Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Hi everyone.

Just letting you know that Renaissance Kitchen has been moved to! You can find all my current recipes as well as photos, etc..!!

Thanks for checking it out. 


Sunday, September 19, 2010

what links us together.

Whenever I'm having a bad day, I cook.

It doesn't even matter if it something simple, like making the vinaigrette for a salad from scratch; sometimes all it really takes is just the mindless act of chopping ingredients on a cutting board, or stirring a pot of something bubbling away at the stove, that makes me smile.

Whatever it is, the kitchen never fails to make me feel better. Growing up with a younger brother who was handicapped, my family had its fair share of heartache. But I've never been one of those people who looks back on their childhood as a bad one. It wasn't all that bad, just unstable; to the point where constant change and adapting became normal to me, like breathing. 

So maybe that's why, from a young age, I fell in love with baking. The precise measuring of ingredients; the smell of something deliciously sweet or savory that permeated from the oven. I loved it all. Mostly, I loved the predictability of it; that I could start off by just reading the instructions for a recipe, and by the time I was whisking ingredients together, or spooning dough into rounds on a cookie sheet, I could transport myself to a different place. A place where, by following a few simple directions, butter, sugar and flour could produce something as consistant and wonderful as strawberry shortcake. 

Today, when I cook in my kitchen, I don't just bake; I boil and roast and fry and saute and blend. I whisk and caramelize and knead and stir. I don't have to follow a recipe's instructions as often as I used to, and sometimes I make up my own. But there's one thing that hasn't changed since I was that little girl, standing in my parent's kitchen, trying to make sense of my life by way of chocolate chip cookies. What hasn't changed is that cooking, no matter what form it takes on, still has the power to transform me, or the people I love, even on the hardest of days. 

I'm not that little girl any longer, and I've become a much better cook than I was then. But that doesn't mean that I've forgotten who I was, or where I've come from. Each time that I sit down to eat on my grandmother's wooden dining table, or churn sorbet in my mother's old Kitchenaid Ice Cream maker, I take my family with me. The memories, good and bad, make up the woman that I am today, like the many layers that make up the dishes I create in my kitchen.

I cook, because it makes me happy, and it makes other people happy. We all have different ways in which we deal with the stress or pain in our daily lives. For some people, it's a glass of whiskey or wine at the end of a long day- or yoga, or running, and that's just fine. For me, I choose to cook in my kitchen. The pots and pans, the wooden spoons and measuring cups- the way it makes not just me, but anyone, smile when they eat something that tastes delicious. 

Like me, both of my brothers share a love for food. My older brother, Steve, was a restaurant chef for many years, and my younger brother, Michael- well he loves anything you put in front of him, especially if it's laced in ketchup. I like to think that it's something we share as siblings, a tiny invisible string that links us together.

They're who I am thinking of today, while I wait for my Roma tomatoes and Italian sausages to finish roasting in their juices with rosemary, thyme and olive oil. I can feel my bad mood begin to lift already. I'll smile when I taste the caramelized onions and garlic, whose flavor has mellowed and sweetened during their time in the oven- the perfect balance to the acidity of the tomatoes and the richness of the meat. And I'll smile because of that little girl in her parent's kitchen, trying to make sense of the world with her mother's cookbook, her grandmother's green pyrex mixing bowl, and an oven.

Roasted Roma Tomatoes and Italian Sausage
Yields enough for two hearty servings (but can be doubled very easily to accommodate more)

A Note:

This is the kind of recipe that will put anyone in a better mood, no matter who they are. It's mindless cooking, but comforting, and the most rewarding dish to to eat. You can serve it with big hunks of toasted bread, or just eat it straight from the refrigerator with a knife and fork, which is exactly what John and I did. It's also fabulous the next day, chopped up and tossed with any kind of pasta. 

  • Four good quality Italian sausages (we used "hot Italian", but any Italian type will do)
  • 8 Roma tomatoes
  • One large cippolini onion, thinly sliced (or any other kind of yellow variety)
  • Five garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • a sprig or two of rosemary
  • a sprig of thyme
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  •  extra-virgin olive oil
  • a few small glugs of good quality balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper    
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Layer the sliced onions and garlic on the bottom of a large baking/roasting tray. 
  3. Drizzle a decent amount of olive oil into the pan, enough to decently cover the onions and garlic with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place pan in the oven, and let the onions and garlic caramelize, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and add roma tomatoes, herbs and sausage to the pan. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and drizzle a tiny bit more olive oil, if desired. Toss everything together to coat with oil. 
  6. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. 
  7. Turn sausage over on other side, and pour a few glugs of balsamic vinegar over everything. Roast for another 20-40 minutes, depending on how browned you like your sausage. 
  8. Check seasoning, and serve on its own- or even better- with big hunks of toasty bread. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

keeping summer around.

Summer came late this year.

June and July passed quickly, and so did my two week trip to Europe; and by the time August rolled around, the sun had still managed to stay hidden behind thick, grey clouds on more days than I could count. Summer isn't exceptionally warm when you live in a Northern California beach town, and you get used to the fog and the colder winds that blow in from the ocean. But this felt different. It felt like Spring would never leave, permanently stuck between seasons, repeating itself like a broken record. And it was starting to get personal. The cold weather had been bullying my garden for so long that it began to take a toll on our fruits and vegetables, leaving them sad and stagnant. Even my neighbors and friends agreed that the weather was affecting everyone, leaving us to sulk around inside, hoping that the never-ending fog outside would somehow dissipate. I felt it too, in the cool breeze that blew through my window at night, forcing me deeper underneath the covers.

But then the end of August came, and things began to change. My garden perked up, and so did I, and all of my favorite seasonal produce finally began to pop up at the farmer's market, which was just starting to come alive again. Watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, green beans, basil, sweet bell peppers and spicy hot peppers. John and I took back with us as much as we could, including a bouquet or two of bright yellow sunflowers that had beckoned to me earlier.

It's not that summer had done it on purpose, making us wait all that time. Maybe she had just forgotten for awhile, or overslept. Either way, we forgave her, asking only in return that she might stay around, for just a little while longer.

It's mid-September now and the sun is still shining, but soon enough it will be gone. Eventually the summer produce will be gone too, so there's really only one thing we can do. We'll stuff all of that delicious food into jars and can it. Jars filled with all kinds of jams and preserves, of green beans and carrots and peppers pickled in their own spicy brine, of homemade ketchup and heirloom tomatoes floating in their own juices. W'ell pickle and preserve and can until we can't stand it any longer- and when winter finally comes back around, and the cold air leaves it's mark on our cheeks, we'll stay inside where it's warm and open a jar of something that tastes like summer. Something to look forward to.

This is just the start. We've canned a lot, and we plan to can a lot more. And lets not forget that fall harvest will be upon us soon enough; so there will be lots of tasty additions to our growing canned collection. Already, the bartlett pears have appeared by the box load, golden and plump and ripe with sweetness. Which is exactly why, last weekend, we mashed them and forced them into submission with a little bit of lemon juice and sugar and vanilla bean. We appropriately titled our creation "Vanilla Bean Pear Jam", and we're proud of it. I really hope that you make it, not just because it's my recipe, but because it's that good. In my opinion, it puts the "J" in Jam- and somehow I think you'll agree.

Vanilla Bean Pear Jam
Yields about 5 half-pint jars 

A must read side note: 

The first time I tasted pear jam with vanilla bean was this summer, while I was staying at my friend Virginie's apartment in Paris, France. The first breakfast that we had together, Virginie broke apart a fresh baguette that she had picked up from her favorite neighborhood "boulangerie" (every Parisian has their personal favorite boulangerie, in which they swear that all other boulangerie's come second). To spread on our bread, she offered me the jam, which was a coveted old family recipe. In fact, the opened jar at the table had been made by Virginie herself, on a recent trip to her parent's house in the country. It was, as I'm sure you can imagine, delicious; and I promised myself I would try to recreate it once I had made it back home to the States. I'm not sure what Virginie's family uses for sweetness, or if they add lemon juice or pectin to theirs, but this combination works for me and tastes good enough that each time I take a spoonful of it, it brings me back to Virginie's kitchen. I hope she approves.

  • 4 cups of bartlett pears, peeled, cored and mashed
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • one fresh vanilla bean pod
  • 3/4 cup unrefined granulated sugar
  • all-fruit natural pectin, amount varies (amount required depends on the pectin brand you choose; it's not a problem, just make sure you use the amount that your brand suggests for the amount of fruit and sugar that is stated in my recipe)
  • five half-pint jam jars and their lids
  • very large pot, or canning pot, for boiling 
  1. Wash your jars and lids with hot, soapy water; rinse well. Leave the lids to dry on a clean kitchen towel. Place the jars in a canning pot and fill with warm water, until the water reaches at least 2 inches above the jars. 
  2. Bring to a rolling boil, and then turn down the heat; let stand in hot water.
  3. Place mashed pears and lemon juice into a large saucepan. 
  4. Add proper amount of calcium water (if using- refer to your brand of pectin's directions).
  5. Mix sugar and proper amount of pectin in a separate bowl, until thoroughly combined.
  6. Scrape the grains out of the vanilla bean pod, and place them (along with the pod) in with the pear mixture. Bring to a boil on medium heat.
  7. Once the mixture is boiling, add pectin-sugar mix to the pan; stirring vigorously for 1-2 minutes, until it has properly dissolved.
  8. Return to boil, and then remove from heat. Remove the vanilla bean pod.
  9. Remove jars from hot water. Ladle the jars with the jam to 1/4" from the top of the jar. This is very important if you want a proper seal; don't mess around too much with how much space you leave.
  10. Screw on lids, and place jars back in the pot of hot water, and bring back to a rolling boil. Boil the jars for 10 minutes, from when the water immediately begins to boil.
  11. Remove jars from water. Let jars cool. (You may even hear a "ping" or two come from the jars while they cool; don't worry, this just means they are sealing correctly)
  12. Check seals for proper seal- lids should be sucked down. Lasts about three weeks once opened.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

forgiveness in the form of Focaccia.

I have a confession to make. It's something I could only trust with you, so I hope you can keep a secret. Four weeks ago, I came home from my amazing trip to Europe. I took my clothes and shoes out of my suitcase, put them back in their usual place in my closet. I gently arranged the coveted teas I brought back from Paris on my kitchen shelf, alongside my freshly dried chili pepper flakes brought back from Barcelona. I ate a lot of chocolate, which I managed to sneak through customs in the airport, along with a whole box of heavenly French macarons that, on a side note, John and I polished off rather quickly.

And then. I found myself in my kitchen, and I began to cook. It had been awhile, and I realized right away how much I had missed it. Don't get me wrong- it was so nice being with friends, sharing good wine and laughs and recipes from their kitchen. But back at home on my own turf, I took one loving glance at my Le Crueset pans and my favorite bread knife and my Kitchenaid mixer, and I knew it was all over from there. Oh reader, I made so many things. I made a gorgeous plum torte, a french apricot tart with a creamy vanilla filling, three pots of spicy chicken noodle soup, a pot of lentil sausage soup, a pot of fennel vegetable soup, a roast chicken, two loaves of foccacia bread, and Panzanella salad with grilled bell peppers, onions, crusty bread, and tomatoes. I made zucchini fritters, fig ice cream, chicken stock, and heirloom tomato salad. Hell, I even made a loaf of oatmeal sandwich bread.

But the problem is, dear reader- the reason I am telling you all of this- is that I made all of that wonderfully delicious food, and I didn't blog a single one of them. Not only that, but I never even gave you one photograph from my travels to enjoy while you waited! And there were so many things to show you- like the one of the best cafe creme I ever had, in a bistro in Paris; or the one of John eating a really, really good carne empanada, at the unbelievably amazing La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, Spain.

So, I'll admit it. I have been a complete and utter slacker, in every possible way. I have been a slacker in the way of chicken noodle soup, zingy and warm from suprising ingredients like lemon and cinnamon; and I've been selfish, ever so selfish, keeping all those wonderful recipes to myself. I didn't even share the fig (fig!) ice cream with you, and it's because of my guilt that I am here to offer you my humblest apologies, in the best way I can; I am here to offer you the recipe for my Tomato-Rosemary Focaccia Bread.

I know. I know what you're thinking. That you're not so easily bought. That you're forgiveness is worth far more than one stinking recipe for bread. But that's because you don't know how perfectly delicious my focaccia bread is. And how suprisingly easy it is for you to duplicate. You'll have to make it yourself to fully understand, and that's why I'm hoping you will. So if you haven't given up on me yet, and you're still reading this, than please, for crying out loud, just make the damn bread. I promise it won't dissappoint, and you'll be so happy when it comes out of the oven, golden and speckled with rosemary and tomato and fragrant from yeast and garlic and salt, that you'll forget all about my horrible, selfish ways. Perfectly crunchy on the outside with a soft, chewy crumb in the inside, this bread is the perfect accompaniment to any meal, anytime of the day; but I personally think it's best eaten straight from the pan, when it's still warm from the oven.  Anyway, you decide, and in the meantime, I'll leave you with the photographs I promised I'd show you, and I hope that you'll forgive me.

a cafe creme (espresso w/milk) at a French bistro.
Near the Louvre museum in Paris.
The best carne empanada I've ever tasted.    

My personal fave: chili's, and lots of them- at La Boqueria Market in Spain.

Mushroom varietals at La Boqueria.

Tomato-Rosemary Focaccia Bread

On a side note (because there's always a side note, isn't there?): This recipe is adapted from a March 2002 issue of Gourmet magazine, but their version called for more flour, and in my opinion, the dough came out far too dry- which is why my version starts off with less flour, and you can just add more if your dough needs it.  I also added the garlic and tomato- but if you're not a fan, there's no reason why you couldn't omit them. I've made this recipe dozens of times without the tomatoes, and played around with a few more herb combinations, which I encourage you to do. This is just my personal favorite combination at the moment. Whatever you do, promise me you will add the rosemary. It's a must.
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 4 cups (may need a bit more depending on how dry/moist your dough is) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 extra tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon course sea salt
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons table salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary, plus extra 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 large tomato (or two small tomatoes) cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
Another note: I use a KitchenAid stand mixer to bring my dough together, because it's easy and quick; but if you don't have one, you can certainly do it with your hands and knead it the old-school way. 

  1. Stir together 1 and 2/3 cups lukewarm (105 to 115 degrees) water and yeast in a bowl of mixer and let stand until creamy/foamy, about 5 minutes. 
  2. Add flour, starting off with just 4 cups, and adding more, a 1/4 cup at a time, if your dough seems too wet. Add 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary and 2 1/2 tablespoons table salt and beat with paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough forms. Replace paddle with dough hook and knead dough at medium-high speed until the dough is soft, smooth and sticky, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons more flour. Knead dough for 1 minute- your dough should feel slightly sticky- then transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn dough to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise, at room temperature, until it is doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
  4. Press dough evenly into a generously oiled 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Let the dough rise once more, covered completely with a kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  6. Make shallow indentations all over dough with your fingertips, then drizzle evenly with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary.
  7. Lay tomato slices evenly on top of dough, making sure not to let any slices sit too close to the edge of the dough (their juices will run off the sides of the bread and create a mess, and trust me you don't want that). 
  8. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt and the sliced garlic evenly over the top of your dough.
  9. Okay, here's the important part: Bake in the middle of the oven, for about 6 minutes, until lightly browned, then turn the oven down to 475 degrees. Bake until golden and cooked through, about another additional 15-20 minutes.
  10. Immediately place focaccia onto a rack using two spatulas, or inverting a rack over pan and flipping the focaccia onto the rack.

Monday, June 28, 2010

a farewell with deli meat.

Last night, John and I went over to my brother's house for dinner. It was one of those nights when nobody felt like cooking, so we all agreed on something uncomplicated. Steve's wife, Elena, had just come back from a recent trip to Washington D.C. to visit her mother, and had found herself back in an old Italian deli that she had visited often as a young girl. She brought back with her a variety of mouth-watering Italian deli meats, like Mortadella and spicy Ham- and with that in mind, we decided on a dinner of Italian-style sandwiches, with wax peppers, pepperoncinis and olives to snack on the side.

We layered thick slices of freshly baked Focaccia bread (from local breadmaker Brio) with buffalo mozzarella, provolone and the prized deli-meats, and then topped it all off with a sweet-and-spicy chili-pepper spread and lettuce and tomato. Mine disappeared rather quickly, and I couldn't help thinking how lucky I was that in my family, this was considered an "uncomplicated" dinner. It was absolutely delicious. And then, of course, I had a never-ending supply of hot peppers to chose from- which as you might already know, makes me very, very happy. My brother and I both have a special place in our hearts for spicy food, so I can always count on getting my fix at his house.

Between big bites of food and a few cold beers to wash it all down, we chatted about the World Cup, laughed until our stomachs hurt, and discussed my upcoming trip to Europe (two more days!). While we chatted, Steve and Elena's kids- Nico and Natalie- popped in and out of the conversation, eager to show us a new toy (Natalie just acquired her first set of golf clubs), or just to ask for more yogurt (Nico's favorite). It was a great meal, with great company, and I couldn't think of a better way to say goodbye to my brother and his family before leaving for my trip.

At this point, I'm sure you've guessed that I have no recipe for you today, but I hope you can cut me some slack, since I technically could be packing my suitcase, instead of writing on here. I guess, since were on this subject, I should also say that I can't promise I will be posting many recipes on here during my trip- but I can promise you lots and lots of photographs of food, and stories of my adventures along the way.

I'll be back in the States in about a month, so in the meantime, I'll keep you all posted, and wish me bon voyage!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wishful Thinking.

There are so many reasons why I love Italian food, and it's not just because my boyfriend is Italian. Even as a young girl, I always had a special connection to the cuisine. I think at one point I even wished my own mother (hey Mom! I love you!) would turn into an Italian one, so I could rush home from school everyday to find her standing at the stove, stirring a big pot of tomato sauce, and yelling at me to chop more garlic. That wish probably came from the fact that my first serious boyfriend- who was also Italian (what can I say, I guess I have a thing for them)- had a mother who was born in Italy, and still had the accent to prove it. Whenever she would call on him to come down for dinner, or ask me if I wanted a piece of her homemade Tiramisu, I would swoon every so slightly at the sound of her voice, my head filled with visions of an unknown country whose food I had fallen in love with.

As it goes, my mother is actually Jewish, not Italian, but she does make a mean tomato sauce. Seriously. It's from her recipe that I've created my own, and although I've never been to Italy, I think it's some of the best tomato sauce I've ever tasted. It's tangy and sweet,  rich and creamy, and hey- even my boyfriend approves.

Basic Tomato Sauce
Yields enough sauce for about 1 pound of pasta, or serves 4

Almost every Italian dish, including this one, starts with a soffritto, which is a combination of finely minced vegetables and aromatic herbs. The most basic of soffritto consists of a mix of onions, carrots, celery, garlic, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. For this recipe, I've tweaked mine a bit, and used butter instead of olive oil, which I think makes all the difference in the flavor of this particular sauce. I've also omitted the celery, but you could add it in and I'm sure it would taste just fine. In Italian, soffritto means "fry slowly"- and I can't tell you enough how important it is to spend some serious time with your soffritto, because the more patience and love you give it, the more flavorful your tomato sauce will be.

A few other things to think about:

I recommend lightly blending your sauce together at the end in batches with a blender. Once blended, the carrot creates the most beautiful creamy looking sauce, so much so that someone might think it has actual cream in it- and don't worry, I won't tell if you won't.

Also, this recipe can be made with either fresh tomatoes or canned, depending on what you can find. In the Summer, I usually use fresh tomatoes, since they are at their peak of flavor, and in the Winter when tomatoes are more bland and mealy, I use them canned. This summer, however, there has been absolutely no sign of a decent tomato- so I made my sauce with the canned tomatoes- and honestly, I can't tell the difference! I think the most important part of this recipe is the soffritto, anyhow- but you decide.

  • 1 28 oz. can of good quality whole tomatoes, including their juice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • salt, to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned 
  1. Heat butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add onion and carrot and stir to coat. Sprinkle with salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened and cooked through.
  2. Remove cover and add minced garlic. Increase heat to medium, and cook garlic for one minute. Add the tomatoes and their juice, shredding them with your fingers to break the whole tomatoes up.
  3. Add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes (if using), and season with a little more salt, to taste. Bring sauce to a low simmer, adjusting heat accordingly, and cook, uncovered until sauce has thickened about 20 minutes. 
  4. If you can, it is recommended that you blend the sauce in batches through the blender. Be careful! This step can be tricky and hot- don't let your blender explode and spray tomato sauce all over the kitchen walls (trust me, I've done it, and it's not fun).
  5. Add julienned basil leaves into sauce and mix well.
  6. Toss sauce with pasta noodles, and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

I've got my head in the clouds.

Last night, John and I were lucky enough to come across some unbelievably fresh Wild King Salmon. We were told it had just been taken off the truck from Washington only two hours before, and in that moment, we were sold. The Salmon being the star of the meal, we decided to marinate it in a Teriyaki sauce and then pan sear it. We gravitated towards some bright green and vibrant looking Swiss chard, and agreed to saute it the usual way with olive oil, garlic and a bit of lemon juice. We plopped a few Garnet yams into our basket, with visions of them baking in the oven, and just like that, dinner was planned.

I am an unabashadly huge fan of baked yams, and when they are roasting in the oven with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper, I can't imagine why anyone would not be. Filled with vitamins and nutrients and lots of flavor, yams (if not already) should be your best friend in the kitchen. They also pair perfectly, if I might add, with the sweet and buttery flavors of our Teriyaki Salmon.

I would like to say that I stopped here, but no, I just had to make homemade ice cream. I just had to place a saucepan with cream and sugar on the stove top, and then apparently, when I walked away for approximately 30 seconds, it just had to bubble and boil over and spill onto the stove, where it instantly spread and crackled into a thin layer of burnt crisp.

Well. Wasn't that fun? I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as John and I enjoyed cleaning it up and watching our kitchen smoke up so bad that we could have played Marco-Polo with our eyes open. Apparently I wasn't done with the fun, or maybe I couldn't think straight inside the cloud of burnt milk. But somehow, the car was started, a trip to the grocery store was taken, and suddenly I found myself staring at a brand new carton of heavy whipping cream, in a somewhat less smoky kitchen.

Let me tell you reader, if you think that was the end of that, you are very, very mistaken. Honestly, you really should know me better at this point. You've read about my adventures with the Tomato Tart, after all. It should come as no surprise, then, that in the time it took to finish dinner, I had whipped and stirred another batch of ice cream into submission, and had even added bits of chocolate chunks to it at the last minute, on a whim.

After an unbelievably delicious meal (the salmon, with a caramelized top and a buttery inside was beyond good, I tell you- beyond), we sat down with cups of our ice cream topped with fresh strawberries, and it was, alright. Not amazing, just alright. I've made some really tasty variations of ice cream in my day, and the consistency of this one was perfect. But after a few bites, it was decided that the recipe I used had called for too much sugar. I like my ice cream smooth and rich but not too cloyingly sweet. I'm sure you'd agree.

So you see, I can't give you the recipe for the ice cream, because I would never, ever give you a recipe I wasn't completely enamored with. Don't worry though. It's only the beginning of summer, and I promise to supply you with some of my favorite homemade ice cream recipes in the very near future. But what I can give you right now, is the recipe for the baked yams. Easy, simple, and perfect- every time.

Baked Yam Halves
Serves 2

  • Two medium yams (we used Garnet, but you can obviously use Jewel instead) 
  • good olive oil
  • one teaspoon or so freshly chopped thyme
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Halve the yams length-wise and place them in a shallow baking dish in a single layer, cut side up.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.
  4. Bake until golden brown and very tender, about 40-50 minutes.