July, 2007 Archive

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

pate brisee, galette and hand pies

blackberry-nectarine galettes

Is there anything better than pâte brisée? Cubed butter, an avalanche of flour and a pinch of sugar or salt and sometimes both pulsed in the food processor until it has been divided again and again into pea-sized bits and then glued together with a trickle of ice cold water. I’m convinced that there’s nothing that can’t be done with it, from pie… and really, we could stop right here: Pie. Pie after a movie. Rhymes with sigh. But there are also tarts and quiche very tiny, decorative cookies. Really, the possibilities are endless.


And yet, because without “and yet”-s, there really is no discourse, twice in the past month, pate brisee has not come through for me. It was too stiff and pretty unyielding, cracking when it should have bent and tearing when it should have twisted, kind of like the guy in the back of yoga class that always gets dragged there by his girlfriend. And while they both still deserve mad props–the boyfriend for making a room full of mostly women wish their boys would ever embarrass themselves publicly for the sake of love and imbuing them bragging-to-girlfriends rights, and the pate brisee for remaining delicious even when springing leaks aplenty–I can’t help but have a nagging feeling that there must be a better option.

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, July 26, 2007

zucchini bread

zucchini for zucchini bread

If any thing could tear me from my at times maniacal devotion to small spaces, walk-up apartments, crowded sidewalks and our crystal rattling at 11:30 p.m. on a Sunday while the stench of hot tar seeps in through our leaky windows because the City decided this would be a good time to repave the avenue below, it would be the suburban pastoral longing for a backyard garden where I could grow tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and herbs.


Growing up, this is what my parents set aside a space on the side of the house for, lined by a raspberry bush and just steps from the sour cherry tree. Sadly, the tree died just as I developed a taste for the tart cherries, the raspberry bush became overrun with poison ivy, and the last round of landscaping whittled the garden area to half its size, but I swear, somewhere in the back there is still a matted indentation from the Summer of the Zucchini Bats.

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

pearl couscous with olives and roasted tomatoes

pearl couscous with olives and roasted tomatoes

I’ve had a minor fixation with Israeli couscous, the larger, more pearl-like variety of couscous, since my first year of graduate school. A friend of one of my housemates who was working as a live-in nanny-slash-cook for a wealthy family in Bethesda, brought over some leftovers from the family’s dinner and what was this? This smattering of white polka dots through a tangle of greens and vegetables? You call it couscous, too? Why has nobody told me about this before!


Of course, back then I could barely find it anywhere, except occasionally at the Fresh Fields in upper Georgetown where they had those bins which I still miss today when I’m forced to buy half a pound of pecans when I need a half-cup. But even there, Israeli couscous was something of an enigma.

Continued after the jump »

Friday, July 20, 2007

cherry clafoutis

cherries galorie

You know what? I’m having a fantastic summer. Life is incredibly sweet, juicy opportunities for personal and professional development are cropping up left and right, we’re going to Napa in one month and — I’m thrilled.

Its terrible how little I like to talk about this, how fearful even the most level-headed of us can be of jinxing out all the good in the world by bringing it up. I mean, really. There is a difference between flaunting or bragging about a good life and celebrating it, or at least there ought to be. Did I tell you Alex and I had a little paper airplane flying contest before we went to bed two nights ago? Yeah, things are that kind of fun.

cherries cherries

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, July 19, 2007

red pepper soup

red pepper soup

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. You see, I’ve told you about a lot of soups–I mean, a lot of soups–but I haven’t gotten to share with you this awesome red pepper soup I plucked from the New York Times nearly two years ago because I started this site just a little bit past pepper season.

red bell pepper

So, for ten months, I have tap-tap-tapped my feet until peak peck-o-pepper-picking time came round again and I could tell you about what a find this soup really was. And yesterday, yesterday when I hadn’t planned to make dinner because I was tired and completely uninspired, on the way home it hit me that there is no more legitimate time of year to buy pepper than the present, and suddenly I was enticed into cooking again. So, I swung into Garden of Eden–which by the way, charges the same atrocious prices for bell peppers whether they’re in season or not–got the two ingredients I didn’t already have and burst into the apartment with a “Ta-da!” and a “Guess what!” and a “I finally get to make the red pepper soup tonight!”

Continued after the jump »