April, 2008 Archive

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

brownie roll-out cookies

brownie roll-out cookies

Two weeks ago, Alex and I took advantage of the then-awesome weather and went out for dinner at a place with outdoor seating. One cocktail led to another and then Alex put his hand on my knee! No, just kidding. He actually suggested that we order dessert, and in particular, the homemade ice cream sandwiches on the menu. Who was I to argue?

feeding my cookie cutter addictionchocolate, pronounced

The two tiniest, most precious ice cream sandwiches arrived a few minutes later and, you know, the ice cream, it was pretty good. But the sandwich? The two chocolate cookies? Forgive me for using this over-tired metaphor, but they were an almost Proustian experience.

cookie footprints

You see, we made chocolate cookies exactly like that for Hanukah each year growing up. Why for Hanukah? Honestly, I have no idea. It might be that the only cookie cutters I remember were our Hanukah ones (a dreydel, menorah and Jewish star, the nuisance-y stamp type that it was impossible to get the dough out of) or that it was the only time my mother found the nuisance of rolling out dough worth it, but man, did I love those cookies, and I had to make them again, immediately.

unbaked brownie roll-out cookies

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, April 27, 2008

jim lahey’s pizza bianca

jim lahey's pizza bianca

Much to most New Yorkers’ aggravation, television screens were added the backseat of most taxicabs last year, effectively poisoning the one place left in the city not already inundated with a constant media blitz. Whenever I get in one, and yes, the television is always on, I immediately hit mute, but then find that I’m watching the images broadcast on the back of the front seat and not this gorgeous city whizzing by and then usually force myself to turn it off completely and restore my view to the window, frustrated that the choice has to be so complicated. I don’t like them one bit.

n'th picture of pizza dough

But. There was this one time, I think I was zipping out to Jocelyn’s this past winter and I still remember exactly what street the cab was on–Houston–when I had to drop everything and turn the volume up because what I saw before me was too awesome to resist: Jim Lahey making Pizza Bianca for a Time Out New York segment. And hoo boy, did I ever fall hard for it.

rolling out dough

A little background: Jim Lahey’s name may be familiar because he’s the guy who teamed up with Mark Bittman of the New York Times in November 2005 to show him the No Knead Bread-Making Technique Heard Around the Internet. In New York, he’s famous for his work at Sullivan Street Bakery and in my tiny corner of this city, he’s famous for teasing us for months about opening a pizza place so close to our apartment, I feel certain he’ll be cooking me dinner several nights a week, which is still plywooded despite a promised mid-December opening date not that I’m counting the days, minutes, seconds or anything.

Continued after the jump »

Friday, April 25, 2008

q&a vol. IV

[Volumes I, II and III]

on my way into work

Stephanie asks: Does Alex have an accent? That would be so sexy. My husband is from New Zealand, but sigh, no sexy accent. But hey, at least both are men are super cute and handy in the kitchen!

Much to my disappointment, he does not. But, he does say certain Russian words in that way people do when they’ve grown up hearing it said authentically. Like “zdrasvuytye” and “pelmeni.” Sometimes I try to play along and say Alex like “Ah-lee-yeg” or Odessa like “Oh-de-yes-a” but he just smiles and shakes his head.

doughnut plant

Jane asks: What would be your recommendations for eating out in New York? A couple of tips would be great.

Uuh… uuuh… You know, NYC has just a few places to eat out, from the super-posh to the 5-dumplings-for-a-dollar in Chinatown, so I am always loath to give suggestions to people visiting as what floats my boat my not float yours. We’ve had some fantastic meals at fairly expensive restaurants, but the thing is, in a city with a ton of household-name chefs, this seems less of a triumph. That said, Tabla’s Bread Bar and Tia Pol, both specializing in small plates at reasonable prices, are two of my favorite places to eat with no contest. Beyond that, my quintessential NYC food tour would include a knish from Yonah Schimmel, a doughnut from the Doughnut Plant, a pickle from The Pickle Guys, a bialy from Kossar’s (no link because their site crashed my browser!), bread from Balthazar’s next-door bakery, a croissant from the hole-in-the-wall Patisserie Claude and a visit to Murray’s Cheese. And yes, you have to walk to each of them or else is it is just gluttony.


Evil Chef Mom says: I hate when something just doesn’t hit the spot. It’s so frustrating! So what do you do then? Do you reach for a cookie, do you pout and think about what to do to make it better, or just give up?

It depends on how attached I was to getting it right. The cauliflower salad was no obsession: butterscotch pudding? Oh, it will be mine!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

cauliflower, bean and feta salad

cauliflower, kidney bean and feta salad

As Cathy so eloquently navigates on her site, cooking in New York City isn’t exactly a given/mandatory act, or certainly not the way it would be in a place that doesn’t have umpteen restaurant and take-out options in a four block radius. It very much a choice, something one opts to do out of interest in choosing what goes into their mouths in a place that makes it really easy to forgo this choice. Honestly, it’s not uncommon to look at an apartment in New York City and exclaim “Awesome! They just renovated the kitchen!” only to learn that new cabinets and appliances were put in two tenants ago, but neither got to turning on the oven. (Ahem.)

roasted flowerets

Despite running this site, enjoying cooking and being naturally curious about new recipes and trying ingredient combinations, it has never been cooking-or-bust for me. If I’m tired or uninspired, I’ve got no issue ordering a savory crepe from down the street or even a grilled cheese sandwich from one of the many diners around. I welcome the lack of dishes at the end of the evening (even while I look guiltily at all of the waste created from take-out containers.) It’s because of this that on the occasion that I make something I’m not head-over-heels in love with, it’s that much more insult to injury. I could have eaten anything in the world for dinner, but instead, I’m pushing this salad around my plate after lugging groceries up the stairs and nearly an hour of prep.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

almond cake with strawberry-rhubarb compote

gateau aux amandes

Remember those 17 flourless/Passover-friendly desserts? Did you wonder why one would make a list that numbered, say, 17 and not some easily identifiable round number such as 20? I mean, once you’ve gotten to 17, are those last three so difficult, so clearly going to push a blogger over the edge that it simply cannot be done? No, you don’t think about this? Well, lucky you.

But the list was indeed 20 to begin with, but I nixed* three because although they had very little flour in them and the odds were that it could be replaced with matzo meal with little melodrama, I didn’t want to wing it and accidentally ruin every one of your seders with my misplaced confidence. (So much for saving us all some melodrama.) Yet I’ve been staring down the Gâteau aux Amandes with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook for months now–a fairly simple cake with what I hoped would be a very intense almond flavor.

strawberry-rhubarb compote

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