Strawberry Leek Pizza with Kefir-Soaked Einkorn Crust

strawberry leek pizza cover

Picking up where we left off Tuesday, here’s a strawberry leek pizza—because nothing showcases summer strawberries quite as well as dolloping them onto a cracker-like crust, alongside sauteéd leeks and cheese. The strawberry-leek combo here came to us after making Sara’s quesadillas, which, yes, we already referenced in the last post but, trust us, they’re good enough to warrant at least one more nod. The combination of golden, oily leeks with sweet, sliced strawberries is one of those classic pairs that, after you taste them together, you’ll want to apply elsewhere again and again. The night I came home from strawberry picking, Tim and I were standing there in the darkening kitchen, eating our slippery, gooey quesadilla triangles, wondering out loud where else strawberries and leeks could belong, “Paninis!” one of us said. “Grilled cheese!” from the other. Then, “Tarts!” “Pies!” “Quiche?” when, like a giant “of course!” it came to us. Pizza. Pizza!

making homemade pizza

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Kendra’s Honey Oat Grapefruit Scones

april in chicago
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Tim and I came home yesterday from a quick weekend visit to Chicago. The first time we’ve been back since Christmas, this trip was a whirlwind of loud, excited family conversation, the kind that leaves you out of breath, with everyone talking over everyone else; long, lazy mornings, the ones you almost forgot how much you loved, complete with a certain white, fluffy dog breaking down gates and waiting outside your bedroom door until you let him in; a blog meetup downtown, organized by the just-as-lovely-in-person! Nicole of Eat This Poem, whose months-ago idea for extending her work conference led to a Saturday lunch made up of six people who’d driven, taken trains, walked city blocks and navigated parking garages to come out and share a few hours with some of the Internet voices they find dear.

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Einkorn Cannoli Cupcakes

Cannoli Cupcake | FoodLovesWriting.com

When I was a kid, my parents would dart around the house in the final moments before company arrived, lighting candles, cleaning bathrooms, setting appetizers out just right. You could feel the energy in the air in those almost-game-time minutes—a sort of nervous, happy energy—something greater than the sound of my mom’s boom box playing its background harps or violins. When the doorbell rang, my dad would rush to the door, opening it proudly, beaming, welcoming guests inside as he took their coats and greeted them, motioning my brother and me to come say hi. Then, my mom would emerge from the kitchen, winded but obviously delighted at whatever was in her hands, prompting oohs and ahs and questions from the ones who’d been invited to come. Each one meal and its accompanying conversation would take two or three—maybe four or five with particularly talkative friends—hours before dishes were being cleared and the food getting wrapped up and people’s coats being pulled back out to usher them to their cars. But, as any host could tell you, its planning began long before, sometimes as much as a month ahead of time. Long before the good china was on the dining room table, I’d see my mom jotting down a potential menu and shopping list; I’d be around when she tested recipes before deciding to serve them to company; I’d be there the week of the dinner, when my parents talked about what they were making and at what time guests would arrive.

As an adult myself, I’ve followed my parents’ footsteps, often clumsily, feeling my way from the early days of solo hosting (where, once, my guest and I continued working on the uncooked chicken together after she arrived), to my current stage of couple hosting (where Tim and I tag-team the process).

Over time, I’ve grown more confident. Having one person for dinner isn’t stressful; having two is usually okay; but, last weekend, when we hosted Tim’s entire family for an early celebration of Easter and the annual April birthdays (of which, in his family, there are four), and we had ten people at our table more than once, I have to admit the experience felt completely new.

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On Banana Bread (but not really just banana bread)

Banana Bread Slice | FoodLovesWriting.com

Like cookies and reading and the beginning of spring, banana bread is something I would tell you I’ve loved a long, long time. In this blog’s infant years, I baked Joy of Cooking banana bread, Boston bakery banana bread and a banana bread with streusel topping that stole my heart. I baked Mrs. Newman’s banana cake and, a month into marriage, banana muffins. I’ve baked banana bread waffles and, more recently, sourdough banana bread French toast. I love banana bread; I get banana bread; when it comes to banana bread, what is there that’s left to know?

But then a few weeks ago, some friends had us over for dinner and served homemade banana bread for dessert, saying quickly that it was “half almond flour and half quinoa flour” and made with “almond milk instead of regular milk,” and, a few bites in, I was looking at banana bread in a whole new way. Afterward, I, of course, went home and, two days later, pulled out (yet another) a beloved banana recipe, revising ingredients as I stirred and poured, and whipping up the version pictured in this post.

The whole experience reminded me of one of the kitchen’s best gifts to us, not unlike a gift I’m regularly given here, at this site: the ability to see in new ways. I never knew adapting a banana bread recipe would be as simple as a one-to-one flour switch with half almond flour and half quinoa or that doing so would create such you’d-never-know-it-was-gluten-free results. Likewise, I’ve learned so many things here about areas of life I thought I knew, like friendship and creativity and writing, all from sticking around and chatting with you all.

With that in mind, and to thank you again for your support, encouragement and feedback on the last two posts, I’m giving you not only a revised version of my friend Kelley’s banana bread, which was previously posted here, but also a list of links to recent findings that have helped open my eyes in some way. Hope you enjoy these pieces as much as I have; happy weekending, friends!

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Moosewood Brownies (+ Etsy Shop Announcement)

Moosewood Brownies | foodloveswriting.com

About a week ago, Tim and I made a quick stop at McKay’s, which, for the record, is the largest, cleanest used bookstore I’ve ever been to in my life. Set high up off Old Hickory Boulevard on Nashville’s west side, McKay’s exterior looks more like a bulk warehouse shopping center than a place that makes it easy for anyone to walk in and buy or sell old books any day of the week. You park your car in an eco-friendly brick parking lot and walk inside to a bright, high-ceilinged space filled with aisles and aisles of books, books on tape, CDs and DVDs. The inventory’s always changing, so even if you’ve just been in a week before, you still never know what you’ll find when you come. In December, I bought a Mexican cookbook that later had me Googling for information about its illustrator, a woman who loved beautiful buildings and architecture as much as I do. Last Monday, we came looking for a children’s book; we left instead with a hardcover Tim had been wanting and a $2 original copy of The Moosewood Cookbook, published in 1977, for me.

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Sourdough Banana Bread French Toast

Sourdough Banana Bread French Toast | FoodLovesWriting.com

There’s something about a weekend morning that demands a special breakfast. After waking up to sunshine, lazing around in bed, whiling away hours reading and talking and staring out your windows at the brightening sky, when at last you stretch your legs onto the wood floors, the only sensible thing to do is continue the indulgence by feeding whatever your morning craving may be: Pancakes? Quiche? Cinnamon rolls? Fresh-squeezed juice? Banana bread French toast?

Tim and I took advantage of this pure luxury last Saturday, on one of those rare wide-open days where we had no plans or obligations until dinnertime and thus full freedom to pursue anything we chose. I’d made sourdough banana bread the night before, so in the middle of the afternoon in our pajamas, we dipped slices in a French toast batter and sauteed them in coconut oil on the stove. Tim reduced blueberries and maple syrup in a separate pot; then, we took our plates to the table, spooning thick blueberries onto fat slices of the sweetest, most delicious breakfast I’ve had this year.

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Tim’s Famous Overnight Pancakes

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Looking ahead to Friday’s post begins for me, usually, sometime on Wednesday, which this week was the gray and shady afternoon in which Tim and I ventured way out to the west side of town, to Bellevue, the Nashville neighborhood of older shopping plazas and brand-new housing communities where Perl, a new-to-us café Yelp users compare to Marché and Scoutmob currently has a deal on, is located. Armed with my Christmas gift of a yellow Anthropologie journal and wearing the gray-and-white-striped vintage dress I found last week at Goodwill’s sale, I sat with Tim through 20 minutes of highway and unfamiliar neighborhoods and launched into the purpose of our midweek date: quizzing him about big dreams for the future. “So tell me,” I began. “If there were no limits and no obstacles, what would you want to do this year? What do you wish you could work towards? What are your big dreams?”

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