Sunday, August 9, 2009

We're back!

Back from Europe and the endless iterations of cheese and tomato sandwiches got me itching to get in kitchen and cook.

Friday night Amelia came over to help us make dinner. Nick claims to have just made his amazing pan-seared scallops with butter cream and onion sauce from scratch and to have forgotten what he did (sorry guys) but I can tell you how I made my contribution for the evening - maple-glazed corn on the cob.

It's a really simple process - you mix maple syrup and butter to get the basic glaze (usually a bit more syrup than butter, but you can always play with the consistency - the more butter, the more liquidy the glaze gets) and then season to taste. I used garlic, pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper to give it some zing. Dump the corn in the glaze and roll it around gleefully like a dog in a swimming pool, then plop it on the grill. Done!

Then yesterday Cora came for a visit and we made not one but *two* desserty treats. First, we made this recipe for Lemon-Blueberry Buckle. It's a solid recipe yielding delicious dividends, the only advice we have is, when you make the lemon glaze, put in about twice as much sugar as the recipe suggests. Otherwise you won't achieve the syrupy consistency you need. Also, FYI - the recipe is very tart and lemony. If that's not your thing - you just want a hint of lemon - try only using the juice of one lemon in the cake, and being sparing with the zezt when making the lemon crumbs and the lemon syrup.

Finally, we spent about five minutes making these peanut-butter chocolate balls (we renamed them Heart Attack Balls), which are so easy a four year old could make them, and so bad for you a four year old should know better. Seriously. You basically take a cup of corn syrup and a cup of sugar, heat it up, add a jar of peanut butter, roll in a bunch of corn flakes, and top with chocolate. Disgusting. And yet I can't stop eating them. Someone please come to my house and take them away?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pink Soup

Building off Orli's theme of dinner-party-improvisation, I thought I'd share a soup I invented a little while ago.

The Caplaftakeons were hosting a potluck, and I had promised potato-leek-kale soup. However, I was late getting started, and when I ran to the grocery store an hour before dinner was supposed to start I found the produce section devoid of kale AND leeks. Determined to make inventiveness triumph over adversity, I grabbed beets and green onions instead. And thus was born this truly scrumptious soup recipe:

Pink Soup
olive oil
1 bunch green onions
6-8 large thin-skinned potatos
3-4 beets
2 qts. water
1-2 Tbls. dried rosemary
1/4 c. heavy cream

Chop entire bunch of green onions. Saute in olive oil in a large soup pot. Chop potatos into small chunks (peeling optional -- I prefer to use thin-skinned potatos and leave the skins on), and saute a little bit with the onions before adding water and (peeled & chopped) beets. Bring to a boil. Add rosemary and salt to taste. Simmer until potatos can be easily squished with a potato masher or a large spoon -- mash most of the potatos this way, but leave the beets chunky. 5 minutes before serving, add heavy cream.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Random Dinner Parties and Invented Risotto.

There is something (many somethings, really) beautiful about the spontaneous dinner party. the one where you don't buy anything, don't plan anything, and don't know who precisely is coming to dinner. Starting from the things in the fridge, the contents of the cabinets and the scattershot notion of 'hey, that might be tasty', then moving blithely along in the knowledge that somehow or another, everyone will get fed.

Tonight was one such, featuring both usual suspects and new guests, and many experimental flavors. Now, I love a beautifully organized, synthesized, planned party as well as anything--even when the timing goes awry, the work of putting together a meal with intention of blending everything harmoniously is great. But I'll confess- assembling a dinner totally off the cuff and on the fly and playing the Foodie Challenge is one of my favorite things ever.

Our apartment's joined a CSA, and trying to a)find out what to do with all the new and exciting vegetables, b)eat them before the next week or before they c)go off tragically leads to adventures in eating. Like a silly little plate of radishes with ranch dressing and sharp cheddar. (Yes.) Or bok-choi-and-turnip lo mein using frozen noodles from the Veggie 'Dega up the street. (No.) We've got more lettuces than I know what to do with, and it's really nice to have the option of a salad, any time (I tend not to buy lettuce in stores, it just seems so pricey for so little, or so likely to not get used it's a waste.) and I would almost never buy kohlrabi voluntarily, it's such a weird little vegetable.

Weird little vegetables are awesome. And there's something great about the ability to experiment on new things, like new spices. I found this amazing store, and oh but their bulk spices are cheap. And oh, but I'm excited by the prospects.

Rambling aside (alongside, maybe) tonight Mal, Val and I made dinner for eight on nothing but what was in the house. Which ended up being some tasty CSA beets and parsley sliced thin and fried up beautifully with thyme; bok choi with curry and garlic sauce just the littlest bit sweet and spicy at once; and this wild mushroom risotto I made up, a a slightly Armenian/Middle Eastern inspired dish full of spices--sumac, turmeric, chili, cumin (and cumin seeds) and coriander seeds all making for a lovely shade of rust-orange delicious. Dessert was ice cream and little tiny meringues, with some leftover homemade whipped cream from yesternight's strawberry shortcakes.

Because last night was a tiny semi-impromptu dinner party (mushroom strudel from TJ's, burgers with caramelized onions and gouda, roasted portobello mushrooms marinated gorgeously in goddess dressing, two types of slaw and said shortcakes--For three.) was also lovely. There are no pictures of anything, for 'twas all consumed.

Ain't cooking also great?

This is all to say that I'm resuscitating this blog. What have you all been making, recently?


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Recipe for a 3-Day Chicken Soup

First, throw a dinner party. Invite everyone you know. Buy a few bottles of wine, some onions, and a chicken. Stuff the chicken with onions (halved), some peppercorns, and a bayleaf. Rub the outside with olive oil and then with salt. Roast it in the oven at 350ºF for at least two and a half hours. Don't trust your meat thermometer.

As friends trickle in (each bearing a bottle of wine), make baking-powder biscuits and several vegetable sides. Give hugs enthusiastically, but carefully, mindful of your floury hands. Baste the chicken every half hour -- first with olive oil, then its own juices as they collect in the bottom of the pan.

If someone brings pink champagne, drink a toast to friends and feasting. Let someone else set the table. When the bones are easily jiggled in their sockets, serve the bird -- no matter what the meat thermometer says.

Enjoy dinner. Drink all the wine. Eat chicken off your fingers and stuff yourselves, now, with juicy onions. Celebrate. Make spontaneous calls to absent friends and put them on speakerphone. When everyone's tired of eating, make music. Then break out the boardgames, and brownies for dessert.

When at last all the feasting is done, when it's 2AM and your guests plead exhaustion and work in the morning, bid them goodnight. Gather together the remains of the chicken, every bone you can find and any bits of skin and meat that have not been eaten. Put them all in your largest pot. Pour and scrape all the grease from the roasting pan in there, too, and then fill it with water and add two more onions, six peppercorns, and at least two teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil while you load the dishwasher. Turn down to a simmer, at the lowest possible flame, overnight.

In the morning, the house smells delightful. Turn off the heat and let the broth cool for an hour while you have breakfast. Then pick out the bones. Use a long-handled, slotted spoon and your fingers -- pick any last bit of meat from the skeleton and put it back in the soup. Be careful not to crush those tiny vertebrae; treat it with respect.

Put the broth back on the heat, add more salt if necessary, and go to the beach.

On the way back, sunburnt and damp-haired, still in your bathing suit, stop at the grocery store. Buy a bunch of loose celery, fresh parsley, and four or five carrots. Don't use the self-checkout lanes. Get some rice, too, if you don't know whether you have some at home.

Chop the veggies and the parsley up smallish, and add them to the broth. You should have been able to smell it as you were coming up the walk. Pour in three, four, or five cups of rice -- consider how thick you like your soup, and the depth of the pot. Return to a boil, and then simmer for another day or two, adding water anytime the level of the broth drops too far. Stir at least a few times a day (this is the part I forgot).

Around noon on the third day, start bread dough. Let it rise twice and it should be baked in time to serve with soup for dinner.

(this was actually written in July -- some of you may remember the dinner party in question -- and I only just finally got around to typing up and posting it!)