January, 2009 Archive

Friday, January 9, 2009

almond-vanilla rice pudding

rice pudding

Can someone explain to me how we can boil some grains, like oatmeal, in milk with a little bit of sugar and mix in some dry fruit and it is called breakfast but when you do it to others, like rice, it is considered dessert? These are the questions that taunt my brain when I wake up in the morning and realize all I want for breakfast is rice pudding but then force myself to eat “normal” breakfast food like oatmeal or an egg and toast. Or so I tell you.

fancy pants arborio ricesugar into milksplitting the vanilla beanstirring the pudding

Nevertheless, as my rice pudding craving has shifted from a delicious random thing I had for dessert last week — when our apartment was so cold, only stuffed cabbage, pirogis and comfort desserts from Veselka would warm me — into the kind of overdrive that demands I have it for breakfast (but I didn’t. Like I told you already.) and dessert all day, every day, it seems time to refresh my favorite recipe. The basic proportions are easy to remember but I like to step it up in some traditional ways — half a vanilla bean, a splash of almond extract at the end — and some that are decidedly less so, like cooking it with a bay leaf, a trick I picked up from this one and I know it sounds odd, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, okay? It adds a little something-something you might become quickly infatuated with. Oh, and I like to make it with arborio rice because the same things that make it dreamy in risotto — starchiness, creaminess — bring rice pudding to a whole new level.

rice pudding

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

squash and chickpea moroccan stew

Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew

Our first night in Paris in October, we had dinner at a great, inexpensive Moroccan restaurant in the 3ème called Chez Omar. The specialty is couscous, and the various stews you ladle over it. Alex had the chicken, I had the vegetables, but I hear we really missed out on the Royal, which is a big mess of meat. Served family style, the food was unpretentious, light and so healthy, I made a mental bookmark to try my hand at it when I got home.

chickpea squash stew mise

Which, being me, I promptly forgot about. What jogged my memory was a version of a Moroccan vegetable stew on Ask Aida on the Food Network last week. I think that Moroccan cooking can be intimidating: I don’t have a 1 3/4-Quart Le Crueset Cast Iron Moroccan Tagine in Caribbean Blue for the low price of $200, nor do I have one I picked up for $2.95 at the central souk in Marrakesh in 1968. (Okay, I wasn’t even alive in 1968 but for some reason, everyone but me seems to have a story about something fabulous they bought there when backpacking across the world and I am jealous.) I also don’t have a couscousier, yet astoundingly, I was able to pull off this squash and chickpea stew for dinner on Sunday, and it was delicious.

stew, simmering

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Monday, January 5, 2009

fig and walnut biscotti

fig and walnut biscotti

Lest you think my running of at the mouth about the evils of dieting meant that I was going to spend this month in the pursuit of only earnest foods, let me set that straight right now: all weekend, I craved a cookie and by Sunday, I’d had enough. No, I wasn’t going to break out the piping bags or the heavy cream ganaches, but when I need something sweet, I have learned that it’s better to have one and move on than to snack on twent-five other odd ends instead, oh, and still crave a cookie.

sad, dried figswalnuts, ready to toastclementine zestground figs and nuts

As far as my cookie demands went, biscotti seemed a perfect compromise. A little less rich, sweet and heavy than most cookies, they go better with tea, coffee or your morning yogurt (guilty as charged) than they do wtih a platter of even more indulgent desserts. I’d had this recipe from Gina DePalma, pastry chef at Babbo, bookmarked for years, and seeing as I am still wading through pounds of nuts and had some sorry-looking figs in the pantry, it seemed like perfect timing.

slicing the biscottihalf-baked biscotti

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, January 3, 2009

potato and artichoke tortilla

potato artichoke pepper tortilla

Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes eating “healthy” or at the very least, in a manner that diametrically opposes the Thanksgiving through New Years gluttony. Some people eschew meat, for others its just red meat, some give up cheese or bread or fat or potatoes — I mean, you name it, there’s a diet out there that promises that swearing it off is the answer to Thin Thighs in Thirty Days or You in a White Bikini in the Bahamas in 56 Days. …You know, just to throw out a totally arbitrary example.

potatoes, onion, roasted red peppercooking the vegetables

I am realizing increasingly that I belong to no dieting camp whatsoever. I mean, I consider things like portion size all of the time, and if I had meat in one meal, making sure the next one avoids it but I don’t think that there is a Magical Evil Food that when crossed off your menu will make pounds vanish from your hips.

cooking the tortillatortilla, a little overbrowned

Continued after the jump »


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