Monthly Archives: May 2011

do not eat the (really old) wedding cupcake

Whose idea was it to freeze wedding cake for the first anniversary?  I have no idea how this tradition came to be, but I do have two words of commentary: BAD IDEA!

364 days ago (the day after our wedding), I carefully wrapped the remaining half of our jumbo wedding cupcake (vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting by Sibby’s Cupcakery) in layers of Press-n-Seal wrap, plastic wrap, aluminum foil and a plastic freezer bag.  It looked like this:

I put this in the far corner of our freezer and forgot about it. . . until several months ago when I caught Neah about to unwrap it.

Me:  “What are you doing?”

Hubby:  “This is the leftover pork tenderloin, right?”

Me:  “No, that’s our wedding cupcake.”

Hubby:  We saved that??!

And so, back into the freezer it went.

Saturday morning, I transferred our cupcake to the fridge to defrost.  This evening, I unwrapped the many layers to get to our prize: really old wedding cupcake.

Hubby and I then sat down to trade bites of it.  It tasted like gritty butter, gritty sugar and stale cake, all in one bite.  It was gross.  The photos document our reactions pretty well:

Just say no to year-old wedding cake!


homemade fava bean ravioli

I went to lunch with my sister and her friend yesterday, and her friend ordered fava bean ravioli.  The bright green filling of the ravioli inspired what I would do with the fava beans that we received in our CSA share this week . . .

fava bean ravioli

makes 8 servings (freezes well)


3 cups shelled and peeled fava beans (here’s how)

15 oz. ricotta cheese

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

garlic powder

2 packages (60 count) won ton wappers (round or square)


Put the fava beans in a food processor with a splash of water and process until mostly smooth (it’s ok to have a few whole beans left in the mix).  Transfer the processed fava beans to a large bowl and add the ricotta cheese, three pinches of salt, some black pepper and a pinch of garlic powder.  Stir to combine and adjust the seasonings to taste.

On a floured work surface, lay down a won ton wrapper and put a teaspoon of filling in the middle:

Dip you finger tips in water and moisten the edges of the wrapper.  Then, fold the wrapper so that the edges meet and press your fingers from the filling outward to seal the edges of the ravioli.

If the won ton wrappers are round, the ravioli will be half-moon shaped; if they are square, the ravioli will be triangle shaped.

Allow 8 to 10 ravioli per serving.  Extra ravioli can be frozen by dusting them with flour, placing them in rows inside a freezer bag and freezing them flat in the freezer on top of a cutting board, like this:

To prepare the ravioli, drop them into gently boiling water and cook for a few minutes until they float to the top and are done.  Meanwhile, heat butter or olive oil over medium high heat and sauté minced garlic and freshly chopped herbs (such as parsley and mint) until fragrant.  Toss the mixture with the ravioli, salt and pepper.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese and serve.

crunchy tofu sticks with honey-mustard dipping sauce

Mmm, crunchy tofu sticks.  This is a great alternative to fish sticks or chicken nuggets.  These are pretty much guilt-free finger food because they’re baked, not fried (although you could fry them, and that would be delicious, no doubt).

crunchy tofu sticks with honey-mustard dipping sauce

serves 3


15 oz firm tofu, cut into 1-inch wide sticks

1 egg

all-purpose flour

panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)


kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

canola cooking spray

dijon mustard (preferably made with coarsely ground mustard — try Grey Poupon “Country Dijon”)


To make the crunchy tofu sticks:

Cut the tofu into 1-inch wide sticks, like this:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare a breading station including three components: (1) flour mixed with salt, pepper and paprika; (2) one egg scrambled with a splash of water and pepper and (3) panko breadcrumbs with pepper and paprika.  Set up the station with bowls, like this:

To bread the tofu, use tongs to roll each piece in the flour, then the egg (shake off excess) and then the breadcrumbs.

step 1 : roll the tofu in the seasoned flour

step 2: use tongs to coat the tofu with egg

step 3: press the tofu into the breadcrumbs to coat

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and place it to the right of the breadcrumbs so that it’s handy for depositing the tofu sticks as you bread them.

Arrange the breaded tofu sticks on the baking sheet and spray the tops with cooking spray; this will help create a golden crust.  Bake the tofu sticks for 20 minutes at 400 degrees and then finish them under the broiler until they just begin to brown.  (I use the oven light to watch what I’m broiling so that I can take the food out the moment it looks perfect.  Food goes from perfect to burnt really quickly under the broiler!)

Serve the crunchy tofu sticks with the honey-mustard dipping sauce.

To make the honey-mustard dipping sauce:

Combine equal parts dijon mustard and honey in a bowl.  It’s that easy!!

chicken soup with German-style dumplings

This recipe was inspired by my family’s recipe for kniflas, which is an onion-based soup with potatoes and egg-batter dumplings.  One branch of my family tree originates from German ancestors who lived in Russia, immigrated to America and settled in South Dakota.  Kniflas is a rustic dish that is a popular comfort food among descendents of Germans from Russia, and I’ll be sure to devote a future post to it.

Today, I set out to make chicken noodle soup and decided to make a variation using the egg-batter dumplings that my aunts taught me how to make for the kniflas dish.  The dumplings come together quickly and add an extra touch of comfort-foodie-ness to the chicken soup.  🙂

chicken soup with German-style dumplings

makes 5 bowls of soup


1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

3 ribs of celery, diced (include the delicious leaves, if any are still attached)

1 bay leaf

1 quart (4 cups) chicken broth (homemade, if available)

2 chicken breasts, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces

3 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

handful of Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Heat the butter and olive oil in a Dutch oven or medium stock pot over medium-high heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the onion, stir to coat it with the fats and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Let the onion cook on its own for 1 minute.  Then, add the carrots and celery, stir and season with salt and pepper.  Let the mirepoix (onion, carrots and celery) cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the aromatics are slightly softened.

Add the bay leaf, chicken slices and broth to the pot.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and let the soup simmer until the chicken is cooked through.

Prepare the dumpling batter while the chicken cooks in the soup.  Combine the eggs, flour and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl and stir the ingredients until a thick, golden batter forms.  It should look like this:

Check the soup to see if the chicken slices are cooked through.  Bring the soup to a boil and then drop the heat slightly, to medium-high.  Working quickly, use two teaspoons to drop half-spoonfuls of the batter into the boiling soup.  The dumplings will rise to the top when they are cooked through, and this only takes a minute or so.

Use a second teaspoon to push the batter into the boiling soup (similar to making drop cookies).

The dumplings will rise to the surface once they are cooked through.

Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings to taste.  Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley.  Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.

mmm, comfort food

spices, organized!



Sources:  The three steel boards are screen-printed with a bicycle motif and finished with a glossy top coat.  I got these from ekohdesign on  We hung the boards using 3M “command strips” that we purchased at Lowe’s.  The magnetic spice tins are from World Market, but they are widely available on the Internet as well.

my next food project: organizing spices

Ok, I know this project does not sound very sexy.  But I am so excited to finally organize our spice collection in a way that will free up counter space and add an artsy flair to our kitchen.  This project will involve magnets.  Yes, there will be before and after shots.

More to come!

fava bean recipes

1.  crostini with fava bean spread

crostini with fava bean spread

fava bean spread/dip


1 baguette, sliced into 1/4-inch slices

2 cups fresh fava beans, shelled and peeled (here’s how)

2 cloves garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil, or more, to taste

3 tablespoons cream

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


To make the fava bean spread:  Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Adjust the seasonings and olive oil to taste.  Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Serve as an appetizer with crostini or crackers.

To make the crostini:  Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet.  Drizzle the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Broil until toasted and lightly browned.  Transfer the crostini to a serving plate and serve with the fava bean spread.

2.  fava beans sautéed with garlic and red pepper flakes


2 cups fresh fava beans, shelled and peeled (here’s how)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

pinch red pepper flakes

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, to garnish (optional)


Warm the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a sauté pan over medium heat.  When the garlic becomes fragrant, add the fava beans and sauté until the beans are heated through.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with parsley and serve as a side dish.