Author Archives: matthew


Strawberries and Cream Tart

Strawberries and Cream Tart

I found this recipe for a summery tart which I made with freshly picked strawberries. The crust fell apart since my graham cracker to butter ratio was a little off, but it was still really good.




The only Swedish I learned while in Sweden was tack (thank you) and hungrig (hungry). Well, since yesterday was Sweden’s National Day and I was feeling a little hungrig, I decided to make an almond cake with strawberries and whipped cream. It turned out well, but I won’t post the recipe since it had some glaring errors (no mention of what to do with the dry ingredients!).

I should note that Sweden’s National Day is a relatively new holiday, celebrated first in 2005. It’s not popular with everyone there, partly because many Swedes consider Midsummer to be their national day. Even though I am not Swedish, I can’t pass up an opportunity to pull out the herring and aquavit and bake a delicious cake.


Turkey meatballs and roasted eggplant with lemon and onions

Turkey meatballs and roasted eggplant with lemon and onions

After getting the cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi from the library, I decided to make this meal of turkey and zucchini burgers with a sour cream sumac sauce and roasted eggplant with fried onion and chopped lemon. It was a bit of a challenge to find the sumac, but Penzeys had it. It was a delicious meal! I am really enjoying cooking with these new Israeli ingredients and flavors.

Pastel de Tres Leches

Matthew:  Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, I decided to make a pastel de tres leches.  I’ve had it a couple times before at restaurants, most recently in Costa Rica, and really liked it.  I mean, anything with sweetened condensed milk has to be good, right?  The only unusual ingredient was masa harina, which is made from corn.  I was able to find it at the coop.  The recipe calls for fine ground cornmeal and all I had at home was coarse cornmeal.  There was more texture to the cake, but I was ok with that.  The cake turned out really well and I’m excited to serve some to my friends.  And, since you only use half of the three milks mixture, I might just have to make another one right away.


Matthew:  I’ve made many loaves of bread and one of the hardest parts for me is to get the crust to turn out.  I had resigned myself to the fact that  I wouldn’t be able to get the perfect rustic loaf with a tough and crispy crust in my oven.  But then I tried a new recipe in my Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook.  The crocodile-like loaves are flour-dusted and rough and surprisingly easy to make.  The sponge, which is put together the night before, left my apartment with a wonderful smell of yeast and beer.  I used Makeweight by Furthermore Beer for the bread.  And, not only is this bread easy to make, but you get two good-sized loaves which is perfect if you have a new neighbor who just moved in.  Here’s the recipe:

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup dark beer at room temperature
3 cups cool water
1 cup semolina flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina or whole-wheat flour (I used semolina)
1 tablespoon sea salt
about 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour for work surface and pan
To make the sponge, in a large bowl, combine the yeast, beer, water, and the semolina and all-purpose flours and whisk until well combined.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand overnight at room temperature.
To make the dough, add the all-purpose and semolina flours and the salt to the sponge and stir with your hand or a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a shaggy mass.  Using a plastic pastry scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface.  Knead until it is smooth and elastic, dusting the work surface with only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, 5-7 minutes.  The dough will be soft.
Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours.
Dust the work surface with 1 cup of the all-purpose flour.  Heavily dust a half-sheet pan or rimless baking sheet with all-purpose flour.  Punch down the dough and, using the pastry scraper, scrape it out onto the floured surface.  Bounce the dough around on the flour, shaping it into a large, round loaf.  Do not be daunted by the softness of the dough.
Place the round loaf on the prepared pan, cover loosely with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in size, 30-45 minutes.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees F.  Liberally sprinkle the top of the loaf with all-purpose flour.  Using a sharp knife or a bench scraper, cut straight through the middle of the loaf crosswise, separating it into two loaves.  Flour your hands and turn the loaves so that they sit cut side up on the pan, spacing them generously apart.  Bake the breads until they are brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 35-45 minutes.  Turn off the oven, leave the door closed, and let the breads sit in the oven for 10 minutes to set the crusts.  Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely before slicing.

Lentil Dal

Matthew:  In addition to making stews, I like to make lentil dishes in the winter.  One of my favorites is Lentil Dal, an Indian dish seasoned with cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and curry powder.  The spiciness of the lentils is nicely complemented with yogurt and cilantro.  I would recommend turning on your stove exhaust fan before you add the spices to the hot oil.  I waited until they had been in the oil for a bit and my apartment was engulfed in a haze of spice that stuck around for several days.  It was worth it for how good the lentils were.

Peanut Stew

Matthew:  After the great beef stew, it was time to try something a little different.  Erika recommended this recipe for Inner Warmth Peanut Stew, from Matt Moyer, executive chef at The Great Dane.  The list of ingredients might seem a little strange–butternut squash, tomatoes, peanut butter, garlic, and ginger–but the combination really tastes good.  I was a little hesitant to add 1/2 cup of ginger, but I went for it.  I really enjoyed this stew.  It made quite a bit and I ended up freezing half of it, but after I finished the first half I thawed the other half to eat right away.  I highly recommend this recipe if you are tired of the more traditional winter soups and stews, but still want something warm and filling.  Two small changes I made were to use chunky peanut butter and to add some cinnamon.