Uni Bocadillos

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Oh my god, these are really, really good. I knew they would be since I’d had them at Toro Boston as part of a tasting menu and swooned over them then, but I didn’t quite believe that the recipe I found online would be a perfect replica. I was wrong.

What is this culinary wonder, you ask? An uni bocadillo (translated as sandwich or snack). That’s right, a sandwich made with uni– sea urchin roe (okay, it’s really the entire gonads of the urchin, but “roe” sounds more appetizing so let’s go with that). When I first tasted it at Toro I was blown away by the delicate sweetness and seafood flavor of the roe– it was rich and creamy and luxurious, and I couldn’t get enough of it! The waiter described it as “like a grilled cheese, only with uni,” and it was a fair assessment– the creamy uni worked perfectly with the buttery toasted bread, and it really did remind me of a very upscale grilled cheese sandwich.

uni

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Green Pea-Avocado-Radish Tea Sandwiches

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This past weekend I was trying to decide what kind of sandwich to bring to a historical picnic. It had to be easy to eat– nice, neat bites and no dribbly sauces or chunks that might fall out and stain my outfit– and not require too much refrigeration. It couldn’t get soggy over time, or squish too easily in my picnic basket, and of course it had to be both tasty and somewhat refreshing in the hot weather.

I settled on radishes as a must-have ingredient, basically because I like them and they’re crunchy, and after a little googling I found a recipe for a radish sandwich paired with a green pea and avocado spread. While I was a little concerned that the avocado would brown unattractively, the combination sounded interesting, so I gave it a try.

I actually really like these– they’re nice and peppery, both from the radish and the dash of hot sauce, and the avocado adds richness while the peas add sweetness. You can make the spread the night before and cover it tightly to avoid browning, and even the radishes can be pre-sliced as long as you store them in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator to keep them nice and crisp. Just be sure to dry them thoroughly before assembling your sandwich!

If you like, you could make these on tiny triangle toasts and serve them open-faced as well!

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Weeknight Blueberry Muffins

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I make a lot of muffins these days, not least because my daughter needs something to eat for an afternoon snack at school, and I’d rather pack these (with fruit) than storebought granola bars or crackers. And while we both love the cranberry-orange muffins and pumpkin-white chocolate muffins, those really need nuts to make them shine– and nuts are, regrettably, not an option for school these days.

Instead our latest batch of muffins was the classic blueberry muffin– no bells, no whistles, no yogurt or sour cream or lemon zest to make them fancy… just a good old-fashioned muffin, tender, not too sweet, and studded with handfuls of fresh blueberries. The recipe doesn’t make a full dozen but you could easily add more blueberries to bulk up the mix– since I wasn’t using paper muffin liners I didn’t want to risk the muffins falling apart during unmolding due to an excess of berries, but looking at the finished product I think they’d be fine with a full pint of berries.

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Cranberry-Orange Walnut Muffins

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You always know that Thanksgiving is officially coming up when grocery stores really start pushing the fresh cranberries. While I personally prefer canned whole-berry cranberry sauce to homemade (I know, blasphemy! Revoke my foodie credentials!), I do love to bake with fresh cranberries, so I picked up a bag when I was last at the store. I also got an orange and a bag of walnuts, knowing that I would end up making these muffins.

When I was a kid my parents never made muffins from scratch– instead we would get a box of muffin mix from the grocery store. If we were lucky it would be the kind of mix that came with a little round tin of blueberries or cranberries to stir in, rather than just having dried berry-like bits in the bag of mix. (I can still remember the purple muffins that resulted the one time I forgot to drain the blueberries before stirring up my batter) And I specifically remember some delicious cranberry-orange muffins we made once, that were the perfect blend of tart and sweet with a delicious crunch of granulated sugar on top (one way we used to dress up muffins)– so I thought I’d take a shot at making my own from scratch!

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Nut-Free Granola Bars

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So my daughter started junior kindergarten this fall, and while she’s allowed to bring nuts to school in her lunches (Hallelujah! Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the win!), her lunch period is at 11:00 am– making it necessary for her to have a filling, healthy snack for later in the afternoon. Snacks, unfortunately, are required to be completely peanut and tree nut-free due to an allergy in her class, so I’m going to have to get creative this year to find things that will work for a quick pick-me-up.

I immediately thought of homemade granola bars– they’re easy to make, infinitely versatile, and can be tailored to her personal tastes as well as being reasonably healthy. I’d made these thick, chewy granola bars from Smitten Kitchen before with good results, so I decided to adapt the recipe to omit the nuts and substitute seeds and extra dried fruit (and chocolate). I ended up going with pepitas, sunflower seeds, and millet (added a crispy texture to the mix), along with dried blueberries, cranberries, and dates. The combination worked very well, and it was a success with the whole family!

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Honey Cornflake Crunchies

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Taking a break from sewing for a while, here’s something sweet!

After I made my Faux Fried Ice Cream Cake I had a decent amount of extra cornflake topping, which I regularly used to make “fried ice cream” on its own by topping vanilla ice cream with the cornflakes and a drizzle of honey. I kept the extra topping in a ziploc bag in the freezer, and when I ran out of vanilla ice cream I just started crunching it by the handful for a treat. Something about the crunchy, buttery, sweet mouthful made it supremely snackable, and I wanted to figure out a format I could use to make an easier-to-eat version.

Imagine my joy when I came across multiple recipes for honey cornflake cookies, which basically sounded like the perfect way to interpret this flavor/texture combination. They couldn’t be easier– only a few ingredients and minimal preparation. I even let my preschooler do the majority of the work, and she loved it! (now, if only I can teach her how to temper chocolate)

These turned out cute, crunchy, and reasonably good. Not “oh my god make these right now” good, but if you’re looking for something simple to make with your kids that won’t overload them with sugar or fat, these would work. Bonus– nut free, egg-free, and they’re made of cereal so you can bill them as “healthy treats” if you bring them to school for a party or something.

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Buffalo Wing Popcorn

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You guys. Make this. Make it now. Then I’ll have someone else who shares my addiction to it, and I won’t feel weird about crunching it non-stop. What is it? Buffalo wing popcorn. It’s a savory caramel corn, and it’s crunchy, sweet, salty, and spicy all at once– the perfect snack for any occasion.

Bon Appetit has called this “the best recipe we’ve ever made,” and while I’m not sure it’s the best thing I’ve ever made myself, it’s certainly unique and interesting and did I mention addictive? It starts off lightly sweet, then the hot sauce kicks in and the easiest way to assuage the slight burn is to eat more popcorn… which of course starts it all over again, and before you know it you’ve gone through a large handful and are reaching for more!

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