Friday, December 10, 2010


A little confession. Sometimes I may be a bit of a perfectionist. Maybe even the teeniest idealistic. Okay, fine, maybe I can be accused of sometimes holding situations, food, people, et al to expectations not even the gods could attain. I'm thinking back to dishes, artwork, maybe even people I've nearly snuffed the life out in attempt for perfection. My latest Day of the Dead party, an event in its fourth consecutive year, was recently a good reminder that sometimes simple, unefforted things are really the best. The original party was conceived four year ago because I wanted to make mole. It started with five friends around the dinner table. Every year it grows. Every year I feel compelled to outdo the spread of the previous year. This year we crammed 19 people around several tables in our kitchen. I decided to serve courses this year, because with 19 people in attendance, there was no way once they were seated for anyone to get up and move around. So I, along with my wonderful sister, played waitstaff. The amount of food was enormous. I cooked for two and half days straight. I went to Portland and Boston to hunt ingredients. It was a big deal. But you want to know the kicker. That even with the pre-dinner table filled with salsas, guacamoles, chopped veggies, and the courses consisting of grilled marinated shrimp with pickled onions, empanadas, pozole made with weird cuts of pork I had to specially seek out, tostadas, the doubled layered chocolate flan (!!!) ...things I labored over for hours, days. Even with all know what stole the show? The Fresh Corn Cake I whipped up in 10 minutes as a dessert for my friend who can't have flour. It seriously took 10 minutes to make...fresh corn, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cornmeal, cinnamon, and salt thrown into a blender and dumped in a cake pan. It was heaven! I knew just from the smell when I took it out of the oven it was something special. Even more so when topped with ice cream and a sauce of blueberries infused with lime and tequila. My friends and husband raved about that cake for days. It was a nice lesson in that what is good, the best, isn't necessarily the thing that's most efforted. Sometimes the simple things are what shine.
Fresh Corn Cake, Veracruz Style
from Rick Bayless

4 ears fresh sweet corn, husk and silk removed
6 ounces unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces and softened to room temperature
3 large eggs
1 14-ounce can sweetened condense milk
1/4 cup white corn meal (preferably coarse-ground, polenta style)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1. Prepare the batter. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees and position the rack in the middle. Cut the corn kernels from the cob, measure 3 cups and scoop into a blender or food processor. Add the butter and the eggs. Process until smooth, then scrape into a bowl. Measure in 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk, along with the corn meal, cinnamon and baking powder. Whisk to combine.

2. Butter (or spray with oil) with bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan. Cut a circle of parchment to fit the bottom and press it firmly in place. Pour the batter into the pan (it will be full to the top) and slide into the oven. Bake until richly golden and set (no longer jiggly) in the middle, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes then turn out on a rack. Immediately flip the cake over (the top is the prettiest side) and let cool completely.

I topped mine with vanilla ice cream and a blueberry-tequila syrup

Blueberry Tequila Syrup

2 cups of blueberries (I used the quick-frozen kind)
1/3 cup of sugar
grated zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
2 1/2 tablespoons of blanco (silver) tequila

In a small saucepan combine the blueberries and sugar. Stir over medium heat until the berries have released their juices, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and combine warm blueberries, lime zest, lime juice and tequila in a blender. Blend until smooth.

I have to confess that this cake was gone so quickly, and I was in the thick of serving 18 people dessert, that I failed to grab a photograph. Here's a photo of the sugar skulls I made (again with the help of my sister.) Can we say, over-achiever? ;)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ichigo, Ichi-e

While making dinner a few nights ago, I thought of an opening of a chapter in Anthony Bourdain's latest book.

"There are songs I'll never listen to again. Not the ones that remind me of the bad times. It's certain songs, from long ago when everything, whether I knew it or not at the time, was golden. Those I can't abide. Those hurt. And what's the point of doing that to oneself? I can't go back and enjoy them any more than I did at the time - and there's no fixing things."

I think I understand what he means, both in relation to music, and now, I've discovered, with food. There are certain dishes, associated with certain times that, no matter if they're identically recreated, will only conjure a pale ghost of the former event. And who wants that? Who wants an evening that will never burn as bright as the original? Not to say that good times can't be had, because they can, but it'll never be like the original. Maybe the mistake comes in trying to recreate the event under different circumstances. The Japanese have a saying, ichigo, ichi-e, which means "one time, one place" and suggests that the best time is the present. That the moment you're in right now will never repeat itself, so live in it. Cherish it. Maybe the dish should, like the event, be left in history. I don't know. It's how I feel today after replicating a dish that has been on the table at two wonderful, unrepeatable evenings. Two evenings that, at this point, I can't even pretend to recreate. And shouldn't. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try this dish. Because it's truly magic. And it's the perfect time of year for something magical. It takes 4 ingredients and about 10 minutes to prepare, then sits in the oven for an hour and half. What you pull out will be mind-blowing, in that comfort food you didn't even know you were craving kind of way. So make it. And enjoy it with good friends, and cement golden times in your own history. Ichigo, Ichi-e.

Chicken with 40 Cloves
via Alton Brown


1 Whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tblsp olive oil
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
40 peeled cloves of garlic
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil and brown on both sides in a wide frying pan or skillet over high heat. Remove from heat, add oil, thyme, and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove chicken and let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.

chicken with 40 cloves before it goes in the oven

Friday, October 1, 2010

Knocking Over Little Old Ladies

Looking back through this blog, it's apparent the recipes are sort of all over the place. There's not necessarily one style or ethnicity I cook more than another. But. If I were forced to pinpoint my off-the-cuff food strength, it would have to probably be Mexican. Though I really enjoy cooking and eating Mexican food, it's Les' favorite. A while ago we were talking food, and in response to me gushing about sushi, he was like, "Eh. It's okay, but I wouldn't knock over a little old lady to get some." Which OF COURSE begged the question, "What kind of food WOULD you knock over little old ladies for?" Mexican was his quick answer, followed by Italian, and good bar food (burgers, wings, etc.) Matter of fact, when I asked him the other day what his ultimate meal would be his answer was a banquet table loaded with fillings and toppings for tortillas. So, well, I end up cooking a lot of Mexican dishes, because, I love food. Any kind. And let's face it, there are not many types of food I WOULDN'T knock over a little old lady to get to.

This August I helped a friend throw a dinner party for her husband's birthday. A Mexican feast for 15ish (though we made enough food to feed double that.) Les had just given me Rick Bayless' latest cookbook for our anniversary, and this was the first recipe I chose to make. The dish didn't last 5 minutes. Seriously. I only got two bites, and I'm pretty sure they were only saved for me out of obligation. If there had been little old ladies at the party, I'm sure they would have been knocked over.
Today is the third consecutive day of rain. It's gray and damp and has felt like perpetual morning for days. I've been trying to get through what felt like the loneliest of afternoons by holing up in the brightest room the house, the kitchen. I've skinned and frozen the last of the season's tomatoes. I've cleaned. And I've treated myself to entire plate of this dip. Out of wifely obligation, I've saved Les a few bites.

Goat Cheese in Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

8 ounces (about 4 medium) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
hot green chile to taste (roughly 1 serrano or 1 small jalapeno), stemmed and roughly hopped
8 ounces of goat cheese
1/4 cup of finely chopped white onion
about 1/4 cup loosely packed, chopped cilantro

1. Make the sauce. In a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, roast the tomatillos (start them cut side down) and garlic until soft and browned, 3-4 minutes per side. (If a nonstick skillet is unavailable, line a regular skillet with aluminum foil.) Scoop the tomatillos and garlic into a blender or food processor, add the chile and 1/2 water and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous teaspoon.

2. Form the goat cheese into a 1 inch disc. Place in an ovenproof dish and top with salsa. Warm the whole thing in the oven. When warmed through, sprinkle with onions and cilantro. Serve alongside warm tortillas or toasted baguette. (I ate mine with white corn chips, which was great too.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Anyone who knows me well knows I go through food obsessions. I'm thinking back to a few summers ago when I ate nothing but vegan hot dogs at every lunch for over a month. Months? Uh, maybe. I've gone through phases encompassing arepas, tahini, fruit salsas, chicken ranch wraps, black bean burritos (officially the longest lasting of my phases, as I'll still hit weeks where I'll eat nothing but black beans) and more.

Lately I can't get enough eggplant. Almost every Thursday since the beginning of August, I've trotted down to the Exeter farmer's market to visit Heron Pond Farm's stand and bring a few nice varieties home to incorporate in the week's meals. I've grilled them, fried them, baked them, used them for tostadas, in pastas, everything. If an evil fairy appeared and said I had to either give up eggplant or my phone for the week, well, it would be a tough choice.

This week's variation of eggplant is fried on a little labneh slathered syrian bread. Breakfast. Lunch. Snacks. Doesn't matter. This meal might very well be the only consistent thing about my days lately. But that's okay. Regathering your equilibrium has to start somewhere, right?

I'd feel a bit like a poser sharing a recipe for making labneh, as I'm not middle eastern and don't have a family recipe or method or anything. But I'll just say that it's pretty much straining yogurt in cheesecloth on the counter overnight. Easy as that. Look it up. It's tangy and creamy and delicious and an excellent accompaniment to fried eggplant.

The following recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare eggplant. Fast and simple, and as I actually planted marjoram in my garden this year, a way to use an oft overlooked herb (in my kitchen, anyway.)

Grilled (or Broiled) Eggplant with Marjoram Sauce

2 eggplants, cut crosswise into slices 1/2 inch thick
salt to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer the eggplant slices in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Top with a plate and a heavy weight such as a pot. Let stand for 1 hour to drain off the bitter juices. Rinse off the salt and pat the slices dry with a paper towel. (This step is debatable. I've met people who swear you don't have to drain off the bitter juices. I almost always do. I think it makes a difference.)

Prepare fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a broiler

To prepare the marjoram sauce, in a small bowl, stir together the 1/4 cup oil, marjoram, garlic, zest, and pepper. Set aside.

Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil. Place on the grill rack or broiler pan and grill or broil, turning once, until browned and tender, about 5 minutes on each side.

Arrange the slices, slightly overlapping, on a serving plate. Spoon on the marjoram sauce and let stand until serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is an actual photo of the dish, it's just not MY photo of the dish. Well, I suppose it's my photo in that I used my iPhone to take a photo of the photo in the cookbook. Uh. The epitome of laziness. Maybe today I will make the one small required phone call to the person who can help me with my Photoshop problem, so I can start posting pretty pictures again. The photoshop problem I've been avoiding for about a month. But first, my breakfast, and my eggplant equilibrium.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cream sauces and their accompanying guilt

Have I ever talked about how I swear cream sauces release mass amounts of endorphins in my brain? No? Hmm. That's mostly because I feel like, for someone who's "into food," admitting you like cream sauces is a little like claiming you're "into film" while secretly stacking your DVD queue with Jennifer Anniston flicks. Nonetheless, I love them. And I eat them. Probably more than I should. There. I said it.

This brings me to my next point. F*ck Anthony Bourdain. Okay okay. Not really. I like him. I do. I thought Kitchen Confidential was very inspired. I've watched (and cried over) WAY too many No Reservations episodes, and I'm now nearly done with Medium Raw. But this latest book, and its sometimes wistful focus on haute restaurant cuisine has me riddled with anxiety. And it's not singular in doing so. Sometimes this whole "Gourmet, Local, Organic, Authentic, Seeking-Out-The-Best-Most-Obscure-Purveyor/Restaurant-Of-A-Certain-Item/Dish " movement makes me really frustrated. I'm in support of it. I think it's REALLY necessary. Quality matters. Sustainable practices, important. Small mom and pop shops are vital. Creativity counts. I wonder, though, with all this focus on ingredients, if we sometimes miss the point: about dining being an event that encompasses more than the food. An event that's ultimately focused around having a great time, whether you're dining solo or with a group of friends. I don't want to lose the ability to sit down over a $5 dollar pizza with a group of friends and have a fantastic evening. (Not that I'm suggesting Anthony Bourdain and the like would be against this, because, well, just read his book or watch his show for 5 seconds and you'll see.) I don't want to stop being proud of the dishes I make just because I'm unable to afford the very best and authentic ingredients. Or quit believing that, yes, high dining in fancy restaurants is wonderful, but so is a simple meal at home on a quiet evening.

Do what you can, the best you can, when you can. Maybe that's all I'm asking. And maybe that really is something like sitting dockside in France with a platter of freshly shucked Belon oysters. But maybe it's not. It's not something I can do. (Not yet, anyway. ;) ) I say be proud of what you can do. Maybe what you can do is whip up a pan of fresh macaroni and cheese, because deep down, in some primal way, dairy products make you happy. Dairy products that aren't necessarily made by European monks in caves who only hum Beethoven and flog themselves while making their cheese.

This macaroni and cheese recipe can get as fancy, gourmet, artisinal, blah blah blah as you want. Or, like the original recipe, you can just use cheddar and monterey jack. It still turns out amazing. My version falls somewhere in the middle. What I love about this recipe is that it's impossible to mess up. It comes from Cooks Illustrated's test kitchen and it never ever separates, never gets oily or dry, even when reheated the next day. It's thick and creamy, and coats every noodle in liquid velvet. I'll print the original version. Then I'll give you the version I make.

WARNING: Just looking at a pan of this stuff will make you gain 5 pounds. I suggest you do not step on a scale for at least a week after consumption. Better yet, if you plan on adding this into your cooking repertoire, get rid of your scale altogether.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6 to 8 as a main course

"It is crucial to cook the pasta until tender - just past the "al dente" stage. In fact, overcooking is better than under cooking the pasta. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk would all work well in this recipe. The recipe can be halved and baked in an 8 inch square, broiler safe baking dish."

Bread Crumb Topping

6 slices of large white sandwich bread, torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter, but into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese

1 pound of elbow macaroni
table salt
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter
6 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoons cayenne (optional)
5 cups of milk
8 ounces of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. For the bread crumbs: Pulse bread and butter in the food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside

2. For the Pasta and Cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and hear broiler. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.

3. In now-empty Dutch oven , heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken.) Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally until the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses until fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

4. Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 13x9 inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3-5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even brownness. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

Here are the adjustments I make to mine. I use just over 5 ounces each of sharp cheddar, monterey jack, and smoked Gruyere. I also saute several shallots and pancetta to include when I add the cheese. I almost always use 2% milk. According to the footnote in the recipe, it's the monterey jack cheeses' high moisture content that gives the sauce a nice smooth texture, so I would eliminate all of it, should you choose to change things up. The flavor is subtle, though, so it's best when paired with a stronger flavored cheese.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rainbow Salsa Fresca

Just a quick little post on an impromptu salsa I made last night. In an attempt to make black bean tacos a bit more inspired, I thought I'd whip up a quick salsa fresca using some tomatoes from my garden instead of my usual go-to fire roasted canned tomatoes. It was...well..the BEST thing I've done in a while! And maybe even my best salsa yet, and yes, I realize the gravity of those words. ;) The yellow tomatoes added a wonderful contrasting sweetness to the poblano and lime, and the whole thing was incredibly fresh-tasting. My only mistake was not making enough. Les and I devoured the whole batch that evening. I will be making this again. Probably today.

Rainbow Salsa Fresca

Mix together the following ingredients:

1/4 red onion finely diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 of a poblano pepper, finely diced
Several heaping tablespoons of chopped cilantro
8 yellow pear tomatoes, diced
2 roma tomates, diced
juice from one lime wedge
1/2 tsp cumin
salt to taste

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What NOT to do in the kitchen

I haven't been bringing my "A" game to the kitchen lately. "Uninspired" isn't the right word, but it's the first word that comes to mind. I stepped on the scale this morning to reveal a three pound lighter me and thought, "How did THAT happen?" But then, yeah, thinking back I can't think of a time in the last few weeks where I actually cooked anything. I've "assembled" at best. A sandwich here. A salad there. I'm ashamed to admit that I've gone whole days on half a cibatta roll or muffin. Those days usually end with Les coming home to a sketchy mess of a wife and calling for take-out or taking over the kitchen himself.

Today, however, I'm feeling homey. My painfully neglected garden is now weeded and tended to. Laundry is going. Studio work consists of assembling and gluing pieces...something that can be done cleanly and upstairs. Today is a great day to get a little creative in the kitchen.

Well. Let's pretend for a minute that things didn't go horribly awry; that I actually FOLLOWED the recipe. Let's pretend I didn't substitute summer squash for corn. Let's also pretend the squash wasn't about 4 inches longer than it should have been, making it too tough to use raw. That I didn't double where I should have halved ingredients. Maybe envision a cucumber feta sauce that didn't resemble curdled light green cream. Even while preparing the salad, I knew it wasn't going to be very good. But in the same way you can't turn away when you're about to witness a train wreck, I couldn't stop chopping, blending. So confident was I in the failure of this recipe, that I started writing my post before the dish was even done. (Yes, maybe I've been a tad pessimistic lately.) In the end, the dish wasn't that bad. Okay, it was actually decent. My only complaint was its subtlety, which may not have happened had I not blended ALL of the cucumber and feta together for the sauce, making it a bit thin. I had to add additional feta to give the dish a little punch. Is there room for improvement? Probably. Maybe next time I'll marinate the chopped cucumbers in a little vinegar before adding them to the salad. Maybe there wants to be a little lemon in there somewhere. I'm going to share the recipe and let you decide for yourself.

Orzo and Summer Squash Salad with Cucumber Feta dressing


4 ounces of Feta
2 Cucumbers, peeled and seeded, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (just over 2 cups)
2 Tblsp of olive oil
1/2 Tblsp of water

1/2 lb of orzo pasta
2 cups summer squash chopped into 1/2 cubes and sauteed for a few minutes to soften*
1/3 cup chopped chives

Preparation for the sauce
Place all but a few tablespoons of the feta cheese, half of the cucumbers, oil and water in a food processor and process until smooth.

For the salad
Cook the orzo in a pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining feta, cucumbers, chives and summer squash. Toss with dressing, sprinkle with salt and pepper and garnish with additional chives.

*The original recipe I was using called for corn, but I had summer squash from my garden to use up.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Where'd all the time go?

It's August? Really? It can't be. Wasn't it just May yesterday?! I think it's flown by because I've been out trying to make the most of every hot, sunny moment. There's been so much...a wedding, several camping trips, Duck Lake, an in-law visit, several trips to Connecticut, cookouts, cocktail hours, farmer's markets. Lots of good meals. Tons of good meals! I feel like I've been a cooking fiend, which is so deeply satisfying, especially considering all the good company with which I've been able to dine. But oh, the food. The grilled rack of lamb, the pan seared pollack over a white bead puree, the slow-smoked ribs, gazpacho, the salads made from ingredients still in the ground not 5 minutes before, and so much more. We have eaten well, to be sure.

And there's sure to be more. Summer isn't over yet! I'm keeping a mental list of things I want to do before the warm weather disappears. On that list? Gathering a bucket of periwinkles to enjoy with a cold bottle of white wine in the waning summer light, making and canning jam, homemade popcicles, escaping to Cape Cod to swim in the ocean, dining al fresco whenever I can, just to name a few.

Also on that list, cooking with fresh local ingredients as much as I possibly can, especially when they're from my own garden. Speaking of that garden, I've planted more cucumbers than I know what to do with. I love a simple sliced cuke with a pinch of salt, but I'm a little burned out. I need ideas. I need recipes. Interesting ways to use them up. My latest comes from Christine, who suggested using them in place of tomatoes for a salsa. Brilliant! And beautiful! I used this salsa to top grilled chicken and also to throw in fajitas. I bet it would go great with fish. Or chips. Or just a spoon!

Cucumber Salsa

1 cucumber, diced
half a red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob and blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice from half a lime
a pinch of salt
maybe a little cumin if you have it

Mix all ingredients and let mingle in the fridge for a bit.

Super easy! Super delicious!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The courtship of a squash blossom

Mention zucchini anywhere within earshot of my mother and sister and I guarantee what will follow will go something like, "Remember that year we planted about a dozen zucchini plants? We must have eaten zucchini at every meal in every variation on earth that summer!" Then, like Bubba in Forrest Gump..."fried zucchini, sauteed zucchini, zucchini bread, zucchini cake, raw zucchini..."

My senior year of high school we moved from Kansas town-living to a house in the country overlooking rolling wheat fields. The closest neighbors a half mile away. The house came with an old three-room chicken house, several barns and garages, thirteen acres of pasture, an apple and pear orchard and a nearly acre sized garden. Our naive ambition that first year completely ruined my mother on future vegetable gardening. We filled the entire plot with rows and rows of vegetables. And of course the aforementioned dozen zucchini plants. By the end of the summer, we let the weeds take over, and she never planted a garden that size again. A few years later the garden was tilled up all together and turned into a horse riding pen. Every once in a while she'll throw a tomato plant in with the flowers, but that's about the extent of it.

Now that I live in an apartment in-town, I pine for that garden. I've been lucky this year. We have friendly neighbors who tilled up my very own plot and I've been able to grow a few things. Still being a little leery of zucchini plants, I chose summer squash instead. Four of them. Which is still more than one family can eat,but I'll suffer through the abundant squash for the chance to harvest the blossoms. About six years ago, my mother sent me an Italian cookbook that included a recipe for stuffed, fried squash blossoms, and ever since I've been waiting patiently (well, not really) to be able to make them. They don't keep well, so I never see them sold in stores.

Yesterday (!!!) I was able to sneak a few of the male blossoms for stuffing! Only three, but still! There is a fair amount of expectation riding on a recipe you've been waiting six years to cook. You're set up for pretty big disappointment if it's not what you'd thought it'd be. On the other hand, if it's everything you thought it would be and more, the satisfaction is that much greater. Which is exactly the case here! They were fantastic! Really. Good enough that in the future I might consider growing a dozen squash plants. And that's saying something.

Fiori di Zucca Fritti
(fried, stuffed zucchini flowers)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup cold sparkling mineral water
1 tblsp vegetable oil, plus oil for deep-frying
2 oz mozzarella cheese
10 anchovy fillets, cut in half crosswise
20 large squash blossoms

In a small bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the eggs, mineral water, and the 1 tblsp vegetable oil and whisk just until blended. Cut the mozzarella into sticks 1 inch long by 1/4 inch thick. Pat the anchovies dry with paper towels

In a heavy frying pan at least 3 inches deep or in a deep-fat fryer, pour oil to a depth of 1 inch. Heat to 375 degrees on a deep fryer or until a bit of the batter sizzles when dropped into the oil.

While the oil is heating, gently spread open the petals of each flower and carefully pinch out the filaments inside. Insert a piece of the cheese and the anchovy into each flower. Press the petals closed.

One at a time, dip the flowers into the batter, turning to coat completely. Lift out and drain off the excess. Working a few at a time, slip the flowers into the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Continue with the remaining flowers. Serve immediately.

I think there are innumerable variations for stuffing the flowers. I stuffed mine with a middle-eastern cream cheese, an anchovy fillet, and a basil leaf.



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

This much I do remember

"This much I do Remember"
by Billy Collins....

It was after dinner.
You were talking to me across the table
about something or other,
a greyhound you had seen that day
or a song you liked....

and I was looking past you
over your bare shoulder
at the three oranges lying
on the kitchen counter
next to the small electric bean grinder,
which was also orange,
and the orange and white cruets for vinegar and oil.....

All of which converged
into a random still life,
so fastened together by the hasp of color,
and so fixed behind the animated
foreground of your
talking and smiling,
gesturing and pouring wine,
and the camber of you shoulders....

that I could feel it being painted within me,
brushed on the wall of my skull,
while the tone of your voice
lifted and fell in its flight,
and the three oranges
remained fixed on the counter
the way that stars are said
to be fixed in the universe.....

Then all of the moments of the past
began to line up behind that moment
and all of the moments to come
assembled in front of it in a long row,
giving me reason to believe
that this was a moment I had rescued
from millions that rush out of sight
into a darkness behind the eyes.....

Even after I have forgotten what year it is,
my middle name,
and the meaning of money,
I will still carry in my pocket
the small coin of that moment,
minted in the kingdom
that we pace through every day.....

Forgive me. I can feel myself getting overly sentimental.

At its very essence, a shared meal is an intertwining of lives, a minted moment we carry with us. That is why I so very much enjoy creating meals with others, and sharing recipes, especially those that already come with their own stories and history. Because those recipes and meals become a part of me, intertwined in my own life, maybe even for generations to come, if I’m lucky.

A certain Brussels sprout recipe will forever conjure memories of a friend and the Thanksgivings we’ve shared for the past three years. I cannot make galumpkies without thinking of my Papa, and my mother too, who caught a batch on fire once and had to run the smoking pot into the front yard. There are many many more recipes I’ve gotten from family and friends that feed more than just my body when I make them; meals that remind me of certain houses, certain kitchens, times of year, smiling faces, music, and always the sound of laughter.

Just this last Sunday, a friend came over to share his mom’s recipe for stuffed grape leaves. I wish I could say I had photos and a recipe to share, but the three of us devoured them before I could even break out the camera (a sign of a delicious meal indeed!)

What I can share, is what I did with the leftover ground lamb. There wasn’t enough lamb to make two burgers, so I added a little bulgur (soaked in water for about 30 minutes,) stuffed them with goat cheese, and pan fried them. Once on the bun, I topped them with a caramelized red onion relish I made a few days ago, a little spinach and kewpie mayo mixed with a little lemon zest. Very very good! And a recipe that will definitely stay in my repertoire.

Caramelized Red Onion Relish

From Small Batch-Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard

This recipe boasts it is best served with barbequed or broiled meats such as steak, lamb chops, and chicken.


2 large red onions
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup dry red wine
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp of salt and freshly ground pepper

1.Slice onions into very thin slices. Combine onions and sugar in a heavy non-stick skillet. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 25 minutes or until onions start to turn golden and start to caramelize, stirring frequently.

2.Stir in wine and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high hear, reduce heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid had evaporated, stirring frequently.

3.Season to taste with salt and pepper. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.



Cheers to future meals and memories and the people who have woven themselves into our lives through shared meals!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The lost week


Meet the Sour Patch Kids. Hands down my favorite non-chocolate candy since I was a kid and could walk to the corner store for penny candy. You've never seen a kid weed and water flower gardens so fast and thorough for a dollar. Even recently, I've been known to ruin a whole day of eating by devouring several packs in one sitting. I can't keep them in the house, that's how much power they have over me. So what does my sister do a week ago, but bring me a 5 pound bag of them. Well, not exactly 5 pounds. More like a pound and a half, but that's still around 500 sour patch kids! I was simultaneously ecstatic and furious. Simultaneously hugged her and screamed, "I swear to god you want me fat!!!" These little guys are to blame for my recent lack of posting. It's because of them I've had to eat plates of meat and protein to counter near sugar and carb induced comas and shaking sketchiness. Last Sunday's dinner consisted of two and half chicken breasts. Tuesday I sat down to a one pound bowl of sauteed shrimp with nothing else. I don't have anything against meat, but this is a little much, even for me. Over the week, after more stomach aches than I care to confess, I've slowly phased out of the meat-fests and reintroduced myself to a more balanced diet.

First meal "back?" Pizza. My pizza crust has been something I've been pretty proud of for the past few years. I finally had a recipe (thanks to Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) that was easy and consistent and tasted good. I'd baked it and grilled it both with very good results, so I'm not sure what possessed me to try a different one, but I'm very glad I did. I still use the Kingsolver recipe whenever pizza is a last-minute idea because it only takes an hour from starting the dough to pulling the pizza out of the oven, but for those occasions when you have a little more time, and want a more sophisticated, complex crust, I would highly recommend a recipe from Jim Lahey's cookbook, My Bread: The Revolutionary, No-Work, No-Knead Method. My only complaints with this recipe are that it's somewhat fickle and takes about 3 hours from start to finish. Though it's always turned out delicious, it's always been a little touch-and-go as well. The consistency is never quite the same and stretching it to fit the pan is not always easy. But if you have the patience and time, it's completely worth it. It's a moderately chewy, buttery flavored crust, with a wonderfully crunchy exterior and a lovely humble, artisan look. It may be my favorite crust of all time, and I don't say that lightly.

Basic Pizza Dough a la Jim Lahey

(just a warning...though the work is minimal, it takes about 2 1/2 hours until you're even ready to put dough in the oven)

3 3/4 c. bread flour (I've used all-purpose and it's been fine)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. sugar
1 1/3 c. water at room temperature (I almost always end up using about a 1/4 to a 1/3 c. more water than is called for)
olive oil for the pans

1. Stir together flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water and using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, 30 seconds. Dough will be wet and slightly sticky. Cover and let sit at room temperature until doubled, 2 hours. (This is the beauty of this recipe: no kneading, no nothing. Stir for 30 seconds and let it sit!)

2. Remove from bowl onto floured surface. Gently form into a round ball. Divide dough into two halves, spacing them 4" apart and cover with a moistened towel for 30 minutes.

3. When you're ready to make your dough, pick up the dough and invert and stretch the length of the pan. Floured side should be facing up. Gently pull to fit entire pan. No need to make a "crust" or a "lip." Objective is to have an even layer of dough. If the dough sticks to your fingers (which it will!) lightly dust with flour or coat your hands with olive oil. Pinch any holes together. Repeat with second piece. Bake 500 degrees for 25 minutes. (I lower mine to 450, and it rarely takes that long.)


My recent favorite topping? Drizzle the dough with olive oil. Top with spinach, pine nuts, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and another drizzle of olive oil. Delicious!!!!


If you only have an hour to put dinner on the table, try Barbara Kingsolver's recipe for pizza dough.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beauty that rivals taste

Sometimes I feel like all I do is rip off other people's ideas. What's the quote, "I'm not original, I'm resourceful"? Yeah. That. Maybe originality is overrated. I don't know. Anyway, I was talking the other day with someone about salads, and thought, "Salads. That's a great idea." And so, a few days later, when it was 90 degrees and I could not be paid to turn my oven on, a salad graced our dinner table.

Now, there is nothing particularly "original" about this salad. Salads in our household are made in much the same way I make my soups, which is to say, with whatever needs to be used up in the refrigerator, but I just happened to have a particularly harmonious group of ingredients lying around. I started with a mix of spring greens, topped with paper thin slices of strawberries and cucumbers, followed by chopped coconut, avocado, shrimp, and some fresh Greek basil, then drizzled with a lite raspberry vinaigrette and accompanied by "homemade croutons" (or, ummm...the last bit of stale baguette coated with butter and garlic powder and stuck under the toaster oven's broiler for a few minutes.) This salad's beauty quite rivals its taste.

Monday, May 24, 2010

An excuse

Today's short little post is really just an excuse to direct you here, to a wonderful alternative to Nutella which uses, instead of hazelnuts, you guessed it....tahini! (Thanks, Gaps!)

Ants on a Log, using the tahini-tella instead of raisins.

This is, for now, the maximum quantity of this stuff I an allowing myself to eat at one sitting, as I really could eat it by the spoonful.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A holdover

Not much about a cloudless, 75 degree evening screams Chana Masala, so I'm not sure why I passed up the grill, winking at me from its new patio spot, to spend an hour over a hot stove top. But I did. I blame it on my inability to repurpose the chickpeas I bought a few weeks ago, while it was still chilly, with the intention of making Indian food. Sometimes I get a one-track mind, and I just can't let go. At least momentarily turning my kitchen into a sauna was worth it.

This recipe is an adaptation of Molly Wizenberg's, over at Orangette. I've been following her blog for about a year and half, have read and proselytized her book, and even had the pleasure of meeting her a few months ago...(and looking all silly when I waited for an hour after her reading to thank her and tell her what an inspiration she is. I might have even gotten teary. I can't be sure. Let's move on.)

Chana Masala

1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fresh, minced ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 pint diced grape tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 Tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
1 28-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

* 6-8 Tbs plain whole-milk yogurt, optional
A few lemon wedges, optional

Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until deeply carmelized, and even charred in spots. Be patient. The more color, the more full-flavored the final dish will be.

Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala, and cardamom, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup water, and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated away completely. Pour in tomatoes with their juices and the salt.

Raise the heat to medium, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally, until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over low heat for about five minutes. Add 2 Tbs water, and cook for another five minutes. Add another 2 Tbs water, and cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes more. This process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce’s flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Stir in the yogurt, if you like, or garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro. Serve.

*I chose to leave out the yogurt of mine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I'll take that in a gallon size, please

A few friends and I were eating at a creperie in NYC and mounted on the wall, like a prize buck, was a gallon sized jar of Nutella. This of course made me wonder, "If you could have one over sized pantry item, what would it be?" Joe went with the Nutella. I can't remember what Rachel picked. Mine? Tahini. I'm not sure it would be my all-time, definitive answer, though thinking about it now, I can't think of what I'd rather choose. It's strange I should pick tahini because I'm not very knowledgeable about Middle Eastern food, but the few things I've had it in I could eat daily, my favorite being tarator to go on things like kibbe, shwarma, and just about anything other poor vegetable or meat that happens to be helplessly trapped in my fridge.

Yesterday, during my first trip to a Lebanese bakery and market I came across this...

Do you know what that is? It's Tahini. In a BUCKET!!! And if I wasn't on such a minuscule budget, I might have brought it home. (Forgive the pixelated stock photo. I couldn't bring myself to embarrass my poor friend by whipping out a camera in the middle of the tiny market, though the thought did cross my mind.) I was a good girl and only brought home a little jar, some Arabic bread and a spice packet of sumac, which I have no idea how I'll use, but it was such a gorgeous red I couldn't resist.

Tonight I put the tahini and Arabic bread right to use, along with the shwarma seasoning that's been taunting me from my spice cabinet the last few months and made a (non authentic, but at least in the ballpark) chicken shwarma wrap, along with asparagus and roasted potatoes with a garlic-cilantro pesto. I don't think shawarma is supposed to be grilled, but it was an unseasonably warm night, and L surprised me with supplies for a bonafide cocktail hour so there was no way I was going to spend the evening's waning light inside.

I marinated the chicken for 4 hours in a 1/2 c. of malt vinegar, a few tablespoons of oil, 1/4 cup of sour cream (because I didn't have plain yogurt,) a few tablespoons of shwarma seasoning, a teaspoon or so of allspice, and a few pinches of sumac and cardamom. Oh, and of course a little salt.

The potatoes came from a site a friend recently turned me on to... Taste of Beirut, which I haven't had a chance to properly explore, but will, especially since I now know how to get to both Lebanese markets.

Link to the potato recipe.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A new chapter

It's not that I've been cooking and failing to update. It's that I haven't been cooking at all. I've been living on canned black beans and hard boiled eggs. (Not at the same time.) These last few weeks have been absolutely crazy. I've been to Philadelphia, Cape Cod, working 30+ hours a week at a job that's almost an hour away, filing taxes, finishing up work in the studio, writing bios, shooting images of work...etc. You get the point. There hasn't been a whole lot of extra time for cooking.

But as you can see from the picture, I found a spare minute to prepare dinner. I sort of had to. Tonight was a fairly momentous occasion, which in our household is almost always marked by a memorable meal. L and I have talked about it off and on for years, but today marks the day when I actually quit my job to pursue a career as a studio artist. I can feel my excitement and anxiety increase as I type this. It's kind of a big deal. And a big deal requires a special meal. At least for me.

This recipe is a conglomeration of a few different sources.
The polenta part comes from over at the NY Times and Mark Bittman's "Minimalist" video series. I absolutely love Mark Bittman, not only for his simple, non-fussy cooking, but because every time I watch him it reminds me of what Alan Arkin might be like if he hosted a cooking show. And that just makes me giggle.

Here's the link for the original polenta video.

The second part of the recipe comes from the Best of America's Test Kitchen 2009 Cookbook, a well-worn cookbook in my collection.

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp

(The recipe calls for serving this dish with a crusty bread for dipping in the oil, which I've done and which is quite lovely. I just happened to have a bit of polenta in the cupboard to finish off.)


14 garlic cloves
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 bay leaf
1 piece mild dried chile, such as New Mexico, roughly broken, seeds included
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Mince 2 of the garlic cloves with a chef's knife or garlic press. Toss the minced garlic with the shrimp, 2 tablespoons of the oil and salt in a medium bowl. Let the shrimp marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, using the flat side of a chef's knife, smash 4 garlic cloves. Heat the smashed garlic with the remaining 6 tablespoons of oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is light golden brown, 4-7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the oil to cool to room temperature, Using a slotted spoon, remove the smashed garlic from the skillet and discard.

3. Thinly slice the remaining 8 cloves. Return the skillet to low heat and add the sliced garlic, bay leaf, and chile. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is tender but not browned, 4-7 minutes. (If the garlic has not begun to sizzle after 3 minutes, increase the heat to medium-low.) Increase the heat to medium-low; add the shrimp with the marinade to the pan in a single layer. Cook the shrimp, undisturbed, until the oil starts to gently bubble, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, flip the shrimp and continue to cook until almost cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Increase the heat to high and add the sherry vinegar and parsley. Cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are cooked through and the oil is bubbling vigorously, 15-20 seconds. Serve immediately.

That's the scripted recipe in its entirety. Let me tell you about the substitutions I've made. First, I almost never have a dried New Mexico chile. I've used pasillo and guajillo and they've both turned out fine. A bit spicier, but fine. The recipe says you can substitute paprika for the chile, which I've never done, but I bet would be good. Also, I almost never have sherry vinegar, and though I'm not sure this is a proper culinary substitution, I almost always have a bottle of red wine lying around and a little white wine vinegar, and in a pinch, those two combined work okay.

So that's it. I threw the shrimp over the polenta, topped it with more fresh parsley and some of the shrimp's wonderful cooking oil, and voilĂ , a decadent, celebratory meal!

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp over Polenta

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Some like it hot

Maybe if I hadn't seen Julie and Julia I wouldn't have picked it up to begin with, but it certainly wasn't the reason I brought home Mastering the Art of French Cooking. No, when I lifted the well-worn book, it fell open to the page on roast chicken and the first words I read were:

"You can always judge the quality of a cook or restaurant by roast chicken. While it does not require years of training to produce a juicy, brown, buttery, crisp-skinned, heavenly bird, it does entail such a greed for perfection that one is under compulsion to hover over the bird, listen to it, above all see that it is continually basted, and that it is done just to the proper turn."

A greed for perfection? I was completely won over, and the special, local bird I had been saving in the freezer to accompany my daughter's beloved coconut (which she's insisted on keeping in her room) in some sort of curry concoction, got immediately repurposed into a Julia Child roast chicken recipe.

My warning to you is that the recipe is long, and intimidating, but completely worth the effort. I think if you went only so far as step one, roasting the chicken, forewent all the other steps, and merely served a roasted chicken alongside a few, simply prepared veggies, it would still be worth it. But I'd encourage you to tackle the rest, if only because you get to light your pan on fire, and playing with fire is fun. I will caution, however, that if your stove top happens to be right next to a refrigerator decorated with pictures, inspiring quotes and children's artwork, you may want to take the time before torching your skillet to remove the valuables. It's just an idea.

It may seem lengthy, but I'm going to include Julia's full recipe, because her passion for the food comes through beautifully in the writing.

Please please please forgive the iPhone pictures. Of all the times to forget my camera in Chichester.

Poulet au Porto
(Roast Chicken Steeped with Port Wine, Cream, and Mushrooms)

Chicken, cream, and mushrooms occur again and again, as it is one of the great combinations. This perfectly delicious recipe is not difficult, but it cannot be prepared ahead of time or the chicken will lose its fresh and juicy quality. The chicken is roasted, then carved, flamed in cognac, and allowed to steep for several minutes with cream, mushrooms, and port wine. It is the kind of dish to do when you are entertaining a few good, food-loving friends whom you can receive in your kitchen.


A 3 lb. ready-to-cook roasting or frying chicken
1 lb. mushrooms
A 2 1/2 qt. enameled or stainless steel saucepan
1/4 c. water
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. whipping cream
1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch blended with 1 Tbsp of the cream
1/2 Tbsp minced shallots or green onions
1/3 c. medium-dry port
The mushroom cooking liquid
drops of lemon juice
A fireproof casserole or a chafing dish
1/4 cognac (I substituted brandy, as the budget wouldn't allow the purchase of a nice bottle of cognac. Maybe another time.)

Roast the chicken as described in the master recipe. (Julia's Roast Chicken (follow through Step 18))

Meanwhile, trim and wash the mushrooms. Quarter them if large, leave them whole if small.

Bring the water boil in the saucepan with 1/2 Tbsp. of the butter, lemon, and salt. Toss in the mushrooms, cover and boil slowly for 8 minutes. Pour out the cooking liquid and reserve.

Pour the cream and the cornstarch mixture into the mushrooms. Simmer for 2 minutes. Correct seasoning, and set aside.

When the chicken is done, remove it to a carving board and let it rest at room temperature while you complete the sauce.

Remove all but 2 Tablespoons of fat from the roasting pan. Stir in the shallots or onions and cook slowly for 1 minute. Add the port and the mushroom juice, and boil rapidly, scraping up coagulated roasting juices, until liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the mushrooms and cream and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, allowing the liquid to thicken slightly. Correct seasoning and add lemon juice to taste.

Smear the inside of the casserole or chafing dish with butter (1 Tbsp.) Rapidly carve the chicken into serving pieces. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and arrange in the casserole or chafing dish.

Set over moderate hear or an alcohol flame until you hear the chicken begin to sizzle. Then pour the cognac over it. Avert your face, and ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole slowly until the flames have subsided. Then pour in the mushroom mixture, tilting the casserole and basting the chicken. Cover and steep for 5 minutes without allowing the sauce to boil. Serve.

(*) Chicken may remain in its casserole over barely simmering water or in the turned-off hot oven with its door ajar, for 10 - 15 minutes, but the sooner it is served, the better it will be.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An addiction in black

I am so tired of the cold! I know it's not fair to complain as it's only March (which means at least a few more months of sweaters and scarves,) but we were blessed with a 70 degree day last weekend, and now I'm downright pissy about the return to normal early spring temperatures. I don't know if you have a go-to comfort food for cold weather days, but mine is definitely black beans. Not the kind dumped carelessly out of a can. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in any way above eating those (and do quite frequently.) But no, I'm talking about the bagged, dried, soaked, cooked-all-day kind. The kind where you've foreseen the night before that it might be a rough day, so you might as well have some good food while you're down there. I mean, there is nothing like sitting down to a steaming bowl of black beans with all the fixins. It's as close to nirvana as I can hope to get on a dreary winter day. My love for them, admittedly, might be in part due to the fact that simmering them for hours on end warms the house to a (finally!) tolerable temperature.

Now, usually I like them over the typical plain white rice, but I've had these corn husks and masa in my cupboard for months, so I threw together some tamales. Rick Bayless is my steady source for Mexican cooking. Absolutely every recipe of his I've attempted has turned out fabulous, and his recipe for basic tamales is no different.

Tamales seems like the kind of thing that could be all "fancy and gourmet" or you could just throw in whatever needs used up in the refrigerator...which is totally what I did this time. I happened to have some leftover green chili and a bit of cheddar cheese, so in they went.

It may not be traditional, but a tamale alternative to white rice was actually very nice with the black beans, both in taste and texture. And for a brief moment, on a soggy and cold spring day, I was warmed in both body and soul.

I'll just provide a link to Rick Bayless's tamale recipe, as it's pretty lengthy, though you shouldn't be intimidated by this, as they're quite easy to make.

Mexican Black Beans

My black beans are different every time I make them, but usually it goes like this...
I soak a half a bag overnight in water.
Drain the water the next morning and give them a good rinse. (leave them in the colander for the time being)
Finely chop half and onion and mince a clove or two of garlic. Sometimes I'll add some jalapeno or green pepper if I have it.
Saute until softened (about 5-6 minutes)
Add the beans, 5-6 cups of water, and a good pinch of cumin.
Bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce to low.
Simmer for eternity. (I've left them from anywhere 3-6 hours)
Salt to taste before serving.
Serve with rice, tamale, in a tortilla, or by themselves.

There you have it. My go-to solution for fighting the rainy day/snowy day/ interminably cold day blues.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sunday Bread: Bagels at Home?!

Listening to the radio while driving a few years ago, I heard a feature on a Montana woman who lived so far from city life she even had to "make her own bagels." *Insert a car screeching to a halt on the road's shoulder* What?! MAKE YOUR OWN BAGELS? I don't know where I thought bagels came from, but they certainly did NOT come from home kitchens. They required fancy equipment not available to an amateur home cook. Didn't they?

A few years (and Anthony Bourdain episodes) later, I'm happy to report that I now have a better idea how bagels are made. They're actually boiled. Well, at first anyway. Brunching at a little restaurant in Newburyport a few weeks ago, as I sat comatose after an amazing homemade bagel spread with fresh smoked salmon and a divine horseradish sauce, I thought about how much better this would be enjoyed at home some lazy Sunday among friends and family. And so, I present my first (of many, I hope) batch of homemade bagels. Everything bagels, to be specific, because Magnolia prefers the bagels with "sprinkles."

Original recipe can be found here.