June, 2012 Archive

Friday, June 29, 2012

chopped salad with feta, lime and mint

chop chop salad with feta, lime, mint

I’m sorry, guys, but I get really boring in the summer. Like, hey-isn’t-it-nice-when-the-sun-shines boring. Or, let-me-tell-you-about-that-time-I-got-the-apartment-painted boring.

pile of pole beans
radishes

Okay fine, I’ll tell you anyway. Remember when I told you that on our Vacation From Parenting I had an ambitious to-do list but my husband was quite certain we’d be better off doing as little as possible? Well, Alex: 1, Deb: 0 and here it is encrypted on the permanent record of the internet. As it turns out, having to take your entire apartment apart to allow for painters is totally not fun at all. Sometimes there’s a communication breakdown that leads to you coming home right as they’re finishing up to find that your apartment had been painted the wrong color. Sometimes, in the same week, your bathtub is suspiciously filled with plaster, your door handle breaks and leaves you locked out of your apartment for an eternity, your air conditioning dies, and 48 hours after the painters had left, not a single piece of furniture got ambitious enough to move itself back into position, which means that you’ll probably be doing that for the remainder of your so-called vacation. Really, Deb [insert slow clap here] next time your husband suggest you do nothing but sleep, socialize and relax for a week, perhaps you might just not argue.

queso fresco, feta, ricotta salata

Continued after the jump »

Monday, June 25, 2012

triple berry summer buttermilk bundt

summer berry buttermilk bundt

Our toddler left us. Or, at least until Friday. Over the last 2 3/4 years, we’ve occasionally been blessed with the chance to go away for a few days sans bébé. We return well-rested and smiling, sandy grit in the bottom of our suitcases, traces of whatever had vexed us before we left deliciously eviscerated from memory, and almost giddy with excitement to start scraping spaghetti from the underside of the high chair again. But this is the first time — with barely a “Sayonara!” as he ran out the door or a single “Wish you were here!” postcard from the road — that Jacob has headed out for lazier climes without us. He’s spending a week at the mountain retreat of Camp Grandparents, where he’s forced to endure petting zoos, baby pools, wide expanses of fresh air, nonstop adoration, and, no doubt, all of the ice cream he can talk them into.

three berries
light and so very fluffy batter

Meanwhile, Alex and I have been left behind to attend to our assigned daily grinds and realize how totally dull this place is in the morning without a toddler buzzing from room to room at the crack of dawn, pulling on our earlobes to announce, “I’m awake! Wake UP!” and serenading us with ABCs on his guitar. We’ve also learned that we share differing interpretations of a week’s Vacation From Parenting. For example, I was thinking that, freed from the daily whirlwind of tight schedules, tantrums, irregular sleep patterns and spontaneous song-and-dance-and-marching! parties that life with a toddler demands, we could finally get caught up on things that have been neglected for the last 2 3/4 years. My to-do list for this week involves such enticing tasks as “Get the apartment painted!” “Rearrange furniture and pictures!” “Clean out closets!” “Meet at gym every day after work,” and “Back-up and replace laptops.” I was also thinking we could read and discuss “War and Peace” every night before we hit the pillow, but didn’t want to be overly ambitious. Alex’s comparatively modest list includes such audacious suggestions as “Get lots of sleep, get drinks with friends, watch TV with the sound on and the Closed Captioning off, and very little else.” Yeah, so who would you rather party with? It’s okay, I won’t take it personally.

folding in the floured berries

Continued after the jump »

Friday, June 22, 2012

cold rice noodles with peanut-lime chicken

last night's dinner

If you told me a week ago that I would willingly adding cold chicken to cold noodles and call it a meal, a meal I’d eat enthusiastically, I’d think you had lost your mind. The various intersections of cold chicken and cold pasta are littered with foods I’d rather forget, such as those macaroni salads with shredded, overcooked chicken, suspiciously squicked together with mayo in a clear plastic take-out container of dubious expiration at the nearest corner deli. Hey, who’s hungry? Probably not you anymore!

lots and lots of limes
lime garlic sauce, sauce 1

But in David Tanis able kitchen (and I hope you’re following his City Kitchen column each week as eagerly as I do) chicken is marinated with a potent mix of ginger, garlic, lime juice and fish sauce before being flash-grilled or broiled and then cooled and roughly chopped. It is then added to rice noodles as long and twisty as skeins of yarn, topped with lots of crunchy vegetables, a medley of two sauces (one loud with chiles, lime and fish sauce and the other nutty and perfect with ginger, peanut butter and toasted sesame), salted roasted peanuts, slivers of cooling herbs (mint, basil and cilantro) into something that’s about as close to a dream of a summery one-bowl meal as we can get, and just in time for our first inferno of a New York City heatwave this year.

peanut sauce, sauce 2

Continued after the jump »

Friday, June 15, 2012

chocolate swirl buns

chocolate swirl buns

A few years ago, I conquered one of what has to be one of the seven wonders of my culinary world, chocolate babka. Babka, if you’re new to it, poor you, is a brioche-like sweet yeast cake, usually rolled thin and spiraled around a filling of chocolate, cinnamon, sweet cheese or fruit, and is often studded with streusel. And I know that most people save their gushing prose for lemon meringue pie, 8 inches high, or brownies with swirls of peanut butter, candied bacon and candy bars inside, I know that most people hadn’t heard of babka before it became a punch line, but Alex and I fondly remembering the grocery store chocolate babkas — with endless spirals slicked with bittersweet chocolate — of our childhood and I couldn’t rest until I cracked the code at home.

a sticky, rich babka/brioche dough
grind your chocolate with sugar

Martha Stewart made it easy, as her late mother’s chocolate babka is the finest out there, and not just because it contains the complicated twist patterns, pebbles of streusel and touch of cinnamon that it’s just not right without. Nope, her version won all prizes because it was completely and totally, borderline indecently, overcrowded with chocolate. The chocolate-to-dough ratio is staggering. It’s… unseemly. It’s… some kind of wonderful.

your chocolate filling awaits

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

broccoli parmesan fritters

broccoli parmesan fritters

Last week, it was pointed out to me that among the 750 recipes in the archives, there is but a single recipe that utilizes broccoli. Just one! (It’s a great one, though.) For comparison, there are 11 recipes that use cauliflower and 26 with mushrooms. What terrible oversight could have led to this? I buy broccoli (and its friends) approximately once a week, year-round but this wasn’t always the case. I never disliked broccoli — I’m not this guy — but it wasn’t until my toddler took a great interest in chomping down on huge florets, raw, cooked, or three days old, that it became part of our regular rotation.

we go through a lot of this
choppped roughly

Please understand: this is not one of those stories about how preciously advanced my toddler’s tastes are, how early he took an interest in foie gras and how he turns his nose up at white flour pastas, preferring farro. Oh no. It is, in fact, the opposite. Let’s say you called me on the phone day — you know, presuming we lived on a planet where people still spoke on the phone — and said “My toddler! He eats nothing but macaroni and cheese and graham crackers! How do I get him to eat vegetables?” I would respond, without blinking twice: “Fritters.” Except my enthusiasm for fritters is so great that it would come out “FRITTERS!” in the background, I’d be doing jazz hands, and in my head, there would be Rockettes singing and high-kicking to this tune that I promise to never sing for you in person that goes, “Fritterrrrrrrrs! Fritters are the answer!” Let’s definitely never speak about this part again.

best part: mashing the broccoli

Continued after the jump »


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