Friday, December 31, 2010

Reminisce : 2010 Reviewed

It's been quite a year. 
A wonderful, challenging year. 
A year that saw a lot of growth and a bit of change. 
In honor of that I'm going to do something I've not done in the four years I've been blogging here at A Sofa in the Kitchen, a look back on my favorite parts of the year.

Buckle up for a long one, let's review 2010, food blog style, shall we?

January marked the very first Snapshot Sunday series here at A Sofa in the Kitchen.

 The month also featured one of my favorite indulgent, comfort recipes: cream of spinach soup.

February was a slow blogging month. My pick? Jello topped, strawberry heart stuffed, cheesecake bites with a chocolate cookie crust. Now that's a mouthful. My favorite part of the whole dish? Clearly, these adorable strawberry heart cutouts!

A week in March features, by far, my favorite Snapshot Sunday of the year.

It also marked the beginning of the year of pie. 2010 was pie heavy for this girl. The three layer key lime pie with it's heavenly flax granola crust was one of my favorites, and by far the best key lime pie these tastebuds have ever enjoyed.

March was also the month I finally attempted the legendary New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie.

In April, my brain concocted this insane sandwich for the annual Grilled Cheese Pageant. Homemade corn bread, jalapeno aioli, pimento studded sharp cheddar, and crispy, thick pepper bacon.

My dearest fellow food blogging friend invited the boyfriend and I over for  Easter brunch. Creme Brulee french toast was the belle of the ball, the perfect dish for this Snapshot Sunday's spotlight.

Molly at Orangette never disappoints, and these chocolate capped macaroons I baked up for my easter baskets are proof of that.

If you can't tell by the slew of pictures, May was likely my favorite month all year. Great recipes like simple smoked salmon appetizers, a wonderful sorbet champagne martini, roasted sweet potato bisque, and sweet pea pesto pasta were featured. Apparently, Spring had me inspired. Therefore, I say, May is worth reviewing all at once.

In 2010 I joined The Daring Bakers, a group of creative bakers that are given challenges monthly, that I love being a part of. My chocolate pavlova June submission was by far my personal favorite DB submission of the year.

In July our oven broke. After a week or two of strong buttermilk biscuit cravings, I broke down and sought out a neighborhood oven so that I could bake up a batch. I served them with a side of honey comb salted butter, of course.

 I also shared one of my most sacred recipes in July. A slow cooked, pulled pork recipe that really, truly, cannot be beat. It's sheer pork perfection.

In August I turned 25. Unarguably the most memorable birthday I've ever had.

Exactly a week later, one of my soul mates turned 30.

As September rolled around, I kicked off a cooler season with roasted sweet potato, pancetta & arugula penne pasta.

As the days grew shorter and colder in October, I began the month with pull apart cinnamon bread. A recipe my darling boyfriend requested I make every single Sunday (ha!)

As Halloween approched, I attempted to keep our bones warm and spirits high with a few delicious Vanilla Bean Tequila Sunrises.

And on the last day of October, we partied. We had a lot of  dry ice and a ghoulishly good time, as seen in this snapshot sunday.

Come November I shared a few of my favorite Brooklyn food spots

As well as a delectable fall pear martini

Ushering in the final month in 2010.  . .

I made a wreath out of yarn for our front door. 

Ate bowl after bowl of spicy thai curry butternut squash soup.

And finally, stuffed stockings with some old fashioned-homemade granola. 

So goodbye 2010, you were a good year. And, hello 2011. I look forward to all that this year has in store. I'm sure it will bring many new experiences, adventures and of course, good food!

Chin Chin!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is That You Santa Claus? : Thomas Kellers Shortbread

I love the holiday season. I believe my mom and grandma are responsible for this as they were always so good about making Christmas something extra special. For me, as a child, Christmas eve was particularly exciting in our little Norwegian household. We opened our gifts from each other on Christmas eve, the only ones under the tree in the morning were the ones that Santa had snuck in and left while we slept. Each christmas eve my mother and I would finish our day by preparing for Santa an assortment of freshly baked cookies, a tall cold glass of milk, a note from me to him, and a few carrot sticks for the reindeer. I remember waking up Christmas morning, and unlike most kids, I ran to the check the cookie plate before ripping open any presents. And year after year, without fail, only crumbs remained on the plate, half the milk was gone, the carrots had been nibbled, and Santa left me a thank you note in return. I remember marveling at the teeth marks in the carrots, wondering which reindeer had left them there. This remains one of my favorite memories. So each year when the holiday season rolls around I do my best, in my own way, to keep that memory alive. 

Cookies, no matter the variety, shape, color, or texture, seem to be the ultimate holiday symbol. In honor of that, this week I went cookie crazy. It was my attempt to make the most of this Christmas season. One of my favorite baking sessions came straight off the pages of Thomas Kellers Ad Hoc at Home - I made both his chocolate and vanilla shortbreads. 

Both recipes are oh so simple and quite tasty. I have to say I preferred the chocolate (even though it was so soft it fell to pieces, unlike most traditional shortbreads) it's perfectly rich and chocolatey. Before baking I topped my cookies with large chunks of sanding sugar mixed with a bit of fleur de sel, so that each soft cookie bite was followed by a serious sweet and salty crunch. Both shortbreads got a bit of fun garnish. The vanilla cookies took a little white chocolate dip, then a roll in crushed pistachio and dried cranberry, while the chocolate was dipped in melted semisweet and dusted with coconut or white snow-like sprinkles. Along with that delicious granola, a few of each shortbread will be finding their way into my families stockings. 

While I may not leave a plate out for Santa or his reindeer pals any longer, I know he would've enjoyed these immensely. 

What are you leaving out for Santa & his reindeer? 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stuff Your Stockings : Almond Cranberry Coconut Granola

It's been one of those years, one of those seasons. Both the boyfriend and I are in college, and paying out of pocket, so outside of all the normal financial responsibilities, it has been a tight holiday season. Enter, the homemade holiday gift. I loved the idea of granola. Mixed by hand, toasted in my warm oven, and packed up lovingly in vintage glass jars. Since I didn't think these jars should be placed under the tree (nose level for the dogs? I think not) I'm going to tuck them away inside everyones stockings. Christmas morning, the boyfriends mother will be receiving a basket packed with this granola, greek yogurt, & home blended black tea - easy Christmas breakfast ready to eat. Plus, it's the least I can do considering my family is whisking the boyfriend and I away for the holiday.

I can't tell you exactly how I came about it, but, as soon as I saw the combination of dried cranberry, almonds and coconut over at Two Peas and their Pod, I knew it was the recipe I was going to make. It's so simple both in preparation and ingredient list. I wish I could bake a batch in my oven every single morning, because the smell is something wonderful. Sweet, nutty, toasty - it was reminiscent of sweet sticky buns mixed with oatmeal cookies. Phenomenal to say the least. And the taste is just as good as the scent, the cinnamon adds a touch of spice, the coconut and the dried cranberry give it a slight chew, while the oats are sweet and crunchy. So simple, so delicious, I may never buy granola again. I'm slightly fearful that those who will be pulling these jars from their stockings won't want to either, and will be looking to me to fill their future granola fixes! 

Stay tuned, I've got a few cookie recipes on the way, and one long look back at this last year - food blog style! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Snapshot Sunday : Wrapping Up

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Cold Weather Treat : Coconut Thai Curry Soup with Roasted Butternut Squash

Whew. It's been a while. I simply hate when this happens. I love blogging, and I regret when I'm unable to keep up with it. I've been swept into a whirlwind of holiday fever full of decorating trees, seeing old friends, long dinners, and of course, finals week. Oh yes, finals week. But here I am, back in full force and here to share a decidedly un-holiday recipe with you; roasted butternut squash soup - littered with ingredients like coconut milk and red thai curry. A true twist on one of my favorite fall soups.

Not long ago I was an avid squash hater. Couldn't stand the stuff. Nowadays, it's on my menu at least once a week. Sweet, easily salted and savory, a perfect side dish or entree shining star. In this case it's paired with your usual soup suspects, good stock, some onion and garlic, but a few unusual ones as well, a bit of thai red curry, fatty coconut milk, lemongrass, and a sprinkle of green chile. I really enjoyed this soup, the kind of dinner that warms your insides on a cold winter night. Sweet, salty, spicy, and creamy. Delightful. Period.

Coconut Curry Soup with Roasted Butternut Squash 


1 medium to large butternut squash - cleaned, chopped and roasted
1 large white onion
6 cloves of garlic
1 small spicy green chile - minced
1 large stalk of lemon grass split in two
5 cups of good vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 can full fat coconut milk (full fat people)
2 teaspoons thai red chili powder/paste (you  may want more, so-to taste)


1. First, roast your squash (little olive oil, slat and pepper in the oven on 400 for 40 minutes). Also, pour your stock into a medium saucepan on low heat, place lemon grass in the stock, cover and allow to steep. 
2. Meanwhile, in a soup or other large pot heat a bit of vegetable or olive oil, saute onions, chile and garlic. After 10 minutes, when onions are translucent add thai red curry and stir until well combined. 
3. Strain lemongrass from stock, pour stock into soup pot with onions.
4. Next, add roasted butternut squash and puree (I use a hand blender). 
5. Finally, pour in the coconut milk, season with salt and pepper, and stir. 
6. Pour into a large bowl, garnish with plenty of cilantro and devour!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Snapshot Sunday : A Homemade Christmas Wreath for the Frontdoor

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Daring Bakers : November 2010 : Crostata

This November the daring bakers were challenged to make a Crostata. Crostata is essentially an italian tart, most often made with pastry cream and fruit filling. A sweet short pastry crust is baked, topped with delectable fillings, cut, and hungrily consumed. 

I was a little late on this challenge as time has become somewhat of a precious commodity these days. School, work, and the impending holiday season has me in a bit of a whirlwind. So, I'm going to be quick and tell you simply, make this. I adore tarts, almost as much as I adore cookies and cake. Simple, gorgeous, and downright delectable. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect challenge!

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

For some reason when I try to post the recipe, blogger is just not reading it. Fortunately, there are thousands of Daring Bakers out there who I'm sure did not have the same issues with posting as me. Be sure to check them out!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble It Up : Candied Pecans & Dried Cranberries

An uber quick post as the boyfriend and I are frantically packing overnight bags, and gingerly placing stuffing, creme brulee, roasted squash, and my homemade green bean casserole in to-go bags. We've only got about half an hour before we're headed out to my mothers, boyfriends sister & food in tow for a long, lazy, thanksgiving night. Hard to believe some of you are already sitting down to eat! 

We're not your typical family when it comes to Thanksgiving. We usually eat dinner around 7 or 8. You see, we feel that any holiday, or mid week day off, should be taken full advantage of. That's why we take the afternoon to sit in front of the fire, play gin rummy, sip wine (glass, after glass of wine), maybe taking a few minutes to flip through a magazine or two. Eventually, we boot ourselves up and take all five dogs (theirs and ours) out for a long romp through the massive 20 acres of greenspace situated just beyond the 5 acres my mother owns. Then we come back inside, and repeat the sitting in front of the fire ritual quite a while longer. That's where a treat like these simple and delicious candied pecans come in oh-so handy. Regardless of the fact we're about to eat a massive meal, we still need something to nosh & nibble on while we lounge around.

This recipe was introduced to me by my dear friend Reaux. A true kitchen wizard. I'm posting them on Thanksgiving because they're that simple. A three (okay, maybe four or five if you count the seasonings) ingredient recipe that boasts a list of things you probably already have in your pantry. It all cooks up in under a half an hour in the oven, and viola! Insta-amazing-snack. Absolutely delicious with a glass of wine, and a warm fireplace. The nuts dry out a bit, making them extra crunchy and crisp, while the sugar coating dresses each nut with the flavor and texture of toffee. I like to toss mine with a handful of dried cranberries and/or cherries (making the mix look quite festive). So, if you don't already have enough on your plate, or your table, consider this delicious little snack. Absolute perfection for a relaxing afternoon such as this one.

Reaux's Candied Pecans
(enough for 6-8 to snack on)

2 cups pecans 
(I'm sure you could use any nut really, pistachios would be delish)
4 Tablespoons dark corn syrup
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
healthy pinch of sea salt
healthy pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup dried cherries/cranberries to toss


Preheat the oven to 325 F and place parchment paper or silicon baking mat on rimmed baking sheet

1. In a small to medium bowl, cover pecans with water and swish around. Drain well, place nuts on a paper towel to dry.
2. In a small to medium bowl add your nuts, then toss well with corn syrup and sugar. Season with salt and cayenne.
3. Pour mixture, in one even layer, on prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. 
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally (to keep the nuts coated in sugar mixture)
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
6. Break apart stuck together bits with your hands, put in a bowl and toss with dried fruit.

Viola, a simple, tasty little treat!

(can I just say: after a week of snow and ice, we woke up this morning to yet another snow storm! what in the world is going on here in the northwest? so unlike our little corner of the world! truly magical nonetheless)