Friday, July 30, 2010
"I'm here to check your oven."
That's what the maintenance guy said when he rang my doorbell on Wednesday afternoon and then proceeded to enter my apartment without actually waiting for me to open the door.
Mind you. This was the third time he'd been there in the past week and a half. He obviously felt like he owned the place.
After each previous visit he left me a little post it note. On which he wrote the date and time that he had arrived and then checked off the little box that said "Must return. Work not completed".
Can you imagine coming home to something so disheartening? Not once. But twice.
And to think, it would have been three times, had I not been home on Wednesday at 2 pm.
Armed and ready for action.
Now. If this were a Danielle Steel novel, the man who rang my doorbell would have been young and virile. With eyes the color of cobalt. He would have been at least five foot ten and would genuinely enjoy running through Central Park and eating Middle Eastern food, not necessarily at the same time. He would also have a relative in publishing who would proceed to give me an offer on my first cookbook.
(What. A girl can dream, can't she!)
He would have rang my doorbell. Waited for me to open it. And then, when he laid eyes on me for the first time, he would have said, "Ms. Bruno. Would you do me the honor of allowing me to fix your oven? I promise to work day and night. As long as it takes until the job is finished."
Yes. That would have been ideal.
Instead what I got was a more than middle aged man. Who wanted to spend as little time fixing my oven as humanly possible.
Anyway. Enough rambling. Back to the story.
The man walks in and says, "I'm here to check your oven."
Notice. He says "check" and not "fix". You'd better believe. I notice.
He then walks over to the oven and turns the dial as if to turn it on. Which is when I proceed to intervene. "You know," I say. "Since you haven't actually done anything to fix it, it's still going to be broken, no matter how many times you check it."
Statement of the obvious. To you and I, perhaps. But not to mister handyman over here.
He turns. Looks me square in the eyes. And says, with an attitude that I can't possibly do justice to over the internet. "Well, what do you want me to do about it?"
Now. There were many things I could have said to this. Most of which involved him impaling himself on some rusty screws.
But what I actually said was, "If you don't want me to call your manager and complain, then you're going to get me a new oven. And you're going to do it by the end of the workday today."
And that, my friends, is how I strong-armed my way to a fully functional kitchen.
Now if I had really been on my game, I would have told him to throw in a few dining room sets.
Or a $125 gift certificate to CSN to use on anything in any of their stores. No holds barred.
Or...I could just offer that to you guys!
Just leave a comment on this post by next Friday and you will be entered to win! Unfortunately, CSN can only send this to those in the US and Canada but if you live in a different country you can certainly have it sent to someone you know in one of these countries!
Also, you have one day left to send me your entry to Regional Recipes: ETHIOPIA!
Speaking of the Middle Eastern food that my totally idealized romantic intrigue and I would spend many hours enjoying together.
When I discovered that plums were on sale this week at Whole Foods, I got a serious hankering to use them in something savory. After a quick search through some of my favorite blogs, I came across this tagine over at Closet Cooking. Yes, I know it's essentially a stew and who wants to eat stew in 90 degrees heat. But you know, when else are nectarines and plums going to be at their peak?
Sometimes, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. And what a girl's gotta do is make this. Because when all of the spices mix together with the vibrant flavors of the stone fruits. What ensues is one of the most intensely flavored dishes that I've ever tasted. And I mean that in the best way possible.
Moroccan Nectarine and Plum Chicken Tagine
Serves 4, adapted from Closet Cooking
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lb chicken thighs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp ginger, grated
4 nectarines, stoned and sliced
4 plums, stoned and sliced
1/2 cup water
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch saffron
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 tbsp harissa
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1. Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Brown the chicken on all sides, then remove to a plate.
2. Heat the second tbsp of oil and cook the onions until just starting to brown. Add in the garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
3. Add in the nectarines, plums, water, paprika, cayenne, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, saffron, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for fifteen minutes.
4. Add in the chicken, harissa, lemon, honey, and olives. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
5. Mix in the parsley and cilantro and serve.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
My days of summer have been littered with fluorescence.
Green fluorescence, to be precise.
Green fluorescence that I have electrified into cells. Because when you play god. When you create thunder and lightning and shoot it into poor unsuspecting adipocytes (i.e. fat cells). Their response is to eat up any DNA that is sitting in the fluid that surrounds them.
This is what one would call "stress eating".
Then, after all this. You cross your fingers. Tap your heels together three times. And hope for the best. (Because really, playing god only gets you so far.)
"The best" being that all of your cells will take this DNA for a gene that you've tagged with a protein that will make it shimmer and shine when you hit it with a very specific wavelength of light. Turn it into protein. And glow.
So that when you look under the microscope in two days, all you will see is a field of green. Bright green. Fluorescent green.
Some days, this works beautifully.
Some days, it does not.
Some days you turn on the microscope and realize that there are approximately only five green cells on a plate of hundreds of thousands. And that your job, should you choose to accept it (not that you actually have a choice. This is your job. Choose to accept it.) is to find them.
So you look and you look. Scrutinizing cell after cell. (Just how green is green, again?)
Until the first wave of nausea hits. Oh yeah. You've just made yourself motion sick. Right on.
That's when you hightail it out of lab. Explaining to the postdoc you're working with that she has two options.
You can either stay. Keep searching. And vomit all over the thousands of dollars worth of equipment.
Or she can "let" you call it a day. Because both of you know that two fluorescent cells does not a sufficient or statistically significant sample size make.
By which you really mean that you're going home whether she likes it or not. And when you get there, you're going to sit down to a bowl of linguine with raw tomato sauce.
Super ripe local tomatoes, oozing with juicy sweetness. The pungent taste of fresh basil. Laced with a hit of summer.
This is what one would call "stress eating".
Yeah, that's right. You show those cells how it's done.
Linguine with Raw Tomato Sauce
Serves 4-6, adapted from Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian
4 LARGE tomatoes. Preferably local.
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I used roasted garlic infused olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
1/2 cup roughly minced basil leaves
1 can black olives, sliced (my addition)
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb linguine
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
2. Put the tomato, garlic, olives and basil in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mash together well.
3. Cook pasta to desired consistency. Mix together with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
This is my submission to I Heart Cooking Clubs, the theme of which for this week is raw foods! It is also going to Two For Tuesdays and to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted by Daphne of More Than Words!
Remember last week when I told you that I was going to be featured on the Frigidaire website...well my recipe is finally up! I know that when I think Frigidaire, I think refrigerators and nothing else, but that is so NOT true. They sell tons of other items, like bakeware, pots and pans, air conditioners, kitchen gadgets - the list goes on and on. All quality stuff for really affordable prices! Be sure to check it out, along with their other feature recipes!
Also, the end of July is fast approaching! Be sure to send me your entries for Regional Recipes: ETHIOPIA!
Monday, July 26, 2010
Dear Mr. Head of Housing Maintenance,
I am a girl on the verge.
Not only do I have two pelvic stress fractures that are currently preventing me from doing the one thing that is most important to me in this world. (Running.)
But I can't have sex either. Not that I would be having sex seeing as how there is no one to have sex with. But there is something incredibly claustrophobic about the idea that even if I wanted to. I couldn't. I am a strong, virile, twenty-something female GODDAMNIT. With functional ovaries! (Okay maybe not after the multiple pelvic x-rays that I've endured. During which they tried to cover my ovaries by placing a one and a half inch round circular pad just under my belly button. Not where the ovaries are people. Not even close.) And I would LIKE to have the option of using them!
So when I say to you that baking is all I have in this world. That, to quote Bethenny Frenkel on her wedding day, "CAKE IS MY LIFE!" (She was referring to the fact that she couldn't drink or fit into a normal size dress on her wedding day (isn't premarital pregnancy a bitch?) and so the only thing that was keeping her going was her slice of red velvet wedding cake. Bethenny Frenkel. You speak to me. I cried when you said this. I understand.)
You'd better believe I'm not kidding.
Because it's been seven days, nineteen hours, and twenty-three minutes since I've been able to mix flour, sugar, butter, and eggs together. Throw them in the oven. And pull out a miracle.
And my fingers are starting to itch.
Scratch that. Burn.
And well. Think about it this way. Not to threaten you or anything. But I have a set of beaters that have been lying dormant in my cabinet. And I know how to use them.
Like I said. Girl on the verge.
Fix my oven. Or else.
Oh and PS. You see these snickerdoodle blondies? These bites of cinnamon-sugar heaven that I baked weeks ago and thankfully had stored up in my recipe backlog, just in case of apocalyptic events such as this? These bars that you absolutely will not be able to have just one of because when the nutmeg hits, it will get you so high that you will fiend for more?
These are what you're missing out on. Think about it.
Serves 24, adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
2 2/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and grease. Set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add in the vanilla. On low speed, mix in the flour/dry ingredients until just combined.
4. Spread the dough evenly into the pan. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the surface springs back when gently pressed. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve.
This is my submission to this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted by Laurie of Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Yesterday. I tried to talk my cell phone down from a suicide attempt.
Which is a tragedy in and of itself but especially because I felt as if we had really connected in the past few months. We'd made progress. Gotten down to the nitty gritty of why it feels the need to act out. So. Much. (I would get into the psychology of it but between HIPAA and patient-doctor confidentiality laws, it's probably not the best idea. Suffice it to say, it's all very Freudian. Oedipal complex. Penis envy. The usual.)
And then before I know it, I'm walking down 1st Avenue headed towards the gym. I'm checking my email. When all of a sudden, it's jumping ship. Straight out of my hand and directly towards a sewage drain.
I do one of those slow motion leaps (note that I was about a foot away from the sewage drain at the time). Scream NOOOOOOOO in that slow motion extended long play baritone voice.
And then breathe a sigh of relief as it lands face down and somehow does not fall through the cracks and into the dark and damp recesses of the New York City sewage system. Never to be seen again.
So I pick it up and am ready to start scolding it for giving me such a ghastly scare and demanding that it never do any such thing again because I am not going to go down there after it.
When I look at it's face. Now shattered. Pixel by pixel.
And especially after the oven's ultimate betrayal of my wants. Needs. Desires. All I could think was. Et tu, Brute?
So then I went home, proceeded to get a monstrous headache that I went to bed with and consequently woke up with this morning. (Don't you just love when that happens?)
(I really need to stop forging emotional connections with my electronic devices. It can't possibly end well. For either of us.)
And somewhere in the middle there. I had dinner. Absolutely sick of technology (literally) and not having an oven to turn on even if I wanted to, all I could think about eating was clean simple food. Food without additives or preservatives or an agenda. Food that is good just because. And that is what I love about Ethiopian food. It is comprised entirely of ingredients that you have on hand (so long as you have a spice collection that takes up two whole shelves of one of your cabinets). And yet combines them in such a way that they taste like coming home. Even, and maybe especially, if home is a cell phone- and oven-less twelfth story apartment on NY's upper east side. Which is probably about as close to an African savanna as I am ever going to get.
This is my submission to this month's Regional Recipes! Be sure to send me your submissions by the end of the month!
I am also submitting this to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted this week by Huan of Eat.Read.Live.
Ethiopian Lentil Stew
Serves 4, adapted from Saveur
1 cup red lentils
2 tbsp butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp berbere spice mix (recipe follows)
1 small tomato, chopped
salt, to taste
1. Rinse the lentil under cold running water and set aside.
2. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion until brown. Add in the garlic for 30 seconds. Stir constantly. Mix in the reserved lentils, 1 tbsp of the berbere, tomato and four cups of water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 45-50 minutes or until thick and lentils are cooked through. Stir in the remaining tbsp of berbere. Season with salt.
Berbere Spice Mix
Makes about 3/4 cup, adapted from Saveur
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp allspice
6 cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
1/2 cup dried onion flakes
5 dried chiles de arbol, stemmed, seeded and broken into little pieces
3 tbsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. In a skillet, toast the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cardamom pods, and cloves until fragrant, tossing and swirling the pan frequently, about 4 minutes.
2. Grind these in a spice grinder, along with the onion flakes and chiles de arbol. Mix in the paprika, salt, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon.
Ethiopian Green Beans and Potatoes
Serves 4, adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
2 large white potatoes (about 1 1/2 lb)
1/2 lb green beans, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch sections
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and cored, minced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 15 oz can stewed tomatoes
1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
1. Set up a pot of boiling, salted water. Dice the potatoes and throw them into the pot, cooking for 12 minutes over high heat. Add in the green beans and cook for 3-5 minutes or until desired consistency has been reached. Drain in a colander.
2. Heat a large non-stick skillet. Saute the onion, garlic, and serrano pepper for about 4 minutes. Add in the turmeric, cumin, and salt. Saute for one minute more. Add in the stewed tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, and lime juice. Cook for 7-10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Last year I was in charge of organizing restaurant week outings for my MD/PhD class.
Although maybe I was not in charge, as that implies some kind of appointed authority.
Maybe I took charge after we flailed around aimlessly all summer and talked about restaurant week (which in NYC actually became restaurant month after the powers that be realized how much money they had made in a week. Shockingly, when you offer a one hundred dollar meal for thirty bucks, you actually turn more of a profit than you would otherwise. And while there may be some long term lesson to be had from this. Something having to do with lowering prices. Permanently. The powers that be do not take advice from lowly food bloggers. Unfortunately. And so here we are again.) until the very last second. When finding a reservation for fourteen was actually impossible.
That's really neither here nor there, though.
As the restaurant week officiator. I had a very strict protocol for choosing which restaurants we would grace with our presence.
There were lists involved. Tables. Charts. Flash cards. I used multi-colored highlighters. And a large white board.
I almost felt like a real med student.
Except for the fact that in order to do this, I took a week off from my summer lab rotation. Real med students don't do things like that.
Phew. That's a relief.
In the first elimination round, restaurants were judge based on their dessert menus.
No creme brulee or tiramisu? Instant death.
Powers that be. Take note. No one wants to be served a slice of angel food cake with whipped cream during restaurant week. No one wants sorbet either. Go big. Or go home.
Next up. Side dishes.
Because honestly, yeah, the Chatham Cod with its drizzle of sea salt sounds awesome. But it's not going to have me headed for a cold shower. The tian of summer vegetable confit and crispy polenta, on the other hand. Makes me squirm with unbridled passion.
What can I say. Side dishes are where. It's. At.
However. That was then. This is now.
And now. I am cooking my way through Michael Symon's Live To Cook, with the next recipe on our agenda being his zucchini fritters with feta and dill.
A side dish. Can't you just feel the sexual tension? It's palpable.
And so I thought. The only thing better than one side dish. Is two side dishes. Which is where the eggplant couscous salad from Bon Appetit came in.
Cold shower. Here I come.
Couscous with "Roasted" Eggplant and Cinnamon-Cumin Dressing
Serves 4, adapted from Bon Appetit's July 2010 Issue
1 1/2 lb eggplant, cut into cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup golden raisins
1. If your oven works, preheat it to 450. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place eggplant cubes on the sheet, spray again. Drizzle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and roast, turning occasionally, about 40 minutes.
2. If your oven does NOT work (isn't this fun, it's like a choose-your-own-adventure story). Heat a non-stick pan. Spray with nonstick spray. Saute the eggplant cubes until soft, sprinkling with salt initially.
3. Cook couscous in boiling salted water according to package instructions. Place in large bowl.
4. Whisk together vinegar, cinnamon, cumin, and 2 tbsp oil. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in onion. Add raisins, eggplant cubes, and dressing to couscous. Toss to coat.
Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill
Serves 4, adapted from Symon's Live To Cook
2 medium zucchini
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 large scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced on the bias
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (I used the Trader Joe's Mediterranean herb crumbles)
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 large egg
3 tbsp AP flour
1. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a grater onto a clean kitchen towel. (I used 3 paper towels.) Sprinkle with the kosher salt and let it rest while you gather and prep the remaining ingredients. Run to the store. Buy mint and dill. Because sometimes when you go shopping for the week, you forget key ingredients. It happens.
2. Wrap the zucchini in about 6 more paper towels and wring as much liquid out as possible (over the sink people!). In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini, mint, scallion, garlic, pepper, feta, and lemon zest. Stir in the egg and flour and mix until well combined.
3. Either fry in canola oil. Or fry with non-stick cooking spray. Guess what I did. Cook until the fritters are golden brown on each side, 4 to 6 minutes total.
4. Transfer to a plate and serve either with a dollop of Greek yogurt or the couscous salad featured above.
These are my submissions to Symon Sundays, Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Janet of the taste space, Two For Tuesdays, and Reeni's Side Dish Showdown!
Monday, July 19, 2010
Two. The number of things that broke in my apartment yesterday.
Actually. Three. If you count my heart.
Negative sixty-seven. How functional my oven is right now on a scale of 1 to10.
Negative sixty-seven. How functional my hypothalamus is right now on a scale of 1 to 10.
Twenty-four. The number of coverslips of cells I had to electroporate yesterday. Even in the wake of my broken oven and the fever, aches, pains, and chills that ensued from the discovery of my broken oven.
Two. The number of Advils I took to deal with the fever, aches, pains, and chills that ensued immediately after the discovery my broken oven. Oh hypothalamus. Why do you hate me so?
Thirty-eight. The number maintenance requests that I have submitted so far. At least one for every hour of the day that I've had to live without an oven. Sometimes more. Depending on whether my fever was high enough that I forgot I had already submitted a maintenance request that hour.
Five. The number of times I tried to convince my parents that, no. My fever was not due to "bad air". But to a psychological and emotional connection I had with my oven. Such that when it broke. My hypothalamus thought, Hey! Wait for me! I want to go straight to hell too!
Ten. The number of dreams I had last night that revolved around this white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake. That I baked last month for Adam's birthday.
Those were the days.
One. The number of ice cream makers that I put in my freezer. Because the only way I know how to deal with stress like this is to bake. And those who can't bake. Make ice cream. Stay tuned.
When I tell you that this is the best cheesecake I've ever made. That when I say I'm upset about my oven for a variety of different reasons, what I really mean is that I'm upset really and truly because it means that I can't bake this cheesecake again in the near future. You are going to have to trust that I'm not just hyperbolizing. Or exaggerating the past. And then you are going to have to get in the kitchen. Turn on your oven (oh how I envy you!). And start baking.
You can do that for a poor, hypothalamus- and heart-broken girl living on the upper east side without a working oven. Can't you?
White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake
Serves 16, adapted from Dinner and Dessert
1 1/2 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (I used these adorable graham cracker cookies from Whole Foods. They were shaped like rabbits.)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1/4 cup water
32 oz 1/3 Less Fat Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz white chocolate chunks
1. Preheat oven to 475. Create a water bath by placing a large pan filled with about a half a cup of water into the oven while it preheats. Before you do this, though, make sure your springform pan fits into the water bath pan. Otherwise you'll be in for a fun surprise in a few steps.
2. Combine the raspberry preserves with a 1/4 cup water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Strain to remove the raspberry seeds, then let cool.
3. Measure 1 1/2 cups of chocolate cookie crumbs into a bowl. Pour the melted butter into this bowl and mix. Press the crumbs into a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom of the pan. Put the crust in your freezer until the filling is done.
4. Use an electric mixer to combine the sugar with the cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and then add them to the cream cheese mixture. Blend until just incorporated.
5. Remove the crust from the freezer and sprinkle the white chocolate chunks on top of it. Pour the cream cheese filling into the crust. Pour dollops of the raspberry preserves around the crust in a circle. Drag a toothpick through them in order to get the swirl shown above.
6. Carefully place the cheesecake into the water bath. Bake for 12 minutes. Then, lower the oven to 350 and bake for 60-90 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake turns a light brown or tan color.
7. Remove from the oven to cool. When cool, put in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
Be sure to send me your entries to Regional Recipes: Ethiopia by July 31st!
Friday, July 16, 2010
Michael Symon and I are in close correspondence.
You see. Every week I write him a letter asking him for his hand in marriage.
And every week. I do not get a response.
However. We have the kind of relationship that transcends language.
You see. We've been communicating through food. His cookbook is full of hidden messages. Subtext. Allusion. All of which, I'm sure, were put there explicitly for me.
Take, for example, these pickled cherries.
Symon describes them as being a "sweet-sour condiment".
The cherries being the yin to the vinegar's yang. Just like Symon and me. Two things coming together, and fitting so perfectly that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Sigh. Who knew that such a simple phrase could be so pregnant with meaning?
I told you. We're in love.
Relationships are about give and take, however. Compromise.
And so when I felt compelled to make chicken instead of the duck confit that Symon pairs with the cherries. I didn't so much as concede even a speck of apology.
And rightfully so. The five spice, which has an air of sweetness to it, goes so nicely with the pickled cherries. And the whole thing is much leaner than the duck confit would have been. And seeing as how it is bathing suit season and all. I can't imagine my betrothed really arguing with my changes. I can't let myself go just because I'm hypothetically engaged, now can I?
And thus begins this week's letter.
Dear Michael Symon,
Will you marry me?
Remember today is the last day to enter my COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY! And please send your entries to REGIONAL RECIPES: ETHIOPIA to email@example.com.
Also, in very exciting news, one of my recipes is going to be posted on Frigidaire's recipe site. I always thought of Frigidaire as being only a resource for refrigerators but apparently they have tons of other accessories for your kitchen! Check it out!
Makes about 2 quarts, adapted from Live To Cook
2 lb bing cherries
3 cups red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 strips orange zest, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp coriander elaves
1 bay leaf
1. Prick each cherry with a fork several times and put them in a nonreactive jar or container.
2. Mix the vinegar, sugar, salt, orange zest, black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, and bay leaf in a nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
3. Pour the liquid over the cherries. When the concoction is cool, seal or cover the cherries and refrigerate for up to 1 month.
Five-Spice Chicken with Pickled Cherries
1 1/2 lb chicken thighs
1/2 cup pickled cherries, strained, with 1/2 cup of their juice reserved
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp unsalted butter
five spice powder, salt, and pepper
1. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with five spice powder, salt and black pepper. Saute until cooked through.
2. Combine the cherries, juice, and stock in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat and simmer to reduce by half. With the liquid at a low simmer, whisk in the butter.
3. Pour the cherry juice concoction over the chicken and serve with a salad or some type of grain.
This is my submission to this week's Symon Sundays and also to Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
On the day that Sophie moved from one side of our apartment to the other.
I made myself useful.
First. I tried to convince her to hire a UHaul. Or reserve a freight elevator. You know To get the real moving experience.
I even offered to help her to move her stuff into the UHaul. So that we could drive around for a bit. Sing some moving tunes. Get in the moving spirit. And then use the freight elevator (that we so conscientiously reserved) to lug it back upstairs.
Same apartment. Different room.
That was when Sophie informed me that, romantic though it might seem, the "moving experience" was actually highly overrated. And something that she'd actually rather not encounter. Ever again.
So there went that pipe dream.
Then. I attempted to bubble wrap all of her belongings. Our hallway is a long and dangerous place. Traversing it is an epic journey in and of itself. Especially when carrying boxes of anatomy textbooks or drawer-fuls of clothing. Anything could happen.
Be safe. Wrap it up.
After this. I think it started to dawn on her just how restless I was. And so we moved two shelving units from her old room into the kitchen. And decided to use them to display all of my cookbooks. For the world to see.
I think it was on my 60th trip. Somewhere around the midway point. That I started to feel vaguely ill. Partially because. Moving sucks. And partially because. You just don't realize how many cookbooks you own. Until one day. You do. It can be appalling.
The point of this story being that. Now my cookbooks are in the kitchen. And so anyone who walks into the kitchen. Can't help but comment on them.
Some people salivate. Some people stare. Some people ask me what such a strange and newfangled entity could possibly be used for.
And some people, like my friend Lauren, pick up cookbooks that they've actually cooked from and say things like, "Hey! You should totally make this, it was awesome!"
She did that the other day with a recipe for Cauliflower Mac and Cheese from Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious. The premise of that dish being that the cauliflower is pureed and mixed into the cheese sauce. So that kids don't actually know that they are eating it. And moms can be happy knowing that they've just tricked their kids into eating something healthy.
I didn't make this recipe. But I was inspired by it. And so instead. I made Bittman's Baked Macaroni and Cheese. With some grated zucchini mixed into it. And while the zucchini is certainly not hidden. I have a tendency to think that kids will eat anything that involves the phrase "mac and cheese". Even if it is littered with specks of green.
At least. I know I would have.
This is my submission to this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs, the theme of which is Girls Night In. There's nothing my girls and I love more than comfort food. And if it's chock full of veggies. All the better. It's also going to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by the ever lovely and wonderful Pam of Sidewalk Shoes.
Please enter my cookbook GIVEAWAY! And send in your recipes to Regional Recipes: ETHIOPIA!
Baked Zucchini Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 3, adapted from Bittman's How To Cook Everything or How To Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 1/4 cups almond milk (or regular milk...up to you)
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb pasta
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1/4 lb grated cheddar - I used a cherry infused cheddar that I got from Whole Foods
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs
salt and black pepper to taste
1 lb zucchini
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Grate the cheddar and zucchini. Using a paper towel, try to wring as much water out of the zucchini as possible.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
3. Cook the milk with the bay leaf in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. When small bubbles appear along the sides, remove it from the heat and let it stand.
4. Cook the pasta to the point where it's almost done but not quite. Drain it, rinse it quickly with cold water, and put it in a bowl.
5. Melt 1 1/2 tbsp butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns. Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add 1/4 cup milk to the flour/butter mixture. Whisk until smooth and then gradually add in the rest of the milk, whisking the whole time. Whisk until the mixture is thick and smooth. Stir in the cheddar and remove from the heat.
6. Pour the sauce over the noodles. Mix in the zucchini and parmesan, along with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into an 8x8 inch baking pan. Top with bread crumbs. Bake until bubbling or the top is browned, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Monday, July 12, 2010
A prelude to a kiss.
That's all I ask for.
And by prelude. I mean dinner and a movie.
Or a walk on the beach.
Or a picnic in Central Park.
I mean gazing into each other's eyes. I mean sparks and butterflies. I mean magic.
I do not mean five minutes of dancing to Lady Gaga. In a dark and stormy bar. On a Friday night. In the middle of July.
After just having met. Mere minutes before.
Is it any wonder I felt the need for absolution on Saturday morning?
A desire to prove to myself that everything in this world is not tainted by dirt. Grime. Sleaze.
(And to think I only had one beer. Praise the lord.)
I'm not usually one to proselytize.
But really guys. What ever happened to courtship? Romance? Even, dare I say it, first dates?
Call me old fashioned.
But anything less. And I am basically guaranteed to wake up the next morning ready to forget the entire thing.
So are you taking notes?
I know you are squinting at these cupcakes. Saying. "Joanne. I know you had a rough night. But vegan cupcakes? Really? Don't you think that's kind of...extreme?"
Well. Normally I would agree with you. But I baked these for a school event at which a substantial fraction of the attendees were going to be vegan. So to say that I had no choice in the matter. Would be an understatement.
They are surprisingly absolutely delicious. Incredibly moist. Devoured by all. Vegans and non-vegans alike.
As for the avocado buttercream. Most recipes I found for vegan frosting required me to buy shortening. The thought of which made me feel even sleazier than making out with a guy I wasn't even particularly attracted to did.
And then there was Joy the Baker. Who really is a dream. Because not only is this avocado buttercream delicious. But it's good for you. Wholesome. And so when you eat it from the bowl. With a spoon. You can do so absolutely guilt free. And possibly even self righteously. If you're so inclined.
I am submitting these to Two For Tuesdays and to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is being hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook.
Don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY! Or to submit your entries to Regional Recipes: ETHIOPIA!
Also, in case you haven't noticed, Eats Well With Others now has a Recipe Index and an About Me page! You can click these links or use the sidebar.
Golden Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes 12, adapted from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.
2. Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a mixing cup. Allow to curdle for a few minutes.
3. Beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the wet ingredients, mixing until just incorporated and no lumps remain.
4. Pour into muffin liners and bake for 20-22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Avocado Buttercream Frosting
Makes enough to ice at least 2 dozen cupcakes, adapted from Joy The Baker, who got it from Alton Brown
8 oz very ripe avocado meat
2 tsp lemon juice
1 lb powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Mix together the avocado and lemon juice until smooth. Little by little, beat in the powdered sugar. Add in the vanilla extract until combined. Dye with food coloring if, like mine, your frosting is an extremely unappealing shade of green.