March, 2014 Archive

Friday, March 28, 2014

whole-grain cinnamon swirl bread

whole-grain cinnamon swirl bread

A couple weeks ago, when we lamented the fact that the people who raised us and claimed to love us still didn’t find it in their hearts to provide us with the specific food products we yearned for (basically, we are all the Honest Toddler on the inside), I remembered yet another item on the denied list which was quickly added to my Writ of Grievances with my progenitors that I will carry with me to the grave and blame for all of my misfortunes, like that Amazon reviewer who said my cookbook was “tantamount to culinary fanfic.” Just kidding, I just took too many melodrama pills this morning.

what i used
a bunch of good grains and flours

But I do clearly remember a friend’s dad making us the most glorious thing for breakfast after a sleepover: cinnamon swirl toast with salted butter. The slices came from a package of bread with a brand name on it that we had in our own home, but only the whole-wheat kind, and as the full extent of the betrayal crystallized in my mind, I realized that this meant that my mother would go to the store, see the cinnamon swirl varietal on the shelf and reach past it for the one that tasted like sad. I expressed my disappointment made my case to my mother when I got home but I was ineffective in convincing her that sugary cinnamon raisin swirl bread was an essential part of my daily nutrient intake.

craggy now, but have faith

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, March 20, 2014

sizzling chicken fajitas

chicken fajitas with the works

Fortunately, for like nutritional balance and all that boring grown-up stuff, we did not entirely subsist on double-chocolate banana bread for the last few weeks, tempting as it may have been. We’ve also been making chicken fajitas like it were the early 1990s and they were all the new rage again.

for the chicken marinade
start marinating the chicken in lime juice

I don’t mean to mock the dish. I have fond memories of going to Tex-Mex restaurants in strip-malls (New Jersey, represent!) in high school and college, the kind of places that served slushy margaritas in cactus glasses and had waiters hurrying loud, sizzling skillets of meat and vegetable fillings from swinging kitchen door to various tables. But once the dish cooled, expectations usually did as well. Mounds of extras (chopped fresh onions, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro were the standards) turned them into passable tacos, but without the fixings, they were deceptively dull despite their dramatic entrances. I never imagined a future where hacking the dish to our satisfaction would be probably the only meal we’ve ever eaten four times in three weeks; we’re a little addicted and it’s amazing how well it works on a weekday night. [Or where I’d make my own corn tortillas for it, but that for another day, when I’ve returned to my sanity.]

rainbow peppers make things prettier

Continued after the jump »

Monday, March 17, 2014

double chocolate banana bread

double chocolate banana bread

I have a theory that Mondays are for repentance, for undoing whatever damages to your liver, psyche or saddlebags you’ve done over the weekend. They’re for getting back on the gym horse, resuming those eight daily glasses of water, and going to bed early. They’re for kale salad; they are not for chocolate cake. But, guys, those bananas that are one day from fruit flies are not going to eat themselves, and they must be addressed, which brings us to this.

what you'll need
mashed bananas

I joked earlier this year that I had a new mantra to address all future cooking indecisions: WWAE (What Would Alex Eat?), because my husband rarely chooses wrong. Thus far, it’s had spectacular effects: hazelnut-nutella linzer hearts, a chocolate-peanut butter cheesecake, and a dijon and cognac beef stew. (Don’t worry; my interests haven’t been fully occluded, see also: fennel and blood orange salad and stuck-pot rice — you know I can hear you snoring, right? — oh, right, and morning bread pudding with salted caramel.) And for years, he’s been angling me to put chocolate in my banana bread. “But why?” I’d demand to know. “Banana bread is perfect the way it is. Can’t there be one dessert that’s not improved by the addition of chocolate?”

melted butter

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

broccoli, cheddar and wild rice casserole

broccoli, cheddar and wild rice casserole

Although my parents claim to have loved us, there were all sorts of delicious foods that my sister and I knew our friends got to eat in their homes that we were denied in our own, glorious meal-like substances such as shake-and-bake chicken, hamburger helpers, sugar cereals with colorful marshmallows, and popcorn in that thing that unspirals itself and expands in the oven, like, whoa. Childhood was tough! Even now as (theoretically) an adult, I routinely hear about wondrous foods that I have never even once experienced, such as the broccoli-cheese casserole that someone (was it you?) requested I try my hand at earlier this year.

rinsing wild rice like a pro these days
what you'll need + wild rice in the cooker

Unfamiliar with the dish, I asked around and it turns out, I really do seem the only person who has never had it. That said, among people I’ve interrogated, reviews are mixed. One friend gushed that it was the only way he’d eat broccoli growing up, another asked me to please bring it back in style, but the girl at the coffee shop this morning said it “smelled disgusting and was often made with Cheez-Whiz,” (sigh, another magical food on the Denied list). And it would be journalistically irresponsible for me not to mention that the dish was called out by name by Cook’s Illustrated founder Chris Kimball in a New York Times op-ed in the days after my beloved Gourmet magazine folded as an example of the web failing to live up to its promise. “Google ‘broccoli casserole’ and make the first recipe you find,” he challenged. “I guarantee it will be disappointing.”

ready for assembly

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, March 6, 2014

kale and quinoa salad with ricotta salata

kale quinoa salad with ricotta salata

It’s not my best quality, but I have a hard time talking about kale or quinoa with a straight face. When an ingredient is everywhere, when it is treated as if it were the answer to all food questions — what might feed us dinner/a kid be tricked into eating in muffins/be juiced for longevity/and possibly even save the earth — I can’t help but want to rebel against it and both of these ingredients, these darlings of the farm-to-table circuit with their ubiquity on nearly every restaurant menu in lower Manhattan and upper Brooklyn, make easy targets. I know, I know, I should grow up and stuff.

we need more photos of food as it looks directly from the fridge
really well-toasted almonds

Fortunately, I took what should be clear from the preceding paragraph was probably an overdue mini-vacation this past weekend, someplace warm and sunny, someplace that involved flip-flops. Do you mind if we take a brief but gratuitous mid-article daydream break?

vacationall iever wantedvacationall iever needed

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