March, 2009 Archive

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

artichokes braised in lemon and olive oil

braised artichokes

Given that I can say, without pausing or so much as batting an eyelash, that artichokes are my favorite food on earth, it’s kind of a bummer that they’re so woefully underrepresented here. Sure, there are Artichoke Ravioli, a quick Potato and Artichoke Tortilla, a a scooped heart filled with fresh cranberry beans, a gratin and some crostini in which they play a supporting role, but when you love them as much as I do, this is not enough. Nothing ever is.

busted artichokes

Artichoke season can’t come soon enough for people like me, even if the best we usually get are cross-country, battered and overpriced visitors. It is never enough to deter me, and neither were these downright busted looking ones I saw at the store yesterday for a reduced price. I pounced on them, as even with shoddy leaves, their hearts are in the right place, that is, center and endlessly delicious.

sauteeing shallots, garlic and carrotsartichokes in their braisescooping out the chokebrowning the artichokes

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

bialys

bialys

Growing up, I never gave bialys much thought. The bagel shop where I briefly worked in high school had us front-end people take bagels off the machine rollers, pinch together the centers, schmear them with the onion filling and leave them on a tray for the professionals to bake, and that was about far as I’d considered them — a bagel variant. Oh, and that they were excellent toasted with salted butter.

It was reading The Bialy Eaters, Mimi Sheraton’s pursuit of the chewy, onion-topped kuchen from Bialystok, Poland to Paris, Argentina and Miami Beach, Florida, that was a turning point for me. Although though the book is true to the subject at hand — bialys — the subtext is really about the narratives from the scattered remnants of Bialystok — only a handful survived the pogroms and Holocaust — recalling what they can about the rolls they used to make and eat. I hadn’t realized exactly how scarce they were, and became a little obsessed.

pinching the rollsbialys, second risesauteeing onion-poppy toppingstretching the bialyspooning the onion toppingbialys, ready to bake

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

homemade chocolate wafers + icebox cupcakes

chocolate wafers

People, I am so excited about this recipe, it’s pretty much all I can talk about this week. I mentioned it to a broker who showed us another dud of an apartment (more about that if/when we make it out alive). I mentioned it to a friend who doesn’t eat sweets (and we’re still friends! Really, it’s more for everyone else.). And I tried to explain it to another friend who has probably never baked in her life, who politely nodded, smiled and scooted out of the room. As you can see, I can be incredibly boring when I get excited about cooking. That’s what you’re here for.

slicing the wafers

I have been wanting to come up with a completely home-baked, from scratch and all-natural chocolate wafers for years. It has been an outright obsession of mine, since Alex introduced me to the fabulousless that is Icebox Cake and I was disappointed to learn that the only way to make it was to buy some often-hard-to-find Nabisco chocolate wafers with their own set of disconcerting ingredients. I knew a homemade recipe was out there — for crazy people like me, it’s not like if you’re looking for a shortcut, the store bought ones still won’t do — but I had a hard time finding it.

chocolate wafers

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Monday, March 23, 2009

beef empanadas

beef empanadas

I am a master of finding reasons not to do things. Why I shouldn’t make a new pound cake, when I already have recipes I like. Why there’s no reason to ever roast a chicken another way. And in this case, why I shouldn’t bother making empanadas when I already have the most delicious, flawless empanada recipe ever made. (And, apparently, the moxy to boast about it.)

browning the meatempanada filling, coolingbeef empanadas, in the makingempanadas, ready to bake

This is why on the topic of empanadas, the discussion has been closed for nearly two years. Even though there are more types of empanadas in the world than chicken and olives. Even though I had only made that one recipe, ever. Even though a friend would occasionally pick up these awesome beef ones in Queens before a party, and I thought they wouldn’t be that hard to make at home.

Obviously, I could not hold off forever and that is why you see here some long overdue Beef Empanadas and you know what? They were a great dinner. They’re also great party food, if you make them a little smaller. And they’re equally good to stash in the freezer, baking them off as the empanada craving hits, or for a light dinner. Like Hot Pockets, but you know, full of awesome, healthy stuff.

beef empanadas

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Friday, March 20, 2009

cream cheese pound cake + strawberry coulis

cream cheese pound cake, dusted

Meet my new favorite pound cake. I have had this cake bookmarked for, oh, 100 years or so and while some recipes that I unearth from their 100-year queue are the kinds of disappointments that did not improve with age, this is of the opposite variety: Why did it take me so long to make this? Here, let me kick myself a few times.

crackly top

I’d argue that it was fear. Pound cakes are of British origin, dating back nearly 300 years and their name came from the fact that original pound cakes contained one pound each of butter (four sticks), sugar (two cups), eggs (eight large) and flour (four cups), with no leaveners other than the air that was whipped into the batter. They tend to be a bit heavy and dense but it’s hard to argue that this type is not for you when anything else is not a true pound cake.

strawberriesstrawberry couliscream cheese pound cakecream cheese pound cake

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