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Quickest Little Birthday Cake

Quickest Little Birthday Cake

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Here at the Small Table, I often need a downsized dessert on the fly.  While none of the recipes on this site take a crazy amount of time, this Quickest Little Birthday Cake wins for being fastest, impressive, delicious, and thoughtful.  You may have friends coming over for games, neighbors stopping in, or it’s your turn to host the playdate– on those days, leave off the candle and just serve cake!  The best-case scenario, of course, is that it actually is someone’s birthday:  when that happens, this cake comes beautifully to the rescue.

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Small Batch Rosemary Mozzarella Quick Bread

Small Batch Rosemary Mozzarella Quick Bread

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It is hot, hot, hot here at the Small Table, and maybe where you live, too!  Are you having salad for dinner tonight?  I admit that I don’t feel like eating much else these past few days, with our temps heading into the 100’s before the weekend.   A good salad can be made great, however, with the right bread-addition.  And so today I offer you one of my favorites:  Rosemary-Mozzarella Quick Bread.  It comes together in a snap with no yeast or rise-time, and is kept moist by olive oil, sour cream, and a relatively low baking-temperature.  Break out the 6-inch cake pan!

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S’mores Cones: Big, Big Pinterest Win

S’mores Cones: Big, Big Pinterest Win

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Little S and I were alone for dinner last night, and so we ate, umm…these.  (OK– we also had carrots, broccoli and hummus.  But still.  We lived wild.)  This was a great idea that I picked up on a stroll through Pinterest, and comes from a post last year by Lina at Hip2Save.  (I could have been making these for a whole year and didn’t know it!)  Such a s’mores upgrade– since it’s in a cone, you can fit in more stuff without worrying that it will fall out the sides.  It is as easy as it looks.

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My Favorite (Quick!) Tart Crust

My Favorite (Quick!) Tart Crust

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I admit that I love cute little pans, and I have many of them.  But, oh, what you can do with a 6-inch tart pan!  If you only have a 6-inch cake or pie pan, this will still work, it just won’t have the cute tart shape.  In any case, tart pans are not expensive (Sur La Table), so I would encourage you to get one if you are inclined.

This crust is easy, quick, cholesterol free, and can be used for a million fillings– from sweet to savory and back again; from baked to fresh to chilled to frozen– this is your baby! (Or at least it’s my baby, haha.)  Just think of the possibilities!  But you have to start somewhere, and today we start with the crust.

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Secret of Summer Cheese Burger

Secret of Summer Cheese Burger

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It’s time.  Maybe past time.  The Secret of Summer Cheeseburger is smoking on my (little) grill, and the fireflies are out here at the Small Table.  Perfect summer nights require perfect summer food, and this burger is #1 on that list.  A few years ago, I was watching my favorite guy-who-wears-a-bowtie, Chris Kimball (formerly of America’s Test Kitchen on PBS).  He was talking about how you may not want to grill a burger that is not all the way cooked through for a child.  I had to agree.  His answer to this was simple and awesome, and even though I like a good medium-burger sometimes, I have found the Chris Kimball method rocks the taste and texture, as well as the moisture content of a well-grilled burger.

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Small Batch Luscious Chocolate Cupcakes

Small Batch Luscious Chocolate Cupcakes

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Holiday…coming…up…must…celebrate…with…color-coordinated…food!!!  I try not to get TOO crazy about food and holidays, but each one has at least some special food that should go with it:  First and last days of school = crazy ice cream flavors.  Thanksgiving = sugar cones filled with candy to look like cornucopias.  Heart-shaped sugar cookies = Valentine’s Day.  You get the idea.   So anyway, these are this year’s offering for the 4th of July (soon to be upon us!)

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Pot de Creme au Chocolat– For One!

Pot de Creme au Chocolat– For One!

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Seriously!  The creation of this recipe required three attempts.  Since I am my own taste tester (someone has to do it!) I can tell you that it was pretty fun to eat all three (different days– don’t worry.)  The little French custards that are Pots de Crème have been famous at the Small Table basically forever.  But how do you make just one Pot de Crème?  Allow me to introduce you to a dangerous recipe– and an excellent use for just one egg yolk.  (Use the white here.)

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Ice Cream to Keep You Busy

Ice Cream to Keep You Busy

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Happy Monday!  Today I’m sharing several links for the ever-popular 2-ingredient no-churn ice cream that is ubiquitous on the internet.  It’s everywhere, frankly, because it’s GOOD!  And EASY!  I know purists are rolling their collective eyeballs at this recipe, but after holding out for a long time (my friend gave me an ice cream maker a few years ago, after all) I have finally embraced it.  To alter these recipes for small batch, use half a can of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 cup of heavy cream as a base.  To make enough for just one serving, use a quarter-can of SCM and 1/2 cup heavy cream.

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Marinara #1: Simple & Smooth

Marinara #1: Simple & Smooth

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This is my fastest, simplest marinara– and so much better than store-bought.  It is a real treasure, because it is luscious and slow-simmered, but can still be on the table in half an hour.  I know that sounds like a contradiction, but the truth is that “slow” doesn’t have to mean “all day.”  Generally, flavors can meld with a good 20-25 minute simmer after bringing the sauce to a full boil.  I had the chance to test this theory several months ago when I suddenly got a call that friends were coming to dinner– and would be at the Small Table in 45 minutes.  Yikes!!

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Potato and Greens with Maple-Pecan Vinaigrette

Potato and Greens with Maple-Pecan Vinaigrette

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Throw together this fantastic salad before asparagus season ends.  It has been a favorite at the Small Table for several years; even Little S. will eat it!  The inspiration for this dish came from a photo I once saw in a library book.  I have no idea how that book-salad tasted, but the idea of nuts in a dressing left me with a crazy desire to re-create.  The result is this potato/asparagus/spinach combination topped with my fantasy-version of the dressing I saw.  Delicious and nutritious.  Read on.

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Tangy Mashed Potatoes: A Little Comfort Goes a Long Way

Tangy Mashed Potatoes: A Little Comfort Goes a Long Way

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I really had just one comfort food growing up:  hot buttered toast.  I think it started when I got the chicken pox and had to recover at my grandma’s house.  My aunt came over several times during that week, always with homemade wheat bread.  So I lay in my little bed of two armchairs pushed together and ate hot buttered toast.  It was lovely!  Mashed potatoes, on the other hand, didn’t earn a place in my comfort food arsenal until much later–  I always thought they were kind of plain.  Then one day I read that cream cheese makes a very good addition to mashed potatoes.  I immediately knew this was the elevation the dish needed!  The cream cheese makes them zingy, and brings out a tanginess that is worth the few minutes it will take to boil and mash them up.

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Golden Waffle for One

Golden Waffle for One

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If you are lucky enough to own a good waffle iron, you are lucky enough!  I threw out the first one I owned after college, because it was so stinking hard to clean.  But the newer ones are very non-stick coated, plus you can spray them with cooking spray just for good measure.  I actually inherited my current iron from a friend when she decided to upgrade.  Add this great little recipe that makes exactly one round waffle, and you have all the makings of a tasty Sunday morning.  Get out your syrup/ berries/ yogurt/ jam/ peanut butter/ ice cream/ fudge sauce/ peaches/ whipped cream/ chicken strips, because this is the perfect foil.

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Hot Fudge Sauce for One

Hot Fudge Sauce for One

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I love [chocolate] ice cream!  I wish I could say that I love all flavors, or even many flavors– because I know there are lots of fine ones out there.  But somehow I never feel satisfied at the end of my frozen feast unless there was at least some chocolate in the flavor I chose.  True.  Chocolate is essential.  That brings us to last Sunday.  Mr. Luxury told me on Saturday that he wanted to take care of Sunday dinner(!), and that it would be a special treat– which he did, and it was!  We were very full after the meal, and he decided to take a little nap between dinner and dessert.  I seized this moment (sneakily but lovingly!) to check on the flavor of ice cream he had purchased.  Alas, caramel but no chocolate.  That’s when I remembered that I knew an old recipe for homemade hot fudge sauce.  A few minutes later, voilà– hot fudge to the rescue.  Chocolate thus introduced, the meal ended perfectly!  Use in any chocolate emergency.

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The Chilean Ave Palta: Simple Sandwich Perfection

The Chilean Ave Palta: Simple Sandwich Perfection

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The first time I lived in Chile was as a student.  Chile is as long as the U.S. is wide, so I traveled as much as I could and saw an astounding array of climates, architecture, imposing mountains, extraordinary beaches, and all sorts of other amazements– even penguins!  In a town in the south, right about the point where the islands start to break off, a friend and I were eating in a little restaurant.  As soon as my eyeballs spotted ‘ave palta’ on the menu, I knew my choice was made.  Chileans have their own cherished words for common things– words that differ from the rest of the Spanish-speaking world.  They are very proud of this, and I found it endlessly charming.  Where most would say ‘pollo,’ many Chileans artfully style their chicken ‘ave’ (or ‘bird.’)  Similarly, avocado in Chile is ‘palta,’ and is used in a much simpler preparation than in Mexican guacamole.

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Luscious Garlic Cheese Bread for One

Luscious Garlic Cheese Bread for One

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Every time I make Luscious Garlic Cheese Bread, I remember a roommate from college.  While I’m mixing the butter and cheese, I take a few reminiscing-minutes to think about my friend.  She was smart and quirky and loyal and in-the-know.  She slept with a giant box of candy under her bed, since her mother had never let her eat it growing up.  I loved that little bit of harmless rebelliousness about her, and decided not to ask why she kept twenty or so cans of frozen juice concentrate in the freezer.  She had lived a few years in Italy, and returned with all sorts of tasty food knowledge.  She was a fantastic cook, opening my eyes to kitchen secrets we just didn’t know in Small Table Land.  She taught me to add carrots to pasta sauce because of their natural sweetness, how to perfectly sear meat to serve with fresh pasta, and of course shared her ‘recipe’ for Luscious Garlic Cheese Bread.

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Roasted Asparagus Flatbread with Goat Cheese & Lemon Zest

Roasted Asparagus Flatbread with Goat Cheese & Lemon Zest

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I am so excited when I see the first asparagus coming into the markets in the spring!  The sight of those little stalks is a current of freshness that takes hold in my brain and moves me to buy lemons, strawberries, green onions, and practically any other little fresh green thing I see.  Today’s small luxury also has the benefit of being simple and quick to make:  you can think of it, make it, and eat it in half an hour with almost no effort and almost no clean-up.  Don’t we all have days when that hits the mark?

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Creamy Mac & Cheese for One

Creamy Mac & Cheese for One

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My favorite sign at the farmers market where I used to sell belonged to the cheesemonger:  Sweet dreams are made of cheese– Who am I to diss a brie?  Wahaha!  I know it probably originated elsewhere.  But I love Annie Lennox, and I love cheese, so I totally laughed out loud. This single-serve mac & cheese is a combination of three cheeses plus some heavy cream. So don’t eat it every day.  But when you’re really in the mood for cheesy goodness that is also quick and easy to make, you’ve got it right here.

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Just Five Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (with coconut!)

Just Five Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (with coconut!)

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Who can argue with a batch of just FIVE cookies?  It’s the ideal amount to hoard for the weekend, or to share with someone really nice (or someone you wish were nicer!)  That’s why we have to call them perfect.  That, and the fact that they are delicious on their own or with any sorts of add-ins you come up with.  I put flaked coconut in mine, but you can let yourself be inspired by any number of other mixer-ideas.  Take, for example, Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies.  Pastry chef Christina Tosi adds pretzels, potato chips, coffee grounds, oatmeal, butterscotch chips, graham cracker crumbs… you see?

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Cheddar & Garlic Biscuit for One

Cheddar & Garlic Biscuit for One

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Wondering what to eat today?  This quick, delicious, adaptable biscuit is the answer you’ve been searching for.  Well, at least it was the answer I was searching for this morning.  The virtues of this biscuit are many, but let’s start with the fact that you don’t cut in any cold butter– an especial pet peeve of mine.  Next, it is a drop biscuit, so no flour on your counter top, or dirty rolling pin to clean up.  Last, you can change up the flavor in so many ways, depending on the meal and whatever you fancy today.  I have the utmost respect for the perfect Southern buttermilk biscuit, which this is not.  But sometimes I have even more respect for something lightning-quick and totally delicious, which this is.

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Springtime Creamy Tomato Soup for One

Springtime Creamy Tomato Soup for One

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For some reason my nostalgic memories of the tomato soup brand I ate when I was growing up do not match the actual taste of it when I eat it now.  How can this be? I think it’s akin to when I finally went back as an adult to see the house where I lived as a child. It had seemed so spacious to me then:  full of nooks and play places, room to crash around, build forts, dress up, and generally be mildly mischievous.  But oh how tiny it was when I finally saw it again!  Maybe this has happened to you.  Anyway, {X}-brand tomato soup just doesn’t do it for me anymore.  I need something luscious and creamy, a little spicy, and yep–quick to make.

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