Weekend Things

Tea for Two | YanYan Zhang on Flickr

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Are you having a good weekend? I hope you are. I hope you’re sleeping in late and making some very good pancakes.

I write this sleep deprived, from an airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m en route to my parents’ home in Florida, and have a three-hour layover. Yes, that’s right, three hours in an airport at 6 AM. I’ll take three hours over a rushed thirty minutes, but it’s still a long time.

There are really only three things I like to do during layovers– nap, read things on the internet, and buy Cinnabons. While I can’t share my Cinnabons (or my naps, sorry!) here are the links that have been keeping me busy.

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How to Roast Artichokes

How to Roast Artichokes

I never envisioned this blog as a place for how-tos, but I’m liking these simple posts. Photographed step-by-steps of kitchen basics. This might turn into a series.

I’ve shot a few of these posts so far. While I imagined them as a way to share my kitchen knowledge, I’ve actually learned a few new tricks myself. Take this post on artichokes, for example. I had never roasted them before testing out this recipe for the blog.

How to Roast Artichokes

It has been years since I had an artichoke— three, maybe four years. My parents used to steam them for family dinners every once in a while, but artichokes mostly looked intimidating to me. Sharp, spiky, messy to eat, and how on earth are you supposed to cook them without turning them mushy? The flavor of an artichoke is incredible, but hardly ever seemed with the work.

I’ve eaten steamed artichokes my whole life, which are easy enough to make. But I was recently told that grilled artichokes are the gold standard. I don’t own a grill, and I still haven’t had an artichoke with that special charcoal smokiness. But what I do have is a very hot oven.

I bought a bunch of artichokes and opted to roast them, concentrating their flavor and adding just a touch of caramelization.

How to Roast Artichokes

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Weekend Things

do less with more focus

{image from jenna fry}

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite links from around the web, because a food blog never has to be just a food blog. I’d like Kitchen in the Hills to be just as fun as it is informative, and just as much about conversation as it is about good food. In that lively spirit, I bring you a weekend post!

It’s been another crazy busy week over here, and all I want is to slow down, relax, and stop talking about how busy I am. Perhaps the key is to do less with more focus? Sigh. All I really want is for someone to take me skiing in the mountains and put a mug of hot chocolate in my hands. But we make our own luck, right?

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Depression-Era Dark Chocolate Cake

depression era dark chocolate cake

This recipe dates back to the Great Depression, when resources were scarce and thrift was a way of life. It has gone by several names— “Crazy Cake,” “Wacky Cake,” and a few others. It’s a cake is made without eggs, milk, or butter. The ingredients list is full of pantry items, and cocoa is used instead of baking chocolate. You’d expect this cake to be dryer or denser than a normal chocolate cake. But it isn’t. It’s moist with a perfectly soft crumb.

sweetened whipped cream

This is my favorite chocolate cake. I love this cake because it is un-fussy. It can go from mixing bowl to oven to table in under an hour, served warm or cool. And I’ve never gotten a single complaint about flavor or texture. In fact, it’s one of my favorite no-fail chocolate cakes. And it improves after a day or two in the fridge. Since it keeps, it can be made ahead, or can be made in a larger batch to keep in the fridge. Wrap it in cling wrap, making sure the plastic is touching any cut edges. Simple toppings like whipped cream and fresh fruit go far, and frosting is definitely optional (but never discouraged).

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Kale Garlic Pasta with Parmesan

kale garlic pasta with parmesan

The last week and a half has been incredibly busy. I’m in the middle of midterms-and-papers-and-readings season. I spend my mornings in class and my afternoons studying. The to-do list is never exhausted, and it’s a rare day when everything I set out to do is accomplished before midnight. On days like these, what breaks the monotony is coming home for lunch. I love cooking something satisfying in the middle of my day. I get to leave behind whatever I’ve been studying for a little while, and return to my work refreshed. 

garlic

The requirements are for the dish I choose to make are strict. It must be something that I can make in 30 minutes or less, but it must also be hearty enough to pull me through the afternoon.

This kale pasta does just that, and I made it twice last week alone. Crisp and bitter kale is paired with rich, buttery pasta. Salty, savory, and satisfying enough for a midday meal. I imagine it would make a great quick dinner, too.

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Homemade Marshmallows

homemade marshmallows

I have been on the quest for the perfect homemade marshmallow for months. I’ve always been a sucker for the jet-puffed variety, but when I tried artisan marshmallows from a local store, I was absolutely hooked.

hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows

I set about trying to figure out how to make a batch this good at home. I tried the smitten kitchen recipe, hoping it would yield a springy marshmallow without my having to use a stand mixer (I didn’t own one). The results were good, but not great. The marshmallows sweated in the refrigerator, turning the cornstarch and powdered sugar coating crunchy and resulting in a slightly sticky mess. A month or so later, I tried to make a batch of the Baked marshmallows, with powdered gelatin and an electric hand whisk. Failed again, this time too dense, jelly-like, and still watery.

Both of my marshmallow failures were probably due to a lack of equipment. Perhaps a stand mixer would have made my life easier. However, I wanted a recipe that was simple, and that I could make with the equipment I had at home. I was beginning to think I was out of luck, and that marshmallow making should be left to the pros.

Enter the Alton Brown marshmallow recipe. It produced perfect, springy, soft-but-not-sticky marshmallows on the first try. These were marshmallows I could eat every day, for the rest of my life. And while my first attempts at marshmallow-making had been daunting, I had learned the basic steps by now— it was easy. I used my electric hand whisk and stainless steel bowl in place of a stand mixer, and checked my sugar by hand as it cooked down (without a thermometer). I still had excellent results. You will get fluffier marshmallows with a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, though, so use one if you have it!