Intrigue Archive

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

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Happy New Year!

I had no idea how busy I’d been in 2007–and this is just a subset of what was cooked in the Smitten Kitchen this past year! Dare we top this in 2008?

icebox cakeAsparagus, Artichoke and Shiitake Risottosweet and spicy candied nutsgrapefruit yogurt cakecream cheese swirl browniesSalad Lyonnaiseenglish muffinsworld peace cookiesbaked tomato saucefresh pastahoisin pork ribletsfor beaming, bewitching breadsChocolate Chip MeringuesSour Cream Bran MuffinsSoft PretzelsRich Buttermilk WafflesLighter-Than-Air Chocolate Layer CakeSkillet Irish Soda BreadRussian Black BreadChicken Empanada with Chorizo and OlivesGreen Onion SlawMargarita CookiesBlack Bean Confetti SaladGnocchiMixed Berry PavlovaZucchini CarpaccioStrawberry Rhubarb CrumbleCherry Coconut Frozen YogurtCellophane Noodle Salad With Roast PorksevenBaked Eggs with Spinach and MushroomsRaspberry-Topped Lemon MuffinsPickled Garlicky Red PeppersPineapple Upside-Down CakeDorie Greenspan’s Corniest Corn MuffinsStrawberry Chiffon Shortcake Continued after the jump »

Saturday, November 10, 2007

our approach to food photos

balsamic reduction

As much as it flatters me when I get emails asking what my secret to taking pictures is, I rarely have a good response. I don’t think of myself as a real photographer, I never learned accepted techniques and I barely know what half the buttons on the camera do. If you like my photos, you’ll probably agree you can get far without this information (though I suspect you could get further with it).

poached egg

The majority of food photography advice I have read boils down to two main points: don’t use flash and style the food attractively. Honestly, these days I rarely do either.


While I of course use available light when it is, uh, available, in the evenings, when most food for this blog is cooked, I’m at a loss. Though for a long time I used a combination of available light/long exposures, a tripod and remote switch for evening pictures, I was only satisfied with the results about half the time. Often less.


Continued after the jump »

Monday, July 2, 2007

all your questions are belong to us

gooseberries, and some questions

I’m not going to lie: I have barely cooked in a week. I’ve been having too much fun being busy, catching up with friends, double-booking every evening, shuffling together some hopeful freelance projects, eating out in fantastic place after place after place, and oh, right, there’s the day job thing too! Fear not, this no-cooking spell will probably not last another 12 hours as not only am I itching for a home-cooked meal but I also want to start in on the goodies I have in mind for our nation’s birthday. In the meantime I thought today would be the perfect time to launch something Alex has been nudging me to add to this site for 11 months now: Q&A.

Anyone who has ever emailed me knows that I am either horrible, I mean, downright embarrassing in my tardy or non-existent responses, or flood you with so much information, it’s really a shame I didn’t just share it with everyone. Namely, or at least publicly, I’m hoping to address the latter and start a new segment for answering questions asked over email. But, while I’m flattered that you all think I’m so smaht about kitchen stuff, I’m actually not, and encourage others to chime in with their answers, as well. We’re all in this together, right?

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, April 7, 2007

arborio rice pudding


The end of a mano? Though my mother bought it for me nearly two years ago as a Bridal Shower gift, I didn’t open my white Artisan KitchenAid until last week. Could I be more ungrateful? Possibly, but in a kitchen with only one tiny counter-top, there is no room for a heavy kitchen tool of limited use, and little reason when you’re an avid devotee of the electric hand mixer.

Oh boy, could I have been more stubbornly wrong? Perhaps what I was really afraid of was the vanilla bean effect, where one use of it would transform my relationship into an torrid love-affair, and there would be no going back. Because people, have no doubt: there is no going back.


Last weekend was the weekend of eggs by the dozen. Twelve yolks needed to be beaten into white ribbons, twelve whites needed to be reformatted as an enormous cloud, and then there were the pavlovas, plural, not to mention the giant vat of whipped cream filling. Just a few weeks ago, my work would have rewarded me with an aching arm and a most-certainly splattered kitchen wall from that moment when I wasn’t paying attention and titled the electric beaters back ever-so-slightly, because you know, that always happens. But this time, my baking left me with a distinct feeling of uselessness. My egg whites, yolk ribbons and whipped creams no longer needed me. Once I put ingredients in the bowl and turned the motor on, I could walk away and attend to other things. Freedom!

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

six oddities + one apple glory

sow's ear baked apple pancake

I’m not a huge fan of memes, but Marce is simply too adorable to resist responding to. That said, limiting my food weirdness to six bulleted points was no small feat. I have innumerable food opinions and culinary soap-boxes, as anyone who has ever been stuck in a conversation with me that I have, yet again, segued to food can attest as their eyes glaze over and feet shifting toward the door. I believe that my husband has legitimate concern that I will one day shoot the television the next time one of the Food Network’s “healthy eating” episodes that suggest you make cheesecake with fat-free ricotta but still eat a wedge the size of your head as portion comes on, or when Michael Chiarello seasons his pasta water with a fistful of grey salt.

Come, step into my great tangle of food hang-ups and see if you still like me when you’ve made it to the end:

1. After being a vegetarian for more than 15 years, the thing I took most quickly to was bacon, followed by any sort of pork, mussels and then beefy stews in butter-enriched sauces. Perhaps I wasn’t so much a “vegetarian” all those years but “rebelling against Jewish food.” Meanwhile, I have no love for typically easy-to-love non-vegetarian items such as chicken, turkey and shrimp. I’d pretty much rather eat a beet than a grilled chicken cutlet, which I will insist to my dying day tastes closer to cardboard than something edible.

2. As the above should suggest I’m really quite the curmudgeon about food; cooking allows me to hide this: I hate beets, green peppers on anything but pizza and even then not really, find cilantro (the green, not the powdered spice or seed) distasteful, as well as most teas, broccoli rabe and kale,all chais, cardamom, caviar, cheese-stuffed or coated items, dolma, minestrone, coconut curries, mustard that looks like yellow paint, the vast majority of fruit juices, nectars and smoothies and the vast majority of California cabernets and chardonnays I have tried. Another wildly popular thing that bores me: molecular gastronomy. Please, don’t make me eat foam.

3. Discussing dieting makes me want to stick pins under my fingernails.

4. I will make bread, pasta, sauces, candy, you name it, from scratch but I find soaking my own beans too tedious to be worthwhile. That said, I used to feel this way about homemade pasta, and considering how currently enamored I am with it, I am eager to be bean-soaking converted, like if someone could convince me the flavor really is vastly superior.

5. I will defend Rachael Ray until the bitter end.

6. I am really, really not in the mood to cook tonight and hope this doesn’t mean I am broken.

But wait, there’s more: It took me a whole 24-hours to break down and make the Sow’s Ear Baked Apple Pancake Luisa posted about this weekend and truly, I shouldn’t have even waited that long. Oh puffy, buttery, apple-y gloriousness, I have such plans for more formats for you: Strawberries! Blueberries! Bananas! Pears! This is not hugely different from the German Pancake/Dutch Baby I made a couple months ago, albeit with fewer eggs, more milk, slightly less flour, a little more butter and of course those sauteed apples, and, sigh, I just don’t know how I ever liked it without them. Go. Make this and convert yourself, too.