Archive for the 'nomnomnom' Category

home sickness

December 4, 2011

It may still be sunny out despite the calendar date, but it’s winter in my brain. Maybe it’s that the kitchen shelves are feeling too full—or the cold I woke up with this morning—but the urge to make foodstuffs took over this weekend.

On the menu? Friday it was biscotti (in a box), made pretty quickly and easily between getting home from work, having some dinner and heading back out to the city to see Baths (which, by the way, wow). Saturday I attempted some delicious sounding spinach-cheese puffs, which turned out more like spinach-cheese cookies, as the dough was a bit too thin to take shape without the aid of the muffin tin I don’t own. Shapelessness aside, they were pretty tasty.

Today, which I have dubbed sick-day sunday, I sat around doing next to nothing beyond feebly fighting off the onset of the aforementioned cold. Trapped at home with a full pantry, I came to a toss-up between pumpkin spice bread (in a box) or from-scratch granola, which was inspired by the recent NYT re-posting of this recipe. With hope that working from scratch would make the lost day seem more fulfilling, the latter won out.

I followed the recipe more or less, but used only almonds in place of pumpkin seeds and pistachios, added dried cranberries, and cut the maple syrup suggestion in half (which was still way more than enough, lest ye be seeking a diabetic coma).

Add a splash of milk or a dollop of yogurt: love. This recipe is a keeper.

Here’s hoping my senses return to normal tomorrow so I can fully appreciate my homemade breakfast. And here’s to spending a full day at home cooking and eating, guilt-free. More to come? (Please, no.)

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the baking timer

November 29, 2011

Around this time of year, for the past few autumn-winter seasons, this mechanism in my brain toggles on telling me to bake. So I bake. And when the last of the winter snow has melted is when it shuts off again. But in the few months between, recipes for sweets that cross my path and tickle my fancy very quickly take shape in the many respective kitchens I’ve inhabited.

Last year, cookies were the favored dessert. This year the focus seems to be on pie. The slightly burnt and ill-proportionally latticed darling above is an apple pie made during a rained/snowed-in Halloween, which is when the bug first bit.

Next came the quince pie, because my CSA gave me quince, and all I knew is that they’re weren’t good raw and that I had some spare pie dough in the freezer. Lattice methods improved significantly.

Then these Drunken Molasses Cookies. The making of these was daunting: mind you, I don’t have any electric mixing tool, let alone a fancy stand mixer, so my arm endurance is usually put to the test with recipes involving batter or dough of any sort. This being my first Thanksgiving away from home in many years, I decided to ship them off to my parents for a pleasant surprise. (They were, indeed, pleasantly surprised.)

Now, because I have a pretty fantastic job, I got to indulge in a little pie-making at the office too. This caramel pecan apple pie came in a tidy all-inclusive kit that made the prospect of a fancy top crust and scalloped edge (slightly) less menacing. Not half bad, might I say?

Okay, this somewhat lacks the glory of its fuller form, but sorry, more and more of this French Apple Cake disappeared each time I attempted to photograph it, wherein I promptly forgot what I was doing and found myself a bit famished. I made this one for the fella’s birthday last week. Highly recommended. This will be made again. Though that might mean I should pick up my own springform pan instead of borrowing coworkers’. Growing my collection of baking tools could be a risky move. Or just the formal designation of a yummy annual tradition.

dessert deception

October 28, 2011

All this time, I’ve been blinded by the apparent sophistication of the “galette” and its “free-form” figure. But now I see what you really are. You, my delectable discovery, are the lazy cook’s pie. No pan, no sauteeing, no shaping, no fluting—just a slipshod mess of delicious. Fruit (pear and cranberry, above) + sugar + rolled crust + egg wash, bake and devour. Which we did, rather quickly, and lacking any semblance of dignity. What a charming piece of pastry.

kitchen confidence

October 19, 2011

The kitchen is no longer all mine. The fella has graciously been getting braver with cooking, acknowledging “If I have a recipe, it’s easy!” He’s made several delectable meals, the large casserole format being his favorite for the copious leftovers available for subsequent lunches and dinners. (Why such logic has escaped me to this point I cannot begin to explain.) Spinach lasagna, noodle kugel, and most recently this orzo with caramelized fall vegetables are among his consistent successes.

one of the aforementioned successes

The other night as I walked in announcing his choice of the farmers market veggies I’d just picked up (broccoli or green beans), I could smell the chicken thighs he’d already begun cooking. When I asked what recipe he found, he stated in proud nonchalance, “Oh, I’m just winging it.”

Thirty minutes later, we eagerly dove into our dinner of baked chicken thighs and a green beans and charred onion salad (a Mario Batali number I’d found in this Food Day booklet) I prepared just in time. The chicken was perfectly moist, and I commended B’s work. Then we saw red.

Figuring the chicken needed a few more minutes, we popped it back in the oven to no avail. We ended up eating around the red—bloody?—parts, laughing that we’d know the next day if it was indeed undercooked. A quick search the next day brought me to this report, which basically attributes this phenomenon to the still-porous bones of younger-than-ever chickens at harvest. Despite its appearance, the report notes, “the meat is not harmed when this happens.” Hm.

My brief research only reinforced an agreement we ended up coming to that night: eating less meat. Considering he seems to have had no issue with taking up my meat diet of poultry and seafood only (excluding restaurants and takeout), I shouldn’t have been surprised when he conceded to eat more vegetarian meals so we could afford better meat (eaten less frequently). In fact, I only just realized the notably meat-absent entrees he tends toward when wearing the apron.

This will be good for both of us. It’s unintuitive, but having less of one food expands the culinary horizon rather than limiting it: we’ll play around more with protein-rich (and nutrient-rich) grains and legumes, and we’ll probably even save some money while doing so. I’ve already gotten him to stop saying he doesn’t like lentils—by making him actually try them.

And though the kitchen is no longer my private playground, I think I’m perfectly pleased with the company.

love is a banana on your purse

October 5, 2011

…left by your fella in the morning. No, this isn’t innuendo, it’s a guy whose mother pleaded with him to eat a banana every day growing up (still does when we visit!). Can’t escape our youth. But at least it can present itself in a most endearing fashion.

homemade is bestmade

August 22, 2011

New favorite breakfast: granola + yogurt + fruit + honey

I have a very specific layering process, for maximum delicious:

LID
granola
yogurt
honey
yogurt
fruit
yogurt
yogurt
BASE

Crunchy and smooth, sweet and tart. Yum. (Special thanks to my CSA for helping me figure out just how many blueberries I can eat straight before realizing I’m going to have to get creative. Next up: blueberry cuppies.)

immobilize to mobilize

July 20, 2011

this happened.

and then this happened.

Such a nice fella. Next step: getting him to keep cooking even after I’ve stopped hobbling around with a crutch. (I kid. He’s becoming a wonderful sous chef. Even if he’s still a bit timid with the appropriate way to chop veggies.)

N.B.: It’s just a sprain! Alas, I’ve finally gotten the chance to perform the litmus test for human decency on my commute, and the results are a wee bit grim. Still, a few nice people have offered seats, held doors, and one lady even helped me push through one of those particularly heavy floor-to-ceiling turnstiles!

mine is a fickle garden

June 27, 2011

oops

As the silhouettes of my herbs gaze sorrowfully at me from the windowsill, I have noticed a particularly spry weed amid the mostly wilting cilantro. Turns out the plant flowered under my nose, which might explain its rather disheveled mien of late. The rest of the herbs are offering little encouragement on the sidelines; each looks weary in its own right. Somehow I continue managing to water them too much or too little … or perhaps they’re just averse to the tap.

ta-da?

My tomato plant, on the other hand, is exploding. The suckers are growing faster than I can pinch them off. While it’s still a ways away from showing fruit, it’s a delight to tend to; if my herbs are grimacing, my tomato plant is beaming.

But I’ll fight for your, herbs, Mother Nature help me, I will. I just might pass on the cilantro next season. Really, I barely even use it. Barely.

agricultural sustenance

June 21, 2011

High costs, large portions, and delivery technicalities have generally forced me to eschew the CSA bandwagon. Finally, though, I’ve found a perfect match. Local Roots NYC offers a sort of à la carte CSA, divvying up participation by food group and shares—enough to make participation affordable—and letting me collect the goods in a relatively convenient location in Brooklyn.

Local Roots offers full and half shares for fruit, veggies, bread, eggs, and even duck; the organization splits the season into two “sessions” in case the typical 5- to 6-month CSA program is too much of a commitment. For my first CSA experience, I went the failsafe route: a half-share of fruits for the fella and me. There is nary a fruit I don’t eat, so I figured I’d never find myself stumped with whatever awaited me for pickup. And it comes to about $11 per week.

I picked up my first share this week: 2 quarts of bright, plump strawberries. Store versions are incomparable: these berries are so juicy, so sweet, that I’m utterly delighted from the outset. It’s like a weekly gift to myself (and B) for the rest of the summer.

did i forget to mention

June 5, 2011

amid all the hubbub (and this very pleasant weekend), i failed to mention what a delightful weekend that last one was.

I took my first trip of the season to the beach …

I had my very first lobster roll, at the new Greenpoint Lobster Joint (excuse the low-light low quality, objects were yummier than they appear) …

B bought a mini grill and we threw an impromptu barbecue in the backyard …

And then the party continued on to a bar—the very one we just moved away from living above. The backyard renovation is still underway but I have to admit it has the air of a secret garden, though the actual concept of Oriental harbor trading post is just about as accurate as well …

The ladder resting horizontally on the beams made for some fun makeshift monkey bars …

Natural detailing …

… meets intentional detailing …

Even the dirt ground got a rugged facelift.