October, 2006 Archive

Monday, October 30, 2006

stewed lentils and tomatoes

stewed lentils and tomatoes

My husband and I really don’t bicker much. I mean, sure, there’s the whole “tone” thing which often gets misheard in a “you’re being snippy” or “no, you’re being snippy” or “well, you were snippy first” sort of way, but mostly, mostly there’s been just one argument of late and it goes exactly like this:

“But you’ve never even been to Forest Hills! How can you say that you could never live there?”

So Sunday, I did my part for marital harmony. We wandered about this corner of Queens where my husband once lived and where the two-bedrooms are slightly more affordable, and yes, I will agree that especially in that tudor part, this neighborhood is the absolute height of lovely. Fortunately, we do not intend to make any moving decisions any time soon, but that doesn’t mean that nothing good came of this excursion. You see, I bought not one but two (!) new cookbooks, completely blowing my less-than-one-per-year average out of the water.

How does someone who cooks as much as I do own so few cookbooks? Well, I stick to the basic, larger volumes and rely on my beloved magazines, food sites and your blogs for the rest. But, when I fished back through my rainbow-bookmarked Gourmet on Sunday morning to pick a recipe for dinner, upon reconsideration, few were as exciting as they’d seemed when I first opened it. The root vegetable gratin had about two cups of cream, and the brussels with wild mushrooms and shallots, on top of a deep-frying step, had nearly a stick of butter. Mon dieu! The hips! I mean, I’m not exactly fearful of butter or olive oil, but I eat something that involves any part of almost two cups of fat, it’s not going to be brussels and turnips, okay?

lowered ladder

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

bretzel rolls

bretzel rolls

Oh, my lovely bretzels! What happened to you? When we went to bed last night, you were the absolute height of bretzel perfection: round, dark, shiny, speckled with tiny cubes of sea salt and popping out from your plus signs, as if your goodness inside was just too much for you, also, to bear. This morning, you are damp, your exterior has shrunk a little and your salt particles wish to slide off your crust. I know it rained cats, dogs and elephants last night but not in here, not in your zip-lock bag!

I’m not kidding about that storm, though; I could argue with some confidence that the world did actually tip upside down last night. Specks from the bathroom ceiling are on the floor, water dripped through the kitchen skylight as well, and the top of it, as if it were the most normal thing on earth, is crowded with leaves. This is Manhattan, people, there are no trees anywhere near this window.

salty cross buns

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

easiest baked mac-and-cheese

creamy baked mac-and-cheese

You know, this really started out far more innocently than it now may seem. And yes, I know you are snickering, because how on earth can one innocently go about a process than concludes with spooning into a deep casserole dish crusted with cheese and pasta in a two to one ratio? Well, you’re me, that’s how; and you needed to use up some milk.

The quart of whole milk had been purchased last Saturday with the intention of using it in aforementioned spinach quiche, which, oops, didn’t require any. It’s sat unopened in the fridge since, leaving me the quandary of finding a recipe that used a large quantity of it, as my inner Yiddishe Mama would not allow me to let it go bad, and god knows I am not earnest enough to actually make my morning lattes at home.

My first thought was chocolate pudding. It’s not really my favorite thing, but would that score me points with my eternal-inner-child husband or what? As I searched fruitlessly for a good basic recipe that was neither a pot de crème nor a puddle of ganache, I remembered that I also had a chunk of Cabot extra sharp cheddar to use up and now do you see how these things come to pass? Mac and cheese is one of these sinful beauts that I encourage everyone to make, at least once. There’s no comparison, not even a nominal one, to the box mixes, and if I told that the essence of most recipes is to boil milk, stir in cheese, pour it over par-baked pasta and bake it until it’s crusted, would you then believe me?

creamy baked mac-and-cheese

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

pumpkin muffins

pumpkin muffins

See, now I’m a girl who keeps my promises, eh? About everything but picking up the dry-cleaning, at least. As I expected, these pumpkin muffins were a cinch, which is good, because I expect that from my muffins. They should max out at two bowls for prep, you should be able to mix them by hand and there shouldn’t be any excessively difficult steps. It’s not rocket science.

This recipe was all of that, plus, I discovered something – you know how they always say not to over-mix muffins? A large wire whisk, when mixing by hand, really allows you to incorporate all of the drying ingredients quickly without mashing them up too much. It’s made it much harder to overdo it, despite my better efforts.

crimped-up

And now, the part where I am a moron, because what entry would be complete without a little self-deprecation? Evidence the first: the recipe calls for a solid-pack pumpkin puree. What did I buy? Pumpkin pie filling; you know, the stuff doctored up with sugar and spices and some crap with a lot of letters. In my first attempt at the batter, I had already mixed the sugar with the eggs and oil when I realized the pumpkin already had enough sugar. So, I dumped it (please don’t ask where, because the state of our kitchen drain is unappetizing at best). But, then it turned out that maybe the pumpkin pie filling didn’t have enough sugar, but at this point (evidence the second) I had run out. Of sugar. It baffled me too. The muffins could use some more, both sugar and spice, which was by the way the other thing that I skipped, assuming the pie filling had enough. Well, meh, not enough for my tastes.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

spinach quiche

spinach quiche

After a week that felt nothing short of chaotic and angsty, this weekend was just what the over-tangled brain ordered. Saturday, we headed to the surprisingly-empty and orchre-tinted foliage deprived Brooklyn Botanic Garden for a few hours. Still, wandering around snapping up this and that to contribute my quota of flower pictures to the internet was turned out to be exactly the antidote my week called for.

brooklyn botanic

Alas, no day could be perfect without cooking for the people I love, I insisted upon pulling together dinner for my husband and sister-in-law before heading out to see The Prestige. Along with the reheated stinktastic galette leftovers and the best pantry staple, Caesar salad, in some sort of miracle I managed to get my favorite quiche together in under an hour. I’ve been making this spinach quiche for so long, I feel almost possessive of it, forgetting that that somewhere, other people must too, and now I am encouraging you, also. It’s fantastically simple, three everyday cheeses, some green onions and a box of frozen spinach, and keeps so well, it’s actually tastier the next day, with the flavors cool, settled and happily enmeshed. Don’t be put off by its overly-healthy and wholesome appearance, it tastes like a treat and I can’t wait to feast on it with a green salad for lunch this week.

from the oven

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