Wednesday, January 30, 2013

duck breast with garam masala

duck breast with garam masala

This might sound unorthodox, but I prefer staying in to going out on Valentine’s Day. Nothing sounds better to me than a quiet dinner at home: starting our dinner off with leisurely cocktails and snacks and progressing to a quiet, delicious meal that involves just the two of us. Frankly, I don’t even mind the clean up after.

Instead of seating schedules and being ushered out of the restaurant because other couples are waiting, we sit as long as we want to, linger over dessert, and talk, all without being asked how we’re enjoying our food. Because, let’s face it, when you’re eating duck breast, cured with garam masala, you’re most certainly enjoying your dinner.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar

roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za'atar

I was forced to relinquish the map; I had no idea where we were and was getting visibly stressed out. This was our first real trip and I was trying to impress not only with my ability to pick out good restaurants but also that I had fine navigational skills, which by the way, normally are quite strong. And yet those skills were failing me at that very moment – big time.

We were somewhere near Notting Hill, desperate to find one of the Ottolenghi restaurants we’ve heard so much about. I thought I had a pretty good handle on the map, but managed to take a wrong turn and there we were, in a cozy residential part of London that was, distinctly, not where we wanted to be.

I started to stress-sweat through my shirt: I expected Andrew to get angry and sullen, and blame me for not doing enough research, but instead, he calmly took the map, looked at it for a minute, and started to walk in the opposite direction.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

pasta con le sarde – pasta with sardines

pasta con le sarde

Last winter, while Andrew was away for work, his cousin Mike happened to be in town. Mike is an entrepreneur who lives in Boston, and if I had to catergorize the kind of person Mike is, well, he’s a bringer-of-people-together. Thus, Mike, being Mike, gathered a bunch of folks: cousins, significant others of cousins who couldn’t make it (that’s me!), and friends – for a brunch at Morandi. It turned into a swell afternoon.

Morandi, for those who don’t live in New York and might be contemplating a visit, is a great place for eating. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – they are all fantastic. But my favorite time to go there is for brunch. It’s boisterous, almost too-loud, but in a gregarious, fun-filled way, as if to remind you that hey, it’s the weekend, live a little. And so we ordered food: eggs, toast, pancakes, bloody mary’s and mimosas. There were at least two orders of Morandi’s famous ricotta fritters. When we got to the last fritter, everyone feigned a polite, No, you go ahead and take it, all the while hoping to be the lucky one on the end. While looking over the menu, out of the corner of my eye I spied pasta with sardines in tomato sauce with raisins, pine nuts, and fennel. I ordered it, and it’s been about a year now that I’ve been meaning to tell you about this dish.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

gruyere and pancetta quiche with hash-brown crust

gruyere and pancetta quiche with hash-brown crust

Perhaps, I should mention a few things here to clear the air. One: I’m not a great fan of quiche. I don’t know what it is: the texture, the mushy, damp-tasting crust, the chalky, overcooked custard—none of it works for me. Also this: after decades of cooking, after years and years of cracking a near infinite number of eggs, I still have to do it with both hands. Whenever I see someone casually break open an egg with one hand, I wish I could do it too. But seeing as my hands are child-sized (still), the mechanics of one-handed egg-breaking simply don’t work. Pout.

I was going to write about this quiche some other time, but it’s simply so good amazing that I can’t hold off. The second I tasted the smooth, delicate custard, generously spiked with punchy Gruyere and meaty pancetta, I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. And because I love Andrew so much, I won’t have but just one, two, three more pieces. I can’t just taunt the man with a quiche, and then eat it all for breakfast and lunch, because that’s exactly what’s happening this afternoon.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

coconut chicken curry

thai chicken curry

Sometimes what I cook has a good story behind it: maybe a memory or funny turn of events. Today, I have Coconut Chicken Curry for you and no great story, which kind of poses a problem. How do you introduce a recipe? What was it that caught my eye?

Simply put, I saw the recipe in the most recent Bon Appetit, made some tweaks, and after we finished licking our dinner plates clean that night, decided it made for a perfect weeknight meal. You can come from work in the evening and put it together in about thirty minutes, which for a school night dinner, isn’t bad. In the time that you could order and have delivered Thai take-out, you could make this curry. It’s also nice that this is a one-pot meal, as lately, my cooking endeavors have taken me into the “get every pot dirty” territory: a fun experiment that makes me feel like a restaurant chef while I am cooking, that ceases to be fun when you spend what feels like an eternity cleaning those pots.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

citrus salad with creamy poppy seed dressing

citrus salad with creamy poppyseed dressing

I know: a salad in January is so cliché, but I promise, I’m not here to sell you some diet plan, or urge you to eat healthier, or stop baking cookies and cake. It’s winter after all, and turning my oven on keeps the house warmer. Besides, I like cookies and cake so much, I’ve never been one to stop eating sweets once the New Year turns up. My mantra is the same as it’s always been: eat what you want to eat and be happy. Life is too short otherwise.

We tend to eat a lot of citrus this time of year. I suspect you do too because there’s not that much other fruit around that excites. It feels warmer, sunnier just eating an orange segment; it’s a good antidote to puffy coats, hats, and scarves. We stockpile our citrus: oranges, clementines, grapefruit all sitting in the crisper at the same time. I like having options; who knows what I’ll feel like eating for a snack? And oftentimes we cut up citrus into this salad to give this one and that one a break.

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