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Thursday, August 7, 2014

mario batali’s eggplant caponata + some news!

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Folks, I have much to tell you, and I had hoped that August would be off to a slow start, but I was wrong. It’s been pretty busy and a few things here and there needed to be done for one of the books, so that’s kept me occupied. We had family visiting over the weekend, and by far, my personal highlight was going through The Food of Spain with my two-year old niece who was riveted. She fell completely and unabashedly in love with Angelita Carcia de Paredes Barreda (an 84-year old Franciscan nun) on page 214 and for twenty minutes straight we played the game of “Where’s the old lady?” She was also really taken by the fried goat cheese, but then again, who wouldn’t be? Fried goat cheese is stuff of the gods, right?

I don’t know why, and there’s no segue or connection to my news or to eggplant caponata I wanted to tell you about, but I’ve been thinking – a lot – about a really good high school friend of mine. When I say really good, she might have been one of the biggest influences in my life. She was fiercely smart – smarter than anyone I’ve ever met – and well educated. She spoke, and picked up, languages with great ease: Russian, Arabic, Farsi. She taught herself ancient Greek; she was fluent in Latin. She introduced me to authors and food; music and theatre – and she had a razor sharp wit. I always, always, looked up to her. She pulled me through some hairy situations and it was wonderful and lovely to spend our post high-school and college years in New York. She took me to a hole in the wall restaurant that served outstanding pasta alla carbonara, she extolled the virtues of cacio e pepe; and I still fondly recall our incredible meals at the now-shuttered, excellent, Cookies and Couscous that served, well, you get the idea. She was incredibly hard to get to know, but through our many years of friendship, there were moments when she’d open up. She was like a sister to me.

And then one day she stopped answering her phone. And then the number became disconnected.

Continue reading mario batali’s eggplant caponata + some news!.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

abc kitchen’s carrot avocado salad

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I was lucky to do a trail at ABC Kitchen about a year ago. It was made through a connection of a friend who kindly arranged for me to come in for a day. Normally, ABC Kitchen only lets culinary school graduates in their kitchen, but they made a special exception for me, or so I was told. Years ago, the drama department at Carnegie Mellon bent the rules for me as well, letting me take some classes in their closed-to-non-majors program. I’d like to say I have amazing powers of persuasion but that would be wishful thinking; I think I just got lucky. In any case, I got to take classes with this guy among other talented folks, and I’m tickled pink that he’s doing so well. Go Josh!

I had hoped, before my trail, that I was going to impress the ABC Kitchen folks so much with my work ethic and dedication that they’d let me come in for a stage, if only for a few weeks. I wore my kitchen clogs, got my knives sharpened, and even brought tweezers (for plating) in my knife bag. I fancied myself very prepared.

Continue reading abc kitchen’s carrot avocado salad.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

mushroom bourguignon

mushroom bourguignon

Friends, I’ve been meaning to publish this recipe since Monday, but it has been a seriously busy week. That book I was working on for most of the last year is finally coming back to me, warts edits and all, come Monday. I’m bracing myself: With regular work, the private chef gig, and these edits, I might go into a cave and just work until the edits need to be submitted.

Here is another recipe I made for the client last week: mushroom bourguignon. I adapted it from Deb as it was a perfect “meaty” recipe to satisfy a non-meat eater. My client’s husband eats fish, but we agreed that I will cook a mix of meat and non meat to make sure that my client gets enough different proteins. The husband just agreed to eat all the dinner components that work for him and off we went. But seeing as at home we eat very little meat to begin with, it didn’t feel like a stretch to create many vegetarian meals that had all the heft and flavor of animal protein.

Continue reading mushroom bourguignon.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

duck fat potatoes with mushrooms

duck fat potatoes with mushrooms

This here makes a perfectly respectable lunch despite what you might think. You can try and reason as to why you shouldn’t have potatoes bathed in duck fat, but all of your thinking will fall short of one germane truth against which you will have no argument: they are delicious. These are humble ingredients, potatoes, mushrooms. The whole thing will run you about six dollars, excluding the duck fat. How’s that for economy eating?

You can purchase duck fat a nicer stores or your butcher, or if you cook duck, and you should, you should absolutely save the fat that renders out. Not doing so results in a great culinary tragedy. I actually like cooking duck precisely for the duck fat, because, to me, it’s the best part of the duck.

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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.

Continue reading roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahini and za’atar.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

curried sweet potato, carrot, and parsnip latkes with harissa yogurt

curried sweet potato, carrot, and parsnip latkesAnd on the fourth night of Hannukah, there was a loud groan, “We’re all potato-latke’d-out! Let there be another fritter to delight our palates!”

And so it happened. A different latke was made – and everyone was pleased.

While I might be the last person to turn down potato latkes, especially of the hand-grated variety, especially those where extra care has been applied to preserve the starch and decrease the amount of moisture; even I get to a point when a potato latke, while wonderful in its concept, needs a sexier, worldlier cousin. The kind of cousin that will teach a potato latke (generally thought of as a homebody) to wear red lipstick, listen to 80s Prince, and sneak out to go dancing all night.

Continue reading curried sweet potato, carrot, and parsnip latkes with harissa yogurt.