Roasted orange chutney

January 24, 2012 § 12 Comments

English is a language with a lot of great idiomatic phrases, so I take slight umbrage at the fact that there is no good taste equivalent for the saying “I could see it in my mind’s eye.”  At least, I don’t think there is.  If anyone out there knows one, will you please share it with me?  I would use it all the time.  I would probably drive everyone around me to drink, I would use it so often.  (So maybe it’s actually good I don’t know such a phrase.  It prevents the need for an intervention – for my overuse of it, or for the induced drinking problem in those who are sick of hearing it, I couldn’t say…)

It’s how I think about recipes, ingredients, and cooking.  I think many people who cook a lot do.  I imagine ingredients and preparations and I taste what they would be like in my mind’s mouth (ergh, see, that sounds ridiculous) before even cracking open the cupboards in the pantry.  And, when I see a dish of some sort, I do the same thing.

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Carrot rösti

November 29, 2011 § 18 Comments

Or maybe these are latkes.  I’m not terribly well versed in the spectrum of grated potato pancakes.  And so I’m going to say these are a take on rösti because that simply seems more fun to me right now.

Either way, I figured that the potato should not have the corner on the market on this style of cooking a root vegetable, and on my continued quest to make carrots in diverse and exciting new ways I shredded them and fried them into little rounds.

(And I didn’t want to call them fritters because then you’ll all think that I’m obsessed with fritters (given that I’ve made several different kinds already.  At least, in my mind I have.  I’m not sure about it in reality, come to think of it), and we all know I have more than enough obsessions to go around already.)

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Crostini with squash and kale

October 21, 2011 § 7 Comments

Curse the design and marketing team at Crate & Barrel!  Curse them for being good at their jobs!  Here we are, still knee deep in October (arguably the best month of the year), and an idle flip through their latest catalogue has left me jonesing for Christmas (not only Christmas, but all sorts of related decorative elements that I truly do not need).

Christmas is, it must be said, my very favorite holiday and my favorite season (I have a major failing for twinkle lights and Christmas carols.  What can I say?  Character flaw, perhaps.), so it doesn’t take a ton to get me excited about it and chomping at the bit for it to come.  But, to do so to the detriment of appreciating fall, glorious fall, well that would be tragic.

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“Em’s Buns

September 26, 2011 § 6 Comments


…They’re cheeky! (TM)”  That’s the name and slogan of my imaginary company. In my mind I even have caps and aprons with this printed on them, along with a little line drawing of a rotund bun speckled with sesame seeds. You see, when I threaten to drop out of my PhD program, (which happens at least once a week, if not more. The threats increase with the approach of each deadline and then subside after successfully achieving said deadline.  It’s kind of one of my ways of pretending like I’m rebellious, and of asserting my sense of autonomy – and the word on the street is almost every PhD student under the sun does something similar, well except for the part to follow) my plan for what I will do next is to start a bicycle-pulled food stand from which I will sell little stuffed buns as an afternoon snack from 2:30-5pm.  And, it’s my idea, so don’t steal it!! 🙂

The idea for afternoon buns was inspired by the buns they have at the St. John Hotel. I’ve never had their afternoon buns, but I read their description of them as “warm little buttock-like buns” and I thought it was the most hilarious and ingenious thing ever. Basically everything Fergus Henderson does is genius.

A little stuffed bun is exactly what I want as a snack in the afternoon every day. So, I decided I absolutely had start working on making them.

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Zucchini Ricotta Fritters

September 16, 2011 § 10 Comments

I feel like I’ve been wanting to make zucchini pancakes (or fritters, I’ve seen them called both.  They’re the savory small kind of pancakes, not zucchini bread-esque sweet ones) since approximately the dawn of time.  Though, when I think about it a little bit more carefully, it’s more like since about mid-July.

Remember Sofra Bakery and Cafe, which I mentioned a while back? (More accurately, which I gushed over, swooned over, and nearly asked to marry me, even though Joel, I think, would have been slightly peeved if I had run off with a bakery-cafe.  I, on the other hand, would have been very well fed.  But perhaps starved for conversation.  Anywho…)  When we were there, I watched (I have a terrible staring habit sometimes) as a young woman, wearing aviator sunglasses if I remember correctly, sprang up to fetch her order when her name was called, and walked back to her seat carrying a dainty copper tray laden with a stack of slim golden cakes, flecked with green.  What were they?  Whatever it was, I had missed it.  My eyes darted up to the menu and scanned over it again.  They had to be the zucchini pancakes.  I was instantly consumed by food envy.

Then I turned back to my flatbread, stuffed with cumin-spiced sausage, oranges, green olives, and yogurt sauce, and I was pretty much entirely happy again.  But, zucchini pancakes stayed on my mind.

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Chorizo empanadas

September 12, 2011 § 13 Comments

Along with a whole other set of mild, borderline addictions (like kombucha, smoked fish, and eating pate for breakfast…hey now, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!) I have a pastry dough problem.  It’s not so much a problem with eating it – though there are very few things in this world that taste worse when delicately cradled in flaky dough.  My addiction is to making it (and then I push it on others because one can really only eat so much pastry dough before one begins to take on the look of a stuffed turnover oneself.  Not that I don’t also eat plenty myself in the process.  And love it.).

Many people see a recipe that calls for making a pie crust, or a tart crust, or any other pastry dough and they quickly turn the page, banishing thoughts of how tasty it sounded from their minds because they are unwilling to confront the process.  Or they turn to Pillsbury for help.  I was one of those people up until a few years ago.  But, one intrepid day I decided I would try it.  The crust didn’t turn out all that fabulous, but it was good, and painless enough that I was willing to try again.  Then I tried again, and again, and soon I found myself envisioning everything in my refrigerator wrapped up in a tart, just so I could get one more hit of the dough making process.

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Quick pickled cucumber and melon salad

August 22, 2011 § 4 Comments

It’s been another crazy week, this last week.  More travel, more weddings (an exceptionally gorgeous and happy one of some close friends), and a running of errands for my own that could give the running of the bulls a run for its money in the category of harrowing, stampede-like qualities.

It’s all been beyond fun, but also beyond exhausting.  So, I’m going to take a little moment to share this refreshing little gem of a salad with you.  It makes me think of a spa food, which makes me think, “ahhhhhhh, I’m so relaxed.” (In spite of a certain preponderance of the evidence indicating the opposite.)

Granted, I’ve never been to a spa, so I can’t really speak to the nature of the food served at one.  But, here’s what I imagine spa food to be like: light and refreshing, nourishing and satisfying, full of pure, sensual flavors.  Food that lets you feel like you’re pampering yourself, while also being good for you.

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Homemade ricotta (and a honeyed grape compote)

August 15, 2011 § 15 Comments

If you are of the ilk of people who spend a considerable (some may say disproportionate – I say proper) amount of time thinking, preparing, and reading about food (My people!  Hello!), or if you are an Italian nonna, then making your own ricotta cheese may be old news to you.  Old news, but then hey, you have no excuse for not having some sitting freshly made in your refrigerator right now, now do you?

If it is not old news to you, well then my friend, do I have some news for you!!!  Run, don’t walk, gather the ingredients, and make some.  Now!  Well, read this first.  I give you permission. 🙂

I will make no secret of my love for ricotta.  It is a profound adoration, really.  It’s nearly as passionate as my love for whipped cream (and it may be slightly healthier). I know it’s a fairly commonplace activity to imagine what clouds taste like – come on!  don’t even try to tell me I’m the only one who thinks about that – and while most dream up clouds of marshmallows or cotton candy, I think they taste like ricotta.  Smooth and airy, billowing in your mouth and then melting into a pool of cream on your tongue…

I would just eat it with a spoon.  I do just eat it with a spoon.  Though, generally only when no one is looking.

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Beet Tzatziki

August 6, 2011 § 13 Comments

If you are like me, you have been existing for years in a sorry state of existence in which the only vegetable mixed into a tzatziki sauce is the cucumber (which isn’t even technically a vegetable, oh, and I suppose garlic is, but anyway, we’re not going to go there).  No more!  This limited viewpoint is about to come to an end.  Come with me into a brave new world, and allow me to introduce you to beet tzatziki, a delightful gem of a spread/dip/salad/midnight snack…

Backing up just a bit, I, oddly enough, have my recent packed schedule of research focus groups to thank for this discovery.  You see, I have somehow become one of my department’s experts in focus group moderating.  I don’t even quite know how it came about, I just know that now I not only do my own focus groups, I help out with those of other research projects as well.

I seem to have an affinity for it, especially focus groups with kids.  (The secret?  I find if you just stare at people expectantly for long enough, they’ll get uncomfortable and start talking.  No, but, actually, I think the most important thing is being genuinely interested in what people have to say. It comes across.)

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Okonomiyaki with garlic scapes

June 30, 2011 § 8 Comments

Not that long ago, I would have only understood 50% of the words in that title.  (In case you’re wondering, yes they would have been ‘with’ and ‘garlic’.)  But, you know how it goes, we grow, we change, we join vegetable CSAs and then we discover the wonder of garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes are the shoot and bud of the garlic plant (the regular garlic that we eat is  the bulb), and they look basically just like that, lovely curling shaded green stems ending in a graceful teardrop shape.

Except, unlike your average stem, garlic scapes grow in a roller coaster of a loop, making them eminently wearable as jangly bracelets, if, you know, you’re trying to make a fashion statement.

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