Monday, March 26, 2012

Anadama Bread

I was in a bread baking mood the other day and decided to use what I had on hand...this is the recipe I selected: Anadama Bread.  It's very hearty, not sweet, but makes for a solid sandwich bread or a great option to pair up with soup.  It was very easy to put together and came out well!

recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Makes 1 9 inch loaf
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours plus cooling

1 cup whole milk (I used skim and it worked fine)
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp stone ground cornmeal
1/2 cup water, warm
5 tbsp light or dark molasses
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I used whole wheat - had a nuttier flavor but good)
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp) instant or rapid rise yeast
2 tsp salt

1. Bring the milk and 3 tbsp butter to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in 1/2 cup of the cornmeal and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, whisk in the water and molasses, and let cool until lukewarm (100 degrees F) about 10 minutes.

2. Mix 3 cups flour, yeast, salt, and cornmeal mixture together in a standing mixture with the dough hook.  Knead on low speed until the dough comes together, about 1 minute.

3. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  (If, after 5 minutes, more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough clears the side of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.)

4. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and knead by hand to form a smooth round ball, about 1 minute.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and gently press it into a 9 inch square.  Roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch the seam closed.  Place the loaf seam side down in a 9 inch loaf pan, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size and the dough springs back slowly when indented with a finger, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

6. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat to 350 degrees.  Bring a kettle of water to boil.  Melt the remaining 1 tbsp butter.  Brush the loaf with butter and sprinkle with remaining cornmeal.  Set the loaf pan on the rack and place an empty metal loaf pan next to it.  Fill the empty pan halfway with the boiling water.  Bake until golden and the center of the loaf reads 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer, 40 to 50 minutes.  Flip the bread out onto a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before slicing, about 2 hours. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gingered Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

Thought I'd share a delicious and easy soup recipe!  It may be spring (or even feeling like summer on some days) but this light soup is nice any time of year. The fresh flavors will lift you up!

I found this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens (I know...) but its very good and so simple!  This would go well with some homemade bread or croutons.  I heated it up the next day for lunch and it was even better - the flavors had a chance to marry nicely.  Try it out!

Gingered Carrot Sweet Potato Soup

1 lb carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 14.5 oz cans reduced sodium chicken broth (I used vegetable broth)
1/2 cup soup cream or creme fraiche (optional)
2 tbsp finely minced green onions or snipped fresh chives - optional (I used parsley)
1 19 oz can no-salt added cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste
(And you know I added hot sauce, right?)

1. In a Dutch oven combine carrots, broth, potato, and ginger.  Bring to boiling.  Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 10-12 minutes, until vegetables are tender.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine sour cream and green onions; set aside.

2. In blender (I used a food processor), puree vegetables with beans, one fourth at a time, removing cap from blender lid and holding folded kitchen towel over opening.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top servings with sour cream mixture.  If desired, sprinkle with additional green onions and ginger. 
4 servings. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Are you excited for The Hunger Games?

We are too!   

Everyone is reading it.

 And I do mean everyone. 

Well, maybe some people are just waiting until the time is right to read.  Or until one of the billion copies hanging around our circle of friends frees up.

Some folks are done with the series.  And MORE than ready for the movie!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quilting for Kids

 My friend Matt is an elementary school teacher here in New York City, and asked for some help on a special project.  He's been heavily involved in AIDS fundraising and awareness for years, and has been teaching his students about it too.  This year, each child crafted their own quilt square to make a class AIDS quilt similar to the famous one that has toured the country. 
I was lucky enough to lend a hand by assembling the pieces together - and look what a beautiful quilt they've made!  Matt tells me that he'll have future classes make their own squares so we'll add to it year by year.  I can't wait to watch it grow! 

And here is Mr. Matt.  Such a guy! 


I got such a sweet note from Matt (and his co-teacher Claudia's) class:

March 6, 2012

Dear Emma,

Thank you for sewing together our CPE II AIDS Quilt. We bet no one else would have done it for free. We would not have wanted anyone else to have sewn our Quilt. It looks amazing! We can tell that you put a lot of hard work into it. We love how you made the stitches so neat. We appreciate how much time you put into it. If you hadn’t done it for us, our Quilt wouldn’t be complete. It looks so nice with all the different classes panels put together. You are the greatest sewer! Nice work!

Peace and love,

Matt & Claudia’s Class:
Deatema, Ines, Jaylin, Elizabeth, Klarise, Taryn, Hannah, Gabriela, Kareem, Xavier, August, Mark, Chris, Zakeriya, Christopher, Kumar,Christian,Jaden,Taylor,Naomi,Mia,Julia,Eleanor, Dante, Nina, Jeremiah, Chaya, Charles, Savion

PS - When can we meet you?

Saturday, March 3, 2012


My friend Julie just celebrated her 30th Birthday this past Sunday!  Happy Birthday!
Here she is in her Red Carpet Ready gown at her Oscar themed party with her husband Daniel.  It was a great party full of glitz and glamour! 

Before that, though we had a truly amazing high tea experience at Lady Mendls on Irving Place near Union Square in New York City.  If you're in town or have a special guest, you should definitely go!   

After a few steps up into an unassuming brownstone, you're transported to the Victorian era and a beautiful dining room. 

Julie and her sister Rachel are happy here for some girly fun!

So were Daniel and me.  He was a good sport to accompany the ladies for his wife's special day.  Yet somehow he got stuck sitting next to me. 

 Our first course was a miniature butternut squash and Parmesan quiche. 

 And my pictures are all out of order, but we did enjoy delicious cookies and pastries...

 An amazing cake made out of crepes and creme...

 scones of course...
clotted cream and jam...

our tea pots were very friendly...

 finger sandwiches too...
 sweet little sugar cubes

 beautiful china...

 And tea, don't forget.  A really lovely afternoon - thanks Rachel!  And Happy Birthday Julie!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Lady Bug!

I made this little lady bug card for my sweet niece Rakia.  Her 3rd Birthday was yesterday - party is not for a few weeks but I did get to wish her a happy birthday over the phone.  She wished me a happy birthday too so that was nice, if a little preemptive. 

Happy Birthday to my favorite girl in the world!!!