Thursday, April 28, 2011

keep it ... royal

get ready for some royal wedding hype.

yeah, it's ridiculous.

yeah, it's probably a giant waste of money.

yeah, it's a fairytale and i HAVE to take part.

as english tradition requires, all celebrations must have a spot of tea and some quality biscuits. i'm pooling my english heritage here and sharing the chocolate cookie (biscuit) recipe i made up last night for our italian dinner. lucky for me, chocolate cookies are universal and good for any party. and these are kind of cute, so i think they're just so appropriate for this little post.

disclaimer : these cookies inspired by presti's, a beloved bakery in cleveland that so many of our friends love and also the location of my first date with gregory <3

good news. my friend rachel loves these cookies. i think she ate seven of them. do you know what is cool about her? well, many things. but one of them is her middle name. so this cute little cookie goes out to my cute little friend and is officially heretofore dubbed :

the kitagawa

3 eggs
1.5 cups brown sugar, loosely packed
.5 cups plus 3 tbs cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
.5 cups all purpose flour (you may use only all purpose if you don't have whole wheat)
sifted powdered sugar, about a cup

- combine the eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and extracts in a bowl with a hand mixer or whisk.
- add in flour, mix well and refrigerate for an hour or up to two.
- roll dough into one-inch balls and roll in powdered sugar. put on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 6 minutes.

good thing i named these cookies kitagawa because my original plan was to give each of our children this middle name. they're safe... for now.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


parmesan from parma! italian EVOO! caciocavallo al forno! orechiette! HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!

i am so in love with food from other cultures. i don't care where it is, if you have some kind of cultural pride related to food, i want to know about it.

it's hard to make friends in grad school, so the few i have are simply the best. some of those few came over tonight to share in the delights of italy and our italian stallion francesco. he is a fantastic person and an incredible cellist and he hails straight from italia! VIVA!

his sweet mother sends him care packages and he was kind enough to share the bounty of such an oversea delight with a few of our friends. in his box of goodness were a few essential items that created the most simple and divine meal. with a little sliced onion, zucchini, tomatoes and quality pasta, you can have a very similar experience, i promise.

but always remember, only use onions OR garlic. never both when creating a sauce. that's the italian way!

we began the meal with a high quality, organic orechiette.

topped with authentic parmesan straight from parma! i've never tasted anything like it.

after our pasta dish, we finished the meal with baked (al forno) caciocavallo cheese (on the horse, francesco says is the literal translation!) completely amazing.

the evening was made complete with a few choice wines and grappa, a new cookie recipe i am going to share with you in the next post and ciao bella sorbet.

you, too, can have an authentic italian meal at home. we may not be able to get ingredients from italy but we can recreate such dishes that only simplicity can achieve.

in love. and i think i passed comps. thanks for the prayers and well wishes. i'm almost home free!

now go plan your next summer evening soiree and make it italian!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


happy easter!!

we have had the most splendid day with G's brother and girlfriend in town. the weather in austin has been so perfect. we churched it up, had a delicious lunch with friends and spent the afternoon at barton springs, ending the evening with time on the porch and meaningful conversation. i think this weekend will (hopefully) carry me through my last two weeks of graduate school, especially those pesky comprehensive exams i need to pass on wednesday. eek!

good news. monica and i both made easter bread, thus the continuation of our 30 day challenge with the busy single lady. she took the traditional approach with white flour and the braided circular pattern while i made a completely whole wheat flour bread. you'll notice that you see a picture of her braid here...

and mine at the top of the post is not quite the same. here's a helpful hint from me to you : don't let your bread rise the second time for too long or it will turn into a blob. got too busy this morning! but it tastes delicious with a little blood orange honey butter and now you can learn from my mistake. try it for your next gathering. adapted from this recipe. p.s. top photo courtesy of my sweet ace brother in law, micah, who is trying to talk me into getting an s95. she takes a pretty picture! but i'm probably getting a friend's rebel xs soon. either would be a major upgrade for me. excited about better photos!

whole wheat refrigerator rolls
makes 24 rolls or two braided loaves

2 packages of yeast
1 cup warm (110) water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups buttermilk (remember this can be created with milk, lemon juice and five minutes!)
6 cups whole wheat flour (plus some white for dusting, rolling out)

- mix the yeast with the warm water and allow to sit for five minutes or until foamy.
- mix in the sugar, olive oil, salt and baking powder.
- combine the baking soda and buttermilk then add to the yeast mixture.
- mix in the six cups of flour well. cover and let sit in the refrigerator over night.
- pour dough onto a floured surface, roll out as desired to create a braided ring, clover leaf rolls, cinnamon rolls - whatever you like!! do butter muffin tins if making clover leaf rolls.
- let rise again for 30 minutes or until doubled in size with covered cloth and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes for small rolls and 15-20 for a whole loaf. keep an eye on it! whole wheat flour is tricky!

blood orange honey butter

2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 squeezed oranges, reduced for five minutes in a saucepan
2 tbs honey

- whisk together room temperature butter, orange reduction and honey together. place in desired container and refrigerate! great on rolls, waffles, pancakes, or just about whatever you like.