Sunday, May 31, 2015

raspberry-ricotta cake

When I've gone too long without baking something, my inner baker throws a tantrum.  Her apron is dusted with flour and her hair is splattered with egg whites, and she is a tough, exacting boss.  Every ingredient must be carefully measured, and she will screech if a pan stays in the oven a minute too long.  My inner chef, meanwhile, is more forgiving of my erstwhile resistance to use exact measurements, and doesn’t curse if I forget a saucepan on the back burner (she calls this “testing the limits of the Maillard Reaction”).  The chef has a louder voice, particularly lately, and she's very persuasive when it comes to the season’s delightful, meaty artichokes that we’ve been steaming and eating plain with just a dab of melted butter or mayonnaise.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

corn, bacon, and clam stew

In New England, tomato-clam business like what you see above is generally regarded as evil as Voldemort on a bad day.  A cream base is the only acceptable foundation for clam chowder, and even then, there are rules: no strange additions (like peppers or, ahem, corn).  But a love of fresh summer corn brings strange bedfellows, which is how it ended up here, in this pot full of late-summer bounty. 

There are some things that will forever reveal my Midwestern heart, and a fierce, enduring love of sweet corn is one of them.  Growing up in Wisconsin, a highlight of each year was the annual corn festival, where I got a box of freshly-steamed ears, trucked in from the field where they were picked that same morning.  Mouth watering, I watched as my ears were yanked off of the conveyor belt and onto giant blocks of Wisconsin butter, where strong hands twisted them until they shone slick in the August sun.  Salt shakers dangled from clotheslines, and I'd carefully salt each ear, turning for an even sprinkling.  Perfect rows of fat yellow kernels would pop as you bit into them, tasting of the sun that grew them.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

amaranth greens, two ways

Only one of the two furry visitors currently in my apartment has been invited.  I'll let you guess which one: there is the mouse who lives under the radiator, and there is the adorable bunny who spent part of this morning eating kale stems out of my hand and tolerating a rub on his soft nose.

The bunny's name is Bunny (he came to us already named, ok?) and he will eat any vegetable except zucchini and snow peas.  Contrary to everything I learned about rabbits from cartoons, Bunny seems to prefer leafy greens over carrots, but he's not super picky, which makes him the perfect way to dispose of leftover vegetables.  Weird spot on your cucumber?  Bought too much tarragon with no plan for using it?  Kale ribs too tough to eat?  Feed 'em to Bunny.

This must be why people call salads "rabbit food."  (Though I try to spread the gospel of how crazy delicious salads can be with some salt and fat in the mix, which is why I was thrilled when I heard about a donut saladbut alas, the salad calls for "donut peaches," not actual donuts.  Way to get a girl's hopes up.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

zucchini and chickpeas with boursin

It was the first day in a long time when the sunlight didn't wake me.  Most mornings, our bedroom lightens shade by rosy shade, as dawn's fingers steal around the corners of the curtains.  I'll doze through familiar noises as they come into focus: birds chirping from their twiggy nest in our gutter, the clunk of the old red teapot as one of my roommates heaves it, full of water, onto one of the burners.

Instead, Merrick woke me.  I recognized all of his words individually, like you might pick faces out of a crowd, but I couldn't understand the sum of their parts.  How many shots were fired?  Where are they now?  What he said went something like this: the bombers stole a car and are somewhere in the city, and we're all supposed to stay at home today and I just remember asking back, what? what?  Shaking the fuzz out of my ears as if sleep were the reason I couldn't understand, but no, it was just incomprehensible.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

orecchiette with mint pesto, peas, and ricotta

If, for some reason, I started a list of "most adorable foodstuffs," orecchiette would be near the top.  They would place right above kiwiberries (kiwis about the size of a grape tomato, squee) and behind any cake frosted to look like an animal (particularly a monkey).  Orecchiette means "little ears" in Italian, because of its vaguely ear-like shape.  This utterly darling moniker gives it the clear edge over, say, the kumquat—sorry, kumquat, I'm digging your tiny fruit vibe (see above re: kiwiberries), but if you want to win this thing, try to put more effort in your name, 'm kay?

While orecchiette are objectively adorable, I have to admit that I don't love them—they lose points because of their tendency to stick together, forming a massive pasta clump so large that I worry it may someday grow a brain and overtake the earth and we will have to worship clumpy pasta overlords.  My husband, though, loves these little ears specifically because of that glomming effect, which is an easy way to just mainline straight starch.  Incidentally, if anyone can recommend a tried-and-true nonstick method, please share, because my household has a real problem with starch comas.  (And don't suggest "just don't eat the clumps" because, for real, there would be mutiny.)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

black soybean bowl with brown rice and quick-pickled vegetables

I suspect that by now, many of you are in a new place where you're going to stay for a day or two, perhaps for even longer.  Maybe there is an evergreen to dress up all sparkly, and some little ones running around underfoot.  Maybe there are some gifts yet to be wrapped (or all of them, in my case).  And almost definitely there are cookies to be eaten, or eggnog to be drunk, or gingerbread homes to be nibbled piece by piece until the little gingerpeople are totally homeless and then there's nothing to do but to eat them, too.

Or maybe, all of the above.  This is the time of year when I revel in excess, pouring a second or third glass of eggnog with a breezy cry of "tis the season!"  I don't ever count calories, but at some point my body just hits a wall and I have to dial it back—or, I slip into an eggnog-induced coma.  Whichever comes first.  (Usually, it's the coma.)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

mashed potato pancakes

If ever I had foreseen, during the 2.5 years this blog has been in existence, that I would be writing a recipe with a mere TWO ingredients (and for Thanksgiving, no less), I think I might have quit on the spot.  This is the future of food writing?  There is no need to go on.

Well.  This recipe isn't exactly for Thanksgiving; it's for those lazy days afterwards when you've eaten too much and walked too little, and your fridge is crowded with leftovers that are perfectly fine on their own, but why not spruce things up a little?  I learned the magic of doctoring leftovers a few years ago, when I went down to Jersey to spend Thanksgiving with a friend who had just gotten back from two years in the Peace Corps—lucky her, living in Kazakhstan right when Borat became a thing.  Most of her family had come to Jersey to welcome her back, and we all sat down to Thanksgiving dinner that had been cooked on a hotel stove with only a couple of pots, one pan, and a colander.  It was delightful.

For some reason, during that dinner I learned the Russian word for pancake (blin—pronounced 'bleen'), which was totally appropriate for two reasons:

First, because in Russian, 'blin' can be shouted as an expression of dismay, as in 'darn!' or 'dagnabit!'
This was done several hundred times during some rousing games of Apples to Apples.