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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Monday, January 6, 2014

parmesan broth with kale and white beans

parmesan broth with kale and white beans

This soup is the very best thing I ate in December, which is saying a lot for a month that involved the purchase of at least 4 pounds of butter. And it didn’t involve any of them. I know, I know — that’s crazy talk.

cheese rinds by the pound
smash some garlic

We had a last-minute dinner party in December, last minute enough that I basically ran to the store that morning and bought everything then cooked straight through until dinner. This is not my style. I’m a dinner party planner; rushing makes my skin crawl. But if there could be an upside to it, it would be that by planning the morning-of, necessary adjustments could be made due to the facts that 1. It was snowing very hard outside, thus, soup was in order. 2. A vegetarian friend (that’s not so strict that cheese is off the menu) was able to make so my beloved chicken stock was out for a base, but I wanted something equally magnanimous.

what you'll need

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Monday, December 30, 2013

rum campari punch

rum punch

If I were to sum up this year (which I won’t because I’m long-winded enough when describing a single day, it’s terrifying to consider what I could do with 365 of them), after I got past all of the good stuff — and really, it’s been a spectacular year, what with two book tours and several vacations and lots of awesome family time and dinner parties and and and… see, there I go! — I’d admit that at least from the vantage point of trying to relocate recipe ideas from my head to the kitchen to this computer and then onto yours, I’ve somewhat flopped and I have the photo IOUs to prove it. Would you like a tour?

blistered green beans

For example, I’ve been meaning to tell you about Blistered Green Beans ever since my cookbook went to print and I realized I’d completely forgot to include this as a recipe. It was meant to go as a quick-side to the flat roasted chicken. I’m sorry.

orange segments

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Monday, December 23, 2013

gingerbread snacking cake

gingerbread snacking cake

I have a few things to tell you about this cake today, and none of them at the outset sound terribly upbeat, but bear with me, cheer is nigh.

The first is that if you put this out in small squares, dusted with powdered sugar and in proximity to a hand-whisked bowl of lightly sweetened schlag at a packed tree-trimming party, one by one, the handsome revelers will fall upon them, take a big delighted bite, and then you might out of the corner of your eye note that cheer melting from faces into a brief pang of surprise as they realize that no, that was not a brownie, but an extremely dark and intense square of gingerbread cake. Oopsies?

what you'll need, mostly
very black molasses

The second is that yes, I know, I already have a gingerbread cake recipe on this site — what I still consider the Greatest Gingerbread of Them All — and that is still the one I make for every Christmas dinner I’m invited to. However, if there could be one bad thing about it, it would be that on a rare occasion, usually because it sat in the pan longer than it was supposed to or the baking winds were not in our favor that day, it does not like to come out of the bundt pan in one piece. Sometimes it comes out in several. Sometimes it leaves half the cake in the pan. Sometimes you’re trying to get it out of the pan a single hour before you have to be at a Christmas Eve dinner an hour twenty minutes away and you… you cry.

so many spices

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