Pea, Lemon & Crème Fraiche Pasta

The snow is gone, my bike tires are filled, and I'm anxiously waiting for a spring day that isn't too cold, windy or rainy. It's a bit of project to get to a good grocery store here without a car. I look forward to the imminent biking days that will give me more freedom over my limited free time. 

While we wait for the beautiful days ahead, I give you a simple and bright recipe that is delicious with frozen peas, but even better with fresh spring peas. Use what you have available, and color me a bit jealous if you are already enjoying the bounty of the new season.

Pea, Lemon & Crème Fraiche Pasta

Ingredients

8 ounces spaghetti or linguine (I used whole wheat).
1 Tbl olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 C of fresh or frozen peas
1 C of crème fraiche 
1 Tbl lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
1.5 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

Method

In a large stockpot, bring salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the peas, cooking until they begin to brighten and are warmed through. 

While the peas cook, combine the crème fraiche, salt, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. When the peas have finished cooking, turn off the heat and toss the peas with the sauce. Stirring a minute or two to coat. Add the lemon juice and a generous amount of black pepper. 

Drain the pasta, reserving half a cup of the cooking water, and toss with the peas. If necessary, add the cooking water a tablespoon at a time until the sauce is your desired consistency. 

 

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Kate - This is just the type of dish I am craving lately!

Tom - I love both of these photos. They really capture those early days of spring.

ChefBlogDigest - Your recipe is worth a try. Thanks!

Gemma - Thank you Kate, Tom and ChefBlogDigest!

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic Tahini Sauce

My second semester of graduate school is off to a busy start. I’m enrolled in four courses: Introduction to Databases, E-Government, Foundations of Information Processing (Python programming), and Libraries Information and Society (my last required course). The database and programming courses are very time consuming, but I’m keeping up and learning quite a bit.

In addition to my Graduate Assistantship, I am also doing a practicum this semester with the Sears User Experience & Taxonomy department in Chicago. And in March, I am spending my spring break in Ann Arbor as an assistant at the incredible Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive.

Life is busy, but It’s exciting to sense my previous experiences, coursework, and future aspirations synthisizing into something definable. I’m not sure where I’ll end up next year, but I’m grateful for these current opportunities and the wonderful people I am meeting.

My practicum has allowed me to spend quite a bit of time in Chicago already this semester. My mother is currently enrolled in the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s rigourous docent training program. She recently took my brother and I on a practice tour of Historic Downtown: Rise of the Skyscraper and did an impressive job.

Marquette Building

Monadnock
Chicago

It was a gorgeous early spring day and we talked about a number of my favorite buildings (clockwise from top left: Art Institute of Chicago, Marquette, Fisher, and Monadnack). It’s pretty neat to have a burgeoning authority on the rich history of Chicago architecture in the family.

A recent series of sunny days and mild temperatures has melted most of the snow and the changing seasons have me feeling energized. I’m looking forward to dusting off my bike, long runs, and planning spring camping trips. Here is an easy recipe with bright flavors to welcome March.

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic Tahini Sauce

Adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
4 tsp ground cumin
4tsp turmeric
1 1/4 tsp hot paprika (divided)
2 heads cauliflower, cored and cut into 1 1/2” florets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 C tahini
1/2 C water
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced into a paste
1 tsp Siracha
Juice of 1 lemon

Method

Preheat oven to 500F. On a large baking sheet, combine the oil, cumin, turmeric, one teaspoon of paprika, salt, black pepper, and cauliflower. Spread evenly and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the cauliflower is brownded and tender.

Meanwhile, combine the tahini, water, garlic, Siracha, lemon juice, and the remaining quarter-teaspoon of paprika in a small bowl (don’t worry, the water mixes in well and gives the sauce a great texture). Season with salt to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

show hide 18 comments

Susan - Gorgeous photos. I’m an architect and I love visiting Chicago. Congrats to your mom.

Susan - Gorgeous photos. I’m an architect and I love visiting Chicago. Congrats to your mom.

Lucy - I love the Monadnack! Though, I think the Rookery is my favorite. ; )

Lucy - I love the Monadnack! Though, I think the Rookery is my favorite. ; )

Gemma - Thank you Susan. I’ll deliver the message. I’m proud of her.
The Rookery is beautiful, I agree Lucy.

Gemma - Thank you Susan. I’ll deliver the message. I’m proud of her.
The Rookery is beautiful, I agree Lucy.

Yvette - I made this tonight and it was wonderful. Thank you! I added a bit of cayenne pepper to the cauliflower along with the other spices. Delicious!

Yvette - I made this tonight and it was wonderful. Thank you! I added a bit of cayenne pepper to the cauliflower along with the other spices. Delicious!

Sprinzette @ Ginger and Almonds - I can’t believe I’ve only just come across your blog – it’s lovely. And I am really looking forward to having a proper look through your site.

Sprinzette @ Ginger and Almonds - I can’t believe I’ve only just come across your blog – it’s lovely. And I am really looking forward to having a proper look through your site.

RainyDayCottage - Time and time again I see cauliflower stepping up to be masked as something else. It’s nice to see it take center stage for once! Thanks for posting.

RainyDayCottage - Time and time again I see cauliflower stepping up to be masked as something else. It’s nice to see it take center stage for once! Thanks for posting.

Gemma - I like that addition Yvette, glad you enjoyed it.
Thanks Sprinzette!
Thanks Rainy Day Cottage — I absolutely agree.

Gemma - I like that addition Yvette, glad you enjoyed it.
Thanks Sprinzette!
Thanks Rainy Day Cottage — I absolutely agree.

Nishta - Mmmm…lovely! I usually served my roasted cauliflower with a yogurt-cilantro-curry powder sauce, so I’m excited to have a new way to try–happening tonight!

Nishta - Mmmm…lovely! I usually served my roasted cauliflower with a yogurt-cilantro-curry powder sauce, so I’m excited to have a new way to try–happening tonight!

Gemma - Yogurt-cilantro curry powder sauce sounds delicious(And a bit healthier). I hope you enjoyed this recipe Nishta!

Gemma - Yogurt-cilantro curry powder sauce sounds delicious(And a bit healthier). I hope you enjoyed this recipe Nishta!

New York City

Just after the new year, Nick and I traveled to New York to visit with my cousin Matt and his lovely wife Ana. The trip was a very generous birthday gift from Nick. We both love long-distance train travel and he booked us a sleeper car on the Lake Shore Limited for the journey from Chicago.

  
Amtrak Lakeshore Limited

Amtrak Lakeshore Limited
  
Amtrak Lakeshore Limited

Nick and I took the train to Portland, Oregon a few years ago (for Matt and Ana’s wedding no less!) and have now traveled the apporoximate width of the United States by rail. There is something very serene and romantic about watching town after town and state after state pass by from a train car. We always meet fascinating fellow travelers and I love to imagine the fine-dining of days-gone-by as we enjoy meals in the dining car.

We arrived at Penn Station in the evening and met Matt and Ana, along with my Uncle Brad, Aunt Gayle, and cousin Lian, for dinner at a nice little French bistro named Bar Breton.

  
New York

New York
  
New York

The next day we stopped for a bagel at Bagel Berry (a hold-in-the-wall place that had way better bagels than anywhere in Chicago) and enjoyed a windy winter afternoon at Coney Island. Nick and I have both been to New York City a number of times, but had never made the trip. We enjoyed some very mediocre food at Nathan’s and then headed to Bierkraft in Brooklyn for some drinks and to get growler for dinner. That evening, Matt and Ana took us to Ali’s, an Egyptian restaurant near their apartment. The food was wonderful and Ali was a warm and joyful man who made the dinner a highlight of our trip. We finished the night with a beer at Sweet Afton where I ordered my second beer of the day from the excellent (new-to-me) Captain Lawrence Brewing Company.

  
New York 1

New York
  
New York

The next moring, we met my old friend Jason and his charming son Amory at Blue Bottle for fancy coffee. Nick ordered a cold brew that really was worth the hype, though my americano was a bit disappointing. We then made a quick stop at the Bagel Store before a fun tour of the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory. We wandered around Brooklyn and stopped at Mugs Alehouse and the Manhattan Inn for drinks before meeting Nick’s friend Nathaniel for dinner at Roberta’s where we enjoyed delicious pizza.

On our last day, we took the train into Manhattan to visit Murray’s Bagels, to take the 6 train through the out-of-service City Hall stop, and to share a warm winter lunch at Menkui Tei noodle shop.

While we weren’t able to spend time with all of the people we had hoped, and we certainly weren’t able to visit all of the places on our list, we packed a lot in for a three day trip. Thank you to Nick, Matt and Ana!

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Monica - I’m planning a trip for April. Thanks for the Mast Brothers tour tip! Sounds like a great idea.

Monica - I’m planning a trip for April. Thanks for the Mast Brothers tour tip! Sounds like a great idea.

Erin O'Brien - Love the photos… am dying to see more!

Erin O'Brien - Love the photos… am dying to see more!

Gemma - Hi Monica, yes, the Mast Brothers tour was a lot of fun. It is a small place and the tour was very informal — but it was cheap and we ate our fill of artfully crafted chocolate. Definitely recommended.
Thanks Erin! It was a really wonderful trip. I have more photos posted on my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dumin/

Gemma - Hi Monica, yes, the Mast Brothers tour was a lot of fun. It is a small place and the tour was very informal — but it was cheap and we ate our fill of artfully crafted chocolate. Definitely recommended.
Thanks Erin! It was a really wonderful trip. I have more photos posted on my Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dumin/

jenny - That’s my old bagel store in Astoria! Also I <3 Mugs.

jenny - That’s my old bagel store in Astoria! Also I <3 Mugs.

Gemma - Those were great bagels.

Gemma - Those were great bagels.

Mya Freese - Mya Freese

Very neat blog.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

Mya Freese - Mya Freese

Very neat blog.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

Lilyana Winbush - Lilyana Winbush

Major thankies for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

Lilyana Winbush - Lilyana Winbush

Major thankies for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

New Orleans » Pro Bono Baker - […] no secret that I have a special place in my heart for long-distance train travel. I take the City of New Orleans route between Chicago and Champaign several times a month, but this […]

Warm White Bean & Carrot Salad Recipe

The midwest is bracing for what will reportedly be a "dangerous, multifaceted and potentially life-threatening" blizzard. Reports of incoming extreme weather tend to be over-blown in these parts, but that type of language will definitely get some attention. 

The first snowflakes started to fall half an hour ago, and as I type this an intriguing combination of snow, hail, and rain is tapping at my dining room windows. Perhaps it would be wise to heed the weather warnings and plan a stop at the grocery store this evening to stock up on ingredients for some satisfying snow-day fare. I recommend this Warm White Bean and Carrot Salad with dill, shallots, and toasted almonds.

I followed this recipe from 101 Cookbooks. The only change I made was to cook the carrots in butter, which gave them a wonderful flavor. Be sure to let the dressing rest as the recipe instructs. This salad was best the day it was made, but kept well. 

Stay warm!

 

show hide 6 comments

Angie - Gorgeous photos.
I’m originally from Chicago, but now live in upstate New York. If the midwest is worried, it will be a big one! Be safe!

Angie - Gorgeous photos.
I’m originally from Chicago, but now live in upstate New York. If the midwest is worried, it will be a big one! Be safe!

Anita - I saw this yesterday and knew I had to have it for dinner. I used butter as you did. It was definitely edible (and will be eaten for the next 2 days or so – sigh, living alone has its issues), but was too sweet for my taste. Halving the sugar next time, or possibly omitting it altogether. Thanks!

Anita - I saw this yesterday and knew I had to have it for dinner. I used butter as you did. It was definitely edible (and will be eaten for the next 2 days or so – sigh, living alone has its issues), but was too sweet for my taste. Halving the sugar next time, or possibly omitting it altogether. Thanks!

Gemma - Thanks Angie!
Hi Anita, I liked the sweetness, but that is simply a matter of preference. I agree, I bet this would be wonderful without any sugar. I will try it that way next time.

Gemma - Thanks Angie!
Hi Anita, I liked the sweetness, but that is simply a matter of preference. I agree, I bet this would be wonderful without any sugar. I will try it that way next time.

A Year in Photographs

Last year I joined many other photographers in an annual challenge to take 365 photographs, one each day of the year. I lasted until September when a combination of moving and starting gradute school got the better of me. Even though I didn't reach the goal I set out for myself, I did learn a lot through the sheer volume of the project, and I think my photography has improved ever so slightly. Here is one photograph from each month in 2010.

January: Ukrainian candy store near my old office in Chicago.

February: Valentine's Day.

March: In San Francisco's Delores Park with old friends.

April: My mother's peach bellini on Easter.

May: The old theater in Logan Square.

June: Caprese salad.

July: Summer vacation at the boathouse in Waupaca.

August: Hiking in Glacier National Park with my father.

September: My new apartment in Champaign.

October: Market squash prepared for roasting.

November: Barges on the Illinois River near Starved Rock.

December: Nick opening gifts on Christmas morning.

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Christine - I tried to do this 3 years ago and only got to February. Nice work and great photos.

Christine - I tried to do this 3 years ago and only got to February. Nice work and great photos.

Krista - I gave up all my resolutions by about January 15th, so making it to September is awesome! And your photos are gorgeous to boot!

Krista - I gave up all my resolutions by about January 15th, so making it to September is awesome! And your photos are gorgeous to boot!

Erin - I love each and every one! I must say, though, that my favorite has to be the one from last February… course, I’m a sucker for hearts!

Erin - I love each and every one! I must say, though, that my favorite has to be the one from last February… course, I’m a sucker for hearts!

Terry at Blue Kitchen - Absolutely beautiful, Gemma! I would pick out a favorite, but it’s impossible.

Terry at Blue Kitchen - Absolutely beautiful, Gemma! I would pick out a favorite, but it’s impossible.

Clare - Great roundup – look forward to the coming year!

Clare - Great roundup – look forward to the coming year!

kasia - gorgeous!

kasia - gorgeous!

Gemma - Thank you Christine. One day I hope to make it the full year, but I’m satisfied for now.
Ha! Thank you Krista. I enjoy your website, thanks for the introduction!
Thank you Erin. How is Penny LA these days? I miss seeing your posts!
Aw, thank you Terry. I appreciate it.
Thank you Clare. I love your website, your photos are beautiful! I look forward to reading more of it.
Thank you Kasia!

Gemma - Thank you Christine. One day I hope to make it the full year, but I’m satisfied for now.
Ha! Thank you Krista. I enjoy your website, thanks for the introduction!
Thank you Erin. How is Penny LA these days? I miss seeing your posts!
Aw, thank you Terry. I appreciate it.
Thank you Clare. I love your website, your photos are beautiful! I look forward to reading more of it.
Thank you Kasia!