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Bon Attempt*: Dishes to Try (and Try Again)

Pickled Turnips

So, things have been going in Wonderland Kitchen, they just haven’t been going “OMG, I totally have to tell you about this ah-maze-ing cookie recipe I just invented” great. That, or they’ve been going “this other person’s recipe is awesome and I posted about it last year” (so repeat as needed).

I’ve also been doing a good bit of cooking for real people beyond my husband (or unintentionally for my cat, when my back is turned, the little sneak!). It seemed rude to stick a lens in a guest’s face during an 8 a.m. breakfast, but in hindsight I’m feeling less shy, so beware future visitors!

Anyway, this being Sunday, I thought perhaps a little confession time was in order–air the laundry and wipe off the counters for the week ahead–and so in no particular order, some recipe takeaways for when the CSA first slams back into the rotation and houseguests make last minute visits. What have you been cooking as we slide into summer?

A Reminder that You Can Pickle For Tomorrow What You Can’t Consume Today

Turnips with Beet

Since the crisper drawer was already bursting with greens, I picked up a couple bunches of these white turnips and pickled them according to David Lebovitz’s recipe. Here I thought I was innovating, but hardly! I did however get distracted and ended up with an overly salted and garlic-y finished product. Will have to try this one again, because the beet slices resulted in an amazing brine. And I do have a soft spot for pink food.

A Reminder to Prep Guest Breakfasts Ahead of Time

Granola and Refrigerator Oats

I’ve posted about this Little Blue Hen granola before, which I like especially because it includes an abundance of nuts and seeds with nary a spec of dried fruit in sight (though I’ll cop to offering the guests a handful of DIY raisins at their discretion, because come on). I also like to make little cups of refrigerator oats before heading to bed (I substitute kefir for the milk and yogurt) and then just pass out the jars and spoons in the a.m. Haven’t had an unfinished portion yet.

A Reminder to be Brave with Your Summer Soups

Spring Asparagus and Broccoli Soup

I have been having a lot of luck lately with those “use up five things from the in-house stock” on the fly dinners, and this has been especially helpful now that there’s a lot more produce around. As we crawl towards the end of the week and another pick-up looms, sometimes the stuff just needs to be used up. That’s how I ended up with asparagus, broccoli, and spring onions in a soup pot, simmered with just enough veggie broth to cover, and then pureed with the last of the dill and the remaining 1/4 cup of cream in the bottle. A light spring soup, tasty both hot and cold.

A Reminder to Double the Doctor Kracker Knock-Offs

DIY Seeded Crispbread

Fair warning that these are very crisp crackers, but they are just like the ones that come eight to a box in the grocery. If your family is as addicted to them as mine, you have come to the right place for the knock-off recipe. But be sure to hide a few for your own eating: this was the lone piece of cracker left in the bag when I went back to take a picture and have a snack.

A Reminder to Not Burn Your Hand When Baking Life-Changing Bread

My New Roots: Life Changing Bread

This is the pre-baked look of My New Roots’ much-discussed Life-Changing Bread. The first loaf I made with really beautiful Bob’s Red Mill oats and specially purchased hazelnuts and thought it was a neat breakfast item but not necessarily life changing. The second time I was way more chill about it, just used the walnuts and the somewhat crappier instant oats I dug out of the pantry, and also tossed in all the seeds left behind in the bag of the above-mentioned seeded crackers. Aside from the accidental seering of the back of my hand on the oven while flipping the bread over, I’m enjoying the second batch even more. I keep it sliced and frozen and simply defrost a piece each morning in the toaster.

A Reminder That Not All Baking Need Exhaust Your Patience

Joy the Baker: Sweet Berry Lime Cake

Short version: I needed a cake for company, and I had about an hour to make it happen. Joy the Baker to the rescue!

A Reminder That Sometimes the “Failures” Are Still Pretty Tasty

Tomato Basil Popovers

I always have excellent results with this King Arthur popover recipe, so I used that as the base when–for some reason–I started dreaming of breakfast treats flavored with tomato. My first effort included 1 tablespoon tomato powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, a handful of chopped basil, and about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. They were good, but not quite what I’m looking for just yet and I lost most of my usual pop (I’m guessing the weight of the cheese didn’t help). A work in progress.

A Reminder That Not All Failures are Failures If You Adjust the Frame

Cottage Cheese Fail

I got it into my head after the cream cheese making that DIY cottage cheese would be no. big. deal. I researched a few available recipes and thought things were going pretty well, but my curds didn’t survive the straining process. I’m guessing I didn’t cook my curds long enough. Proper looking curds or no, the cheese still tasted fantastic and I used it like a rich ricotta on toast and pizzas with much success. The curd skills will come another day. There were also fresh peas at the market, which meant it was time again for smoky tahini peas!

Peas and Cheese Crostini

*With apologies to Bon Appétempt, whose kitchen antics are funny and whose dishes look awesome. However, as I have never eaten at her house, it’s her blog name that I’m particularly enamored with–so much so that I felt only minor guilt in kinda stealing it for the title of this post! That acknowledged and confessed, onward into the kitchen…

Ultimate DIY Picnic: Housemade Buns & Mayo


I did not intend to bake my own hamburger buns when the week began.

The thing of it was, I kept eating Brian’s whole wheat store-bought ones, simultaneously lamenting both their dwindling number and their shoddy quality. After polishing off half the bag–what? I was feeling nostalgic for the NYC egg sandwiches of my youth–it seemed only fair that I replace them, but I was hoping for something a little less prone to collapse. Maybe I could make them? That seemed likely to be prohibitively labor intensive for any pre-workday morning, but before I hit the store, I hit the Google. As per usual, King Arthur Flour delivered a recipe for a spectacular dough: a snap to mix, a dream to shape, and an end product that elicited a satisfying number of “You made these?!” responses from their consumers.

I mixed in some whole wheat flour, melted and cooled (rather than just softened) my butter accidentally, and reduced the sugar a bit the second time around (they go fast!), but this recipe is stellar either way.

Everything Burger Buns and One Minute Mayo

Everything Burger Buns
only slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

3/4 cup water
1 T instant yeast
3T sugar
100 g whole wheat flour
318 g all purpose flour
1 egg plus 1 egg white for wash (add remaining yolk to dough, if you like, or reserve for homemade mayo–see recipe below)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 T butter, softened
3 T “everything bagel” topping

Place all ingredients in a large bowl or stand mixer and knead, but hand or by hook, until a smooth dough has formed. Lightly oil the bowl and surface of the dough, cover, and leave to rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Deflate the dough and divide into eight equal piece. Shape each piece into a ball (I like to gather the edges of the dough into something of a very small balloon knot, and then place each roll on the sheet, knot-side down, patting it gently on top to spread the roll out a bit). Cover and leave to rise another hour.

During the second rise, preheat your oven to 375F. Beat the egg white with a little cool water and, when the rolls are ready for the oven, remove cover and gently brush the tops with the wash. Sprinkle each with the “everything bagel” topping, or the seed combo of your choice. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Everything Burger Buns and One Minute Mayo

One-Minute Mayo

After two batches of the buns above, I had two yolks hanging out in the ‘fridge, demanding I make good use of them every time I opened the door. There are, of course, a million mayo recipes out there online, and I make no claims to have had any part in inventing this process. But I do love executing it. This is the formula I’m using currently. You’ll need an immersion blender for this method.

2 egg yolks
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup vegetable oil (some people include a bit of olive oil, but this has never worked for me; it always overpowers, never in a good way)
1 garlic clove (optional)

Allow all ingredients to warm to room temperature. Place everything but the oil and garlic in the base of a container just wide enough to accommodate your immersion blender (the cup that often comes packaged with one is perfect). Cover these ingredients with the business end of the blender wand and gently pour in the oil around it, so that the oil remains suspended above the rest. Begin pulsing the blender in two-second bursts until streams of emulsified mayo start to appear at the bottom of the glass. This won’t take very long at all. Continuing with the bursts, slowly moving the blender up towards the top of glass, plunging up and down a bit as needed, until all oil is incorporated. Scrap down blender. If using the garlic, use a press to crush the clove into the mayo. Stir well to incorporate. Taste and add additional salt as needed. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until picnic time!

Grilled Fresh Caught Trout (Gone Fishin’ Edition)


I’ve recently been dipping my toes here and there into seafood eating. Having been a lacto-ovo vegetarian since I turned 15, however, I’m confronting a few issues as I break this streak. First, psychologically, I can get hung up on the idea of meat eating when a plate of otherwise well-prepared food is set down in front of me, all made worse by the fact that my stomach sometimes balks in parallel sympathy. Secondly, however, like that one girl freshman year who had never done her own laundry, I have zero meat cooking knowledge and experience. When B asks me how long to roast a chicken or how to make a meatball, I panic, my eyes reflecting that “deer in headlights” look that’s apparently attractive but makes me question my self-worth as a homemaker.

It also makes me a highly motivated student, however, so when last weekend’s activities in Vermont took a turn to include some fresh caught trout, I poked my nose and my camera lens in to see if I might learn a thing or two. The key seemed to be to keep the fish alive for as long as possible before cooking (I never caught a “fishy” whiff) and to use a very sharp knife when the time came. Kaylon, the woman whose skilled hands you will see at work in these photos, decided to remove the heads of the fish, slicing as close to the gills as possible to keep as much meat on the body. Then, with a quick slit down the belly, the entrails were removed generally in a single go. I know I would not have been so smooth, but at least I feel like if I find myself stranded on an island and I actually manage to catch a fish, I’ll have some clue as to how to prepare it. After that, it was just a very hot, very clean grill, a little lemon, oil, salt and pepper, and dinner was ready. Paired with a few cobs of grilled corn drizzled with lime juice, this was a meal not soon to be forgotten.

Grilled Fresh Caught Trout

Grilled Fresh Caught Trout

Catch enough trout to feed your party. Clean the fish, rinse well, and pat dry. Brush with olive oil inside and out, and fill cavity with lemon slices, salt and pepper (plus whatever herbs suit your tastes, if desired).

On a hot grill, cook each fish for about 5 minutes per side–taking care when turning–until fish is cooked through and flaky. Serve immediately with melted butter and additional lemon wedges.

Grilled Fresh Caught Trout: Cleaning the fish

Grilled Fresh Caught Trout: Cleaning the fish

Grilled Fresh Caught Trout: Cleaning the fish

Grilled Fresh Caught Trout: Cleaning the fish

Grilled Fresh Caught Trout: Cooking the fish

Grilled Fresh Caught Trout: Cooking the fish

Little Debbie, Little Debbie…Mini Bourbon Oatmeal Cream Pies


Though I don’t spend a lot of time on Pinterest, I love using the service as a way to quickly file recipes I spy online and want to be able to return to when the occasion suits. As a result, this “To Make” board haunts me due to its visual deliciousness, questioning sweetly (yet with an aggressive undertone) “Why make it later, when you could make it now?” whenever I review its contents.

Well, the pin board won a round this weekend and I finally put my hand to cracking out a batch of these very tempting Mini Whiskey Oatmeal Cream Pies from Food Plus Words. Though I opted for bourbon and added some nutmeg and clove to the spice profile of the cookies, I otherwise followed the recipe and did as I was told. Be forewarned that, as written, it makes a lot of filling–much more than you’ll need for just this batch of cookies. Once you get a taste of it, however, you probably won’t have a problem finding other things to slather it on. Considering all my pies are already gone (hey, I shared!) I would have gladly doubled the recipe on the cookie side in order to net more treats up front. Lessons for next time. Because there will be a next time. Just invite me to your summer picnics and see how many next times there might be.

Or, you can make a batch for yourself:

I also feel like this “Classic Snack Cakes with an Alcoholic Punch Up” could easily become a thing here in Wonderland. A chocolate jelly roll cake spiked with a Chambord version of the above-mentioned copious filling to create an oversized Ho-Ho, anyone? And don’t even get me started on my ideas for Sno-ball variations…

And yes, I did play this track several times while constructing my pies. Little Debbie, Little Debbie…I just couldn’t help myself.