Dessert Parade

March 25, 2008

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I suppose I should have warned you. The fact that these cheesecake squares are coming a mere 24 hours after yesterday’s oreos is only the beginning. It’s going to be a very decadent week here at The Kitchen Sink. There will be one dessert post after another marching across the week. But I swear, I’ve had good reason. Actually, good reasons. Last week, between dinner guests, a couple birthday celebrations and a houseful of guests at my parents’ over the Easter weekend, I had plenty of reasons to lavish people with desserts.

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(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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I had big plans to make macarons last week. I had visions of elegant spring-colored confections, perfect to tuck into my carry-on bag and share with my family in Minnesota over the Easter weekend. Also it was Spring Break, so I figured I’d have some time on my hands. What better time to take on a task like creating macarons? Somehow, though, I ended up with oreos instead. Figures.

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Still sandwich cookies, but the oreos were decidedly less Laduree and more Nabisco. Less French, more American. Less Easter-festive, more after-school snack. But while my macaron plan clearly derailed somewhere along the way, these oreos are substantially better than the Nabisco version (which, in my mind, belongs only in a DQ Blizzard, and—oh—does it shine there) and any kid who dines on these after school should consider himself very lucky. You see, these cookies are Thomas Keller‘s take on oreos.

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Times Have Changed

March 22, 2008

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This is going to be one of those posts. One of those where I selected the recipe; shopped for the ingredients; chopped-and-sauteed-and-seasoned the ingredients; photographed the final dish; and then, oh yeah, ate it days ago. And since then, circumstances have changed.

You see, when I made this quinoa salad, I was bursting with spring and spring break-ness. I delighted in quartering vibrant red cherry tomatoes and creating a light, colorful salad. I think I might have even been doing a little basking in the sun that was flooding in our windows while I ate it.

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And, then there’s now. After positively April-ish temperatures and sunshine late last week, Mother Nature lowered her cruel, cruel hammer … in the form of a terrible, awful, are you serious? snow storm. So after a Friday full of snow boots, terrible delays at O’Hare and a winter wonderland once I arrived in Minnesota, I feel a little funny writing about such a spring (maybe even summer) kind of a salad. And don’t even get me started about how I teared up just a little when I saw all the tulips and daffodils at my favorite local grocery store near my parents’ house. Or how silly I feel dreaming up an Easter menu with my mom that features all of spring’s finest produce.

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What We Dunked

March 21, 2008

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Now that I told you about the extremely delicious and completely comforting new tomato soup recipe that’s been placed securely in my repertoire, it’s only fair that I share a spectacular grilled cheese sandwich recipe with you too. Stop rolling your eyes! I know what you’re thinking: a recipe for grilled cheese? I was skeptical, too, but after one bite, that skepticism melted (insert laugh track, or maybe just more eye-rolling) away. Apparently, even grilled cheese sandwiches need recipes sometimes.

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Grilled cheese sandwiches were one of the first things I learned to cook. And while my ingredients of choice have changed a bit (no more Kraft singles or Velveeta, though if I am very, very honest with myself and try really hard not to think about things like ingredient lists and “What actually is this?” I might actually still like a sandwich featuring just those cheeses; or “cheeses”), melding two pieces of stiff bread and a hunk or two (or six) of cold cheese into a melty sandwich is about as satisfying as it gets.

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There are times when I look forward to having dinner guests because it’s an excuse to craft intricate menus and take on wow-factor recipes. But there are also times when I feel lucky to have the kind of friends coming for dinner who won’t mind when you announce that you’re making tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Not only that, but they assure you they have been craving just that very menu. Even if they’re lying, these are my kind of dinner guests.

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Of course, I wasn’t planning to pop open a can of Campbell’s or unsheath a stack of Kraft singles for the occasion. In fact, I’ve been on the prowl for a new tomato soup recipe because, while the one I’ve been relying on for a few winters now is quite lovely, eating it always feels a little bit like slurping down a bowl of marinara. Um, yeah, time for a new recipe.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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