• erin

    Dumplings with my family
    A recent graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, I found myself with no money, no kitchen equipment, and an exceptionally huge appetite. Ideas, improvisations, and yummy meal solutions were discovered in the kitchen of my very first apartment.
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    I've been getting a lot of requests and suggestions for the apartment kitchen. I LOVE these suggestions, keep them coming!

    If you have anything you'd like me to consider (recipes to develop, shortcuts for recipes, great ingredients, or even blog formatting), shoot me an email and let me know!

    em570039@mycia.net

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My Favorite Simple Snack

This weekend was my last (tear) visit to my local farmer’s market. I grabbed a whole bunch of amazing stuff which made for an amazing afternoon of eating and drinking, but of all the things I saw, the radishes were some of the loveliest I’d seen in a long time. It got me thinking about something my mom made once as a quick appetizer for a party.

Good, really fresh radishes are smashingly peppery, and the perfect match for that natural peppery flavor is a rich spread (butter or cheese), and a sprinkling of good sea salt. It’s like the perfect salt and pepper bite, and I could eat it all the time. And I got to thinking that while it’s certainly not fancy, it would be a great quick canape option for upcoming Thanksgiving festivities. Super simple, and everyone’s bound to love it. But you don’t have to believe me…just come over to my house and check out the empty plate.

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Whole Wheat Pasta with Spicy Sundried Tomato and Basil Pesto and Shaved Parmesan

I have been super busy this week – baking things to send in a care package home and a very exciting interview (more on both of these later)! At any rate, last night I came home and had about 1/2 hour to squeeze in cooking and eating my dinner. A simple pasta with pesto from the garden and good parmesan was just the ticket – light, fresh, and super quick. And on to the next task!

Warm Salad of Arugula, Tomatoes, Fava Beans, Shallots, Sausage, Mozzarella, and Whole Wheat Pasta

Pasta is something I don’t make too often…which is a shame because it is such an ideal dish for the apartment kitchen! Fast, simple, and you can really use whatever you have. On the rare occasions that I do make pasta, I usually plan it out pretty carefully: what flavors I want to use, what ingredients will go together, etc. but you don’t have to! Toss together whatever is in the fridge and eat it warm or cold!

This is one of my favorite things to do with pasta – use it as an element in a leafy green salad. It’s not pasta with arugula, it’s arugula with pasta. This makes it a little healthier but also puts the emphasis on the veggies and other toppings which is really the most exciting part of pasta, isn’t it? My favorite part is how the warm pasta gently wilts the greens making it the ultimate warm, delicious, and slightly unexpected dinner. Dressed with a little red wine vinegar, it couldn’t be simpler.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Wilted Shallots, Mushrooms, and Fresh Mozzerella

Pasta makes a quick and easy lunch or dinner at the drop of a hat.  In restaurants, pasta dishes can be extremely costly, which is interesting seeing as it is generally one of the cheapest dishes for any kitchen to make.  Making pasta at home gives you the freedom to make it just how you like it.  The addition of a few different ingredients can make any pasta dish more interesting and much tastier.


I always make my own sauce for my pasta, because there’s not much more in the jarred sauces than tomato, salt, pepper, and maybe some herbs.  I can do that myself – cheaper and better.  From start to finish, this dish will take about 15 – 20 minutes.  Also known as dinner in a snap.

Whole Wheat Sausage, Pear, Fig, and Parmesan Tart

One of the best things about working at a culinary school is the access to great ingredients.  Produce, meats, cheese, and anything else you can think of is the freshest it can be.  My favorite thing to do with great ingredients is keep it simple.  This, of course, is especially great in the apartment kitchen, where I don’t have a lot to work with.


Even though I have access to unique ingredients, you can emulate a simple dish like this with whatever you have on hand, or whatever looks especially fresh or great in the grocery store.  Splurge a little for organic produce or take a trip to a specialty market.  Buy things that are fresh and seasonal, and make flavor combinations that highlight the best in the product. 


Whole Wheat Sausage, Pear, Fig, and Parmesan Tart

Served 2.
Leftover Potential: Reheats easily, though crust may not be quite as crisp.  Also delicious cold.  We had 1 slice left.

Whole Wheat Crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
3/4 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)

olive oil, as needed

1.  Combine the flours, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the yeast on top, and mix completely to combine.
2.  Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the water.  Mix to combine completely, then remove from bowl and knead until smooth.  By hand this should take about 3-5 minutes.
3.  Place the finished dough back in the bowl, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.  
4.  Coat a cookie sheet or pizza pan well with olive oil.  Put the dough onto the pan and use your hands to spread the dough out across the sheet.  Use your fingers to stipple the dough to make it even and pull it to the size and thickness you want.  I made a thin, crisp crust, but a thicker, chewier crust could be achieved with this dough also.

Finished Tart:
5 figs, thinly sliced
1 pear, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 sausages, precooked, sliced thinly
parmesan cheese, as needed

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Evenly spread the ingredients across the tart dough.  
3.  Finely grate the parmesan across the dough.  Use as much or as little as you wish, but the cheese will add a saltiness and help bind the ingredients to the tart.
4.  Bake until the edges are golden brown and crisp, about 15-20 minutes.