We started house-hunting about ten days ago, and at the time I had no idea how all-encompassing it would feel. The market is such in Seattle right now that you don’t really get to think about this very large, immensely important decision for a few days (or even overnight, in some cases); you have to either make an offer right away or move on. And I’m not one to make very big decisions quickly. So there’s been a lot of pacing, and trips to the grocery store for bad (but so good) Easter candy consumed late at night while scanning through new listings online. I’ve had my head down for awhile now and I think somehow during this time, spring has moved right on in. Sure, we had blossoming trees even last month and noticeably more light, but lately the rain is even different: softer and sweeter. And there’s possibility and change in the air.
The photos featured in this post are from my new column over on The Kitchn called But First, Breakfast. I was inspired to write this column largely from some of the feedback from my book, Whole Grain Mornings. So many of you have said you love the book and use it often — but many of the days you crack it open happen to be weekend days. In my cooking classes, the recipes that students seem to respond to most are the accessible recipes that they can easily recreate at home the next day should they choose to. So I got to thinking about how nice it’d be to have a breakfast column that was geared towards doable, inspired morning fare that could either be tackled on an average weekday … or I’d give lots of make-ahead tips and time-saving tricks so it could be prepared over the weekend for the busy days ahead. It will be posted bi-weekly on the weekends with just this in mind.
I think you’re going to like this first recipe for Baklava Breakfast Parfaits. I’ve long felt like baklava is perfectly acceptable morning fare, but I realize not everyone would agree so I set out to create a breakfast parfait that featured many of the flavors of the popular sweet without feeling so desserty. And I have to say, it was a success. One of the components of the recipe is this buttery phyllo topping (below) that we’ve started to call “pie brittle” in our house. You will have a bit leftover which is really good news as I’ve discovered a wide range of delightful culinary uses for it (may I suggest starting by sprinkling it on top of your vanilla ice cream?). I hope you enjoy the column, and look forward to hearing about any recipe successes you have or things you’d love to see featured.
Get the Recipe: Baklava Breakfast Parfait
Beyond this parfait, there so many spring finds around the internet to get excited about:
Coconut Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream – Minimalist Baker
Breakfast Porridge with Soft Eggs and Pea Shoots – Bon Appetit
Honey Rhubarb Quinoa Cornbread – Edible Perspective
Warm Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ with Green Peas and Herbs – Green Kitchen Stories
Cornmeal Crusted Fish Tacos with Lime Crema – Brooklyn Supper
Lemon Bars with Olive Oil and Sea Salt – Melissa Clark
And as if that weren’t enough, there are a few cookbooks coming out so very soon that I can’t wait to cook from:
My New Roots by Sarah Britton
The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon by Sara and Hugh Forte
Simply Ancient Grains by Maria Speck
Hope you’re seeing all the blossoms and light from your windows, too. See you back here soon, friends.
On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing.
In a few short weeks, we're headed to New York, Vermont and New Jersey to visit family and see my sister Zoe get married. In starting to think through the trip and do a little planning, I found Oliver the cutest tiny-person dress shoes I've ever seen (and he's quite smitten with them), sussed out childcare options for the night of the wedding, and found what feels like the most expensive (and last) rental car in the state of New Jersey. I try very hard not to be one of Those People that begins lamenting the loss of a season before it's remotely appropriate to do so, but this year, as we'll be gone much of September, I've felt a bit of a 'hurry, make all the summery things!' feeling set in. So we've been managing increasingly busy days punctuated with zucchini noodle salads, gazpacho, corn on the cob and homemade popsicles (preferably eaten shirtless outside followed by a good, solid sprinkler run for one small person in particular. Not naming any names).
Somehow, in what seems to have been a blink of an eye, we have a six month old baby. In some ways I can't remember a time we didn't have an Oliver, and in other ways it's all a blur broken up by a few holidays (a Thanksgiving thanks to grocery store takeout, and our very first Christmas in Seattle), a few family visits, a one-day road trip to Portland, a birthday dinner out, a birthday cake, weekend drives to nowhere in particular, swimming at the pool with Oliver, weekly get-togethers with our parent's group, doctor's visits, hundreds of walks around the neighborhood, hundreds of cups of coffee, dozens (or more?) of scoops of ice cream. Most of the worrying about keeping a baby alive has made way for other concerns, and Oliver's need for constant stimulation or soothing walks and car rides has been traded for stretches of time playing with a new toy or checking out his surroundings. In truth, it's thanks to that tiny bit of baby independence that this humble, summery cake came to be in the first place. So we've all got an Oliver to thank for that. Or, really, we have a Yossi Arefi to thank, as it's from her beautiful new cookbook that I've bookmarked heavily and am eager to continue exploring.
A triple berry summer crisp made with oats, quinoa flakes and hazelnuts. Summer in a skillet.
I had a weak moment on our honeymoon in Italy when I decided that I should be making gelato for a living. My enthusiasm for Italian gelato wasn't surprising to anyone. I'd done extensive research, made lists, had Sam map out cities in terms of where the best gelaterias were. I took notes and photos and hemmed and hawed over flavor choices: Sicilian Pistachio! Chestnut Honey! Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig! In truth, on that particular trip, I cared far more about treats, sunshine, and cobblestone walks than I cared about famous landmarks or tourist attractions, often leaving the camera back at the hotel in favor of my small black notebook which housed detailed jottings on dessert discoveries in each city we visited. Our friends Matteo and Jessica happened to be in Naples on the one night we were there, and we all went out for pizza together followed by a long stroll around the city. At some point the conversation turned to gelato (as it's bound to) and Matteo brought up the famous school in Bologna where many renowned gelato artisans study. My wheels were spinning. Maybe we should visit Bologna. I should see this school! I should talk to these students! I could make Sicilian Pistachio; Chestnut Honey; and Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig each and every day of our lives. Or at the very least, travel to Bologna to learn how and then come back to Seattle to take our Northwest city by storm. Well here we are six months later, back to reality, and the impetus to pack up my bags and head for Bologna has subsided for the time being ... but not the unwavering gusto to sample. That part will always be with me. It's been awhile since I mixed up a batch of ice cream at home, but the other day a beautiful new cookbook landed on my doorstep and I flipped right to a recipe for dark chocolate sorbet with toasty, salty almonds. I didn't need much convincing.