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.