Author: catherine o'donnell

post33 // berry melt

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there was a lot to celebrate this past month, most notably my big bro rob’s move up to the big apple. i’ve been hoping he’d make the move since, well since i moved up here and on saturday april 1st it came true! (a.k.a. it wasn’t some sick april fool’s joke.) he showed up with my other bro jake and i showed up with the best thing i could think of: pie.

pie, pie, pie. we really love pie in my family. probably because i really love making it. on summer weekends together, pie is my baking project of choice. i run out of hands when i start counting the number of friends and family i’ve made pies with.¹ so it seemed only right that upon my bro’s arrival, a pie would be a nice treat. not to mention, a really good mid-move snack.

fullsizeoutput_75fi had planned to make the pie saturday morning and bring it over to my bro’s new place that afternoon when they arrived. butttt my plans got a bit meddled after a night out on friday, spent very wisely at my favorite place in nyc – sid gold’s request room, which led to sleeping in on saturday.  who can blame me? needless to say, pie making was pushed a bit later in the day. and my brothers’ plans? they were actually arriving *earlier* than expected. not exactly what i wanted to hear. i got to baking right away.

2 hours later and the brothers had arrived in brooklyn as i was just pulling out a hot berry pie from the oven. wow it looked good. but how the hell was i going to get this thing over there? i live seven six stops away in manhattan requiring two trains to get to my brother’s new place. would i bring the pie on the subway? i thought about this. for like a second. hell no i was not taking a warm pie in the subway. how would i swipe my subway card and hold it? not to mention, this pie was still hot so i would have to hold it on a cookie sheet. the pie didn’t make it on the subway. instead, i went with uber. i was already late anyways so hopefully a car would get me there faster.

fullsizeoutput_760my uber driver was not happy with my entrance. i had to ask a random man on the street to open the car for me and i didn’t really think through being on nyc streets in a car with a liquid-y, bubbling pie. as i sat clutching the pie plate so hard, the dessert spilled and leaked onto the cookie sheet. one big pothole and that pie would’ve leaked all over my uber driver’s car. and boy was he noticing. “is that going to spill??” he kept asking me. “everything okay” came out of his mouth at each stoplight. i felt terrible, but what could i do! i needed to get the pie there! and i did. a few sticky fingerprints were left on my uber man’s car (sorry sir), but i made it and greeted my brother with a “welcome to new york city” shout and a pie shoved right into his face. a warm welcome right there.

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¹s/o to some special folks i’ve made memorable pies with: this thanksgiving apple w/ my mom, this lattice beauty with my bestie stella, this strawberry cream version w/ my dad, this low-res pie w/ another bestie yarbs (from my ig’s days of infancy), and this berry number showing off pie process with avh.

photography by catherine o’donnell/butter yellow.

post32 // butternut squash pie

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A new and “improved” food lifestyle seems to pop up every morning. At the rate we’re at now, I’m saying goodbye to vegetarianism as an alternative diet and hello to clean eating, raw diets, veganism, gluten-free diets, paleo, juice fasting, lacto vegetarianism, case-in free diet, locavorism, etc. A whole pool of evidence, both pros and cons, sit behind each of these lifestyles, luring or deterring joiners. As a cook, these fads function as a limiting tool for much of what I like to make: sweets. A cake with no flour? A brownie mix with no egg? A pie with no crust? Yes, those are the confines of some of the above-mentioned lifestyles, and while I lean towards a food regimen that consumes anything, I’m willing to dabble in someone else’s food restrictions.

I stepped, again, into the world of gluten-free baking with this recipe, a place where I have failed so many times before. The lack of flour or substitute flours that many gluten-free recipes boast tend to mix up the balance of a typical dessert, creating end products that are too eggy in many cases.

DCIM100GOPROThis recipe steers away from flour all together, a canny movie on author Emiko Davies’ part. Lacking the traditional crust, this butternut squash pie allows the pie filling to take center stage. If you’re a fan of pumpkin pie, this butternut squash variety will make you question your allegiances.

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As cousins in the gourd family, when mixed with butter and cinnamon, pumpkin and butternut squash pie filling become indistinguishable, giving way to torpedo spoons that rake and consume this dessert in minutes. Topped with powdered sugar for flavor and crunchy sliced almonds, this pie is a true trophy of gluten-free baking. IMG_3091Butternut Squash Pie

Adapted from Emiko Davies, Food52

Materials:

Large cutting knife

Mixing bowl

Saucepan

Mixer

Food processer (optional)

9-inch pie dish

Ingredients:

2 lbs butternut squash

1 pint milk

3 eggs, beaten

3 ½ oz soft light brown sugar

2 tbsps melted butter, plus extra for greasing

3 ½ oz almond meal

2 tsps ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

handful of sliced almonds

powdered sugar, for decoration

whipped cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Remove the seeds and skin of the squash and chop into inch-sized cubes. This link offers a great tutorial for how to do that: How to Peel and Cut Butternut Squash.
  2. Place squash in saucepan with the milk. Simmer about 25 to 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and leave squash in a colander or sieve to drain and evaporate as much as possible until cool. Then transfer to a bowl and mash or purée the squash. I suggest using a food processer if you have one.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs together with sugar, butter, almond meal, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Stir through the cooled squash/pumpkin to combine well.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch (23 centimeter) pie dish. Smooth over the top to sprinkle with the sliced almonds.
  5. Bake at 350º F (180° C) for 45 minutes or until golden on top and set. The sides will shrink away slightly. When cool, dust generously with powdered sugar and serve. Whipped cream is another smart topping.

post31 // sweet potatoes with thyme

DSC_0193Thyme-Infused Sweet Potatoes

Like many people, I have a sweet tooth. I love cakes, cookies, brownies, pies, cobblers, crisps, ice cream, floats, the list goes on and on and on. However, recently I’ve been trying to substitute these cravings of mine with smaller portion sizes and sugar I can benefit from. High in fiber, potassium, and Vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes are a starchy root vegetable that should be added to your grocery list ASAP. Low in grams, one sweet potato contributes an extensive amount of nutrients for its percentage of the recommended dietary allowment (RDA). Also beneficial, sweet potatoes are high in amylopectin, a digestible type of starch.

If those scientific benefits didn’t lure you in, then this taste will. Littered in thyme leaves and a kick from red pepper flakes, these sweet potato rounds are full of flavor. I promise they’ll keep you full for a long time and if you make the whole recipe at once, you’ll be able to add them to meals throughout the week!

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Thyme-Infused Sweet Potato Rounds

Adapted from Kathryn Matthews, Epicurious

Materials:

Large bowl to mix

Cutting board

Knife

Vegetable Peeler

Cup/spoon measurements

Baking sheet or baking dish (13X9)

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, minced

⅓ cup fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 thyme sprigs for garnish

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Extra butter or oil to grease pan

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Grease your baking sheet or dish with butter or oil.
  2. Combine all ingredients and toss in large mixing bowl.
  3. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on baking sheet or dish.
  4. Place on middle oven rack and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 40 minutes.
  5. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with thyme sprigs.

post30 // let the olive oil rain! italian adventures at inatteso pizzabar casano

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Melanzana al Forno // eggplant, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, basil, tomato

For the past few weeks, a strange guilt tinkered in the back of my brain, swaying back and forth in weak and strong pulses. No, I wasn’t guilty of doing something wildly illegal — not that I know of at least — but instead, I felt bad for my blog [cue quintessential coffee shop writer crying about her blog]. It’s an unfortunate reality but over the past month and a half, I’ve ignored one of my prized weekly activities. The why behind my neglect is pretty simple: I’ve been busy. But somehow this excuse doesn’t really sit well in my mind; everyone’s busy. Finally catching some free moments as I wrap up my second week living in New York City, I’m ridding myself of nonsensical guilt and laziness. In vain of the generic and questionable idiom, I must agree that distance makes the heart grow fonder, Yummy Twenties I have missed you!

Enough of my emotional, disgustingly narcissistic, and ugly word vomit. You’re reading this because you like food. So, let there be food.

Here I am in the Big Apple! As gleeful as this elephant,Image I screamed upon receiving my internship at Food52, the food website I’m working for this summer (Check it out at www.Food52.com!). But more so, I couldn’t wait to be in a city where restaurants pop up like bread dough in an oven. After a week going to dinners at new places and celebrating twenty-first birthdays, I decided to venture to a spot in the city that I was already familiar with.

Given my large irish catholic family from New York and my Dad’s roots in Brooklyn, I’ve visited NYC a number of times. Around the corner from our favorite hotel to stay at is Inatteso Pizzabar Casano, a modern yet cozy Italian eatery with wicked pizzas and hand-cut pastas. Located in Battery Park, Inatteso is the perfect spot to grab lunch or a late dinner when you’re in the area. Conveniently connected to the Pizzabar is the Inatteso Cafe Casano, a grab and go spot where I would definitely get a quick lunch if I worked in the area.

A little appetizer-happy and unable to make a choice, I decided on two appetizers for my lunch at Inatteso. First, I enjoyed a bowl of their Zuppa Frantoiana, a tuscan white bean and vegetable soup seated in a garlicky broth. Served with a large piece of fresh bread that had been soaked in olive oil, the soup was a hardy starter — almost enough for a full lunch. The soft white beans wonderfully contrasted the zippy crunch of the celery and roasted potatoes.

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As my second and final starter of the meal, I ordered one of my favorite eggplant dishes to date. I love eggplant (as you saw with my eggplant timbale post) and this dish mixed some of the best ingredients to blend with eggplant. Stacked between the two large pieces of eggplant was a three-cheese and tomato medley. Laced together, the mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan stood out as the perfect counterpart to the delicate, roasted eggplant slices. Sprinkled with basil and additional parmesan, this eggplant stack was a dish I had to finish.

Full and ready to walk off some of that food, I continued with my self-inspired NYC walking tour. On my way home through Tribeca and the West Village, I pinpointed a couple of restaurants that are sure to make it in the blog. Until then!

 

post29 // an o’donnell family staple: clams and linguine

ImageClams and Linguine 

Over every college break, I go home and I eat a lot. It’s no secret that I love to cook and upon arriving in a large kitchen, I can’t help but meet the granite countertop with a smile. Nonetheless, I’ve got some steady competition in the kitchen at home: my mother and father. I guess I didn’t have to spell out that my two older brothers don’t frequent meal-making times because those of you who know them, well you already knew that.

I’m lucky enough to go to a college that still fits an Easter break into their academic calendar. This past Easter break, my first meal home was Clams and Linguine. As my brother Jake’s favorite meal, it’s a no-brainer that this dish is a family staple in the O’Donnell household. It was definitely a part of the rotationhamburgers, pork and saurkraut, sausages and peppers—that made up my dinners growing up. As seafood lovers, pasta fans, and Italians at food-heart, Clams and Linguine is a perfect fit for the O’Donnell’s. Both easy to make and beautiful to serve, we pull our Clams and Linguine recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. We typically use littleneck clams and at times disregard the bottled clam juice. The clam juice you buy in the store can hold a lot of unnecessary sodium so to replace, we will use white wine and olive oil as our base. To take the recipe up a notch, you can buy homemade linguine to anchor your clams in. Our favorite place to buy the pasta? Vace’s in Washington, D.C.

Intertwined in a pool of linguine, the clams are abundantly spread within, beneath, and above the pasta. The meal transforms from a simple seafood dish to a full-on Italian meal with garlic, oregano, parsley, and plenty olive-oil to flavor. I couldn’t recommend an effortless course tastier than this, so make sure you jot the recipe down!

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients:

¾ cup best-quality olive oil

6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

4 dozen small clams, such as Littlenecks or Cherrystones, scrubbed, shucked, and chopped coarsely, all liquor reserved

About 2 cups bottled clam juice

½ cup finely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1½ teaspoons dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

24 fresh clams, in their shells, for garnish (optional)

1 pound linguine

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep heavy pot over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.

2. Combine the reserved clam liquor and enough bottled clam juice to make 3 cups. Add this to the pot along with the parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. The sauce may be prepared ahead to this point.

3. Meanhwile, scrub the garnishing clams, if you are using them, and put them in another pan with water to a depth of 1 inch. Cover, and set the pan over high heat. Shake the pan or stir the clams and remove them as they open. Reserve them in their shells. Discard any clams that don’t open.

4. Bring 4 quarts salted water to a boil in a large pot. Drop in the linguine and cook until tender but still firm.

5. Meanwhile, reheat the sauce if you have allowed it to cool. Add the chopped clams and heat gently; clams should not overcook or they will become tough.

6. Drain the linguine and toss it with the sauce. Serve it in the pot, topped by the clam garnish, or transfer to individual wide soup bowls and garnish each serving with the clams in their shells.

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep heavy pot over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.

Recipe taken from The Silver Palate Cookbook: http://books.google.com/books?id=pokLqCAZFh0C&pg=PA91&lpg=PA91&dq=linguine+with+white+clam+sauce+silver+palate&source=bl&ots=gziX–Z8sE&sig=ZWpeREXd34X3udDyiN7oIPYfUYo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LgJfU4PUMZHLsQSJyoCgDA&ved=0CEEQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=linguine%20with%20white%20clam%20sauce%20silver%20palate&f=false.

 

post28 // fried green tomatoes and poboys galore: southern classics at jake’s good eats

ImagePoboy with Fried Shrimp and Fried Oysters

Just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina sits Jake’s Good Eats, a gas station turned restaurant visited by Guy Fieri on his Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” The TV host hailed owner Jake Stegall’s Maple Glazed Pork Chop and Venison Quesadilla in the episode, unveiling the neighborhood favorite to Charlotte visitors and foodies from all over the country. I am lucky enough to be friends with a family whose been dining at Jake’s way before they hit it big with Mr. Fieri. For my friend Emily Griffin’s 21st birthday, we made the hour trek from Davidson College to Jake’s. After hearing about how “amazing” Jake’s is for the past two and half years, my friends and I figured we’d finally check out this Griffin family favorite.

Check out is an understatement. We began the evening with an ever-expanding appetizer order. First, just the Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips. Oops, well, then I insisted upon the New Zealand Farm Raised Venison Quesadilla. Oh, and how could I forgot the double order of Southern Green Tomatoes, a staple side dish of the American South! I ate the caloric intake of a full meal in appetizers at Jake’s, yet, like always, it didn’t stop me from round two. ImageFried Green Tomatoes

For dinner, I ordered the Poboy with both Fried Shrimp and Fried Oysters. One of my biggest regrets from my trip to New Orleans this past break was that I failed to eat a traditional Creole Poboy. Served on a toasted hoagie and topped with a homemade garlic mayonnaise, I think I devoured Jake’s Poboy by just staring at it. I’m almost happy I didn’t try a poboy in New Orleans because I know that Jake’s would’ve beat any competition in a contest of tastes. The fried shrimp and fried oyster combination featured succulent seafood, cased in a buttery browned shell. The lettuce and tomato complemented the rich crispiness of the sandwich while the large roll mopped up the drizzling mayonnaise juice. My eager but immediate motionless upon receiving my supper was not unusual, as each one of my peers’ meals suspended their eyes in the same way mine had. It just might be an excuse for me to go back…

ImageWhite Marble Farms 8 oz. Maple Glazed Bone-In Pork ChopImageJake’s Dinner Special: Steak with Garlic Butter Sauce and Tomato Stuffed with Crab Meat  

A visit to Jake’s is a schedule changing necessity if you’re in or around the Charlotte area. Remember though, the local hub doesn’t take reservations so be prepared to wait. And then be prepared to feast.

12721 Albemarle Rd. Charlotte, NC 28227

post27 // fishing the ethnic out of davidson’s waters: a trip to brio tuscan grille

ImageEnsalata Caprese

Despite my enlivened fervor for baking these past months in Davidson, a couple weeks ago I found myself frustrated with food. After a whirlwind trip throughout Peru and its neighboring countries, I fastened onto my memory of the fresh baked tilapia I ate outside Lima, the same day it had been caught, and the culinary techniques I learned in my peruvian cooking classes. This frustration was real. I saw no source of ethnic and global cuisines in Davidson, North Carolina, what most consider an epitome of a small southern town. Furthermore, I viewed my own college campus as a homogenized blur of predominately white faces, a bubble filled to the brim with students who never popped through, never stepping outside the confines of the town of Davidson.

After one trying day, I popped through the bubble. With a loyal friend, I drove out of Davidson’s campus, out of the town of Davidson, out of the Lake Norman region, and into the greater Charlotte area. It’s not to say that I don’t love my school and college town, but at this moment I needed a wave of the outside, a sense that I could eat food from another part of the world, and that it would taste really good.

Granted, I did not go to Brio Tuscan Grille, an upscale Italian chain, with just anyone. Instead, I went with an Italian-rooted Californian, Carly Brahim, whose childhood consisted of eating authentic food made by her Italy-transplant grandmother, Nonna. Eating Italian with Carly was a cultural experience in itself, with her pronunciation of Italian specialities like “bruschetta” (the c is a k) wowing me, revealing her own knowledge of the Italian dialect and food gastronomy. She took control of our “Primi” menu orders, stating that with one Insalata Caprese, we should opt for the Calamari Fritto in lieu of Bruschetta so as to not overload on tomato-heavy dishes. I sat mystified by the rain of Italianess pouring out of Carly’s brain. After two years of knowing each other, I hadn’t realized the expanse of knowledge she kept hidden in her mind.

ImageCalamari Fritto

We each ate our fill, and I couldn’t help but cover this post in the beautiful pictures I was able to seize before our rapid consumption. Our Insalata Caprese was an inverse of most tomato and mozzarella salads, with mixed greens and basil served on top of a bed of thick mozzarella rounds and ripe tomatoes, beautifully plated with hefty dots of balsamic reduction for dipping. We enjoyed the salad alongside a Calamari Fritto, garnished with marinara and lemon butter sauces. Unable to finish both appetizers before our main dishes, we left the platters as pick-ons throughout the second course. I quizzed the kitchen, trying one of the Chef’s Specialties, a sweet potato and chicken risotto. Prepared with roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, pancetta, asparagus, parmigiano-reggiano, thyme, and pine nuts, the risotto was complexly delicious. A breadth of tastes enveloped my mouth each bite, which together equated to a nicely balanced collection meal. Carly stuck simple but classic with a Roasted Half-Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, and Mixed Vegetables. If that photo doesn’t make you want a slab of meat, I don’t know what will.ImageSweet Potato and Chicken RisottoImageRoasted Half-Chicken

Though we each battled through our main courses, we couldn’t consume it all, especially because we just had to try dessert! Veiled with a layer of hardened caramel, like that of a Crème Brûlée, I slowly made my way through the plate-long slice of Cheesecake. I know, I know, cheesecake isn’t Italian! But the New York delicacy sure did mark a sweet and full ending to our meal.

ImageCheesecake topped with Hard Caramel

Unfortunately, I can’t go to somewhere like Brio every weekend. I am a college student after all. Yet, the trip with Carly created a hole in my closed-off analysis of gastronomy in Davidson. I can access ethnic meals and experience food through a cultural lens in my small college town. I can eat bruschetta with my half-Italian pod mate, I can prepare Fufu with my best friend who hails from Accra, Ghana, or I can even get back to my Peruvian grub and cook Lomo Saltado with a friend from Lima. Yummy Twenties is aimed towards this mindset of global gastronomy, and I look forward to developing information so that twenty-year-olds like me, recognize their width of options.