Tuesday, June 29, 2010

no duh zucchini

I don't know why, but the zucchini I just made was a freakin revelation. I swear if this was on the side of my plate at a bougie farm-to-table restaurant I wouldn't raise an eyebrow. You know how their side vegetables are always just unreal? These were like that. Here is what I did differently than normal, maybe you can recreate the magic that just happened. Or maybe you know how to make zucchini taste like this normally, in which case, hat tip!

CUBES, not slices. Pretty big chunks.
SALT IT. for like half an hour, then drain out the water and rinse and dry
BARELY ANY OIL. i just used what was left in the pan after cooking some other veggies
FIRST LOW HEAT, then HOT. i didn't start out with a super-hot pan, but after it hadn't browned after a few minutes i pumped it up and let them get kind of brown/charred/grilled tasting.

Over & out,
America's Test Kitchen

Sunday, June 27, 2010

dutch baby (baked pancake)

Oh my sweet goodness, where has the dutch baby been all my life?

Actually, here's a story. The first time I almost went to school in Chicago, I dragged my family out to visit on the train for spring break. There were a lot of brisk walks and Greek classes and pretentious conversations... The upshot of the whole thing was hanging out with my friend from the suburbs and bumming around and eating at the original pancake house. So, so, so very good. Google now tells me that there are a bagillion franchises-- even one in the S.D.-- but at the time it seemed like a magical, midwestern unicorn of a restaurant.

Oh, right, but the story. So I ate a dutch baby at the original pancake house and it was the first time I had had such a thing and it so filling and delicious that I took my bacon with me in a napkin. And stuck it in my parka pocket. Obviously! Later, we are in the fake coal mine in the museum of science and industry and a bunch of other tourists are like, why does it smell like bacon? And the tour goes on and all of a sudden the whole tour is laughing and wondering about the bacon smell. And that's when I realized that carrying around meat in your pocket is not "what normal people do."

Anyway, I just loved everything about this: the fact that it was easy to make after hours in the car, watching it puff in the oven, nibbling at the sides while standing over the stove waiting for it to cool off. The custardy texture in the middle. Eating something covered in powdered sugar for dinner. Yes indeed, the dutch baby is perhaps the new king of breakfast-for-dinner for one or two people (or breakfast for breakfast! or breakfast for dessert!) which we all know is the best meal in the world. Come to think of it, why don't people have breakfast-for-dinner parties more often? It is basically the easiest and cutest thing. Invite me!


* 3 tablespoons butter, melted
* 1/2 cup flour (whole wheat is delicious here)
* 2 T (heaping? yes I think so) sugar
* 1 T vanilla
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 cup milk, room temperature
* 2 large eggs, room temperature
* Lemon and powdered sugar, or some berry compote, or nutella. Or. Mmmmmmm.

Preheat oven to 425. Let the eggs and milk hang out and room temperature-ize for as long as you can stand it. Melt the butter.

Oh yeah, you better be rockin some kind of ovenproof skillet. Scoop out 2/3 of the butter (that's 2 tablespoons for those of you low-scorers. Oof, SAT joke! That hurts. I'm embarrassed for myself) and put it in yer pan and let that heat up in the oven.

Mix up the rest of the ingredients, butter last so it has time to cool. I am talkin about some real deal mixing. Like in a blender or food processor or with a mixer. Or with a whisk I guess. Take a full two minutes even with a machine to really get the batter all congenial.

Now pour that into your pan (hot hot hot!) and bake for 25 minutes, until it is puffy and golden-brown around the edges. Serve with something delicious, like powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon. So yuuuuummy: tastes like living the dream.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

(green bean and "roasted" garlic) quiche!

I like to be out of the house, but if I am in the house, I would really like to be cooking and eating then cooking some more. So the last couple days, in the face of literally thousands of pages of reading for this summer, I have been cooking up a storm. First the curry, then the tortillas (too dry), then those snack cookies again, then THIS QUICHE. My goodness! I was worried about the green beans since I bought them the last week of class up at a farmstand in Irvine and those long days are now a distant memory. But they are still delicious! Then on Monday some buddies and I drove to the mountains-- it was beautiful and California is strange and at its best when not paved. Anyway, I bought some eggs from a sweet old lady just like in Wendell Berry's fantasy and got home and realized I already had a dozen eggs in the fridge. Oops.

I am not Gaston, I mean this time two years ago I wouldn't even EAT eggs. But I made a quiche and even though it used up less eggs than I thought it would, it was a much better way to pass the time of day than reading Diderot... More importantly, though, it was really, really, very good.


+ A good couple handfuls of green beans, enough to make like 2 cups chopped
+ A whole head of garlic
+ 5 eggs (3 whole, 2 egg whites)
+ 1/3 cup milk/half&half/cream
+ Some cheese, 1/2 cup? I used some frozen cream cheese from a smoked salmon binge that I had been hoping would thaw okay and it worked fine. If I were you, though... gruyere!
+ A pie crust that you will make while the veggies are cooking (see below), or one from the store

- Oven to 425

- Steam those green beans until they are bright green and done to your liking. My liking is overcooked, so I'll just assume you know how to cook vegetables to your liking, right? I mean what is this. Sometimes these vegan blogs assume you don't know how to do ANYTHING RIGHT, and just because I don't doesn't mean you need to tell me how to cook a goddamn green bean I can google it ON MY OWN thanks.

- Now is a good time to make that pie crust (see below)

- OK now put those aside and refill your little pot and boil some more water while you separate the garlic cloves, you don't need to chop them or take the skins off. Just free them.

- Now boil the garlic cloves for like 10 until they are squishy. Squish them out of their skins by holding the bottom part.

- Meanwhile beat the eggs with the milk and cheese. Add the mashed roasted garlic and bite-sized chopped green beans. Salt and pepper that baby up right.

- Roll out that nice & cold pie crust and just kind of press it as best you can into a cake pan or a pie pan or a quiche pan or what have you. It can be a kind of Frankencrust, I am not going to call the crust police and no one will see it. Or if you went out and bought a pie crust, you know, that's cool too. Or if you are still doing Atkins and are SO EXCITED about crustless quiches like the rest of the internet... that's not so cool but also fine.

- Bake for 25 minutes until the crust is browned and it smells good and everything. Cool for a bit before eating it.

1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 T ice water
1/3 cup butter/shortening

Cut in the fat, mix in the water, roll into a ball (add more water if you need to), chill (in the fridge).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

wendell berry

It's weird to write about food for school-- which is to say, I hope, for a living. I don't have any particular qualifications except brio, so writing a bibliography last week was certainly humbling. I did, though, stumble upon this essay by Wendell Berry, which is like a better, shorter, less condescending version of the Omnivore's Dilemma. If you are into that kind of thing-- or especially if you aren't-- check it out.

P.S. If you care, I have been eating this couscous and this sorbet and they are both amazingly delicious.

So while I finish up writing, enjoy:

Eating with the fullest pleasure — pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance — is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

also, this is divine

Summer Song
William Carlos Williams

Wanderer moon
smiling a
faintly ironical smile
at this
brilliant, dew-moistened
summer morning,—
a detached
sleepily indifferent
smile, a
wanderer's smile,—
if I should
buy a shirt
your color and
put on a necktie
where would they carry me?

As usual, William Carlos Williams can say how I feel better than I can. Thanks, Elise! Any day that I get a poem in my inbox is a very good day indeed.

Friday, June 4, 2010

strawberry shortcake icebox cake

I am going through some weird kind of retro, old-school new england/southern comfort thing lately. I think it's that my nostalgia for last year has reached crazy fantasy level, the same kind of nostalgia I feel for times and places I have never been ("Utah", please listen to Act 1 if you haven't), even though at the time it didn't seem all that great at all. But now all I can think about is driving my handsome convertible to the ice cream stand on Long Island Sound and watching seagulls eat french fries and watching people on their yachts. And even though my life right now is pretty awesome and filled with performance art and icebox cakes, I can't scratch this itch for an imaginary manic pixie dream girl summer of empire-waisted sundresses and bbq and pimms cups.

I was really surprised that people hadn't had or heard of icebox cake before. I want to say that my grandmother used to make it but honestly I have no idea. I know my mom has been making it whenever we come home for the last few years now, and it is awesome. The chocolate version, made with these:

tastes oddly like coconut, in a really great way. The basic premise is that the cookies get soft and cake-like and everything is much more magical than the sum of its parts. Just try it. Last week I made a fruity version with graham crackers and it was (kind of to my surprise!) equally as awesome as the chocolate version and way easier than making biscuits for shortcake. I made the strawberries into a compote because that's what a classy lady on the internet told me to do, but you probably don't even have to do that, you could just slice them and throw them in.

A container of strawberries, hulled (and sliced)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 lemon
pinch salt

Get the sugar and juice and the berries a cookin' on medium-low as you soon as you start slicing strawberries. Throw them in the pot as you go, so that some of the intact after letting it bubble for awhile, like 10 minutes. This isn't rocket science, so taste it and see if it needs more sugar or lemon or to cook longer.


+strawberry compote, or a bunch of chopped strawberries
+a box of graham crackers
+2 cups of cream worth of whipped cream, sweetened to taste

In a casserole dish or cake pan, spread a thin layer of whipped cream, then a layer of graham crackers. Then a layer of whipped cream AND strawberries. Then graham crackers. Yeah, you get it. End with a layer of whipped cream. Let it chill in the fridge overnight, then dig in.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

not summer yet.