April, 2013 Archive

Friday, April 26, 2013

yogurt panna cotta with walnuts and honey

yogurt panna cotta with walnuts and honey

Guys, I just discovered the ultimate weekend brunch treat/decadent dessert that still contains a whiff of moderation/preschooler snack. The ingredient list is so short, and the cooking process is so simple that you’ll have the recipe memorized by the time you make it the second time. And you will make it a second time, maybe even within a week. It looks pretty, tastes luxurious and… well, most of you probably discovered panna cotta a decade ago.

lemon, gelatin, sugar, milk/cream, yogurt
thick greek yogurt

I’m sorry, I’m just slow. For example, this week I started reading this new book that everyone was talking about in September … 2007. And that’s just the beginning. Gallery wall? Skinny jeans? Arrested Development? Quinoa? People, I am on it. True to sluggish form, it’s been a full four years since my friend Nicole gushed to me about the wonders of yogurt panna cotta. I put it on my cooking to-do list, blinked, and that about brings us up to last week when I saw it on my list and thought, “right, wasn’t I going to make that a few days ago?”

yogurt whisked with milk or cream

Continued after the jump »

Monday, April 22, 2013

ramp pizza

ramp pizza with a little mozarella

It probably goes without saying — but I will say it anyway; this is an internet weblog, after all — that a whole lot of the food I cook at home doesn’t make it onto this site. I like to use this space to talk about aspirational cooking — things that have fascinated me because they were different or better or even easier than I’d expected to make. At the very least, I hope they’ll have a good story to tell or get someone else as excited to cook as I was. The work-a-day cooking (pizza, lazy meatballs, oatmeal) that fills out our weeks is hardly noteworthy stuff.

washing the ramps
trim the hairy ends

I also prefer to avoid gushing about ingredients most people don’t have access to. No, I don’t mean truffles or anything so fancy — I’m not secretly flavoring my pasta water with fistfuls of the Himalayan pink salt I eschew elsewhere — I just mean something that especially short-seasoned and regional and it feels little will be gained by crowing about a dish that 95% of people can’t make.

separate the stemps/bulbs from the greens

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

bee sting cake

bee sting wedge

Nobody could mistake me for a person who moves quickly. I “run” at a treadmill speed that would never catch a thief, and barely these days, a preschooler on the loose. It took us 3.5 years, until two weeks ago, in fact, to finally put the kid’s toys away. We’ve been “redecorating” the living room for the better part of a year — we’ll probably put the pictures back up in a week or six; please, don’t rush us. Thus, it should surprise nobody that it’s taken me nearly four years to conquer the cake you see here, which sounds even worse if you consider that it was a special request from my own mother, as this was her favorite growing up.

yeast, flour, butter, milk, eggs, salt, go
beat with the paddle attachment

In my defense, in that period of time, I moved apartments, had a kid, wrote a book, and went on a 25-city book tour, all while (mostly) keeping up with this here website and spending a truly horrific amount of time staring slack-jawed social media ahem, maintaining occasional hobbies. But I know the truth, which is that I’ve been intimidated by making it because I felt like I was cooking blind. The Bee Sting Cake (Bienenstich) is a German specialty and while my mother’s parents came over in 1935 and 1936 respectively, the areas once known as German epicenters (the middle of Queens, where my mom was raised, and Yorkville, in the Upper East Side of Manhattan) have now mostly dispersed, and most of the accompanying stores have shuttered. Calls to German bakeries to see if they sold it were almost futile, until I found one in Ridgewood, Queens that sold us a whole one that was rather awful; let’s not speak of it at all. The only thing left to do was go it alone, researching obsessively along the way.

more cake than brioche in batter texture

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

spinach and smashed egg toast

spinach and smashed egg toast

What do you make yourself for lunch, if nobody else is around? I bet you’re hoping I’m going to say something ambitious, like “a gently poached chicken breast, cooled and sliced across a vegetable salad with a hand-whisked vinaigrette,” because that happens, ever. Or maybe you’re hoping that this is where I tell you about my secret peanut butter fluff with crumbled potato chip sandwich habit, alas, I’m not even interesting enough at lunchtime to be scandalous. The sad truth is, if I’ve by some miracle found a couple hours to get work done in relative peace, I’m ecstatic, and I find hunger an inconvenience. If I must succumb, whatever I make for lunch must be quick, and tends to fall into the Stuff On Bread category: avocado, olive oil, lemon and sea salt, peanut butter (always low-brow) and jam (always fancy), or, smashed soft egg.

bread, spinach, dijon, shallot, goat cheese, eggs
minced shallot

I made a big fuss about poaching eggs a few years ago because I loved them but had a hard time getting them right at home. Once I did, I was triumphant, but nevertheless, have probably not made one in over a year, or not since I discovered that there’s an even simpler route to that cooked-white-loose-yolk-soft-edge nirvana. Soft-boiled eggs require no vinegar, no teeming water and no whirlpools, but they peel like a dream. My favorite way to eat them is broken open on toasted and buttered whole-grain bread, sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

two ounces of baby spinach

Continued after the jump »

Monday, April 1, 2013

lentil and chickpea salad with feta and tahini

lentil chickpea salad with so much stuff

I have an uneven history with chef cookbooks. I have learned the hard way more often than I’ve wished to that just because I might enjoy sitting down at someone’s restaurant table does not mean that their work will translate into an enjoyable home cooking experience — you know, one without sous-chefs and dishwashers, plural, at ones disposal, and a customer base footing the bill for the Himalayan pink salt. The best of these books make for wonderful reading and bring the fresh air of a new flavors and tricks into your home cooking routine but the worst, well, yikes. You’re not getting those hours back.

onion, tahini, lentils, chickpeas, spice, lemon, sage, garlic
cooking lentils de puy with sage, garlic

So, despite the fact that I gushed about The Breslin nearly a year ago and also in an interview for Amazon, and even though I’ve fussed over The Spotted Pig, I didn’t even consider picking up chef April Bloomfield’s* book, A Girl and Her Pig because the odds felt slim that it would provide me with anything close to the joy that her cooking does at a dark table in the Ace Hotel, with a grapefruit gin-and-tonic (swoon) in my hand.

toasting corriander and cumin seeds

Continued after the jump »