Chanterelles, and Marjoram Pesto Pasta

19 11 2009

So, maybe I can focus. Sometimes. On some things. Like food, for instance. Yep, shocker, I really like making stuff to eat and then eating it. I did that for about five hours yesterday. I didn’t eat all of what I made, though. Thankfully, on that front, I have help.

Yesterday was a good example of making the best of a terrible lapse in time management skills. I worked on computer things all day (interspersed with some knitting) and then had decided to go to yoga, which was at four. Now, consider that I’m still looking for a job. And consider that the only thing I had actually scheduled myself to do yesterday was yoga. I got all ready for yoga, and then for some reason (which I may never divine) I decided to kill a few minutes messing with this new mascara I bought. Right before yoga.

Please explain my brain to me.

I mean, the mascara is great. I like it a lot. But I don’t need to put it on for yoga, for pete’s sake. Anyway, I went to close my computer and hop on my bike to find that I had wasted some ungodly amount of time on this mascara and now was never, ever going to make it to yoga in time. Good job, Kirsten. When you miss your daily exercise, there’s only one thing to do: go to the grocery store and then cook up a storm. Yep, if you can’t work it off, put some extra in, that’s what I say.

Okay, in all seriousness, I needed to get some staples and the ingredients for a cobbler and some jalapeno cornbread for our impending craft night (hooray). I really sort of enjoy the experience of wandering around a grocery store by myself; I feel more able to browse and come up with recipes as I walk around. I like going with company, too, but going alone is a different experience altogether. I went to a grocery to which I’d not been, and enjoyed it pretty thoroughly. There were a lot of local options, far more than anywhere else I’ve been thus far, and I was able to secure what seem to be local, humane, vegetarian, hormone- and antibiotic-free eggs, milk, and butter. This is great for me, as previously I’ve felt a bit lost at supermarkets around here.

I found these:

Chanterelles! I’ve never had the chance to cook them before. So I made chanterelle mushrooms and brussels sprouts sauteed in champagne vinegar and butter, threw in some field roast apple-sage vegetarian “sausage” (seriously the best stuff out there, and not nearly as processed as you think it is), and served it over a bed of marjoram pesto star-pasta (like chicken and stars, because I’m seven and I like the shape) with a side of roasted turnips. And then a friend came and had dinner with me! And another stopped by on the way home. I think one of the best parts of cooking is the communality of sharing a meal, and I’m lucky to have people to share with.

So, how bout a recipe? Today I’m going to share a recipe for marjoram pesto. It’s easy, and it will blow your mind. Marjoram is one of my very favorite flavors.

  • 1 bunch marjoram, about a handful, leaves removed from stems
  • 1/4c pine nuts
  • 1/2c grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil, roughly 4 tbsp, but use your judgment
  • 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 5-6 leaves basil

Put everything in a food processor and blend it till it’s smooth. Put it on your pasta. Thank me later. Yeah, that was difficult, right? Okay, okay, one quick thing: if you think it needs more olive oil, do it! Also, to actually make the pasta, I drained the stars, put them back in the pot, added about 1 tbsp of butter, stirred that in with another 1/4c or so of grated parmesan, and then added the pesto.

I’ll post a baking-themed entry later about all my cranberry escapades yesterday evening! I baked 2 different tasty cranberry desserts and I can’t wait to tell you about them. Teaser:


Berry-Vanilla Bean Coffee Cake

20 09 2009

I have done a lot of sleeping this weekend. No, really, a lot. 30+ hours since Thursday night. It’s been glorious. I’ve also made breakfast the last few days, as I am wont to do, and Friday night we had a weenie roast (har har) with our friends Meg and Ben. A weekend of food and sleeping? Yes please. And so, the culmination of this weekend of food and sleeping was a coffee cake. I’ve made it once before, and it’s truly, truly delicious – it’s a slightly modified version of the Better Homes and Gardens Fruit Coffee Cake (and let me tell you, that book will never steer you wrong).

Next time, I’m going to make a batch and a half of the coffee cake because I like to use a bundt pan and it’s not quite enough. BHG recommends using an 8x8x2 baking pan, so unless you have an IKEA springform pan with an interchangeable bottom, one of which is a bundt thinger (Liz!), just do as they suggest until I figure out the proportions. The IKEA one I use is smaller than a regular bundt pan so I suspect it’d go poorly to use the normal one.

Berry-Vanilla Bean Coffee Cake


  • 2c berries (I have used cherries every time; this time I added blackberries, which were fine but didn’t add much. Just don’t use raspberries)
  • 1/4c water
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1.5c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp baking soda
  • 1/4c butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2c buttermilk or sour milk (to make sour milk, pour a bit of vinegar into the bottom of your 1/2c measure and fill to the top with milk; let it sit a minute or so)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste (my favorite brand is Singing Dog, which they sell here in Austin at Wheatsville Co-op)
  • 1/4c all-purpose flour (I used naughty white flour for this part, but I’m sure whatever you have is fine if you don’t keep more than one sort)
  • 1/4c sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter


  1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter your pan really, really well, especially if you are using a bundt pan.
  2. For filling, combine fruit and water in a medium saucepan (if you are using frozen, use a bit less water) and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 5min. Combine cornstarch and sugar, and add to fruit mixture along with the 1/2tbsp vanilla bean paste, cooking and stirring until thickened and bubbly. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl combine 1.5c flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in the 1/4c butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In a small bowl, combine egg, sour milk/buttermilk, and vanilla. Add all at once to flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just moistened (lumpy batter, you know the drill).
  5. For the delicious crumbly topping, in yet another small bowl (shut up and do the dishes later, it’s worth it), combine the 1/4c flour and 1/4c sugar and cut in the 2 tbsp butter until, again, the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. I usually resort to using my fingers, pinching the butter into the flour mix, because the volume here is so small.
  6. Spread the topping over the bottom of the baking dish and spoon half the batter over it, carefully. Spread the fruit over this and then spoon the remaining batter over the fruit. Be careful but don’t get too fussy. (Yes, you are making this upside-down. The original recipe does not call for this to be the case, but I like the more integrated, crust-like effects of the upside-down method are tastier than the crumb cake topping of the original right-side-up. It will also probably be less pretty. Just eat it. You’ll be fine.)
  7. Bake at 350F for 35-45 min, or until golden. Serve warm. Thank me later.