Archive by Author

Recipe Hacking Challenge #6 Results

10 Jul

Have you been checking in daily, dying to find out the recipe hacking results? Did you forget about this contest altogether? I bet you thought I had! I didn’t. My apologies. What can I say? It’s summertime and I’m easily distracted.

Since you’ve waited long enough, I’ll cut right to the chase. The winner the the 6th Recipe Hacking Challenge is…

Rhi @ The Challenged Cook!

Your burrito is unlike any I’ve ever tried before. You truly hacked this recipe, using inventive substitutes for both the tortilla and the contents. I appreciated that you went beyond the usual lettuce and tomato and added stuff like sprouts, carrots, and cucumbers.

Thanks to everyone who contributed! I really appreciate you sharing your recipes and hope you’ll continue to participate in future hacks.

Violetsouffle – Great idea! We’ve enjoyed your banana-cream cheese wraps for lunch and snacks! At our house we’re also big fans of using peanut butter.

Cathy – Love that you submitted not one, but two recipes! You’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve overcome my cumin aversion now. And goat cheese on a burrito? Crazy and unexpected, but good!

Matt – So impressed that your entire meal was homemade! Honorable mention to you for making your own hot sauce and tortillas!

A Love Letter to Brookfield Farm

16 Jun

My apologies for not writing in a while. I had a bad bike accident and, among other injuries, broke my elbow. Typing has been tricky but I am finally on the mend and feeling inspired by the start of CSA season. Results from the most recent RecipeHacking challenge will be posted soon, I promise. I wrote this last Saturday, June 11th and thought I should probably get it up here before our next visit to the farm. 

Today was the first pick-up day for our CSA farm share. After a year away, we returned to our favorite farm in the happy valley, Brookfield Farm in Amherst.

This morning it was raining cats and dogs. My son woke up early. My husband wasn’t feeling well so decided to stay home. I was grumpy. I was looking forward to bringing breakfast and hanging out at the farm with my family all morning. Things did not feel like they were going my way. As much as I’ve been looking forward to CSA season starting, today it was feeling like a long drive and a bit of a chore to go. But as soon as I pulled into the familiar parking lot and walked into the shop and looked out to the fields, I felt all the grumpiness and tension vanish.

We picked up our greens and our darling little French breakfast radishes. Despite the rain, we were invited to go ahead and pick strawberries. And not just a little handful, but 2 quarts!!! Toby and I tromped off into the soggy fields. He was undeterred by the weather and made me forget to be cranky about it. He delighted in the squishy mud and the rooster crowing as we passed by. I told him he was saying “cock-a-doodle-doo – welcome to the farm Toby” which Toby repeated and turned into a song as he marched up and down the rows. The strawberries were beautiful and plentiful and I quickly filled our two berry baskets. After that we made our way over to the rhubarb. Toby says “woo-barb” and I love it. He helped me carry the stalks after I cut them and he waved the big leafy fronds like he was landing an airplane. We looked for the pigs but couldn’t catch a glimpse of them, most likely hiding from the rain in their little hut. (I thought pigs were supposed to like mud!)

Back at the shop I had a nice chat with Pete, one of the farm apprentices. I talked with him about why we left Brookfield (location) and why we decided to come back (community). Talking through it all, I realized I have a new appreciation for all the special things about Brookfield. Despite the distance, Josh and I agreed it was the sense of community that Brookfield fosters that made us long for it last year. The picnic tables invite you to linger. The kids area is within view of the shop and has a sandbox and other toys. I love chatting it up with other shareholders as we’re picking out our veggies or harvesting in the fields, comparing recipes or notes on how to preserve our bounty. Brookfield feels like a well-oiled machine and being a member there and being part of the community there feels easy. So, in the end we were convinced, it’s well worth the drive. This year we decided it’s about committing to making our visit to the farm a weekend event every Saturday morning. Rain or shine, as our little boy in his big rubber boots will remind us.

Today I caught a glimpse of what this season is going to be like on the farm with Toby, filled with wonder and discovery and a million questions. And I already know, it’s going to be magical. When we first moved to the area and joined Brookfield, I remember seeing other people with their small children in the fields. And I remember thinking how cool to be able to provide this kind of learning opportunity and connection with nature and our food. Now that I have a child of my own, I’m glad Brookfield will be the place where Toby will be making all kinds of discoveries – this season and in seasons to come.

Today at Brookfield it felt like coming home again. Looking out at the fields and surveying the land before I climbed back in the car to drive home, I almost cried – I was so overcome by a sense of belonging. So, thank you Brookfield Farm. It feels so good to be back.

Building a Cob Pizza-Oven in Pictures

4 May

How timely! The Guardian just published this cool article about building your own cob pizza-oven.

If you’re curious about the process and wonder what the heck Josh and I are getting ourselves into this summer. Here is a photo slideshow so you can see each step.

More soon about this project as we develop a timeline and start stocking up on supplies. Stay tuned!

RecipeHacking Challenge # 6: Burritos

4 May

Are you ready for the next RecipeHacking challenge? This time around we’re going to hack BURRITOS! Everyone’s favorite hand-held meal on the go. Coincidentally, this is right in time for Cinco de Mayo.

Burritos lend themselves so well to improvisation. They seem like a natural choice for RecipeHacking. I don’t really feel the need to put an original recipe. At it’s most basic, a burrito is a tortilla stuffed with beans and cheese, maybe some rice and then can be doctored up with whatever meat, veggies, or condiments your heart desires.

What’s your favorite kind of burrito? I encourage you all to think outside the box…or the tortilla as the case may be. Consider toying with the ingredients/flavors/spices/ethnicity…and/or the presentation. Is a burrito still a burrito if it’s not wrapped up in a single tortilla? Does it have to be a tortilla? What else could you use? The possibilities are endless. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

As usual, please post your recipes in the comments section below. The deadline for this hack is Monday, May 30th.

If you’re unfamiliar with RecipeHacking here’s the basic premise. If you’re interested, you can look back at previous posts to see how we’ve challenged our readers to hack macaroni and cheesebeans and ricepizzathanksgiving leftovers, and shepherd’s pie.

Maple Syrup Dumplings

24 Apr

I came across this recipe from Saveur when a local shop, Cooks Shop Here posted a link on their Facebook page. It was the height of maple sugaring season in our area a few weeks ago and I was so excited to find some good recipes that used maple syrup. I have to say, my expectations were high – maybe unrealistically so. I have been debating about whether or not to post this recipe but in the end decided that even recipes that aren’t slam dunks still have the potential spark some discussion or new ideas for how to improve them.

Things that contributed to not feeling 100% satisfied by the experience:

The dumplings were a bit too dense.

It felt a little wasteful and expensive to use so much maple syrup. Nearly two cups of maple syrup would normally last a lot longer around our house when we’re just drizzling a little on waffles or whatnot.

This was all I ate for breakfast that day (and I’ll confess I ate more than the one sixth serving size). Sweetness overload! A couple small bites paired with some other complementary breakfast foods would have been better. Salty bacon and fruit salad perhaps?

The pan I used was a bit shallow so dumplings were not entirely submerged and required turning.

I enjoyed these dumplings but I think they could be better, although I’m not entirely sure what I would do differently. I would like them to be a little lighter and fluffier but they already have quite a bit of baking powder in them. What would you do?

Maple Syrup Dumplings – makes 6 servings

1 3/4 cups maple syrup (I used a good, local, medium amber syrup from a nearby farm)
1 1/2 cups flour
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, frozen
3/4 cup milk

Bring syrup and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Grate butter on large holes of a box grater into flour and toss to coat; add milk and stir with a fork until dough forms. When syrup mixture reaches a boil, use a spoon to drop large clumps of dough into syrup. Cover pot; simmer until dumplings are cooked through, 10–15 minutes. Spoon dumplings and sauce into 6 bowls and serve.

Check out more pictures here:

Cob Oven Adventure

19 Apr

In the fall our good friend Amy emailed us this article, The 36-Hour Dinner Party by Michael Pollan because she thought it would be right up our alley. Josh read it right away, fell in love with the idea, started enlisting friends to join us in this adventure and for months has been urging me to read the article and get on board too. The inspiration is this: Pollan, along with some friends built a single wood fire in a cob oven and cooked 4 meals over the course of a couple days.

I finally just read the article. And I am officially on board with this crazy and fun undertaking. Our friend Amy was right – as folks who love to cook, and better yet share in the cooking and the eating, this sounds like a totally cool project.

Anatomy of a Cob Oven - Image from

One major difference though: Pollan conveniently had a friend with an already existing cob oven. So, seeing that we don’t know anyone with a cob oven, and seeing that we think it could be really fun to build one in our backyard ourselves (admittedly Josh is the one who is a bit more excited and confident about that aspect of this endeavor) – we’re going to take it one step further. For us, it’s not just about making a big fire and cooking for a couple days, it’s about making the whole oven in which to do all this fabulous cooking.

Some of you may be asking yourselves, “What the heck is a cob oven?” I was answering that question a lot this past weekend as I was explaining this endeavor to  friends. Cob is like adobe. It’s building material made of earth, clay, straw, and sand.  See photo above to get an idea of what they look like.

I bought Josh this book titled, Build Your Own Earth Oven for his birthday in February and we’re in the planning stages now. Wish us luck and stay tuned for more updates about this adventure. Eventually I would love suggestions for what we should cook in it!

RecipeHacking Challenge #5 Results

10 Apr

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this round of RecipeHacking and helped us get this off the ground again.We look forward to making this a regular feature here on Kitchen Dancing.

Have you been on the edge of your seats all week?! After careful consideration the winner is….

The Greek version of Shepherd’s Pie designed by Shawn!

Shawn really reinvented this recipe. It wasn’t just a matter of tweaking the spices or one small element. We loved the addition of olives, tomato, eggplant, and feta cheese. Plus we appreciated the different take on the potatoes – slicing them instead of mashing them on top. Way to go, Shawn! Bragging rights are yours and a small prize is on it’s way to you!

Honorable mention goes to Ethan Plunkett’s Argentinian version. In a way, Ethan RecipeHacked both Shepherd’s Pie AND Empanadas! Delicious!

Stay tuned for the next challenge!

Spring is here!

10 Apr

I wrote this on Friday but I’m just getting around to posting today…

We’ve had a few glimpses so far but today is the first day I feel like it’s really, truly spring.

Right now I’m at my parents’ house in Rhode Island, in the country. And it’s such a refreshing change from my neighborhood at home where we live on a busy street, where there’s always fast and noisy cars. Walking down the sidewalk there, whether it’s with my dog or with my son, I always feel like my guard is up because there’s no shoulder and the space between the zooming cars and the sidewalk is dangerously small.

Today my son, Toby and I took a walk down my parents’ quiet road. There are no sidewalks here because there’s really no need, there’s no traffic at all. It is so quiet and peaceful. We just moseyed along and listened to the birds. Toby was all set to get bundled up when I told him we were going for a walk and he seemed puzzled when I told him he didn’t need to today. We got outside and he cheerfully declared, “It’s warm out! We no need hats!” He’s only two and a half. He doesn’t understand the changing of the seasons yet. He probably thought it was going to be winter forever. And I admit, I was beginning to feel that way too.

Along our walk the road makes a little bridge over a brook and we spent quite a lot of time throwing sticks off one side of the bridge and then running across the road to see them come out the other side. This seems like it could get tedious, but instead of feeling like I was merely humoring my son, I was having just as much fun as he was.

We walked down to the lake and threw rocks and acorns into the water. Along the edge where the water was lapping on the sand, there were little red buds lining the shore that must have blown off a nearby tree. They felt so affirming somehow. No, it’s not a figment of your imagination, it really is spring. I enjoy reading this blog: Red Bird Crafts. Once a week the author focuses on some sort of treasure. She says, “It might be thrifted or found on a walk or whispered in my ear or discovered on a dark shelf in the basement. Something. Anything that makes me feel lucky and thankful. It doesn’t necessarily have to make its way home with me – it just has to be noticed. The idea is for it to cost very little and feel very big. After all, this isn’t about acquiring new things; it is about paying better attention to the world around me.”

I was remembering that today as I found these little buds. I felt like they were my treasure this week. They certainly fit her definition: they cost me nothing, were worthy of some special attention, and felt like something big – a message saying, “keep your chin up – it’s getting warmer, and easier, and more beautiful, and more hopeful.”

RecipeHacking Deadline Extended!

28 Mar


The deadline for this round of RecipeHacking was yesterday and so far I’ve received only one submission. I’m trying to not feel too sad about this because I’m sure you all have good excuses. Right? So, in the hopes that more of you have just been ruminating on it but haven’t had a chance to cook your creation, I’m extending the deadline a week. New deadline is Sunday, April 3rd! Spread the word! Go have fun in the kitchen and report back to us about your new invention! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Here is the original post in case you need a refresher.

Here are some hints if you’re having trouble getting started: Think about changing the shape (individual servings vs. one big pie?), flavors (what would shepherd’s pie be like with an asian or mexican twist?), swapping typical ingredients for more exotic or unexpected ones (who says it has to be potatoes on top? or that the filling has to be lamb or beef?). The possibilities are endless and that’s what RecipeHacking is all about!

Winner gets bragging rights and a small prize!

Spice-Crusted Salmon

25 Mar

In an effort to expand our repertoire, we have been visiting quite often. Recently we tried this recipe and I think it’s a keeper! I was skeptical because I’m not a huge fan of fennel seeds but combined with the coriander and complimented by the sauce, they really worked in this recipe. And I love any excuse to use cilantro. The yogurt based sauce was light and fresh tasting.


  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets with skin
  • Lime wedges
  • Mix yogurt, cilantro, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon oil, ginger, and garlic in small bowl. (I cheated and used minced ginger from a jar and it turned out fine.) Season with salt and pepper. Place fennel seeds and coriander seeds in heavyduty plastic bag. Using mallet, crush seeds. (If you have a young child in your house, this is the perfect job for them to help with. Toby used one of his toy frying pans to pound the seeds to smithereens and had great fun doing it.) Sprinkle fillets with salt, pepper, and seeds. I didn’t think it looked like enough to fully coat the fish but it was the perfect proportion.

    Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fillets, seed side down. Cook until brown, about 3 minutes. Turn over. Cook until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons lime juice. Place fillets on plates. Top with sauce; serve with lime wedge.

    We served it alongside white rice and green beans. Sounds kind of boring but the plain sides really let the stronger flavors of the fish and the sauce shine.

    (This recipe appeared in the Bon Appetit November 2010 issue)