Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Happy Holidays, y'all!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rien Faire Comme Un Au Pair

The RER trains into Paris were on strike this weekend, which means I have to take a different train that takes even longer to get into Paris. The problem is not that I don't have the time to spare, but rather that this long and arduous journey makes me believe that I somehow deserve to indulge myself in fine Parisian haute cuisine. And indulge myself I did.

After this au pair that I was supposed to meet up with bailed on me -- a turn of events that I was secretly somewhat ecstatic about -- it was time to feast. After stopping in at the Breizh Cafe only to be told the wait was an hour and a half, I decided to make my way from the Marais to Saint Germain des Pres. This is somewhat of a troop so I stopped at a market and bought myself une galette saucisse traditionnelle. It was a hot sausage wrapped in a cold buckwheat crepe. Pretty delicious.

Next I stopped by L'Epigramme per David Leib's recommendation but alas, it's Sunday so it was closed. I stumbled onto Boulevard Saint Germain and saw Da Rosa... I figured if nothing else, I could just eat raisins soaked in sauterne and covered with chocolate for lunch. I asked if they had room for one, but the place was packed. Luckily the waiter must have seen my disappointment, and explained that there was a table in the basement where they hang the Spanish hams; if I wanted, I could eat there. C'est un peu froid mais quand meme... So I ended up sitting all by myself at this little table in the meat room of De Rosa. At first it felt weird, but then I developed a sort of back-room Tony Soprano understanding of it and I was like this is iiiiiiill.

Ok, I'll speed this up. I ordered the risotto with Iberico ham and a Savignon Blanc avec une carafe d'eau, bien sur. It was phenomenal. Dessert was an insane chocolate cake that was super moist, filled with a warm chocolate pudding and surrounded by a vanilla cream. As I bit into it three words inevitably came to mind: Get 'em girl!

After finally seeing the entire Limits of Control, I had a sausage shwarma at a pretty good little Lebanese restaurant next to the theater. As I'm writing this, I'm finishing up my Le Petit Suisse, fromage frais with a little pure cane sugar on top.

And I leave you with a little adapted Adorno:

Rien faire comme [un au pair], lying on water and looking peacefully at the sky, ‘being nothing else, without any further definition and fulfilment’, might take the place of process, act, satisfaction, and so truly keep the promise of dialectical logic that it would culminate in its origin.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cookie Monster

That's me, of course! Taking a brief break here in the Netherlands to report on tonight's unexpected cooking triumph: chocolate chip cookies. I know I haven't posted at all while I've been away (don't worry, I've got a lot stored up!) but I have been cooking quite a bit. We are fortunate to have a lovely, spacious apartment with a kitchen and dishwasher; however, we are oven-challenged. We basically have a microwave for an oven - I'm told it's a convection oven and so far we've cooked all kinds of goodies in it, but it still just looks like a microwave to me. I don't trust it. On top of that, the other night we had an unfortunate incident in which the microwave/oven began to smoke and emit a very strange and alarming smell, prompting me to worry that a fire might be imminent. I went so far as to fetch my neighbor (more on him later) and ask him to have a look at the thing, and we haven't really been on solid footing since then.

My lovely roommate was making dinner tonight and mentioned that she had tested out the oven a couple times and it seemed to be fine. Hope! Of course, at the end of our meal I began dreaming of chocolate chip cookies, and after a brief peak at the internet, I rose from the table with a mission. Baking makes me feel good, for so many reasons that I won't go into now, but suffice it to say that I love to eat and food is comforting and sometimes it helps to fill my heart with gezellig when I am missing someone. I was looking for something really quick and easy because after a few glasses of wine, I get a little sleepy. This recipe took all of 10 minutes and turned out delicious. I even made the entire thing in one pot on the stove, so there was minimal cleanup. I think the key is that you brown the butter on the stovetop, which imbues the batter with a heavenly nutty caramel flavor. Then it's just sugar, flour, the usual suspects, and some chocolate, which I chopped roughly from 2 different chocolate bars because they don't seem to sell chocolate chips here (perhaps the only deterrent from living here permanently?)

The cookies took about 8 minutes in our little convection contraption (I ran it hotter than the recipe calls for because our temperature only increases in 25-degree increments) and they were perfect...crunchy but not quite crispy on the outer edges, soft and almost mushy in the middle... I couldn't wait for them to cool off, but by the time I got to the third one, they were at perfect temperature. I guzzled some cold milk with these babies and sighed a long, happy, comforted sigh before crawling into bed.

Recipe here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood

Forewent (is that a word?) both franny's and the W (whose room service menu includes an entire page FOR DOGS) for Pam Real Thai Food, the best Thai joint I have found in Manhattan (I have yet to venture to Queens, where it's supposed to be really great). The four of us ordered, to start, fried calamari, which was served without the tentacles and in longer rings than you'd get at, say, a bar, and with a slightly viscous sweet chili dipping sauce. We also shared curry puffs, which were very similar to samosas (though lacking peas) and came with a thinner, brighter, more vinegary sauce. Then I went with my old standby, Pad See Eil, because I find that whenever I order something else there, even if it's delicious (and it usually is), I miss it. The wide rice noodles that fall in folds and stick together, the thick, dark sweet soy sauce, the tender stalks of Chinese broccoli, the scrambled egg, the crispy but not over-fried tofu--it drives me nuts. I was not disappointed, but admittedly envious of Steven's choice, which also consisted of wide rice noodles but tossed with chicken, cabbage, and a blended spicy red sauce instead. Jo got a third wide noodle dish with chicken, red peppers, and basil, and her co-worker had the larb gai (minced chicken) and Som Tum (shredded green papaya with a dense kind of green bean, peanuts, and tiny dried shrimp--another of my favorites).

Breakfast the next morning was: a slice of Boule bread with almond butter, a (perfect, if I do say so myself) fried egg, and a cup of English Breakfast tea, which I can never seem to finish.

Lunch: A very vanilla turkey-and-cheddar sandwich on a whole grain bread, with lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard. Half a pickle. A bag of Baked Lay's Potato Chips. A Diet Coke, which gave me a headache.

Dinner at the Grisly Pear, where my dear friend Becky was hosting trivia night: Sam Adams Winter Lager. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad veggie burger. It was bloated and mushy with chunks of broccoli and topped with something called "cilantro cream," whatever that means, and on a sesame bun with a lifeless slice of tomato, some greens, and shredded carrots. The fries were decent at least. They were even better in the form of the cheese fries the other people on my team ordered--theirs came with cheddar and, oddly, rosemary.

Breakfast this A.M.: Another slice of Boule bread with almond butter. A very ripe banana. Three baby carrots. English Breakfast tea.

Lunch: In Bryant Park, delightful leftovers from Andrea's dinner party last night, which I rudely missed. Courtesy of Cook's Illustrated, butternut squash risotto with sage, which had a distinctly wine-y flavor in the best possible way, peas with cream and leeks, and a tangle of apple crisp made with lots of brown sugar and granola. Impressively good.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I am happy with what I ate so far today so I thought I'd blog about it. I miss this thing!

Breakfast: Fried egg, sunny-side down. Small hunk of orange Cabot cheddar (why's it orange, by the way?). Slice of delicious Boule bread from Brooklyn Larder, spread with Trader Joe's blackberry jam. English breakfast tea, no milk. Water, vitamin, fish oil.

Lunch: Leftover Szechuan: chicken with celery and mushrooms in a spicy garlicky sauce. It needed peanuts. Homemade Jasmine rice.

Mid-afternoon snack: Handful of yogurt-covered pretzels. One of the last Macouns of the season.

Dinner at franny's or the W?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pancake Man

Its been awhile since we've seen one of these and not everyone is completely crazy about subliminal implications but I know at least one person reading this from art history has a smile growing across her face.

The run down:
Pancakes a la buckwheat, choc chips, kasha, ground sunflower seeds & banana chips
Maple s-y-"up"
a fresh batch of yoghurt
granola clumps
fried egg, chedah cheese & slice of tomato

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cold Hot Pasta

Is hott in herre & I've got the remedy...

Arrabiata is one of the few un-swear related words i brought back from sweet Italia. Often inexpensive, tasty and unique due to it's hott character Arrabiata is not a sexually transmitted disease but rather a popular red sauce found all over Roma.

I was told by Gabriele that Arrabiata means "of the Arabs", presumably an Ancient Roman pick up from the crusades but Wikipedia suggests the following: All'arrabbiata means "angry style", named as such due to the heat of the peppers.

Either origin this sauce makes for a great overlay, both fresh off the stove on evening over penne or the following afternoon, outta the fridge. In fact, the heat (& in case you missed it, even Santa thinks this iz some heat) when combined with cool, is one of the great universal combos. Jason Alexander certainly nailed the thought with this dance number, in probably my all-time favorite commercial.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thats the stuff!

After Putney let out, I spent some days va-couching: pushing off responsibilities at home in favor of moving through various friend's domiciles, drawing and decompressing. This is really a terrific way of traveling because on short notice you get to witness people in their native habitat and often they feed you just because your around and playing with their cat or three year old.

On one such visit, with this drawer and his significant paintess, I was treated to the breakout surprise of the summer: yogurt. Not just any yogurt, but thick, creamy, cool in the summer heat and best taken out to the porch, made-at-home yogurt.

Made-at-home yogurt... you're kidding me. No, I am not. And I was told the only instrument you'd need is a thermometer. From that moment I vowed to bring the concept, made at home yogurt, to New Haven.

It took about 2 hours upon arrival, 1 for unpacking and another to get hungry before I found myself at the grocery store frantically phone calling any one I knew who might know something about yogurt or had access to the Internet.

The ingredients are simple:
1/2 gallon of milk
1 container of yogurt
1 thermometer
Several bags of Chocolate Chips, some cheddar and Ben & Jerry's

For a recipe source I improvised, using these guys, who are especially cool because they're also into illustrating.

So this is what I came up with: (you can call it the 9:45pm yogurt recipe & you'll soon see why)

1.Construct a double boiler and heat 1/2 gallon of milk up to 190 degrees F

2.Cover pot & place in cool water watching the temp to sink to 107 degrees F

3.Add 1 cup of yogurt, well 16 ounces if your not careful and stir lightly.

4.Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees F then turn it off once it's nice and hot.

5.Cover the alleged yogurt, stick it in the oven, close it, go to bed & let sit over night.

6.In the morning, pull the pot outta the oven, pour off the residual liquid

and if you're lucky, voila!

One day... a boy can dream

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can't beat the stand-by

Just made it thru summer camp and these were the digs that got me thru...

A layer of kale, chard & beat greens occasionally accompanied and occasionally pirated from the staff garden from behind the cow barn. Steam till relaxed then add several poached eggs from Trish's chickens with a few hunks of Cheddar. Top it with a combination of lil' beats stewed with cherry tomatoes and a nip of honey. Smatter with pepper and salt.

Doesn't matter who you are, a few bites of this will have you maneuvering like a teenager, running barefoot and settin' fancy free.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cinco De Mom-0h

To go in reverse, for dinner: I picked up several slices at Bella Haven on College Street in New Haven. Although it was a prelude to a baseball game with liquid accompaniment up the block at the Anchor, Bella's pizza tasted just as good this time at 730pm as it more often does at 1 or 2am.

Not to step on the far more sophisticated New Haven Pizza reviews about to come out by Val Taleggio but I think Bella achieves it’s success by hitting on all three sides of the pizza golden triangle: sauce (which is clean, vibrant and fresh), crust (which is crisp, thin, yet pliant and acting as a perfect backboard for the sauce) and cheese (which is absorbent, piping hot and in an appetizing ratio relative to the thickness of the crust).

If there be one draw-back to this pizza, and it may be a matter of personal taste, because others have called this an attribute: the amount of oil which pools on your plate and is left on your hands between bites. Either way, you can’t beat the vicinity to the Anchor, where the food is horrible and the atmosphere divine. Especially the drawing angles from the booths and the steady stream of personality that flows in and outta there. On yester evening I had the pleasure of watching the hapless Yanks drop another against the pizza-sauced-colored Sox to the glee of a very independent Melissa and the woe of a carless, jobless Kiki.

Not to go off topic anymore than usual but I’m very impressed with the coaching going on in the ultimate sports program at this middle school.

For lunch, Chico & I heated up some split pea soup*(1) with a side of steamed brown rice and rainbow chard. These leftovers were well timed as we’d spent all yesterday morning into afternoon cleaning the apartment for Artwalk. After reorganizing the studio (we’re talking no brush left unturned), repairing hockey sticks, vacuuming and hanging paintings... lunch, in strong contrast to the rain outside, brought a glorious warmth to the living room and a temporary finishing still-life to the exhibit on the walls.

Although the original feeling earlier that morning was discontent with the timing of the event/relative to the state of finish with the paintings I’ve been working on.. after some pinhead oatmeal dashed upon with some simply bumpin jive-with-the-tastebuds, teamwork’d granola*(2), plus the addition of yoguhrt, ba-nenes, peanut butter, raw milk and honey, I felt fit for baptism.

Shout out to all the moms, grandmoms, future moms and potential moms this weekend...

Yours in culinary endeavors, J

*(1) Whole nother story, as that Split pea was the legend of last week never written but duly noted by all bards who put down their harps and pulled up a chair to sample its splendor.

*(2) Granola recipe and team-workmanship courtesy of the San Francisco Chef… Todah Rabah Beckolina

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Legumes, people. Grains and legumes, that's what I'm eating these days... well, that's what I should be eating anyway. I eat mostly bread. And dessert. Honestly, I can't even remember what I ate yesterday but so far today, it's been cereal with banana, coffee, a biscuit, some lentils with roti and some water. I'm actually pretty full or I would polish off some samosas and a couple of cookies. Hah. 

Friday, March 27, 2009


Your papi’s right. Bittman seems to weigh in kinda heavily on the moral side and rather fret about his oats more so than consume em. Give the guy some slack though. On any afternoon we can channel something different and Bitt's proven his joy‘d comida.

Bittman's ethic infused food rants are interesting though; proposals of transferring into law body the real cost of food. I hope he includes the ocean into the list of targets. The commercial fishing industry, especially the long liners and net draggers, make the corporate mega farms seem like the caretakers of candyland.

Should food be a moral issue?

Bittman perhaps waters down his argument occasionally with the wistful view that information leads to healthy choices. Most of us today tend to be creatures of habit; if we can get used to or sold on drinkn Tab and eating chicken mcnuggets (granted they are doused with aromatic chemical crack) we can learn to love oatmeal. Especially when you make it a little more sexy. P.S., peanut butter is only the beginning, stew in some prunes, apples, apricots, figs or bananas, toss in almonds, granola, yogurt and maple syrup… one spoonful and you’ll see Bitt’s eyes spin like matching cherries at the casino.

Speaking of gamblin and poor choices made in light of solid information, I got the bug. Shout out to Puckdom: got my money on Groovy UV beatin the hometown heros this afternoon in Bridgeport. Tonight, rounding out the sweet 16 in basketball? C'mon, glorious!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All Hail Bittman

Speaking of everyone's favorite food personality, I've been meaning to post this for quite some time. We talked in the NY Times cafeteria over--what else--oatmeal, into which he mixed peanut butter (an interesting idea, no?), and coffee, which he took with half-and-half, no sugar (I'm an observant little journalist). I think he had some interesting stuff to say. My dad was surprised by his apparent lack of passion for the pure joy of eating. What do you guys think?

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Grapes Are.

The gentleman taking inventory in the produce section at Nica's gave me a stern look when he saw me pick up a bag of garden variety table grapes after work today. Silently, he handed me two small green globes tinged with pink, plucked like fragile treasure from a fold of protective white paper. "Muscats," he told me as I popped them in my mouth. Biting through the somewhat toothy skin, a flowery gush of sweet, winey pulp ran over my tongue. At some point, I must have opened my eyes again, because I remember thanking him as I rushed to the checkout with my tender bunch.

The white muscat grape is to supermarket grapes what Big Mama Thornton is to Elvis; these, my friends, are what grapes are. I ate half of my bunch for dinner along with a healthy wedge of boucheron, a handfull of EOTW whole wheat triscuit impostors, and two eggs scrambled with a heavy dollop of cream and a generous sprinkling of dried tarragon and then just barely cooked. Heaven.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Salad Cure

Being sick all week was a drag, but being in the house for days on end meant lots of time to cook and to think about cooking. On Thursday, Thomas (of salad-making fame) made me a lovely gift of five waxy potatoes and a bunch of asparagus. On Friday afternoon between naps I found myself unable to think of much besides salade niçoise. We put together this stripped-down version with what I had on hand- potatoes, capers, spinach, asparagus, and eggs.

I learned an important lesson putting this together- not all hard boiled eggs are created equally. Heeding the advice of Bittman, I put them in water, brought it to a boil, turned off the heat, and let them sit for nine minutes. (The Joy would have had me boil them for fifteen! As if!) They turned out great- the white was firm, but the yolk still tasted rich and moist- not at all chalky. Thank you, Bittman! (And Thomas, for peeling.)

All assembled and doused in vinaigrette this really hit the spot. The potato salad was comfortingly warm and tart, just as I had been dayquil-dreamed it. Capers are such sexy, salty little beasts that I am contemplating a dish built around them. (Any suggestions?) Chewing all that green stuff had the added benefit of convincing me I was getting healthier. In retrospect I would have added minced shallot to make the potatoes sharper and a chopped red pepper to make the whole thing more photogenic, but for vegetable-drawer weeknight eating it was not at all bad.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Saucy Dreams

My parents and sister were over last night so we had a Buenarroti family sleepover. We, or mainly my mom, dusted the remaining red stripes or "red snapper" as she called them, leftover from a bowling party. Judi arrived late with her Bull dog, 'Mar-i-con', who ran all over the house, puked water on the carpet and knocked over an easel.

We made penne alla vodka shrimp, Thomas, my house mate, made a salad, and then retreated up to his room after dinner as the Buenarroties started reminiscing; bringing up ol family gripes and doing shots of leftover Vodka sauce. Back in the day, mom could be pretty militant about spring cleaning. She usually used this opportunity to get rid of some awesome stuff, especially clothes we had that she didn’t like; so i used to imagine little kids cruising the hood in my favorite iron on and corduroys, wondering if I’d ever see them again. Maybe that led to this dream....

I woke up this morning on the couch to my parents fuddeling around the kitchen and half asleep, i tried answering questions they were asking of one another. I had just emerged from a dream, where a young Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were filming a video in my childhood home on Old Parish Road (shout out 36!) with an equally young Chevy Chase. They were goofing around the house, variously clad in sixtiesish attire that they were finding in the bottom of my parent's drawers and using our childhood toys as props.

Garfunkel just walked by just wearing white short-shorts and a single two toned sleeve from a woman's short sleeve shirt crowned with a child's birthday party hat. I was sitting on the couch wondering when they were gonna leave, pagin through a book they were releasing of photographs. Apparently Simon, Garfunkel and Chevy Chase fashioned themselves more than just singers and comedians but artists as well. The pictures had taken over the many years of their careers and they were now releasing them as a coffee table tomb. Alot of abstract landscapes that admitidlely were pretty cool. Such great color and I wondered when they had time to take all these photographs.

They also had gotten permission or a grant or something from the city to repair the plumbing in the sewer system beneath our house. I walked around down there, while doing my laundry, marveling at the improved lighting, cleaned concrete and relief iron fireman they had incorporated into a somewhat minimalist, criss-crossing pipe-design, which seemed inspired by antique train trestle bridges.

My laundry was coming out pretty good and I was psyched because I love fresh laundered clothes and my parent's old washer was really a trusty well-powered horse of American engineering. Disturbing my reverie my mom was yelling for me from upstairs. She was really pissed, someone at cut the sleeve off her favorite t shirt. Wait till she sees the pipes I thought as I climbed the stairs with my basket of fresh laundry.

Fresh in mind, I told this dream to my parents this morning, half awake, on the couch and my mother replied,"oh yeah, well I dreamed I was pregnant at 55 and all my friends were making fun of me, 'why the hell would you wanna do that?!' and then I gave birth to three potatoes fetuses, two girls and a boy, and boy was I relieved." Somehow my mother's dream only confirmed what I already suspected; my parents are unfit to parent.

Okay, primo courso = Lettuce, carrots, beat shavings, sliced baby bellas, sunflower seeds and Goddess Dressing (Sorry Bittman, family favorite).

Segundo courso = Garlic, onion, oil, humanism spread and pepper till they sizzle. Cut up numerous tomatoes, throw in and add some sauce even. Next, once it’s really cookin, throw in diced up raw shrimp and add a lot of vodka, cooking and sampling. Meanwhile you’re now boiling water and maybe even add left over beat to get the water to magenta. Dump in a couple boxes of Penne (we’re cooking for a family with appetites) and keep an eye on its progress.

Back over to the sauce begin adding layers good melting cheese. We went retro and used deli sliced Land o’lakes American. Add a tug of heavy cream and then begin throwing in cheddar or whatever else that melts and you’ve got in the fridge. Occasionally I have even added some spinach at this point but last night we were going for bland and beautiful.

At this point your pasta should be ready and the salad out, (I hear raw foods set the stomach up for good digestion and should always be consumed before cooked ones but haven’t any stats to back it up). Drain the now pink pasta and place some on each plate. Cover with vodka cream shrimp sauce each pile with a pour from the pitcher and garnish with “Red Snapper” and voila!

How come with each entry I write it feels as though the course of humanity slides further towards the brink of reverse culture. I leave you on this note.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Where are all my peeps?

This is becoming a one-woman show, peeps! Now, I know I'm fascinating (said in the Gary Oldman-as-Drexel voice if you catch me) but I ain't that fascinating! Variety is the spice of life, in food and in food blogging. I know we're all busy, but for the sake of keeping this thing alive (and because I amuse myself, if only myself) here's what I ate this weekend:

Friday night
dinner: tacos (corn tortillas) filled with caramelized onions, wilted spinach and goat cheese, smothered in A's delicious fire roasted salsa. Shazam!

breakfast: bacon, egg and cheese on a toasted everything bagel and coffee. The everything bagel may arguably be "boyfriend repellant" (depends on the boyfriend, I guess) but it sure is tasty! And we all know I don't resist tasty. It was so tasty, in fact, that I took a couple home with me, along with a container of vegetable cream cheese and a hot chocolate chip bagel that got eaten before we even walked out the door.

lunch: this delicious broccoli and potato soup from the New York Times. They've got some gems in their soup repetoire, I'll report back as I try more of them. The parmesan croutons add textural interest and a rich saltiness - you can't go wrong.

dinner: Attended a vegetarian potluck. Brought bbq pizza with mushrooms (not my idea, and initially I scoffed at it but I learned my lesson - it was damn good!). Ate tons of awesome food, can't remember all of it. Standouts included quesadillas with guacamole, soy-marinated tofu and fried rice, homemade hummus with garlic pita bread, and butternut squash soup.

breakfast: half an everything bagel (from stash acquired yesterday), plain cream cheese, and coffee.

lunch: this is kind of embarassing, but I ate another bagel for lunch. What can I say? I like bagels. My first real job was at a Bruegger's Bagels and it was no accident. I think back on it as my halcyon days. I was free to try all sorts of seemingly perverse combinations like everything bagels with honey walnut cream cheese and poppy-salt bagels with every different kind of cream cheese. They are quick, filling (for a few minutes, anyway) and delicious, and I was running out the door. So it was a sesame bagel toasted with vegetable cream cheese. To save face, I ate a blood orange (I'm trying for one piece of fruit per day) and washed it all down with some hot peach tea (my favorite - oops, just kidding - Earl Grey is my favorite, see previous posts!)

dinner: what did I eat for dinner? hmmm... oh yeah, I remember, sorry but I'm emerging from the fog of dessert. Dinner was some of A's delicious green salsa (he is a salsa machine and I love it!), more broccoli potato soup, and some potato and pea samosas with coriander and mango chutney.

The dessert that did me in for the night was David Lebovitz's sticky toffee pudding, a recipe I have been absolutely drooling over for the past couple of weeks (weeks! just look at the pictures!) Usually once I find a recipe this swoon-worthy, I don't wait weeks. I do everything in my power to produce it in my kitchen as soon as humanly possible. Sometimes I think of myself as a machine. For some reason, I kept getting waylaid on this one and maybe it was for the best - someone should have warned me that I would need not only a couple hours to make it, but several more to recover from eating it. It was amazingly delicious, but my blood sugar HATED me afterwards. I doused it in toffee sauce (think of me & syrup, you get the idea), topped it with whipped cream, and devoured it. Any time any of y'all want to come over, just say the word and I'll whip it up. Then we'll have to talk to each other as we lie prostrate on the floor, but it will be worth it.

On a side note, if anyone's made toffee (not the hard kind, but the warm sticky kind as shown in the pictures) perhaps they can tell me what the trick is to getting it all thick and sticky. Mine never thickened to the consistency that it should have. It tasted like toffee and it worked fine with the cake, but I want to know what I did wrong. I'm thinking it may have been the sugar I used. Next time I'll try with true brown sugar (I used turbinado) and see if that does it. Maybe I'll add some butter. Hah.

Buona notte!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another soup recipe...

I apologize for my lack of blog participation lately, but i couldn't help but contribute one of my favorite "under the weather" soup recipes, or techniques really.

I started making this soup for myself when i was working at a vegetarian restaurant. I was really into (and still am) very simple japanese food at the time, and this was just something i came up with out of necessity. A small piece of kombu seaweed, a knob of ginger, some dried mushrooms, scallion whites, a little water, tamari or shoyu, makes an excellent broth for soba or udon noodles, or is great just poured over some brown or steamed rice, with fresh scallions and togarashi chili powder on top. you could make a basic dashi and add bonito flakes to the kombu broth, but i almost prefer this vegetarian version when im not feeling well.

Kombu Broth with Soba

1 2 inch piece of kombu seaweed, scored with a sharp knife once or twice.
1 1 inch knob of ginger, smashed with the flat of your knife
2 - 3 scallion whites (greens reserved for garnish) smashed with the flat of your knife
5 good quality dried shitake mushrooms, or fresh shitake stems (if using fresh shitakes, gently cook in the finished broth while the noodles cook.)
3 cups of cold water
tamari or shoyu soy sauce to taste

For garnish:
Cooked dried soba noodles
Thinly sliced fresh or reconstituted dry shitake mushrooms (from making the broth)
Scallion greens, thinly sliced on the bias.
Sesame oil
Very finely julienned fresh ginger
schichimi togarashi (japanese 7 spice chili powder)

in a small sauce pan combine the kombu, ginger, scallion whites, mushrooms and water.

Slowly bring to a simmer, and remove and discard the kombu before the water starts to boil, otherwise it will give off a funky odor. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the dried shitakes are soft and the broth tastes like it has fully extracted the flavor of the aromatics. remove from heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the reconstituted shitake caps (remove and discard the woody stems), and discarding the rest of the spent ingredients. Thinly slice and return the mushrooms to the broth, and season to taste with the shoyu or tamari. keep warm on the stove while you prepare the garnishes and cook the noodles.

Serve in warmed bowls garnished to your liking.

Hope you feel better!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Chicken Soup to the Rescue

D, say it ain't so! I'm sorry to hear that you're under the weather. Here's my go-to recipe for a basic, no-frills, hearty and delicious chicken soup - you can improvise with whatever you have on hand (celery, onions instead of leeks, vegetable instead of chicken stock, etc.) I'm eating it as I type this very moment. Oddly enough, I find that a healthy squirt of hot sauce in my chicken soup is strangely satisfying when I'm sick - but you can also leave it as is, or grate some cheese over it, whatever strikes your fancy. If you're going to be eating it over a couple of days, you may want to keep some of the cooked chicken and pasta aside in the refrigerator so that you can make the soup quickly whenever you want. Feel better soon!

Chicken Soup with a Secret Weapon
Adapted from Orangette

2 large, bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh thyme (about 4-5 sprigs)
2 quarts chicken broth (I used Imagine brand Organic Free Range), plus a bit more broth or water for thinning if needed
2 large carrots, cut into rounds roughly ¼-inch thick
2 medium leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, rinsed thoroughly, and cut into rough 1-inch pieces 1 Parmigiano Reggiano rind, roughly 2 inches square
1/3 cup small soup pasta (I use whatever's on hand; pipette, elbows, etc.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse and dry chicken breasts, and place them in a single layer on a baking dish or cookie sheet. Rub them with olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and roughly 3 sprigs’ worth of thyme leaves. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes, or until it is cooked through and the skin is golden. Set the meat aside until cool enough to handle; then shred the chicken from the bone in large flakes, discarding the skin. [Note that most of the seasonings are stuck to the outside of the skin, so as you remove it, you might consider rubbing it, seasoning side down, against the meat.]

Pour chicken broth into a large pot, Dutch oven, or stockpot. Add the carrots, leeks, cheese rind, and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook about 25 minutes, until vegetables are tender and broth smells lightly of the cheese. Add the leaves of 7 or so sprigs of thyme, and let cook another five minutes. Add chicken and pasta (and a bit of additional broth or water, if you feel the mixture is too thick), return the soup to a boil, turn down the heat, and let the soup simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if needed. Retrieve and discard the cheese rind. Ladle into bowls. Serves a lot.

Soup Recipe

Nene (or anyone else for that matter): I'm pretty sick right now, so I was hoping you might have a good soup recipe for me. I have some home-made vegetable broth in the freezer, and i'm fiendin for some old fashioned chicken-noodle, or something. Let me know!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weekend Bounty

So far today has been a day of bountiful productivity in the kitchen: I've made Molly's berry pound cake and Deb's chocolate chip cookies, and frozen yesterday's chicken stock in various quantities (ice cubes, 1-cup ziploc baggies, etc.). Now I'm contemplating what to eat for dinner but must do some actual work first (and I'm not yet hungry since snacking on the pound cake and the cookies). Potato gratin? Chicken soup? Patricia Wells' winter pistou with Gene's pesto? I forgot to get butter and milk when I was at the store earlier, and am debating whether to go out again. Is it absurd to go to Whole Foods twice in one day?
Breakfast: Kashi cereal of oat flakes and wild blueberry clusters (I add frozen blueberries), coffee, half a sesame bagel with cream cheese.

Lunch: Black forest ham and Swiss cheese on ciabatta with spicy mustard. Water, apple cider.

Snack: teeny slice of berry pound cake (warm) and two warm chocolate chip cookies.

Dinner: TBD

Saturday, January 24, 2009

That's What I'm Talking About

Since reading this article, I have been making this soup almost non-stop. It's quick, super tasty, wonderfully aromatic, and very easy to adjust or improvise the ingredients. It's kind of a fun game to play around with the proportions, depending on how much of each component you want to taste in each spoonful/forkful/bite. You can make and keep various ingredients (cooked, shredded chicken, cilantro, lettuce, scallions, etc.) in the fridge and simply toss them into the broth at the last minute. I attempted to eat this with chopsticks without much success, and promptly switched to a spoon.

There have been so many blog-worthy culinary moments of late that I don't even know where to begin trying to catch up. In New York last weekend, the wierd music fan club (minus one) hit up two spots that were both new to me: Veselka, Ukranian food in the East Village, and Le Gamin in Soho, which I've wondered about ever since I became devoted to Robert Arbor's cute, kitschy storybook about French food and lifestyle, Joie de Vivre. Veselka was heavy on the meat, although with lots of vegetarian options, it doesn't have to be - but I ordered the meat combination plate, which included meat-stuffed cabbage and an array of pierogi as well as a cup of winey red borscht (which was a bit on the sweet side for me - when I had it in Russia, I seem to remember it had a bit of cream added to the broth to cut it and give it some unctuous body). V looked like he was about to pass out over his goulash, and we decided that he needs a stomach expansion. H's Christmas borscht with mushroom dumplings looked tasty.

Le Gamin was a totally unexpected surprise and a huge hit (we missed you H & T!) Small, super laid-back with a neighborhood vibe, the food was straightforward French corner bistro and perfectly executed. By happy accident, they made us the wrong crepe and so we got to try two. V had a simple and delicious omelet of ham, mushrooms and cheese with a lightly dressed green salad on the side, and I had a poached egg atop a latke with ratatouille. Then we shared a ratatouille crepe and a crepe with fresh butter and sugar. The coffee was strong, the atmosphere calm and friendly, the food was scrumptious and affordable - if you're in NY and looking for a breakfast/brunch/lunch/study spot, you should check it out.

This morning has been devoted to making stock and reading, sitting at my kitchen table with tulips and a bowl of blood oranges before me. Later will be attending Culinary Nirvana at la casa de Jazione - will report back with full details and photos - ciao amici!

New Schedule, New Diet


Breakfast: Spent so much time in a flurry about what to wear on the first day of my internship, that I didn't eat at home. Found a clementine in my purse (I am such an old lady). At internship, with nothing to do, snuck absolutely disgusting "vegetable" Wheat Thins out of a half empty bag that I ALSO had in my purse. They contained MSG. Not the best way to start the day. Water.

Lunch: My first foray into the Conde Nast cafeteria. Delightfully surprising. I opted for the Korean bar, where I was served up a big bowl of brown rice, sprouts, kimchee, something fresh basil-like, tofu, and a fried egg, which I topped with chili paste, soybean paste, and sesame seeds. More water.

Dinner: To exhausted to even heat anything up. Sandwich on whole wheat white bread (which still confuses me) of salami, cheddar cheese, organic mesculun lettuce. Handful of Terra Cotta vegetable chips. A few almonds, I think. A few sweetened dried cranberries. A few penguin shaped gummies from Trader Joe's.

Before bed: Mug of chamomile tea.


Breakfast: Much better attempt. Mug of organic granola with 2% milk. Banana.

Lunch: Something called a mezze (I think) in the cafeteria. A small container with a sizable block of feta adorned with fresh rosemary, pitted greek olives, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, two stuffed grape leaves. A mealy apple. Water.

Dinner: At Grand Central sushi bar called Masa, which is suprisingly good. I've avoided the fish because it's in a train station, but I've gotten the vegetarian "Track 5" several times now. It comes with two pieces of inari and three three-piece rolls. One of them has cucumber and plum paste, one pickled (yellow) radish, one cooked squash (the best). Half a decent red bean bun. Water.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Culinary Nirvana

Today the snow is fallen and a bitter wind laces through New Haven like another outbreak of Dutch elm disease. On Saturday, something is going to change. Not this Saturday and not Tuesday's momentous inauguration (although click here to get Barack's reaction)
but on Saturday, January 24th…

Delicious Vegetarian Cooking Class

Inspired by the flavors of India

You can be the next KamaChefra. No more need to rely on restaurants for that curry fix. We've got the open sesame to get past the waiter's smile and reveal what is going on behind the doors of that kitchen. We can teach you the authentic elixir to reground you in warmth, strip away economic worries and break the cycle of samsara.

Our Indian Vegetarian Cooking Class is your solution to learning how to prepare delicious, healthy, vegetarian Indian dishes from scratch using the freshest ingredients. Our recipes incorporate vegetables from different colored vegetable groups that taste as fantastic as they make you feel. This class will show you how fulfilling and satisfying a freshly-prepared Indian meal can be.

So sign up and embark on a culinary adventure!

The Menu

Baked samosas: We'll be making potatoes and peas-filled samosas, baked instead of deep-fried.

Spinach with tofu curry: How about the spinach and tofu curry and the spiced ginger and garlic cauliflower to complement the rice for a satisfying winter meal?

Cauliflower with potatoes: As an added bonus, take home the immeasurable benefits that eating cancer-preventing vegetables offer.

Spiced Basmati Rice: Learn to make the classic Indian staple, spiced Basmati rice.

Coconut and mustard-flavored buttercup squash: Our quick buttercup squash infused with coconut, mustard seeds and red peppers will dazzle your palate and is an unusual, home-made recipe that you will never find in an Indian restaurant.

Our class will also highlight an in-depth description of essential Indian spices and teach you to identify, purchase and grind them yourself.

The Details

Admission is $17. You'll learn how to cook the whole menu, plus learn about the origin and health benefits of each dish. Also, as a special bonus, you'll take home copies of each recipe for you to use in your own kitchen.

All proceeds go to Anmol, a non-prophit organization devoted to raising orphaned street-girls in Mumbai, India and the education of African daughters.

It all goes down at 5pm, Saturday January 24th beneath the shadow of New Haven's better rock, at 838 Whalley Avenue, Apt #3.

If you're interested but cant make this one, email a better date and we can try to accommodate a second round. Class size is limited, please RSVP by Tuesday the 20th so we can purchase the right amount of food.
Feel free to tell your friends.

The Instructors:

Carrol D'Sa, a native of Mumbai and Mangalore, India, grew up learning cooking the traditional way, i.e. at the side of her mother, grandmother and sisters. Carrol is also a scientist who has fleshed out her recipes to include the most up-to-date nutritional research.

Her cooking class partner, Jason Buezning, contributes to this food blog and is New Haven's residential arbiter of taste. He is an artist who specializes in eating and washing dishes afterward.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eatin' Good in the [Guatemalan] Neighborhood

So it's been exactly a week since I got back from Guatemala, where I spent 10 days including xmas and New Year's--time to blog about it! I was staying with my good friend Rodrigo, whose family splits their time between Guatemala City and a SICK beach house in the south, very close to the border of El Salvador. The food they ate on xmas was very western-traditional though unusually abundant: turkey, ham, AND pork leg with stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. It was pretty good but what really excited me was the traditional Guatemalan cuisine.

  • Corn tamales, two types: one savory, seasoned with a tomato sauce and whole green olives, the other sweet, seasoned with some kind of chocolate sauce (sort of like mole but sweeter) and raisins. Both with a big chunk of delicious pork in the center.
  • Chicharrines, or pork skins, fried into bubbly/crackly oblivion, accompanied by AMAZING refried black beans (no idea what they do to them), guacamole, tortillas, lime, Gallo beer (the national cerveza).
  • Guatemalan fried chicken at Pollo Campero, the most popular (native) fast food chain, accompanied by french fries, coleslaw, full-calorie soda (they didn't have diet, which I thought was very interesting).
  • Insanely fresh ceviche, on the beach: some kind of white fish, chunked (is that a verb?) and tossed in lemon juice, cilantro, chopped tomato, salt and pepper, and plenty of hot sauce for me. We had this every day as the first course of lunch--it was followed by fresh tortillas, guacamole, pickled cabbage, Guatemalan sausage.
  • The same white fish, fried with very simple seasoning (a little paprika, maybe? something orangey and tasty), with potato salad and green salad.
  • Rosa de jamaica--a very popular drink (all over the world, apparently) made by boiling hibiscus leaves in water and adding sugar to the liquid. Rodrigo's mom gave me a big package of the leaves to take home.
The beach house

Rodrigo and our friend Ashby, post-Pollo Campero

My trip was great for many reasons, but food figured prominently in the fun. In an ironic twist, I almost wasn't able to eat it--I got some kind of stomach bug the day after I arrived. Luckily, it is very easy to obtain drugs in Central America--almost everything is over the counter--and Rodrigo's mom's friend suggested some weird antibiotic I'd never heard of .... Hey, it did the trick! It probably took five years off my life, or something, but it was worth it.

Pressed, dripped, or percolated?

Breakfast: drip coffee, croissant.

Lunch: Turkey sandwich, Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips (booooring - this is what I buy from across the street when i forget my lunch in the fridge at home and feel too cheap to buy something more expensive)

Dinner: Cuban fricase de pollo (Inspired by my trip to the Carribbean. It has a bit of citrus in it as well as a few other unlikely ingredients, but when push comes to shove I think I prefer the French version.) white rice (yes, V, WHITE rice).

Side note: How do you all drink your coffee? i.e. what type of roast, method of brewing, add-ins, etc. I wish I could be swayed more by nene's tea confessionals - don't get me wrong, I keep a stash of PG tips at the office for those rainy afternoons - but that Pete's medium roast drip is too tempting to pass up sometimes!

Friday, January 9, 2009

You Feast on That Swine?!

Breakfast: oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins
Lunch: 2-hour monster lunch at Joey Shanghai. Scallion pancakes (Nene, you put me on!), pork soup-dumplings, crabmeat soup-dumplings, and pork and salted vegetable soup. Tea.
Dinner: 2 slices of pepperoni pizza and a few beers.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Food Crush: Mark Bittman

Anyone who knows me knows that this is not a new thing; but here is yet another reason why I love Mark Bittman and his simple, humorous, down-to-earth approach to food.

Fresh Start for a New Year? Let’s Begin in the Kitchen

Published: January 6, 2009

PERHAPS, like me, you have this romantic notion of shopping daily — maybe even a mental vision of yourself making the rounds, wicker basket in hand, of your little Shropshire or Provençal or Tuscan village. The reality, of course, is that few of us provision our kitchens or cook exclusively with ultra-fresh ingredients, especially in winter, when there simply are no ultra-fresh ingredients.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

Welcome to the new year, everyone! I know that we've all been swept up in the holidays and their accompanying excesses, but now that we are entering a calmer moment I'm going to take the opportunity to post a little update from my life as it regains a semblance of normaliy. I am beginning to disengage from the feeding frenzy I've been on over the last few weeks, the kitchen intermittently brimming with roast tukey, roast chicken, roast beef, roast potatoes (gratin... bacon, potatoes, and cheese - yum!), a delicious baked egg and vegetable casserole, lasagne, fresh molasses bread, peanut butter chocolate kiss cookies, sugar cookies, ginger molasses cookies, seven layer bars, chocolate cream cheese brownies, Julia Child's Best Ever brownies, caramel chocolate cheesecake ... the list goes on. Shockingly, I gained a little weight.

I really will have to put Bill's potato & bacon gratin recipe up here one of these days soon, because it is so ridiculously rich and delicious, a perfect heavy, starchy, warming dish for winter, and wonderful eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late night snack. New Year's Eve dinner was a delicious, drawn out evening of snacking on crackers and truffled goat cheese, olives, and wine while cooking chocolate mousse, no-knead bread, roasted vegetables, and roast chicken. We feasted, drank champagne, and then fell asleep right around midnight, all in the presence of some very lovely holiday red tulips.

Today was a working day and thankfully punctuated by a degree of normalcy ( = restraint) in terms of food.

Breakfast: coffee, fresh (plain) cinnamon raisin bagel.
Lunch: buffalo chicken pizza (Whole Foods, why do you torture me?? You know I can't resist you....)
Afternoon snack: cranberry walnut toast with peanut butter and fig jam, grapefruit, tea.
Dinner: Omelet with cheddar and mozarella, leftover roasted vegetables (delicious - reheated in the pan with some garlic and olive oil, kind of like rustic homefries revised to include vegetables)
Dessert: brownies. Plural, that's right. I didn't say I had abandoned all excess.

Also, I just gave someone Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" for Christmas. Do any of you who know this book have any favorite or recommended recipes, or any good vegetarian main course recipes in general? I'd love to hear it.

Welcome to 2009! Here's hoping it's filled with lots of laughter, joy, and great meals with family and friends.