oh baby!

Friends! I am so soo excited that I can finally talk about our forthcoming little nugget!! Do you know how hard it was to keep this secret from you for almost four months?? Harder than sitting in front of a pile of cheese fries and not eating any of them. Or, harder than not eating bagels and matzo with cream cheese every other hour during my first trimester. I feel like we need to ketchup on a lot of things. 

Number one, zucchini is gross! Cream cheese, citrus fruits, bagels, matzo, and Sonic tater tots drenched in honey mustard after three hours of sitting at the hairdresser are… the most amazing things in the entire world. So is Korean BBQ with Aunt Lucy. And hand pulled noodles on Rob’s rooftop. And potstickers!!!!! Wow, eating while pregnant is incredible, as long as it’s not zucchini. At one point I did have to test a zucchini recipe for Girl Meets Farm, a recipe that I used to love, but it grossed me out so much. I think it was the only thing during the whole month of filming that I couldn’t scarf down in the meal scene at the end (aside from things that were just off limits, like the runny yolks in the scotch eggs and the salami on top of one of the salads). 

Cravings aside, nutrition was the first thing that I threw myself into after learning that I was pregnant. Eating immediately took on a new meaning to me since I felt like it was the biggest thing I had control over in that moment to take care of little Poppy Seed (oh, Poppy Seed is our nickname for him/her since that’s how big he/she was when we first learned of his/her existence). I read everything I could get my hands on about getting enough protein, calcium, carbs, omega-3s, iron, etc., etc., and found myself in a new world where I now get cheese on all of my sandwiches, drink milk every morning, and sprinkle Trader Joe’s super seed mix into my oatmeal. It was a slightly clumsy ride because in the beginning I miscalculated my protein and took in probably twice as much as I needed, so I puffed up like a puffer fish/body builder combo. There were days when I got a little stressed about it and just wanted to puff up in peace and sweatpants, and not in front of a camera and in TV clothes, but I got over it anytime I’d just think of how it’s all in the name of Poppy Seed. (And also I’ve just become more comfortable asking for a higher angle on any camera pointed at my face lol.) These days I think I’ve gotten a grip on what I should be eating, and it’s similar to before I was pregnant with just a few modifications, like a nice big breakfast since I’m often starving in the middle of the night and when I wake up.

Figuring out my wardrobe for Girl Meets Farm and Gingerbread Showdown (which was filmed in my first trimester) was a challenge because everything just fit differently, right from the beginning. It was all confusing. I suddenly didn’t know how things were supposed to fit or how they were going to look on camera, even little things like my aprons fit so differently. It all hit a head last week when I suddenly had to fit into fancier clothes for some events and everything exposed my belly! (Hatch saved me, and for basics, Old Navy and Gap saved me. And for my winter coat—this is my new favorite find—Bridge the Bump worked perfectly. So I’m slowing figuring it out!)

By far the biggest challenge though was how sleepy I was throughout my first trimester. I was glued to my couch. I’d sit and do work on my computer, and then nap a little, and work a little more, and then on most days Eggboy would peel me up and we’d go for evening walks that felt like I had lead strapped to my feet, but they almost always helped. Toward the end of the first trimester I got soo frustrated with how hard it was to be productive, but one day I woke up and all of my energy was back, like magic! Thankfully, that day happened about a week before filming for season two started.

Workout wise, I’ve been doing as much as I can with weights, resistance bands, and cardio, but it’s just bonkers how much easier it is to get worn out! My biggest inspiration with workouts has been the Lamoureaux twins (Monique and Jocelyne), who are due in a few months. They post tons of their workouts on IG. And In two weeks I’m going to start swim lessons, which I’m really excited about. 

These days, I am enjoying second trimester energy, the 300 extra calories I get to eat each day, and the little dances that Poppy Seed recently started doing! We’ve been researching cribs, bassinets, strollers, baby monitors, and baby names. It’s all so fun. I never thought I’d say the words “the sage green uppa baby vista stroller is absolutely gorgeous!” And yet, here I am. Nursery wise, I think Eggboy and I are both in agreement that it will basically be a library of baby books with a crib in the middle. Although we aren’t planning to go all out on the nursery until Poppy Seed is born. According to Jewish custom, doing anything extravagant for an unborn baby could cause very bad luck. So necessities will be set up, and everything else (like the insanely cute toddler-sized tractor from Eggparents, omgggg) will stay in our garage or another building on the farm. 


Next up on our to-do list is to read about baby sign language (my dad and stepmom did this with Mia and it was incredible!), breastfeeding, and doulas. And following mom/baby/maternity Instagram accounts with abandon. 

Ok, I think that’s everything that’s been on my brain for now. 

Thank you soo much for all of your sweet words on our announcement!!! Sending hugs to all of you <3 <3

-Yeh!

P.S. Here are some pics from this weekend’s GMF episode, Thanksgiving!!! I’m making a grilled sweet and smoky turkey, charred creamed corn, soft pretzel stuffing, and my lemon olive oil cake with cranberry glaze! And there are some very special guests :)

matcha, red bean, and almond rainbow cookies

I was a total blob this weekend as I came down off of this month of filming! I made snickerdoodles and then ate snickerdoodles, watched the UND hockey team score a million goals against Wisconsin, baked an extra buttery loaf of Alexandra’s bread, and discovered the brilliance that is Cynthia’s ginger chicken and dumplings. If you need proof that magic exists, just boil some chicken with tons of scallions and ginger, that’s it. Omg, it’s the best thing in my chicken life since Melissa Clark’s salt and pepper chicken. And then add a double batch of chewy dumplings and eat it while binging Three Wives, One Husband, and when those episodes run out (there were only four?!), embark on the holiday spirit.

I really can’t say that I’m glad that filming is over, because having the crew in my house and cooking all of my favorite winter foods rocked, but I can say that sitting on the couch and not thinking about anything except for snickerdoods and dumplings for a good few hours was deeply clutch.

Now that that’s out of my system though I’m beginning to think about Chrismukkah cookies and all of the cute boxes of them that I’m going to assemble over the coming season for various reasons (parties and gifts) and non-reasons (they look cute and are fun to make). Rainbow cookies are always a hit because they’re not only fiercely almondy and tasty but they also have a nice shelf life because of how moist they are. And I especially love them because, well, they’re actually cake.

I’m starting to exhaust variations on them (cake, gelato sandwiches), but wanted to drop these into the Chrismukkah lineup because they’re extra special! The green layer is actually matcha (an a+ pairing with the almond base), and the red layer has red bean paste (nutty and slightly fruity, also great with almond). I worked these up when I was developing a Chinese Jewish menu for an event next week in Baltimore. While matcha is typically thought of as a Japanese tea, it actually originated in China! And red bean paste is something that I grew up eating at dim sum in the center of Jian Dui, or fried sesame balls. I was afraid of it until Stoop told me that it tasted like peanut butter, so then I liked it. Classic rainbow cookies have Italian roots, but Jews love em. They end up on lots of our holiday dessert tables and I’m totally obsessed with their colorful, soft almondiness. This version doesn’t look too far off from the traditional but the added matcha and red bean paste add unexpected dimension and beautiful natural color. They are a perfect addition to any holiday cookie box!


Rainbow Cookies

Makes 16 cookies

ingredients

3 large eggs, separated

2 tb (13g) sugar + 1/2 c (100g) sugar

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

6 oz (173g) almond paste, chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/3 c (174g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp matcha powder

1/4 c (68g) fine red bean paste

Red food coloring

3 tb (64g) apricot or raspberry jam

4 oz (114g) dark chocolate

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three 8” by 4” loaf pans and line them with parchment paper that comes at least 2” up the sides of the pan (these little wings will help you lift the cookie out of the pan). If you don’t have 3 loaf pans, you can bake the layers in batches. 

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and then with the mixer running on medium, gradually add the 2 tablespoons sugar. Increase the speed to medium high and beat to stiff peaks. Set them aside.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, almond paste, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the lemon juice and almond extract, and then reduce the speed to medium low and gradually add the flour. Mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whites. Transfer a third of the mixture to one of the loaf pans and use a small offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Transfer another third of the mixture to a separate bowl and fold in the matcha powder. Fold the red bean paste and a couple of drops of red food coloring into the remaining third. Transfer these into the remaining 2 loaf pans, spread them out evenly and then bake until the tops are just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then lift them out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Stack them up with 1 1/2 tablespoons jam between the layers. Wrap the loaf firmly in plastic wrap, weight it down with a couple of heavy cookbooks, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or by microwaving it for 30 second increments, stirring after each, until it’s smooth. Remove it from heat and stir continuously until it is no longer hot. Spread it over the top and sides of the cookie cake loaf and stick it in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes. Cut width-wise into 1” slices and then cut each of those slices in half to make 16 cookies.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container. 


-yeh!

p.s. Watch the season premiere of Girl Meets Farm this Sunday at 11am/10 central!!! We’re making goulash, chocolate hazelnut donuts, hawaij apple pie, and brussels sprouts!!

pizza bourekas

It’s been a while since we discussed pizza night recipes! Pizza night is obviously really exciting during the summer because the tomatoes and basil from the garden make every Friday a home run. In July, I got into such a great groove of sticking a pizza in the oven, running outside to the garden (or, more likely, sending Eggboy out), and yanking a few basil leaves to tear over a steamy hot margarita. Our basil did so well this year in its sunny spot in front of the house. When fall came, we transitioned to apple pizzas with apples from our trees and squash pizzas with some of the gajillion butternut squash that we grew, but my problem with those types of flavors that straddle the line between savory and sweet is that I love them sooooo much for about two days and then I immediately get sick of them and I can’t think about them for another year. 

So after the garden had truly died, we fell into kind of a janky pizza phase: a few weeks ago I was dead set on trying that place in town that college kids go to exclusively after 2am, at one point I got a frozen cauliflower pizza, and two weeks ago there was the five course dive bar pizza tasting experience. They were all awesome. But like awesome in the way that spray can cheese is awesome…????

I figured that all of this pre-made pizza could have meant that I was in a pizza making rut, so rather than continuing to mourn the loss of my basil plant, I decided to shake things up and make pizza bourekas. Bourekas!! I love bourekas. Bourekas are pastry pockets that can be filled with pretty much anything, the most common of which have potatoes or cheese. I first fell in love with them at the Levinsky market in Tel Aviv, and they’re originally from the Balkans (they’re related to this Borek). With store-bought puff pastry, they’re not too difficult to make, and with pizza fillings they are just plain addictive. Cheesy sauciness in a buttery flaky pastry? Oh yes yes yes. They’re just as great hot out of the oven as they are cold out of the fridge the next morning for breakfast, which is the sign of a solid pizza situation. You can add any of your favorite pizza toppings, these days I’m into mini pepperoni, which I am hereby calling “meat sprinkles.”

…Slowly backs away…

And I’m using ingredients from one of my favorite grocery brands, Our Family! If you’re from North Dakota or Michigan, you know (and love) Our Family from seeing them in almost every section of the grocery store. I use their ingredients all the time because they’re reliable and the name just makes me smile. The culinary team for Girl Meets Farm also loves Our Family because their label is really easy to greek, but my North Dakota friends still recognized it! Which made me really happy. Thanks so much for sponsoring this post, Our Family


Pizza Bourekas

Makes 6

Ingredients

4 oz Our Family shredded mozzarella

6 oz Our Family whole milk or part skim ricotta

2 large eggs

2 tb all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

A good pinch of Kosher salt

Black pepper

A pinch of dried oregano

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

6 tb (94g) pizza sauce, plus more for serving

Additional toppings as desired: chopped peppers, onions, mini pepperoni, sausage, etc.

Crushed red pepper, for topping

Clues

Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the mozzarella, ricotta, 1 of the eggs, flour, salt, a few turns of pepper, and oregano.

On a work surface lightly dusted with flour, roll the puff pastry out to 10” x 15”. If it gets sticky, you can dust with more flour as needed. Cut the pastry into 6 squares and transfer to the baking sheet. Place a dollop of the cheese mixture into one of the corners of each square, leaving a 3/4” border (see photo above for reference). Create a well in the center of the cheese mixture and add a spoonful of sauce. Sprinkle with additional desired toppings. Beat the remaining egg with a splash of water to make an egg wash and brush the edges of the pastry with it. Fold the pastry over and press to seal well, using a fork to pinch the edges. Repeat with remaining pastry squares. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with crushed red pepper. 

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375ºf. 

Bake until golden brown; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes. (It’s alright if some of them break open at the seams while baking, it’s part of their rustic charm.) Let cool slightly and then serve warm with additional pizza sauce for dunking. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and are great cold the next morning for breakfast! You can also prepare a whole batch a day or two in advance, store them in the fridge, and reheat them for a few minutes in a 325ºf oven before serving. 

-yeh!

Thank you, Our Family, for sponsoring this post

Photos by Chantell and Brett Quernemoen

pistachio and olive oil basbousa

We are down to the last week and a half of filming season 2 and I miss it already! I love this crew so much. Right now they’re in my kitchen filming a conga line gif of sprinkly rice krispies treats and it is the silliest. The past few days have been warm enough for us to sit outside and eat lunch together (with Sven and Ole, who also are going to miss the crew dearly when we wrap). And over the weekend we went out and ordered all of the pizza at the best dive bar in town, Judy’s, but because they only have one pizza oven it came coursed out like a fancy tasting menu, which was a great new way to eat pizza. While we ate we sat anxiously waiting for the lottery numbers to be announced because we all went in on tickets together… we didn’t win. Or maybe we did and I just can’t tell you because we all made a pact not to tell anyone if we won. (I guess you’ll know I won if I start using whole vanilla beans and manuka honey in everything.)


In Eggboy news, sugar beet harvest is chugging along! The weather is so conventionally beautiful that at this rate all of the beets will be out of the ground by the end of the week. Then we party!!! Then Eggboy catches up on sleep. Then it’s Thanksgiving, then it’s Chrismukkah, then it’s 2019. It’s all smooth sailing from here! 

So, like, let’s eat cake about it??

This is my new favorite cake, Basbousa! Basbousa is a Middle Eastern semolina cake that has a coarse texture, not unlike that of cornbread. When it comes out of the oven it gets covered in a sugary syrup, so even though it’s crumbly, it’s very moist. I first met basbousa at Zahav last year, when I tried their carrot hazelnut version. It was nutty and almost pudding-y, and I immediately fell in love with its ability to be rustic in texture and sharp angled all at the same time. Like a structured tweed blazer, for lack of a more relevant comparison. 

This version is based on Janna Gur’s recipe from Jewish Soul Food and combines roasted pistachios with coconut and olive oil for a toasty, tender, and comforting snack cake. Its flavor is so complex that “frosting” isn’t even in its vocabulary, and because of the syrup, it will stay fresh for a good few days. If it lasts that long. 


pistachio and olive oil babousa

makes one 8” square cake

ingredients

1/2 c (50g) shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut

1/2 c + 1 tb (80g) all-purpose flour

1/2 c + 2 tb (125g) semolina flour

1/4 c (28g) ground roasted unsalted pistachios, plus more for decorating

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp baking powder

6 tb (75g) olive oil

1/4 c (60ml) heavy cream

1/2 c (120ml) whole milk

3 large eggs

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract


Syrup

3/4 c (178ml) water

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1 tsp rosewater, optional

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line an 8x8” pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine coconut, flour, semolina, pistachios, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, cream, and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and almond extract on high for 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Fold the egg mixture into the semolina mixture and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

While the cake bakes, make the syrup: combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in rosewater, if using. 

When the cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over it and let the cake cool completely in the pan. Sprinkle with additional pistachios, cut into squares, and enjoy.