You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2010.

i now can say, with a good deal of confidence, i know pomo. what is pomo, you ask? port moody, british columbia, of course! my most recent trip to the lovely home of my dear aunt lynda et al really confirmed my love of this place. and my bearings are pretty solid there, too. clearly a result of being with the girls i love! as you can see above, and in the sequence below, my girls have various levels of patience with me…

while in the wild, woody hills of port moody, i got to do some cooking. this is no new feat, especially not in pomo. in fact, one could argue that my true cooking adventures jump started there, one infamous august when aunt lynda and i decided to cook up the turkey that had been chilling in the freezer since american thanksgiving (no pun intended). we ingeniously used joelley’s turtle kiddie pool and let that bird thaw. (aunt lynda was very pregnant with susanna at this point.) late in the evening, we stuck the bird (dressed in oil and herbs) in the oven, and roasted it through the night, keeping the heat in the house to a minimum and conserving energy. we were so proud of our work! and the meat, packed into portion-appropriate sized bags for the freezer, was ready to go with speed and ease for a mom of two!

our family (my mom especially) has since expressed an aghast disgust/concern/dismay/roll of eyes at this adventure. it makes us smile.

well, this time round, i made brownies, muffins, and a side of tomato sauce. 


so i realize this picture looks pretty rank. kind of like a combination of rabbit turds, some mucus-y foaming puff, with a good sprinkle of course sand or something. do not be alarmed, dear reader. this is, in fact, a wild concoction of chocolate-y fibrous delight. this wild mix, once pureed and combined with 1/4 cup oats, is actually brownies. 1 can beans, 1/4 cup cocoa, a banana, 1/3 cup honey, a tablespoon of cinnamon + a quick trip in the food processor = B R O W N I E S. shocking, right? i thought so, too. bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


they came out rather thin– i think i would make them in a smaller pan so that they thickened, or else just make a double batch! they are not normal brownies, but quite the happy treat for a not-too-sweet fiber-filled chocolate fix! we enjoyed these on our adventure to bowen island.

the muffins were a lovely butternut apple dried cranberry delight. i forgot to take a picture post production, but the feedback i’ve gotten from aunt lynda is positive. she cleverly stuck those babies in the freezer for breakfast treats in the months to come.




finally, aunt lynda asked if i could make some tomato sauce, also for the freezer and quick meals. she had some old salsa to make use of, so with a beginning base of onions and carrots + homemade salsa + sun-dried, oil-packed tomatoes + canned tomatoes + bay leaf + dried basil + salt + pepper + a little honey = happy, crimson sauce.



now these have NOTHING on my aunt’s mess o’ seafood (look in the comment section for the recipe!) she made the next evening for dinner, but they were fun to make nonetheless. enjoy!

the pictures below are a testament to my desire for a picture of the girls with their new earthworks shirts, fresh off the press from detroit. they, however, were a little less excited about the pose…



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rain, smiles, silliness, and the majestic beauty of the pacific northwest. what happens when a dear aunt invites a grateful gwen to visit her and her beautiful girls to british columbia?! pure delight!

five days of outdoor exploration, ballet in the living room, books in the bath tub, and really good grub can really inspire and excite. really get the newness of spring pumping through the veins. with the help of ms. joelle and ms. susanna (otherwise known as joelley-fish and mi tortuga, respectively), i saw a whole new side of BC.

on sunday, we ventured to bowen island. the van looked ready for a weekend trip to disneyland– we were prepared for rain, mud, and general outdoor messiness. but more importantly, we were ready for an adventure! from horseshoe bay and a ferry to the sleepy, verdant, gorgeous bowen island and back in a day! oh the thrills, the sights, the sounds, and the FUN!

we found a lovely public beach, with shores of sea-worn stones in all shades of gray, purple, blue, and green.


ms. susanna, a lover of throwing stones, had a hay day. joelle, a lover of climbing, splashing, exploring, and asking, kept us moving. we even met some lovely new friends who shared their bonfire and marshmallows with joelle, who happily roasted those gooey globes of sugar and fluff. the air, salty and crisp, was heavy with rain, but held back those lovely, round drops until after our beach excursion.



susanna giving me a rock

joelle belle eating a roasting mallow

the crew on the ferry, homeward bound!

the weather, the water, and the shells on the beach stirred the cooking prowess of my dear aunt lynda, who quickly, confidently, and deliciously created a mess of clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp upon our return to the mainland. i will continue to hound her to get the actual recipe, but i can still smell the richness, the depth of that meal in this photograph.


hooray for fun-day sunday.

spring is here. sunshine and warm weather graced detroit this past week, giggling and shimmering the skies with bright blue and the world with new hope.


weeks such as this ideally coincided with the beginnings of the farming season. needless to say, work weather was great. my body definitely felt spring’s call to action: muscles rediscovered, residual tightness from the activity building, then numbing as the days sunk by.


and, while this week was ideal, it was quite the week for ms. gwen marie meyer. i admit, i am not a fan of talking in third person. but these events happened to me. by me. and because of me. and oh were they classic, in a way that can only be defined by me.


first, my camera got run over by a car. please see exhibit (a).

(a)
yes, you read correctly. i managed to drop my camera (in my handy-dandy fanny* pack) out of my car in downtown detroit. yes, i managed to make it all the way home before realizing i’d kicked it out of my car. yes, i made it back to rediscover my dear fanny*, in tact and missing nothing. however, dear fanny* was the victim of a hit and run. and my camera, gut-smashed and flattened, spewed its insides awkwardly out around the edges. (*please note, my use of “fanny” refers to a purse-like pouch and bears no resemblance to the irish slang. i learned this the hard way, when visiting a dear friend in ireland. this would be an awkward, unfortunate error for you, dear reader, to make).

i was heartbroken. it had been quite some time i’d let any sort of material thing, especially such a technical machine, bring me so far down. i could not cook, i could not blog. how would i ever return to the horrors of documenting recipes with the built-in camera on my computer? woe was me! 

then comes thursday. i’d made it nearly six days without documenting anything with a camera. i felt somehow empty, forlorn. my fingers yearned to zoom and focus. to capture and record. 

and then i had it: i would take pictures of the bees pulling in pollen! the maples, blooms bursting ripe form their branches, were ripe for pollen foraging, and my girls were wearing yellow leg warmers (they have these amazing pockets on their legs into which they collect pollen). clearly, i needed to capture a photo of them, leg-warmed and styling,  on my cell phone, to send my parents! 

please see the result in exhibit (b).
(b)
lesson learned: do NOT encroach on bee hives, even if the girls seem mighty preoccupied, busily harvesting pollen, with a cell phone all up in their space. they are NOT good with arrogant, eager beekeepers overwhelming them with such devices in their faces.

at this point in the week, i felt pretty sad for myself. but at least i got a good laugh every time i looked in the mirror.

well, this story ends with happiness, and a tasty treat, as any good story should. luckily, the camera (a gift from my parents) was warranty-ed and i have the great fortune of camera no. dos, which will never replace camera no. uno, just take its position. 

new camera in tow, i set to make a delicious treat to post this fine evening: blueberry rhubarb crisp. giddy and excited, i constructed this sweet with love and attention. but, as the previous events of the week indicate, my vision was not to be realized in its intended form. why, you ask? because i forgot the butter.

  
do you see a difference between these two photographs? well, you should: the one on the left is pre-baked, the one on the right, after 35 minutes at 375…

without the butter, my crisp did not crisp. it bubbled and steamed, but did not brown, crunch or crackle. my improvise? SMASHING. between the mushing of my camera and the smushing of my left eye, clearly my week served as the inspiration. using the spoon, i smashed, mushed, smushed, and squished all those lovely ingredients together.

the color? delightful. the flavor? tart and sweet. the texture? not unlike hot cereal or oatmeal, but with a much finer feel to it. would a crisp’ve been better, butter included? of course, but i enjoyed my smashed blueberry rhubarb delight all the same.

smashed blueberry rhubarb delight
inspired from a long week of… smashing

3/4 c rhubarb, chopped
3/4 c blueberries
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped almonds
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
3/4 c mix of oats, flour, cinnamon

1. mix fruit and sugar in a bowl.

2. mix remaining ingredients in bowl, stir well.

3. place fruit on bottom of oven-safe dish. top with oat-flour-nut mix. bake at 375 for 35 minutes.
4. smash.


at the end of january, i visited my nanny and poppy in their warm, cozy home in ada, ohio. i try to make it down once a month, and admit that february has mysteriously dissipated, and march is quickly following suit. tara, famous for her ham and cheese sandwich, ventured along. i think she has a better understanding of my love for ice cream, popcorn, and sweets… probably my obsession for food in general.

the weekend was grand, the food delicious, but one of the more exciting gains of the trip was a dozen eggs from my nanny’s dear friend diane. a writer, a gardener, a cook, a grandma (to name a few!), diane made perhaps the best apple pie i’ve ever experienced last fall. so good that it still creeps up in my dreams. not that it’s creepy– those are the dreams i hope for when i go to sleep at night.

delighted, excited, and inspired, i carefully transported my eggs back to la grande. i knew these eggs were special, only to be used for special things. my roommates (mr. lacross, especially) really have a thing for eggs, so made clear notations on the top of the box that these eggs were not fair game for everyone. no, these were my eggs, fresh from diane’s, for unusual and remarkable dishes only. 


eggs in batter for beet cupcakes! (so the recipe called for 3 eggs, i believe 2 of the 3 were diane’s)

eggs in batter for spiced-up cornbread!


eggs in molasses cake!




egg for an egg sandwich on focaccia!


eggs for banana bread (recipe coming)!



oh the adventures of me and my eggs. great recipes, a happy stomach, and good stories to share. many thanks to diane for such grand inspiration. what are your favorite recipes with that great oval of protein?

after yesterday’s delightful highlight of my dear roommate tara’s fantastic take on the oh-so-loved ham & cheese, i felt the need to share another tasty sandwich: i’ll call it the magenta focaccia melt.


to be honest, i am not even 100% sure what went in this sandwich. but i do know it smelled great, tasted even better, and was coupled with even better conversation with my dear friend seema.  


in town for a stint before heading to visit her parents, seema witnessed the whirlwind i am in the kitchen. wild, unsure, but somehow confident. also, i really like to clean up after myself (keeps me one step ahead for the next time). 


our dinner? well it started with a simple cheese melt. i had made fingerling focaccia the weekend before, so we cut two squares of that off the loaf, and sliced them in half. after lovingly layering some cheese, some roasted tomatoes, some mustard, into the toaster over those babies went.


meanwhile, we decided our meal really needed something green to make it well-balanced and more sustaining. well from green we went to magenta and sauteed up some beet greens with some onion and a little curry powder, if i’m not mistaken.


the sandwiches came out before the greens were done, and were originally assembled as their own separate entity. but, once those beet greens sizzled and smacked the sides of their pan, seema cleverly stuffed the greens into her tomato-cheese-focaccia melt. the result? shear genius.

good to the last bite. i give you, dear friends, the magenta focaccia melt.



eat well!

last night, tara got home after a weekend of weddings and wonder on the west side of michigan (imagine me pointing to the mid-left side of my left hand right now, that’s where her family lives). as we chatted and caught up, she made this fantastically grand ham sandwich. i mean this sandwich is unlike any other i’ve seen her make. it had height, it had color, it had fruit and cheese and mustard. and it had ham.

now, for those who don’t know me, let me tell you about me and ham. we are not great friends. i think it mostly stems back to horrible easter dinners with thick, chewy pink ham. ugh the smell, the texture, the flavor. it just did not sit well. but the mandate for a clean plate was there, as always in our happy meyer clan. and the memories of the meal as a whole are great: aunt ish and uncle duane, sauer kraut and those after dinner mints. but the ham. UGH the HAM! my relationship with pork still needs reconciliation at this point, i believe. maybe someday… maybe.

well tara’s sandwich really did call me to reconsider. i mean just looking at it was enough to cause a person to stop and think. it awesome. different. new. 

i did try one bite, but it only had the apple and cheese (YUM). but for those ham lovin’ folks out there, please see below to tantalize your taste buds for some pork and cheesy, appley goodness!

tara’s ham and cheese sandwich

vegetable oil
whole wheat bread
granny smith apple
fontina cheese
honey
stone ground mustard
one slice nice ham (tara specified the good kind, not the slimy lunch meat ham)

1. put some oil in a small frying pan, over medium heat. rub oil on bread and let it warm.
2. crumble cheese on top of warming bread.
3. spread mustard and honey (3 squirts mustard and 2 knife-dips of honey!) on top cheese.
4. shred ham slice into smaller pieces. brown it on open space in frying room next to bread until warm (1 minute), then add to sandwich.
5. place slices of apples on top of ham, and continue to warm until you’re satisfied. with the look of your sandwich.
6. assemble and enjoy!


today. what a WONDER-filled GLORious day of sunshine, springtime, and general happiness. and, how better to celebrate this glowing, fifty-four degree day than with peanut butter chocolate cookies that you can make in less than a half-hour, start to finish? this, the perfect treat. the lack of time spent in the kitchen = the maximum of time spent out in the great outdoors. what a happy march we’ve seen so far… i’m hoping it’s not a tease.

and do i every love my peanut butter. it’s been a definite staple in my life, just behind my 24 year love affair with my nanny’s strawberries. when i was a kid, i refused to eat peanut butter AND jelly sandwiches. straight peanut butter, thank you very much. (pb&j is a concept i am still coming to grips with today.) my favorite dessert growing up? scotcheroos. oh that divine mix of peanut butter, rice krispees and chocolate takes me back to my swim team days and carbo-loading parties. peanut butter on apples. on carrots. on toast. on bananas. in yogurt. in frozen yogurt. it’s even great in getting gum out of hair (on that particular day, apparently i felt like i deserved more attention… that gum was placed with great intentionality.) and, delectably, delightfully, dramatically, with chocolate. the perfect pair!

so i give you peanut butter BLISS in a ball, not to be confused with a buckeye. yes, i do very much love ohio state’s great buckeye, but this is far easier and less intensive. in the end, it does not look like a ball, either. more like a cookie. but those round blobs on the cookie sheets are very ball like. and, who really wants to eat peanut butter BLISS in a disk?!

peanut butter BLISS in a ball
adapted from Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Clean Eating magazine

1 cup unsalted peanut butter, stirred well
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1. preheat oven to 350. 
2. in medium bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients.

3. stir in chocolate.



4. drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. remove to a wire rack and let cool for 15 more minutes.


enjoy!

i’ve decided two things. first, i have an obsessive love for frozen yogurt, ice-cream, gelato, and soft serve. last summer, i decided to try as many of detroit’s fine frozen dairy stops as i could. i don’t even believe i scratched the surface there… but i do know mr. lovely’s ice cream  on mack avenue is my favorite, experientially speaking at least, to be sure.

second, i have an obsessive love for any sort of sweet that combines fresh fruit, oats, honey, cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg. crisp. the crisp, such a marvelous, miraculous thing. unadulterated, simple, and astounding. the texture of the oat, the crispy crunch, and then that soft melting of the fruit. divine! you see, i’ve thought these obsessions through quite thoroughly. they are most definitely perfect compliments for each other. which is precisely why we don’t keep either around our house for too long. i need some form of self control…

so this, my blueberry crisp revised, is a new take on the second of my dessert passions. while up north on my great adventure sola, i really wanted crisp. the problem? well, there was no butter and no fresh fruit. my improvise? dried fruit and a crisp top made with applesauce, oats, cinnamon, some chopped almonds, and a little honey. it was great, although i think soaking and delicately simmering the dried cherries, cranberries, and plums for a little bit to let ’em plump would have really completed the dessert quite nicely.
upon returning back to la grande, i attempted this revised treat yet again. this time, i enjoyed michigan blueberries, purpley, round and, delightful, covered with a chewy blanket of oats, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, honey, and apple sauce. and, indeed, a tasty discovery for sure!

blueberry crisp revised
*i made this all by eye, and so am guessing how much i used of these ingredients. i think you can kind of just toss it together, it’s one of those kind of recipes!

1/2-3/4 cup blueberries (maybe more, enough for two layers of blueberries to sit on bottom of dish, at least)
1/2 cup oats
1 heaping tablespoon flax, ground
1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin sees, coarsely ground
1/2 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4-1/3 cup apple sauce

1. preheat oven to 350. place berries on bottom of a small oven-safe dish.
2. combine following ingredients. use enough applesauce to hold everything together, but not so much that it is more mush that oats.

3. top berries with oat mixture, bake for 20-30 minutes, till golden brown and crisped!

enjoy!


last week, tara and i got ambitious. for some time now, we’ve admired this recipe on the back cover of martha stewart’s february edition (this edition featuring chocolate, hearts & roses! … please refer here for further details about my own valentine’s day). la grande enjoys the bounty of martha (and her amazing staff) in her magazine. the pictures, the layouts, the recipes. how does she do it? well, tara and i set off to find out. adventure pear and strawberry love!


martha’s original recipe calls for pears and raspberries. we inserted straw for rasp and came out with these lovely pie pockets of love. as you know, i have a great love for strawberries. here is another tasty way to savor those summer sweets that you’ve frozen away in your deep freeze.

now, i do believe our technique as a team may not quite meet ms. martha’s caliber. but for ms. tara and myself, we were quite pleased. as were the many mouths our happy pie pockets filled!


pear and strawberry love
(adapted from martha stewart’s magazine, pear-raspberry heart pies)


for the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water


for the filling:
2 firm ripe pears (we used anjou), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (go for the freshly grated nutmeg here, it’s totally worth it)
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, coarsely chopped
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
sugar for sprinkling


1. make the pastry. tara did this, so i will fill in as i can. pulse flour, salt, and granulated sugar in a food processor until combined (alternatively, i’d say whisk it all together in a large bowl). add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 5 seconds (alternatively, i’d use a pastry mixture). essentially, you’re making pie crust here.

tara making the pastry!
2. evenly drizzle ice water over mixture, pulse until mixture just begins to hold together, about 10 seconds (again, use pastry mixer and look for similar conditions, if you’re not using the machine).  turn out dough onto plastic wrap, wrap, and shape into a disk. martha recommends refrigerating until firm, 1 hour or overnight. we let ours chill out in between batches (we made 2), so we kind of skimped on this. it worked out just dandy, though.
3. make the filling: toss pears with lemon juice. melt butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. add pears, toss to coat.
4. cook, adding granulated sugar a little at a time, about 5 minutes. stir in nutmeg. transfer to a bowl and mix in strawberries.
5. divide dough in half, and roll out each piece to 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. martha says to refrigerate for 15 minutes, we skipped this part completely!
6. preheat oven to 350.
7. drain pear-strawberry filling in a sieve (or we used cheese cloth). we saved the butter juices… still in the fridge, any ideas on what we can do with it? let me know!
8. cut out 20 hearts from dough using a 4-inch cutter, transferring them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. we didn’t have such a cookie cutter, and made our hearts each by hand. how heart-felt, heart-y, heart-ful!

9. lightly brush rims of half the hearts with egg wash, and top each with 4 heaping teaspoons filling. top with remaining hearts, and gently press around sides to seal. brush pie tops with egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar.
10. bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes.


*we had a lot of extra dough after making our 20 hearts (we doubled our recipe, a single recipe makes 10). with our extra, we used a mason jar and cut circles, filling them with different jams we’ve had in our fridge (pink banana marmalade, plum, and wild berry). these were quite delicious, too!



focaccia. who ever’d thought it would be so easy to make. and so easy to eat! this is the tale of a young woman’s adventures to northern michigan and back to detroit, coming out the other end with fingerling focaccia (homemade!) en tow. what could be better? some really yummy, melty cheese, slabbed inside a hunk of this, roasted tomatoes layered in. now there’s an idea…


i realized i had never traveled alone. well, that’s a lie. i travel alone all the time, but always to see family and friends. never to, well, just be. no longer can i claim such innocence! friends, family, foe alike, let it be known: i’ve tasted the fruit of solitary travel, and i like it!


my parents have a lovely place in northern michigan. (right now i am pointing to the mid-upper section of my left ring finger. this is how michiganders relate location in the great mitten state). i have been going up to this lake, in fact, since i was a kid. great family friends of ours have a place up north, too, which is how the meyer clan became introduced, seduced, and generally fell in love with the place. blue water, white birches, evergreens galore. even on cloudy, winter days, the turquoise blue calms and soothes.



 well, i decided it was about time that i went there. alone. sola. just me myself and i. i must admit, i am pretty entertaining! 


i went on a mission: not just did i want to be alone with that great lake, i also wanted to bake some focaccia. we have all these potatoes from our fresh food share. simultaneously, la grande’s lacked us some good bread for a good week now. solution? potatoes into bread! fingerlings spread on top! simplicity meets beauty meets fresh bread. (also, there’s a working dryer there. mission numero three? laundry.)


so saturday i dedicated my day around the bread making. ha, what an overstatement! this bread was really low maintenance, and the breaks between action gave me time to get creative in some other kitchen adventures, knit, read, and dance to some oldies.

 
left: a saute of carrots, celery, cabbage with a delightful egg. right: a new take on crisp

the trip? a success indeed. so much so i wasn’t sure i wanted to come back to detroit yesterday afternoon. but, it’s back reality. at least i’ve got some fingerling focaccia love.

potato thyme fingerling focaccia
adapted from gourmet

2 1/2 teaspoons (a 1/4-ounce package) active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 cups spelt flour2 cups mashed cooked russet (baking) potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds small fingerling potatoes
1. In a small bowl sprinkle the yeast over 1 cup warm water and let it proof for 5 minutes, or until it is foamy. 
2. In a large bowl combine well 4 cups of the flour with the mashed potatoes and the salt until the mixture resembles coarse meal, add the yeast mixture, and stir the dough until it is combined well. 
 
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it, incorporating as much of the remaining 1/2 cup flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. 

4. Form the dough into a ball, put it in an oiled bowl, and turn it to coat it with the oil. Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place (i left mine on top of the dryer: killed two birds with one stone: clean, dry clothes and fresh bread!) for 1 1/2 hours, or until it is double in bulk. 

5. While the dough is rising, in a small bowl stir together the garlic, the thyme, and the oil and let the mixture stand, covered. 

6. Once dough’s doubled in size, turn the dough out into a well-oiled 15 1/2- by 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pan. i unfortunately could not find the jelly roll pan and used the bottom half of a broiling pan. made for a thicker focaccia.

7. Press it evenly into the pan, and let it rise, covered loosely, in a warm place (on top running dryer!) for 45 minutes or less, or until it is almost double in bulk. 
8. Using a mandoline or hand-held slicer (i actually used a vegetable peeler) cut the fingerling potatoes into paper-thin slices, arrange the slices on the dough, overlapping them. 
  
9. Brush with the oil mixture and sprinkle the focaccia with salt and pepper to taste.
10. Bake it in the bottom third of a preheated 400°F. oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it is golden. Let the focaccia cool in the pan on a rack and serve it warm or at room temperature.