The weekends that immediately follow Memorial Day are the most social in our little surbatopia hood. Saturdays and Sundays are booked way in advance with backyard BBQs, toddler birthday parties, block parties and yard sales. Many occasions call for a dish to be contributed. One of my go tos: good old, slow cooked baked beans. Guess what will be soaking in our sink tonight? Below, a favorite recipe.
Few things accompany BBQ as nicely as a side of baked beans, but until recently, I had never attempted to make them myself. Then I spotted this recipe in the June issue of Real Simple and thought I’d give it a go.
The first, most crucial step, is to plan ahead and soak your beans overnight. The recipe calls for navy beans, but I used northern beans (very similar). Then, on the stove, you cook some bacon (secret yum ingredient, that you can skip for vegetarians easily), and an onion. Add beans, molasses, ketchup and dry mustard + 5 cups of water. Stick the pan (use a dutch oven) in the oven and bake at 300F for about three hours. Obviously, this is not a dish to make during a heat wave! The Real Simple recipe called to stir in a splash of cider vinegar before serving. Honestly, I forgot to do that and didn’t miss it all. Next time, I’ll try to remember!
The results were creamy, tangy and just sweet enough (though the beans were not quite as soft and mushy as some may like them). We had plenty to share with our neighbors. Beans, beans, the magical fruit! — Angela M.
Sometimes all you need you need to feel like spontaneously hosting a party is a little design inspiration. A new cocktail recipe, deck furniture… or maybe an invitation that is so delightful you can’t help but send it out. That’s the urge we get after seeing JCrew’s witty collection of invitations and cards that “don’t take themselves too seriously” at Paperless Post. Whether it’s a birthday party serving up lots of “cake cake cake cake” or a makeshift pool party or a girl’s night out, you’ll find a card that brings out the chic hostess in you. Hopefully a line of JCrew designed table top items is not far behind (hint, hint,). Visit Paperless Post to see the whole collection, available in digital or print editions.
As soon as the weather warms, my breakfast routine shifts from steel cut oatmeal to Greek yogurt with fruit. The other day I needed to have a little more “meat” to bowl, so I decided that homemade granola was the way to go. The nice thing about making granola early in the morning, it warms up your house just enough without turning on the heat, and creates a wonderful aroma of nutty spices. This recipe is a great one, based on Melissa Clark’s from The New York Times four years ago. I’ve tried others, but this remains my favorite. I trimmed the recipe down by a third because I didn’t need nine cups. However, if you have a family to feed or gifts to give, don’t hold back! This granola is so good, you’ll want to eat by itself, by the spoonful. You can easily elevate it to a dessert level, by serving with fresh ricotta and boozy soaked fruit. Enjoy!
Olive Oil Granola with Apricots and Pistachios
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, shells removed
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips (I used shredded coconut and it was fine)
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine. Serve with ricotta and fruit, if desired.
Spring may be teasing us with these hot and cold days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t partake in some fruits of the season. Or should I say, vegetable of the season, since rhubarb is a not a fruit but more like a vibrant cousin of celery. I made this crumble last night, inspired by recipe from Good To Share by Sara Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan. I admit I tossed a few strawberries in — but you don’t need them. I also eye-balled the ingredients because I wanted to make a smaller amount than the recipe called for. This is one that is easy to wing it. Crumble away!
Rhubarb Ginger Crumble — serves 4
What You Need:
4 to 5 stalks of rhubarb cut in 1/2 inch small bites
6 tablespoons of cold butter
1 cup of flour
2/2 cup of light brown sugar
1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of diced crystallized ginger
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup of crushed almonds
1/2 cup sliced strawberries (optional)
Vanilla ice cream – for serving
How to Make
1. Preheat oven to 350. Cut up the rhubarb and strawberries (if adding). Stir it in a bowl with fresh ginger and the granulated sugar. Add sugar slowly — you may not want to use whole amount.
2. In your electric mixer, use pastry blade to mix light brown sugar, flour and 4 tablespoons of butter until, well, crumbly. Add in almonds and crystallized ginger and mix with your hands until moist and clumpy.
3. Pour fruit mixture into a baking dish. Cut up remaining two tablespoons of butter into small pieces and sprinkle around.
4. Cover fruit with the sugar-butter-almond mixture. I like my crumble thick and crunchy, but you can decide how much you want.
5. Bake about 50 minutes or until bubbling and dark brown on top.
6. Cool slightly and serve warmish with ice cream.
7. Repeat all summer long!
Don’t miss another favorite recipe of ours: Easy Berry Crisp.
Hopefully I am not the first to break it to you, but we are living through a limepocalypse. I first discovered it a few weeks ago when I volunteered to make cocktails at a friend’s birthday party. Inspired by the then current issue of Bon Appetite, I decided to whip up some refreshing Palomas — which is basically tequilla, grapefruit soda and fresh lime juice. I added “a dozen limes” to our shopping list and sent my husband off to the store. Turns out those limes were $1.50 each! The cocktails were enjoyed by all, but the whole time I kept thinking about how much dough was being slurped down those straws. I am happy to report, it was well worth the splurge. A couple of days later I heard a story on NPR about the cause of the price surge: One, a infectious disease effecting citrus plants in North and South America. And secondly, corruption in Mexico’s export business. (See this NYTimes story for more detail.) Suddenly something we take for granted has become a hot commodity. Luckily, the shortage won’t last long. Once the summer crops arrive from other regions, things should level off. But in the meantime, what to do this weekend? What is a Cinco de Mayo fiesta without guacamole and margaritas?
Do you have any non-lime cocktail recipes to share? Please help!