October, 2009 Archive

Thursday, October 29, 2009

baked chicken meatballs

baked chicken pancetta meatballs

As it turns out, I’m a sucker for a good meatball. It’s a funny thing because ground meat has rarely done it for me; I’m certain I’m the lone American who doesn’t get in a frenzy over hamburgers or meatloaf. But something happens when you mix otherwise dull ground meats up with softened bread, herbs, seasonings and bits of extra ingredients, oof — I will swat your fork away to get at them first.

onion, garlic, pancetta
meatballs, ready to mix

I’ve found some good ones over the years, such as the only ones you should ever serve with your spaghetti and these guys, which, if you have not already, you should not wait until next summer to try, not to mention the ones I sneak into sliders and soup. But as I hadn’t tried these before, my meatball recipe collection — and possibly even my life — was woefully deficient.

brushing with tomato paste

Continued after the jump »

Monday, October 26, 2009

silky, decadent old-school chocolate mousse

chocolate mousse

Did you hear? The Eighties are back. Right outside my very front door, people too young to have experienced the decade the first time around are parading down the sidewalks in leggings and high-top sneakers, shoulder padded blazers, thick belts and inadvisable doses of fluorescent clothing, without a stitch of irony. You couldn’t pay me to join them; I aim only make myself live down each fashion disaster once in a lifetime, but in the kitchen? Oh yes, bring it on.

almost ribbony yolks

Out of nowhere this summer (or perhaps out of the thin air of the 36th week of pregnancy), I began craving that 1980s dessert menu standard, chocolate mousse. And I didn’t mean, modernized chocolate mousse, the kind that’s been “rethought” and “renovated” into something delicious, but surely not mousse. I didn’t mean quickie chocolate mousse, which is usually little more than melted chocolate folded with whipped cream, if even that natural. And I sure as heck didn’t mean the chocolate pudding I tried to assuage my tastebuds with, which although really delicious, was no replacement for the decadence of mousse.

chocolate mousse

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, October 22, 2009

cauliflower with almonds, raisins and capers

cauliflower with almonds and raisins

Look, I know what most of you out there: “How on earth is she cooking with a newborn to take care of?” and that, quite possibly, one of two scenarios might be going through your head. One is that I am SuperDeb, a mutant human with cooking, sleep-deprivation-handling and time management superpowers, sweeping around my tiny apartment and even tinier kitchen in my Smitten Kitchen cape, trying to make all the other barely-holding-it-together new mamas look bad. Another scenario would be closer to something that you’d hear about on the evening network news scare report: Maybe Deb is a Bad Mother! Maybe little Jacob is crying and neglected while his mother selfishly pursues her cooking interests! You can practically hear viewers clucking their tongues in dismay for miles.

ingredients

The truth, as is so often the case, is much more melodrama-free, I hope you’ll be relieved for me to admit. The truth is that I’ve had a ton of help, namely in the form of Jacob’s papa, who was not only granted two weeks mpaternity leave, but his kind bosses let him work from home for another two, amounting to a whole month of round-the-clock assistance. That all came to a screeching halt this week when Alex returned to his office and I was left, for the first time ever, in the solo care of my own child. Needless to say, this week has been a leetle bit different in terms of idle time in the kitchen.

sliced cauliflower

Continued after the jump »

Monday, October 19, 2009

apple cider doughnuts

apple cider doughnuts

I have never met a variety of deep-fried dough I didn’t like. Yet, given that most doughy fried items out there are rather mediocre* — say, the chain donut shop steps from my apartment — I don’t find myself indulging this habit as often as I’d like. The exception to this rule is apple cider doughnuts, which I am absolutely weak in the face of. Despite the fact that even the loveliest looking ones at the farm stands tend to disappoint, I eat them anyway. Because it’s fall and crunching through ochre-tinted leaves, wrapping your fingers around a paper cup of mulled cider and eating even lackluster apple cider doughnuts is the right and proper thing to do.

rings and holes, ready to fry

Or it was. Although I am sure my timing couldn’t have been worse — you know, with a four week old to take care of, no biggie — I got a hankering something fierce last week for the kind of apple cider doughnut I almost never find around here — save this piping hot and off-the-chart perfect ones Alex and I shared at Hearth this past Valentines Day. When I realized that recipe was readily available on the Web, it was a short and slippery path to posing my infant son to a 3-pound tub of trans fats… er, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

apple cider doughnut holes

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, October 15, 2009

jalapeño-cheddar scones

jalapeno cheddar scones

I wore heels to the hospital when I showed up for my induction four weeks ago. Heels. And a sundress. Oh, and my mother and I decided to walk there from the doctor’s office, since it was such a nice day (we only made it ten blocks, but still). Heels. Sundress. A stroll on a lovely September day. I say this not to point out how ridiculous I can be — because really, I believe it points itself out — but to outline this thing I do where I get an absurdly ambitious ideal in my head and spend the rest of my time trying to close the gap between the dream and my reality.

jalapenos
white cheddar

Hm, perhaps that didn’t make much sense. Let me put it in food terms. Before I had the baby, I attempted to spend some time baking and stashing, no, not practical things like meals to save us from an endless rotation of diner eggs and takeout pad thai, oh please no. I made things like treats to woo extra-awesome care from labor and delivery nurses and granola bars that our families in the waiting room might enjoy and some date cake we could all enjoy with some fresh baby and coffee the next day. Like I said, absurd. I also imagined that we’d have an influx of visitors in the weeks after we took Jacob home, and realizing I’d have no time to put out my usual spread, decided to ambitiously bake some things we could set out as needed … like banana bread. And lemon cake. And scones. Except I only got to the scones. At least I picked good ones.

mixing the scone dough

Continued after the jump »


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