Food and Drink

My first attempt at no-knead bread

My first attempt at no-knead bread

I do not consider myself a chef. I don’t have much intuition when it comes to cooking. I can, however, follow a recipe for the most part. That’s why I love baking. Everything is measured and mixed precisely and voila, you get cupcakes. I’m mostly a batter kind of girl — think banana bread, cake from a box, Swedish pancakes, and the like. But dough, involving yeast, GASP, not really my strong suit.

I’ve always been intimidated by yeast, I have no idea why. But I am a huge fan of yeast-containing things. I mean who doesn’t love freshly baked bread or cinnamon rolls or garlic knots…and now my mouth is watering.

But I have seen recipes about no-knead bread floating around the interwebs for some time. I even requested a dutch oven for Christmas one year in the hopes of making bread in it. Well, I’ve had my Le Creuset for three years now and I have finally attempted no-knead bread.

Now, I’m not going to pretend I’ve done anything special. I haven’t adapted a recipe to make it my own nor have I any insights or tips. BUT, like I mentioned, I can follow instructions in a recipe and that’s just what I did and here is how it turned out.

Also, I love bread more than most other entities on planet earth. My family, friends, and ice cream are at the top of the list, but bread is definitely a true and pure love of mine.

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Lemon ricotta pancakes

If you have spent any time living in San Francisco, you know about Plow. It's a brunch place in a little neighborhood called Potrero Hill and I am convinced it has the best breakfast platter EVER. Eggs, bacon, potatoes, and the fluffiest lemon ricotta pancakes to ever grace your taste buds. All the ingredients are sourced locally and I'm not the most crunchy person, but you can TELL the difference. If you don't get there before it opens, you're looking at a two hour wait. It's worth it though, I'm telling you.

Any who, I was looking on the interwebz for a copy cat recipe and I found a few (dozen). They are all pretty much the same but let me tell you, I was excited to make 'em. (And eat them.)

I used this recipe but just search "Plow lemon ricotta pancakes" and your life will be changed. I'M TELLING YA'!

Serves 4 peeps, or just one hungry mama. 

1 and 1/3 cups good ricotta
4 eggs, separated
zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus more for greasing the pan, but you knew that)
1 cup flour 

In a large bowl, whisk together ricotta, egg yolks, lemon zest, vanilla, salt, and sugar. Then mix in butter and flour.
In a different bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks are formed (I used a hand mixer because ain't nobody got time for hand whisking).
Gently fold in egg whites to ricotta mixture.
Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Using a small pad of butter for each batch, put a large dollop of the batter on the pan and flip when that pancake is all golden (or whenever it feels right or whenever the toddler lets you have your arm back). 
Keep 'em warm on a plate (oven-safe, duh) in the oven at 200 deg F. 

Plate 'em, slap some more butter on 'em, sprinkle that powdered suga on 'em, throw some berries on 'em.


In my opinion, if you can't see that butter pool shine from space, you're doing it wrong. But that's just one butter-addicts opinion. 



Garlic spread

My cooking skills are fairly limited to my reading comprehension.

It usually goes thus: 

Read directions.
Try not to burn anything.
Eat all the food.

Occasionally, I'll try my hand at cooking improvisation. Emphasis on occasionally. My sister got the cooking spontaneity gene, I got the measure the ingredients exactly gene. They are on different chromosomes entirely.

But I was feeling a little adventurous yesterday and whipped up a little spread/dip/deliciousness. Basically, anything I can pair with bread and cheese and I'm set.

I did a little post-a-loo to the gram and had a couple recipe requests so here you go!

What you need to blow your mind:

two heads of garlic
a bunch of parsley
extra virgin olive oil


Peel and finely chop two heads of garlic (no really, two full heads). Wash your hands for the next twenty years. Finely chop an equal amount of parsley (seriously, this whole "not measuring it" thing is freaking me out). Drizzle EVOO and stir until you get a slurry (not too runny, not too thick, ya feel me?).

Step final: Eat all the garlic.

I suggest that you and your kissing partner both eat this at the same time to avoid the one-sided garlic kiss that will send your husband running in the other direction. This may or may not be based on real life experience.

While I basically shoveled this down with a baguette for a spoon I think it will go great with fish, cheese, pizza, and charcuterie. 

Eat all the garlic.


One-pan spaghetti bake

You’re going to want to swim in this dish.

It’s spaghetti, cheese, chicken, CHEESE, mushrooms, spinach, CHEESE, and oodles and oodles of saucy sauce. CHEESE. 

Seriously, you put all the ingredients in a pan and watch it go. Dry pasta, yup. Raw chicken, you betcha. Sauce upon sauce, oh yes. And of course, cheese. The cheese! 

My favorite food blogger created this recipe and I followed it like a cat blindly follows the laser pointer. I didn’t know what I was doing. Paul questioned my sanity (but what else is new?). But it turned out more scrumptious than baby feet spread on crostini. And you’re gone. Follow this recipe and your life will be changed.


Our dear Emma was a fan of the noodley bits. 

Sauce ended up on her face, on my face, on the ceiling, in her ear (?). But it was a hit. 

We shall make this one again and swim in all that cheese.

It’s too bad I’m lactose intolerant.

Orzo salad

THIS. Oh my goodness, you are going to want to go swimming in this orzo salad it’s so good. Or you know, you could just eat it like a non-crazy person. I LOVE PASTA SALADS, probably a little too much. Okay calm down, Samantha. 

This is a great recipe for summer. You can really put whatever you like in it like cut up salami, artichoke hearts, or your FACE. (Wow, I’m weird today) But anyway, here is a basic recipe for some awesome-sauce orzo salad with a lemon dressing and other yummy bits. Plus, it’s pretty easy to make with a baby strapped to your front and spit up down your back.

This recipe yields a pretty big bowl, but it keeps really well in the fridge (that is, if I haven’t eaten all of it already).

What you’ll need:

1 and ½ cups uncooked orzo

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or salted water for you boring folks)

1 cup cherry tomatoes, some halved, some quartered (whatev)

12-16 oz low moisture mozzarella (full-fat!!), cut into small cubes

1-2 cups arugula

2 lemons, zest and juice

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or you know, regular virgin)

½ tbsp honey

Salt n’ peppa (that’s salt and pepper, if you didn’t know)

How it’s done:

Bring broth to a boil and cook orzo for 8-9 minutes with the lid slightly vented. Once done, cover the pot fully and cook another couple minutes, this gives you a creamier consistency. Strain and put in a big old bowl. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top and toss to prevent clumps. Set aside and allow pasta to reach room temperature.

Mix the lemon juice and zest, shallots, honey, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper in a separate bowl or container with a lid (I prefer to shake it like a polaroid picture).

In your large orzo bowl, mix in the tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella, and lemon dressing. Serve at room temp or chilled, or eat it directly from the bowl over the sink like a frat boy like I did. (Emma, do as I say, not as I do).


(Okay, I’m done now.)