Author Archive

So Into Soup

December 12, 2008

Soups are probably my favorite thing to experiment with in the kitchen. The chances of something going truly, horribly wrong are almost nil, and in the event that the end result is inedible, I’ve probably only wasted about $2 of ingredients. Gotta love something that allows for so much creativity while being so forgiving. Last weekend’s project was inspired by some slightly elderly sweet potatoes that needed using sooner rather than later, and a vague memory of a soup I’d enjoyed years earlier. No photos this time, sorry!

Ingredients:
4 large-ish sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 fat shallots, chopped
1-2 Tbsp smoked paprika (to taste)
1-2 Tbsp ancho chili powder (to taste)
1 Tbsp Jamaican curry powder
Water or stock
1 veg bouillon cube
1/2 C cream or half ‘n half
Salt/pepper to taste

Saute the onion and shallots in a few glugs of oil until translucent and soft. Add the potatoes and stir, then add the spices and stir to coat. Saute and keep stirring for a few minutes. Pour in water or stock to cover the potatoes, and add the bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until potatoes are thoroughly cooked. When they’re done, whizz the soup with some kind of blender and then stir in the cream.

Balls!

October 21, 2008

We had a couple of pounds of organic, pasture-raised beef and pork to use, a situation that seemed to cry out for meatballs. The recipe we used (from Ciro and Sal’s Cookbook) is pretty simple: meat, breadcrumbs soaked with milk, parsley, minced garlic, raisins (the secret weapon), egg, parmesan, salt, pepper. I served them over some Bionaturae linguine, but they would have been equally good on a bed of sauted greens or with garlic-heavy mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s hard to get away from the classic spaghetti/meatball combo, but I’m going to try next time around. Fortunately, we’ve got about 2 dozen in the freezer to experiment with.

Back to Baking

October 12, 2008

Once upon a time, I used to bake a lot. I had all sorts of pans and utensils and weird decorative implements. Doing elaborate cakes was my favorite thing. Then, when I moved into a rotting apartment with (literally) no counter space, baking fell by the wayside. It was all I could do to steam a pot of broccoli without incident. A triple-layer dark chocolate gateaux, garnished with ruby sugar-dusted strawberries? Yeah, right. I eventually left that disgusting building, but I never quite picked up where I’d left off. My desire to bake had ebbed, and more importantly, my confidence had gone with it. I had turned into a Person Who Doesn’t Bake. Making pastry dough or my grandmother’s bundt cake with a nut swirl or a simple pan of brownies seemed like daunting and somewhat mysterious tasks to me. I even managed to ruin the cornbread on one occasion. Last week, while reading through some cooking blogs, I decided that enough was enough. I bought a tube pan from The Brooklyn Kitchen, printed out a recipe I’d been eyeing from The Smitten Kitchen, and got to work. And it was fun. And the cake is good. And you know what? I still think that tube pans are a pain in the ass.

http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/09/moms-apple-cake/

A Quick One

September 22, 2008

No photos, sadly, but it’s not a very impressive-looking dish. Last night I threw together an eggplant-chickpea stew, which turned out quite well and (most importantly) cost about $5 for what looks like a week’s worth of office lunches. I modified a recipe I found online, and in about 60 minutes the stew was finished and the washing-up was done. That’s a record for me, folks, since I’m known for my tortoise-like speed in the kitchen.

Here’s what I used:

1 large (about 1.25lbs) eggplant, cubed

1 large onion, chopped

garlic to taste, chopped

1tsp each cinnamon and cayenne pepper

2tsp garam masala

1 can (or equivalent) chickpeas

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

1.5 cups veg. broth

Saute the onion, garlic, and spices together in some olive oil until the onion is softened/translucent. Add eggplant, chickpeas, tomatoes, and broth, and let the pot go for about 30 minutes (or to your desired level of done-ness). For a thicker stew, which I like, let it cook uncovered for the last 5-10 minutes (take care that the bottom doesn’t scorch). That’s it. Lovely with some couscous and feta cheese.

Seafood Lust

May 27, 2008

I’ve got it bad. The urge was satisfied this past weekend with a trip to Stewart’s in Amagansett and a batch of bouillabaisse from Mark Bittman’s Fish. We followed the recipe fairly closely, with a few changes: Pastis instead of Pernod, no fennel seeds, and a healthy pinch of saffron added towards the end of cooking (for some reason, he omits the saffron – insanity). We also added a bit more seafood. In total, we used about a pound and a quarter each of monkfish and squid, plus a pound of mussels, 2 dozen littleneck clams, and a half pound of amazing sea scallops. Success! I’m looking forward to making this again.

My Empanadas

March 17, 2008

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Slightly improvised empanadas, but empanadas nonetheless. I figured that this would be perfect for the humanely raised, organic ground goat meat from last Saturday’s Greenmarket. I used the recipe for picadillo from David Rosengarten’s It’s All American Food for the filling (ground meat, chorizo, onion, garlic, olives, hardboiled eggs, almonds, raisins, cumin, oregano, cayenne, cinammon, etc etc) and cheated with a premade pizza dough for the wrap. I was a bit worried about the latter aspect, but it turned out very well. Next time I’ll allow myself more time and do a proper dough, but for now I’m pleased with what could be called picadillo calzones.

A Not-Quite-Mistake

March 7, 2008

We’ve been on a veg cooking kick for a little while now (though Al is currently smoking a pork loin!), and a lot of our recipes have come from Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. Last night I made the black bean-spinach burgers and experienced my first culinary misfire in quite some time (not that I’m incredibly skilled – I’m just lazy and generally don’t aim beyond my comfort level). It wasn’t a disaster, but the end result was definitely not what it was supposed to be. (more…)

Comfort Me With Lentils

February 19, 2008

While thinking about this post, I realized that most of what I consider to be comfort foods are dishes that I can’t actually make. Though a tongue sandwich on rye and a bowl of mushroom barley soup define humble cuisine, I never have the ingredients on hand if a craving strikes. Even if I had the recipe for my friend’s mother’s duk guk, or for her grandmother’s jap chae, I doubt that mine would taste as good. Likewise, I couldn’t produce a bowl of curry mee with young tau foo if my life depended on it, and if I long for the soothing properties of scrambled eggs with char siu then I have to get myself to a restaurant. So what’s left, then? (more…)