Appetizer Archive

Thursday, September 8, 2011

roasted eggplant with tomatoes and mint

roasted eggplant with tomatoes and mint

One of the things I’ve been fiddling around with last year is the idea of making bruschetta without, you know, bread. I shared a Thanksgiving-inspired version last November, but was itching for a late summer spin on it when I created this. I’m the kind of person who would happily eat appetizers for dinner any day — I’m pretty sure if I had nobody else to feed, I’d have subsisted on nothing but pan con tomate, blistered padrons, pink wine and Gossip Girl season one reruns the entire month of August — but it doesn’t really cut it with a family of three.

ricotta salata, salty love

Instead, I spend a lot of time throwing things together for the sake of being a grown-up, a grown-up who doesn’t really have an excuse (such as, she hates cooking or doesn’t know how to cook, etc.) not to make dinner but still forgot to make it again, and quite often, these meals involve some element of roasting the bleep out of well-seasoned vegetables high heat cookery. For the kid, that usually suffices but we grownups get bored more easily, and it’s from that boredom that I started making small, finely chopped and loudly flavored salads and spooning them on top of my roasted vegetable du jour. In this case, it’s eggplant with a Mediterranean-ish topping. We found it completely addictive and less heavy somehow than eating the same on pieces of toast.

alone in the kitchen with an eggplant

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, August 25, 2011

zucchini fritters

impromptu zucchini fritters

Everyone’s got their superheroes; I’m sure when I was younger they were things like Super Grover and later, Jem but these days, they’re decidedly more humble: I admire the hell out of people who manage to put homemade meals on the table everyday, as this has never been my strong suit. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve spent the last year or so developing recipes for very specific things — a side dish, a salad, a tart — that don’t exactly add up to be a dinner, and that NYC makes it quite easy to order in whatever parts of your meal you haven’t made at home. I’m a terrible multitasker — really, no fan of it at all — and when I’m making brioche, I’m making brioche, and not brioche with a side of a pot of beans with something braising in the oven, no matter how much I wish I were.

humble servants
shredded

It also means that more often than not, I have a 4 p.m. panic as, whoops! someone will soon be hungry and I have no idea what’s for dinner and true to form, this happened last Tuesday. For the better part of two days, I’d been elbows deep in a truly epic cake I was making for the book but it turns out that even when you’re the grown-up in the house, cake does not equal dinner, which of course crushes all of my earlier hopes and dreams about adulthood. Often we’ll have something around that can become dinner — eggs for omelets, vegetables for salad or even flour for a quick pizza dough — but we’d just returned from vacation and the fridge was sparse. For once, however, what I scratched together exceeded my expectations, in the form of zucchini fritters from the zucchinis that seem to be growing in my fridge this summer; I never remember buying them but they’re always around.

so tiny once drained

Continued after the jump »

Sunday, July 10, 2011

flatbreads with honey, thyme and sea salt

flatbreads with thyme, honey and sea salt

Crisp flatbread. Fruity olive oil. Nutty cheese. Warm honey. Faintly crunchy sea salt. Fresh thyme. I can probably skip the rest of the post, as what else is there to know? You might like all of these things separately but together: welcome to my latest addiction.

sea salt, olive oil, honey, cheese, thyme

This is straight off a restaurant menu, though I’m always a bit embarrassed to mention than lest someone from the kitchen of this impeccable restaurant be reading along at home and feel insulted by this bastardization of their worthy efforts. Maybe I got it all wrong. Maybe my memory failed me. Maybe they spent 24 hours kneading the dough to this work of flatbread art and I have the audacity to suggest that you can get equivalent greatness from something that comes together in 5 minutes. My aim to extol, not insult so let’s just call this an approximation of it.

spanish cheese

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, June 18, 2011

rich homemade ricotta

ricotta crostini, three simple ways

A few years ago, I made ricotta for the first time. I suspect a good lot of you just read that — the part where I made cheese/played cheesemaker/fiddled with curds and whey in my shoebox kitchen, not because I maybe forgot about a carton of milk for a few weeks in the back of the fridge and conducted an unintentional science project, but just for a good time — inched your cursor to the little X of your browser tab and navigated away. Clearly, this wasn’t the act of a sane person, though that does seem to be the theme this week. The thing is, a good amount of cheese that we eat — mozzarella, goat cheese, paneer, cottage cheese — come down to milk plus acid. What you do from there is your art. Except my first ricotta wasn’t particularly artful. It was a little dry and coarse. We spread it on pizza with jammy caramelized red onions and ate it happily, but it wasn’t the kind of ricotta you dream of. I moved on.

lemon juice for acidity
a thermometer helps

But then I fell in love with ricotta again. I discovered Salvatore Ricotta, made in small batches in Brooklyn, and frustratingly hard to find anywhere else as I want everyone in the world to have a taste just a couple months ago and I’m sure, years after everyone who pays attention, and sadly, for anyone around me who is not my equally ricotta-besotted husband, have spoken about little else since. [You've got to watch the video, okay?] I’ve never had ricotta like it; it’s nothing like the store bought stuff. This is very strained ricotta, almost whey-free, and it spreads almost like cream cheese but with a richness suggestive of whipped cream or crème fraîche. It’s not easily forgotten.

hard to see the curds at all

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

leek toasts with blue cheese

leek toasts with blue cheese

I get in a lot of cooking ruts. Except, “ruts” sounds like the bad kind of monotony, but I’m not sure that it is. There have been pasta phases, in which I was certain that any vegetable, chopped, lightly cooked plus parmesan plus penne made a perfect dinner. I was on a homemade pizza bender for a year or maybe five. There was a galette fixation, that still rears its head once or twice a year. And currently, I’m struggling to find a single food that doesn’t taste better when it lands on toasts.

leeks
trimmed, halved leeks

Hear me out: Even the most poorly stocked kitchens — self, I’m looking at you and your shop-for-one-dish-at-a-time ethos — probably have bread, somewhere. (Mine is in the freezer. I buy good stuff, and then don’t feel rushed to use it up.) And whether you’ve got diced prosciutto or an excess of greens around, cooking them together and dolloping them on toasts somehow makes them more elegant, more open-faced sandwich-ish, more light dinner-ish. Now that the weather is finally (finally!) warmer and the farm stands are green again, quick meals are welcome.

sliced leeks

Continued after the jump »


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