April, 2011 Archive

Thursday, April 28, 2011

sour cream cornbread with aleppo

sour cream cornbread with aleppo

Despite living in New York City, a place where one could theoretically go to some fabulous new restaurant every night and not run out of places to eat for some time, we’re not big new-hot-thing chasers. When we go out to eat, we want to experience new tastes but also disappear for a couple hours, not ooh and aah over the celebrity at the next table while feeling bad about our clothes. But. Every so often a restaurant gets talked up so much that we’re unable to resist its magnetism and have to go as soon as humanly possible. This happened a few weekends ago and I’m so glad that it did.

wet, dry
aleppo

Of course, the Red Rooster isn’t just any old restaurant. First, it’s neither below 14th Street or in Brooklyn, which alone makes it unlike the other 100 restaurants there’s been buzz about in recent years. Mostly, though, the food tastes different. The chef, Marcus Samuelsson, was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and moved to New York where he fell in love with soul food and manages to blend these influences together into food like we’ve never tasted before. I’ll spare you the point-by-point on the menu, the web is full of gasping Yard Bird and Uptown Steak Frites reviews. I’ll only admit that we ordered too much, which we always do when the menu looks so good it is impossible to make decisions. Also, there was cornbread.

lumpy batter

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, April 23, 2011

crispy potato roast

crispy potato roast

I fell for a photo this week. It was on marthastewart.com and it looked like an accordion, or maybe a Slinky, of thinly sliced, crisped potatoes and my brain computed this as CHIPS. POTATO CHIPS MASQUERADING AS GROWN-UP SIDE DISH. MUST MAKE POTATO CHIP CASSEROLE (I was kind of like this dog here) and although further investigation of the recipe unveiled no actual use of potato chips, creamed canned soup or anything also that would really allow it to be titled a Potato Chip Casserole, it was too late and I was making it anyway.

spuds
peeling

Plus, I was looking for a gratin alternative for potatoes for my family’s Seder on Monday night and this fit the bill perfectly. It’s not that I don’t like, nay love, any excuse to drown potatoes in cream and butter and swaddle them in a blistered cheese lid, but given that there was already going to be a spread, it didn’t seem necessary that the potatoes be so over-the-top.

slicing

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

heavenly chocolate cake roll

le voila! barely a crack!

This is one of my family’s three cakes. The first one, a sour cream cinnamon chocolate chip coffee cake, came from my grandmother and her sisters, and my husband occasionally (but very quietly) threatens to skip family events if nobody is planning to make it. Nobody knows the origin of the second cake, my mom’s apple cake, but if you’ve gone to a housewarming party, well, ever and not brought it, well, I think you should have. And this is the third one. We make it on Passover but frankly, there’s nothing especially Passover-ish about it, aside from the absence of flour. There’s no ground matzo, theme of exodous or anything particularly religious about the way it is put together. In fact, while we’re being honest and stuff, there’s something particularly unholy about the way it’s put together in that growing up I used to call it the “sh*t” cake in honor of the word that kept slipping from my mother’s mouth as she tried to roll it without it cracking. It always cracked. I’m surprised my mother hasn’t killed me yet for sharing her yearly spasm of colorful language on my internet website, but I disappear after this post, well, you know…

bittersweet, in convenient 6 oz package
melted chocolate

I attempted to sidestep the expletives a few years ago and shared a doubled version with you that was stacked four high, a layer cake of the finest proportions. I included directions for making it as a roll cake — i.e. like a Yule log, or a Yodel, or a Ho-Ho… — but it seemed wrong not to have a post entirely devoted to the way we actually make it at home, and so I decided I would update the rolled recipe this year. Seeing photos of the process helps, I reasoned.

egg yolkspale yellow yolks and sugaregg whites, stiff peaksfolding egg white cloud into chocolate
the finished batter is light, foamysifting unsweetened cocoa over

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

blackberry and coconut macaroon tart

sliced

For the last few weeks, I’ve been going nuts as it feels like every single person I know that has a food blog, has read a food blog, is a fan of food blogs or eats food itself has been gushing over Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks new book, Super Natural Everyday. But not me! Because although I pre-ordered mine in early March, it didn’t arrive for what felt like an eternity. Every morning, me and my tiny partner in crime would take the elevator (always his favorite part of the day) down to the basement, where unclaimed packages often linger by the Super’s apartment and came back empty handed. Then we would sigh, get to work load up Twitter on my laptop and read that another two friends were gushing over a book I was being cruelly deprived of and shake our tiny fists at the Amazon Gods and cry, “Why must you make us wait?!”

dry ingredients
adding melted butter

Neither of us are very good at waiting, you see. Nevertheless, one fine day last week a box finally arrived and after careful toddler investigation of the package (Can I stand on it? Can I lift it? What will it taste like if I lick it? Can I jump off the 2-inch box and applaud myself when I land on my feet?) I was given permission to open it, take another magical elevator ride to the basement to drop off the box with the recycling and then finally his dad returned home and I was granted an entire bath and bedtime ritual to curl up with Heidi’s newest book.

blackberried up

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, April 9, 2011

french onion soup

french onion soup

I’m firmly of the belief that no matter what ails you in the realm of the kitchen, onion soup can cure it. Never cooked before? Don’t think you’ll be able to pull off the kind of cooking you believe you need to go to a restaurant to experience? Start with onion soup. Have only $5 to spend on dinner? Refrigerator is almost bare? Onion soup is your friend. Want your home to have a transcendent aroma bouncing off every wall, the kind that’s so distracting that you don’t even know or care what’s on the stove, only that you must have it now? Onion soup is waiting for you.

sliced onions, weepy blogger
after 15 minutes heating

I realize it was unfair to even make a passing reference to weepingly delicious onion soup the other day without refreshing it here. I talked up once in 2006, a lifetime ago (or several, if you’re this guy) but it was a very literal recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking which benefits from some streamlining. And yet, not too much. Onion soup is a remarkably simple thing to make but when simplified too liberally — I’ve seen recipes that instructed you to just caramelize onions for a bit, add stock, cheese etc. — the nuance that raises it to the transcendent level I’ve known it to be gets lost. Julia Child’s original version — with the very long caramelization of onions that I beg you not to skimp on because this is all the work there really is, the slip of raw grated onion, the cheese within and on top of the soup and starting the croutons toasted hard so they don’t fall apart in the soup — raises the soup beyond the everyday, without making it too difficult to whip up almost any day. Which I promise will happen when you realize the staggering gap between effort and outcome that Child’s onion soup manages to bridge.

after long, slow caramelization

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