Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Winter is awesome

I take back what I said about winter. It's 60 degrees here, and I got a Vita-Mix for Xmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is this my kitchen or Cute Overload??

These nested ceramic duckie measuring cups from Amanda are too cute to be real - but they are! They are probably too cute to use for measuring on a regular basis due to my own clumsiness, but I have visions of serving some sort of small, adorable dessert in them. (The cowboy in the photo to the right is my nephew.)

In other news, I'm going to California on Saturday for the holidays, so I will be out of commission for awhile.

Also, it is cold, my lips are chapped, and my nose is running all the time. Stupid winter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Meme me

Ann from the fantastic Redacted Recipes tagged me for my first meme ever, and now that I've sat down for what feels like the first time in weeks (cookies are in the oven), I will tackle it.

What were you cooking/baking ten years ago? Ten years ago, I was a freshman in college, so I was cooking just about nothing - since I lived on campus and ate almost entirely foodservice meals. Though I did have an espresso maker (which I used every morning) and a mini-fridge in my dorm room. Mostly the mini-fridge held milk for my lattes, but at some point during first semester, one of my burnout dormies asked me to hold some LSD-soaked sugar cubes in the freezer for him. They stayed there until the end of the year, when he was, apparently, finally ready to party.

What were you cooking/baking one year ago? At this time last year, I was roasting a lot of cubed root vegetables with spices and olive oil; I baked barely any sweets, but did make savory biscuits and scones once in awhile.

Five snacks you enjoy: I love cheese and olives, pickled beets (these from Rick's Picks are my recent obsession), tamari almonds, sourdough toast with goat cheese and peach preserves, and, um, Snapea Crisps. The thing about me and snacks is that I will eat all of any snack food that is brought into the house in one sitting, so I tend not to keep it around.

Five recipes you know by heart: Chili, spicy stir-fry sauce, couscous with chickpeas and kale, vegan gravy, chocolate pudding

Five culinary luxuries you would indulge in if you were a millionaire: A big kitchen with lots of space and lots of natural light; every fancy All-Clad copper-lined pan available (including the asparagus cooker!); a brick oven for bread and pizza; a six-burner range; and a dishwasher.

Five foods you love to cook/bake: Vegetables of all types in all ways, tofu, cookies, fruit pie

Five things you cannot/will not eat: MUSHROOMS!!! in any shape or form including blue cheese, meat of any sort including seafood, raw onions, turnips, cilantro

Five favorite culinary toys: my wonderful Global 8" chef's knife, long sturdy wooden spoons, Kitchenaid hand mixer, bread machine, and Oxo tongs

I'm not quite sure who to pass this along to, but I am going to try Polly and Abby, if they are so inclined. Thanks Ann! This was fun - especially the fantasy kitchen part.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Re: the messiness of latkes (and the fact that my hair and my apartment both still smell like fried potato), Amanda put it well. "There are some things that are best just eaten at restaurants," she said. Though the latkes were delicious, they were an epic hassle to make and clean up after.

Re: my own burgeoning yuppiness - I wasn't quite so sure of it until I just got giddy after placing an order with Penzeys, and even expedited the shipping so it would definitely arrive before I leave for the holidays. Though I suppose using the phrase "butter-soft Catskills merino" in yesterday's post might be a clue as well.

Re: winter and its effect on my diet, it is getting difficult to get excited about more squash, more carrots, and more spinach. I have been trying to compensate for that by making too many rich dinners and too many sweet desserts, but now I just feel a bit blobby. Though I think my new favorite food, brussels sprouts with brown butter, would be okay for two meals a day, every day, I doubt anyone else would agree.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A day of varying priorities

These are the three prettiest things I bought at the Greenmarket today. Sorry, potatoes, you just can't compete with the butter-soft, naturally-dyed Catskills merino yarn I finally succumbed to this week.

I bought a lot of other things, but these are the vegetables:
2 lbs. Carola potatoes ("the potato lover's potato - how could I resist?)
I bag spinach
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
1 bunch carrots
1 Carnival squash
4 Poblano peppers
3 jalapeno peppers
5 Anaheim peppers
Total spent (on produce): $22

Among the non-produce items purchased were the above-pictured yarn (it is so unbelievably soft!), a container of rice pudding from Ronnybrook Dairy, 1 log of goat cheese and a container of chocolate chevre truffles (they are unreal, like tiny chocolate cheesecakes, but better) from Lynnhaven Farms, and 1 dozen eggs from Knoll Crest.

This time of year, buying a passel of peppers can only mean chili, and I'm looking forward to making my first batch of the season this week. I'm also very excited to try my hand at latkes. I'm thinking this recipe will be a good guideline.

And speaking of delicious wintertime meals, last night's dinner with three of my favorite ladies went wonderfully. I served the tawny borscht I made the previous night, which went over like gangbusters, as well as homemade macaroni and cheese, using a recipe I got from my friend Sohrab (it was amazing!), with my favorite Brussels sprouts on the side, and two types of homemade cookies for dessert. This was one of the best meals I've cooked or eaten in a long time (a large part of this was undoubtedly due to stellar company!).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Tawny Borscht

Oh look at that hearty miscellaneous-vegetable soup. It is quite beige, the color of most vegetable soups - and yet - despite its tawny color - the soup above, is, in fact, borscht. How embarrassing. The only beets I could find the day I first planned to make borscht were "multi-colored," and it turned out that they were mostly golden beets, with a couple of pink ones in the mix, but nothing dark and garnet-red like a proper beet. Hence the totally nondescript soup that ought to be electric magenta.

The soup turned out well, though I want more beets next time...probably about twice as many or more than I used here. It's definitely several steps away from coming close to my favorite borscht, the vegetarian borscht at Veselka. If they offered it all the time, I probably wouldn't even try to make my own - theirs is so delicious! - but I get cravings for it sometimes when it's not on the menu. And I do like the always-vegetarian borscht at B&H Dairy, but they don't use lima beans like Veselka does. I'm hoping the additional beet flavor will overpower the vegetable stock, which is a little too prevalent here. All in all, it's nice, but not exactly right.

Here's the recipe I used (all approximations) - I recommend lots more beets than you see here.

Anna's Borscht
6 small beets, cut into matchsticks
1 small onion, diced finely
3/4 cup celery, in approx 1/2" dice
2 medium carrots, halved and in 1/2" slices
3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, 1/2" dice
2 cloves garlic (I used Rocambole, which is quite mild)
6 cups vegetable stock
1 can lima beans or butter beans
2 tbsp. tomato paste
6 tbsp. fresh dill
4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. butter or Earth Balance
salt to taste

Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until onion softens, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and stir until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Pour in vegetable stock, add beets, and stir; bring to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes, or until beets begin to soften. Add carrots, cover, and simmer 20 more minutes, until carrots begin to soften. Add potatoes and dill, and simmer until potatoes start to become tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste, lima beans, vinegar and salt (I used about 6 grinds of my sea salt grinder at this point), cover, and simmer at least 30 more minutes, until all vegetables reach desired tenderness; remove from heat. Taste for seasoning; add more salt, dill, or vinegar, as desired, let sit a few minutes, covered, and serve.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Soup, part 1

Today's soup is a potato and celeriac chowder/stew/thing from Crescent Dragonwagon. I used leeks instead of onion, but otherwise followed the recipe faithfully. The only issue I take with what is a relatively tasty dish is that I think the addition of 1/4 tsp. celery seed is overkill for an already quite "celery-y" soup (it calls for a whole celery root); the celery taste verges on metallic a tiny bit, and I think omitting the celery seed (or perhaps using just a pinch) would alleviate that. Though my celery-adoring photo assistant may love it as is, which is lucky, because the recipe made lots and I'm freezing most of it to feed him when he gets back from California. I might try pureeing the rest of the soup, as the celeriac didn't get quite as soft as the potato so there's a weird bit of textural dissonance going on. This photo is pretty pointless (thick whitish liquid with some unidentifiable chunks!) except for the opportunity to show off one of my prized Pea Soup Andersen's soup mugs. Tomorrow, borscht. And I'm not using a recipe for that one.