January, 2012 Archive

Saturday, January 28, 2012

potato chip cookies

potato chip cookies

When I was in the 4th grade, my lunch table mates had a habit of taking the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that their mothers had lovingly prepared, (trimmed of crusts, devoid of frights like gloppy grape jelly) opening them up, arranging some potato chips over the filling and smooshing the sides back together again before eating them. I don’t have a single other school lunch memory to draw from. I don’t remember if I ever ate a Sloppy Joe, if my school district considered pizza a vegetable, or whether my mother packed apples or cheesy poofs (likely the former, drat) in my lunchbox; I also can’t remember the name of a single person at that table. But I have a have a crystalline impression, unmarred by time (and, frankly, the current brand of early senility that has caused me to need 20-odd minutes to recall the word “unmarred”), of the odd delight that was those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; I remember their crunch and I remember how they tasted.

the not-so-secret ingredient
about to grind the chips

How they tasted was phenomenal. I’ve tried to explain this potato chip in a sea of sweet, rich ingredients to people for years and they, as you might expect, look at me like I’ve done lost my mind (nothing new, really). My husband, a guy who loves salt the way most people love chocolate, doesn’t restrain himself from looking grossed out when I bring it up. But I know the truth: they are wrong, the potato chips are right.

chopped pecans

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

buttermilk roast chicken

buttermilk roasted chicken

Without a doubt, the very best part of fried chicken is the battered, seasoned, gold-tinged and impossibly crisp exterior. But, as far as I’m concerned, the tender chicken within is no distant second. The best fried chicken recipes have you soak the uncooked chicken in a salty/sweet brine of buttermilk and seasonings for at least day, resulting in meat that’s decadent long before it hits the fryer. Wouldn’t it be great if the insides could garner the same gushing their pretty skins do?

the next evening
drizzled lightly with olive oil

This is what I was thinking of when I stumbled on an old Nigella recipe for buttermilk roasted chicken. Of course, that was four weeks ago and for three of them, I sat at a table piled with eraser dust and red pencil overlooking the avenue below, editing away dreaming mostly of the buttermilk chicken I would finally make when I was done. The recipe turned out to be a good place to start, but I wanted more — a longer soak, more salt, less oil, more garlic and, for some reason, I felt the recipe was itching for paprika. So, I went another round with it last night — finishing it with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of more paprika and flaked sea salt before roasting it — and this, at last, was the buttermilk chicken I had dreamed about.

sprinkled with paprika and sea salt

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

buckwheat baby with salted caramel syrup

buckwheat baby with salted caramel

Yesterday morning, at last, I handed in my cookbook’s edits. And I know, you’re thinking, “but I thought you already handed your book in?” and I had. Copyedits, which come back six weeks later, are like closing costs (or so I understand) when you buy a house. You think you’re all done and just have some papers to sign/designs to approve and then wham! Comparatively, writing a book is a cinch. Writing is like splashing bright paint all over a giant white canvas — look at all of those lovely words all lined up! Aren’t they darling? Copyedits are like measuring the space between each mark of paint and having to answer questions like, “This splatter is .25 inches from that splatter, and you call it a ‘blue splatter’ but this one is .5 inches away and labeled ‘splatter, blue’. Was this intentional?” There were about three of these questions on each of 390 pages, and yet despite the fact that this work consumed the last 21 days of my life, I frequently wanted to HUG this poor copy editor who managed to wade through my blather and find small adjustments that made sentences sing. She is a saint.

the makings of caramel
caramel stages

Nevertheless, the three weeks I worked on this had some unintended side effects, the first is that I missed you all terribly. I dreamed of nothing but buckwheat pancakes, buttermilk chicken and hearty winter slaws and could not wait to get back into the kitchen again. However, the saddest side effect of being swallowed up by work for a few weeks was oddly not that I now have something my husband calls my “editing pants.” (What? They’re soft and comfortable and they have pockets! And now we must burn them.) but from my son, who is now enough of a two year-old that he’s capable of telling it like it is: After three weeks of his mama having no time to cook, he now sees an I NY bag and hollers “DINNER’S HERE!” Oh, the shame. It burns.

copper caramel

Continued after the jump »

Friday, January 6, 2012

apple sharlotka

apple sharlotka

At last, I have a new recipe for you in the heavily neglected category of Russian food. How could this have happened, you ask? Are you not married to a Russian? Does your son not respond to the question “Would you like to go to the library?” with “Da!”? Are you not still in love with all of the Russian food you’ve encountered in your (holy wow) 8 1/2 years of courtship? And the answer is very simple: I needn’t cook Russian food because my mother-in-law does it so well.

great green granny apples
apple peelings

Weekly, she brings us deliveries of stuffed cabbage or Salad Olivier (which is one of my oddball son’s favorite foods) or blintzes or vegetable soups, oh, and farmers cheese, which I have come to believe Russians imbue with the healing/halo-ensconced qualities most American parents do yogurt. But, she never brings us this, and so I had to take matters into my own hands.

halved and cored apples

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

carrot soup with miso and sesame

carrot soup with miso and sesame

I hadn’t meant for this soup to be so quintessentially early January — that would be, virtually fat free, dairy free, gluten free (miso dependent), vegan and the very picture of healthful do-gooding. It’s about one cube of tofu away from earning a halo or at least being surrounded by singing cherubs. In fact, if you advertised a soup to me with all of those qualities, I’d probably run in the other direction because I am a dietary heathen, and I love butter, even if overdoing it in December now requires it in moderation. For the rest of time.

looks like january
carrots, trying to be artsy

In fact, the reason why I made this soup is because, in general, I don’t find carrot soups all that interesting and wanted to challenge myself to make one I’d love, and eat often. I turned to one of my favorite dressing recipes for inspiration — the ginger-carrot-miso awesomeness most of us know from sushi restaurants — and decided to mash up a miso and carrot soup.

ribbons of peels

Continued after the jump »