Monday, December 31, 2007

Quelques cadeaux de cuisine

Now that the holidays are over and I've bought everyone their presents (until February 11, Ozzy's second birthday), the time has come to buy myself some. The Boy and I had some time to kill and were wandering around the East Village and (completely by accident, I assure you!) we found ourselves in front of Broadway Panhandler, an excellent kitchen-supply store with much better prices than the more upscale chains. Not wanting to argue with fate, we decided to go in and see what was what.

After browsing for quite some time, we ended up with three items, all of which I needed and two of which were recommended by Cooks Illustrated. Our first purchase was a 6" Forschner Cook's Knife by Victorinox ($21.95). We already have an 8" forged chef's knife that's quite expensive and high-quality that the Boy bought in France. While this is a fantastic knife, I have small hands and, honestly, find it a clunky, heavy knife to wield precisely enough for small dicing or deboning. My new 6" knife is lightweight and small enough for me to feel in control. The Boy, of course, still prefers his French blade.

Our next purchase was recommended by the gentleman in charge of knives at Broadway Panhandler and it is a 6" Chef's Knife Edge Guard ($2.95). This way, since we don't have space for a knife block in our kitchen, we can just store our blade with the rest of our cutlery without fear of being stabbed when I reach for an innocuous fork or spoon.

And, finally, we bought what Mom refers to as a "real kitchen workhorse," a Pyrex Baking Pan (not available from their website). I haven't used it yet, but I'll be sure to tell you when I do!

Broadway Panhandler
65 East 8th Street
New York, NY 10003

Friday, December 28, 2007

Poulet et ciboules sautes

We're (hopefully) moving to Chinatown within the next few of months, so I'm doing my best to reduce the number of cans and jars that we have to schlep with us. Therefore, today's dish was created with our Soy Sauce in mind. Because of this, it definitely has an Asian kick to it. That, and it gave me a wonderful excuse to use my wok.

I based this stir-fry on one I made over two years ago, Uncle Wiggly's Stir-fried Turkey and Scallions. Unfortunately, I had no Turkey Thighs, but I had some frozen Chicken Breasts from Trader Joe's, so I defrosted four of them (two for each of us--we're big eaters) and used those instead. Because I was using Breasts rather than the tastier Thighs, I cooked used Chicken Stock as my liquid rather than Broth; I find Stock thicker and, therefore, more flavorful. I served this over Rice, which I highly recommend. Brown Rice adds a wonderfully nutty taste and texture to the dish and, I believe, improves it greatly. Just make sure you make the rice first and just keep it warm while you stir-fry your ingredients; better that the Rice begin to cool than the stir-fry. Also feel free to substitute any other vegetables for the Green Onions. Enjoy!

Poulet et ciboules sautes

In a small bowl, combine Chicken, 1 1/2 teaspoons Soy Sauce, Sherry, 1/4 teaspoon Brown Sugar, Lemon Pepper, Salt, Pepper and Potato Starch. Mix well with your hands until Chicken feels slightly sticky and evenly marinated. In a separate bowl, mash Soybeans, then add Garlic, Ginger and remaining Soy Sauce and Brown Sugar, mixing well.


Heat wok over high heat until smoking. Swirl in Vegetable Oil, coating as much of the sides of the wok as possible. Add Chicken, spreading evenly over the bottom. Let cook 1 minute, undisturbed, until Chicken is browned. Stir-fry, lifting meat with a spatula, for another minute. Add Soybean mixture, 4 Green Onions and Stock and stir-fry for 1 minute, until Chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened. Add the chopped Green Onion. Serve over Rice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Penne a ricotta salata, brocolini et tomates roties au four

This has been quite a busy weekend! Finally having some free time on my hands, I decided to give my blog a much-needed facelift (something I planned on doing at the beginning of 2006, but never got around to). If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know!

And now for the recipe portion of our program. Ozzy was sick last week and, being the concerned mother I am, I wasn't much in the mood to do any fancy cooking. That, and I've been performing in Brooklyn on the weekends so I haven't been up for anything too interesting. What I really wanted was something tasty and fun, but still easy and uncomplicated. I also had some Broccolini in the fridge that needed to be used up. If you haven't had Broccolini before, I highly recommend it. It's a cross between Broccoli and Chinese Kale and delightfully tender.

Hoping for inspiration, I trawled the food blogs and came up with a recipe from Chef Yum Yum for her version of Macaroni and Cheese that she calls Food Like a Hug. Unfortunately, I didn't have all the necessary ingredients handy, so I potchked around a bit and came up with my own version. The one thing I kept, though (and my favorite part of the dish) were the oven-roasted tomatoes. I'll definitely be making them again. Try this as either a side or a main and enjoy!

Penne a ricotta salata, brocolini et tomates roties au four
Oven-roasted tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking pan with Olive Oil.

Cut Tomatoes in half lengthwise, then remove core and seeds. Place cut-side up on baking pan, then drizzle with Olive Oil and add Salt, Lemon Pepper and Pepper.

Bake for 50 minutes, until tomatoes are melting. Serve as soon as possible.

Penne with ricotta salata and broccolini

Boil a large pot of salted water. While waiting for it to boil, trim ends off of Broccolini. Add to Water and cook 5 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Return Water to boil, add Penne and cook according to package directions, until al dente. Melt Butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 clove Garlic and saute 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add Panko, Parsley, 1/4 teaspoon Lemon Pepper, Dash Salt and 1/4 teaspoon Pepper. Lower heat and fry 4 minutes, being careful not to burn Panko.

Heat Olive Oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 cloves Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes and dash Lemon Pepper. Add Broccolini and saute 1 minute, until heated through. Season to taste with remaining Salt and Pepper.

Place Ricotta Salata in serving bowl. Drain Penne and add to Ricotta in bowl, stirring until well combined. Top with Broccolini and Panko. Serve with Tomatoes alongside. Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Cuisses de poulet braisees, avec des olives manzanilla

I like Food Magazines a lot. In fact, whenever one is around, I devour it. So why don't I subscribe to any, you ask? Simple--I'm a packrat. It's hard enough to remind myself to use ALL my cookbooks (not just repeating recipes from a few), so to add magazines (a new one of which would arrive every month) is unthinkable. And don't suggest throwing the old ones out--what if there was a great recipe in there that I'm dying to try but don't get around to that month? Believe me, there would be one in every issue. So, instead, I content myself with my cookbooks and the internet.

One wonderful part of using the internet to help decide what to make for dinner is that my favorite magazines have internet sites and their recipes are often published on Epicurious. One such magazine, Food & Wine, has a great search engine and is a constant source of inspiration. My favorite column, Chefs Recipes Made Easy, takes a restaurant chef's recipe and simplifies it for the home cook--perfect for those of us with high aspirations but limited time and resources.

The recipe I'm sharing today, Braised Chicken Legs with Manzanilla Olives, is gently adapted from one in that column. I served it with a bowl of Cheese Avocado Soup to start, though the Chicken could just as easily be its own meal. And while it was delicious the night we had it, it was even better reheated a few days later. Enjoy!


Braised Chicken Leg Quarters with Manzanilla Olives

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour Olive Oil into large, oven-proof pot and heat over a medium-high flame until it slides around easily. Season Chicken with Salt and Pepper. Add three legs to pot (or as many as fit in one layer without overlapping) and cook 5 minutes, until browned. Flip onto uncooked side and repeat. Remove browned Chicken to a plate and repeat process with remaining legs, lowering the heat to medium if pot is well-insulated.

Add Bacon, Onion and Carrots and raise heat again to medium-high and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barely soft. Add Olives, Bay Leaf, Broth and Chicken Legs. Submerge legs as much as possible and bring mixture to a boil, raising heat to high. Cover pot and transfer to oven for 45 minutes, until Chicken is cooked through and Carrots are soft.

Remove from oven and replace pot on stove, over high heat. Boil 5 minutes, to reduce liquid. Lower heat and cook another 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Salade Riviera


Today I offer you another Salad recipe, this one inspired by a packaged Fresh Express Salad Blend I saw at the supermarket. Called the Riviera Salad, it was a mix of Butter Lettuce and Radicchio. Remembering I had a head of Radicchio at home, I decided to put it to use and make my own Riviera Salad.
To me, a Salad with such an evocative name should be far more exciting than just a mix of two lettuces. The Riviera is the French Riviera, bordering with Italy. The food is light and fresh and flavorful. Nice is there, one of our favorite cities when we traveled through France, and its Salads are full of goodies and delicious. Here, then, is my Salade Riviera, greatly inspired by La Nicoise.
Salade Riviera
Dressing

Salad

First, make the Dressing. Combine all ingredients in a jar and mix well.

Next, make the Salad. Combine ingredients in a bowl and toss. Add Dressing to taste. Enjoy!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Craft


I know this post is long overdue, but we had such a delicious meal at Craft that I absolutely had to review it. We went there for my birthday dinner and had an absolutely marvelous time.
When I was growing up, my birthday was always spent at my then-favorite restaurant, Union Square Cafe. I knew the menu by heart and would spend the entire year deciding what I would eat for my celebratory birthday meal.
This year, the Boy offered to organize my birthday festivities, which included a trip to the Cloisters, lunch at New Leaf Cafe (right by the Cloisters, and where I'd been dying to go for some time) and a dinner with several family members--Mom, Dad, Uncle Steven and Jake, my cousin. And, of course, the Boy. Sadly, Ozzy couldn't join us, seeing as how we're in the States and not France. We had planned on going to Union Square Cafe for dinner, but they were booked solid and couldn't accomodate our party until too late, so we began to look at other places. We finally settled on Craft and I am thrilled that we did.
We were seated at a long table up against the window and the only problem the whole night was that a chill came in from the window. No matter--the food and company more than made up for it.
Craft's shtick is that all the dishes are "separate." This means that instead of creating a complicated combination of ingredients on one plate (Meat + Vegetable + Starch), all components are served separately. So if you order Meat, you are just ordering meat. The vegetables are served family-style, making this the perfect place to dine with a large group who loves eating and sharing--ours!
The Menu is divided into First Courses, Main Courses and Side Dishes. Everything is then divided again by cooking method, a fascinating way of doing so. And without further ado, a recap of our meal, as best I can remember it:
For his First Course, the Boy ordered Roasted Quail & 50-Year Balsamic. This was one Quail, roasted to perfection and drizzled with the richest Balsamic Vinegar glaze that I have ever had. This may very well have been the best dish we had all night. It can also be served as a Main Course (2 Quails instead of 1) and, when next I return, that may very well be what I order. Mom and Dad both began with the same salad--Wild Arugula and Lemon. Since I recently began my own love affair with Wild Arugula, it was a delight to see it on a menu. The salad was clean, crisp and simple--exactly what a salad should be. Uncle Steven also ordered a salad, Butter Lettuce. It was light and tasty. I ordered Hamachi & Bartlett Pear. This was a cold appetizer, the Hamachi raw and thinly sliced. It paired beautifully with the crisp, almost tangy Pear. Finally, Jake enjoyed a dish with Foie Gras that, surprisingly, was not as clawingly rich as I often find Foie Gras. Unfortunately, I can't remember more details of his first course.
For Main Courses, we were far less diverse. Dad and I both had the Roasted 28-Day Dry-Aged Sirloin & Bone Marrow. This was absolutely divine--rich and delicious. And even though it could be ordered by just one person, because both of us ordered it, it was served on one plate as a giant steak with a big, delicious bone. The only thing slightly off for me was that the Bone Marrow was so rich I found it an unnecessary accompaniment. But Dad liked it, so I gave my Marrow to the Boy who thoroughly appreciated it. Uncle Steven, Jake and the Boy also ordered the same Main Course--Braised Beef Short Rib & Root Vegetable. Again, the Short Ribs were all served on one platter, the dished up to the expectant plates. The meat literally fell off the bone and was so rich a delicious--a perfect cold-weather dish and one the Boy has been begging me to try my hand at for some time. As usual, Mom was the iconoclast and opted for the Roasted Pheasant & Prune--another wonderful dish, though she found the meat a tad salty.
All our Side Dishes were shared and proved a wonderful counterpart to the mains. We had Potato Gnocchi, homemade Gnocchi that actually tasted like rich, creamy Potatoes in a plain Butter sauce. I could have made a meal just of that. We also had Roasted Bluefoot Mushrooms, having been attracted by the name; Golden Nuggets -- the most perfect Tater Tots imaginable; and Braised Escarole.
Next came Desserts and, somehow, we all (except Uncle Steven) managed to clean our plates yet again. I had a Brioche Pain Perdu with Roasted Banana. The dessert menu works as an extension of the regular menu, so you can still piece together your ideal dish from various components. The Pain Perdu (or French Toast to us lay-people) was divine--rich and creamy--and the Banana was just beginning to crisp and caramelize, provided a delectable flavor and texture contrast. The Boy had an Apple and Quince Tarte Tatin, a mini-pie, rather than just a slice. Dad, Mom and Jake all had dishes I can no longer remember, but that, I'm sure, were delicious.
We were also served wonderful Amuse-Bouches, tidbits between courses and a post-dessert dessert, as well as the Apple Crumb Muffins pictured at the beginning of the post which served as breakfast the following morning. There was also wonderful Red Wine to wash it all down.
All in all a thoroughly delicious meal. I can't wait to return!
Craft
43 East 19th Street
New York, NY 10003
212.780,0880

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Salade de saumon fume, avec avocat

When I was a kid, I hated Salad, always seeking out cooked greens (especially Spinach) rather than raw ones. Now, however, I've developed a liking for them. Easy to make, there are infinite variations and they can be anything from Dessert to a Side Dish, to a Meal in and of themselves.

I often find Smoked Salmon very salty; what I loved about this Salad is that the slightly sweet dressing, as well as the presence of the Avocado, provided a perfect balance.

I served this Salad as a side dish, with Fusilli Carbonara. The Pasta was less than memorable, but the Salad was delicious. In a warmer month, I could see serving it with some crusty Bread as a full meal.

Salade de saumon fume, avec avocat

First, make the Dressing: Whisk together Balsamic Vinegar, Orange Zest and Honey in a small bowl. Slowly add Olive Oil, whisking the whole time, then Fleur de Sel, Pepper and Smoked Paprika to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine Spring Salad Mix, Red Onion, Smoked Salmon and Avocado. Add Dressing and toss well. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Strata d'epinards et feta avec des noix

Without a doubt, Spinach is my favorite vegetable, so whenever I'm at a loss as to what to prepare for dinner one night, my failsafe is usually Spinach lightly sauteed with Garlic and Olive Oil. Sometimes, though, especially with a lighter main dish, I prefer to make my Spinach into a heartier dish. The last time I did this, I combined the Spinach with Eggs and Cheese and created my Frittata d'epinards, oeufs et trois fromages. While that was delicious, I decided I wanted something lighter and a little tangier this time around. Looking through the fridge for inspiration (this recipe also succeeded in using up several odds and ends), I alighted on Feta cheese with Mediterranean spices that I had bought at Trader Joe's a week before. Although usually served cold in Salad, I decided to try cooking it, to truly excellent results. Finally I added some Walnuts, to keep the texture interesting. This was purely decided by the fact that I had just bought a huge bag of Walnuts, since I normally eat them raw or, if cooked, in cookies. Finally, I've decided to call this a Strata, as opposed to a Frittata, or crustless quiche. A Strata is basically the Italian word for an egg casserole and, therefore, sounds so much more enticing.

This would also make a delicious Brunch dish, I'm sure.

Strata d'epinards et feta avec des noix

Preoven to 400 F.

Heat Olive Oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add Leeks, Chives and Garlic and saute about 3 minutes, until mostly soft. Turn off heat and add Spinach, Parsley and Feta. Mix well.

Whisk together Milk, Ricotta Cheese, Salt, Pepper and Chinese Five-Spice Powder in a bowl. Add Egg and Egg Whites and continue whisking until well-combined (an electric egg-beater makes this much easier). Pour over Spinach, followed by Bread. Stir. Bake for 12 minutes. Add Walnuts and bake an additional 8 minutes, until the top is lightly golden.

Thoughts: Check out this Hawaiian band I've recently discoverd. Not bad, huh?

Reves: If I ever have a backyard, I want an outdoor Smoker and Grill, like this one.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Epices melangees a l'Amalthea


Here's another very simple recipe--a spice rub. I was actually inspired to make this by a recipe on the back of a box of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt on Friday night when I wanted an exciting new flavoring for my Duck. Luckily, I made quite a lot of this rub, so I've had the opportunity to try it on Duck Magret, Lamb Chops and Trout. And there's plenty of rub left! I'm looking forward to trying it on Fish, especially a strong-flavored, fatty one. I've also finally found the perfect use for the Trattoria Jar in the photo above. I may even make smaller batches of the rub and package it in little jars to give as Chanukah presents.
This rub is delicious, but very strongly flavored. I used 1 tablespoon rub per Duck Breast and found it a little to strong, whereas the Boy really liked it. The Lamb Chops were far more successful in my opinion (though the Boy preferred the Duck), using 1 tablespoon of rub for all six chops. Basically, taste the rub before using it and keep in mind that it is strong (the primary flavor is my new favorite spice, Smoked Paprika). It's also even better ground with a clove or two of Garlic before using, either with a Mortar and Pestle or a Spice Grinder. Enjoy and let me know about your favorite spice rub and how you use it!
Epices melangees a l'Amalthea

Combine ingredients in a jar. Mix well. Store in a cool, dry place. Use 1/2 tablespoon per serving of all Lamb and Poultry before cooking.

Thoughts & Reves: Check out this fun online Cartoon.

And this great blog I've just discovered: Porcini Chronicles.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bouillon de legumes

I promised to post a recipe for Vegetable Broth and here it is. Vegetable Broth is extremely versatile and great to keep in the fridge or freezer until you need it. I use it the same way I would Chicken Broth, especially when I'm making something with Fish or Vegetarian and don't want that stronger Chicken taste. If you're only going to make one Broth from scratch, I highly recommend choosing Vegetable Broth; the canned varieties are far inferior to those of Chicken Broth. Also, Vegetable Broth takes much less time to make than Chicken Broth and is a fabulous way to use up some vegetables that are past their prime. It freezes beautifully, so what I do is make a big batch, then pour it into plastic take-out containers (that we have many of since we order in Chinese soup fairly often). I freeze all but one of the containers and just make sure I always have one in the fridge.

Use this recipe as a guideline and substitute in vegetables you have hanging around your house. Just beware of using stronger-flavored ones, since that flavor will absolutely carry into your Broth. This recipe was inspired by one in The Compassionate Cook, delightfully easy Vegan cookbook. Enjoy!

Bouillon de legumes

Place everything into a stockpot. Add enough Water to cover (this will depend partly on how big your stockpot is). Uncovered, bring to a boil over high flame. Lower to a medium-low flame, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

When ready, strain the Broth. I found the easiest way to do this was to put a very large mixing bowl underneath my colander in the sink and carefully pour the Broth through the colander. Empty the solids out of the colander as often as necessary. If your bowl is not large enough, strain in batches. Freeze or refrigerate until ready to use.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Garden-Cook-Event: Topinambours a la boulangere

When I was living in Paris, one of my favorite things to do was to buy a previously untasted vegetable and then devise a way to eat it for dinner. Usually, with the help of the internet, this proved to be a successful adventure. And, every so often, I'd find a vegetable that I not only loved but that was easy to prepare and to find in the US.

One such vegetable was Jerusalem Artichokes. We first had them when at a market in Bayeux where we thought they looked like a cross between Ginger and Potatoes. We bought 1/2 kilo, brought them home, cleaned them and boiled them a few days later. They were delicious--lighter than Potatoes and considerably sweeter, but still with a pleasant crunch. They are one of the few winter vegetables I look forward to eating. For the Boy's birthday about a month ago, we had a wonderful dinner at Perilla, Harold Dieterle's restaurant, where they served a Sunchoke-Creamed Spinach that was absolutely divine.

Unfortunately, sunchokes aren't carried at the Food Emporium near me, so I hadn't yet cooked with them this season. However, when I saw Paulchen's Foodblog announce that the theme for this month's Garden Cook Event was Jerusalem Artichokes, I knew I had to take part.

What I ended up making was my take on a popular French Potato recipe--Pommes de terre a la boulangere--which were traditionally made by cooking potatoes underneath roasts so they could catch all the tasty drippings. The only meat I used in my lighter version is Chicken Broth, but, if I have time, I might try it again using Smoked Bacon and, perhaps, Beef Stock.

Unfortunately, it didn't come out quite as well as I had planned, so I tweaked the recipe a little more and came up with this one, which I much prefer. This time, there is no meat involved; just homemade Vegetable Broth, for which I promise to post a recipe very soon. Enjoy!

Topinambours a la boulangere

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Add Butter to a saute pan and melt over a medium flame. Add Red Onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.

Lightly grease a baking pan. Add Jerusalem Artichoke Slices and Onions, combing well. Pour Broth on top. Season Generously with Salt and Pepper.

Bake for 1 hour, until Onions and Jerusalem Artichokes are soft and tasty. Serve with slices of Lemon and instruct diners to squeeze generously. Yum!

Reve: Why are broken cars called Lemons? I quite enjoy the Citrus; it seems a shame to name an abnormal car after it, no?

Update: Check out Astride's fabulous round-up as well as the voting. The prize is 50 Euros, so choose carefully!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Salade de tomates ailles, ricotte et roquette

I know, I know. My silence has been long and inexcusable. And, believe me, a lot has happened in the past three months. But very little of it has been cooking. Or, I should so, very little has been good cooking. According to the Boy, we've finally become "Americans," (no offense) ordering in food or eating mostly prepared food that takes as little time as possible to make it from the fridge to the table. Trader Joe's has become my best friend for this reason, because at least I know their food doesn't have all kinds of artificial crap in it. Yuck! My excuse for all this is that I work in theatre, as an actress and a stage manager, and, lately, I've had a lot of work, which means nighttime rehearsals, which means getting home late at night with neither the desire nor the energy to cook. That, and the stores are all closed.

But everything changed on November 9. That was my 23rd birthday and, as one of my presents, the Boy presented me with Tom Colicchio's new book, Craft of Cooking. That night, we had dinner at Craft, the first restaurant of Colicchio's empire. I devoured the book, then the meal and was reminded of why I got into good cooking, good eating and began this blog in the first place. This was quite possibly the best meal I've ever had and Colicchio's food theory--let the ingredients shine; the chef's job is to bring out the ingredients to the best of his/her capability and not to show off--is the same as mine. Upon returning home, slightly tipsy, full and very happy, I began planning meals for the upcoming weeks. Not all of them are complicated, of course. But they are exciting in some way, at least to me. So stay tuned and thanks for your patience!

This salad was inspired by a trip to the Greenmarket where the last of the season's Heirloom Tomatoes were trying valiantly to survive. I also found Ricotta Cheese made out of Goat's Milk by Patches of Star Dairy. And, finally, I used Wild Arugula, which I much prefer to regular. Of course, I'm sure this salad would also be delicious with the more "normal" versions of these ingredients. Enjoy!

Salade de tomates ailles, ricotte et roquette

Pre-heat Broiler.

Mix together Olive Oil, Garlic, Kosher Salt, Pepper and Cinnamon in a glass bowl. Add Tomatoes and toss to coat. Place Tomatoes, cut side up, on a broiler pan (cover with Aluminum Foil to make clean-up easier). drizzle with Garlic-Oil mixture from bowl and broil 5 minutes.

In the same bowl (don't clean it), mix together Ricotta, Lemon Peel, Fleur de Sel, Pepper, Cinnamon and Arugula. Add cooked Tomatoes and toss. Serve while Tomatoes are still slightly warm.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cocktail de champagne

After living for a year in Paris and drinking Wine almost exclusively, I all but lost my taste for Liquor. Once back in New York, however, I quickly discovered that when people socialize at bars in the late afternoon/early evening, they often want drinks that are slightly more fun than a glass of Wine. That, and the house Red is rarely comparable to the Cotes du Rhone I'm accustomed to ordering in Paris. However, I find most American cocktails too sweet to drink happily. And I'm still not a Beer drinker.

I decided to take matters into my own hands, though, and start experimenting with cocktails myself. I decided to try a Champagne Cocktail, taking the recipe from Seduction and Spice, a wonderfully evocative Aphrodisiac cookbook. I made a couple of changes, as is my way, substituting Cognac for Brandy and using a Spanish Sparkling Wine, Cava. The recipe was very basic and, I thought, quite tasty. It's also a great way to cover up not-so-good Champagne. I would certainly order it in a bar, though probably only an upscale one. And now I have an almost-full bottle of Angostura Bitters. Any suggestions?

Cocktail de champagne
(makes 1 cocktail)

1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
1 splash Cognac
1 slice Orange

Swirl together Sugar and Bitters in a Champagne glass until Sugar is dissolved. Add Sparkling Wine and Cognac. Garnish with Orange slice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pommes de terre aux bananes et persil

I love the idea of Potato Salad, in theory. Especially a warm Potato Salad--warm, cooked Potatoes, creamy sauce--perfect for a summer meal. Unfortunately, in practice, I'm never happy with Potato Salad. I find it extremely bland, gloopy and overly sweet. Now, I'm not against mixing sweet foods into a savory dish. But only when the combination still tastes fresh and simple works well together--not just with a ton of Mayonnaise (which the Boy detests) or, worse yet, Ketchup, thrown in out of sheer boredom or because everyone else does it. For me, if a savory food has a sweetness to it, I like it to be because something that happens to be sweet (such as Fruit) has been surreptitiously added. I would also love to find a Potato Salad with a real kick to it--Mustard instead of the ubiquitious Mayonnaise.

I'm sure this all sounds like a boring, angry rant, and I do apologize for its rant-like qualities. It is all the preface, though, to the fact that I finally broke down what I do and don't like about Potato Salad and made my own version--spicy, sweet, warm and delicious. Inspired by Patatas Bravas, I added in mashed Banana and some fresh Parsley from my now-dead Parsley Plant. I don't remember what I served this with, but it was absolutely delicious. Enjoy!

Pommes de terre aux bananes et persil

Heat 3 tablespoons Olive Oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add Green Onions and Garlic and saute until soft. Turn off heat and add Salt, Pepper, Herbes de Provence, Paprika, Pepper Flakes and Thyme. Transfer to a bowl and add Banana and Mustard, mixing well. Add Fleur de Sel, if necessary. Let sit while flavors meld and you prepare Potatoes.

Heat 1 cup Olive Oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Salt and Pepper Potatoes and add (carefully!) to skillet (oil will splatter). Fry, moving potatoes around occasionally with a spatula, until golden-brown and cooked through. Remove from skillet and drain of excess oil on paper towels.

Add Potatoes to Sauce and mix well. Garnish with Parsley and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Who-Pudding

How do you choose what cookbook you want to buy? Often I'm attracted to books that promise some sort of "simple" cooking or that are written by a chef I really admire or that focus on a particular ingredient I crave or want to begin using. Every so often, however, I'm just attracted to a book either by its title or cover and realize that, as long as it doesn't seem absolutely awful, I must own it.

That's how I came to acquire the newest addition to my cookbook collection, Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook. I was walking by a bookstore when we were still apartment hunting in Soho and, seeing the bright orange cover in the window, I turned around, entered the store and promptly bought it.

Peppered with quotations from various Doctor Seuss books, the recipes are fairly tame and straightforward, but with very inventive names. Definitely a good way to get kids interested in cooking. Also, since the dishes are quite simple, they are things I can make over and over. The names, however, made me want to potchke to make the ordinary recipes live up to their extraordinary names.

The first and, so far, only recipe I've made is Who-Pudding, from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I always imagined Who-Pudding as something not-too-sweet, with a very soft texture. The cookbook offered a version of Tapioca Pudding. I thought, I looked through my cabinets, I dreamed and, inspired, I came up with my own creation. It's fabulous for dessert or breakfast and it's soft, creamy and comforting. Enjoy.

Who-Pudding

Mix well 1/3 cup Sugar, Flour, Milk and Egg in a medium saucepan. Let stand 5 minutes.

Bring mixture to stove and place over medium heat until it reaches a full boil. Remove from heat and stir in Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon and Orange Zest. Let cool for 20 minutes, then stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a medium bowl, combine Raspberries, Orange Juice and 1 tablespoon Sugar. With a potato masher, mash together until well-combined and all of the same consistency.

Serve drizzled on top of Pudding. Top with an additional Raspberry (or two, or three) if desired.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

GBP: Soupe de poulet et cresson, avec boulettes

Even though today was the warmest day so far this year, I decided to celebrate the end of Winter by making what may be my last Soup this season. Since I've been organizing my blog lately (you can see the additions of labels as I slowly classify all my entries) and looking for ways to use my homemade Chicken Stock, I was inspired by a recipe I made over a year ago for Turkey Soup with Broccoli Raab and Dumplings. Once I began cooking, however, and realized this would be a great way to use up my Watercress, as well as a Chicken Breast I had frozen when we first moved in about a month ago, the only thing that remained from the original soup were the Dumplings, which were quite nice. For a change, you could also cook down the liquid to make it more of a Sauce and serve it over Rice. Or, if you want it to be more of a Soup than a Stew, add an extra cup of Broth, Stock or Water.

Coincidentally, I bought a pot of Parsley at the Greenmarket on Saturday and, amazingly enough, it hasn't died yet, so I used a few sprigs in my Soup and am therefore entering this into Mandira's Green Blog Project at her blog, Ahaar. To participate, you just have to cook with something you've grown or, in my case, not yet killed. Enjoy!

Soupe de poulet et cresson, avec boulettes

Soup:

Dumplings:

Garnish:

In a large saucepan, bring Chicken Broth and Vegetable Stock to a boil. Dice Chicken Breast and add to Stocks. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until Chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Add Pepper Flakes, Chicken Seasoning, Garlic, Salt and Pepper. Cook 5 minutes more to combine flavors. Add vegetables and simmer for 15 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the Dumpling Dough. Mix together Flour, Water and Egg Yolks in a small bowl. Mix well until thoroghly combined. Take pinches of dough and drop into Soup. Don't worry about the shapes; they will vary in size, which makes them all the more fun. Add White part of Green Onion. Cook 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from flame and sprinkle Parlsey and Green Onion tops on top. Serve.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rondelles de pommes de terre

Sometimes you spend the whole day planning on making something for dinner that night and really looking forward to it. You come home after a long day and get started. It's getting late, things are taking longer than you expected, but still you persevere. Then, when you finally begin cooking and the end is in sight, you realize it's just not working. It doesn't taste right, maybe you have the wrong equipment, and something's wrong. So you regroup. You count your losses and you make something new. Not as good as all your expectations, of course, but still...not bad.

That's what happened tonight. I bought more Long White Potatoes at the Greenmarket on Saturday and, not sure what to do with them, I found myself craving Potato Chips. So, figuring they couldn't be too hard, I decided to make some. I bought some Yams at the supermarket for some color variety and I was all set. Sadly, however, it didn't work. Perhaps I didn't slice the Potatoes and Yams thinly enough; perhaps I used the wrong pan. Either way, the Yams (which I fried first) were soggy and greasy. By the time I got up to the Potatoes, I was tired, warm and needed to make the apartment less smoky. So I turned down the heat and cooked my thin Potato slices. Surprisingly enough, they were delicious. I served them with Glazed Hot and Sassy Cornish Hens.


Here, then, is a very simple recipe for you. And if anyone has advice about making homemade Potato Chips (something that doesn't involve a Deep-Fat Fryer since I don't have one), that would be much appreciated.


Rondelles de pommes de terre

Cut Yams and Potatoes into slices as thin as possible. If you have a Mandoline, feel free to use it. Otherwise a very sharp knife will do just fine.

Soak Yams and Potatoes in separate bowls of Cold Water. Refrigerate bowls for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.

Heat Vegetable Oil in a skillet over a medium flame. Cook Yams and Potatoes separately (first one, then the other). Lay Yam (or Potato) slices in the skillet and cook, turning occasionally with a spatula, until cooked through. Place in serving bowl and toss with Lemon Pepper. Serve warm.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Soupe de pommes de terre, cresson et basilique

The only bad thing about our new apartment is how far away from the Greenmarket it is. Luckily, however, I'm working on a play that rehearses downtown on Saturdays so last week (and yesterday, as a matter of fact), I convinced the Boy to meet me for Brunch after my rehearsal and, after an overpriced and completely unblogworthy Brunch, we moved on to the Greenmarket where spring was in the air.

We came home a few hours later loaded with groceries: two Chickens, Garlic Butter, Red and Yellow Cipollini Onions, a Red Onion, Whole-Wheat Flour, Tapioca Pudding and four Long White Potatoes. The Chickens were both eaten quickly, the Garlic Butter is slowly being used and the Red Onion is long gone. But last Thursday night, I decided it was time to do something about the Potatoes. After perusing through a new cookbook, The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook, I lighted on this soup and, after tweaking the recipe to use what I had, I made it for dinner along with some Lobster Ravioli with Rock Shrimp Sauce. The soup was a great first course--warming, if a little too filling. Next time, though, I would use a whole bunch of Watercress (rather than only 1/2 cup) and throw in a clove or two of Garlic. I've changed the Watercress to the new amount in the below recipe.

Soupe de pommes de terre, cresson et basilique

Combine Stock, Potatoes and Onion in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, partially covered, 20 minutes, until Potatoes are tender (less if you cut them smaller).

Dice whites and light green parts of Leek. Melt Garlic Butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add Leeks and saute 5 minutes. Add Watercress and saute another 5 minutes.

Stir Basil into Potato mixture and cook 5 more minutes.

Scrape Leek mixture into Potatoes. Add Cinnamon, Cloves, Oregano, Salt and Pepper.

If you're lucky enough to have an Immersion Blender or Food Processor, puree Soup. Otherwise (or if you prefer your soup chunky) mash it all up with a Potato Masher until it has reached desired consistency.

If you removed it from the saucepan, return Soup to saucepan. Stir in milk and reheat over low heat. Serve warm.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

You Are What You Eat Meme

Rosa, of Rosa's Yummy Yums, has tagged me for another meme! This one is the You Are What You Eat Meme, so today I'll take a break from writing up recipes and answer her questions instead.

You Are What You Eat

If you were stuck on an island and could only eat one cuisine (e.g., French, Italian, etc.) for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?

It would be Italian Cuisine. While I obviously adore eating French Food, I'm far more likely to make a Pasta for Dinner than I am anything in a Cream Sauce. Also, I find there's a ton of variety within Italian Cuisine (not to mention how much I love tomatoes. And I could eat Pasta every day?

What is the most unusual food you've eaten?

I'd have to say that the most unusual food I've eaten is Sea Urchin (not Sea Urchin Roe, or Uni, although I've had that too). Sea Urchin itself has a very sweet flavor and I greatly enjoyed picking it out of its shell. I've also eaten Alligator meat, at our favorite Sushi Restaurant, Natori.

What is the most unusual food you've eaten and liked?

I guess Alligator. I think it's unusual and I order it every time we go to Natori, so apparently I like it!

What foods will you avoid eating (either because of a dietary choice or allergies or just plain don't like)?

Luckily, I'm not allergic to any foods. The only two foods I dislike are Cucumbers and Jello. When in the States, however, I do my best not to eat Veal because I don't like how it's raised. From what I've heard, conditions are not as terrible in Europe. Occasionally, there is farm-raised (where they get to roam free; I've asked the farmers) Veal at the Greenmarket and I'm always excited to eat that. I also sometimes (though very rarely!) make exceptions for Calves' Liver when I'm in a French restaurant and really craving it.

Do you cook (and by that, I mean prepare a meal that you'd serve to friends)?

Yes, of course! Otherwise why would I have this blog? Speaking of which, I must start planning the menu for my Housewarming Party...

If yes, what is your favorite dish to prepare to impress someone?

I don't usually try to impress people with my cooking. That said, if making food for more than a select few, I'm much more likely to make something I've made before (such as those I've recorded here, or any kind of Roast Meat), rather than experimenting with a new recipe. For dinner parties, my standby is any kind of Roast (Beef or Lamb, usually) and for informal meals, it's Pasta.

When you go to a restaurant, what's your ordering strategy/preference?

I usually order something I'm unlikely to cook myself, for whatever reason. Or, if it's a new restaurant, I like to order a specialty that's come highly recommended. If a foreign cuisine (especially one with which I'm not very familiar) I order something unique to that cuisine.

Have you ever returned a dish or wine to the kitchen at a restaurant? Why?

Not really. On Valentine's Day, I sent my Lamb Chops back to be cooked a little more since they were raw (literally) inside and around the bone. But once they had spent a little more time in the oven, they were perfect and delicious.

How many cookbooks do you own?

Currently, I only have twelve, but that's because I still have many in storage that I haven't moved in yet!

What is one food that you wouldn't want to live without?

I think that would have to be Cheese. I always have at least two different kinds of Cheese in my fridge and I choose it instead of dessert to end most meals. I bet you thought I was going to say Pasta?

I wish to tag the following people:

Enjoy, ladies! I look forward to your answers.