Puff pastry is back! I eased up on it after my puff pastry filled beginning of the year, but I still had some in the freezer and it was calling to me. It was saying it felt unloved after all this time. And so, here we are again. I learned a new tip for puff pastry this time around. For once, I thought ahead and defrosted the puff pastry ahead of time. However, it should be noted, you should really unfold the puff pastry while it is defrosting. Not only does it speed up the defrosting, then the folds don’t stick to each other. I had a truly interesting time trying to un-stick the pieces to each other!

I only recently started to like asparagus (am still trying to broaden my veggie horizons). Like any weird person, I prefer the stalks. I really like my veggies crunchy and all that fiber makes me feel extra veggie virtuous. But, yes I am aware that the tips are supposed to be the best part. Really though, any vegetable tastes awesome on a bed of goat cheese on puff pastry. Maybe even broccoli rabe. (Which, frankly, blech to! So bitter! Is this an acquired taste I am missing or what? How do people eat that?)

So yes, this recipe. Delicious. Easy. Elegant. Everything looks better in tart form. That is the motto of my cooking. And also, puff pastry makes everything better.

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I cooked this at my parent’s house, which was wonderful. Everything looks super elegant on Blue and White plates!

This is one of my classic, go-to recipes for when I am cooking for myself. It is very light and it doesn’t take forever to put together, which is nice when you just want to eat already. This dish basically takes all that I love in the world – cooked onions, lemon and thyme – and marries them together. And it is one of those amazing dishes where the side and main are combined.

A few notes. One, the original recipe doesn’t call for potatoes, but I like to add in a few sometimes to add some more substance to the dish. Also because not everyone loves eating piles of cooked onions the way I do. Two, feel free to spice the fish something other than just salt and pepper. I recently bought McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Lemon Herb and it is amazing on fish. Finally, you can use any thin white fish for this dish. Martha recommends flounder, but any delicate fish will work well.
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Magnolia Cupcakes

So when I mentioned to a few people I was going to post a cupcakes recipe, I received some less than enthusiastic responses. Cupcakes are not gourmet enough anymore. But I love these cupcakes! Simple and delicious! They are easy baking, no fussy ingredients or challenging doughs. Also the icing gives me a hyper boost like nothing else.

I am a little late to this bandwagon though, apparently the cupcake craze is over. Macarons are the new cupcakes. But macarons are hard. They are delicate, complex and temperamental. The slightest mistake – or even too much humidity in the kitchen – leads to disaster. Even if they are the next big thing, I’m sticking with cupcakes. Specifically Magnolia cupcakes. Just call me a 2001 nostalgist.

I actually borrowed muffin tins from my mom to make these since I don’t have any of my own. Hers are awesome vintage ones. I think this one looks almost Art Deco. I love Art Deco! Vintage bake ware so cool, I wish I had a bigger kitchen to start collecting it.

I have very few tips for this recipe. I generally only (ha!) add 6 of the 8 cups of sugar to the icing. That is usually more than enough. I always have trouble filling the wrappers 3/4s of the way, but try not to overfill too much – these rise a decent amount. Finally, enjoy! Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best.

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Lemon Bars

Ok, so this is not the best looking, best lit, best focused photo I’ve ever taken. Actually none of the photos for this recipe are that hot, due to the fact that while I was making these, I was also making 24 cupcakes and 4 pounds of pasta salad in the span of a morning. So I was a bit rushed. Really rushed. And I thought I would take more photos of these adorable lemon bars before we ate them. But I didn’t. Because I was too busy eating them and exploding with lemon happiness. These are amazing. Don’t let my underlit photos deter you.

The only issue I had with the recipe was the size of my baking dish. All this time, I thought I had a 9 x 12 pan. But when I spread the delicious brown sugar oatmeal crust into my pan, it became apparent that my pan is much larger. Actually its 11 x 13. Who knew! So I had to modify slightly, losing the top layer of crust so that I could have an appropriately thick bottom layer. I didn’t make any extra filling and I think there was enough, but next time, I might double it for extra lemon-y goodness. Moral of the story, know the measurements of your baking dishes!

A few notes: condensed sweetened milk, aka the Nectar of the South, is a great addition to your pantry if you aren’t already using it. It is great for baking and it is very trendy these days. If you don’t have lemons, these can be adapted into citrus bars and you can substitute orange juice and zest or lime juice and zest. Or some other combination, like lemon-lime bars (ha!). Finally, I added a few thyme leaves to each bar because, well, thyme and lemon just go together. It adds a nice savory note to the creamy lemon-ness. But if you don’t like herbs in your dessert, then feel free to skip!

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Oh wow! I almost forgot I had a blog. Sorry people. Have had a long series of mediocre dishes that were not blog worthy, combined with many repeats (Sausage Pasta, Banana Bread, Beer Bread, etc). The blog has languished, but this will not happen again.

Yesterday I decided it was time to snap out of it and make something new and awesome. I had the perfect recipe picked out. Raspberry Creme Fraiche Tart. Sounds like my dream dessert. Creme fraiche? Check. Raspberries? Check. Tart format? Check. Plus as my grandmother reminded me, I love making tarts and there aren’t too many on this blog.

Here is a photo of the end result:

It looks not terrible. But it was really, really, really disappointing….

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Spring has sprung! Actually, we’ve moved into bizarro summer. Did it really hit 90 degrees in New York in April?! But no matter, the sun is shinning, the daffodils are blooming and I saw not one, not two, but three wild turkeys roaming the streets of Englewood NJ. Who knew there are wild turkeys in suburbia!

Now that it is so gorgeous out, it is definitely time to start switching up recipes. I was waiting on line at Whole Foods and I saw the new Bon Appetit and I decided to buy it. I flipped through, bookmarked some pretty looking pages and then I saw a photo of this dish. Wow, I thought, that looks perfect for spring. But I didn’t see the recipe. So I read the caption and it instructed me to check out the recipe on the Bon Appetit website. Nyeh! Bon Appetit, you are a dying media and you already give away content for free on your website (not that I’m complaining). I paid for the magazine, so take advantage! Don’t direct me to your free website!

Anyway, the dish is delicious, no matter where the recipe came from. It feels spring-y and healthy, but also creamy and satisfying. I had several chunks of Parmesan in the fridge, so I took the leap and grated it myself in the food processor. Delicious, but we only have the blade attachment, so the food processor was not thrilled with the giant hunks of cheese I tossed in. Lesson learned, definitely cut the cheese into small (2 inch square or less) chunks. But I of course have to make things more complicated than necessary. Store bought grated is more than fine and all together this is a great weeknight meal. It comes together very quickly and easily and it is very, very tasty.

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Apple Matzo Kugel

Well so much for the week of Passover recipes I planned! Big blog intentions, little follow through. But this post will wrap up Passover belatedly and then onto new and exciting non holiday related recipes. Though I also wanted to make hot cross buns for Easter. I’ve never had one and the recipes I saw floating around last week looked delicious. So there may be one more belated holiday recipe coming!

This is a great kugel! You can hardly taste the matzo – it tastes more like a bread pudding. Really really good bread pudding. I think it would work really well for a brunch. The dish is sweet, but overly so. I cut down the sugar because there are 12 pages of comments about this recipe and nearly all of them suggested cutting the sugar. This recipe is why I love the internet – 12 pages of comments are awesome and really helped to fine tune this recipe.

A few notes. One comment suggested 1 cup of nuts on top. I forgot to add them, but I think walnuts would go wonderfully with this recipe. Another comment suggested adding some lemon juice and zest to the apples, which was another great idea I forgot to incorporate. If your apples (or any fruit) taste less than ideal, lemon juice and zest always perk things up. This recipe reheats very well, which is good since it would feed a small army. The recipe does call for a scary amount of eggs, but keep in mind that it serves 12. Finally, be sure to use a large bowl to mix everything together. As you can see from the photo, I did not and things came dangerously close to a kitchen disaster.

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