M&M Cookies

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I have another better recipe to write up, a lengthy to-do list, ideas to jot down and research, and yet it was just one of those kinds of days. It was right about when my son threw his second attempt at lunch everywhere and then smushed his third attempt at lunch through his chubby fingers while climbing up a set of stairs he knows he’s not supposed to go near that I decided to put everything on hold and make these cookies.

We all have our guilty pleasures in the kitchen – those things you secretly crave but won’t admit to anyone, not even your partner. It’s the first thing we want to get our hands on when we’re feeling out of sorts and the thing that gives us more pleasure than most anything else, no matter how healthy, fresh, or gourmet. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t pretend.
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Apple Cake

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Forget all those other apple recipes you’ve been thinking about trying. I’m sharing with you the best apple recipe that ever was. It’s the perfect amount of caramel-y, brown sugar-y, fall sweetness, cushioning bite-sized pieces of apple in a light spice cake. I make it every year to put a small dent in my apple hoard. And even though it seems like this cake will be too much to eat, we consume every bite, lick our plates, and run our fingers around the edges of the cake pan to capture every last crumb.

I think the best chefs create recipes that showcase the essence of a flavor. Maria Hines at Tilth in Seattle comes to mind with a carrot soup that tastes more carrot than any carrot you’ve chomped. Likewise Scott Peacock, formerly of Watershed, in Atlanta develops recipes that capture the flavor pure and simple of the south. I worked under Scott for one formative summer at Watershed. He is a larger than life personality, spending every day doing 3 hours of meticulous prep listening to Ricky Martin’s La Vida Loca on repeat at full volume while downing pitchers of iced tea. His recipes pack all the flavor of the South into simple recipes that turn out well every time you make them. And I value every lesson I’ve learned from him.

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Peach Caramel Hand Pies

I’m a secret southern. Outside of my inability to pronounce r’s (think tire, wire, perspire) and my refusal to drink tea that’s not sweetened, you would never know that I grew up in the thick of it – hot muggy nights teaming with the sound of crickets and other bugs too big to think about and steamy, humid days with my shorts sticking to the back of my knees and the back of my knees sticking to my chair. And for the most part I don’t miss it one bit. But I do miss the food and I miss the fresh peaches.

There are many wonderful things about the west coast, and while I know I’ll never leave my newfound home, I long for the peaches of my old home. I’m talking enormous peaches with soft downy skin that gets stuck between your teeth and juice that spurts out from your first bite and trickles down your elbows. You can’t eat these peaches without getting your clothes messy and feeling thoroughly satiated. And each bite brings memories of days spent by the pool, meat and three on Styrofoam plates, and running between huge drops of rain as a summer deluge pours down.

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