Coconut Macaroons.

These are as as delectable as they are adorable. I saw Ina Garten make ’em recently on Barefoot Contessa and have had them in the back of my mind ever since. Oh man, are these coconut macaroons delicious. But my favorite part about them (okay, one of my many favorite parts) is how totally easy they are. Just look at the ingredient list – so simple! As I was whipping them up, I thought about adding a new section on my Recipe List page where I could collect my simplest, easiest recipes in one place. So if you check out the Recipe List now, you’ll see a new section called “Easiest, Simplest Recipes,” where I’ve called out all my recipes that are amazingly basic and basically amazing. And these  chewy, gooey coconut macaroons are going right there.

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INGREDIENTS

14 oz sweetened shredded coconut
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt

Just the Recipe link: Coconut Macaroons

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Stir together the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.

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In a separate bowl, use a whisk to beat the egg whites and salt until they form medium-stiff peaks. Fold the whites gently into the coconut mixture.

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Use an ice cream scoop (or your fingers) to drop little scoops of batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Don’t put the cookies too close, as they spread out a little bit.

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Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and set. Devour.

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Cabernet Beef Stew.

Because life is a cabernet.

Chicago has had a very chilly start to May, especially over the past few days, and this weekend I found myself with a crazy craving for beef stew. On Saturday, I built our beautiful new kitchen island, so I decided that Sunday would be the day I put it to good use and make a glorious pot of stew. Having just drooled over a DVR-ed episode of Barefoot Contessa where Ina Garten makes a food-porn-o-rific batch of Parker’s Beef Stew, I used her recipe as inspiration for this one. And of course, I added paprika to my recipe, because I can never make a beef stew without paying at least a little homage to goulash (the absolute king of stews, in my humble opinion). I give you, cabernet beef stew.

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INGREDIENTS

1 – 1/2 lbs stew beef, cubed (I like mine cut into small, bite-sized pieces)
1/2 cup potato starch flour (all-purpose flour is fine here, too, but you’ll need a bit more of it)
salt and pepper
olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 stalks celery, washed and sliced
1 small sweet potato, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bottle of cabernet sauvignon*
2 cups stock (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 canned whole tomatoes, chopped, plus a tbsp or two of canning liquid
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or about 1 tsp dried rosemary)
1 tsp paprika
1 cup frozen peas
marjoram, for garnish
*Note: the flavor of the cabernet sauvignon is quite strong here. If that doesn’t sound good to you, I recommend cutting back to about a quarter bottle of wine.

Just the Recipe link: Cabernet Beef Stew

DIRECTIONS

In a mixing bowl, stir together potato starch flour, salt, and pepper. Drop a few pieces of meat in at a time and toss to coat. Shake off the excess and set aside, until all the meat is coated in flour.

Heat a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium high heat and add olive oil. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides. Remove the browned meat from the pan and set aside.

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Preheat oven to 300 F.

Add carrot, celery, sweet potato, and onion to the Dutch oven, along with bay leaves. Cook about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Add garlic and cook two more minutes. Remove vegetables from the pan and set aside.

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Pour red wine into the pan, along with the rosemary and paprika, and stir to deglaze, making sure to loosen all the brown bits from the bottom.

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Add stock, Worcestershire sauce, and tomatoes. Then add the meat back to the pot, followed by the vegetables.

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Give it a stir, cover the pot, and bring to a low boil. Then place it in the oven and cook for 2-3 hours, until the meat is fall-apart tender or until you can’t wait any longer. I ended up turning the heat down to 275 F about 20 minutes in, to keep the stew at a low bubble instead of a more active simmer.

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Once the stew is done cooking, remove from the oven. Turn off the oven at this point – we’re done cooking.

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Stir in frozen peas and re-cover the pot. They’ll defrost and cook in the heat of the stew.

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Serve with warm, crusty bread, and if you like, sprinkle a bit of marjoram on top.

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Glazed Lemon Madeleines.

I’ve been looking for the perfect homemade madeleine. I think this is it. I would say that this recipe is “adapted from David Lebovitz,” but I realized that I really didn’t change much of anything! His recipe is perfect just the way it is (if you’ve never been to his website, please check it out – he usually inspires me either to cook something beautiful or to speed along my plan-making for another trip to Paris).

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I love these lemon madeleines anytime. My roommate can attest that for some inexplicable reason I even made them during the Super Bowl this year–not BEFORE the Super Bowl, but actually DURING THE GAME. I have no excuse or explanation for that. And while they’re fine with football, they’re especially well-paired with tea. Lemon madeleines are actually one of the only things in this world for which I will actually delay drinking my daily pot of tea in order to whip up a quick batch.

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To give these adorable little cookie-cakes their distinctive shell shape, you need a special pan, called a madeleine pan (go figure). The pan gives them their scalloped bottom and humped and fluffy top. I’m quite happy with my madeleine pan, so if you ask me, it’s worth the investment for this little lemony French treat. However, if you want to try these but don’t have a madeleine pan of your own, just follow the directions exactly as written but use a mini muffin pan instead.

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INGREDIENTS

3 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 healthy pinches of salt
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder (optional – it helps them rise when baking, and I haven’t decided my opinion on it yet.)
zest of one medium lemon
9 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup powdered sugar
up to 2 tbsp water

Just the Recipe link: Glazed Lemon Madeleines

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DIRECTIONS

First, grease your madeleine pan and put it in the freezer. This will make sure the madeleines hump up when they’re in the oven.

Add eggs, sugar, and salt to a bowl. Whisk like crazy until frothy and thickened.

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Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the egg mixture.

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Gently stir the lemon zest into the butter and pour into the flour and egg batter, stirring until just combined. Pop the batter into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

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As the batter chills, preheat the oven to 425 F.

Once the batter is slightly chilled, use a spoon to scoop into the cold madeleine pan. Don’t fill the scalloped cups up all the way to the rim, as the cakes will rise quite a bit.

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The same goes if you’re using a mini muffin pan – give them a little room to grow.

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Pop them in the oven for 8-9 minutes, until the tops are set and the bottoms are lightly browned. While they’re baking, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together for the lemon glaze, thinning with water until you reach the consistency you like – it should be pretty thin (think of a glazed doughnut).

Set the baked cakes to cool on a cooling rack. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, dip each one in the glaze, both sides (!), and set back on the cooling rack, scalloped-side up, letting the glaze set as the cakes cool all the way.

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Here they are as little mini muffins. Not as dainty as the madeleine-shaped madeleines, but just as tasty!

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Serve immediately with a beautiful cup of tea or coffee. Make sure to use one of your prettiest cup-and-saucer pairs.

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Chocolate Crepes with Berry Yogurt Filling, and My Battle with Search.

When I first started this blog at the beginning of 2012, I was so excited to have a place to share my love of recipes and ingredients and eating. I was so excited, I even hoped that my blog might get some followers, and that some of those followers might find my blog via search engines. In order to test this hypothesis, I decided to search for my blog in google, to see where it popped up and what the little blurb looked like. But to my horror (and yours, too, if you ever searched “kelly in the kitchen” back then), I discovered that a fellow Kelly—the infamous R&B singer R. Kelly—was stealing all my search term thunder. The first, oh I don’t know, 15 pages of the google results were filled almost exclusively with links to Mr. Kelly’s song, “Sex in the Kitchen.” Since we shared the search terms “kelly in the kitchen,” we had to share the space, and as a result, my humble little recipe blog was banished to search engine oblivion. I figured no one would ever find me.

Fast-forward to today. My site traffic is up, with a handful of inbound and outbound links (all of which google rewards websites for), and things are looking up. So I decided today to search for my blog in google again, to see if anything had changed. And I am proud to say that the search landscape looks quite a bit different today! KellyintheKitchen.net is now the 3rd result returned from a search of those same words, behind another blog and, yes, a link to R. Kelly’s notorious song. That’s a huge win for a little blogger in the Battle of the Search Terms! I may never shake the haunting specter of R. Kelly and google results weirdness, but I’m happy to at least be on page one, above the fold, where I’ve wanted to be all along!

Anyway, chocolate crepes with yogurt and berry filling…

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INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
scant 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour, sifted
1 cup frozen berries (of course, fresh would be great, too – your filling will just be chunkier)
1 cup Greek yogurt
squeeze of honey
water
cooking spray or butter
lemon juice

Just the Recipe link: Chocolate Crepes with Berry Yogurt Filling

DIRECTIONS

Put the butter, chocolate, and milk in a pot over medium low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to start the chocolate melting. Remove from heat and continue to stir until everything is dissolved.

Crack the eggs into a bowl with the sugar and vanilla and whisk together. Then switch to a big spoon and stir in the flour. You’ll get an annoyingly-sticky paste that is hard to stir. Pour in the milk mixture and stir to combine. Let this batter sit for 30 minutes.

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To make the berry filling, put the frozen berries in a bowl with warm water to thaw out. I usually change the water once, just to move the thawing along a little faster.

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Then drain the berries and mix with the yogurt and honey. Set aside.

After 30 minutes have passed, pour the crepe batter through a mesh strainer to get some of the lumps out. This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but I find that no matter how careful I am about lumps, I always have some in my crepe batter, so I like to strain it.

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At this point, check your batter for consistency. We’re going for a pretty watery consistency, almost like whole milk. So add water, one tablespoon at a time, until your batter is the right consistency.

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To cook, butter or spray a pan with cooking spray and heat over medium. Using a ladle or measuring cup, pour in a small amount of batter into the center of the pan and immediately swirl around to the edges of the pan. The first crepe is notoriously a failure, so don’t feel bad if your first one looks like this:

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The French say to give the reject first crepe to the dog. Since these have chocolate in them, I figured Penny’s little tummy wouldn’t appreciate it, so I ate the ugly one, because my tummy does appreciate it. Regardless, the next few should work out better.

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Once all the crepes are cooked, fill them. The two usual ways are to dollop the filling down the center of the crepe (the diameter, if we want to get geometric), and fold each side over to the center, like this:

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Or to spread the filling over one quadrant of the crepe (can breakfast foods have quadrants?), fold it in half, and spread over the crepe layer that sits on top of the filled quadrant and fold again (that sounds confusing….just look at my picture):

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To finish, drizzle with a squeeze of lemon. Dust with powdered sugar if you like – we were too hungry and ate them up before I could go rustling through the baking cabinet.

Spinach and Tomato Tart with Bleu Cheese.

Most of the time, I like recipes that are quick and easy, require minimum dish-washing, and have an ingredient list that’s more like a haiku than a novel. Most of the time. But every once in a while, I am overcome with a sort of culinary patience and concentration that allows me to make a recipe like this one. There are a few separate characters in this play: the tart shell, buttery and crumbly-good; the creamy filling, eggy and spicy; and the veggies themselves, that make this whole thing totally worth it. So if you’ve got a good 2 hours or so and you really want to spoil yourself with something rich and beautiful, this is your guy. Of course, you can always use a store-bought tart crust, which would cut the prep time down, well, a lot. Either way, this dish combines the best of the tart and quiche worlds into one mega-brunch food.

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for tart shell:
12 tbsp cold butter, cubed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
water, if needed

for filling:
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1/3 cup ham, cut into lardons, or strips
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp dried parlsey
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
3 small tomatoes, de-seeded and sliced
crumbled bleu cheese, to taste, for sprinkling (feta or goat cheese would be delicious here, too)

Just the Recipe Link: Spinach and Tomato Tart with Bleu Cheese

DIRECTIONS

Get the crust going first. In a food processor, blitz together the butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper until the dough is the consistency of wet sand. You’re looking for the dough to just hold together, so check to see if it does. If it’s a bit too dry, add a splash or two of water at a time and pulse the food processor until the dough reaches the right consistency.

Turn the dough out on to a sheet of wax paper. Form it into a flat disc, wrap in the wax paper, and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

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While the dough chills, get the fillings going. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, careful not to let it burn.

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Add spinach. It will look like a ton of spinach, but it will cook down a lot.

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Cook the spinach, stirring, until nearly wilted. Turn off the heat and continue to stir until completely wilted.

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Put spinach in a bowl lined with paper towels or a washcloth (it will stain green, so use one you don’t care about).

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When it’s cool enough to touch, squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the spinach. I usually start with my hands and then realize that I can get more liquid out if I squeeze it between two dishes. Once you’re satisfied that you’ve gotten enough water out, set aside.

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Heat the same pan over medium high and cook the ham, just to give it a bit of color on each side. Set aside.

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Finally, cook the onions. They’re best cooked last because they can soak up all that flavor goodness leftover in the pan after the ham! Add a bit of olive oil and cook until softened. Set aside.

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When 30 minutes have passed, take the tart dough out of the fridge. Let it sit 5 minutes before you roll it out on a floured surface. Then roll it to the general shape of the pie dish you’re using (I used a spring-form cake pan because I left my tart shell at my apartment – whoops).

Drape the dough over the pan and use your fingers to press it into shape. This step always take me a while because I’m not very good at getting the dough to stay in one piece while I’m moving it! Notice how I have no photos of this; I get distracted. A good trick is to roll the dough onto your rolling pin and move it that way, but even this doesn’t make my life much easier. Look at it this way – it’s food. Who cares if your tart shell is a little uneven?

After you’ve gotten the tart shell into the pan, put it back in the fridge for 15 more minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

When the shell is chilled, put a sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough and fill the shell with dried beans, or something else heavy. When I don’t have my baking beans on hand, I use another smaller pie pan.

Bake the crust for 20 minutes, until just starting to turn golden. Remove from oven and remove the beans and parchment paper.

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While the shell bakes, mix up the liquid part of the filling. Whisk together the yolks, egg, yogurt, and stock. Add parsley, paprika, mustard powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the onions and ham, and set aside.

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Pour the filling into the baked shell. Scatter the spinach evenly over the top.

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Lay the tomato slices on top in a circular fan pattern, and top with bleu cheese. Be careful not to use too much cheese; the other flavors are delicate, and too much bleu could easily overwhelm the tart. See this picture? I used just a bit too much, so learn from my mistake!

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Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, season with a bit more salt and pepper if you like, and pop it back in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the filling has set. Serve immediately; also good at room temperature.

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Souffled Omelet with Sweet Peppers and Asparagus.

Introducing my new favorite breakfast item: the souffled omelet. So light it melts in your mouth, with a surprising textural contrast of the almost crispy bottom and the airy inner egginess. It’s a perfect example of how a simple change in technique can transform a dish. Rather than beating the eggs with a whisk (or even a fork) as you would for a standard omelet, this one is made by separating the yolks and the whites and fluffing them up pretty much as far as they can go—much like in a souffle. It’s a fun way to prep eggs and it makes them go so much further than they would in a regular omelet; just look at the photo, that big fluffy thing is a two egg omelet! And of course, you can stuff it with whatever fillings you like. I had some leftover grilled asparagus and mini sweet peppers, so I chopped them up and sprinkled them over along with the cheese. Thanks to Laura Calder for the recipe, who (as usual) inspired me to try something new, and (as usual) it turned out pretty groovy! Also pretty groovy: the truffle salt I used to finish the dish. Optional, but recommended.

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DIRECTIONS

2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used Parmesan)
grilled veggies, like asparagus and sweet peppers, chopped
1 pat butter
truffle salt (optional)

Just the Recipe link: Souffled Omelet with Sweet Peppers and Asparagus

INGREDIENTS

Eggs first. Put the yolks in a glass or metal bowl (they’re going over a double boiler). Season them with salt and pepper.

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Bring a small pot of water to a low boil in the stove, and set the yolk bowl over it (but don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water, or they’ll cook too fast.) Using a whisk, beat the yolks over the double boiler until they’re ribbony, pale yellow, and just about tripled in size. Scrape into the center of the bowl and set yolks aside.

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Next, use your whisk to beat the whites until they’re fluffy and stiff.

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Pour the whites into the bowl with the yolks. Using a spatula, gently fold them together.

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Heat a pan over medium high and melt the butter. Pour the fluffy eggs into the pan and cover with a lid.

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When the bottom is starting to turn golden brown and the foaminess on top is starting to firm up a bit, spread your veggies and cheese over the whole surface of the omelet.

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When the bottom is browned to your liking, gently loosen the sides of the omelet from the bottom of the pan and carefully slide it out. As you do so, fold one half of the omelet over the other. Sprinkle with pepper and truffle salt, if you’ve got it, or else regular salt. Then just float away on this cloud of a breakfast (or lunch, or dinner….).

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