March, 2007 Archive

Thursday, March 29, 2007

arugula ravioli

arugula ravioli

At times, I’m sure I’m the only person in on earth who feels this way, but I’m not crazy about things stuffed with cheese. Save for a once-a-year indulgence of baked macaroni and a rare grilled cheese sandwich, I just don’t enjoy cheese by the cheek full. It feels too rich, indulgent. I think cheese was meant to be savored, bite-wise, in a setting where its delicate twists and turns can be pondered. It seems whenever the quantity is amplified, it has an inverse effect on the quality. Frankly, the dry, flat stuff that fills most ravioli is just depressing.

making arugula ravoili

It’s also boring. Years ago, in a tiny, nearly-empty restaurant in Venice, I had a taste of what ravioli could be were its potential ever actualized. Minced porcini and wild mushrooms bound ever-so-slightly by ricotta, or perhaps in hindsight, breadcrumbs, filled a thin, almost translucent piece of pasta, which floated in a subdued puddle of tomato broth. It was perfect, innovative, lightweight and healthful. I came as close as ever to recreating it in November, though stopped short of the tomato broth, serving them instead pierogi-style.

making arugula ravoili

Continued after the jump »

Monday, March 26, 2007

rich buttermilk waffles

rich buttermilk waffles

This is just soo typical for me–finding something haphazardly, deeming it the ideal, losing track of it and then spending really just ridiculous amounts of time searching for it again. But, considering without such, well, undoubtedly better-placed energies there would be a whole lot less of me and you at this URL, today I present to you: The Belgian Waffle.

The waffle-maker is pretty much tops most lists of kitchen stuff you will buy and never end up using. Considering that an ex-boyfriend bought me this Krups one probably five years ago and I’ve used it less than ten times since, I’d not going to argue that you run out to purchase one, even for the sake of the recipe inside that I will not shut up about for the next couple paragraphs.

Unlike a real, traditional, World’s Fair circa 1964 Belgian Waffle, which is yeast-raised in the refrigerator overnight, this one was more like a pancake batter in its simplicity, save for one thing–the egg whites were whipped separately, folded back into the batter making for a waffle that was both light but crisp. I loved the soft crunch on the outside, and determined this was the ultimate waffle but only got to making it once because I lost the booklet. The Krups website and countless Googles proved no help, and sure, I could just ask if you have this same model (odds are, one of you do) and to please share, but that wouldn’t be much fun, would it? Instead, I have tried a bunch of recipes since.

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, March 25, 2007

risotto al barolo + green crostini


Notorious egos and generally making a spectacle of oneself kinda bore me, so it’s little surprise that I don’t share many New Yorkers enthusiasm for the orange clog man himself, Mario Batali. Sure, I’ve watched his Food Network show dozens of time and even found myself humming along to his opening music, yet all of this brouhaha around Del Posto as the ultimate embodiment of foodie excess has nauseated me. Even if I had the spare change for a $90 rack of lamb, I’d never spend it there, or on that, no matter how great those party-favor breadcrumbs are. So, it surprises me as much as it may you that I’ve eaten there not once, but twice in the last month, and loved every last bite of it.

risotto al barolo, i mean, sangiovese

Of course, I am not eating at the restaurant proper, but one of the best kept secrets on 10th Avenue — the Enoteca inside. Forty-one dollars buys you four courses, and an extra nineteen buy you a sommelier chosen wine pairing for each course. (Try not to groan when they bring you a Bastianich wine. I swear, it’s very good.) The food is some of the best Italian I’ve had in this city, comparable only to Al Di La in Park Slope, and it impressed both my parents when we went for their anniversary and Alex’s family, for his father’s birthday. I’ve tried the veal ravioli with cauliflower, gnocchi Bolognese, pork marsala and even a teeny, tiny whole chicken–no eggplant parmesan or meatballs as far as the eye can see. I may be tired of this guy’s overexposure, but the food goes a long way towards making up for it.


Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

bulgur salad with chickpeas and red peppers

bulgur salad

One thing I have heard a lot of since I launched this site but six months ago is “I just don’t know how you find all that time to cook.” And while my typical response is that “Oh, well I don’t have a life so that makes it really easy,” and I’m only a little bit joking — my office is 13 blocks from my apartment, I rarely work past 6:30 p.m., I tend to wake up hours before my husband on the weekends, eager to fiddle with recipes that would otherwise be too time-consuming, and I don’t have the energy or the liver to go out many nights a week anymore — the truth is that aside from making some fresh pasta with about two pounds of wild mushrooms two Sundays ago, I haven’t cooked dinner for us in weeks. And I hate it.

You know the song; gym, errands, dinners and drinks and too many nights of getting home with no energy or, frankly, ingredients to start anything but pasta with butter and garlic, delicious but probably not the best bang for your caloric buck. If you are what you eat, I should be about 50 percent steamed vegetable dumplings, 30 percent black bean soup, 10 percent tofu pad Thai and an equal part mushroom, leek and goat cheese crepe by now, and while all of these things are excellent examples of the range of auto-dial food available in my part of the island, it does not mean that they are met with any less groaning as we pour through white container after container, creating a hideous amount of both waste and food ennui. Sure, things do get prepared in the kitchen — a biga at 11 p.m. on a Saturday, a soda bread at 10 on a Thursday, a cake on a Saturday morning — but nothing before 9 p.m., or you know, pretty much the point-of-no-return to start home cooked weekday dinners.

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, March 18, 2007

lighter-than-air chocolate cake

the best chocolate cake, expletive-free

It is clearly some sort of oversight on my part that I haven’t gotten to this before because no annals of my cooking life could ever be complete without at least a single mention of one of the greatest cakes I was introduced to growing up: the Sh*t Cake. The Sh*t Cake, you see, is a lighter-than-air chocolate roll cake with whipped cream that my mother would make each and every Passover. Unfortunately, as anyone who has ever made a Yule Log or other such roulade cake knows, they crack and sever easily and often, and can be mighty frustrating because of this. A nice, sweet person like my mother, who otherwise echews displays of gutter mouth might even be so irritated by say the fourth or fifth crack or so to curse aloud while her (frankly, precious) 7-year-old daughter watches, and comes in turn to rename the cake.


But despite the annoyance of making the cake, we still go at it year after year (I’ve made it too, and it has indeed kept its nickname in the process) because the cake is really one of the best in the world. It manages to have an intense, pronounced bittersweet chocolate flavor but none of the heft of your typical flourless chocolate cake (although I love them, they are so often like gigantic truffles and less like something you can eat more than two bites of without running your fork through sauce, fruit or gulping down quantities of water). Besides having no flour, it also has no butter, milk, cream or chemical leaveners. Frankly, if you have a bag of good chocolate pieces, a dozen eggs, some sugar and salt, you could make this right this very moment, though you might need to dash to the store for some heavy cream for whipping. Mwa-ha-ha, consider chocolate cakes as you know them banished.


Continued after the jump »