Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Here are the links to my 5 favorite online recipes of 2008
5. Baked Beans
4. Meat Loaf
2. Pumpkin Cookies
1. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Happy New Year, everyone. Cheers!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I hope all of you, just like me, had a wonderful Christmas time. Perhaps it was because I left a city run amok with snow for vacation in sun and 60 degree weather, but week was simply peaceful and perfect. I let go of my obligations (thus explaining my lack of bloggery), and truly enjoyed every moment. I didn't forget about you completely, though.
I am very glad this year that I have this blog. Because I knew I was going to need something to write about, I kept mental notes of all I ate, and took special notice of the gift of food while spending time with loved ones. As a result, I have many more moments captured in my memory that I have in Christmases past. When I think about what I ate I remember having Hungarian bean soup with spaetzle dumplings with my grandparents. I remember eating homemade Indian food with my in-laws and nieces and nephews. I remember sharing an amazing sandwich with my mom after getting our hair done together, cheese and wine on Christmas eve, and drinking tea while playing games with everyone I love.
I truly hope that you all keep these kinds of memories through the holidays and into your new year.
Now this is Christmas:
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Hello to everyone!
I am writing to let you know that I had beautiful visions of making wonderful Christmas treats for you all. My plan was to bake knock-your-socks-off gingerbread and decorate them so beautifully that you wanted to cry and simply couldn't bring yourself to eat them, except for the fact that they smelled so good that you couldn't contain yourself. It was going to be great.
Since I am super busy at work this week, I had one afternoon to do this. One shot. No problem, right? WRONG! I am so embarrassed to say that I picked THE most disgusting gingerbread recipe. The cookies were awful, and I couldn't possibly give them out. It seems in all my baking talents I have a curse when it comes to making Christmas treats (if you remember the "marmalade" incident of last year). So after this I ran out of time, ran out of ingredients, ran out of patience, and ran out the door to work.
Rather than go through the entire process again, I went philanthropic. Instead of goodies, I picked out and angel tree card at the University Village, and on behalf of you all I bought a pair of pants, a top, and a magnetic toy thing set for Ernesto the 8 year old boy.
So Merry Christmas to you all from Raj and I. I'm sure Ernesto will be grateful.
By the way, just so you never EVER use this recipe, here it is. It was a horrid texture, and literally tasted like eating cardboard.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Last night I catered the desserts for a Christmas party, and in the process found my new favorite Christmas dessert. When I do parties, I almost always to petits fours. People just love tiny desserts, and it really makes a dessert spread look special. Not to mention the big eating trend right now- in sweet and savory- is little bites of everything.
The little guys I made last night are the most perfect for a Christmas party! Light buttons of meringue are layered with pillows of spiced whipped cream and topped with jewels of pomegranate. I can't even begin to tell you how beautiful these are. They look like little snowmen with holly berries for decorations or rubies on display.
And they are tasty, too! Between the crunch of the meringue, the softness of the cream, and the burst of juice, the mouth really has a lot of sensations to take in. They were a hit among kids and adults alike. I encourage you to try it!
Note: I used cinnamon instead of anise to give it more of a traditional Christmas flavor. You can use whatever you want to.
Merigue Petits Fours with Anise Cream and Pomegranate (on the right in the picture)
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup superfine granulated sugar
For cream and topping
- 2 teaspoons regular granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- Special equipment: a pastry bag fitted with 1/3-inch plain tip; parchment paper; an electric coffee/spice grinder
Preheat oven to 175°F.
Beat egg whites with salt using an electric mixer at high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add superfine sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed, and continue to beat until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks.
Spoon meringue into pastry bag and pipe 1 1/4-inch-wide disks (about 1/3 inch high) about 1/2 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake meringues in middle of oven until dry but still white, about 1 1/2 hours, then cool in turned-off oven (with door closed) 1 hour. Transfer meringues on baking sheet to a rack to cool completely.
Whip cream and assemble petits fours:
Finely grind regular sugar with anise in coffee/spice grinder. Beat cream in a bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds soft peaks, then add anise sugar, beating until it just holds stiff peaks.
Peel meringues from parchment, then dollop 1 teaspoon cream onto each meringue and top with 3 pomegranate seeds.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I LOVE this word, recessionista. I bet by next year this term will be in the dictionary- especially if the economy doesn't improve. I have mostly heard is referred to ladies who are able to keep up with fashion during this time of financial woes. I think it represents more. The word says that you can still be fabulous (that's another one of my favorite words) even if no one really has any money to spend. In the case of this blog, you can still eat fabulous.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
If I were single I would eat nothing but fruits, cheeses, and baguettes for dinner every night. Well, since Raj has been in class for business school half of the week, I have had a lot of single nights. Most often I'm missing the time I would have been sitting next to him on the couch after work, but since I know he's working hard for our future I make the most out my situations.
Anyway, that's what I did tonight. In the form of a caprese salad. Sometimes I forget how easy this salad is to make. Especially when you buy those little mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes. Put it together with some basil, good olive oil, salt and pepper, and you have one girly dinner! One other thing: I was surprised to find that many caprese recipes did not use balsamic vinegar. I personally think it makes the salad. But you don't have to eat mine. Go make your own.
Oh! And let me also remind you Christmas party throwers of the beautiful colors of this salad.
Just a reminder.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Until then I will have to keep trucking on and learning from the greats as much as I can. I remember most vividly the pumpkin pies from my grandma, but this Thanksgiving I got a lesson from my grandmother-in-law. Do you remember this picture?
Well, that pie was a collaborative effort. You see Eleanor (my grandmother-in-law) has an ever so famous apple pie that she has made for holidays for years and years. But for her, just like for many, when the pie fairy left her gifts, she took with her the vigor of youth. Eleanor does not have the energy to move about the kitchen, chopping apples to 1/8 of an inch, and mixing butter and flour into pea sized bits with her fingers, so I have had the honour of the torch being passed to me.
So, on Thanksgiving Eleanor sat right next to me, and instructed to me step-by-step everything I did. In fact, it was kinda like the movie "Ratatouille," where the rat pulls on the hair of the chef like a puppet. Except she did not sit on my shoulders. I concentrated very hard, trying to remember every little nuance and method. She withheld the magic "amazing pie" dust, but I imagine she's not allowed to reveal that.
In the end, I did not know how my pie compared, because I had not had years of holidays in that family to know what they were expecting. The consesus from everyone else was "not exactly like grandma's, but still just as good!" I could definitely take that! I really had great fun learning. Sometimes you can learn more from the people around you than you could from Julia Child. Now, for the kids who had Julia Child for a grandma....man....what kinda pies did that combination create?
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Edna Lewis is has been called Julia Child's answer to the south. Unlike Julia, however, Mrs. Lewis is not really a household name; most non-cooks will never hear her name. Once a person starts to get in the world of food, though- to really start cooking good food, her name begins to pop up everywhere.
Edna was the granddaughter of freed slaves. She grew up learning how to cook in the most beautiful, old fashioned ways- using a wood burning stove, measuring ingredients by piling them on coins, and just knowing by instinct when things were done.
In 1948, when female chefs were few and black female chefs were even fewer, Edna opened a restaurant with John Nicholson, an antiques dealer. Café Nicholson on East 57th Street in Manhattan was a huge success.
Edna did all the cooking. Her dishes were simple, delicious Southern food but the café attracted bohemians and hip famous people like Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Gloria Vanderbilt, Marlene Dietrich, and Diana Vreeland.
Unluckily for her, but luckily for the rest of the world, in the 60's she broke her leg and was forced to stop cooking in restaurants for a long period. During this time, she wrote The Edna Lewis Cookbook and The Taste of Country Cooking. The latter "was one of the first cookbooks by an African-American woman to reach a nationwide audience and is credited for starting the interest in genuine Southern cooking."
What is most special about her books, besides the wonderful recipes, are the stories about growing up in the south. It's like the Little House on the Prairie of southern food. Even if you are not one who likes to cook, you could almost just read her books like regular novels. If you are a cook, her books inspire like none other. I encourage you to check them out!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thanks to Raj (and a little to Gourmet magazine) for all these beautiful photos.
So, we had....
Goat cheese marbles rolled in pecans
Foie gras toasts with Sauternes Gelee'
Smokes sable tartar with marinated beets and watercress
Cranberry apple relish
Wild mushroom bundles with collard greens
Roasted sweet potatoes with fried sage
Brown family stuffing
Pureed parsnips with brussels sprouts leaves
One fantastic turkey
Celery apple granita
Grandma's apple pie
We cooked for three days, and the payoff was worth it
Especially when shared with family
Friday, November 28, 2008
Muffin Scoop $19.00. You can buy scoops of all sizes, and they are all very useful. I find the muffin scoop size to be most convenient because it is also the size of an ice cream scoop, and can make those giant cookies that you see in bakeries.
Electronic Scale $39.00. I am constantly using mine, and for more than baking. This is really just a must have for every household. You can use it for weighing mail, and pets, too!
How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson $14.00. My mom bought this for me about six or seven Christmases ago. It is the book that first got me into baking. Most of the recipes are very simple.
Cake Stand $29.95 Every baker needs her (or his) cake stand to display her (or his) creations. There are so many pretty ones out there. Crate and Barrel often has very cute ones like this.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
You may be thinking that I've found some fascinating research about how bacon has some newly discovered antioxidant, super vitamin, or electrolyte. The truth is that bacon is the same old bacon it has always been, pig fat and all. But don't be disappointed!
You see, I've always shyed away from bacon, just assuming that it was a bad, unhealthy, fattening piece of food that I did not need in my diet. After all, one tiny strip is packed with fat. And then I thought to myself, "Wait...one tiny strip is packed with fat?" And you don't need to go to culinary school to know what comes along with fat: flavor. So if a=b and b=c, then one tiny strip is packed with flavor!
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Restaurants are businesses, did ya know that? They are just like any other business, trying to cut costs and increase income. A big way that they do this is by using the motto "No Waste!" In other words, no scraps go unused. Vegetable peels and animal bones are used to make stock, cake crumbs can be used for decorations, old berries can be pureed, etc....It's actually a very good habit to use in your own household. And if you are good at managing money, a house can be run like a business also- trying to cut costs and increase income.
So I don't know if I'm breaking some law here, but this is the smaller version of the garlic butter we made at Whole Foods:
Mash up 2 sticks of butter at room temp. Using a garlic press, smash 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, depending on the size and your taste, and mix it in with the butter. Mix in about 2 teaspooons of herbs de provence, and salt and pepper to taste. Cut your leftover (or new) loaf of bread in half long ways, and spread the garlic butter generously on cut sides. Bake at 350 on a baking sheet until the butter is melted and the bread is getting toasty and golden.
And there you have it! You are welcome!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday morning(ish) we had our first meal at a Kosher restaurant called Kenny and Zukes. I was a little hesitant when I first walked in. It looked kinda greasy, but with all the $12 sandwiches of a downtown restaurant. Being that it was a Jewish place, Raj ordered a Reuben and I ordered a bagel with nova lox (smoked salmon). So it was greasy, but it was the good kind of greasy- if you know what I mean. The kind that makes you say, "Mmmm, good fries," but you don't get oil all over your fingers, napkins, and clothes after. They also served good tea. And to me, when you really think about it, a good sign of how much a restaurant cares is the quality of its tea.
Well, we left pleasantly full, walked and shopped a little more, and then we were ready to hit the road and get back to reality. On the way out we stopped at Vodoo Doughnuts, which everyone who has ever been to or lived in Portland said that we just had to try, to get a snack for the road. It's one of those hole in the walls that's been all over the food network and travel shows and such because they offer gigantic doughnuts, and also regular donuts with crazy toppings like various cereals, oreo crumbs, and bacon. Although it was fun, I'm a doughnut purist, so I just got a maple bar. I have to hand it to them, I could tell they used real maple and their dough was pretty good. Honestly though, it's really hard to impress me after coming from Seattle, home of Top Pot and Mighty-O.
So, that was our trip in a nutshell! Now that I know how near Portland is, I definitely want to go back and explore more. It's definitely worth it, and, oh, I failed to mention that we saved at least $100 or so in not paying sales tax! I'd say overall I had a great birthday. Thanks, Raj!