Thursday, January 22, 2015

fried egg salad

fried egg salad

Did you fall in love with The Crispy Egg? Did you, too, find yourself obsessed with the crackly lacy edges, the potato-chip like crisp underneath, the souffled egg whites, and the high melodrama of all of that hissing and sputtering? Did you go on a Crispy Egg Bender? Come, sit down. You’re among friends.

what you'll need
any excuse to use my julienne peeler

This is the next chapter in the crispy egg saga. It was intended for the next day, but I mistakenly got distracted with chicken pot pies, chocolate babka and fall-toush salads instead — my priorities are whack, I know. It came into my life when I went on the hunt for something more interesting to do with egg salad. I mean, traditional egg salad is oh-kay (although I prefer my take on it, with coarse dijon and bits ‘o pickled celery) but given all of the magical, wonderful ways you can cook and consume eggs, don’t you think the category of egg salad really ought to contain more clever intrigues than, say, curry powder and jarred mayo (shudder)?

assembling the salad

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

key lime pie

key lime pie

January, as far as I’m concerned, is a pretty mediocre month. The holiday party tinsel-and-bubbly frenzy of November and December is replaced with hibernation and Netflix binges. The charming first and second snowstorms pass and the ones that follow are met with more of a really? it’s snowing again? Squarely between Christmas and mid-Winter break, it’s too early in the season to be so weary of the cold, but here I am, counting down the days until the hi/bye gloves can literally come off.

butter into graham crumbs, sugar, salt
buttery graham crumbs

Fortunately, just when I’ve resigned myself to thinking it’s going to be as beige and bleak going forward as the paragraph above, January — as if implicitly understanding that it’s going to have to sell itself harder — presents us with a luminous ray of tropical sunshine packaged as citrus fruit. I become obsessed. This ridiculous thing I bought five years ago as everyone around me tut-tutted that it would never earn its keep is put into overdrive as we conduct methodical studies of the pros and cons of cara-cara vs. blood orange vs. pink grapefruit vs. tangerine juice. (Spoiler: they’re all amazing.) Citrus is as good as everything else about a biting cold sleeting day is bad.

a neatly-pressed-in crust

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Monday, January 12, 2015

mushroom marsala pasta bake

mushroom marsala pasta bake

Over the last couple years — a dark time in which I’ve slowly had to accept that my once-tiny baby with fairly simple needs now required real square meals at very specific times of the day, such as dinner, far earlier than we ever do and that he’d likely be looking to me (me!) to provide them or face the hangry consequences — I’ve attempted to increase my repertoire of two things: 1. Dinners that can be made easily in under an hour that I actually want to eat, and 2. Casseroles. No, no, I don’t mean the canned cream of soupiness things. I mean, the idea of taking disparate meal parts and baking them in a big dish until they’re much more than the sum of their ingredients. Plus, they’re dinnertime magic: they reheat well; they make excellent leftovers for as long as you can stretch them; and they rarely require anything more on the side than a green salad (for grownups) or steamed broccoli (for people who haven’t yet come around to salad). Long Live The Casserole Rethought With Minimally Processed Ingredients! is hardly a sexy catchphrase, but there you have it: my new battle cry.

what you'll need

In the first category, Alex’s Chicken and Mushroom Marsala from 2008 in the archives became a favorite again in 2013 when I began making it much more quickly with thigh cutlets. Within the second, I’ve been trying as best as I can to reimagine baked pastas into dishes that are less of a cheese-valanche and more of an insanely good flavor assault with a sizable portion of vegetables within. (See also: Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella and our previous house favorite, Baked Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage).

brown the mushroomsadd the onionsadd butter, then floursimmering until thickened

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

butterscotch pudding

old school butterscotch pudding

One of my worst cooking traits is that when I get frustrated with a recipe, it can take me years to get back to it. I mean, I’m theoretically too old to be having tantrums, kitchen or other, but there’s no other way to describe this behavior where I get frustrated, throw my jangly measuring spoons in the sink and huff off to gaze at jeans I could probably fit half a thigh into, which is how I mope.* Sure, you could just say that I need a little space, a break, it’s-not-you-it’s-me from the recipe so I can gain some perspective, and consider other approaches but six years? That is how long it’s been since I last attempted to share a recipe for old-school, dead-simple butterscotch pudding from scratch which refused to set. A six-year tantrum. (Fine, I snuck some pudding pops in there, but it’s so cold today, I cannot even look at them.)

for classic butterscotch pudding

There’s a reason butterscotch pudding is a classic, and no, and I don’t mean custard or pastry cream with 6 egg yolks and over a quarter-pound of butter. I don’t mean mousse, with all of those egg yolks, twice the butter and also egg whites and heavy cream. I don’t mean budinos, flan or any of the other luxurious jiggly desserts we order in restaurants. I mean, butterscotch pudding, the kind a grandmother would make with just milk and a little thickener, like the kind that comes in a box but will never, ever taste as good as this.

a little butterbriefly cook your brown sugar caramelbring to a gentle simmerthickened

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Monday, January 5, 2015

my ultimate chicken noodle soup

my ultimate chicken noodle soup

I blame Katz’s for this. Two months ago, when we spent a day out playing tourist — i.e. breakfast bagels, Madeleine at the New York Historical Society followed by The Dinosaur Museum of Natural History (what my son calls it, please never correct him) — we decided to finish off our shivering afternoon with a visit to Katz’s Deli, a place I hadn’t been to in probably 10 years despite living fewer than 15 blocks from it, and the kid, never, shame on us. Alex ordered the chicken noodle soup and this hot mess arrived and it was peculiarly perfect: overloaded with noodles, colossal chunks of carrot and chicken and I… was jealous. My homemade chicken noodle soup never looked like this.

making the broth
what you'll need, plus the lovely broth

Now, it’s not like we haven’t made chicken soup here before. I shared last year my favorite uncluttered chicken stock, which is technically just some extra parts away from a completed bowl of soup. I’ve got a quickie recipe for from-scratch chicken noodle soup in the archives, too. But what I didn’t have was what was in front of me, the kind of soup that might take the better part of an afternoon to make but rewards you with a depth of flavor that makes everything bad — threatened head colds, shivering wind outside, pangs of social media envy over apparently everyone being on a tropical vacation but us and also this taunting me every time I walk by it — at least temporarily disappear. Everyone needs a winter miracle recipe like this in their back pocket.

diced chicken breast

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