Sunday, December 12, 2010

ile flottante

ile flottante at flo nice

i have to admit that i've maintained somewhat of a vendetta against french food most of my life. many of you will be happy to hear that this opinion was shattered during a trip to nice a couple of years ago...yes, a couple of years ago. i have been waiting that long to write this particular entry. i discovered something there so special, unique and fun that i felt i had to find a version of this dish stateside before i could write and share it. because what fun would it be if you had to travel to france to experience it for yourself? okay, maybe i'll take that one back...

imagine this: you walk into a large
restaurant to the sight of an army of waiters, half of them with one arm lifted high above their head with a white bowl perched on top. in each bowl is a giant white glowing orb. i might as well have yelped like a small child and asked the first person i could find what THAT was. then i not-so-patiently sat through an entire (glorious) meal, waiting until the moment i could experience the magic orb in all its glory.

essentially, this dessert is a meringue ball/cube/other shape floating in a bowl of creme anglaise. yum. but as you can see, the presentation is quite remarkable. especially when you have a giant ball of meringue in front of you that is practically as large as your face. if you're headed across the atlantic, i'd recommend the version at flo brasserie. but as for the rest of us, a similar version (although not quite as grand in appearance--i promise it makes up for it in taste), can be found at bouchon.

ile flottante at bouchon in las vegas

for all practical purposes, let's discuss the actual flavor makeup of our good ol' u.s. of a location. bouchon's version was a little different because the meringue had a bit of a denser consistency which made the taste a little richer. the winner here was the salty carmel sauce drizzled on top. good thing they provide you with an entire dish of it (and not just what's drizzled on top). momma zo and i practically drank the rest of it. seriously dangerous. in the best way possible of course...

Monday, December 6, 2010

chocolate pecan pie with bourbon

for some, the holiday season and pie are synonymous. i can't say that i'm a huge fan of either (holidays=winter, why have pie when you can have cake or ice cream?) but thanksgiving and pecan pie break these boundaries for me.

when a dear friend was in charge of the pecan pie for thanksgiving dinner, she openly accommodated the idea of a bourbon and chocolate tweak. i mean, seriously, BOURBON AND CHOCOLATE, what's not to like??!! seeing as we had maaaany other dishes to cook, we did not make our own pie crust. go ahead, get mad. but we did make the most important part (the bourbon and chocolate...catching on here?) we bought a gluten-free crust from whole foods. which really wasn't half bad.

don't be fooled, this pie would be good at any time of year.

chocolate pecan pie with bourbon
from food & wine

crust (if you feel you have the time for this)
  • 1 1/4 cups flour-substance
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup ice water
filling (this is the good stuff)
  • 2 cups (about 7 ounces) pecans
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • make the crust: in a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. transfer to a bowl and stir in the ice water. knead the dough 2 or 3 times on a lightly floured surface and pat into a disk. wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round. fit the dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate. trim the overhang to 1/2 inch, fold the edge under itself and crimp decoratively. refrigerate until firm.
  • make the filling: preheat the oven to 375°. toast the pecans on a baking sheet for about 8 minutes, or until fragrant; coarsely chop.
  • in a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, melted butter, bourbon and salt until blended. stir in the pecans and chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  • pour the filling into the pie shell. bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for about 55 minutes, or until the center of the pie is set.
  • cool for at least 1 hour before serving. (or until you can't stand it any longer)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

mcrib & the broham

you may have heard the recent mcrib rage. when serious eats wrote about it, i knew there was something to be discussed. so i referred to a conversation the broham and i had last winter, wherein
i learned about his mcrib addiction. but before
i present my first guest author, the broham, with his official mcrib review, i'd like to provide the following conversation excerpt:

bro: Me thinks it might be time to fetch some luncheon
ggz: lovely, what's on the menu?
bro: Mc fucking Rib. I hate myself.
ggz: ew no noooooooooooo don't do it!!!!!!
ggz: seriously mcrib? wtf?
bro: I know... I KNOW ARGH!
bro: I know it’s terrible, and I feel bad after I eat it. It’s like a horrible drug. Fucking heroin of the tummy. Fantastic while eating, and afterward...the guilt. BUT I CAN'T STOP DROOLING!!!! Okay, I'm going to get this filth, and I'll be back.
bro: I shall type a narrative to you of its filth. The very odd, nearly black "barbecue sauce" they put on it... I NEED IT NOW!!!! ARGH ::Leaves.::

so without further adieu, i bring you the broham:

the broham's mcrib review

"A boneless pork patty smothered with our tangy sauce, topped with pickles and chopped onions." It sounds innocent enough, but to eat one of these is surely to invite death. It is an unnatural creation brought from the darkest recesses of the McDick's test kitchen. And since the McRib resurfaced I've had four.

When you first open the box , you're greeted by a rather depressing sight. The bun usually sits off kilter, and the bright burgundy sauce has smeared inside the box. But they drown the fucking thing in it. Picking it up is something of an exercise in dexterity because when I say "smothered", I mean it. The bun tends to slip around a bit if you aren't careful. Biting into it is a startling sensation, because there is very little texture difference between the bun and the reconstituted pig hooves and ears they call pork. The bun if firm and the meat is spongy. The taste is like a tangy ketchup flavor mixed with a vague and generic "meat" flavor.

Each bite is more fantastic that than the last. The "flavor" punctuated by a salty fry or bubbly slurp of Coke (gotta have that value meal). It's a positively suicidal way to enjoy myself for the 15 or 20 minutes it usually takes me to devour it. And how do I know this is so suicidal? Because about 20 minutes after I finish I begin to feel what I describe as the "McBrick." And what is shocking is how true that feels. If you press on my stomach (which I invite you all to do, of course), it actually feels...hard. This is of course a sign that I am going to die within moments. And that's how I feel. And that's how I feel every time. And I'm going to have another. Or maybe I'll learn and stop doing this to myself. Nah.

Note: I would like to thank my dear sister for not only allowing me on her blog, but not disowning me.

double note (p.p.s.): go go zo DOES NOT condone the consumption of the mcrib or anything else golden arches related.

p.p.p.s: if you skip the bun, the mcrib is actually wheat-free (alarming, i know)

Monday, November 15, 2010

squash pancakes and pumpkin waffles

i've done the pumpkin pancake thing before. but for some reason, taking my fresh csa squash and mixing it into a pancake recipe seemed fresher, healthier and more innovative. especially considering it was a winter squash--something that in my mind doesn't automatically belong in a pancake. and i had a squash i need to use. a scenario that tends to be my motivating factor.

thanks to a squash site, i identified my winter squash as a delicata squash. it resulted in a wonderfully moist pancake with a great texture. the squash was not overwhelming in flavor and provided much more of a desirable consistency than anything else. and it was easy too. i just took my normal pancake recipe, added a freshly roasted and pureed winter squash to the batter and threw in some chopped walnuts for good measure.

you want another breakfast squash recipe? and what's that? you don't want healthy-feeling pancakes?

pumpkin waffles (aka pumpkin pancakes meet waffles)

i am confident in saying that the best way to serve these is layered with cheddar cheese (so that it melts) and topped with maple yogurt. yes, you heard me right. now go forth and conquer the cheddar-maple-waffle world that lays before you! or throw that squash you've been saving into your sunday pancake batter.

squash pancakes or pumpkin waffles

because of the similar consistency of squash and pancake or waffle batter, i merely added a cup of squash to a batch of batter. depending on the type of squash you use, you may have to thicken (add more flour) or thin (add more liquids) out the batters. in my case, i used canned pumpkin with the waffles, which left no adjustments. in fact, i added some extra pumpkin without having to adjust anything else. for the pancakes, i added some liquid to the squash to get it to more of a puree, since it was rather thick after roasting.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

mercadito's tacos de camarón

you may know my opinions about mercadito. so when i received an email about a mercadito "cooking class" i was ecstatic--and demanded friend number 2 join me.

when we showed up and saw what was on the menu for the demonstration (not really a cooking class), i got even more excited: mercadito's chipotle shrimp tacos! they're literally one of my 2 choices to order every time i'm there (my other choice is the chicken tacos with crispy manchego and pickled sweet potato. now if only i could get my hands on the recipes for those pickles...)

as for the demonstration, executive chef-owner patricio sandoval was a wonderfully engaging host. he talked and cooked, we ate...all in all a beautiful thing. especially when you consider we walked away stuffed with delicious food (an assortment of tastings of guacamole, ceviche, tacos and dessert aaaaaand a pepino margarita) for $45 AND the recipes to recreate at home--I WIN! ahem. WE win!

keep your eyes on the
sabores autenticos de mexico website for upcoming cooking demonstrations and events including mexican restaurant week.

a little less exciting than all of this awesomeness was learning the secret of what makes the shrimp tacos so delicious: mounting the sauce. aka adding tons and tons of butter. more specifically, whisking cold butter into the sauce at the end of cooking it. i should have, if you're in the mood for something delicious and slightly indulgent, have at it. or on a less-indulgent day, skimp out on the butter (which is what friend number 2 and i did the other day when we finally got around to trying the recipe for ourselves).

mercadito's tacos de camarón

courtesy of patricio sandoval

makes 4 tacos
  • 2 tablespoons canola/olive oil blend
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, diced
  • 6 ounces marinated shrimp (recipe below)
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle puree (we blended chipotles in adobo, since they're easiest to find. if you use these, just make sure to taste as you go so that you don't wind up with something that's too hot to eat...)
  • lemon juice to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt to taste
  • 4 homemade corn tortillas (ha, whoops, i must have left my homemade tortillas at home...not gonna happen)
  • 4 slices avocado
  • heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet; sauté 1 tablespoon garlic until brown. add red onion and sauté 30 seconds.
  • add marinated shrimp and cook 1 minute. stir in 2 teaspoons chipotle puree, lemon juice, and butter; season with salt to taste. cook 2 to 4 minutes.
  • heat corn tortillas. top each with shrimp and 1 slice of avocado.
marinated shrimp
  • 6 ounces diced shrimp
  • 1/2 can of chipotle peppers (blend chipotle peppers in blender)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Monday, September 27, 2010

glorified grilled cheese

when is grilled cheese okay for breakfast? when it has an egg on it! (or all the time). in any case, a wonderfully crusty spelt loaf and aged cheddar were beckoning and i couldn't wait until lunch.

i topped my sandwich (instead of stuffing it) with an egg, heirloom tomato slice and a ginormous basil leaf, because i was really looking for a grilled cheese vehicle and wanted to keep my cheesy goodness purely intact as possible.

if you're gonna go this route (extra toppings or not), there are very few ingredients involved so quality is crucial. i mean it! do no skimp. save your wonder bread and american cheese for something else. and as we transition to the fall season, read up on your heirlooms, if you haven't already. i must say, they were absolutely out of control at the santa monica farmers market a couple of weekends ago.
glorified grilled cheese
  • cheese: a nice aged cheddar made me happy
  • bread: crusty, please!
  • nice thick slice of tomato
  • a couple of basil leaves
  • fried egg: over easy, lots of yolk, please
  • combine as desired. in my case, this involved buttering two slices of bread, frying them butter side down with cheese on top, cooking until the cheese melted , sticking them together and topping them with the rest of the ingredients.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

baked honey figs

by now you probably realize that i develop food obsessions. i.e. i'll get an item in my head and can't shake it out until i accomplish global food domination! aka cook that food and eat it asap.

this week's (and last month's) obsession? figs! so when i saw a basket of these yummy morsels at the farmer's market last week in la, i NEEDED them. really, i was beyond want; i'm talking desperate need. and then i had them at home and wanted to do something with them. some quick internet research yielded a few baked honey fig ideas but i focused on a simple recipe from amateur gourmet as a jumping off point.

in a nutshell: cut open figs, drizzle with honey, citrus, vanilla mixture, and bake until bubbly. serve with a dairy item. (for specifics, see below)

as an accompaniment, i recommend my latest obsession: humboldt fog cheese. make sure to let it sit out to uh, mellow and do it's thing. you won't be sorry.

yummy figs
adapted from amateur gourmet
  • figs
  • honey
  • splash of vanilla
  • liiiiitle bit of citrus: original recipe calls for orange zest but all i had was lemonade, so in it went
  • cut open figs
  • mix together honey, vanilla and citrus and pour over figs
  • bake at 375 until bubbly (about 15 minutes)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

summer market pasta

aah, summer veggies. one of the best ways to use up all of my csa veggies (besides stir frying) is a giant batch of pasta. you can throw in almost anything, cook it down, serve with cheese, and it's sure to be a hit. also an easy way to feed a crowd. also much more fun if you take a walk around the market to select your veggies. be sure to supplement your walk with a market snack.

summer market pasta
serves 4 (we eat a lot)
  • 1 lb brown rice pasta
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 squash (green and yellow), sliced
  • 2 cobs worth of kernels of corn
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 3 chicken sausage, sliced into pieces
  • white wine
  • parmesean cheese
  • pesto
  • salt and pepper
  • arugula
  • make the pasta
  • while the pasta is cooking, start making the "sauce:" add olive oil, 1/2 the garlic and 1/2 the shallots to a large pan. sautee squash until it's almost cooked through and slightly golden. add corn and tomatoes. cook until tomatoes have softened. simmer for a few minutes. remove and place into bowl.
  • add more olive oil, remaining garlic and shallots to pan, once the shallots and garlic have softened, add the sausage and cook until cooked through and golden brown. remove and add to veggies.
  • deglaze pan with white wine: pour a small amount of white wine into the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape all of the bits from the bottom. continue to stir and keep heating until it reduces and slightly thickens. add to bowl.
  • stir in a few handfuls of arugula and stir to wilt. when the pasta is ready, add it to the bowl along with some pesto and parmesean cheese. if neccessary, sautee additional shallots and deglaze with more wine.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

chocolate pancake cake!

a triple roomie bday called for a special treat. especially one appropriate to eat after a late night of drunken debauchery. i bring you the chocolate pancake cake! this, my friends, is a yummy labor of love. and perfect for a bday brunch.

chocolate pancake cake
  • 2 cups of pancake mix (i used gluten-free)
  • other pancake mix ingredients (whatever is required by your preferred kind)
  • cocoa powder
  • cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
  • strawberries, chopped
  • prepare the pancake mix according to the directions, with the following adaptations: add a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients and add extra milk so that you get a runny batter, closer to that of crepes.
  • pick a large pan to make your pancakes in. add a few tablespoons of batter, and swirl batter around to thinly coat pan. make sure to let the batter spread the width of the pan, so that your pancakes will turn out uniform in size.
  • very flat, smooth pancakes (more like crepes). you may have to give a test run.
  • once you have a giant pile of cooked pancakes, assembly starts.
  • put one pancake on a plate, spread on some frosting, add berries. repeat. again and again and again and again.
truthfully, there was already a bunch of cream cheese frosting in my fridge (yes, that's really what living in my apartment is like), so i just used that, and thinned it down with some soy milk so that it would spread easier and drip down the sides of the pancakes. but for those whose apartments aren't stocked with all sorts of baking supplies, martha stewart's cream cheese frosting recipe is below.

cream cheese frosting
courtesy of
  • 4 tablespoons room-temperature unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces room-temperature bar cream cheese
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • milk (or soy milk)
  • beat butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  • add confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  • add milk to thin down frosting to desired texture (runny enough to spread down the side of the pancakes).

Monday, August 2, 2010

banana coffee cake with chocolate chip streusel

here is your reason to keep overripe bananas in the freezer at all times. (seriously, when your bananas cross through the yellow phase, throw them in the freezer. they can be defrosted to bake or smoothie-fy at any time). another birthday, an internet search and the realization that i had bananas and walnuts at home lent to this SCRUMPTIOUS baked good. well, that and the need to find something that would be relative easy to lug to jerz. and since technically it's a coffee cake, i'm going to label it brunch.

Banana Coffee Cake with Chocolate Chip Streusel

(adapted from bon appetit)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (i used spelt)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/3 cups mashed bananas, about 3 bananas (i only had 2 so i threw in an extra egg and some extra applesauce)
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk (i made my own with soy milk and a dash of lemon juice-let it sit for a few minutes before you use it)
  • preheat oven to 350 degrees F, butter and flour an 8x8x2 inch baking pan.
  • stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon together; set streusel aside.
  • sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
  • in a separate bowl (that's right, this is your third separate bowl now) beat sugar, butter and egg in a large bowl until fluffy. beat in mashed bananas and buttermilk.
  • add dry ingredients and mix well.
  • spread half of batter (about 2 cups) in prepared baking pan. sprinkle with half of streusel. repeat with remaining batter and streusel. bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

once upon a summer salad (summer peach salad)

3 cheers for summer and summer salads! hooray for the return of csa and having things in my fridge to throw together! and thanks to roommates who supply the missing ingredients! (in this case, half a tomato traded for a lime)

i had basil and peaches. i wanted lunch. although i had thoughts of a fresh tomato and basil salad, i wasn't quite prepared. instead i threw together a few things that i did have. the result was splendiferous, not too sweet but absolutely crisp and refreshing--perfect for a nice 90 degree day in my sweaty kitchen.

summer peach salad
serves 2
  • 1 small peach (on the crunchier side seemed to be good here)
  • 1/2 tomato
  • smal handful of fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • splash of champagne vinegar (i think any vinegar would do)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • stir ingredients together. season with vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Friday, July 16, 2010

summer waffles

i would argue that there aren't many better ways to start a morning than waffles with frozen yogurt and peaches. especially farm fresh peaches. and so, with a little help from some friends (bittman and how to cook everything included), i whipped up a batch of waffles and threw on the best things i could find in my fridge/freezer.

it was a joint effort and i can't take credit for the whole idea but i do maintain that if it weren't for my awesomely stocked kitchen (aka endless supply of froyo and stone fruit), this meal never would have come to fruition.

summer WAFFLES!
(adapted from mark bittman's everyday buttermilk waffles) makes 4-6 servings
  • 2 cups flour (spelt here)
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 2 tblspn sugar
  • 3 tspns baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (i used soy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted and cooled
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • if you're being proper, you might mix all of the dry ingredients together, than all of the wet separately, and combine the two. i tend to mix all of the dry and then just throw the rest right on top and whisk until everything is just combined.
  • heat up your waffle maker, give it a little lubrication and let it rip.
  • top your golden waffles with frozen yogurt, sliced peaches and just a bit of maple syrup.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

fried green tomatoes with garlic scape pesto

i couldn't walk by green tomatoes at the market without taking them home. and of course, the first thing i think of when i see them is fried green tomatoes! hence the necessary call to friend number 2 to consult about how a real southern would handle them. and then i threw all of her instructions out the window. dredge and then batter. buttermilk. bacon grease. nah, maybe not, and nope. i went with the approach that if you fry anything in cornmeal, it will automatically taste good. and i think i did just fine. granted, my version used a little sprinkling of spelt flour (any sort of flour would have done), a dip in egg (i was so excited that i forgot about the milk), and a pressing into a seasoned bowl of cornmeal. then i fried in olive oil until they were golden brown on both sides and served with garlic scape pesto.

garlic scape "pesto"
  • garlic scapes
  • olive oil
  • parmesean cheese
  • pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts (optional)
  • this is one of those taste as you go and adjust things...i started with 3 garlic scapes, a generous drizzle of olive oil and about a tablespoon of parm. then blend, chop, or scrape together until somewhat combined. you may need to add additional oil to make the pesto smoother. add salt and pepper and taste again.
fried green tomatoes (non-southern style)
  • green tomatoes, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • flour (optional; use spelt or a gluten-free blend)
  • cornmeal
  • egg
  • milk (optional)
  • sprinkle tomatoes with a little flour
  • dip in egg bath (just eggs or eggs and milk) then coat with cornmeal
  • heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. once the oil is hot, fry on both sides until golden brown
  • top with pesto

Saturday, June 26, 2010

back in the kitchen: french toast with raspberry syrup

there's nothing like spending a week and a half without being able to cook that will inspire me to get back in the kitchen. a trip to the farmer's market for the first csa pickup of the season certainly also helps. as does being resolved to hang out at home on a saturday afternoon to watch some world cup soccer...

so, to whet my appetite for a day of cooking and futbol watching, I decided to start with some french toast. the catch was that i decided whatever i cooked needed to include at least one piece of csa bounty. for the french toast? raspberry syrup, of course!

french toast with raspberry syrup
serves 1
  • 2 slices of your preferred bread (or more if it's small!)
  • 1 egg
  • some milk (or soymilk)
  • dash of vanilla
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/2-1 cup raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • dash lemon juice
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • combine egg and some milk to create a slightly thick mixture. add vanilla and cinnamon, stir. dip bread in egg mixture and allow to soak.
  • meanwhile, combine water and sugar in a saucepan. cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture thickens slightly.
  • stir in the raspberries, and stir occasionally (the more you stir, the more the berries will break down). bring to a boil and continue cooking until mixture thickens slightly more about 5-10 minutes. add lemon juice towards the end of the cooking time and stir.
  • cook toast in a buttered pan over medium high heat until golden brown on both sides.
  • top with syrup!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

go go zo's best of chicago

my first time in chicago means a hit list is in order. so without further adieu, a list of my favorite dishes at a number of chicago restaurants. all were in the north river area and were absolutely fabulous.

crispy rice with spicy tuna and jalapenos at sunda. perfect texture combination: the crispy rice with the soft and smooth spicy tuna. also a great spicy and sweet combo: there was a sweet glaze on the rice that went well with the heat of the tuna and jalapeno.

french fries with white truffle oil and asiago cheese at primehouse. please, just let your imagination run wild, there's really not much i need to say. except perhaps that these fries were perfectly crispy, not too thin or thick and absolutely some of the best fries i've ever had. the truffle oil didn't make the fries greasy at all, just added that amazing truffle essence, and the cheese added an additional layer of flavor without making them at all cheese-fry like. we ordered a second helping. and ate them all.

you probably can't see this but it's the only photographic evidence i have of lobster deviled eggs at eve. genius! especially with giant chunks of lobster meat and caviar.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

weeknight dinner: eggs in purgatory casserole

there are certain things that don't have immediate appeal to me. casseroles are one of these things. and it undoubtedly has to do with what was cooked in my house when i was growing up. (lots of spaghetti but never ever meatloaf. got it?)

so when i received my march issue of bon appetit and saw a casserole feature, i first flipped straight past. until the pictures distracted me and i realized how delicious they looked. these weren't your standard tuna noodle casserole (no, i've never had one). and although i wanted to make them all, there was one that particularly caught my eye: eggs in purgatory. a of all, it featured many things i like (eggs, artichokes and parmesean) and b of all, it seemed pretty straightforward. a perfect weeknight meal, if you will. or even better, a perfect roomie meal entree. this is exactly why i file away recipes for later use.

and even though this dish incorporated things i'm not so fond of (okay, one thing: potatoes) it allowed me to knock off some more of those csa potatoes. yes, they're still around. in a nutshell: comfort food at its finest. yum yum.

eggs in purgatory
from bon appetit

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • coarse kosher salt
  • 1 8- to 10-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, drained
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 8 ounces red-skinned or white-skinned potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. add onion, thyme, and red pepper; sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt and sauté until onion is tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. add artichokes and minced garlic; stir 1 minute. stir in diced tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. reduce heat; cover skillet and simmer 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
  • meanwhile, cook potatoes in small saucepan of boiling salted water just until tender, about 8 minutes. drain. add potatoes and capers to tomato-artichoke sauce; cover and simmer 5 minutes. season to taste with coarse salt and pepper.
  • preheat oven to 375°F. pour tomato-artichoke sauce into 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. using back of spoon, make 8 evenly spaced indentations in sauce for holding eggs. crack 1 egg into each indentation in sauce (some of eggs may run together slightly in spots). bake until egg whites and yolks are softly set, 12 to 16 minutes. carefully remove baking dish from oven; sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over and serve.
  • serves 4 very hungry roomies

Sunday, May 16, 2010

cornmeal pickle fritters

i don't really think i need to say anything else besides this: pickle fritters. just go freaking make them now. they only lasted 5 minutes when i showed up with them at a bbq.

cornmeal pickle fritters
adapted from epicurious
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/3 cups yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a bunch of chopped pickles (a bunch is the technical term)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • whisk together the egg, milk, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pickles
  • heat a generous amount of oil in a pan over medium high heat. when the oil is hot, drop batter (amount depends on how large you want your fritters) and fry on both sides until golden brown.

Friday, May 7, 2010

gluten-free and spelt muffins from silver moon

i love an accommodating bakery. now hear me out. i also love a dedicated gluten/wheat/dairy/soy/refined sugar/insert other allergen or dietary preference here but once in a while, i just want to walk into your normal run of the mill bakery and be able to eat something. get ready for silver moon bakery. in addition to having all sorts of wheat and gluten filled baked goods, they have a daily spelt muffin AND a daily gluten-free muffin. that's two different daily muffins. as in everyday.

the day that one of each of these muffins were so kindly brought to my attention was spelt cranberry and gluten-free chocolate chip day. yum yum yum. and yes, i ate both of them. well, with some help. because really, i'm a sucker for a quality baked good. who isn't?

the spelt muffin was chewy, with a crispy top, delicious but one of the best parts about it was that it wasn't at all overly sweet. the plump cranberries were by far the sweetest part. the gluten-free muffin was a different story (but still delish). in addition to chocolate chips, there were golden raisins (at least, that's what i think they were), which really helped bind the muffin together. (probably helped avoid that whole crumbly gluten-free symptom).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

weeknight dinner: seared scallops with grapefruit sauce

subtitle: an i-deserve-it-and-oh-by-the-way-scallops-are-on-sale-at-whole-foods dinner

i love scallops. they're one of my favorite foods and yet i don't eat them too often, which makes them extra special. so after a couple of demanding weeks and eggs for dinner one too many nights, i decided i needed to make myself a special dinner. just my luck that scallops were on sale. say no more.

my vision (who knows why) was scallops with some sort of grapefruit component. so i did a few web searches to see what i could find. the most appealing sounding method of preparation was from eating well. since little goes better with grapefruit than avocado (just try to challenge me on this one), i decide to plop these suckers onto a simple salad. voila. actually, i admit this was the very first time i have made myself scallops and it was brilliant. i was impressed by my deliciously fancy (but easy!) dish.

seared scallops with grapefruit sauce
adapted from eating well
  • 1/2-3/4 lb scallops
  • 2 small grapefruits
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • avocado
  • lettuce
  • zest part of the grapefruit, lime and lemon to yield about a tablespoon of zest; or stop whenever you get tired
  • segment the grapefruit and reserve all juice
  • add lemon and lime juice to the grapefruit juice to yield 1/2 cup of citrus juice
  • sear the scallops: first make sure they are dry by patting with a paper towel then season with salt and pepper. heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium high heat and when the oil is hot (don't jump ahead here!) add the scallops to the pan. brown on each side; this only takes a few minutes. remove from the pan and set aside.
  • add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, then the shallots. cook the shallots until soft.
  • deglaze the pan: add chicken stock, wine, citrus juice and zest to the pan, and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom to release the scallop bits. allow this mixture to come to a boil and then reduce for a few minutes.
  • add the mint and honey to the pan, stir, and add the scallops for a minute to warm.
  • serve scallops on a bed of lettuce with avocado and grapefruit slices.
  • serves 2

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

pad thai and a thai cooking class

this was not my first pad thai attempt. the first one involved a valiant effort that even included a visit to the thai grocery store. alas, my endeavors were for naught because the result was less than delicious. really, it wasn't even close to good. enough of that. 2 years later, thanks to an awesome thai cooking class, i was ready to try again.

let's talk about the class for a moment. this is the second class i've taken at the natural gourmet institute and i've been quite pleased, so i feel the need to share. the format of both classes i have taken (both in the ethnic & regional food category-obviously) is to be in a large professional kitchen, get a set of recipes, and be set free with a plethora of sharp knifes, prep bowls and culinary students to help at every turn. the teachers are extremely knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. if this doesn't sound awesome enough, there is a small lecture part: some basic understanding of what you're about to do. then the best part is that you just get to cook. and eat everything you make!

i'm not sure if it was the class, the concise recipe in front of me, or a generally more comfortable rapport with cooking that made my pad thai turn out as well as it did. or it could have been the supportive roomies behind me, cheering me on. nothing like some positive energy to help an outcome. the recipe is pretty straightforward and once you've chopped and prepped everything, the cooking time is minimal. even better, you can practically feel good about eating this because it won't give you that greasy local-thai-joint-feeling. don't get too stressed. the cooking process is fast and furious but i was pretty flexible with my ingredients and everything still went great.

fyi, bittman also made this today although his version is slightly different. (it's like he's in my head!!!)

pad thai
from jay weinstein and the natural gourmet institute
  • 1 lb rice noodles, 1/4-inch wide
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons tamarind puree
  • 1/2 cup thai palm sugar light brown (i just used some brown sugar)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 4 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried shrimp
  • 1/4 cup finely julienned carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups pressed bean curd, cut into small strips
  • 2 tablespoons shredded salted radish, rinsed briefly
  • 2 cups scallion greens, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups bean sprouts
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted peanuts
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • set up ingredients: soak the noodles in warm water for 30 minutes then drain well. whisk together the red pepper, fish sauce, tamarind and palm sugar (seasoning). get everything else prepped and lined up in the order they are needed, since the stir-fry process happens so quickly.
  • stiry-fry the noodles: heat wok (or large pan) over high hear, add oil and heat until it shimmers. add shallots and cook until they begin to brown. add garlic and cook until golden brown. add more oil, if necessary, and add eggs, spreading them flat. stir in dried shrimp, carrots, bean curd, radish and soaked noodles. coat these ingredients with oil and stir-fry 30 seconds.
  • add the seasonings: stir-fry until noodles are tender, adding water as needed. fold in the seasoning sauce, scallions, most of the bean sprouts, and most of the peanuts. cook for 10 seconds to soften bean sprouts. taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  • remove from heat and garnish with the additional bean sprouts, peanuts and lime.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

winter csa: april

1. the bounty

  • 1 bunch spinach
  • 6 lbs potatoes
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 1 bunch leeks
  • 1 bag pea shoots
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2.5 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 3 dozen eggs
2. cost analysis (comparison costs courtesy of freshdirect except where otherwise indicated):


  • 1 bunch spinach: $4.50 (csa estimate)
  • 6 lbs potatoes: $12 (organic)
  • 2 bunches kale: $7 (organic)
  • 1 bunch leeks: $5 (organic)
  • 1 bag pea shoots: $4.50 (csa estimate)
  • 1 bunch cilantro: $2.50 (organic)
  • 2.5 lbs sweet potatoes: $5 (organic)
  • 3 dozen eggs: $15 (farm price)
= $55.50
actual csa cost per week = $45

and just when i couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, there was spinach.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

gluten-free crepes at bar breton

a gluten-free note here. if you're looking for some legit buckwheat crepes (100% buckwheat instead of a wheat and buckwheat mix and therefore gluten-free), bar breton has them. buckwheat is a gluten free grain but if you're extremely sensitive, you have to make sure it isn't contaminated. bar breton must be certified as they have designated gluten-free items throughout their menu.

so these didn't exactly rock my world but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. i had
la guerande with a poached egg, spinach, mushroom and parmesean. the parmesean and pesto like sauce didn't hurt. and really, we've already discussed how i believe an egg with a runny yolk can solve most food problems in life.

next time i'm going for a dessert version.

bar breton
254 5th avenue
ny, ny 10001
mon-sun 11am-10:30pm

Thursday, March 25, 2010

weeknight dinner: apricot chili glazed tofu

this is another one of those things i've had in the back of my head since i first saw the recipe. the original recipe was for chicken lettuce cups but it was the apricot sesame sambal sauce to go with them that had me. i finally decide to use the sauce with a stir-fry. since i didn't quite have the exact ingredients that the original recipe called for, my version is slightly modified. i also adjusted quantities depending on flavors that i prefer. the result is a classic combination: sweet and spicy. don't be scared by the fruit and spicy combo. i'm not sure why but several people i've mentioned this to have had an awkward reaction. just think duck sauce. (often apricot based).

apricot chili glazed tofu
(adapted from guy fieri's apricot sesame sambal sauce from the food network)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • whatever asian hot chili sauce you have adjusted to taste; i only had thai chili sauce, so i used a drizzle
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • tofu, diced
  • mix all ingredients together thoroughly
  • use part of the sauce to marinate the tofu
  • sautee tofu in a skillet over high heat, turning every so often until browned
  • add remaining sauce and stir fry for another minute
  • stir fried some vegetables to add to the mix (i used string beans and baby bok choy) and serve over rice

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

low-fat cranberry chocolate chip oatmeal cookies

subtitle: more oatmeal

by now, we all know that i'm oatmeal obsessed. (but not quite so obsessed as this guy.)

another birthday called and therefore another baked good. trying to respect the health concious, i stuck with the recent low-fat theme. AND since bday boy was going to be leaving the office early, i figured oatmeal cookies counted as breakfast cookies. because you just can't bake someone muffins for their birthday. and just to anticipate any griping, there really isn't anything boring about cranberry chocolate chip cookies.

if you're feeling my current oatmeal addiction, the serious eats' oatmeal roundup is not to be missed. now back to the bday baked good...

low-fat cranberry chocolate chip oatmeal cookies
(adapted from baking bites; original recipe from foodfit)
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c plain unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • preheat oven to 375F. line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • cream butter and sugars. beat in the egg, vanilla and applesauce.
  • stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and oats until just combined.
  • add chocolate chips and cranberries and stir.
  • drop tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. bake for about 9-12 min at 375F.
makes 2 dozen cookies

Sunday, March 14, 2010

winter csa: march

1. the bounty

  • 1 head red cabbage
  • 5 lbs potatoes
  • 2 black radish
  • 2 white turnips
  • 1 kohlrabi
  • 3 lbs carrots
  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 3 dozen eggs
2. cost analysis (comparison costs courtesy of freshdirect except where otherwise indicated):

  • red cabbage: $5 (organic)
  • potatoes: $10 (organic)
  • black radish: $2 (csa estimate)
  • kohlrabi: $2 (csa estimate)
  • carrots: $15 (csa estimate)
  • sweet potatoes: $6 (organic)
  • garlic: $1 (organic)
  • eggs: $15 (farm price)
= $56
actual csa cost per week = $45

i'm so over root vegetables. there. i said it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

guilty pleasure: velveeta macaroni and cheese

i think i can safely say this is not something my parents ever would have made for me. but it wasn't my parents who made it. it was my mom's friend who would come and hang out/babysit/cook for my brother and i occasionally if my mom was at work/somewhere else. of course, the neon orange substance known as velveeta was not something that was ever in my house, so when she introduced it to us, i must have been hesitant at first. until i tasted the mac and cheese. i dream of that mac and cheese and usually convince myself that during the rare times i cook mac and cheese it should be more official (read: real cheese). i don't know what i was thinking. and although the ooey gooey goodness emanates when it's hot, there's also something great about the cold leftovers. i can remember coming home from school and waiting to devour the leftovers of this cheesy mess.

velveeta macaroni and cheese

  • 1 2 lb brick of velveeta "cheese"
  • 1 bag/box shell pasta (larger is better)
  • small-medium onion
  • 1/4 cups milk
  • salt and pepper
  • breadcrumbs
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • boil water and cook shells as directed
  • while shells are cooking, cut up about 3/4 of the velveeta brick, chop up onion.
  • grease large oven proof bowl
  • pour cooked pasta in bowl, pour in chopped up cheese and onions. pour about 1/4c+ milk in. grind salt and pepper over top. mix thoroughly. cover top with bread crumbs.
  • bake until cheese is melted, browned on top and very bubbly. About 45 mins - one hour

Sunday, February 28, 2010

winter csa: february

1. the bounty
  • 1 head red cabbage
  • 5 lbs potatoes
  • 2 daikon radish
  • 2 kohlrabi
  • 3 lbs carrots
  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes
  • 2 bulbs garlic
  • 2 dozen eggs
2. cost analysis (comparison costs courtesy of freshdirect except where otherwise indicated):

  • red cabbage: $5 (organic)
  • potatoes: $10 (organic)
  • daikon: $3 (csa estimate)
  • kohlrabi: $2 (csa estimate)
  • carrots: $15 (csa estimate)
  • sweet potatoes: $6 (organic)
  • garlic: $1 (organic)
  • eggs: $10 (farm price)
= $52
actual csa cost per week = $45

now if only they would throw in some celeriac.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

low-fat pear oat muffins

subtitle: a health conscious muffin for an otherwise carb obsessed office

toto, we aren't in kansas anymore. shocking how the food expectations rapidly decline from soho, ny to secaucus, nj. okay, maybe not that surprising. anyways, i decided the polite thing to do would be introduce myself with muffins (duh). i wanted them to have oats (more breakfast like to me), be low-fat (because, well, muffins can be scary), and have pears (because they're delicious and would add flavor in case everything else went to crap). clearly, i had a lot of requirements, so it may not be surprising that i had a hard time finding a preexisting recipe. it was easier to just take a base muffin recipe (bittman!) and make the adjustments that i wanted.

i subbed some of the fat with unsweetened applesauce, added fruit, and swapped out half of the flour for instant oats. what resulted was a deliciously sweet, flavorful and moist muffin. the only downfall was that i didn't have turbinado sugar to sprinkle on the top...

low-fat pear oat muffins
adapted from mark bittman's muffin recipe in how to cook everything
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup instant oats
  • 1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 3 tspns baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 1 cup pears, finely chopped
  • preheat oven to 355 degrees
  • combine dry ingredients
  • combine wet ingredients and mix into dry
  • stir until just combined (don't overmix! lumps are good)
  • bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through