Yesterday was dedicated to making sweets. And watching football and drinking beer. But mainly making sweets.

Breakfast was simple yet elegant–crepes with blueberry compote. I handed this dainty breakfast to my six-foot, bearded, mid-western S.S., who gobbled it down in mere seconds. I tried to be a bit more refined about it but failed miserably, and the whole thing was gone in less than two minutes.

I used this recipe for the crepes. The compote was easy to prepare and took no time at all: in a small saucepan over low heat, combine blueberries (I used frozen, but fresh is preferred when in season), sugar, the zest and juice of a lemon, and a small pinch of salt. Cook until the blueberries just begin to break down.

Spoon the warm compote generously over crepes (or waffles or pancakes or, hell, even ice cream).