Monday, May 31, 2010


ah! kind of like the artichoke, this is a no brainer, but strawberries and whipped cream!

final result (icebox cake!) forthcoming, but honestly, just standing around my kitchen at 1 this morning just stirring and eating and tasting and chopping: it's summer. it's summer and derrida can't compare to just slightly-under-whipped cream. i've got several muumuus in rotation and a ukulele. summer's the worst but i'm hanging around.

whipped cream

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 t vanilla

Pour the cream into a bowl and beat it (mixer purchase is useful here. or a whisk) until it thickens. Add the sugar. Keep beating until it holds soft peaks, then add the vanilla. When the surface just begins to show the designs from whipping, stop and see if it holds stiff peaks. Stop before it gets grainy. Still-creamy whipped cream is part of the magic of making it yourself.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

possibly the best, possibly the most disgusting dinner

a steamed artichoke and homemade mayonnaise

Why don't I make more artichokes for myself? I had this bias like "artichokes are too much work" "they are too expensive" "I don't know how to steam them." Let me tell you, f that noise. If you want to have the best dinner in the world. Go buy an artichoke. Yeah. Now stick it in a pot with a few inches of water, slap a lid on and let it steam for like half an hour. Now eat it. Yeah. Delicious. Maybe some melted butter. Or. You know what is better than butter? Mayonnaise.

I had a running joke with my babysitter when I was little that I was hiding a tub of mayonnaise in my bed that I would eat after she left me alone. I wasn't even really a particularly fat kid either, so I don't know how she intuited my love of mayo, but there you go. The past two times I have made mayonnaise it has been emulsified (i.e. not a total disaster) but ends up kind of blob-like, so maybe you should look elsewhere for your mayo guidance if you want something peaky-perfect. This worked totally fine for dipping vegetables in, and it tastes... delicious... so who's counting.

+2 egg yolks
+1 cup neutral oil or a mix of neutral & olive oil if you want your mayo to taste very pronounced
+1 or 2 T vingear or lemon juice
+1/2 t or so salt
+a little mustard

Whisk/beat the yolks, acidic thing, mustard, and salt until the yolks look sticky. Then add the oil a drop at a time, literally, keeping it emulsified and not letting it break up or get all nasty. Go slow. If it breaks up, you are screwed, so don't let that happen. If it does, beat another yolk in a separate bowl and then add your oily, un-creamy mess a spoonful at a time, keeping it carefully emulsified the whole time. Store in the fridge (or your bed) for the next few days.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

braised fennel pizza

If you know me you know how I feel about pizza. Right? Right. Especially bougie pizzas with no tomato sauce. Brussels sprouts bechamel pizza. Sweet potato pizza. Mushroom goat cheese pizza. There is just nothing like fucking pizza.

Okay, so with that in mind. This is easily the best pizza I have ever made, and potentially the best pizza I have ever eaten. I KNOW! I know. I wasn't expecting it to be so good at all. I bought the fennel on a whim because I was thinking of my grandmother, who used to carry around sliced fennel and eat it daintily for lunch. After a couple weeks of zigzagging around my house and wishing I was somewhere else and sucking up energy from the universe, sitting quietly in one place and just being there and eating something so delicious was really awesome. Wow, holy California, did I just talk about energy? I think I did. But seriously, if this pizza can snap me out of break-up anomie, it's gotta be pretty delicious.

Fennel, shallot & gouda pizza

(makes one small pizza, like lunch for two with a salad or lunch for one with a lot of happy chewing sounds and a tummyache)

-pizza dough
-a bulb of fennel
-2 shallots
-a bunch of mild semi-soft cheese. Trader Joe's fans should be apprised of Panquehue, it is cheap as hell and pretty delicious, especially melted. Gouda, Havarti, or any other laid-back snack cheese would do the trick.

+Preheat your oven to as hot as it can go.
+Slice the fennel vertically and place the slices in a hot grill pan or skillet, get a good sear on them.
+Meanwhile mince those shallots
+OK now throw some stock into the pan and the shallots and let the fennel soften for a bit, like 10 minutes? They should be tender and barely sauce-y.
+Now toss your pizza dough out and put it on a baking sheet or in that same oven-proof skillet, spreading the fennel-shallots on top. Grate the cheese on top, too.
+Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the cheese is melted and the crust is brown.

Monday, May 17, 2010

snack cookies

Like with that everyday cake, you should probably not take my nutrition advice. But these are good and easy to grab as you run out the door in the morning, stumble home at night, refill your tea in the afternoon, etc. I guess if you are really an upstanding citizen you can treat them like real cookies, too.

Carrot Ginger Cookies inspired by 101 cookbooks and carrots languishing in the crisper

1 cup (whole wheat) flour
1 cup oats
1 cup finely shredded carrots (2 hefty ones)
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup veg oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, maple syrup, or agave
2 t real (!?!) grated ginger (otherwise these would be boring as all get out, I suppose if you don't keep a knob of ginger in the freezer for times like this you could just dump in a bunch of pumpkin pie spices and do okay for yourself)

Oven to 375.

Mix it all up, dream about summer. Oh yeah, mushy baked good dough, it is almost like being on an island somewhere with Paris Hilton singing island tunes in your ear. That's hot.

Press them into pretty flat discs, since they don't collapse on their own. Bake for about 10 minutes-- they won't really brown, so watch closely.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


do you guys know how much i love the hours between 4 and 6 am?

first, there was the summer between junior and senior year of high school, when anything seemed possible. i made mix tapes for my car, which i had just learned to drive, of wistful love songs like beyond the sea and i believed them. the night before my mom's wedding my friend and i stayed up late, slumping from the couch to the floor, and watched fellini films like we were the first people in the world to see them. i would wake up at 3 or 4 and float into the morning, listening to gentle, sad music and writing poems and letters and college essays. i loved these hazy hours when everyone else was asleep and i could do absolutely nothing as if it were the most important and meaningful thing in the world.

last year i worked from 6 to 2, and i would wake up every day at 5:30. the house was dark and cold and my dad would turn on the tap and i would remember that it was the morning, just before the alarm went off. i was always surprised how ok it was to be awake at 5:24, before the alarm. and i would put on my uniform and parka and thud downstairs and my dad and i would have an english muffin with boysenberry jam and lots of butter. then he would defrost the car and drive me the 5 minutes to town, where i would have the first cup of coffee out of the machine and memorize the floorboards until customers started trickling in at 7:30. it made me realize that even at my unluckiest, i am the luckiest person in the world.

this is my first real week of insomnia in california. i fought it. but then this morning i got up at 3:30, turned on the oven, mixed a loaf of bread, stood on my balcony and watched the sky shift from bruised to bleached. i am eating the bread now and i forgot to put salt in it, so it is hot and moist and filling and totally flavorless. i watched tv, balanced my checkbook, and read the new york times, where i found this. my favorite thing about being awake between 4 and 6 is that you are the only one awake, but you never feel alone.

Monday, May 3, 2010

vegan jambalaya

Veganomicon is amazing because they lump food into groups that make sense to me, like "eat something else with this or you will be cranky and malnourished" or "food that you can put in a bowl and eat for dinner". Lately I have been crushing on the latter category, trying to make mostly casseroles and one pot suppers and all that, saving precious time for watching TV or zoning out, apparently my top two pastimes. Otherwise "forgetting to eat then gorging on buffalo-chicken flavored pretzels" gets added to the list, which is fun sometimes but mostly not. I guess moms figured out this principle a long time ago with that whole casserole thing but I am just catching on, so bear with me. It also makes not eating meat take way less planning, which is a bonus if you are trying, you know, to go that route.

This recipe makes a lot of food, enough to eat until you get bored of it and some to freeze, too, which is awesome because instead of getting in the car and picking up a b-r-c burrito you can be like, wait, there are some rice & beans in the freezer. Cajun style.

OH P.S. 30 rock fans who got that reference who also love NPR... how weird was Alec Baldwin's Studio 360 guest hosting? I thought it would be so right, but it was so wrong.

Vegan Jambalaya
adapted from Veganomicon, I had to return the cookbook from Inter-library Loan (HA!) so I winged it and it turned out just fine.

+an onion, minced
+some seitan, cut into little pieces and browned in a pan
+a can each of red & white kidney beans
+a 28 oz can of peeled seeded blah blah tomatoes
+a couple cloves of garlic, minced
+2 cups rice, white or brown doesn't matter
+veggie broth
+a red pepper, if you like peppers. also celery, if you are willing to buy a whole mess of celery just to use one stalk in this recipe.
+"cajun seasoning" for tourists of the spice aisle, otherwise we are talkin thyme, marjoram, paprika, celery seed and cayenne, heavy on the thyme and paprika. About 3 T total.

-Fry up your onion, garlic, and optional pepper and celery. Keep stirring until everything is fragrant and translucent and soft.

-Throw a little veggie stock or wine in there to unstick whatever might be sticking, then add the rice, let it get oily/toasty. Rinse the beans in the meantime.

-Yeah, now add the tomatoes, the browned seitan, the beans, about 3 tablespoons of that cajun spice mix, and about 2 cups of broth.

-Stir it up, set the dial to simmer, and let the good times roll for about half an hour. Think about how gross crayfish are for a little bit, then about the glory that was muffuletta/mac and cheese for lunch day in high school, then about beignets, then about christmas beignets, then about vacation. See what I mean about the zoning out? Where were we?

-Check back in about 15 minutes, give it a stir to make sure the bottom isn't scorching. Then in another 15. Brown rice might take another 15 more, so don't let it burn.

-One-pot dinner success! Feel like the chair of the PTA but without all those kids involved.