It's true, you know. All good things must come to an end. I know because my Boston life, which is good, is coming to an end. If you've been reading this nook of the internets since the beginning, you may know that, this summer, I'm packing up all my worldly possessions (including my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, my autographed Chase Utley bobblehead doll and a healthy dose of nervous excitement) to start classes at The French Culinary Institute in New York City.

A week from Friday marks the big day (of moving, that is. Culinary classes don't start until June. Let's not rush things. I have a feeling it's going to take me just as long to master the art of living in New York City as it will to master the art of french cooking. We'll see.) At any rate, with just over a week left to call myself a Boston resident, I can't help but feel a thick veil of finality settling in around me.

This past weekend I sang my last song and took my last bow and said my goodbyes to the wonderful cast of Gypsy. I'm glad to have my weekends back, but I already miss the cast comraderie and the nervous pride of putting on a show. Today is my last day of work, and while I'm thrilled to finally rid myself of cubicles and expense reports and overused consulting phrases (don't even get me started on "low-hanging fruit"), I'm going to miss the office banter with Dan and long lunches (including LOST recaps and people watching) with Maral. Oh, and the steady paycheck. That I'm definitely going to miss. I've cleaned out my desk and bought boxes for packing and cancelled my gym membership, and as my daily routine crumbles, everything is really starting to feel over.

For now, I can only focus on the endings, but I know that soon I'll be surrounded by beginnings, fresh and scary and fun. There will be a new apartment to paint and new friends to make, a new city to learn and new knives to sharpen, and for all of that I cannot wait. Still, goodbyes are always bittersweet, and I think this one, especially, calls for brownies.

Bittersweet Brownies

These brownies are sort of a signature of mine; I make them whenever I need an easy yet impressive dessert (or else just a straight shot of gooey chocolate), and though brownies may seem like a pedestrian, ho-hum sort of choice, these never fail to impress (or to trigger a magnificent chocolate-induced coma).

Laced with two forms of coffee and a dash of Bailey's Irish Cream, these brownies are a grownup version of your favorite afterschool treat. They're moist, dense and sinfully chocolatey, and if you decide to make them for someone (an office full of your colleagues on your last day of work, say), they won't soon forget you.


2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup brewed coffee
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 large eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1.5 tablespoons ground coffee
1 cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream Liquor
8 ounces milk chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13x2 inch metal baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, too.

Heat the butter in a medium pot over low heat until melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted, removing from the heat. Stir in the brewed coffee.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix the eggs and sugars with the ground coffee, vanilla and Bailey’s until combined. Once the butter/chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, add the egg/sugar mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture, stirring until just blended. Lightly coat the chocolate chips with flour and fold into the batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top cracks slightly and a skewer inserted into the center comes out with moist pieces clinging to it. Do not overcook the brownies (remember that they will continue to cook slightly after being removed from the oven).

Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting into 2-inch square bars. Serve with a glass of milk or a dollop of whipped cream (or both. I don't judge.)

Makes about 24 brownies.


April Showers Bring Spring Green Risotto

It seems April is upon us. Boston has been enjoying some delightful rainstorms as of late - we've had a few gentle minuets of small watery droplets, some playful showers that seem to pit-pat the pavement with a rhythmic, do-wop beat, and some full-on orchestral thunderstorms. As for me, I've taken to curling up with a book by the window to listen to the watery symphony, or else I stomp around in my green rainboots and black umbrella with the duck handle when I'm forced to go outside for some silly reason or another, like to buy milk or pick up drycleaning or, you know, go to work.

The rain has brought with it not just the opportunity for tall rubber boots, but also the delicious smell of spring, of thawed fingers and sweet grass and rich, wet earth. I even saw pair of red breasted Robins and a bunch of pretty purple blossoms pushing through the stubborn ground on my way home today, so I'm declaring Spring officially here. (I know it's technically been here for a few weeks now - at least, the calendar says it has been - but to me it's not officially Spring until it smells like Spring. Which it now does. Happy Spring.)

All that splashing and puddle jumping can make a girl hungry, so I invited Megan and Maral over for dinner on Tuesday. I made Ina Garten's Spring Green Risotto - a fresh, fragrant jumble of chewy rice, crispy asparagus, tangy spring onions, smooth mascarpone cheese and zesty lemon. We ate it sprinkled with chives and a touch of nutty parmesan and, paired with a crisp glass (or two) of Chardonnay and the best vanilla cupcakes in Boston (thanks, Maral), it made for the most wonderful dinner. It was warm and comforting (we ate it while watching Jeopardy and watching the rain bounce off the window sills), yet it tasted light and fresh, flecked beautifully with the green bounties of Spring. And the best part is you don't even have to wait for a rainstorm to make it. Just make sure it smells like Spring.

Spring Green Risotto

Adapted from Ina Garten

I know some people get nervous about risotto because they think they'll have to spend a lot of time standing over the stove, stirring away lest the rice burn, but fear not: this recipe is pretty much foolproof. You won't burn the rice. There's a bit of stirring involved, yes, but a little stirring never hurt anybody. Have a glass of wine handy and some good music playing. I prefer Nanci Griffith for this particular risotto (I think she goes nicely with rainy days), but you can choose whomever you like. In fact, you don't even have to use spring onions and asparagus in your risotto - use whatever springy jewels catch your fancy. Try artichokes, or yellow beets, or sweet green peas, or all of them at once! It's Spring, people! Catch the fever! And wear your rainboots.

1. When I say I used spring onions for this dish, I don't mean scallions. I mean super-scallions. You can find big spring onions in the produce section at most supermarkets and farmer's markets once the winter weather starts to thaw. They look like scallions on steroids, with large, plump white bulbs and long green stalks. Choose onions that have stiff, vibrant green stems and are free of blemishes.

2. Arborio rice is a short-grained, Italian rice. They look like little rice nuggets, and give off the perfect amount of starch for the risotto. Look for it in the rice aisle at the supermarket.

3. Mascarpone cheese is basically the Italian version of cream cheese. Look for it in any market with a sizeable cheese section. I got mine at Whole Foods.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 cups (about 3 large) spring onions, chopped (white and light green parts)
  • 1 cup chopped fennel (about half a large bulb)
  • 1.5 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 4 to 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound thin asparagus
  • 1/2 Tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1.5 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (plus extra for serving)


Heat chicken stock in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. In another medium pot, bring some water to boil (for blanching the asparagus).

Heat the olive oil and butter in a deep pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the spring onions and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until soft and tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute or two to coat the grains with veggies, oil and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring intermittently and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. It will probably take about 25 to 30 minutes to add the chicken stock. Don't feel obligated to add all of the stock - if the rice doesn't seem to want to absorb any more liquid, stop adding stock.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus in roughly 1.5 inch pieces (discarding the tough ends). Throw some salt into the pot of boiling water and drop in the asparagus, blanching them for about 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain the asparagus and cool immediately in ice water or under a cold running faucet.

When the risotto has been cooking for about 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Add more salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot with a sprinkle of chives and extra Parmesan cheese.

Serves about 4.

PS: Don't forget dessert.


Making Up For Lost Scones

I know what you're thinking. Probably something along the lines of: gosh, I really hope Molly has barred Debbie Downer from writing any more posts about economic meltdowns and national crises... on her food blog. And yes, I admit my last post was a bit depressing, but I can assure you that I am in quite a better mood on this beautiful Sunday. I haven't even heard from Debbie in days.

To prove it, I will speak nary a word about under-appreciated employees today. No, today I'd like to focus on something entirely different: under-appreciated baked goods. Specifically, scones. I don't mean to imply that you don't appreciate the gustatory treat that is a scone. I know you, dear reader, are much smarter than that. I just mean that, up until recently, I didn't fully appreciate the scone as a legitimate member of the baked goods family. For shame.

But really, can you blame me? For years I grew up frequenting the local Starbucks thinking that a scone was nothing more than a stale, hulking brick of heavy dough laden with cinnamon and sugar and, mostly, an ungodly amount of calories. Whether the plan was to ingest them or use them as projectile weapons, those "scones" sitting in the glass counter looked dangerous. I kept my distance and pretty much wrote off the concept of scones entirely.

Until about two summers ago, when I found myself on a family trip to Ireland. Feeling adventurous, we signed up for a biking tour of Ireland's west coast, and spent about a week biking through the hilly Irish countryside. Aside from perpetually sore backsides and the decision my sisters and I made to wear matching green raincoats (I still wear mine, obviously), the trip was amazing. We biked along winding roads flanked by charming, low rock walls, through colorful fishing towns and farmland full of cows and sheep, stopping here and there to take pictures or browse local shops for postcards or a bite to eat.

We also took a ferry over to the Aran Islands for a one night stay at a little Inn that was so positively charming that I cannot for the life of me remember its name. (Mom, if you're reading this, help a kid out.) In any case, I do remember that the proprietor of this nameless Inn was a very sweet woman who made fantastic scones. When we arrived, exhausted from biking a few miles from the port to the Inn against a strong sea wind, she gave us a quick tour and told us that, if we woke up early enough the next morning, we could come watch her make the day's scones in the kitchen. I promptly went to bed and forgot about the whole thing, still being in a generally anti-scone state of mind. But the next morning, as I sat down to breakfast and was passed a plate of freshly baked Irish scones, I couldn't say no. These scones didn't look a thing like the huge coffee shop bricks I was accustomed to. These were small and hot and golden, and smelled enticingly of fresh butter and flour. I slathered the flaky round with butter and honey, and when I finally took a bite, I was not disappointed. I mean, I was disappointed that I had missed out on 21 years of scone-eating, but this nameless Inn scone was the opposite of disappointing. It was warm and flaky and only slightly sweet and, combined with freshly brewed Irish breakfast tea, tasted how I imagine Sunday morning would taste.

I'm still kicking myself for missing the Aran Island scone-baking demonstration, but at least now I can appreciate the scone for all it's worth. I recently found a recipe by M.S. Milliken and S. Feninger for buttermilk scones, and when last week's lemon olive oil cake left me with half a carton of buttermilk sitting in the fridge, I knew exactly what to do.

Buttermilk Berry Scones
Adapted from a recipe by M.S. Milliken and S. Feninger

There's not much that the creamy tang of buttermilk doesn't enhance, and these little guys are no exception. The tang of the buttermilk combined with the sweetness of the berries gives these scones a wonderful balance. They're not overly sweet or rich, but are light and doughy and loaded with pockets of jammy fruit, and would make a lovely breakfast smeared with butter and eaten with a mug of hot coffee or tea. Mine were devoured by a troup of hungry thespians during the final dress rehearsal for Gypsy, but you know... to each her own.

Feel free to omit the berries or play around with other versions (dried or candied fruit, nuts, or even chocolate chips, if you're feeling a bit devious).

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 8-10 ounces frozen mixed berries (I like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries)
  • 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, for brushing
  • extra sugar, for dusting


Preheat oven to 40o degrees F. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with your fingertips or two knives until the mixture becomes a coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and mix with your hands until just combined. Add the berries (still frozen), pressing lightly to incorporate into the batter.

Dump the dough onto a floured board and roll out until about 3/4 inch thick. This will be a very messy job - just make sure you keep flouring your rolling pin so the dough doesnt stick (and try not to be dismayed by the berries that will inevitably free themselves from the sticky dough and roll onto the floor). Using a round cookie cutter or the mouth of a small glass, cut out rounds of dough and place slightly separated onto a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops with milk or cream, sprinkle with a bit of sugar, and bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm, plain or topped with butter and jam.

Makes 16-18 buttermilk berry scones.


Hard to Swallow

Whew. It's been quite a week, dear reader(s)... and apparently it's only Wednesday. Actually, some not great things have happened this week. Firstly, I managed to get so many paper cuts at work today you'd think I tried to craft a small origami village, when really all I was doing was a mail merge. Then there was yesterday, when I seem to have (gracefully) tripped down a flight of stairs and landed squarely on my right ankle. (Turns out my ankle is fine, though the jury is still out on my self-esteem and personal dignity.) And, worst of all, there's the fact that five of my colleagues, two of whom I consider my friends, were laid off yesterday. Which just really stinks.

A sign of the times, I suppose, though it doesn't make their departure any easier to swallow. It makes me feel guilty, and also a little bit ashamed. I mean, up until yesterday, all the recession meant to me was that everything was on sale. And that the term "recessionista" had been invented. The various national and international crises hadn't yet reached my doorstep, and I sort of just assumed everything would be fine. It's nice living in a bubble... until it bursts. At any rate, I hope that M & P land on their respective feet. I'm going to miss them.

But, the show must go on. Literally. I'm performing in a play that opens this weekend, and our crazy rehearsal schedule hasn't given me much time to dwell on layoffs and bubbles and stock market crashes. Or food, for that matter. Mostly, my non-working hours for the past two weeks have been filled with high-pitched singing, flouncy Spanish senorita skirts, set change assignments and fake eyelashes. I've barely cooked all week, and I was in such a rush to get to rehearsal last night that I actually skipped dinner. (...I know! Blasphemy. That must be why I fell down the stairs.) Tonight was my one night off from rehearsal, but after catching up on all the grocery shopping, laundry and apartment cleaning to do, I was too tired to even turn on the oven. Instead, I opted for some crusty bread, a few smeared slices of sharp cheese, some plump medjool dates and a crispy apple. YUM. Added bonus: I saved money by not turning on the gas stove. I mean, we are in a recession afterall.

I hope you'll forgive me for not posting a recipe this week - it's been a crazy one. I did manage to bake this cake last weekend. The recipe is for a blood orange olive oil cake, but I used meyer lemons instead, and I think it worked beautifully. I expect it would work with any type of citrus, really, and be delicious. Be warned, though: if you're the type to stick by the conventional notion that cake should taste purely sweet, you may not like this one. It's sweet enough, but you can really taste the olive oil - it gives the cake a subtle earthy, fruity flavor and a sturdy, moist crumb. Be sure to use good olive oil - if you're not sure what "good olive oil" really means, just give the oil a taste to make sure you like the flavor before you use it to make citrus olive oil cake.

That's all for now. Here's to a better week ahead (with some recipes, for goodness' sake!) Until then, keep on plugging away, and try not to forget to eat dinner.