Q&A Archive

Friday, April 25, 2008

q&a vol. IV

[Volumes I, II and III]

on my way into work

Stephanie asks: Does Alex have an accent? That would be so sexy. My husband is from New Zealand, but sigh, no sexy accent. But hey, at least both are men are super cute and handy in the kitchen!

Much to my disappointment, he does not. But, he does say certain Russian words in that way people do when they’ve grown up hearing it said authentically. Like “zdrasvuytye” and “pelmeni.” Sometimes I try to play along and say Alex like “Ah-lee-yeg” or Odessa like “Oh-de-yes-a” but he just smiles and shakes his head.

doughnut plant

Jane asks: What would be your recommendations for eating out in New York? A couple of tips would be great.

Uuh… uuuh… You know, NYC has just a few places to eat out, from the super-posh to the 5-dumplings-for-a-dollar in Chinatown, so I am always loath to give suggestions to people visiting as what floats my boat my not float yours. We’ve had some fantastic meals at fairly expensive restaurants, but the thing is, in a city with a ton of household-name chefs, this seems less of a triumph. That said, Tabla’s Bread Bar and Tia Pol, both specializing in small plates at reasonable prices, are two of my favorite places to eat with no contest. Beyond that, my quintessential NYC food tour would include a knish from Yonah Schimmel, a doughnut from the Doughnut Plant, a pickle from The Pickle Guys, a bialy from Kossar’s (no link because their site crashed my browser!), bread from Balthazar’s next-door bakery, a croissant from the hole-in-the-wall Patisserie Claude and a visit to Murray’s Cheese. And yes, you have to walk to each of them or else is it is just gluttony.

giardiniera

Evil Chef Mom says: I hate when something just doesn’t hit the spot. It’s so frustrating! So what do you do then? Do you reach for a cookie, do you pout and think about what to do to make it better, or just give up?

It depends on how attached I was to getting it right. The cauliflower salad was no obsession: butterscotch pudding? Oh, it will be mine!

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, November 29, 2007

q&a vol. III

sunday morning hash browns

Ah, NaBlo… It wasn’t enough for me to fail you once (friends over into the wee hours), twice (came home to heat not working, cannot blog while burrowed under ten blankets) or three times (I had already blown it twice, what’s one more?)–I have to go for a nice even number like four. Why no new recipe on Wednesday? Well, if you skip to question six, your answer awaits!

Until that situation rightens itself, I will have to bore you with one more Q&A, this one still leftovers from questions asked a few weeks ago. Hey, I promised I’d get to them, wouldn’t I?

A lot more cooking will follow this post, as I literally have more excuses to cook in the coming weeks than I have actual days in those weeks. I couldn’t be happier.

Shall we begin again? [Q&A Vol. I] [Q&A Vol. II]

measuring spoons

Mary asked are there any on-line sources for food or cooking paraphernalia that I would recommend.

Since I’m spoiled living in New York City, land of a thousand restaurant supply stores and dozens of kitchen specialty boutiques, I don’t do a lot of online shopping for cooking supplies. Even when Amazon can beat a price (it often does) the cost advantage is lost in shipping charges, oh, and my impatience. Beyond Amazon, Sur La Table is wonderful as well.

Mary also wants me to show you our cookbook collection, but I of course forgot to take a picture.

So, I have spent most my adult life trying to avoid buying every cookbook I want–there are too many, so many are just okay, and my space is too limited. I looked to buy tomes, tour de forces only–Joy of Cooking, How to Cook Everything, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and the Gourmet Cookbook (probably my least-used cookbook of all). Needless to say, having a food blog has gotten me over largely over my purchasing conservatism, but I like only like to get a new one only once in a while, or it gets lost in the shuffle. Some of my current favorites on the shelf are David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours and my two newest, Molly Stevens All About Braising and The Silver Spoon, which Alex surprised me with a few weeks ago but I haven’t started into–yet. My list of coveted cookbooks is endless.

Continued after the jump »

Monday, November 19, 2007

q&a: special thanksgiving edition

q&a: special thanksgiving edition

For once this month, I actually have a few really great recipes in the queue that I haven’t gotten to (as opposed to a frantic “I guess I have to make dinner tonight so I’ll have something to NaBlop!”) but I’ve received so many Thanksgiving questions in my Inbox and in comments on previous posts, it seems far more useful today to bring them up to the top of the page. Thus, I’m going to answer a few questions as best as I can, but feel free to weigh in on these concerns in the comments, or add your own between now and Thursday. Any newer questions I receive I will answer in the comments. Finally, I’ve rounded up some Thanksgiving recipes at the end, so be sure to skip to that if it’s all you’re really looking for.

piecrust101)

Leslie asks about how much the butter and shortening should be combined in a pie dough? She notices when she is rolling hers out, she sees flecks that weren’t incorporated–is this okay?

Depending on the size of the flecks, it is most certainly okay. In fact, it is that melting of the butter/shortening bits engulfed in fine layers of flour that create the holy grail of pastry: flakiness. See any significantly bigger pieces that were saved from the slicing blade? Pinch or cut them into smaller pieces.

bourbon pumpkin cheesecake

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, November 15, 2007

q&a, vol. II

q&a, vol. II

[Q&A Vol. I] Phew! You guys really came through with that Q&A request, so thank you. In the interest of not writing The Longest Food Blog Entry, Ever I’m going to handle these in batches of ten, in the order they were received, and pepper them throughout the next month or so. (Only on days where the task of cooking seems ludicrous–can I hear it for the day after Thanksgiving? I mean, seriously. That was the only day last November that I was skeptical about the value of daily posting.)

1. Jenifer from Houston asks: What’s your favorite messed up dish that turned out fabulous?

I suppose it goes without saying that even an undercooked, overflowing, cracked or, heck, fallen on the floor dessert is incapable of tasting bad. Fine, I’m just kidding about that floor part. What? Why don’t you believe me? That said, I have to admit that although there was too much stock/brown butter/lemon/shallot sauce in last night’s brussels and chestnuts, it was absolutely delicious over a bowl of egg noodles. I mean, I might actually make the sauce again, for that purpose alone. Total Eastern European comfort food–is it possible to feel your gene pool smiling? No Deb, that’s just weird.

2. Amy asks What is your very favorite tool in the kitchen? Which kitchen tool has the most interesting story (how you got it, something funny that happened while using it, whatever)?

I am a huge fan of the humble pastry blender. I know that some people like to use their fingers to rub butter into flour for crusts, others swear by the food processor (which I agree works splendidly) or the KitchenAid (haven’t gotten the hang of this for crusts yet) but I love the simplicity and fewer dishes involved in this simple tool.

I brought it home three Thanksgivings ago, actually, and Alex–wary of my mounting kitchen purchases, oh, if he only knew how bad it would get!–questioned whether something of such limited use would actually be worth owning. That night, we made three double-crust apple pies together and by the end of the night, he was a whiz with it. Since we were noobs back then, I didn’t say ‘I told you so.’ But I’m not above saying it now, heh heh. Even though I have a food processor and a zillion fancier tools now, I still go for it first.

I bet you didn’t know that someone can write 165 words on a pastry blender, eh? I aim to baffle, people.

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 »