Monday, July 30, 2012

BLT Mac and Cheese

If I close my eyes I am eight years old again, curiously watching my mother and grandmother eat a shared BLT on wheat toast. The tomatoes are from Mom's garden; Grammie fried the bacon and toasted the bread while Mom was outside picking them. I was instructed to set the table and to find myself something to eat since I couldn't stomach the thought of a raw tomato. As we sit together around the end of the dining room table I watch, speechless, as they savor the sweet, salty flavors and crunch through crisp lettuce tucked between two slices of caramel colored wheat toast.

Did it really happen that way? Were the tomatoes from Mom's garden? They might have been. She's always grown them (except this year...) and Grammie often did the cooking (even at Mom's house...) and I always dutifully did what I was told... no, wait, scratch that last one. That certainly never rarely happened.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Roasted Summer Vegetables ~ Guest Post for Badger Girl Learns to Cook

I know it's miserably hot in most places right now. Here in Boston we've had some skaachaas (scorchers) as well. We've also had a few insane thunderstorms. And that is the perfect time to take all those gorgeous fresh vegetables you've got in the fridge and slow roast them down into fragrantly soft deliciousness perfect for spreading on a panini. To read more about this lovely layered treat please check out my guest post on Badger Girl Learns to Cook right here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

1 Minute Flourless Chocolate Cupcake ~ Guest Post by Ditch the Wheat

Please welcome Carol from Ditch the Wheat today! Carol writes a great blog about living a gluten free and low carb lifestyle. From a breakfast of Banana Waffles to a dinner with Rosemary Peppery Pork Tenderloin Carol has delicious recipes that are both healthy and easy to prepare. Over the summer it seems like time flies by even faster than usual so I am very grateful to Carol for making time to share one of her low carb desserts with Oh Cake readers while Thom and I are thick in the midst of buying our first home. The best part? It's ready in one minute! But I'll let Carol tell you all about it...

I would like to thank Jessica for letting me guest post on Oh Cake.  Most of all I am thankful for her starting The Food Bloggers Network.  This is where I “met” Jessica and have come to regard her as one of my blogger friends and mentors.  I love The Food Bloggers Network for the wealth of information that it provides.  I feel my blog, Ditch The Wheat, has benefited from it. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fresh Peas with Parmesan & Pancetta

During my first year living in Bologna I shared an apartment with four other women. Three of us remained the entire year while the other two rooms saw a rotation of both American and Italian housemates - and one lovely lady from South America. She stayed with us but very briefly but she left an indelible mark on me when she made fresh peas with pancetta.
I had never tasted fresh peas before that moment. Had never sat and shelled peas into a colander. Had never paired their sweet, starchy flavor with a salty, fatty richness like pancetta. They were the simplest thing in the world - and an utter novelty to me. On a recent trip to a market near a friend's house I was surprised to see a display of locally grown produce that included fresh peas. As I excitedly scooped up a bag I had but one thought in my mind: had Thom already eaten all the pancetta?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wine Tasting with the Traveling Vineyard

When my good friend Joanna suggested coming over for a wine tasting party I said, "wine? Why not!" Joanna is a talented and funny woman and I had no doubt this summer evening soiree would be full of creative touches. What I had absolutely no idea of was how much fun we would end up having at a Traveling Vineyard wine tasting party.

For me learning about wine is like learning another language. You struggle to master the basics and once you do there is a brief moment of euphoria where you think, "hey! I just said a sentence in this new language!" And then you realize you have years of study ahead of you to learn how to have a conversation. So the more I learn about grape varietals, terroir, and tasting terminology the more I realize I am at the level of Intro Wine Language 101 and have a vast, unexplored territory of knowledge yet to acquire. Our Traveling Vineyard consultant, Kelleyrobin, was perfect because while she educated us on the wines we were tasting she made it fun and entertaining and didn't "speak" above our heads.

While we went through the five wines with Kelleyrobin we also paired them with different foods Joanna had prepared to see how the wine changed and improved when paired with different flavors:

Caballeria de Luna (Moscato, Viura and Verdejo) ~ paired with fruit kebabs. The citrus notes in the wine complimented the fruit perfectly. To me this wine embodied the spirit of a relaxed summer evening on the patio.

Bright Eyed Bird (Pinot Grigio) ~ I was amazed at how the flavors of this wine changed when sipped with a bite of brie.

Desvia (Rioja) ~ Joanna prepared a spinach and berry salad with pecans and gorgonzola. Although a fuller bodied red this wine matched well to the strong flavors of the salad and the fresh berries in the salad complimented the berry notes in the wine.

A lovely candlelit evening
zin-FAN-del (California) ~ although the name is a little hokey the wine exuded the peppery-fruity notes that Thom really loves. Joanna prepared a creamy chicken & pasta dish to go with this wine. I'm sure if he wasn't being polite being in a room (mostly) full of ladies Thom would have sat back with the bottle on the patio and said, "you guys go on ahead. I'm good right here."

Tanglerose (sweet, dessert style rosé) ~ This was our dessert wine and pair it with desserts we did! All of Joanna's guests brought some kind of dessert and so we had cookies, blueberry crumble pie, apple cream pie and ice cream cake.

As the education portion of the evening drew to a close we congregated around the firepit for conversation and one last treat: S'mores!

If you're local to Greater Boston I definitely suggest booking a tasting with Kelleyrobin*. If you live outside the Boston area the Traveling Vineyard has consultants in 27 other states. Thom and I plan on hosting an autumn party where we'll try some of the heavier reds in the Traveling Vineyard repertoire. I really like that Kelleyrobin will tailor the tastings to suit the host's tastes and preferences and I'm really looking forward to coming up with a pairing menu for the wines!

*To book a tasting please visit Kelleyrobin's website. I received no compensation or product for this review nor was I asked to provide a review. All opinions stated are my own. We just really had a good time!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Farmer's Market Pizza ~ Food Unchained

I'm not a food snob when it comes to chain restaurants. I've had some lovely meals and experiences in chains and some of my best friends from my days "on the line" got their start as cooks in chain restaurants. So when the Foodie Stuntman (the writer behind Crazy Foodie Stunts) proposed a challenge to members of the Food Bloggers Network to recreate a chain restaurant meal at home I decided to tackle one of my favorite chain restaurant dishes: Uno's Farmer's Market Pizza.

The Uno's version is loaded with three cheeses and has a thick crust slick with olive oil. The vegetables are piled high and the flavors are heightened by all of that fat. If you learn one thing in culinary school it's that "fat carries flavor" and is one reason why this pizza is so tasty: it's swimming in fat (about three days worth for me - yipes!) I'm neither a nutritionist nor slim, but I am trying to limit my intake of fats and so for this Food Unchained post I made a reduced fat version of the Farmer's Market Pizza using a homemade crust, fresh vegetables and a limited amount of cheese.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Baking Deli Style Rye Bread with Thom ~ A Guest Post for The German Foodie

Ever since I made the Morel Brioche Thom has been asking to bake bread together. Now, I like fresh bread as much as the next person, but I admit I'm a little intimidated by yeast doughs. When I won The German Foodie's giveaway for the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day however, it seemed like the universe, as well as Thom, were telling me to get over my fears and bake.

The German Foodie is a fantastic blog written with intelligence and great cooking savvy. As a German living in Ohio Sofie writes about her favorites from home as well as a few Americanized treats. I am in love with her Peach Sour Cream Pie. Seriously. Go look at it and tell me you're not drooling! While you're there check out Thom's and my adventures in bread baking... with the book that Sofie sent! Click here to get the recipe.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

Yup, you read that correctly: Maple Bacon Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies. What's better than a salty-sweet chocolate chip cookie? One with bacon in it of course! And in summer to beat the heat? Slather it with maple ice cream and add cold and creamy to the heady mix of flavors and textures.

Now, I know some of you are cringing and gagging out, "why?!" but really, it's no weirder than chocolate chip pancakes with a side of bacon. Bacon lends itself beautifully to sweet foods and to maple in particular. So don't knock it til you try it and you should definitely try it!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Independence (from the oven) Day

Pinterest would have us believe that July 4th is the day when Americans gather together to clink their perfectly styled red, white and blue layered drinks in mason jars, munch on perky fruit tarts served on vintage china, complemented of course by impeccable patriotic crafts displayed on crisp white linen as it flutters ever so delicately in the breeze.

Over here in my little corner of life, I struggle to make sure the berries don't turn moldy immediately after washing them (seriously, am I the only one this happens to?); I'm leery of blue foods (and don't own any mason jars anyway); and crafts? Ha! I'd have to do the craft from inside the air conditioner to make sure the glue doesn't turn into a tacky mess in the heat. I do love vintage china, but since I live in a two room apartment what I have is in storage. No, I'm basically just looking forward to celebrating with Thom, since the last time he had the 4th off was 2009*.

In real life we make messy

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Spinach & Feta Stuffed Tomatoes for #tomatolove

Did you hear? Did you know? July is #tomatolove month! After missing June's event I'm so happy to be back to co-hosting the Love Bloghop; a monthly bloghop centered around a specific ingredient or theme. With summer in full swing it's no wonder this month's ingredient is tomatoes.