Photo Archive

Friday, January 24, 2014

homemade dulce de leche

homemade dulce de leche, oops

Guess what, guys?! This weekend, we’re going to make dulce de leche. Or maybe cajeta. Or maybe both.

Step away from the cupboard; I don’t mean like that, the way we’ve always made it. It’s time to break up with the can of sweetened condensed milk; it’s us, not it. Because I’ve tasted the other side, the one where you take that milk in your fridge that you needed to use up anyway, the sugar that’s already in your pantry, a bit of salt, the smallest snippet of vanilla bean and maybe a cinnamon stick, if you so desire, and boil them together until it smells like the heavens exhaled in your kitchen and the mixture becomes the most complexly flavored thick copper caramel with a deliciousness will bring tears to your eyes. And no, I am not being melodramatic; you’ll see.

vanilla bean, canela, goat's milk, sugar
to begin, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon

It’s the perfect weekend project because you’ll want to set a couple hours aside, but only about 20 minutes of it will require actual work. Plus, the Polar Vortex came back to mock those of us who didn’t take the first one seriously enough to invest in all of the silk, thermal and Gore-Tex left in the city, or so it seems this week, and really, it wants you to stay inside and cook. And it’s now late enough in January — a month that included two soups, one salad, a dairy-free dessert and a whole-wheat muffin, seriously, Resolutions, I did my time — that you’re probably ready to reintroduce decadence (or, at least refined sugar and carbs) in measured quantities. I think this is how you should do it.

approximately 15 minutes inapproximately 30 minutes inapproximately 45 minutes inat approximately the 60 minute mark

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

warm lentil and potato salad

warm lentil and potato salad

You don’t have to look at me like that. I know, I know how you and most people feel about lentils. About how they’re mealy and brown and generally lackluster, like health food putty; about how you’ll eat them, sure, but only if you must. And how if I were trying to convince you that lentils are something that you will very much love if only you could try them this way, my way, that this yellow-and-muddy-purple-brown speckled thing up top, despite the ambitious efforts of the bright green parsley chop scattered over it, is not going to be the thing to pull it off.

what you'll need
lentils cooking with bay, thyme and shallot

But I wish it would. This warm lentil salad is a perfect mid-winter everything — a gorgeous pack-for-work lunch to keep you on this side of your Resolution karma, a perfect side dish to a roast, chops or sausage, and my new favorite thing to break a softly-cooked egg over. The creamy golden potatoes nestle among the perfect discs of thyme-scented lentils and the entire salad zings with finely chopped cornichon, capers and minced shallot that’s been lightly pickled in red wine vinegar, and a good grassy/fruity olive oil. It lightly crunches when you take a bite.

cornichon

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

pear and hazelnut muffins

pear, hazelnut and chocolate chunk muffins

We all know that muffins teeter precariously on a razor-thin line that divides the food categories of “Acceptable for Breakfast” and “Nope, This Is Dessert” and one must maintain firm boundaries during the breakfast hours lest the day that follows devolve into a full-on bacchanal of Resolution decompensation that ends with one passed out amid scatters of Cheetos, ketchup packets and French fry grease with a side of cronut.

roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts
peeled pears, but no need for you to

Thus, when I come upon a new muffin recipe — or in this case, when my son is told to pick a recipe for us to make from a new book, and he predictably chooses the thing that most resembles cake — I immediately assess the list of ingredients and label them accordingly:

cored and de-stemmed

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Monday, January 13, 2014

chicken phở

chicken pho

Last week, when the polar vortex, something that ought to be a frozen rum cocktail with an umbrella on top, but is sadly anything but, had begun to descend its icy grasp on all parts of the U.S., I made the best pot of soup of my life.

roasted onions and garlic
cooking the broth in a pot I forgot I had

I realize I said the same — well, I technically called it “the best thing I ate in December” — about last Monday’s soup and that you think I’m being a bit melodramatic and that I need to go to some sort of calm-down-it’s-just-soup rehab for superlative abuse, but you’re only thinking that because you haven’t made this yet. Because while Monday may have been all about the parmesan brodo, by Tuesday night, we were all, “brodo who?” as we dug into bowls of intensely flavored broth with huge tears of succulent chicken and a tangle of rice noodles, topped with everything from scallions to mung bean sprouts, slivers of jalapeno and crispy-fried shallots, basil and cilantro and heady splashes of lime juice, hoisin and garlic-chili sauce that nothing will ever be right without again.

chicken pickins'

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

coconut tapioca pudding with mango

coconut tapioca pudding with mango

Look, I know it’s prime resolution time. I realize that outside the 10 percent of you who have understandably succumbed to the explicit demands of the polar vortex with salted caramel brownies, the remaining 90 percent of you out there are swearing off carbs, gluten, fat, sugar, things that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food or things that even had a mother, while sweating off the holiday’s demons on stationary bikes. (Although I’m sure no matter how bad you may think things got over the holidays, surely none of your children announced at preschool’s circle time that his mommy was going to have a baby, which was news to you? Which led to you having to make an awkward joke about too many cookies in December? Nope, surely none of your angels would do a thing like that. Not unless they wanted to go to boarding preschool next year, right?)

what you'll want
chilled coconut milk, inverted, milk poured off

Ahem, so I realize that for most people, dessert is not an option in January, but I’m just not among them. I think that measured quantities of not excessively decadent desserts are exactly the key to resolution sanity and that there are few better vehicles of moderation-friendly desserts than pudding which is why in previous winters we’ve tackled everything from Chocolate Pudding (recently updated, even easier now), Vanilla Bean Pudding, Caramel Pudding, Almond-Vanilla Rice Pudding and Arroz Con Leche. This year will be no different, except for the fact that this is the year that I come out as a tapioca pudding junkie, no matter how weirdly old-fashioned that makes me. (… She types while dreaming of being huddled under an afghan in a granny cardigan with tissues stuffed in her sleeve.)

small pearl tapioca like styrofoam beads

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