happy halloween!!

one of my favorite nights of the year has finally arrived .... happy halloween everyone!!


happy anniversary sweetie

shana and ray in garden

these past four years have been wonderful.

you are my everything.

i will miss you when i leave next year. but that's why i love you. because you are always there for me, supporting me, my biggest cheerleader. i couldn't do this without you.

happy anniversary sweetie, here's to many more wonderful years!

the newlyweds


daring bakers: pizza, pizza, pizza

a cheesy slice

i've said it before but i'll say it again: i love pizza. plain, white, vegetables - you name it, i love it. well, actually, i prefer my pizza meatless. is that an aberration?

anyhoo, what a happy surprise when rosa from rosa's yummy yums picked pizza for this month's daring bakers challenge. and it was even more special as this month's selection was in honor of sherry, who was to co-host with rosa, but who tragically passed away this summer.

i just had one wee mistake. i've only made pizza dough once before and it was made, proofed, and baked on the same day. so even though i waited to the very last minute - because i like to put the challenge in a daring bakers challenge! - i was cool as a cuc, and anticipating a fun night of when the moon hits your eye ....

but this recipe from peter reinhart instructs one to rest the dough in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding the next day .... frickety frick!!

slice away!

well, there was not going to be any overnight rest and i made do with the time i had (about 3 hours in the fridge). this made the dough harder to work with as it was relatively warm and soft. i used more flour than usual to get it working. i also think next time i won't make the dough balls so small, as it is counter-intuitively easier to work with larger pieces of dough.

even without the longer fridge time, these pizza babies still came out terrific. it had a wonderful flavor, soft but crispy at the same time, it was great to bite into. but i felt badly i didn't do this recipe the justice it deserved. however, this is definitely going to be my go-to recipe for pizza dough from now on, so i'm excited to see just how amazing it can be!

for the recipe, from reinhart's the bread baker's apprentice, please check out rosa's blog. however please note the original recipe did not call for sugar, and listed oil as only suggested for high gluten flour like bread. for more pizzas check out the entire daring bakers blogroll, all zillion of them!

pizza #1: fresh mozzarella, anchovies, capers, hot chilis, and sauce (inspired from jaime oliver)

anchovies, capers, and chilis pizza

pizza #2: fresh mozzarella, artichokes, spanish olives, and sauce

artichoke and olive pizza

pizza #3: gruyère, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and turkey bacon. um yeah, just forget about that first comment about meatless pizzas! this one was definitely my favorite, so damn tasty. i loved having the gruyère instead of mozzarella, it's more flavorful and such a good contrast to the earthy mushrooms and onions.

mushroom, gruyère, and bacon pizza


twd: chocolate-chocolate cupcakes, boo-yah!


for this week's tuesdays with dorie, clara from the wonderful i heart food for thought chose chocolate-chocolate cupcakes and gently suggested doing a halloween theme for decoration.

there had been some lengthy discussion about the texture and crumb being dry, with lots of talk about ratios and flour weights. i don't think there are any "fool-proof" recipes (especially for baking) so i tend to think that any discrepancies mainly occur because of differences in conditions, particularly in the oven. so i decided to proceed as written, but keeping a careful watch on the baking time. i checked in 16 minutes and the toothpick came out wet; only 2 more minutes and it came out completely dry.

orange + brown = halloween?

the result? well first, the batter was soo good! that bowl hardly had to go in the dishwasher i cleaned it so well myself - no shame!

and the cupcake? amazing! moist and chocolately. i did not have any problem with it being a crummy dry crumb. i suspect that was related to my 18 minutes baking, compared to dorie's written 22-25 minutes. i would've preferred a chocolate buttercream, but that's just me (or is it you, too?)

i wasn't at all creative in the halloween department. but do you ever need a pretty reason to eat a chocolately chocolate cupcake??

for the recipe, please click here!

chocolate-chocolate cucpakes


don't forget about think spice!

tonight is the deadline for think spice ... think paprika! so get your spicy on, whip up a paprikan inspired dinner and email me the deets!

for more info about paprika and info on the event, click here. to see the chicken paprikash i made, click here.


do you see what i see?

for the more technologically advanced ... how do i deal with the fact that screens display color and brightness so differently? is there any way to compensate when using photoshop so that a digital photograph is rendered visually the same on any screen?

i am researching how to calibrate my own screen for color management; but assuming that most people don't go that far, is there any way to be in control of how others see my photos (who don't calibrate their screens)?


alsace onion tart

alsace onion tart

savory tarts are one of my favorite meals.

i had bookmarked this alsace onion tart a couple of months ago. caramelized onions in a tart? i'm happy to report it tasted as amazing as it sounds!

we used turkey bacon to assuage our fat intake guilt, and of course it tasted just as lovely. i was tempted to add a sprinkling of gruyère, but decided to leave the recipe as written. i never think a little bit of cheese makes anything taste badly, but this tart was perfectly creamy and rich just the way it was.


for the recipe, click here (from gourmet 2004, posted on epicurious).


in the home stretch: making chicken stock

only one more week to go!

nablowrimo has been fun, although tedious at times and because i want it to be interesting on the user-end i at least have tried to post something culinary-related almost each day.

but here i am, stretching it so to speak in the home stretch.

because a post about stock isn't inherently interesting. but oh so important. in the winter i am a big fan of making my own stock. of course, that was always vegetable stock. but now that i have gone to the dark side of omnivory, i wanted to start off the season with some easy chicken stock from leftover parts and bones saved from the think spice dish.

and home made stock is so so easy there is absolutely no reason for you not to make it yourself. besides some chopping at the beginning there is nothing you else you have to do. you can do a big batch and freeze individual sizes. plus, you get to use up the bits and bobs of the vegetables from the week so they don't go to waste (unless you compost). but the real reason to do it is to make everything you make taste that. much. better!

making chicken stock

my go-to easy stock is the from deborah madison's vegetarian cooking for everyone (you know, my favorite book of all time). i simply added the parts/bones after the vegetables had browned a little bit, and browned them some more before adding the water. i found her "quick stock" posted over at brin eats. i think the only difference between her "quick stock" and her regular "vegetable stock" is double the carrots and celery. but the quantity of items is not a science, and you can improvise easily. i always add peppercorns and leeks. this time i added chives because i had them (but no fresh thyme).

the next morning my kitchen still smells like that simmering stock from last night. which, i guess, could be a good or bad thing ;-)


let's make whoopie!

pumpkin whoopie pies

it's a pumpkin kind of time. i first saw these whoopies over at peabody and knew i had to make them. then by chance a couple days later i actually bought the baked book myself and still knew i had to make them.

they didn't come out as domed and cracked on the tops as i would have liked. but my goodness, these were amazing. so spicy! i loved them. i'm glad i halved the recipe otherwise i would have been in real trouble. as it is, i'm already ashamed to admit how many i ate in one day, oh it was a perfectly delicious, gluttonous day!

i promise, if you make these, you will love them!

recipe from baked

pumpkin whoopie pies: makes 12 large pies
from baked (2008, p. 151)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tb cinnamon
1 tb ginger
1 tb cloves
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin purée (yes, the chilling is important)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

for filling:
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 stick butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla

1. preheat oven to 350F. line two baking sheets with parchment.

2. whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; set aside.

3. in separate bowl, whisk brown sugar and oil together until combined. add pumpkin purée and whisk to combine thoroughly. add eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.

4. sprinkle flour mixture over pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

5. drop heaping tablespoon of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. bake 10-12 minutes, until cookies are just starting to crack on top and toothpick comes out clean from center of cookie. remove from oven and let cookies cool completely on the pan while making the filling.

6. sift confectioners' sugar into bowl and set aside. in bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter until completely smooth. add cream cheese and beat until combined.

7. add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth, but be careful not to overbeat.

8. turn half of the cooled cookies upside down (flat side up). drop a large scoop of filling on to flat side of the cookie. place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. smooch a little so the filling spreads. put the whoopie pies in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving.

pumpkin whoopies


cook book and travel advice needed!

my dear readers, there are a few of you out there who i think might be able to help me with two questions ...

now that colder weather is here, i love to curl up with new books. i've already got a few on my wish list, but i really want a new cook book for dinner.

i've been eyeing the barefoot contessa books and know there are a bunch of fans out there ... so, if you like BC and have her cook books, which one would you recommend? do you have a favorite recipe from one of them? maybe her first one? or in paris? or at home? they all sound and look so lovely!

and it might be only october but that doesn't mean i'm not thinking about the holidays! the mimis are heading out west to visit family for christmas. we decided to extend the trip up to san francisco for new year's eve. neither of us know anyone in san fran, and mr. mimi was there only about 25 years ago! i'm super excited to visit chinatown, joe's burger, chez panisse, and muir woods.

but what should we do about new year's eve?? how do most people in san fran celebrate? unfortunately since we don't know anyone there, house parties are not an option. so for those stuck out and about, which part of town do people go to? we're no longer club hopping kids (well, mr. mimi never was, haha!) but like music, dancing, burlesque, etc etc. if you have specific suggestions that's great, but at least right now we're just trying to decide what area to book our hotel that might offer the best possibility of being in walking distance of whatever it is we end up doing! so downtown? union square? the mission? soma or whatever it's called?

i don't have much to give in return except my sincere undying gratitude, suggestions for vegetarian cook books, and new york city travel tips!

(photo credits: the contessa by quentin bacon and golden gate from destination 411)


twd: pumpkin muffins

twd: pumpkin muffins

don't be fooled by those healthy looking seeds on top of these muffins. they are muffins afterall, and still have a nice big stick of butter in them!

i am a re-member of the happy tuesdays with dorie club. it was the lazy days of summer and i couldn't manage to be inside enough to get baked goods done every week (or even twice a month as allowed!) but as tuesdays with dorie grew, it finally expanded beyond and the inevitable deadline to join was created.

and what perfect timing for me to re-join because these pumpkin muffins were quite a tasty midnight snack. or breakfast treat. or after lunch why the heck not?

i used dried cranberries instead of raisins because i thought the combo was just a bit more complementary and i liked the color contrast too. i also used pepitas on top instead of sunflower seeds. the muffin cups definitely get filled up more than what i'm normally used to; i was a bit fearful they would overflow, but all was fine in pumpkin land.

twd: pumpkin muffins

for the recipe, check out kelly's blog over at sounding my barbaric gulp! - thanks for such a great pick kelly! and go ahead and check out the tuesdays with dorie blogroll, all almost 300 of us!


think spice ... think paprika ... think chicken paprikash!

chicken paprikash

this recipe is a family hand-down from mr. mimi's great grandma, who came from czechoslovakia (and supposedly somehow through marriage - and maybe some tale telling - is related to the great masayrk) and brought all her amazing cooking with her.

mr. mimi's fondest memories of his great grandma is visits to her large, ornate apartment in the bronx, especially on christmas eve when she hosted the family dinner. but regardless of when the visit was, and what it is for, the minute he stepped into her home, he was greeted with the most amazing smells coming from the kitchen. she was the one who inspired him to be "chef boy rp" (rp is mr. mimi's real initials). she always had something cooking, and was famous for her chicken soup with egg drop. it was crafted from hours of labor and a heart full of love.

one of his other indelible memories is his great grandma sticking a big brown bar of soap in his mouth when "damn" came out of his precious four year-old mouth. he never said it again in front of her ;)

this recipe is in honor of his great grandma, who taught it to his mother (yes it skipped a generation; his nana was of the 'everything convenient is good' mantra of the postwar 50s), and who passed it to him. although it is less a "recipe" because there are no real exact measurements. what's written below is a close approximation of what happens without thinking about it in the kitchen. it's a cliché, i know, but it is one of those family dishes that was taught by feel and look and taste rather than teaspoons and cups and pounds.

even thought it doesn't look like much the best thing about it is the smell that is so warm and fantastic while it's braising. by the time it's finished you will think you're starving because it smells so good. this must be what mr. mimi means when he talks about his great grandma's kitchen.

and when i chose paprika for think spice this month, i knew i would make this. if you'd like to join this event, you still have a week left! for the rules, click here.

think spice paprika

mr. mimi's chicken paprikash: serves 4
adapted from great grandma

1 whole chicken, cut into parts
1 large onion, medium diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2-3 bay leaves
1-2 big cans crushed tomatoes
hungarian sweet paprika
salt + pepper
1/2 cup sour cream (give or take)
tomato paste
olive oil
1 lb large pasta shells

1. season chicken with salt and pepper, and heavily coated with paprika on both sides; rub in paprika. in heavy dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium and lay chicken skin side down carefully and sear until deep golden red, about 5 minutes. then flip over and sear on the other side for another 5 minutes. note: depending on your dutch oven size, you probably will have to do this in two batches; for the best sear, don't crowd the chicken!

this isn't the prettiest photo, but just to show you the chicken should be well coated with paprika!

coated in paprika

2. take out chicken and place on plate. pour out oil and wipe out dutch oven if necessary. add a little fresh oil and sauté the garlic and onion until caramelized. stir in a tiny bit more paprika.

3. put chicken back in, skin side up. add bay leaves, tomatoes, salt and pepper. turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. occasionally stir and turn chicken.

4. pull chicken out. temper the sour cream by adding a little bit of the tomato sauce to the sour cream and whisk; then add back the tempered sour cream. you will have to adjust the amount by eye, it should be similar in color to a dark pink vodka sauce. if necessary, tighten it up with some tomato paste.

5. meanwhile, bring salted water to boil and cook pasta according to directions.

6. skim off fat from tomato sauce and add back chicken. slowly bring back up to heat. add in cooked pasta and stir well so the shells get nice and coated. bon appétit from the old world!

note: if you're not in budapest or going there any time too soon, the best readily available (at least in the US) hungarian sweet paprika is from szeged.

from great grandma


roasted fish with vegetables

roasted fish with vegetables

last night was one of the first saturday nights the mimis have had in a while to stay in and enjoy a home cooked meal. we made sure to get to the farmer's market early (which for us, is by noon. what is early for you on a saturday??) so that we could see what blue moon had on hand. striped bass comes in to market season by late summer, and we were lucky they still had some filets left for the day. noodle pudding usually has it on their specials list by now. in fact, that may have been where i first tried striped bass a couple years ago. it's now one of my favorite fish for fall.

i often think of fish as a summer thing because i love it on the grill with just a spritz of lemon. it's hard for me to think of mild fish in the colder weather when i'm craving heavier, cozier type of meals.

but here's a recipe that is perfect for fall, that keeps the fish light and fresh but incorporates one of my favorite ways to have vegetables in the fall: roasting.

and the beauty of this recipe is that it is so versatile. i prefer mild, flaky fish like striped bass but you could use other filets as well. as long as 1. it can be cooked through (i.e., tuna would not work) and 2. it isn't too soft (i.e., skate is a possibility but you'd really have to watch the time).

roasted fish with vegetables

also feel free to use whatever combination of vegetables you may prefer for roasting. i love the simplicity of mirepoix, with leeks instead of onions. the leeks roast up to a sweet toasty crisp. and of course, garlic. roasted garlic cloves may be the vegetable kingdom's gift to the culinary world. don't skip on them, and don't be afraid to eat them whole!

vegetables for roasting

roasted fish with vegetables: serves 4

1 1/2 lb filet of fish
1 bunch carrots
1 bunch celery
1 bunch leeks, white and some light green parts, cleaned
8 garlic cloves
salt + pepper
olive oil

1. preheat oven to 400F. cut the carrots and celery into 1/2 inch chunks and the cleaned leeks into 1/2 inch slices. slightly smash and peel the garlic. toss everything with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. evenly place on bottom of roasting pan. cook until just tender and slightly brown, about 45 minutes.

2. rub some olive oil on both sides of each fish filet. season with salt and pepper (i like using coarse sea salt for this). lay on top of roasted vegetables and cook until fish is done, about 15 - 20 minutes depending on thickness of filets. by then the vegetables should be nicely roasted and caramelized, but if not you could always take out the filets when done and finish off the vegetables for a couple additional minutes. spritz fish with lemon and enjoy!

roasted goodness


a little taste of south africa

south african wine

that brings back so many good memories. this was perfect with tonight's dinner, which will hopefully be posted about tomorrow! right now i'm a little too tipsy to type! ;-)


hello weekend!!

i'm ready for ... lots of tennis, good home cooking, maybe painting the bathroom?, research and writing, economics homework, a ton of baking, maybe a movie?, and wishing that monday would never come!


project runway

literally five minutes at home ... time to squeeze in only a couple sentences, so here it goes!

korto was completely robbed last night! her show was the only one that actually looked like a collection. the colors were great, silhouettes were interesting, beading was gorgeous. it looked cohesive while still interesting. in an elle spread, it would be enough variety to be pleasing on the eye.

leanne on the other hand was completely boring. yes, her construction is beautiful and i absolutely loved two of her pieces. and kudos for having skirt, dress, pants, and short. but every single item had the waves!! and only two colors! her elle spread will be boring, five pages of all the same thing!

i don't think i've ever been so annoyed by someone i don't know than by kenley! and my goodness, that voice of hers is like nails on a chalkboard! but i have to give her credit and say that some of her pieces were lovely. but overall, the show just looked disjointed without much that connected all the pieces.

and your thoughts??


banana chocolate nut bread

a yummy slice

does anyone make banana bread because they actually want to?? or is it because they innocently forget about those last three bananas on the bunch until it's too late?

i won't point any fingers ... but here's a banana nut bread i made tonight. and because everything tastes better with chocolate, i threw in a handful of chocolate chips as well.

banana chocolate nut bread: makes two 9x5 loaves
adapted from martha's baking handbook (2005, p. 49)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 tb vanilla
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup (about 4 oz) walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 cup buttermilk
non-stick cooking spray

1. preheat oven to 350F. coat loaf pans with cooking spray. in large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. in bowl of mixer with paddle attachment, beat eggs, sugar, and vegetable oil on medium-low speed until combined. beat in flour mixture. add vanilla, banana, coconut, nuts, and buttermilk and beat just to combine.

3. divide batter evenly between pans. bake, rotating halfway through, until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 60 - 65 minutes. transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. remove loaves from pan and let cool completely.

banana chocolate nut bread

if you find yourselves with even more ripe bananas, check out these two posts as well: classic banana bread and banana cake (from david lebovitz).


i miss you already chewy

sweet chewy

this is the third re-write of this post, and still i don't know what it is that i really want to say.

chewy was welcomed into a new home tonight, with a new family that will love him and care for him in all the ways i could ever wish for. but i am heartbroken at the feeling that i have abandoned him.

little chewy

years ago when i was acknowledging my cross-national adoption for the first time, and understanding what it means to me to feel that loss, i met someone who helped me develop the strength to find some inner peace. it was literally just a single talk we had one evening, but it has stayed with me for 15 years now.

she grew up in a strict catholic family in the 1960s and when she became pregnant as a teenager her parents forced her to give the baby up for adoption. and what she told me was: "after 30 years i have never forgotten my son or his birthday. it is impossible for a woman to forget the experience of being pregnant, giving birth, and the baby they were not able to keep. your mother has not forgotten you."

at the time she told me that i was a teenager and had never been even close to being pregnant. so i could not really relate to her experience, but i took her words on faith.

and at the risk of being anthropomorphic, i can't help but remember her words as i pass along chewy to his new family. and before you start criticizing me for comparing a kitty to a child, it's not the adoptee that is the same. but it is the act itself - giving something i love away to someone else - that has unexpectedly triggered so many feelings of grief, loss, abandonment, and doubt.

my friend who adopted chewy told me that it is when we love and care for someone or something that we have to make hard decisions.

so true.

so tonight, dear chewy, i hope you are settling in with your new family. giving you to m. was one of the hardest decisions i have had to make.

cute chewy

we came back home and your little welcoming meow at the front window was missing,
and your funny little spirited personality is no longer there to make us laugh. i cry when i think of your face as we drove away. but i will never forget you.


pork chops with pomegranate-fennel salsa

pork chops with pomegranate-fennel salsa

i confess. i often ... okay, yes almost always! ... buy pomegranate seeds already hulled out of the shell. i'm really not that lazy. it's more that i just can't help it. they are coming into season now and when i go to the market and see the little containers full of those gorgeous red tangy seeds i just can't help buying one or two! which is exactly what i did a couple days ago.

pomegranate seeds

totally unrelated, one thing that i've been surprised about since i've been eating meat this year is how much i like pork chops and tenderloin. and with flying pigs up at the farmer's market every saturday by us, it's very tempting to treat myself at home with a nice pork dinner.

chops from the farmer's market

so i searched around for a recipe and when i found this one with pomegranate seeds i just knew i had to try it with the seeds i just bought! we added a bbq spice to the rub for the pork chop, just to give it a bit of complementary flavor to what i expected to be a relatively sweeter salsa.

and in the end, dinner was perfectly delicious. i'm not sure if it's because we bought the fennel at the farmer's market as well, so it was more fresh than usual, but it really had a great flavor. i highly recommend trying this! the recipe also suggests the salsa would pair well with lamb.

a seared chop

pork chops with pomegranate-fennel salsa: serves 4
adapted from gourmet (jan 2002, original recipe online at epicurious, click here)

1 lb fennel bulb, stalks cut off and discarded (although you probably could use some of the greenery as garnish if you'd like)
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tb chopped chives
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp honey
olive oil
salt + pepper
coarse sea salt
spice rub of your choice (we used a moderately spiced pre-made bbq rub)
4 thick cut pork chops

1. preheat oven to 400F. halve fennel bulb lengthwise and core it, then cut into 1/4 inch dice. cook fennel in olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat, stirring until tender, about 15 minutes. transfer fennel to bowl and stir in pomegranate seeds, chives, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper.

2. pat pork chops dry and season with coarse sea salt, pepper, and spice rub. heat olive oil in skillet over high heat until hot (but not smoking). sear chops until golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes each side. pour off excess oil - the easiest way is to use tongs to hold chop in the skillet and then pour oil out. put skillet in oven (make sure it has a metal handle!!) until 150F internal temperature, turning pork chop over once about 5 minutes in.

* note: we had very thick pork chops and that's why we suggest finishing off in the oven. if you only have very thin pork chops, you could very well just finish in the skillet on top of the stove.

pork chop with salsa


chocolate, chocolate, chocolate

yes, it's true. i missed a day. not entirely my fault as yesterday i was out of the house from the time i woke up until 3 in the morning (thanks m!)

the worst part is i LOVE
lip balm. and so to hopefully make up for my lapse and to unjeopordize the receiving of said lip balm, i offer not one but two awesome chocolate treats!

double chocolate brownie cookies

first up is martha's double chocolate brownie cookies. fudgy inside, relatively crispy outside. need i say more? these are delicious, and i promise you will be sneaking them all day long.

cookie stacks

second up is david lebovitz's black bottom cupcakes. i first saw these on smitten kitchen and totally wanted to make them. this is a bittersweet bake today because david is in new york city for a little get together at city bakery. i just couldn't manage to squeeze in a trip to manhattan this afternoon and so i missed out on meeting him. oh well, i guess it's a good excuse for another trip to paris! ;-)

black bottom cupcakes

but back to those cupcakes. now i know bloggers tend to be generous with the adjectives. how many things can truly be fantastic, amazing, delicious, tasty, and wonderful? but honestly, these things were incredible. it was an instant ymmm from the first bite. so moist and good! and so much fun to make!

for martha's double chocolate brownie cookies, click here (there is a comment about them not spreading. i used a scooper and plopped the dough down. they spread just fine for me.) in the book, it suggests adding 3 oz coarsely chopped walnuts.

for david's black bottom cupcakes that i found via smitten kitchen, click here.

a yummy bite


spice racks rant

okay, yes i'm pushing it here for post numero diez. but anyone who lives in new york city knows how much can be a bitch to run errands. the simplest things can take all afternoon. and then it's still a crapshoot if you can actually find what you want!

no let me clarify that. in this great city you can find anything that you want, and a thousand things you never even dreamed of wanting.

but how come all spice racks now come with the actual containers?? i want this one. but i was trying to save me some shipping charges and so i spent all afternoon in the usual suspects, looking for at least something similar. all i find in the stores are big fancy racks with spice jars already included. wtf?! is it that difficult to have something simple? i hate when consumer goods try to get more complicated and fancy when all it really is, is more junk.

what's your rant?


day 9: lemon bars

at first i was really excited about nablowrimo. but now i have to admit, i'm kind of tired. and i still have 22 more days to go!!

but in a couple months i will probably be in a new place where i might not have the luxury of baking as many things as i want to, or when and how i want to. so i want to take advantage of this time to really enjoy myself, enjoy the city, my family and friends, and time well spent in the kitchen.

in this way, nablowrimo helps me keep focused on bringing you more savory meals and sweet treats. because goodness knows you don't want to hear 22 more days of politics from me!! ;-)

and because not everything can be chocolate (or can it??) here are some lemon bars. and while this is the second recipe for lemon bars that i have tried, i don't think i have ever eaten a lemon bar from a bakery, so i have no idea what they are "supposed" to taste or feel like.

so if you're a lemon bar connoisseur, don't take my word for anything. but the lemon was a great flavor, the texture was like a jellied candy. the shortbread was a little thick because i made the mistake when the recipe called for a 9x13 pan and i used 9x9 (i don't even have 9x13). but i love shortbread so really, no problem there.

for the recipe from gourmet magazine, on the food network online, click here.

lemon bars


spicy green salad with manchego and pears

tonight we went over to our neighbor's house for dinner (which was delicious btw, thanks k.!) and k. asked us to bring a side or salad. i knew she was making some mushroom risotto so i wanted to bring something with a bit of contrasting texture and spiciness or tartness.

i was tempted to make the broccoli crunch i saw recently on 101 cookbooks. but i needed something i could do quickly right between getting home from school and going over to her house.

this green salad was perfect for the meal, and a great salad if it is fall wherever you are. for ultra convenience you could certainly buy pepitas that are already toasted, but it's so easy to do it yourself and buying raw makes it more versatile for other uses. i did buy an arugula mix to make the grocery shopping simpler; you could probably use any sorts of greens you prefer, but do make sure it contains some spicier ones so they complement the sweetness of the pears and saltiness of the manchego.

spicy green salad with manchego and pears

spicy green salad with manchego and pears: serves 8
adapted from gourmet (nov 2007) found on epicurious

1/3 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/3 cup plus 1 tb olive oil
3 tb sherry or red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp grainy mustard
4 cups packed spicy greens (radish, watercress, arugula, etc)
4 cups packed frisée
1/2 lb piece manchego cheese, shaved into thin slices
8 small bartlett pears
salt + pepper

1. cook seeds in 1 tb oil in small skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until puffed and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels and reserve oil. season seeds with salt and pepper.

2. whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. add remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and reserved pepitas oil from skillet in slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

3. cut around the core of each pear and cut slices 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick. toss pear and cheese slices with greens. drizzle dressing over salad and sprinkle with seeds.


food for thought

no time for a recipe, but wanted to make sure i got my nablowrimo post in!

i read this last week, a reader's comment to the new york times article about a police lieutenant's suicide after he ordered the tasering of a man, who then fell off a fire escape and died.

i found it meaningful in so many ways, in so many contexts ... personal, cultural, political, international.

"We place so much emphasis on blame and responsibility in our public culture today — and so little on forgiveness.

I wonder if were we a more forgiving society — one in which a tragic mistake such as the death of Iman Morales could be admitted and then forgiven — if Officer Pigott might have lived to serve again as a chastened and wiser servant of public safety.

In this case, tragedy and suffering has been duplicated — and no one is the better for it."

— Posted by Mark (comment #158)


ravioli with brown butter sauce

ravioli with brown butter sauce

brown. butter. sauce.

'nuff said!! this isn't going to win any awards for eating healthy. but it's delicious in all the right ways. we had some store bought (but very good - raffetto's is one of my favorites and as close to home made as it's going to get right now) raviolis that needed to be used up.

sage leaves

after an afternoon of procrastinating (two papers due tomorrow) on food network online, i found a recipe for brown butter that just sounded like a perfect way to dress them up. there's really nothing to it, but the addition of toasted walnuts and cranberries to the classic brown butter and sage was a brilliant touch of flavor.

walnut pieces

if it makes you feel any better about the butter consumption, it makes the pasta so rich and decadent, you can barely eat a normal serving size. a big bowl of spaghetti and marinara this is not. we also coupled it with a side of sautéed broccoli rabe and garlic, so the bitterness of the broccoli rabe complemented the richness of the butter sauce nicely.

brown butter sauce

brown butter sauce: for 6 servings of pasta
from giada de laurentiis (originally with squash tortellini)

1 1/2 sticks butter
2 tb torn fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
salt + pepper

1. melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. when the butter is just about all melted, add the sage, walnuts, and cranberries. cook until the butter starts to brown, about 3 minutes. remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.