Tuesday, December 22, 2009

pizza tossing

oh my dear blog! i'm so sorry that i abandoned you. during paper-writing season i ate nothing but tamales, donuts, and a massive batch of curry i cooked up. now that it's break i am content to eat at all my favorite (sub)urban destinations

and drink hot cocoa.

one thing i did learn in the ten days between thanksgiving and full-throttle-laziness, however, is how to toss a pizza. here's the scoop:

roll out your dough into a kind of circle
arc your right hand in front of you toward your left elbow, with the pizza draped over it
support the back of the pizza with your left hand, open flat as well
fling the pizza in the air by winging your right hand out and right, following the spin with your left hand
dash over to the flying pizza and try to catch it on your fists. awesome! fun!

here's some inspiration:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

bbq chicken pizza

Because I can't eat anything that's been cooked near lobster, family vacations to Maine can be a little trying, especially if you are on a tiny island 10 miles off the coast with no cars and 2 restaurants. Maybe in light of that, but probably in its own right, The Novelty is one of my favorite places to eat, ever. A small shingled building with trivial pursuit on every table dishing up pizza that is way better than it needs to be. And microbrews. And ice cream. Amen!

So the other day, when I got hit with a fierce craving for pizza that is 48 hours of driving and an hour on a boat away

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I decided to try it myself. And it was amazing, I have some more dough rising RIGHT NOW for an encore. If this seems like too much work, try to make the dough or bbq sauce individually-- they're knock-out and well worth the effort.

(via Mark Bittman)
1 tsp instant/rapid rise yeast (although I think I used active dry and was fine, actually)
3 cups flour (2 cups white, 1 cup whole wheat is perfect)
2 tsp salt
1- 1 1/4 cup water
2 tbs olive oil

Combine half the flour with the salt and yeast. Now add olive oil and water, mix. Add the rest of the flour a little at a time. start kneading when it is too stiff to stir and keep kneading for about 10 minutes-- the dough should be moist and elastic. Let it rise for an hour or so-- if you keep the bowl covered in shrink wrap in the fridge, it can keep itself happy overnight. Cut the dough in half and use or freeze.

adapted from the molasses jar

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup vinegar (I used white but apple cider would probably be better)
1/4 cup mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes
1 tsp hot sauce

Mix in a bowl. Makes enough to store some in the fridge in a clean jar or bottle.

bbq sauce
pizza dough
grated gouda cheese (optional, but delicious)
mozzarella or 3 cheese blend (like from a plastic pack)
shredded chicken (from a rotisserie chicken, or some chicken breasts that you poached, or pre-cut-into-strips Perdue style)

---Preheat the oven to 475.
---Fry half an onion and several strips of bacon in a pan.
---Throw some cornmeal down on a baking sheet, if you have it, then toss your pizza until it has a pretty thin crust.
---Spread some bbq on, then the bacon and onion, then the shredded chicken, then a bit more bbq sauce. Then the cheeses.
---Bake at 475 for about 15 minutes: until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Huevos Rancheros

It only occurred to me last week that you can buy enchilada sauce at the store. That epiphany came pretty much at the same time as the one where I realized that enchilada sauce is "that red stuff that makes Mexican food taste like Mexican food." Which is to say outrageously delicious. My life just hasn't been the same since.

So previous huevos rancheros attempts weren't so good, and I would have to go get them at the only Mexican place in town, where they happened to be the cheapest menu item at 12 bucks. TWELVE! Gah. If you have the foresight to keep some refried beans and enchilada sauce in the house, this is the easiest, fastest, most delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Huevos Rancheros

Heat a (small corn) tortilla in a pan, spread on a layer of refried beans and some shredded cheese. In the other side of the pan, fry an egg to your liking. Plop the fried egg onto the tortilla and pour some enchilada sauce on top.

Repeat as many times as you like. Serve with salsa.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

persimmon tea cake

Well, before making this cake the only thing I knew abut persimmons was from this video:

Suffice it to say that I was skeptical. As soon as I bought some at the market and did a little online research, I became even more skeptical. How to tell if my persimmon is Fuyu or Hachiya? Was I going to poop my pants if I did chose wrong? Is this like some kind of whack-ass farmer's market Indiana Jones and the Quest for the Holy Grail? Well, anyway, I think I screwed it up and used the squat kind you're supposed to use in salads (Fuyu), the good news is that it was delicious. I ate half the loaf in one day. Seriously.

The recipe comes from Beard on Bread, kind of, except I halved the recipe but forgot to halve the sugar. I then added more flour, but make no bones about it: this is a cake. A cake that you eat for breakfast. Because you are a grown-up.

Persimmon tea cake

2 1/2 cups flour (I started with 1 3/4 but the batter was too thin because I screwed up and added some whole wheat until it looked like zucchini bread batter. 2 1/2 cups seems right. Use some whole wheat flour at your discretion)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
shake of ginger and cloves, too.
3 persimmons, chopped up (I'm pretty sure that if you're cooking them, it doesn't matter if they are the crunchy Fuyu or mushy Hachiya kind)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (one stick) melted butter
1/3 cup water (or bourbon or cognac-- I didn't have these)
Optional: some dried cranberries or raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a loaf pan

Dump all the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix in the wet ingredients.

Cook for an hour, mine took an extra 15 minutes or so.

Curl up some tea and a good book. Or a not so good book that's due tomorrow. Any book will do.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quinoa with sweet potatoes, kale and mushrooms

It's tough to the be the queen of the nerds. Sometimes I get so carried away thinking about pedagogy or writing one page response papers that they take all night and all I want to eat are Trader Joes's tamales and I am convinced I don't have 10 minutes to throw some veggies in a pan. Sad, right? But whenever I actually make myself a balanced meal I feel like a million bucks. And my In N Out burger self hates to say it, but especially a balanced vegan meal. Especially since the best laid plans of yoga, surf, and cycle classes all went down the tubes this week and I think my body is letting me know if that if I am really going to be a sedentary nerd queen, I best not be eating three tamales in a sitting.

You may be thinking...quinoa?! But actually I was informed that the secret to non-horrible quinoa is cooking it in veggie broth. So I guess my trademark secret for cooking polenta is out. Yes folks, I may be dead before I'm 40, but I'll be damned if salt isn't the most amazing thing in this whole world. Anyway, here's the first real meal I've had in about a week: it was delicious and really, not that hard. And it makes enough for crazy leftovers, so get ready.

Here we go:

1 cup quinoa
two sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
a tub of white mushrooms, cut into slices
a bunch of kale, with the gnarly stems removed and cut into smallish pieces
red pepper flakes to taste
some minced garlic, salt, and pepper

Put the quinoa in a small pot with two cups of broth or a mix of broth and water. Turn the heat on medium and let it cook.

Meanwhile toss some oil in a pan and start cooking the mushrooms and sweet potatoes. After about 10 minutes (potatoes are getting tender and mushrooms are darker), add the minced garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper, and kale. At this point, my pan was at pretty much total capacity. I threw about a cup of water in (you could use wine) and put the lid on and hoped for the best. Check on it from time to time: my quinoa and veggies were done at about the same time.

Also a piece of kale got caught outside the lid and it made me want to make kale chips; maybe more on that later.

In other moderately culinary news, we started composting! And it's totally not working! Does anyone have under-the-sink-in-an-ikea-bin vermicomposting tips? The hot hipster on youtube made it look so easy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

palak paneer

Having just read bell hooks for the last few hours, I worry that cooking all these fake-o versions of international food is just "privileged acting out for anti-racist while folks." Am I over-worrying this? Oh dear. So take this recipe with this hyper-self-conscious grad student's apologies and a grain of salt. I didn't use the right spices, and I got the basic idea from my new internet friend, Manjula. Anyway, it was delicious and you should try it; imagine the sheer joy of using homemade cheese.

A bag of frozen spinach, thawed
Frozen peas, if you have them (thawed)
Half an onion, minced
A cup or two of paneer cheese, cut into cubes and fried in oil
A small container of Greek yogurt
About 3 tsp garam masala + more cumin, if you want
Pinch of salt
Chile powder or red pepper flakes to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
About an inch of ginger, minced

--Fry your cheese and set aside.
--Now cook the onion until it is translucent, and add the spinach and spices and garlic and ginger. Cook until dark green and wilted. Taste to make sure the spices seem ok.
--Add the paneer and at the last minute, stir in the yogurt.

Chow down.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Homestead dream complete! Remember the last year and a half when all I wanted to talk about was how plan B was to learn to make cheese on a mountain in New Hampshire? But I never did it? Then when I pined for classes at the cheesemaking institute at UVM that were about a thousand dollars above my budget? Those days are over.

As the internet testifies, making your own fresh cheese is pretty much the easiest thing in the world. All you need is some cheesecloth or old tights and a big container of milk. Here's for ricotta-- paneer and queso blanco are basically the same thing but unsalted and strained a bit more.

So here we go. Take half a gallon of pasteurized (not ultra pasteurized) whole milk and put it in a pot to boil. You want some space on top in case it boils and starts to foam, which happened one time I made this cheese but not the other. Enh. Anyway, if your pots are too small then just scale the "recipe" down accordingly.

Ok, when the milk is just thinking about boiling softly, stir in a tablespoon of salt and three tablespoons of lemon juice. Turn the heat down until the cheese starts to form curds. Yum, cheese curds! Don't stir, just let the milk simmer for 5 more minutes or so until the curds really separate and you can see the whey, which is watery and yellow.

Line a colander with cheesecloth and strain the cheese, pouring some cold water over the top to cool the curds and rinse off some of the lemon flavor. For soft ricotta, just a few minutes in the colander is plenty. For a firmer cheese that you can cut into blocks or crumble into tacos or what have you, tie up the cheesecloth and let it hang from your faucet for an hour or so.

Recipe for my bootleg palak paneer to follow, ricotta is delicious all by itself... or with some jam or honey.

Happy halloween, everybody!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

faux-roccan couscous

Well, RealSimple called this a one-pot lamb tagine, and it does have speed and balanced-meal-ness and one-pot-ness going for it. But apparently out here in la holla meat is crazy expensive and fish is cheap cheap cheap. It makes sense, but I was scandalized and cowtowed to the little voice within that says, "NO MORE MEAT." So I made this with seitan, and while I think that made it way less juicy, it also made it easier to freeze and transport to work, both good things. It probably does require a special trip to the grocery store to get some stuff, but again, knowing what you are going to eat in advance instead of eating SEVERAL CUPS OF HALF FROZEN COOKIE DOUGH is worth its weight in... uh, body fat. What have I done?!?!?

adapted from RealSimple Magazine

* 3 cups of so of bite-size-chopped seitan bits (pre-sauteed until browned) OR 2 1/2 pounds of browned lamb cut into chunks, your choice
* 1 teaspoon paprika
* 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
(I didn't have paprika and used "red curry powder" instead of cayenne, don't sweat the spices if you don't have them but the cinnamon and ginger are key)
* a glug of olive oil
* an onion, sliced
* 4 carrots, peel and cut into little pieces
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* about an inch of finely chopped fresh ginger
* zest of 1/2 lemon, grated and the juice of that lemon
* 1 32-ounce container low-sodium veg broth (or chicken, I guess)
* 1 10-ounce box couscous (Trader Joe's whole wheat couscous, will you marry me?)
* 3/4 cup black olives, cut into pieces
* 1/4 cup chopped dried fruit: I used cranberries and apricots

1. Fry up your onions with some salt and pepper and olive oil in a big ole' pan (seriously, BIG) or a pot until they are translucent and oniony, then add the carrots and cook until mostly tender, 15 minutes, let's say.
3. Throw the seitan bits in there, then add the spices, garlic, ginger, zest and lemon juice (just squeeze it right in there) and stir. Smells good, right?
4. Add the whole thing of broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous. Take your pot off the stove and let the couscous cook for about 10 minutes. Stir in the olives and fruit bits and serve!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

better seitan

Oh, snap! Doesn't our library look like a rocket ship about to take off? I think so, which is why I never spent any time there in case I get launched into space and it's like Rocket Man.

It's been too long, dear blog. My camera died again, but I managed to resuscitate it for a few shots from previous posts... I feel like text-only posts are kind of lame, but maybe they are less lame than watching videos of baby pandas having a physical exam at the zoo. Notice how I said videos plural. Yes.

Anyway, yeah, I made some food in the last month. No kidding, eh? My roommate baked 100 potatoes (literally!) for a BBQ and brought most of them home along with a good half-gallon of sour cream, so there were many hash browns and baked potatoes and borscht! Borscht that I ate for so many meals that I started to feel kind of like a Ukranian peasant... it was grim. Then I went to the bulk food store and bought all kinds of marvelous, dirt cheap grains with the intention of making all my food from the bulk aisles... before I realized that I was already all malrourished from 3 days of borscht consumption and eating nothing but bread was probably not a good call.

Anyway, I did buy vital wheat gluten and let me tell you, that stuff is so cheap. Most importantly, it taught me a way better way to make seitan than the previous seitan recipe on this site, for reals. But still with all the healthy-good-vibration feelings and ease-of-having-something-meaty-on-hand feelings.

Better seitan
Based on the recipe from the Post-Punk Kitchen

2 cups vital wheat gluten
a little less than 1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup veggie broth (or cold water)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbs tomato paste or ketchup

+ the rest of the box/can of veggie broth.

Mix all those that stuff into a dough, then knead it for a few minutes. When you are bored, let it hang out for a sec while you fill a pot with COLD veggie broth + COLD water. If it is mostly water, throw in a little soy sauce. If it's mostly broth, you're all good.

Now plump your blob of fake meat dough (!) into a log shape and cut it into slices... put those in the broth and turn up the heat. After the broth boils, turn the heat down to a simmer and let it get all delicious for about an hour. Take it off the heat and let it cool.

To store: keep it in some of that brothy water in a tupperware in the fridge. I just had some that was fully two weeks old and it was delicious and I'm still here.
To use: take it out of the brothy water and wring it a little bit, then fry in olive oil until browned. Like, you know, meat. Seitan is delicious in sandwiches, tacos, stir-frys, etc. The stroganoff I made was nasty but I blame using a vegan recipe but not having any of the weird vegan stuff (yeast, arrowroot, wtf?) and just basically making some winey mushrooms with sour cream. Where was I? Oh yeah, seitan is mad versatile.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

granola bars

So much to report! California is madness, but I am (somehow) resisting the urge to eat nothing but rice bean & cheese burritos. I have been pretty busy in the kitchen, yes, but the best thing are these granola bars. They are so good I can't believe it. How many granola bars is too many? Three? Four? A whole batch? I started to just take the whole tupperware with me wherever I went, seriously. So here you go! The other thing that is awesome about granola bars is that you can make them with whatever you want and no matter how bad your allergies are (unless you're straight-up celiac, in which case you should buy special "no way in hell these are cross-contaminated" oats), if you make them yourself granola bars are a go. A cheap, portable, delicious go.

Lily's granola bars
Based on Alton Brown's recipe

4 cups oats (not instant)
1/2 cup honey (or agave, for you dirty hippies)
1/4 - 1/2 cup (brown) sugar (ditto)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup-ish chopped dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, figs, oh my!)
1/4 cup-ish nut, soy, or sunflower seed butter

In a 350 degree oven, toast the oats on a baking sheet.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot heat the sugar, salt and honey until the mixture is hot and gooey. When the oats smell toasty and are brown (15 min? Turn the oven down to 300!) add them + your fruit to the sweet stuff, and stir. It should be almost but not quite enough to get the whole mass to unite.

Glop in some nut/sunflower seed butter and stir.

Now line a loaf pan or cake pan with aluminum foil and press the oaty goodness in. When you think you've pressed enough, press more. Use another pan for even pressure, if you have one.

Now bake for 25 minutes. After you take them out, press some more! Now let the brick cool. Once it's cool you can break it into chunks and store in your cupboard (a week, if they make it) or the fridge (longer, but also less chewy) or the freezer (for self control).

Get creative! Do you have awesome additions? A kick-ass granola recipe? Let me know.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Delicious! Remember when I got all excited about frittatas and the possibilty of party sized eggs for dinner? This is like that in heaven. I'm trying to make all my own bread here to avoid sesame scares, save money and structure my seemingly endless "down time" -- I'm two for two weeks, more on that later, but the last loaf got stale before I could eat infinity smoked salmon sandwiches from impossibly cheap trader joes salmon. Damn, and now I want more. Anyway, strata! They use up stale bread and are also so filling and delicious, I am now convinced they will become a fixture of my new Californian cookery. Also that you can throw some "what do i do with these veggies?" veggies in the mix, or a not so healthy version with cream and sausage, if you want to go the heart attack be damned church social type route. The NYTimes first gave me the idea here- and this is basically the recipe I used. Lemme break it down for ya.

1 lb fresh (by the way, the la jolla farmers market was described to me as small and it's basically the size of union sq, I guess there's some farmland in between
those strip malls after all) tomatoes
Half a loaf of stale bread or a stale baguette
4 eggs
2 cups milk (skim worked fine)
Molto thyme and basil and garlic
Whatever cheese you have kicking around- I had mozzarella, times guru recommends gruyere

Slice the bread- if it's too hard to get a knife through, soak it in water and wring it out. Holy great recession, batman! Wringing bread??? It works, near with me.

Now toast the bread and rub both sides with a raw clove of garlic. Slice the tomatoes into, uh, slices.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Layer bread and tomatoes in a bakin sheet of pan or what have you, throwing some cheese and the leftover garlic in there, also salt and pepper, naturally.

Beat up the milk and eggs and herbs in a bowl, then pour that on top. Make sure it's all covered and kind of dense, especially if you are weird about eggs. Get all artistic with the top layer of tomatoes, while youre at it.

Pop that baby in the oven for 40-50 minutes, when it's done, it should be custardy and much more than the sum of its parts. My computer is in the shop so photo evidence forthcoming, but I've been chowing down in this for the past 4 meals and I'm ready to go back for a midnight snack... Now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

basic sandwich bread

Holy free time, batman! First the crackers, which only take a few minutes but seem like they are an afternoon project. Bread, though, is for the truly "carless in southern california". Instead of figuring out the bus system or exploring the joys of walking next to the freeway, I made some bread. And lo! It is cheaper (provided that you buy a bunch of yeast and flour, it comes out to like 1.50 a loaf) and better (but don't take my word for it!) than bread from the store.

I'll give bootleg instructions here... if you really want to become a weekend breadmaster, I suggest you find a copy of BEARD ON BREAD. This is the book that my friend who taught me to make bread used, and it really is great.

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 to 2 cups warm water
a spoonful of sugar or honey
3 3/4- 4 cups flour (baker's, all purpose, half whole wheat, some oats... you can go nuts)
1 t salt
some butter or oil

(for one loaf)

First, proof the yeast-- that is, rejuvenate the little guys by giving them a bath and a snack. Stir the yeast and sugar into 1/2 a cup of warm water. Too hot and they die, too cold and they can't relax. Let it sit around for a few minutes, should become kind of brown and frothy. Dr. Frankenstein, we have created life! Bwahaha. Making bread is great.

Add the salt to the 3 3/4 cup flour, then pour in 3/4 cup warm water. Stir it with a spoon. Now add the yeasties and stir until the dough comes together. If it is too stiff, you can add some more water, but try to knead it out first. Now knead! Punch and fold, turn and fold, turn and fold! The dough should become kind of elastic (hello, gluten!) and when you poke it, it should spring back.

Now rub the dough and your bowl with butter or oil and plop your ball of dough in there to rise. Cover it with a towel and keep it somewhere warmish-- an unheated oven is good for a drafty apartment.

2 hours or so later, it should have doubled in size and when you poke it it shouldn't spring back. Inexact science.

Now punch it down and knead it again for a few minutes. Prod it into a bread-like shape, then toss it in a greased loaf pan to rise again. Preheat the oven to 400.

When the bread has risen again (1 hr? do the poke thing) rub some cold water on top and cut some decorative slashes in the top. Bake for about 40 minutes. It should be brown and, when you take it out, sound hollow when you knock on it.

Let it cool before you slice it (I KNOW! but do it) then store it in the fridge.

Friday, September 18, 2009

rosemary crackers

I'm back! I'm in California! ...I know!

It's been crazy busy, then it's been crazy slow, the sun has been shining pretty much all the time, my room is all set up, most importantly, the leftovers from the last dinner out with dad are gone. Game on.

My inaugural culinary adventure was-- what else?-- crackers. I've already justified my love of making crackers on here, but there is no better evidence than that I whipped these out at the beach today and everyone I was with was all, "I didn't know that it was possible to make crackers! Send the recipe over the grad listserv!" Got it? These crackers are potentially mind-blowing. A note for cracker fans from the Barnard years, these aren't the same ones I used to make... they're a little more toothsome and little easier.

via smittenkitchen

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
some rosemary, fresh or chopped (or not, or another spice)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil

--Throw all the dry ingredients into a bowl then mix in the wet ingredients.
--Mix it into a dough and knead it a little if you want.
--Roll it out onto a baking sheet and pop it into a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until it is brown and crispy. Undercooked is no good, but (unlike the butter crackers of yore) they don't need to be totally brown the whole way though.

Store the crackers in tupperware and pat yourself on the back for spending less than 4 dollars on a box of snack crackers, then eat them all and realize that you're back to square one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

lentil soup

Ahoy! It's a frog-strangler out there and has been for the last few days. Kind of fitting, actually, that I get some fear-of-God New England weather as a sendoff, so that I can spend my ersatz "fall" drinking tea and eating soup. Up in NH, I made some lentil soup... loosely based on a Better Homes and Gardens recipe Miles' grandmother had clipped and stashed in a pile many, many moons ago. Side note: his grandmother also clipped all the newspaper articles about Scrabbles' invention in in the 50s and has them stashed in the Scrabble set. Grandparents' houses are the best, whether they are yours or not. Side note to the side note: Inventor of Scrabbles was Mr. Butts. Haha, Butts!

Anyway, this soup is pretty tasty; probably the best lentil soup I have ever made. To be fair, though, the last time I tried to make lentil soup half the container of chipotle chile powder spilled and despite my best attempts to salvage it, the soup was inedible. The time before that I think I got bored and made Shira G. finish it. I am such a good roommate. But this soup got pretty high acclaim so try it out.

2 cups lentils
6 cups water
a bunch of carrots, chopped
a few stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 an onion
a large can (1 lb) of crushed/diced tomatoes (or just crush them yourself, whatevs)
salt, pepper, plenty of rosemary

--Cook the lentils with the celery, onion and carrots in the water. First boil, then simmer for about 35 minutes.
--Once the lentils are close to done, add the rosemary, salt and pepper to your liking. Don't skimp on the rosemary!
--Now add the tomatoes, let them cook for about 15 minutes; simmer until the soup is a consistency that makes you happy.

NB: Like the pasta, this makes a bumload of soup... 6 bowls or so. So halve it if you don't want leftovers for lunch.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pasta for a crowd

Back from Canada! During our layover at Miles' house in New Hampshire, there was a dinner party. And I ended up cooking! One of the guests had dropped the recipe off earlier in the day... I guess it's from the Presidio Grill in Tuscon. I thought it was pretty tasty. Especially if you have a hoard of bona-fide meat eaters showing up and you are like wahhhh, why did I throw a dinner party. Technically this serves 4 but we tripled the recipe for 13 people and only ate half. So. Yeah. Lots of food. Pretty tasty.

Pasta with Chicken, Basil & Peppers

1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbs (a few cloves) of garlic, minced
3/4 lb fettuccine
1 package of chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 poblano peppers, seeded and julienned
3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 ounces of prosciutto, chopped
2 tbs butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese + more

--Do all your chopping and dicing (times 3, can you imagine? it took hours). Pretend that you are an underpaid food stylist for the Food Network and grumble to yourself about how Emeril gets all the glory and you get all the burnt fingers from pepper oils.
--Heat up the oil; fry the garlic in the oil until everything starts to smell like garlic for days.
--Fish out the garlic so that it doesn't burn, keep the oil in the pan.
--Put on the water for the fettuccine. When it boils, start cooking the pasta.
--Fry up the chicken in the garlicky oil for about 5 minutes. YOu could throw on a little salt and pepper, but remember that there will be cheese + brined meats in the equation soon.
--Now fry up the peppers for about 3 minutes
--Now add the tomatoes. I like them cooked down, but you don't really need to cook them that long. Now basil! Now prosciutto! Now the garlic!
-- Check the pasta. Is it done? In either case turn off (or down) the heat on yer sauce and add the butter and the parmesan cheese. When the pasta is done, so are you! Serve it up to your posse and eat the leftovers all week.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

chicken paillard

The summer that I lived in NYC without air conditioning and worked from home, I have literally no memory of eating. I would make pitchers of limeade and sip on them all day. I slurped smoothies for lunch. According to my facebook photos, I would buy sparkling apple cider and drink it from the bottle with absolutely no shame. Well, those days are back. It's hot. We are cheapos and trying to live sans AC this summer and I seriously can't wait to go to NORTHERN NOVA SCOTIA tomorrow and wear sweatshirts again. Anyway, here is a good dinner for when it is stupidly hot out. It's probably the lightest meal I ever made for myself in college that still counts as a meal.

(yes... this is a Rachel Ray recipe. WHAT ABOUT IT? I got the cookbooks as a gift, ok? And seriously, it is fast and good.)

2 chicken breasts or 4 "tenders"(halve this recipe if you don't want leftovers for lunch tomorrow)
A lemon (you'll need the zest, so buy organic)
a few sprigs Thyme & parsley, chopped. Or a few teaspoons, dried
Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth-- I've only made it with this:

and it turned out delicious, really carroty.
2 tbs butter
2 tbs flour

baby greens

1. "Paillard" that chicken-- First, I like to seperate the breasts into tenders by splitting down the middle at the "seam." Eww. Next, put a layer of saran wrap on top and whack those breasts with a mallet or a heavy pan. Holy unsanitary, batman! Vegans everywhere are cringing in shame. Whatever, use your anger at the industrial agricultural system to really flatten that chicken... it tenderizes the meat and makes the tenders cook quickly and evenly. RR herself gives tips on how to freeze/defrost/portion control at the Food Network page.

2. Set a pan on the range to heat up, then rub that chicken with some olive oil, the chopped herbs, salt and pepper, and the zest from the lemon.

3. Throw it in the pan to fry up for 3-4 minutes, while you toss the salad greens with the juice from the lemon, a little olive oil and some classy sea salt. WHAT? you don't have grey sea salt hand flaked from the Atlantic by underemployed Ph.D.s in theater? That's ok, use kosher salt.

4. Once the chicken is done (always a stressful moment, for some reason) take it out of the pan and let it hang out on the side while you throw some butter into the pan and scrape up the fond-- that's the gunk at the bottom of the pan for all of those uninitiated in the finer points of food vocabulary. Thanks, Alton Brown! (this blog post brought to you by the Food Network)

5. Now make a delicious roux (CAJUN STYLE!) by mixing (whisking???) in the 2 tbs flour, making sure that there are no little flour doughnuts. Add the broth and let it bubble away until the sauce is pretty thick. "Until it barely coats the back of a spoon."

6. Now spread the sauce on your plate(s), put the salad on top and then two of the tenders. Wasn't that classier than sitting around in a muumuu crunching ice cubes? Is that just me???

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I suck at cooking eggs. I literally have to look up recipes for scrambled eggs every time I make them because as soon as I put them on, suddenly the bottom is burnt and wahhh! Inedible. Since scrambled eggs take a culinary savvy that I obviously lack, of course omlettes are out too. But eggs are cheap and fast and a good thing to eat if you are a busy vegetarian. Which I someday aspire to be. Just as I love inside jokes. And hope to be a part of one someday.

Enter the frittata. Why did it take me so long to discover you, new friend? Imagine the brunches we will have together, when I have friends to have inside jokes with! The quick lunches, the tired dinners.


8 eggs
a few tablespoons of milk
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, thyme
your star ingredient: mine is zucchini and onions, but I seriously can't imagine any veggie or bacon product that wouldn't be delicious.

-- Preheat the oven to 350, get out an oven proof skillet. If your pans have plastic handles, cover them tightly with tin foil.
-- Chop and fry your veggies of choice in olive oil.
-- While they are getting mellow, whisk your eggs with the milk, salt, pepper, pinch of thyme and half the cheese until there aren't weird pockets of egg whites or anything like that.
-- Now pour the eggs over the vegetables. Once the bottom looks kind of set, lift the side up with your spatula/knife to let uncooked eggs slide under.
-- Let it cook over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, under it looks mostly done and puffy except for the top.
-- Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and bake for 3-4 minutes until it is brown and all done.
--Serve with salad!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

mushroom and boursin tart

On a "success" note, this is one of the most delicious things I have ever made. A vast improvement over the already sophisticated, crowd favorite, mentioned in the first ever post on this here blog mushroom-goatcheese-pizza.

1 sheet puff pastry (or pizza dough, I suppose, although I have totally started going steady with puff pastry. It has my class ring and everything)
1 container white mushrooms
container of Boursin cheese (or goat cheese, or gruyere)

--Let the puff pastry thaw while you heat a pan with some olive oil. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, while you're at it.
--Slice the mushrooms. Button mushrooms are so amazing; they always look so forlorn and 1950s next to the fancy mushrooms at the grocery store, but once they're cooked I swear no one will complain. Don't be fooled: white button mushrooms are the little, cheap mushroom that could.
--Throw the mushrooms in a saucepan over medium heat and add salt, pepper, and thyme. Three pinches, let's say. Be patient. The mushrooms will brown and then start to cook down. If they start to dry out before shrinking, add some more oil. or wine.
--When the mushrooms have started to make their own gravy, add a few teaspoons of chopped rosemary. DOES THIS OR DOES THIS NOT SMELL LIKE HEAVEN?
--Cook a few more minutes until the mushrooms are juicy and soft. Patience + white button mushrooms = restaurant quality (honest!) sauce. Not only for this tart, but polenta or chicken too.
--Roll out the puff pastry so it's a little thinner and place in a baking pan/ sheet. Put the mushrooms and little crumbles of Boursin on top.
--Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Slice and serve. It's delicious cold, too, but... it won't last that long.

on culinary failure

This last week there was a lot of culinary failure happening. The least dramatic, I guess, was a botched carbonara sauce. I had always been kind of grossed out/ intrigued by carbonara-- the heart-attack-defying egg yolk and bacon combo, the salmonella thrill, but so delicious! So I fried up the bacon, Alex grated parmesan, I whisked the egg and plopped the hot pasta in with the bacon and cheese, tempered the egg with pasta water... and waited. No coagulation, a word about as unappetizing as the mess in front of me. A little heat and a lot of stirring later, my pasta looked like a meal. And it was delicious. But my stomach lurched. Was this really the way that you're supposed to make a carbonara sauce? Yes, my googling has advised me. All this time the pasta I've slurped down in restaurants looked like a vile, watery puddle of raw eggs just moments before? I guess so. Well, it's probably better for my health that I think spaghetti carbonara is nasty for the time being. But at least I tried. Good cooks didn't become good cooks without trial and error. And merely decent cooks like yours truly err a lot. Reason to stop cooking or reason to keep cooking?

Not just stomach-turning carbonara sauce, but snickerdoodle cookies baked in the middle of the night as a last-day-of-work send-off but found crumbled in their ziploc bag the next morning, unpresentable. Other types of failures, too... garlic scapes brought from a family friend's farm but left to rot in the fridge in favor of cheetos and ice cream, a renewed vow to eat less meat broken a few times, then forgotten. I guess one response to culinary setbacks is to throw up your hands. To eat "whatever." But as my allergic reactions have started to get much worse, and much more frequent, I can't really just mindlessly wolf down take out anymore. I feel about a million times better if I cook for myself instead of eating out, wondering if the chef has cooked my food in a pan that just fried shrimp, if the broccoli is cooked enough to prevent my mouth from breaking out in hives, if the salad dressing tastes funny because I am allergic to something in it or because I simply don't like it. Cooking for myself-- or better yet, with friends-- is no less than a symbol of agency, of courage, of thrift, and of the potential for food to be a pleasure instead of a terrifying game of Russian roulette. If it means some burnt pizzas, sunken bread, crumbled cookies along the way, so be it. It seems like an awfully small price to pay for nourishment.

Monday, July 13, 2009

weekend fun

Summer weekends are delicious. Thanks, friends.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"i'm kind of a big deal" stupidly easy zucchini tart

Classy lunch alert! Bringing a slice of this guy to the office just screams "I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany." Or for those doldrum days when you need to remind yourself that "you're kind of a big deal." Don't we all have those?

Set 2/3 a sheet of puff pastry on the countertop to defrost.... remember that time you made the cheesy poofs? Or a whole sheet. Whatevs.

Place whatever farm-fresh bound to be delicious thing suits your fancy on there-- for me, zucchini and summer squash that I knew would carry the day, thinly sliced, decoratively placed. Nice kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. 15 minutes at 400 and a simple, delicious, very, very, classy tart is all yours.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"kofta" with "tzatziki" and "skordalia"

First off--

This is fake middle-eastern/Greek (middle Greastern?) food. Even though I get asked if I'm Greek about as often as I say the phrase "just graduated from college"... "degree in Classics..." I am not Greek, team. So these recipes don't come from my Yia Yia (grandmother, for all those who don't share my woefully stunted but still somehow able to impress the occasional Greek 5-word-Modern-Greek-vocabulary)... I made them up. Fake Greek food is super forgiving and raw garlic will heal whatever ails you. And scare off vampires. Which is good if you still do a double-take when entering a dark room after finishing Dracula a few weeks ago.

Well, start off with some delicious mezes. Make these first and you can snack on them as a dip or throw it on yer pita when you're done.


a container greek yogurt (straining your own yogurt is NOT EASY for the record)
a cucumber
handful of mint

Peel the cucumber, then slice it the long way and scoop out the seeds. Dice, then throw a few pinches of salt on there and let chemistry do its work.

The squeeze out all that osmosized moisture (taste to see that they still don't taste salty, if so, give them a rinse) and throw your cukes into the yogurt. Now add about a handful of chopped mint and-- if you want-- some chopped raw garlic. I used a whole clove and combined with the skordalia (below) it made a pretty tangy supper. Up to you, I guess. Stir.


a russet potato
olive oil

Pierce your potato all over and nuke it for 5-6 minutes until it's "baked"-- alternatively, boil it until it's done. Either way, rub off the skin and plop the potato guts in a bowl. Mash mash mash. If you own a ricer (???) now is the one time a year to use it. You want satiny glop that is unidentifiable as potatoes. Drizzle in a healthy amount of olive oil to get the perp talking-- 1/4 cup even-- keep mashing, mashing, mashing. It should start to look kind of glistening and delicious. Add a little water, now. Consistency is of a creamy dip, not of mashed (or even riced!) potatoes. OK. If you have a garlic press, that's awesome-- press 2 cloves and add them in. Otherwise, chop the cloves as fine as you can. You know how hard you worked to get that restaurant quality consistency! Don't mess up now!

Now for some meaty deliciousness to fill a gyro with lettuce and red onions, or just flying solo...


a package (a lb?) ground lamb-- if your supermarket doesn't carry it pre-ground, you can ask them to grind up some lamb. Apparently, you are supposed to ask butchers to hand-grind chuck, too, for your burgers, otherwise you are a total philistine, but I haven't had a taste test yet, so... there.
2 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp salt

Mix up the meat with the spices, gently. Lamb is tough enough as it is, natch. Form into little patties or tubular sausages. Cook 'em up in a pan until they are done-- a little pink is okay, but rare is probably not delicious.


Duh, you can make your own pita chips. Less awesome than making crackers from scratch but still awesome. Cut your pita into wedges with scissors and put on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (and paprika, cumin, allspice, whatever)... bake at 400 for about 5 minutes-- they should be crunchy and not burnt.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bootleg rhubarb-cherry cobbler... ish

Actually what this baby turned out to be is more like a tangy, upside-down corn bread. After ix-naying the idea of a pie (post-work and then post-tutoring, it's 9 and I still haven't eaten dinner yet but the rhubarb was going bad and once you let inertia set in....) I decided to make something a little simpler. Also something I could eat with good conscience for breakfast. My boyfriend's house is notoriously lacking in baking staples (witness the bread made with pastry flour that ended up like a giant, sad biscuit), so I ran into the quickee mart while getting gas to grab some Jiffy corn muffin mix and sugar on the way. Bootleg, but what the hell. I am a busy lady. That's the alibi, anyway.

Chopped up the rhubarb (5 stems or so) and threw in some frozen sour cherries for good measure. I love sour fruits, but if you want to go sweeter, a pear or strawberries would go nicely. Toss it in a baking dish with some sugar (I used not a lot-- 1/4 cup or so. Up to 1/2 cup would not be ridiculous) and some flour to soak up the goopy mess. As a consistency whack job, I do not tolerate goopy mess, so I added probably 3 tablespoons of flour. Not really necessary.

Then mix up the muffin mix with an egg and some milk. I added more milk than the box called for (probably half a cup) so that the batter could be in the oven long enough for the fruit to cook. Oh. And I added some sugar (a couple tablespoons) to the corn mix too which was a good call because your cobbler ends up being like 3/4 bread to 1/4 fruit. So a little sweet is good. Pour this on top of the fruit. Bake at 400 for like half an hour. While totally not a cobbler, it is a good breakfast concoction and the sour fruit moistens up the cornbread and the cornbread soaks up the goopy fruity mess. Symbiosis! With Greek yogurt and honey, I actually am a big fan of sour-fruity-cornbread for breakfast. Try it out, teamola.

Monday, June 29, 2009

guest post: dad's chocolate ice cream

Dictated by the great ice cream Kahuna himself. Editor's note: we have an electric bucket style ice cream maker like this:

that works really well. Previous attempts at using an "indoor style" freeze-the-bucket ice cream maker led to ice cream that never really set. If you are young and urban and ice-cream-maker-less, David Lebovitz has a great write up about how to make ice cream without one here. Note well that this recipe makes a ridiculous amount of ice cream. If you want a less ridiculous amount of ice cream, half it.


1 quart half and half
1 quart heavy cream
2 cups sugar
2 tsps vanilla
8 egg yolks
cocoa powder (always Ghiradelli, here)

Scald the half and half and set aside. If a thin layer of you know, stuff forms, remove it with a wooden spoon. Whisk the egg yolks until they become pale yellow. Add the sugar to the yolks. Slowly add the scalded half and half, a little at a time to the yolk/sugar mix. It is important to do this tempering very slowly so that the eggs are not cooked. This happened once when I added the whole quart at once but if you go slowly, there won't be a problem. Now add the chocolate. Our family goes by the color rather than scientific measurement. We add enough chocolate to produce a light brown color. But it's all in the tasting. When the flavor is exactly what we like, we have achieved our goal. We like it not quite as chocolatey as hot chocolate. It tastes kind of like a Frosty.

Add the quart of heavy cream to the mixture. Now add the vanilla. At this point we add additional Hersheys syrup to make sure that it's chocolatey enough. The key to good ice cream is putting the mixture in the fridge for as long as possible. Overnight yields excellent results because the colder the mixture, the less time is required in the ice cream maker. The result is a creamier ice cream.

At this point, transfer the cold mixture to your favorite ice cream maker.

When the ice cream is done, we consume some of it right away in a soft-serve consistency. The rest we place in plastic containers and put in the freezer where in an hour or two you have a consistency of hard ice cream.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

no-knead bread

Long overdue!

Making your own bread is the big leagues. By which I mean it is one of those things that is easier than it seems, well worth the time spent, and just an awesome thing that will make you feel like you are the winner of Frontier House... despite the fact that there are no winners on PBS. Seriously, you will want to stalk down Laura Ingalls Wilder in her log cabin and flex your biceps, proudly displaying your perfect, golden loaf until she gives you maple candy or a yard of calico. Homemade bread is like that.

Seriously though, when I started making my own bread junior year of college it was a revelation. Oh, the toast! The sandwiches! The superiority to veggie corn dogs as a midnight snack! Now I am both more busy and more lazy, so I have fallen off the bandwagon.

I did start making the famous, super-hyped, MEGA-hyped no-knead bread earlier this spring. And it is awesome. And you can do it! Yes, you!

I mean, you can totally make your own sandwich bread no worries and it takes less time (white or wheat or HONEY OAT or wahhhh I want to make bread everyday) but this is the only way I have achieved "success" with a "European style loaf." So I guess it's as good a way to start as any.

What other sandwich breads have in "taking an afternoon" and "infinite customizability", this bread has in hands-off cool. This bread is like the James freakin' Dean of crusty boules. Two timings: takin' a day off or the workday warrior. Workday warrior timing is kinda intense, but do-able.

Weekend: late night
Weekday: when you get back from work

Throw 3 cups of flour, 1/4 tsp yeast (store the rest in the fridge) and 1 1/2 tsp salt in a bowl.
Mix with 1 1/2 cups water.
Mix, mix, mix, cover your bowl with saran wrap and go to bed.

12-18 hours later.....
Weekday: If you need to show up at work the next day, set your alarm for 2 hours before you normally get up. Sucks, right? But just think of the bread you'll have with dinner!
Weekend timing: Just get up.

Fold your puffy, bubbly dough over itself a couple times and gently roll it into a ball. Plop it onto a floured cloth or just a floured countertop or a floured bowl or whatever. Cover with a cloth and do something else for 2 hours. Like go back to sleep or watch cartoons.

Back? Good! Preheat the oven to 450 with an oven-proof pot or dutch oven or casserole dish in it. Ideally for half an hour, but it doesn't really matter. Gently maneuver the dough into the hot pot, put the lid on or fashion one out of tinfoil, let it bake for half an hour. Now take the lid off for another 15 minutes or so, until it's golden brown. Fly out the door while your bread cools, or just eat it while you continue to watch cartoons. Oh my god I can't wait to get home and eat this.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

impress your loved ones with cheesy poofs

Otherwise known as savory palmiers... because that sounds much more romantic and less like you are just eating cheesy poofs.

The timing is kind of funny because right after I made these the other night, cheese straws were up on smittenkitchen. Well folks, I have been there and done that. These require less work and look way more presentable (uh, than mine, anyway)... if you need to present them to someone other than your belly.

Cheese puffs

1 sheet puff pastry from the freezer aisle (don't worry about unfolding it, just separate the thirds for cute little cheesy poofs)
some cheddar/gruyere/pecorino & parmesan cheese (I used cheddar because my dad buys it in 1 lb bricks literally every week. Also I am secretly a mouse.)

OK! Preheat the oven to 400.

Roll out each of the thirds so that you get more bang for your buck.

Now grate some cheese on there so that you have a nice layer without going nutso; press the cheese in a little for OPTIMAL distribution.

Ok now pretend you are making palmiers... roll each side into the center. Like so:

They should be kind of adorable. Like all delicious snacks. Uh. I don't know.

Slice the log and put your puffs on a baking sheet-- 15 minutes or so (20, maybe: until they look brownish and delicious) and you're done.

Monday, June 15, 2009

beer milkshakes

While he ate his sandwich and sipped his beer, a bit of conversation came back to him. Blaisedell, the poet, had said to him, "You love beer so much, I'll bet some day you'll go in and order a beer milk shake." It was a simple piece of foolery but it had bothered Doc ever since. He wondered what a beer milk shake would taste like. The idea gagged him but he couldn't let it alone. It cropped up every time he had a glass of beer. Would it curdle the milk? Would you add sugar? It was like a shrimp ice cream. Once the thing got into your head you couldn't forget it. He finished his sandwich and paid Herman. He purposely didn't look at the milk shake machines lined up so shiny against the back wall. If a man ordered a beer milk shake, he thought, he'd better do it in a town where he wasn't known. But then, a man with a beard, ordering a beer milk shake in a town where he wasn't known - they might call the police.

--Cannery Row


The lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer have arrived. All I want to do is read, sleep, and drink cold things. Milkshakes. Like Doc from Cannery Row, I have been fixated on beer milkshakes ever since drinking a beer milkshake-like concoction at Radio Bean in Burlington, VT.

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Hip young people, weird old people, a cardboard cactus, wipe the snow off your glasses and swill a frosty Guinness with espresso and maple syrup in the middle of the day. Winter vacations are the best thing in the world, followed by the state of Vermont, followed by beer milkshakes.

Beer milkshake:

-- 1 tall can Guinness / stout
-- 2 generous scoops ice cream (vanilla or Dublin mudslide, please)


Monday, June 8, 2009

"Fortune favors the bold" potato salad

Holy overdue post, batman!

This NYTimes article
shamed me back to you... but actually, I've been waiting for my NEW DIGITAL CAMERA to come in the mail so that I can be a real food blogger again and not some washed-up old hack who eats ice cream for lunch and picks the cookie crumbs out of her hair on her way to work, wishing that she could eat shit without winding up in the hospital like the other carefree girls and boys. Where were we?

Last night I made some kick-ass potato salad. Thought of y'all because it's summertime and all I want to eat is picnic food. This is healthier, maybe, than the kind you get from the grocery store, plus it's cheaper, plus I winged it so just imagine what will happen when you use your imagination, too! Potato salad for president.

Potato salad

1 bag of waxy red potatoes, about 10
a small red onion
olive oil
vinegar (classy wine vinegars probably superior, I used white vinegar I had bought to clean the sink).

Boil the potatoes until they're tender, should take about 15 minutes. While you're waiting, chop up that red onion. I only used half.

Now drain them and let them cool in the fridge while you drink a cold one and contemplate your dwindling work ethic.

Cold-ish? Mash 'em up with a fork and glop in three heaping forkfuls of mayonnaise. Pardon me sir, do you have any Grey Poupon? If so, a spoonful or two is delicious. Stir. Grab the olive oil and vinegar and drizzle them on top for a few counts, like you are a flair bartender with only a very small amount of flair.

Add that red onion and mix it up. Yum. Put on your thinking cap: how good would this be with capers, or dill, or pickles, or.... let me know! Anyway, bring it to work with your sandwich, to the picnic with your slacker friends, to the yacht club with your yacht. It's summer, natch.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Well---- my digital camera died awhile ago, so my illustration will have to suffice. Yes: my workplace rules. To compensate us for our long hours and priceless innovation, there are all manners of free treats just for the snacking. As much joy as it brings me to select my daily soda with lunch, feeling downright aristocratic as I haughtily snub Coke Zero for Polar Seltzer, I am doubly happy when I ferret around and make something (a parfait? does that count?) out of nothing. Here's a fancypants parfait from the office fridge. Oh! The mysteriously delicious nut/seed/soy free granola (of dubious nutritional value, but whatever) is Aurora Natural Vanilla Crunch. Making your own would be cheaper and better, and I promise I'll do it sometime soon-- like when the free granola runs out.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quickie ice cream roundup

Folks: I haven't tried this... actually, I'm not even sure if we own a blender, but it sounds SO GOOD. Judging by the quality of Alex's frozen raspberry sauce last weekend, this is a winner.

5 minute fruit ice cream in a blender

Linked in the side bar:

Little diner "ice creams"


Also, ever since I saw this commercial on TV I've been meaning to make this:

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

book review: garlic and sapphires

Stayed up all night reading Garlic and Sapphires. The writing style is not as... tender as Tender at the Bone, but it's a fun yarn and a fast read despite the arrogant celebrity quotient this time around. If you can stand to watch Top Chef (and/or love to revel in the celebrity chef culture-- who doesn't?) then this is a great way to kick off your summer reading and peek into the kitchens of New York's finest. Got any other food-related books I have to read? A recipe I should try? Let me know.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

apple pear muffins

Heh! Remote blogging... let's see if this works.

Well, in an attempt to be healthy after becoming addicted to the biggest loser (more productive than dancing with the stars-- "you've given me my life back!" "i am an inspiration to the tongan people!) I decided to make some mornin' muffins. Also to get some fruit in my sad, seriously allergic system. I'm no nutritionist, but these seem like a totally decent way to start the day/make it through the afternoon/ fuel those sweaty "last chance" workouts. Uh. I kind of winged the recipe and they came out more than a little moist. Better than dry, right, Le Pain Quotidien? That was low. Anyway, I guess the way to remedy that would be less wet stuff? Watch out, Michael Ruhlman.

Apple Pear Muffins
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar or just white sugar
  • 4 tbs butter, softened (this is half a stick)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (could go less if you want a less moist muffin)
  • an apple and a pear (two pears?), grated.

Grease your muffin tin/line up some of those tin liners on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400.

Mix up the eggs and sugar. Now cream in the butter. Mine didn't really cream up that well, just kind of chilled out in soft chunks. Oh well.

Now add the applesauce and your grated fruits. Shake your fist at your tyrannical immune system that keeps you from eating such delicious smelling things in their normal state.

Now plop the flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices on top. "Sift them together" with a spoon without incorporating them into the batter yet. Now go! In a few decisive strokes, mix the wet and dry ingredients. Don't go crazy. Muffins are very delicate creatures.

Fill your muffin tin-- 2/3 in each cup. Bake for 20-25-+ minutes. Breakfast! One of these days I'll make granola bars and be truly invicible. If you know how to do this (granola bar making, I mean), drop me a line.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Recipes over twitter?

In this article, the Times dining section amusedly recreates recipes from Twitter.

Now, I am a supposed "new media expert"-- according to my resume, at least-- but this one gets a big Lily WTF. Why? I don't get it.

Check out a prime example here. Wouldn't you rather have my loving commentary, or someone more talented's photos? Me too.

Monday, April 20, 2009

nytimes approved

you know the extremely high proportion of pizza recipes on here? you know that i am eating a mushroom parmesan pizza right now? that is because pizza is a really quick and delicious dinner. as with all my obsessions-- well, mostly just making pizza and crackers-- the NYTIMES has fallen in love as well and written a love note to homemade pizza. You can even forget that homemade dough thing.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

classy pizza

There is a restaurant in Harvard Square called Veggie Planet that I snubbed for years because it is in a basement and one time I looked down and there was no one there. Then one of my favorite people in the world convinced me to go-- and-- lo and behold, it is one of those super feel-good happy hippie places that makes me put moving to vermont much higher on the list of priorities. They have a couple different kinds of iced tea and the food is not only super delicious but also CHEAP.

This pizza is totally stolen from them, but with love, in that vermonty-sharing is caring kind of way.


pizza dough
1 sweet potato
log of goat cheese
1 sweet onion

OK-- Preheat the oven to 450.

Chop the sweet potato into thick rounds and boil until soft-- like 15 minutes?
In the meantime, chop then onion and fry it up until it's carmelized, but not quite blackened. Still has to go in the oven.

Now stretch out your pizza dough, put it on a baking sheet. Put the sweet potato rounds on in some kind of decorative folk-art like pattern and then crumble on the goat cheese and spoon those onion on there, too. How can this not be delicious? Oh, it can't. It is the best pizza in the world. 20 minutes in a 450 degree oven, this baby is unstoppable.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

chocolate pudding

Making your own desserts is awesome and way better than sitting around eating a whole bag of milanos. Making cookies take a long time. Blog readers of the world: make your own goddamn pudding.

PS-- wouldn't you know it, it is kind of HARD to find good chocolate pudding recipes. Some are based on pots-de-creme: egg based. those require cute cups and a cooking savvy I just don't have. The trick: the pudding you are thinking of in your head is filed under blancmange-- which is like your basic cornstarch pudding recipe. Upside: while it is not a heavenly thing of glory you would pay like 8 bucks to eat in a restaurant, it is pretty damn close and also INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

Oh-- you know what I want, pudding. Ok, stir some milk, bloop bloop blooop, DONE.


2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 chocolate bar (semisweet)-- to taste really. I think the recipe said 4 oz and I put in a good 10. Especially if you are going to make it spicy, it's gotta be chocolately.
2 tbs cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
(moving to San Diego edition-- 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp allspice)

Pour 1/4 cup of the milk (give or take) into the cornstarch, slowly. Go through the groovy ooblek phase into the weird watered down viscous milk stage. No lumps, now. Add the sugar to this concoction. And whatever "Mexican" spices suit your fancy.

Heat up the rest of the milk and vanilla and the chocolate broken into chunks over low heat. Now slowly pour in the cornstarch goop. Cook and stir the future pudding so that the cornstarch loses its "raw flavor"-- now, I don't know what that is, but I've never had a cornstarch pudding taste really bad so just, you know, cook it and then in the end you'll have pudding. Take it off the heat when its looking pretty firm (like 10 minutes?) and pour/glop it into little cups, wine glasses, a bowl, whatever. Stick it in the fridge.

It's pudding tiiiiiime.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

red velvet cupcakes

geez! two weekends ago (already?) i went on a total baking bender. red velvet cupcakes were the first adventure.

our story begins... in january i ditched out of an awkward fundraiser that i helped plan to get cupcakes. and lo! the cupcakes were the best that i've EVER had.

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after months of fantasizing about them, i tried my hand. oh, red velvet cupcakes. why is something merely "food coloring" flavored so absolutely enticing? it probably comes from the same part of my brain that genuinely loves waffle house and little people, big world. the kitschy, happy, slightly dumb part.

anyway, these are pretty cheerful suckers and delicious to boot and if i had more foresight (sat word, sadly enough) i would have made them for valentines day.

from better homes and gardens via the internet

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup butter, at room temperature
2¼ cups granulated sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs red food coloring
1½ cups buttermilk (or add 1 tbs vinegar per 1 cup milk, let it get all groovy for a few minutes. home science!!!)
1½ tsp baking soda
1½ tsp vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until combined. One at a time, add eggs; beat on medium speed after each. Bet in food coloring on low.

4. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to egg mixture; beat on low-medium after each just until combined. Stir together baking soda and vinegar. Add to batter; beat just until combined.

5. Fill cupcake liners two-thirds full. Bake 15 to 17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Gently remove cupcakes from pans; cool.

i made marshmallow frosting but it was a pretty bootleg endeavor and hardened kind of nastily (don't get me wrong, i snacked on these puppies all week). in hindsight, i probably just should have made seven minute frosting. its in the joy of cooking, or any cookbook, or here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

mushroom risotto

h weather: you're hot and you're cold, you're yes and you're no. What to do when skirt weather turns into jacket weather? Make risotto! It's cheap and hearty and doesn't actually take that long, especially if you have some sweet podcasts to listen to or people over to entertain you while you stir or what have you.

1 cup arborio rice (short grain)
1 tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine (NOTE: we all know that the best risotto is made from Chateau Diana purchased from Appletree in the middle of the day while looking over your shoulder sheepishly. If you cannot recreate this glorious culinary experience, this is delicious without wine)
1/4 cup (or until you get bored grating) grated parmesan
4-5 cups hot chicken stock OR veggie stock OR mushroom stock
1 large onion, chopped (or a couple of shallots)
1 cup dried mushrooms

Reconstitute some fancypants mushrooms you've got kicking around in boiling water. Or / and fry some button mushrooms.

Heat olive oil in a big ole pot. Fry up the onion until it's translucent/smells delicious. Meanwhile, heat up your stock, veg or not. If you used dried mushrooms, you should for sure throw some of that mushroom stock in there. 5 cups.

Add the rice to the onion and stir until grains are coated with oil. If you are going the wine route, add wine and stir constantly on medium heat until wine is absorbed. Add one cup hot stock, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Then add some more stock and keep stirring. When that is absorbed, add some more and stir some more. This is the part that takes awhile.

When you're almost done, add the mushrooms (chopped, if you're not there yet.) Now take it off the heat, stir in that cheese, and eat up. In like a lion, out like a lamb, right? Whatever: I'm California dreamin' until April.