Tuesday, February 22, 2011

meyer lemon and blood orange marmalade

blood orange and meyer lemon marmalade

It all started innocently enough over pedicures with one of my girlfriends. We were at our favorite place, tucked away in the West Village, having a girls’ Sunday. I had raved about the place to her in the past and wound up getting her and her mother addicted to the tiny place where the nail technicians meticulously transformed your feet from wintry paws to moisturized, groomed, sparkling, and, dare-I-say, sexy toes. Aside from my nearly-decade-long gratitude for their attention to my feet, I am a huge fanatic of their citrus tea, which they serve upon request.

blood orange and meyer lemon marmalade

It was over cups of this citrus tea, that my friend issued a challenge, or rather – suggested an idea for this blog. We deduced that the tea was probably citrus marmalade dissolved in hot water. It was simple – but strangely delicious, seductively fragranced, and highly addictive. “Why don’t you reverse-engineer it,” my friend said, “You’re pretty good at that sort of thing.”

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Friday, February 18, 2011

pesto

manually chopping

Pesto and I had a bit of a rough start. I first tried it on a pizza and I didn’t like it. We were sitting in a North End pizzeria in Boston, on a middle-school trip, and a girl I thought was amazingly cool and knew all things worth knowing, ordered a pizza with pesto. I had no idea what it was, and was too shy to ask, not wanting to seem even less cool than I already was.

A few minutes later it arrived, golden and bubbling, studded with green, oily blobs of pesto. It was potent and garlicky-smelling, but it wasn’t calling out to me. My suspicions proved right – aside from not looking good, it also wasn’t very good. It tasted stale, rancid, and too oily. Looking back, I realize it wasn’t very good pesto, but back then I just thought pesto wasn’t for me. I didn’t know the difference between good and bad.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

chocolate-covered strawberries

glossy and chocolatey

For this Valentine’s Day, we’re keeping it simple. There will be no fancy dinner at a candlelit restaurant, no scheduled seating time. Instead we will be having a simple, quiet meal at home. I can’t think of anything more romantic than sharing a meal with my favorite person. Just the two of us, some food, wine, and excellent conversation.

red and lush
schaffenberger

Given that it’s our first Valentine’s Day together, we’re both a bit awkward about the whole thing. On the one hand, we want nothing more to show our love for one another. On the other hand, both of us, separately, always regarded Valentine’s Day with a bit of indifference. In my single days (and believe me I’ve spent many a Valentine’s Day single!) I never felt odd about not being one to receive flowers, chocolate, or not having a date.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

cole slaw with wasabi-spiked mayo

cole slaw with wasabi mayonnaise

It’s not exactly an intuitive thing to think of slaw this time of year. And it would have totally slipped my mind were it not for last week’s Super Bowl party that my friends threw to mark the game. The big piece de resistance for the meal portion were pulled pork sandwiches and my girlfriend, Sharon, made sure to slow-roast the meat over twelve hours. My contribution, paltry this time around, was a simple slaw to complement the sweet tones of the pulled pork.

hearty, simple, crunchy

My initial thoughts turned to salads I typically gravitate to in the winter. Plates of bright citrus, bowls of hearty lacinato kale, mounds of sturdy escarole. But none of those went as well with pulled pork as a traditional slaw. And when I went on a grocery run, I noticed that while the greens were looking rather limp and sadder than usual, cabbage was sturdy and crisp, as if trying to tell me that I should, perhaps, give slaw a chance.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

rice pudding with coconut milk

spoon!

I realize that rice pudding isn’t about to win the sexiest dessert award anytime soon. It’s dull in color, lumpy in texture, and offers no enticing shape. It’s a lump of gooey rice sitting in your bowl quietly awaiting its fate. If there was a pageant for dessert, rice pudding would lose the swimsuit and the evening gown sections of the competition. It doesn’t sparkle or wow with its looks.

unsweetened soy milk light coconut milk

But it would nail the questions category, and when asked what issue is important to its cause, the rice pudding would surely rise to the occasion. It is, without question, my favorite winter dessert, snack, comfort treat. I eat it warm after dinner, with the steam rising from the bowl; I sneak spoonfuls of it at night, cold, straight from the fridge; I could build a lunch around it with some sliced pears and bananas and a steaming cup of Ceylon tea. I could easily write odes to rice pudding, and I might as well have done so just now.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

sloppy bao

sloppy bao

About a year ago on a day much like today I was stranded in the West Village waiting on a friend who was stuck at work, and thus running late for our dinner date. So late in fact that we wound up catching up over a late night drink that night. But there I was, stuck downtown, cold, hungry after my work-out, emerging from the gym to a text message telling me dinner was getting pushed back to even later. And as many of you know, an intense workout renders one famished and pushing dinner to later is not an option.

julienned mango

I texted back that drinks later were fine, but that I was going to find myself something to eat, lest I expire. Besides, unexcited about having to wander outside in freezing rain, I set out to find a suitable solution: dinner that was simple and casual enough that would allow me to pop in without a reservation and linger there indefinitely until my friend would show up. While it sounds easy enough in a city like New York, I should also tell you that I’m a picky eater in restaurants, who looks for various details that will provide me hints if a place is worth visiting. Somehow, my restaurant-picking gut has never led me in the wrong direction, and I trust it entirely. What this decision-making is comprised of, I can’t exactly say. It’s more art than science, that’s for sure.

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