February, 2012 Archive

Monday, February 27, 2012

fried egg sandwich with bacon and blue cheese

fried egg sandwich lyonnaise

Due to a delightful clerical error (a scheduled babysitter when we forgot Alex would be home from work), I got to have a weekday lunch with my husband on President’s Day. In a restaurant. With linens on the table and no sippy cups in a two-table radius! Oh, and maybe something petite, bubbly and pink in a glass. I admit nothing. But man, sometimes I think everyone should have kids just so they can get 80 times the joy out of excursions that would have been ordinary in another era. I am joking, of course. You should have kids because you detest sleeping past 6 a.m. Whoops, there I go again. It must be the pink bubbly.

what you'll need, besides hunger
frying thick-cut bacon lardons

It’s hardly a revolutionary concept, but like most parents, when away from a toddler’s totally respectably developed (his enthusiasm for both millet and cod, for goodness sake, far outweigh mine) but still quintessentially two year-old (“Mommy clean this” he said yesterday about a fleck of parsley on his carrot, while his father nearly fell off his chair laughing) palate, I go immediately for things he won’t go near, because, it’s cool, we can wait until your third birthday to introduce you do the joys of Sriracha. That day, it was a uber-bitter radicchio salad but quite often, it’s even simpler stuff — runny eggs, blue cheese, scratchy lettuces, sigh.

bacon vinaigrette so good you'll hate me

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

double coconut muffins

I hadn’t meant to disappear on you, and what’s worse, I have a terrible excuse: I took a nap. In the same week that I conquered my cooking Mount Everest — a lasagna I’d only dreamed about for the better part of six years, one that still took me many tries in the kitchen to get right and more than a week just to write — I was going back and forth with my publisher over the page designs for my cookbook, and (no doubt) giving some poor book designer some gray hairs. One day, I’ll remind my editor about that time I said that I didn’t care how the book looked, “just make it pretty!” and she’ll snort coffee out her nose. It will probably be a while. Nevertheless, the day after I posted the lasagna recipe, we finally found something that made everyone happy and now they’re designing the remaining hundreds of pages and that night, I think I slept a million hours. I did the same thing the next night and on the third night, when I yawned at 9 p.m. and said I was thinking about calling it a night my husband — who is the one who typically has a bottomless capacity for sleep and I’m the one who pops up at 7:30 even when it’s my turn to sleep in — looked at me like I had two heads. I… just had a lot of catching up to do.

coconut oil
really thick batter (yours won't be)

We’re also officially in the part of the year I affectionately call The Dregs of Winter. It’s not spring yet, in fact, it will at least a month before anything tasty or green emerges from the earth and another month after that before they will be good enough to eat. It’s not actually snowy and pretty enough out there to bliss out in a New York Winter Wonderland; in fact, it’s just cold and a little dull. Typically, the way I get through the blahs of winter is not to sleep through them but to begin plotting an escape. I start pining for someplace tropical, please, where the deep blue ocean meets the bright blue sky at a horizon so far away, it’s almost unfathomable to this city dweller, whose current vista is little more than the building across the street. And so I think about it, think long and hard about it, a book open on my lap, my fingers wrapped around a frosty, fruity cocktail with an umbrella and then I fly home a few days later, my usual ghost-like complexion faintly less so and my brain cleared of thoughts that don’t include “Is it time to reapply?” and “Are we too old to go on the water slide that leads to a swim-up bar?” You know, weighty matters.

batter in, when you don't have papers

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, February 12, 2012

lasagna bolognese

lasagna bolognese

This, this is my culinary Mount Everest. This twenty-layer striation of noodles, ragu, béchamel and cheese, repeated four times and then some took me more than five years to conquer. To be honest, six years ago I didn’t know what it was. Sure, I had heard of lasagna but I wasn’t terribly fond of it because I don’t much care for the texture of ricotta once it has baked. (Ricotta, I’d argue, is best rich, fresh, and cold on toast.) But I was galloping through a post on an Italian food blog and I stumbled upon a parenthesised side-thought that stopped me dead in my tracks. It said something along the lines of “I don’t know whose idea it was to put ricotta in lasagna but… shudder.” And I thought, but wait! What’s supposed to go in lasagna? But there was no answer, so I set out to find one.

minced mirepoix (love this step)
browning the meat, vegetables

Lasagna alla Bolognese is an epic dish. Oh sure, it looks like an ordinary broiled mass of cheese, pasta and meaty tomato sauce but it’s so much more. To make it as I dreamed from that day forward I wanted to, everything gets a lot of love and time. The ragu is cooked for hours. The béchamel (ahem, besciamella), although the simplest of the five “Mother Sauces,” is still a set of ingredients that must be cooked separately, and in a prescribed order. The pasta doesn’t have to be fresh, but I figured if I was going to do this, I was going to really, really do this and I wanted fresh, delicious sheets of pasta to support the other cast members I’d so lovingly craft. And the cheese? There’s just one, Parmesan, and it doesn’t overwhelm.

simmered and dreamy

Continued after the jump »

Friday, February 3, 2012

cheddar, beer and mustard pull-apart bread

cheddar, beer and mustard pull-apart bread

You might have created a monster. I went back and forth, again and again, before sharing the recipe for potato chip cookies. My presumption was that most sane people would find them revolting; that the comment section would be a string of “eww”s. Silly me! It turns out that a whole lot of you are closet potato chip sandwich lovers, and worse. You put Doritos on your pizza! You put Cheetos on your tuna! I am clearly among my brethren. This will only lead to trouble, as the next time I have a weird, funky combination of flavors I want to try out, who will stop me? Clearly, not you.

beer and butter
poured into flour mix with rye

Like this. For a while, I’ve been enamored with this idea of pull-apart bread, such as Flo Braker’s from her latest book. Yet as lovely as buttery lemon sugar is, or cinnamon sugar for that matter, is, I wanted to give it a savory spin. My first inclination was to go with the universally adored (but kinda overused these days, don’t you think?) cheddar, chives and bacon — i.e. baked potato toppings — but what I’ve really been dreaming about lately is Welsh rarebit, which I understand to be pub food in places I haven’t been lucky enough to travel to yet. It’s a thick, punchy, rich sauce made with cheddar and mustard and beer and butter and cream and spices and it is often ladled over a piece of toast, such as rye or another brown bread. And I want it.

a sticky dough that doesn't stay sticky

Continued after the jump »