Monthly Archives: July 2010

Will Trade Cookies For a Pony: Cheddar Skillet Corn Bread

Learning how to ride on Riffle

Learning how to ride on Riffle

When I was little I ran a business called Smart Cookie. I think I must have been nine or ten. It involved me raiding my mother and father’s pantries for ingredients, making cookies (Chocolate Chip and Ginger) and then shamelessly and relentlessly hocing them to neighbors, friends, and family via walking up and down our street tugging them along behind me in a little red wagon. I sold them for $3 per baker’s dozen, and it was my great intent to use all the money I made to buy a pony.

I’m still waiting to save up enough for the pony, but in recent years have really moved away from baking. (Save for a few summers ago when I decided to try to learn how to bake pies; more on that debauchery here.)  Suffice it to say, my style in the kitchen has really moved from the precision and control of baking to the fun and adventure of cooking.

The other night though I had a sudden craving for good old-fashioned corn bread. I’m not sure what prompted this, but I suddenly had to have it. Luckily enough I had everything one needs for cornbread (or so I thought) so set about whipping something up.

This is a great recipe because it bakes right in the skillet and can be served directly on the table. Serve with lots of butter, or honey, or slices of cheese. Whatever is your fancy.

Cheddar Skillet Cornbread

Skillet CornbreadSkillet Cornbread

Skillet Cornbread

Serves 6. Leftovers can be used as a great base for fried corn cakes with tomato, basil and feta.  That recipe coming soon!

1 cup flour (spooned and leveled)

1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 2/3 cups buttermilk

Optional – 1 TB fresh herbs such as sage or rosemary.

2 large eggs

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)

3 tablespoons butter or bacon grease

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt, and pepper; make a well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk and eggs to well, and whisk to loosen eggs. Gently incorporate dry ingredients, then mix in cheese.

Place butter or grease in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; bake until butter is melted. Remove from oven, and tilt to coat bottom and sides.

Pour batter into prepared skillet; bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 – 20 minutes. Don’t overcook…that’s one of the contributing factors to dried out, crumbly cornbread. A personal pet peeve. Let cornbread cool in skillet at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature. Wrap completely cooled bread in plastic, and store at room temperature up to 1 day.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe, which I liked, but found a bit dry.

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Filed under Comfort Foods, Vegetarian

Summer dining, family style: Steamer clams with dill, white wine and butter

Summer Dining, Family Style

Summer Dining, Family Style

I come from a large, loud, opinionated, funny, brutal, supportive, critical, and awe-inspiring extended family. The Malarkeys are…as my husband likes to say…”a force”. There are a lot of us, we all think we’re great, we all think the others are even greater, and we love nothing more than getting together to talk about said greatness, eat fantastic food, drink great wine, and reminisce about past meals and past wine we’ve shared. In short..just a little Irish.

The tradition has continued with my first cousins, and as we’ve grown older it’s morphed from shared birthday parties and rival high-school basketball leagues, to trips, housemates, and of course, dinner parties. The eldest of the bunch, Susannah-Maria was recently in town from Wyoming and despite the fact that we had all been together the weekend before, we decided another cousin evening was in order. Being the oldest one in Seattle, and married (gasp!) and therefore presumed domesticated, I volunteered to host. I did however, in typical Malarkey fashion, first assign everyone their duties. Margot brought a gorgeous appetizer board of crackers, cheese, olives, and raspberries, Annie-Laurie was tasked with dessert (Ben and Jerry’s, foolproof), and Susannah-Maria brought steamer clams for the main course.

Being an east coast gal I love steamers. They are easy, indulgent yet affordable, and scream “summer is here”. Paired with some corn on the cob and crusty bread and you have a meal. Just don’t forget all the cousins…

Steamer clams with dill, white wine and butter

Serves 4 as a light supper. Pair with a sparkling wine or champagne.

2.5-3 lbs steamer clams

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

1 TB dill

1 TB garlic, minced

2 TB butter

2 TB lemon juice

  1. Rinse the steamers with cold water until free of sand.
  2. Add all the ingredients into a large, lidded, heavy pot and stir to combine.
  3. Add the steamers, put the lid on, and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook 5-10 minutes until steamers are opened up (discard those few stubborn ones that don’t open up versus overcooking them).
  4. Divide steamers and corresponding cooking broth into small bowls. If you’re fastidious, I recommend pouring the broth through a cheese cloth to catch any last sand parts, although if you’re a bottle or two of wine into dinner, no one will notice.
  5. Serve with individual butter bowls seasoned with fresh lemon juice.


Filed under Entertaining, Seafood, Seasonal Cooking

New Beginnings: Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a lemon vinaigrette

Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a Lemon Vinaigrette

Friends of ours, Liz and Daniel, recently had a baby. She is darling, and perfect, and oh-so-tiny. When you haven’t seen a newborn for a while you forget just how little they are. In typical Columbia City fashion the neighborhood has circled around them to provide support in the way of dog walking, plant watering, and, you guessed it, food delivery. 

Since I’ve got two of my own dogs to walk, and have been known to kill weeds, I signed up for option 3. 

Liz and Daniel are both vegetarians, so this dish required a bit more thought, as I am an unabashed meat-eater. I wanted to create something that would travel well, require zero effort on their part, and provide enough for a few meals. Quinoa is my current magical grain of choice, but with summer having finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest, I wanted to dress things up a bit. 

The result was a sort of Greek Inspired Caprese, tossed with quinoa. It was quite delicious (if I do say so myself), and even better the second day. This recipe can easily be halved or doubled, pending how many you’re cooking for and is a beautiful dish for a BBQ potluck. 

Quinoa with Feta, Tomatoes, and Basil, tossed with a lemon vinaigrette
Serves 8

2 cups quinoa – rinsed 

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock 

2 medium tomatoes 

1 cup basil, lightly packed, and sliced into ¼ inch strips 

1 1/2 cups feta 

4 TB Olive Oil 

3 TB Lemon Juice 

Salt/Pepper to taste (go easy on this, because feta can be quite salty!) 

  1. Add 1 TB olive oil to a heavy, lidded sauce pan and bring to medium heat. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly toasted. Add the stock and stir constantly, being careful not to get splattered. Bring the stock to a boil, stir once more, reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and leave lid on for 5 more minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork to allow to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl add the remaining 3 TB olive oil and 3 TB lemon juice and whisk to make the dressing.
    Feta, tomatoes, basil   

  3. Dice the tomatoes and add to the mixing bowl. Allowing them to mingle with the dressing for a few minutes. Dice the feta and add to the tomato/dressing mixture. Tossing until evenly coated.
  4. Once the quinoa is slightly cooled, add to the serving bowl and toss with the feta, tomatoes, and dressing.
  5. Add the sliced basil just before serving and toss.


Filed under Health Conscious, Salads, Seasonal Cooking, Vegetarian

Slow down Sally: Baked Eggs with Bacon and Dill

Baked eggs with bacon and dill

Baked eggs with bacon and dill

When I was little I was notorious for going, going, going. I never wanted to miss a moment, miss a party, miss a chance to be the center of attention. I would rush from activity to activity, ignoring my mother’s admonitions to slow down. When I could go no further I would crash, falling fast asleep wherever I was, and like a light bulb, I was out.

I’m afraid that the years have made me only slightly better at understanding the importance and value of taking a moment to be quiet. I still find myself rushing, feeling a constant sense of urgency, whose source I can’t always identify. My mother will be able to hear it in my voice on the phone and quietly say, “Erina, Erina, Erina….you have got to take a breath.”  After 10 days of house guests, one half-marathon, an unbelievably intense work environment, and one book club, this Saturday morning I was finally ready to do nothing.

Nothing except cook, listen to music, read, and hang out with the dogs that is. (come on…like I said…I’m only slightly better).

These baked eggs are the perfect accompaniment to such a morning. They’re easy to prepare, but take a bit of time to cook, forcing one to make a cup of tea and just be for a moment. The recipe pictured here was me trying to do a ring of bacon in the ramekin, which I don’t think is really the best solution, which is why I’ve suggested chopping up the bacon next time.

Baked Eggs with Bacon and Dill

Serves 2. Perfect with crusty bread and butter, orange juice, and a cup of Earl Grey

4 eggs (organic if you can)

1 TB butter

4 strips bacon, lightly cooked, and coarsely chopped (plus more for munching while you wait for the eggs to cook)

Salt and Pepper

1 tsp fresh dill

2 TB heavy cream

Optional – shredded cheese (whatever you like, sharp cheddar, brie, Gruyere)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Divide the butter between two shallow ramekins and grease. Put a pinch of salt and pepper in the bottom of each ramekin.

3. Crack two eggs into each ramekin, being careful not to break the yolk. Add the coarsely chopped bacon and cheese if you like.

4. Pour over top, 1 TB of heavy cream for each ramekin. Sprinkle with fresh dill.

5. Set the ramekins in a bread pan filled with water, and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until yolks and whites are just set. (Pending how you like your eggs, cook longer or shorter for runnier or firmer).

Lazy Saturday morning breakfast

Lazy Saturday morning breakfast

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Filed under Breakfasts, Uncategorized