The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.
This is the king of garlic breads. I have never tasted any other garlic bread with quite this combination of flavors. I could eat a whole loaf of this (and as a teenager, basically did).
When I was in about 1st grade, someone brought this bread to school. My memory is a bit hazy on this, but I loved it SO MUCH, that I got them to give me the recipe.
This was before there was any such thing as “the Internet” where you can just “look up recipes” when you’re hungry, but despite living in this vast, unknowable future, I still make this bread from a recipe card written out in my mom’s handwriting like it’s the 1600s (note: I do not churn my own butter).
The trick is to butter BOTH SIDES OF THE BREAD. Even if your wife is like, “Why does this take so much butter? Couldn’t you cut down on the butter a little bit?” You shout “Shut your mouth, hypothetical wife in this entirely hypothetical situation!” and then you just go ahead and make it with all the butter and hypothetically tell her you cut down on the butter even though you really didn’t.
(Either that, or you just cut down on the butter like she said and complain bitterly with every piece how there’s not going to be enough butter. Hypothetically.)
This is one of my all time favorite things to eat in the world, and I always requested it for my “birthday dinner” when I was a kid (along with lasagna). I could absolutely just eat a loaf of this as a meal, and I am very happy to finally share it with all of you.
Recipe from some kid in my 1st grade class.
- 1 loaf Italian bread (whole wheat if you can get it)
- 1/2 cup soft butter
- 1 tsp. parsley flakes, plus more for topping
- 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp dill weed
- 1 clove garlic, minced, OR 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- grated Parmesan cheese for topping
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Cut loaf into approximately 1 inch slices and place on aluminum foil.
- Blend butter, parsley, oregano, dill and garlic.
- Spread on both sides of each slice, and spread any remaining mixture on the top
- Twist ends of aluminum foil, but leave the top open
- Top liberally with Parmesan cheese and parsley flakes
- Bake 10 minutes.
The first Friday of the month is reserved for recipes. You can see additional First Friday Food posts here.
This is something of an old family recipe, and I am tired of always trying to find it online. Saving here for posterity.
My mom has always made apple baked french toast. It was always a kind of “special occasion” breakfast, but we particularly like to have it on Christmas morning. We prepare it the night before, and then when we get up, we start the oven preheating. We pop it in the oven, and it’s ready to go right about when we finish opening presents!
This is not actually my mom’s recipe; this is just a modified version of one that we found on the Internet. It must be pretty similar. Mom, care to comment?
One thing I would recommend is using bread that is a bit drier, like a baguette or something a little crustier, to soak up some of the egg-liquid.
All recipes say to peel the apples, but I’m way too lazy for that. I honestly don’t think you need to (apple peels get pretty soft when you cook them), but that’s up to you I guess.
However, we do have a bit of mitigating circumstances.
Usually when my mom makes it, she uses her “apple peeler-corer-slicer” to peel and cut the apples:
We don’t have one of those. However, as you may know, we have a family tradition of making applesauce every year. Lucky for me, Mom and Ron usually also can cut up apples and give them to us for Christmas, which means we have a supply of already-peeled-and-cut apples, which makes this pretty easy. One jar is not quite enough for a batch of apple baked french toast, so we cut up 3 or 4 apples in addition.
Well, it should be pretty obvious at this point that I recommend this one. It’s great for when you have guests, by itself, with syrup, or with whipped cream on top.
Recipe inspired by King Arthur Flour:
- 1 baguette, about 18″ to 20″ long
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 dashes cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (skip if bread is salty)
- 1 jar of canned apples + 3 or 4 apples thinly sliced (~6 large apples if not using canned)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Optional: 1/2 – 3/4 cup walnuts or pecans
- Lightly butter a 10″ x 15″ baking pan or similar-sized casserole dish.
- Slice a crusty loaf of bread into 1″ slices. Place the slices of bread into the pan.
- In a medium-sized bowl beat the eggs, then whisk in the milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
- Pour this mixture over the bread, and let it soak in while you’re preparing the topping.
- Peel and slice the apples thinly. Toss them with the remaining topping ingredients, and spread them over the bread in the pan.
- To bake immediately, preheat the oven to 375°F. To bake up to 48 hours later, cover the pan, and refrigerate.
- NOTE: we cover with tinfoil to avoid burning the top
- Bake the French toast in a preheated 375°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the apples are soft and the eggs set. If it’s been refrigerated, remove the cover, and bake for 60 to 70 minutes.
- NOTE: We always, always do it cold. We put it in the oven while it is preheating, so the glass pan doesn’t break due to temperature shock, and set the timer for 80 minutes.
My brother mentioned making pancakes that used the fizziness of seltzer to help them rise, which I had never heard of. And, well, I like pancakes, so.
I don’t think you really need a mixer to make pancakes. It is debateable whether it’s worth it at all, since I need to dirty a spoon for dropping them on the pan anyway. On the other hand, this stand mixer just sits there on the counter taking up space and demanding to be used to justify its existence, so why not?
Plus, it’s purty in pictures.
The seltzer was indeed quite dramatic, with all the fizzing. I would imagine that kids would find this fun, or else just showing off in front of people. “And now, the secret ingredient!” you proclaim with a flourish, making a bubbly pancake volcano.
But mostly it’s just me in the kitchen, making volcanoes by myself, so much of the effect is wasted.
I gotta be honest: they were okay, but nothing special. They’re very, very similar to the Oatmeal-Yogurt Pancakes. The seltzer water, though dramatic, didn’t really make that much of a difference over traditional methods as far as fluffiness of the pancakes. There was nothing wrong with them, but since we don’t keep seltzer water in the house I probably won’t make these again.
Recipe from I Heart Eating:
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 T. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 c. plain yogurt
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/3 c. sparkling seltzer water
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and salt.
- In a separate small bowl, stir together the yogurt and baking soda; let sit for 10 minutes.
- Add the yogurt mixture, seltzer, and eggs to the flour mixture; whisk until just combined.
- Let batter rest for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat butter in a skillet or on a griddle over medium heat.
- Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter onto skillet, gently spreading out each portion of batter.
- Cook pancakes until bubbles begin to form around edges, about 2 minutes.
- Flip each pancake with a spatula, and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes more.
- Repeat with remaining batter, re-buttering skillet as needed.
I don’t remember if we made this the first time because we had plums, or if we bought plums to make it. But I can definitely tell you the second time, we definitely bought plums to make it.
I had another recipe for this week, but I was hoping to get this one out before the plums were completely done for the season!
I’m kind of ambivalent towards plums. I’ve got nothing against them, but I don’t usually feel like sitting down and just eating a plum, you know? HOWEVER, it turns out that if you put them in a CAKE, that’s a whole different story.
So, this recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, which is sort of an unprecedented amount of cinnamon. You may think that’s a typo, and it is. Kind of. From Smitten Kitchen:
I received a note from Amanda Hesser over the weekend giving me a heads-up that the 1 tablespoon listed in the Essential New York Times Cookbook was actually a typo, and should have been 1 teaspoon. In fact, the very original version in the Times had 1 tablespoon too, but all of the future ones had only 1 teaspoon, suggesting that it had been a typo there too.
Having made the 1 tablespoon version (repeatedly), I can tell you that I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is a lot of cinnamon, and I wouldn’t have thought cinnamon + plums = magic, but in fact, cinnamon + plums = magic.
I feel like this is a fancy-pants dessert that you could impress with at a party, and yet it is so delicious and easy to make, so you won’t mind just making it for yourself at home.
It is also the only dessert I know where you can literally PUT IN YOUR THUMB AND PULL OUT A PLUM. That’s got to count for something.
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Large pinch of salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoon (depending on sweetness of plums)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 large eggs
- 12 smallish plums (Italian purple if you can get them), halved and pitted
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
- In a larger bowl, cream butter and 1 cup sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
- Spoon batter into a greased, 9-inch springform pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon, then remaining sugar.
- Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter (but of course not plum juice), about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on rack.
- Leave it covered at room temperature overnight.
I haven’t talked about our garden much this year, but gardens mean tomatoes. It’s a little early yet, but I want to get this one out there so you have everything ready to go as soon as tomato season starts to pick up. (Shhh, this is so good, we even sometimes make it with tasteless store-bought tomatoes!)
The ingredients seem too simple, somehow. I mean, it’s mostly feta, tomatoes, and a red onion. So what, you know? This is absolutely one of those where the sum is greater than its parts. Trust me on this! As good as those things sound, baked all together, they are better.
The feta doesn’t really melt, just gets soft and warm, and delicious…
The thing I like about this is that you can absolutely impress your guests with it as a fancy appetizer, or else just eat it as meal. Or eat it by yourself. A whole 8-ounces of feta, aaaaall to yourself.
Mmmmmm lovely, salty feta.
It’s really simple to make, only takes one dish, and you don’t even need silverware to eat it. The crackers *are* your silverware. Edible silverware!
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen (minus the olives!):
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 8- to 10-ounce block feta
- In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, oregano, olive oil and a few grinds of pepper.
- Heat oven to 400°F. Place the block of feta in the middle of your dish. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Bake for 15 minutes.
- The feta will not melt, just warm and soften. Garnish with parsley and serve with crackers; eat immediately. As it cools, the feta will firm up again. We found that the dish could be returned to the oven to soften it again. We did this with leftovers, too.
Another catch up recipe post, but this one needed to be posted RIGHT AWAY so as not to miss strawberry season.
And you know what else is in season during strawberry season? Rhubarb.
Well, the journey starts with fresh-off-the-plant strawberries, naturally. Here, Oliver has one to get you started:
Rhubarb is one of my favorite things. Adding something a little sour in with the sweet just hits all the right tongue spots, you know?
When I was a kid, we had rhubarb growing between the shed and the fence, so we always had a good supply (until we tore down the shed and all the rhubarb died). There are lots of rhubarb recipes in my family, so I kind of thought everybody felt this way about rhubarb. As I get older, I find that many people just don’t know about the glory and majesty of rhubarb, including Sara. I have been working on her for years, but I think this recipe is the one that finally brought her to the dark side.
Oh, and if you’re new to rhubarb, don’t eat the leaves. I always heard they were poisonous, which is another plus for rhubarb. I like to live dangerously.
(Seriously though, is it poisonous? Because now that I think about it, that sounds like some B.S. that was told to me as a kid to keep me from gnawing the rhubarb raw, like a garden pest, before we could harvest it.)
Strawberries and rhubarb go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like…like sweet and sour. I mean, literally, like sweet and sour.
The only way this could be better is if you ate it warm, right out of the oven, with a little vanilla ice cream on top…
- 5 cups strawberries, cored and diced
- 5 cups rhubarb, diced
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup flour
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2/3 cup butter, melted
- 2/3 cup oats
- 2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
- 2/3 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 dashes, nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Put cut strawberries and rhubarb into a 9×13 glass pan. Mix in sugar and cornstarch.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, oats, nuts, and butter. Sprinkle on top of fruit.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm, with ice cream.
We make a lot of jam. I mean a LOOOOT of jam. Our pantry is stocked with apocalypse-preparation levels of jams, marmalades, curds, chutneys, and compotes. We have an average of about 5 open variety of jams in our fridge at any given time. Short of Frank Smuckers, there are not many people who have more jam on hand than us.
And none of those jams, none of them, are better than balsamic strawberry jam.
It all starts with the fresh strawberries, of course.
Although Sara does most of the canning, it is something of an “all hands on deck” situation. The kids do seem to honestly enjoy the fact that they get to help make the food (although, it’s possible they are just humoring me). Especially something as delicious as jam.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: balsamic vinegar in jam? That sounds absolutely disgusting. Why would I want to pollute something as simple and delicious as strawberries and sugar with balsamic vinegar?
I DON’T KNOW.
But you do. Oh, how you do. I’m afraid you’re just going to have to take my word on it. I’m something of an expert, you know.
Did I mention that there is no better jam? There is no better jam.
Use it on whatever you use jam on, but also try it drizzled on some vanilla ice cream. Heavenly.
Naturally, no recipe is complete without the secret ingredient: one photobomb.
Recipe adapted from Farmish Momma:
- 8 cups chopped strawberries
- 3 cups turbinado sugar (white sugar would work too)
- 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Put the strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar into a pot and cook on medium high.
- Mash the berries a little to get the juice out. Once it is boiling, lower to medium and let cook for about 25-30 minutes until it passes the freezing plate test (drop a little bit on a plate you had in the freezer and if it does not drip and gels up you are done).
- Process in whichever way you use to can preserves (might I recommend this excellent canning tutorial). Makes about 5 half-pints.