Wednesday, December 3, 2008

i love this man.

From the New York Observer:

“I have no interest in helping people becoming chefs,” Mr. Bittman said. “I have an interest in 50 percent of the people in America knowing how to cook. And whether they cook like chefs or not, I don’t care. It’s probably better if they don’t. It would be better if they cook like me, which is adequately.”

Monday, December 1, 2008

off-topic featurette

Well, someday I'll do a brussel sprouts installment, but after going to the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday and seeing Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party again and writing this essay for Berkeley about being a feminist in the suburbs, I feel compelled to do a little thought-exercise.

A Short List of Women I'm Thankful For... aka Hillary, if you're reading this, please come to thanksgiving next year. I make delicious cheesecake.

Sarah Vowell
Tina Fey
Margaret Cho
J.K. Rowling
Sarah Jones
Judy Shapiro
Anne Hutchinson
Margaret Sanger
Emma Goldman
Anna Devere Smith
Aphra Behn
Susan Sontag
Lucretia Mott
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Gertrude Stein
Hillary Clinton
bell hooks
Judith Butler
Marjorie Garber
Ruth Reichl
Kathleen Hanna
Liz Phair
Debbie Stoller
Judy Chicago

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

no but for real

sorry about that lack of posting... new job + boston makes jack a dull boy.

so yeah-- true life: i've been living on deli sandwiches. but happy thanksgiving, everybody!

today was big news in the dessert world:

salted caramel sauce
a cheesecake
and pumpkin souffles.

more on savories tomorrow.

even though there are no pictures, the salted caramel sauce is totally kickass and delicious... like bougie style in hot chocolate, over cheesecake, ice cream. oh salt, let me count the ways. ps read this book; it's awesome.

1 cup sugar
4 oz butter (half a stick)
1/2 cup cream
sea salt to taste (2 pinches)

put the sugar in your sturdiest pot and heat it over medium high heat. don't stir it, just lift the pan and let the sugar sift back and forth. eventually it'll melt and turn nutty brown. that's the good stuff-- caramel/butterscotch never ceases to amaze me.

add the butter (foam!), stir and take the pot off the heat. add a pinch of salt. now pour in the cream and stir well. see if you think it needs more salt-- another pinch makes it really punchy and delicious.

let it cool, pour it over something.

but more importantly... PUMPKIN SOUFFLES.
i was kind of beat-ass tired while making these, but they really are a fluffy and fun alternative to pumpkin pie. gourmet magazine knows what's up.

1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp cornstarch
nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice & cloves (1 tsp total) or just 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup pureed pumpkin (not a whole can, which is kind of a pain in the ass. but you could use the rest for.... anythingomgpumpkinpumpkinpumpkinfallfallfall)
10 egg whites
pinch salt

--heat up the milk, cornstarch and spices until the milk boils and it thickens. like pudding! hoowee.
--remove from heat & add pumpkin & let it hang out another burner.
--oven to 400. butter those ramekins and dust with some sugar. what's that you say? no ramekins? yeah, i don't know.
--beat the egg whites with a little salt in a cleaner than clean bowl until they hold soft peaks. add the sugar (3/4 cups) and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy (a few more minutes)
--fold (gently!) 1/3 of the whites into the pumpkin mix. then add the rest. "gently but thoroughly"
--fill up your ramekins. i guess you could try it in a bigger dish, but my large-scale souffle attempts have turned out really sheisty.
--bake until the tops are golden, 18-20 minutes.
--gotta catch 'em all! each up before they deflate.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

fondue stuffed squash

Well team, it's almost time for that most food-related of holidays. I also fare pretty well on the allergy front: except for some nutty stuffings and the occasional a-hole who brings pecan pie, thanksgiving dinner is pretty lily-proof.

And while I actually pretty much just gorge myself on dad's stuffing and cranberry sauce and squash and call it a night, Thanksgiving has kind of a bad rep of being "food sensitivity" unfriendly.

And so this entry begins the list of delicious nut-free soy-free vegetarian fall-like dishes... add your own ideas or "lily's test kitchen" possibilities in the comments.

This recipe comes with a book review! I just finished Tender at the Bone, Ruth Reichl (NYT food editor and editor-in-chief of Gourmet) 's memoir. It's one of those brilliant "not-mentally-taxing-but-not-trashy" books that are kind of hard to find. Because while none of the stories involve her doing anything too noteworthy, her writing is big fun and the stories are all about food. Which makes me happy because everything in my life is kind of about food, too.

After cooking my fondue-stuffed squash featured in this month's Gourmet, I got to the part of the book where she invents the dish in college. Something about the double whammy of reading about the delicious lunch I had just made warmed my heart.

Fondue-stuffed squash

QUICK AND DIRTY (serves one or two. really just one if it's your meal):
a squash (acorn! or your favorite, but round is good)
a crusty roll
fondue in a box

Preheat the oven to 450.
Slice the roll and toast it well.
Cut the squash 3/4 and 1/4, so that it is like a bowl with a small cap on top, scoop out the seeds and create a good sized hollow.
Layer the toast and fondue generously inside the hollowed out squash, put the cap back on, cook for an hour or so until the squash is tender. Now eat it!

a pumpkin
a sliced baguette (probably will be leftovers, just... eat them!)
1 cup cream
1 cup veggie broth
pinch nutmeg
glug white wine
2 1/2 cups each, Gruyere and Emmenthal

You get the drill: 450, toast the bread and prepare the pumpkin.
Mix the nutmeg into the cream.
Layer the toast with the cheese, broth, cream and wine. It will all get copacetic inside the oven, so don't fret too much about mixing.
Cook for about an hour and a half until the pumpkin is soft and your kitchen smells like heaven.

breaking election news

this cracks me up.

spotted here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

curried sweet potato pressed wraps

Moosewood calls these roti, but I am such a gringo that I can't really call them that with a straight face, especially since I forgot to steam the tortillas and I would never want to disgrace the real roti love of my life... roti roll. I did hand grind the spices in our mortar and pestle though-- if only to laugh at the fact that we have a mortar and pestle kicking around-- so that was kind of "authentic." But mostly, yeah, these are just delicious wraps.

Also, I think the fact that the authenticity or not of my sandwiches makes me think of Baudrillard means it's time for grad school. You hear that, grad schools?

Anyways, this is kind of a lot of prep for a goddamn sandwich, but the filling is extremely delicious and they were still good cold at work the next day. So try it out, y'all.

Curried Sweet Potato Roti

from the moosewood low-fat cookbook... kind of.

handful of seitan strips, chopped pretty small (would be fine without it though)
3 sweet potatoes
half an onion
some garlic
half a lime (ok, you got me! a whole lime, put the other half in your corona)
pinch of each:
mustard seeds
cayenne pepper
ginger (fresh, if you have it)
(if you are missing some of these, don't sweat. "caribbean tasting spices" could also include nutmeg or allspice. if all else fails, got any garam masala?)

Wash the skins, now microwave those sweet potatoes in a bowl for like 5-6 minutes until they're cooked... while you're doing that, chop and fry the onion and garlic.
Let the potatoes cool, then wrestle them out of their skins, stick in a bowl and mash with a fork, squeezing the lime juice in there. Now add the spices and the onion and seitan. Smells gooood.

Microwave the tortillas for a few seconds with a wet paper towel so that they are pliable, then fill up and stick 'em in a sandwich press, forman grill, or in a skillet with a smaller pan on top until they are kind of brown and quite warm. Get a load of Moosewood's suggestion: wrap in tin foil and heat in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Wacca wacca wacca.

Monday, November 10, 2008

candied bacon

Ever since I first googled it I have been captivated-- utterly-- by the idea of making candied bacon. I love bacon so much that one time I ate a beggin' strip because it looked so much like bacon. They taste pretty bad though, take my word for it.

Anyways, even after that feel-good kosher-friendly seitan binge of last week (& I'm snackin' on those chewy little guys right now, don't you worry) something rang out in my soul when I was reading this edible brooklyn magazine in Alex's apartment and some dude said "pigs are 95 percent candy." And that is the truth.

bacon candy

a couple strips of bacon
a handful or so of brown sugar

Lay the bacon on a cookie sheet or better yet, a rack over a cookie sheet. Parchment paper is your friend, here, if you have some lying around. Pat the sugar down on top of the bacon.

Bake on 350 for 25 minutes.

Oh yes, success. What's that you say? I am a latter day Homer Simpson and going to die soon? Yes and probably. But you are going to have to pry this bacon from my cold, dead hands.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

hippie seitan

Since I am allergic to soy, I am no great believer in fake meats. Plus, as a border-line hippie I am always nervous of hard-core hippies with their ideals and patchouli. But if there's one thing I learned from Zen Palate, it is that I freaking love seitan. It's so chewy and wholesome feeling and not fatty or filled with reminders that you are eating an animal. Seitan is kind of the poster child for Michael Pollan's "diet advice" that the Shiras related this weekend and I kind of fell in love with:

eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

In any event, I would never think to reintroduce something so p.c. and urbane into my suburban lifestyle, but some cockamamie Moosewood recipe called for seitan, so I booked it to the independent natural foods store in town to pick up some vital wheat protein (awww) and tried my hand. Seitan is actually really easy and cheap to make, so if you don't like to cook meat (like this kid) you should for sure make some seitan, because it is hardcore protein and also cooks up real nice in a stir fry and you don't have to have the weight of a brutal meat industry on your shoulders or worry about getting salmonella or whatever it is that those hippie vegans are always telling you. Score!


1 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten (if you live somewhere normal, pick this up at the grocery store or whole foods. if you live somewhere with trees, it might be more of a hunt)
1 cup water
vegetable broth or some kind of substitute (soy sauce, veggie bouillion, ginger, garlic, grill seasoning, dried mushrooms...)

Mix the gluten into the water, and then knead like crazy. It'll probably take a good five minutes or so. You want to toughen those gluten fibers-- like the opposite of muffins, you know that whole stir until barely combined thing-- so really go for it. Especially if you want your end product to be dense and chewy instead of... kind of puffy and chewy.

Form a log as best you can and let it rest while you boil your broth. I didn't realize that there would be broth involved in this operation, but found in my cupboard none other than the BOOTLEG VEGAN BOUILLION that Miles & I used to steal from the cupboards in germany to flavor pretty much everything we tried to cook. Turns out it still makes a horrifying veggie broth; I dumped it and started over with mushrooms, soy sauce, that kind of stuff. As it boils, cut your well rested seitan into strips. Boil these guys for 5-10 minutes.

You now have the equivalent of uncooked tofu! But way better. So cook it up instead of meat and chew your way to a more ethical lifestyle. Change you can believe in.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mustardy Kale with Bacon

Aaaah, back from the most recent stop on my "weekend socialization" campaign. It has been rocking my world to visit old roommates and eat my favorite foods-- apparently my fondest memories of college are all completely food-centric. Maybe someday soon Shira will guest-blog about how to make her amazing pasta with onions I was so thrilled to have again this weekend. Those leftovers saved my stressed-out, veggie-corn-dog munching ass from total uselessness about a thousand times.

Anyways...D.C! The only bummer was that on the last day, I ordered a coconut rice pudding and what should have been a delicious mid-morning snack was covered in almonds. Serves me right. Double drama: my recreation in which I tried to be a top chef and make up my own recipe is HIDEOUS. The milk separated and I am ashamed. It was actually very tasty, but no recipe, because I don't want something up here that you have to eat with your eyes closed.

But my mom made something delicious! Behold:

Mustardy Kale with Bacon
from Gourmet

3 lbs kale, chop roughly and toss the tough bits
4 bacon slices
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 tbsp grainy mustard

Cook the kale in a big pot of water until it is tender (12 minutes or so)
Fry up the bacon! Oh bacon, you are so beautiful to me. Also, my new hobby is prostheletizing for this candy bar:

If you eat meat, eat one of these asap. Maybe someday I will make my own... or maybe it will just end up looking exactly like the rice pudding, so eerily similar to barf that I wish I had tried it before halloween so that I could serve it as a spoooooky dessert.

Oh yeah, now put the bacon on some paper towels, pour off the fat, and cook the scallions. Now put the kale and mustard in there too.

Sautee until the greens are very tender, another 10 mintues or so, then crumble the bacon on top. Hooooweee.

PS: VOTE. Obviously you will, but, you know, just vote. Also Starbucks will give you a free coffee if you do!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Food Network Review:

That new Chef Jeff show is so absolutely ridiculous. And offensive. Holy cow. But you should watch it and share my outrage. THEY ARE INJECTING STRAWBERRIES WITH STRAWBERRY FLAVOR. THE HEAD CHEF CUT HIS FINGER REALLY BADLY. LEARN SOME KNIFE SKILLS! COME ON!

I feel like a crazed sports fan, but the team I support is "hating food network TV personalities with no credentials." I'm looking at you, too, semi-homemade with Sandra Lee.

fire hazard pizza

Well, this was a Moosewood pizza, which means that it is ugly as sin and kind of not as tasty as you would want it to be. But it did give me the opportunity to roast some peppers, which was good fun. So here we go:

If you have a gas stove, a grill, a campfire, or a pile of burning trash in your "rapidly gentrifying" neighborhood, gerry-rig some skewers or stick a big fork in a red (yellow, orange) pepper. Plunge it into the flames! My kind of recipe. Char, baby, char. Rotate it so that even the nooks and crannies get blackened and the whole thing gets shriveled and pathetic.

Plop it into a bowl and cover with saran wrap OR put it in a paper bag and roll it shut.

When you're done and all the peppers are just a crusty, steamed, withered shade of their former selves, take all the peppers out and rub the skins off, rinse 'em quickly and chop them into strips, throwing away stems and seeds.

Use them asap as a salad, sandwich, pasta, pizza topping OR put them in a jar covered with olive oil and chopped garlic; they can live in the fridge for a few weeks.

if you want to make pizza:

one big onion or two small onions or a few leeks (we used leeks, but you couldn't really taste them and leeks are such a superstar that they really deserve to be the star)
two shallots
a handful of fresh basil
two roasted red peppers
feta cheese... or mozzarella or both

Obviously pizza recipes are pretty foolproof. The Moosewood version had tomatoes: our pizza was super soggy, so I would leave them out.

Chop and fry the onion and shallots, then carmelize. If they get a little burnt that's just part of the charm.

Now add the basil and let it wilt.

Spread your dough (from the pizza place, grocery store, your freezer because one time you went on a bender and made your own) and put it on the back of a cookie sheet.

Top the pizza with the carmelized onions and basil and pepper strips and feta cheese. Yum.

20 minutes &

Monday, October 27, 2008

"why the hell did i make this galette?" galette

I got too inspired by smittenkitchen from my cooking blogroll at work-- she posted a cabbage and mushroom galette, and we just happened to have a lot of cabbage and mushrooms kicking it in the fridge needing to be eaten before I can cook some EXCITING, NEW PRODUCE. Yeah, I live in the suburbs, new produce in the fridge is exciting, what about it?

Anyway, it's been a long day, I'm listening to Johnny Cash, started cooking after work, then went to spinning class and a family friend who is sitting shiva and ate a buttload of delicious noodle kugel and tried to pretend like I am a respectable adult. So we come back and I am full and tired and finishing this thing is a serious slog. But it was so delicious at midnight and the ingredients are cheap and the end result is actually kind of healthy, believe it or not. Kind of a psycho weekday project, but I bet this free-form tart would be simply the most impressive thing at your vegetarian thanksgiving potluck.

Not really a great weeknight meal mushroom and cabbage galette

from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone via SmittenKitchen.

Yeah, here's another thing-- we had this cookbook in our apartment for three years and the only thing I ever cooked out of it was kale with red pepper flakes. And then I got home and realized that the reason the recipe seemed kind of intuitive and easy was that it is exactly the same way my mom cooks greens. Basically, that cookbook is mad fussy and needlessly pretentious for lazy (normal?) homecooks, and so is this savory tart. But its not actually so hard, especially if it is for a dinner party.

First you gotta make some savory dough. The dough I made kind of sucked, but I guess it was my fault for adding the recommended 1/4 cup of water when the dough was already downright gooshy. And it redeemed itself in the end, mostly.

Try this one:

Or buy a pie crust from the store, I won't judge you.

Ok, so the filling is actually freakin delicious.

An onion
A box of mushrooms (the cheap kind)
A handful of dried fancy pants mushrooms (which I havent used since that time Shira bought a massive bagful from the Asian convenience store and they looked nasty and awful... but having them on hand is actually awesome and I would recommend it)(or, if you listen to Veg Cooking for Everyone, buy a whole mess of fancy fresh mushrooms for like a million dollars.)
A head of cabbage
Thyme, tarragon, and dill
A hard-boiled egg (or not)
1/4 cup sour cream

Oven to 400 degrees

Chop and cook up the onion and mushrooms until they are getting all carmelized and happy. And save the dried mushroom water, if you aren't in the habit.

Throw in the cabbage (finely chopped) and a hearty pinch of salt and a shake of each of the herbs (or the chopped fresh herbs, if you are
really trying to impress some hot vegetarian at the vegetarian potluck and it's worth the trip to the grocery store for ya).

Add like half a cup of the mushroom water. Oh yeah, that's good stuff.

Cook until mushy-- like 15 or twenty minutes? If it's sloppy, drain some of those yummy drippings and throw a quarter cup of sour cream in there. And the chopped hardboiled egg, if you actually took the time to do that step.

Pam the hell out of a cookie sheet and spread/roll out the pie crust. Artistically heap the filling in the middle and fold up the edges around the filling.

Bake at 400 for around 40 minutes.

Impress your friends and loved ones.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

cheese crackers

Nothing makes you feel like a do-gooder hippie like making your own snack foods. I guess this is all rooted in the make your own granola phase, except that making crackers really is, actually, pretty damn easy and you don't have to wash honey out of your hair or hum the Grateful Dead as you toast the oats or whatever. Crackers are the answer. Cheese crackers are only slightly more involved, because you have to use or food processor or get your hands in there to integrate the butter. But, as they say,

Jenna: Dennis is like those off-brand Mexican Cheetos.
Liz: My Sabor de Soledad? I only have Spanish delis in my neighborhood.
Jenna: You know those are bad for you. But you keep stuffing them in your mouth. Because you know it’s easier than eating well.

Make your own snack food, feel in charge of your life.

Cheese Crackers

1 cup flour
4 tbs butter (half a stick)
2 cups or so shredded cheese (from a bag or grate your own) (half a pound)
pinch salt
pinch mustard (or cayenne pepper)

--Preheat yer oven to 450 degrees
--Grate the cheese, if you are using a big block of Costco cheddar or whatever.
--Mix the flour and butter using a food processor (fah!) or your fingers
--Add the cheese, make a dough
--It will be pretty crumby, but if its seriously too dry to clump into a unified ball, you can add a spoonful of water.
--Press it down in a thin layer on a baking sheet, cut into snack sized straws. Throw some coarse salt on there.
--6 minutes and you're done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Back from the dead! Kind of. I made a really delicious and impressive looking tarte tatin, but the "fancier" "in focus" photos got lost in the ether, so you kind of have to trust me.

There was a request from the peanut gallery up in Newton for scientific cookie analysis. I do you one better! Shortbread recipes always make a reasonable amount of cookies and the ingredients are mad convenient, if you are "into having a couple pounds of butter around." Also shortbread are very sophisticated cookies and will make you feel inspired to say everything with a British accent. Mostly just lines from the Harry Potter movies. Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts!

Shortbread Cookies

(ala Mark Bittman)

1/2 lb butter, softened
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch (leftover from those home science experiments)
3/4 cup sugar
an egg yolk (I bet the whole egg would fly if you cook them longer)
a little salt
EXTRAS: Add chopped crystallized ginger and a serious pinch of ginger. Or chocolate cookies. Or rosemary, if you are feeling herbal. Better yet, add each of these to chunks of the dough as you press them into the pan, like a variety pack.

--Preheat the oven to 300
--Leave the butter on the counter, go watch Dancing with the Stars

--Oh right, I said I would make cookies
--Softened? Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg.
--Add the flour and cornstarch and a pinch of salt. Blend.
--Is that all? Yes. Except that you can add some stuff now, if you are making a variety pack.
--Press the mixture(S) into a greased cake pan of some kind. Here's the beauty-- no matter what, you'll end up with pretty much only cookies & a cookie snack for your crew, not enough cookies for IRRESPONSIBLE COOKIE SNACKING. Good heavens. 8x8 is right on; a loaf pan will make less cookies, but they will be kind of hefty.
--Check up after half an hour, but it might take 40 minutes or so.
--Snack attack!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

zucchini bread

I KNOW. Enough already. But zucchini bread is just so delicious, and the only zucchini at stop & shop was sold in sets of two in styrofoam. and it was organic. sweet, sweet irony.

Anyways, it also gives me an excuse to crack open my new copy of beard on bread. Everything I've baked from that book is awesome. If you don't have two loaf pans (and I don't blame you) you can pour the other half of the batter into muffin cups and make little individual tea cakes for your next tea party. Or snacking. Or when you are too lazy to find a knife to slice your zucchini bread.

zucchini tea bread

adapted from beard on bread

3 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated zucchini (about a zucchini and a half's worth. two zucchinis would be delicious. I used some summer squash too, no sweat)
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon (or some nutmeg, allspice...)
some nuts, I guess, if you aren't me

Preheat the oven to 350.

This is really easy in a standing mixer, but I guess that's just the upshot of living in yer mamma's basement.

Grate the zucchini. Don't bother peeling it, those green flecks in the bread make you feel so healthy!

Beat the eggs until frothy. Add sugar, oil, zucchini, and vanilla. Mix it up.

Now add the dry stuff, trying not to end up with nasty baking powder clumps or anything like that.

Grease your pan(s). If you have ONE loaf pan and NO muffin tin and you forgot to halve the recipe or you really want to have mini zucchini tea cakes, you can get these metal cupcake wrappers that stand up on their own on a cookie sheet-- crisis averted.

Pour the batter into the greased pans and bake for an hour. The little muffin guys will be done after like half an hour or so. Just stick a fork in, you know the drill. Better yet, put them in the oven, remember that you have to pick your boyfriend up two towns over, make his parents drop him off, give them the wrong exit, end up driving around in circles for twenty minutes, make it home AS THE TIMER RINGS.

Have a cup of tea and watch the leaves turn. Ahhhh.

Friday, October 3, 2008

polenta pie

Otherwise known as: how I learned to stop worrying and eat tomato sauce. I'm not really one for tomato sauce... something about the fact that it always goes moldy if it comes from a jar and is always too sloshy if its made from tomatoes.

Also, this dish gives me an excuse to push polenta, the heartiest, easiest grainy-side dish ever... even (especially?) the non-instant kind.

First, let's make some TOMATO SAUCE. Maybe you already know how to do this because your loving grandmother in Umbria showed you how... I had to look it up in How to Cook Everything, so sue me. But the gist is pretty easy, probably all those grandmas add is love.

1. Chop & fry an onion (in olive oil, duh. Some garlic, too.

2. Plop in some tomatoes. If they are from a big ole can, none of that extra liquid business! If they are from a vine, feel impressed with yourself. Then realize that you will need kind of a LOT of tomatoes, like 6, and squeeze out some of the liquid before you throw them in.

3. Wait until it turns into tomato sauce, squishing the tomatoes with your spoon. Add oregano, basil, salt, pepper.

Donesies. Not a pasta fan? Me either.

Let's make POLENTA.

4 cups stock or salty water or a combo
1 cup polenta

HERE'S THE THING. Apparently it takes your Umbrian grandma like an hour to cook real, creamy polenta. My polenta isn't buttery soft but it only takes me like 15 minutes to make. Time is money, if I really wanted buttery soft polenta I would just go to Arte Cafe or the late L'Impero or somewhere else I only go to during restaurant week or when its my birthday. If you use the instant kind of polenta, it's actually done the second you pour the corn into the liquid, but it is kind of bland and costs more. If you keep stirring over medium heat, it only takes cornmeal (like Goya style, should set you back 2 bucks or less) a few minutes to cook anyway.

Boil the stock. Lower the temperature.
Slowly slowly pour in the polenta (isn't this called a slurry?) and stir until it gets thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Take it off the heat sooner than you think you need to-- it'll firm up a bit on its own. Parmesan cheese and mushrooms are polenta's best friends.


If you are using the polenta to make pie or pizza or something, spread it at the bottom of an oven-proof dish or pan. Layer on lots of pasta sauce, leftover cooked veggies, whatever you your heart desires. But its delicious with just the sauce. Then cheese (mozzarella, but again, this recipe is awesome and open ended). 15 minutes at 400 should do it. If today isn't casserole day or you have the energy to actually prepare a main course, scoop the polenta under some delicious sauteed vegetables/delicious Italian sausage as a side grain. I have had polenta with sausage and broccoli rabe at a couple of restaurants and it is eminently do-at-home-able. Onward and upward!


A special request!

Roasted vegetables that you can eat with couscous and bring to work the next day. Sounds like ratatouille... which for whatever reason I have never eaten. What? Didn't I even get a little hungry for it after watching the adorable movie? Don't I eat more zucchini than anyone else I know? Can't everyone cook?

Yeah, but it always seemed like kind of a hassle.

Well, here's the scoop. Ratatouille is a hassle. Start cooking this bastard yesterday. Ratatouille is not a 30 minute meal, or even a 1 hour meal. BUT if you've got time on your hands or want to practice your knife skills (???) or you just got the movie again on netflix and it made you feel culinary or want to feed yourself for like a week on a few dollars worth of veggies, hell yeah.I should note that this is a fake-o version, which my mother says in no way resembles Julia Child's ratatouille. But it is delicious and does look like the one in the movie. Disney knows what's up.


1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 eggplant
1 red pepper, if you're not red pepper averse like me
4 tomatoes (canned or not, whatever, even tomato sauce will work)
a head of garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
herbes de provence (what? you don't know what herbes de provence are, you philistine? ok. rosemary, fennel, savory, thyme, basil, tarragon, dill weed, oregano, lavender, chervil and marjoram. or a mix from the grocery store, obviously.)

Preheat the oven to 400

Get married and put a classy Williams Sonoma mandoline on your registry. Or chop the eggplant into "paper-thin" slices. If you hate eggplant like me, you should salt it: rub the slices with lots of salt and let it hang out in a colander until you need them. They will release a lot of water and taste less nasty.

Now chop the squashes. Paper-thin, right? Hahahaha.

If you are using whole tomatoes, cut them into slices. Otherwise, put a sturdy layer of tomato at the bottom of an oven-proof dish. Scatter the garlic cloves in there. Throw in some olive oil and herbes de provence.

Then wash the salt off the eggplant and wring out (hands-on!) and make a nice arrangement of all your rondeles. Pour a serious glug of olive oil on top and sprinkle some more herbes de provence.

Pop that baby in the oven and set a timer for ONE FULL HOUR.

Microwave yourself some fake chicken patties to tide yourself over. Quorn! Soy-free!

Serve with some kind of grain/ cheese. Polenta + mozzarella = not French, but delicious. Recipe for polenta to follow!

Over at the real cooking blog smittenkitchen, Deb has some good ideas for what to do with the leftovers (uh, besides eating them).

Monday, September 29, 2008

pasta with zucchini and goat cheese

Ah, pasta with zucchini and some kind of melty cheese. For awhile there in college I ate nothing but pasta with zucchini. I thought that was just what mostly vegetarian adults were supposed to live on (right?) but then I saw a whole RECIPE for the stupid thing in my guilty pleasure to end all guilty pleasures real simple magazine and I realized that maybe this is novel to some people. So I tried their version... and the addition of pasta water to cheese is gross: why bother?!

weeknight pasta

1 box pasta
2 zucchini
1 box boursin
1 clove minced garlic

Chop up the zucchini into sturdy semicircles. Fry it up over pretty high heat in olive oil, add garlic when the zucchini is getting a little brown (shouldn't be mushy, though).

Cook the pasta. I like a toothsome style like rigatoni.

While the pasta is still hot and a little wet, mix it up with most of the (goat) cheese (although something about boursin is just so goddamn delicious). If you want to get all real simple magazine about it, throw in some of the reserved pasta water.

Throw in the zucchini and crumble some more cheese on top......

Canned-pasta-sauce-phobe heaven, plus you can live off the leftovers all week.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

butterscotch pudding

after a dicey run-in with some old tomato sauce, make your own pudding is making pudding!

after a hard-hitting nostalgia for the butterscotch pudding at community food and juice brought me back from boston to nyc (uh, that and unemployment), last night the craving returned. at 9 pm in ct. all the grocery stores are closed, folks.

fortunately, butterscotch pudding is so damn easy. the only thing remotely tricky is that i needed some fattier milk (heavy cream), and i found some at the gas station. win! while this recipe can't beat the outrageous pudding at community food & juice, it also doesn't cost EIGHT DOLLARS.

UPDATE: Made a second batch after an extremely painful kitchenless, butterscotchless week in Boston. Don't give me that Penuche crap. No go.

butterscotch pudding
(adapted from david lebovitz)

4 tbs butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp (sea) salt
3 tbs cornstarch
2 1/2 c whole milk (or not-- I did 2/3 2 percent and 1/3 heavy cream. didn't bother to multiply out how much fat that is, but i think it's fattier than whole milk, thereby making this pudding more delicious. but if you actually buy whole milk, why mess?)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter. Don't let it burn or even get foamy. Now add the sugar and salt and mix it up nice. Remove from heat. Don't let it get the sugar get all crusty and hard or else you will end up trying to squish the clumps out, not so good if this pudding is for sharing. BUT THE PUDDING TURNED OUT OK! go team.

Mix 1/4 cup milk slowly into the cornstarch (like with a whisk)... you want it to be really silky. Having made lumpy chocolate pudding, let me tell you that nobody wants lumpy pudding. Do this step right.

Marvel as the mixture goes through the ooblek phase. Do some online research about badass superfluids. Watch them go! Look ma, no friction! Uh, where were we?

Then whisk in the eggs. Make sure that these are really well-mixed too. Little egg clumps will cook, and then you will be grossed out by your pudding, which would be a tragedy. Blend now, smile later.

Now put the rest of the milk into the sugar mix, then the eggy milk. Blend like hell! Whisk! Now put it back over heat. Whisk some more! You will be glad you got this "exercise" when you rapidly eat half this pudding.

Eventually it will boil. I was expecting it to take about as long as water, which is dumb because its pudding. So yeah-- don't panic, just whisk. Once it's boiling, lower the heat a little and keep whisking until it's pudding consistency.

Now pour into your cutest ramekins/demitasse cups/wine glasses and chill for an hour or so.

Go watch all the superfluid helium videos on youtube... by the time you're done, the pudding will be, too.

Monday, September 15, 2008

bougie kitchen pizza

well team!

time to start a cooking blog after sitting around reading them all day. this blog will teach you to be the laziest "foodie" ever. or possibly the most ambitious lazy cook ever. like that episode of ali g, about the world's shortest giant... nevermind.

today's first entry: bougie kitchen pizza

the original plan was salad, then we realized that it was only 5:30. later, realized that the salad greens were bad, the mushrooms were bad, cheese was bad. corona for dinner? maybe. but not today.

good thing i moved back to the suburbs: this bougie kitchen is seriously well equipped. you can make a damn good bougie kitchen pizza with only ingredients found in your typical bougie kitchen, but you can, you know, use fresh ingredients too.

bougie kitchen pizza

--frozen pizza dough (or, if you live in an urban area (sigh) go to the pizza place on your block and ask for dough)
--half an onion, fried all translucent-like
--handful of olives, chopped
--handful of sundried tomatoes, chopped

--handful of roasted red peppers, chopped
--handful (or two) of the gnarly cheese remains hanging out in the cheese drawer. gnarly old goat cheese is best.

preheat yer oven to 400 degrees.

spread out the dough. you probably only need half the ball. if you cleaned the floor recently toss it in the air and say something in fake italian-- mamma mia! cappuccino!

put in on the back of an upsidedown baking sheet. if you are in a polenta-making phase, put some corn meal on there. yeah.

topping time! again, bougie pizza (tm) consists of only the finest canned antipasto goodies, but the BEST BEST incarnation of this pizza consists of sauteed farmer's market mushrooms, goat cheese, and rosemary.

sprinkle on some cheese, if you've got it.

good work. pop it in the oven, 20 minutes later you will feel way more culinary than you actually are.