023 - Copy

I’ll start by telling you that my grandmother is a terrible cook. When people ask what inspired me to start cooking and baking I usually reply: “survival.” If you know anything about Boston Irish grandmother’s, you will understand that any objection to what I was being served was retorted with “Just eat it and shut up!” But Gram, these pancakes are raw in the middle. “Just eat it and shut up.” Gram, the pasta is mushy…The broccoli disintegrated…Eggs make me sick…The chicken is so dry it hurts to swallow…But what is it? “Just eat it and shut up.” She tried. She really did want to be the kind of Grandmother who spent her Sunday’s making a feast and having freshly baked cookies ready for me when I got home from school, but for a number of reasons, that wasn’t possible. She never expected to become a parent again to her grandchild. She worked a full-time job six days a week to make sure I had everything else I needed. And she loved me. Mostly, I existed on cereal as a kid. Gram did like to make pies. Again, refer to my examples above about her cooking. One thing I did love were the scraps of dough she would cover in cinnamon and sugar and roll into little pinwheels, then bake until golden. They were a real treat.
It wasn’t until very recently that I, not only discovered snickerdoodle cookies, but learned they weren’t made with snickers’ candy bars cut up into pieces and baked into sugar cookies. I couldn’t wait to recapture the taste and memories of waiting around the kitchen until Gram pulled those yummy pinwheels out of the oven in these cookies. That are, by the way, buttery balls of goodness, rolled in cinnamon and sugar, then slightly smashed and baked until chewy and golden. I found the recipe in Joanne Chang’s: Flour Bakery Cookbook. I made them once, and then again for my son’s early birthday celebration at school this past June–only with homemade vanilla bean ice cream sandwiched in between. Sublime.

017 - Copy


Recipe credit: Joanne Chang

010 - Copy

2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. table salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (not a typo)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 ¾  cups granulated sugar, reserve 1/4 cup for coating
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon


1. Place rack in center of oven and Preheat to 350 degrees F.

2. Add following ingredients to medium sized bowl, Spooned and leveled flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar. Whisk until blended.

*Use spoon to add flour to measuring cups. This prevents from using too much and creates a light cookie.

3. In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, blend butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar on medium speed to light and fluffy texture, approx. 3 minutes. Use rubber spatula to scrape down side of bowl.

4. Add eggs and mix until fully incorporated, approx. two minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl once more.

5. Turn the mixture on low speed and slowly begin to add flour until completely combined, approx. 30 seconds.

6. Wrap dough mixture and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

7. When dough has chilled, add cinnamon and 1/4 cup of sugar to small bowl. Round Tablespoon sized balls of dough with your hands and drop into cinnamon-sugar mixture individually. You can use a fork to gently turn dough balls to coat.

8. Place coated balls of dough 3 inches apart on lined or greased cookie sheets. Press balls of dough to flatten ever-so-slightly (very little).

9. Bake 15-18 minutes. Edges of cookies should be golden brown and crisp with softer middles. Allow cookies to rest of cookie sheets for 1 minute before transferring to cooling rack.

Store baked cookies in airtight container for three days, or freeze for one month. Uncooked dough can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for at least a month.

Cookies can be eaten in a dimly lit room while you gently weep to yourself about the lack of appreciation for how easy and magical life was when you were a child, or shared with others. Recapture the magic!

011 - Copy

Summer Squash Provençal

023 - Copy

In my last post I talked about the tomatoes I’m growing this year. Although nothing compares to fruits and vegetables you grew yourself– and nothing beats the price, after a few years’ hiatus from keeping a full garden, I wasn’t feeling nearly ambitious or energetic enough to attempt much more than that. This is what makes having so many farmers’ markets available to me in the summer essential for meal planning. I know I can get just about anything I didn’t grow myself, from local farms I know and trust to grow/raise sustainable and organic produce, meat and seafood (alas, there’s no such thing as “organic” seafood). I picked up some gorgeous local, organic green and yellow zucchini, and pattypan squash, along with several types of tomatoes for this Squash Provencal from my favorite vendor, Atlas Farm. I made my own stewed tomatoes, but you can use canned. I used canned for years and it was always delicious. I’ll have a recipe up for the homemade version soon that will render you unable to use anything else. This dish produces a lot of juice; A flavorful marriage of the veggies and tomatoes that make for a delicious sauce. It’s the perfect summer meal over nearly any grain or potatoes, simple baked white fish, roasted chicken, or cooked a little less and served as a side dish. We had it over pasta. You might even be lucky enough to have an abundance of squash growing in your own garden. If so, consider me envious. Nonetheless, I just know you’ll enjoy this dish as much as we do wherever you’re able to get your squash.

Summer Squash Provençal

2 pounds summer squash (green and yellow zucchini, pattypan squash)
1/4 cup olive oil or Butter, Divided

3/4 Cup Fontina or Mozzarella cheese, shredded, optional
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Set oven to preheat at 350 degrees F. Cut off ends from each squash. Slice squash into 1/4-inch rounds cross-wise, or 1/4-inch slices starting at the side end of pattypan squash.
Coat bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish (or close enough in size, any shape, but round dishes make for a prettier presentation) with 2 Tablespoons of butter or oil.
You can use a deep-dish 10-inch pie plate, but remember this produces a lot of juice. So make sure the dish is high enough–a good full inch in height above the squash, to accommodate for the juice.
I didn’t and pulling the pie plate out of the oven was precarious.
027 - Copy

Stewed Tomatoes
Two cups of diced stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Scant teaspoon fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
3/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Optional, 1/4 teaspoon each garlic and onion powder
Add all ingredients to bowl, stir to combine and set aside. Proceed with assembly.
040 - Copy
Begin arranging squash starting from the outside and working your way towards the middle of dish until you’ve used all of your squash. Don’t be afraid to re-arrange and slant the squash to fill in large gaps or disperse colors.
Dot with 2 Tablespoons of butter or Drizzle w/ 2 Tablespoons Oil. Cover w/ Stewed Tomatoes mixture.
Bake for 35 minutes, covered with foil. Remove baking dish and check for doneness by pricking with a fork. If you’d like your squash cooked a little longer, recover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, but remember it’s going to cook longer once you add the cheese.
Remove baking dish and remove cover. Top with fontina (optional) and/or just parmesan cheese. Return to oven uncovered and bake until cheese melts, approx. 5-10 minutes. You may broil for a minute to brown cheese.

Serve over or as a side. Enjoy!

058 - Copy (3)