Salted caramels. Chocolate-covered bacon. You might think you’ve explored all there is to explore in the realm of sweet-salty combinations, but what if I told you that a popular confection in Taiwan involves flaky, savory, scallion crackers sandwiching a milky-sweet nougat? This unusual flavor combination is far better than it sounds. Best of all, the nougat cooks up in about five minutes, requires no fussing with candy thermometers, and magically whips up with only three ingredients.
This story is about an egg sandwich that’s so easy and delicious that you can quickly make it for breakfast–even in the middle of, well, childbirth.
On the morning I gave birth to my son, I woke up with a start around 4:30am to find that my water had broken. Impossible. I was only 37 weeks along. The baby wasn’t allowed to come yet! I still had to clean the nursery and do my taxes! I had a zillion household projects to do, not to mention at least three pairs of cute booties to knit! I took about half an hour to absorb the reality of the situation and to accept that, like it or not, my baby was arriving today.
Maida Heatter’s orange-glazed cranberry bread
As a teenager, I wasn’t often permitted to go over to friends’ houses after school–but my parents did give me unlimited rides to the library, which was located just down the street from my high school. This made me perfectly happy because I am an introvert, and a pile of cookbooks can fill me with giddy delight. My local library had a sizable and well-curated cookbook selection, and Maida Heatter’s books were some of my constant companions. The recipe that follows, Maida Heatter’s recipe for a sugary orange-glazed cranberry quick bread, is one of my favorites for the current too-short cranberry season.
Cranberries, drying on a towel and getting ready for their star turn in an orange-glazed quick bread
With each approximately the size of a hardback novel, Maida Heatter’s dessert cookbooks are filled with entertaining anecdotes interspersed with mouthwatering descriptions. The only photos are located on the dust jacket, so it was up to the books’ illustrator to accurately depict how a dish should look through the black-and-white drawings. Think about it: a photo-less cookbook would be unheard of today, with the publishing industry’s focus on lush, colorful cookbooks, some more like superficial coffee-table books than instructional guides to be used in the kitchen. Reading Maida Heatter’s books transport you back to a time where the writer’s stories and descriptions would determine whether a reader would feel inspired to pick up a whisk.
I’ve been looking for a good crispy-chickpea recipe for a long time. You see, I adore salty, crunchy snacks. Where others might crave brownies and ice cream, I prefer to inhale Cheez-Its and spicy rice crackers. (Ok, I crave brownies and ice cream, too, but my true love lies in the savory, not in the sweet.)
I remember the first time I saw a photo of crispy roasted chickpeas and the accompanying recipe–I knew I had to make them right away. I adore the nutty, mild flavor of chickpeas, and these looked so tantalizingly crunchy. But when I made them, I was sorely disappointed. They emerged from the oven slightly soft on the inside and barely crisp around the edges. They had a texture reminiscent of stale popcorn. When I tried to bake them at higher temperatures or for a longer period of time, more often than not the chickpeas would burn, or the spices coating the chickpeas would burn. What could be the problem?
My husband claims that the first fight we ever had was over a pumpkin pie.
It was winter of 2012, the year we started dating. Our regular date-night restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza, was featuring a special on its dessert menu–pumpkin gelato pie. This pie changes with the seasons: sometimes it’s coconut gelato, sometimes it’s banana gelato, and my personal favorite is summer’s Meyer lemon gelato pie. But this was the fall, and pumpkin was the featured gelato pie flavor.
The thing is, it didn’t really taste of pumpkin at all. I enjoyed it, but my husband absolutely hated it. “It tastes like nothing!” he complained. Rolling my eyes at his tirade, I tried another bite. Buttery graham cracker crust, and…vaguely pumpkin pie-like gelato. If you were to close your eyes, you might be eating vanilla or even plain gelato. I could see his point.
This is a story of how crispy prosciutto saved my sanity when I was pregnant.
During my pregnancy, I felt totally normal for the first couple of weeks or so…and then the nausea hit me like a literal punch in the gut. I felt like I had low-grade food poisoning, all.the.time. For the first time in my life, I actively hated the idea of eating. There were days I subsisted on string cheese and toast. One day, I discovered the heaven that was watermelon…before quickly realizing that I was one of the unfortunate souls for whom watermelon triggered acid reflux. No bueno.
After I entered my second trimester, my constant nausea eased a bit and I found myself experiencing cravings. Not the stereotypical pickles-and-ice cream kind of craving, but rather…I wanted something that tasted fresh. Months of eating plain toast, cheese, and grapes had me missing salads. Sushi. And weirdly…deli sandwiches?!
Hey, Sunny, where’ve you been? I’ve missed you.
Hey, why does nomhungerous now redirect to nommymommy?
Well, the short answer to both questions is…I had a baby! I started out as a pug mom, and since I had a human kid this year, I decided it was time to rename this whole shebang. Being (formerly) pregnant and (now) a mom has really changed the way I cook and eat. I still like to eat delicious things, of course, but now (sadly) I don’t have as much time to mess around in the kitchen. On the bright side, I’ve become more efficient. Unless it’s simply the most amazing dish in the world, I’m not going to spend hours shaping tiny tart crusts or chopping onions into a perfectly square dice. Maybe I’ll develop an easier recipe for crust (or not feel bad about cheating and use store-bought!), and maybe I’ll use my food processor or blender for those darned tear-inducing onions. My rice cooker is one of my best friends, as is my Instant Pot! Rest assured that I’m still cooking and thinking about food constantly and seeing inspiration everywhere…even if it’s in my baby’s obsession with roasted sweet potatoes. So let’s get (re)started!
Gingerbread Cracker Toffee: Tastes like Gingerbread Twix. Now, go forth and make some immediately.
Wow, what a year it’s been. My husband and I went on our honeymoon in May (for which I packed Spicy Spam Musubi). Shortly thereafter, I lost my appetite for months…because I got pregnant! I never dreamed that my eating habits would be interrupted by the nausea that left me couch-bound for the first trimester, nor by the severe aversions that lasted through second trimester. I was also shocked to discover that I developed a huge sweet tooth. My husband once met me at a doctor’s appointment and, before saying a word, handed me a bag containing two doughnuts. (Yes, I know he’s a keeper.) So, although I didn’t cook much since I got pregnant, I decided to experiment with cookie recipes around the holidays this year. I ended up developing this gingerbread cracker toffee recipe from a basic saltine toffee recipe. Not only does it satisfy my pregnancy sweet cravings, but it also takes less than 20 minutes of active time to make.
Now that we’ve gotten the formalities out of the way, let’s talk about this recipe in detail. I love the basic idea of saltine toffee. I love the way that this cookie-candy hybrid slyly elevates and transforms a humble cracker that is usually relegated to the sickroom into a buttery, decadent snack. But when I actually made toffee with saltines, I…didn’t quite love it. I didn’t love that it was shatteringly crispy all the way through. Most of all, the flavor tasted a little off to me. Don’t get me wrong, I ate the whole pan of saltine toffee…but the fact that the saltine tasted so indelibly saltine-y meant that it never successfully transmuted into crunchy cookie toffee. It just tasted like its individual components: toffee, chocolate, and saltines. I suspected there had to be a better way to make cracker toffee.
Raindrop Cake, aka “water cake,” is the hottest new dessert trend. It’s certainly one of the most Instagram-ready snacks I’ve seen of late. Also called mizu shingen mochi, the dessert appears to hail from Japan, where it’s made from special spring water. Raindrop Cake is unusual, refreshing, and a great light dessert for the hot days of summer.
It’s hot, but you have to make dinner tonight. You don’t want to spend time slaving away for hours to make dessert, yet you still want something more interesting than just plain fruit and cream. I have just the recipe for these hot days: a parfait consisting of sugared, orange-scented strawberries, layered with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. What takes this dessert from ordinary to extraordinary are sbrisolona crumbs: crumbs from an Italian cookie that is crunchy with almonds and semolina flour and infused with orange flower water.