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.)

« Read the rest of this entry »

Twice baked butternut squash

October 31, 2011 § 30 Comments

There’s a crack that opens up in the earth today, letting all manner of little demons and naughty spirits out to roam the earth for the night and make mayhem.  I just thought I’d let you know that, in case you hadn’t heard already.

It’s the original reason behind dressing up on All Hallows Eve (Halloween), actually.  If you were disguised as a witch or demon, then it was highly unlikely that the real demons wandering about would notice you and cause you trouble.  They would think you were one of them and leave you alone.  Which, on the whole, makes sense, don’t you agree?

A similar thing happens on the solstices, and at periods of your life when you’re in transition.  Those pesky demons come out and can make a muck of any number of little things, or even make you sick.  Nowadays we blame things like stress, which often increases in times of transition.  But, those of us who are in the know – and now you’re in the know! – know that it’s actually demons.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Warm fall slaw, with goat cheese

October 24, 2011 § 16 Comments

What is it with this time of year anyways?  It’s so, I don’t know, distinctive, I guess.  Not that other times of the year aren’t, but fall feels more ephemeral and therefore somehow stands out from the hot days of mid-summer, the frigid days of mid-winter, or the muddy days of spring.  All of which last long enough to wear you out, at least slightly.

Fall manages never to outstay its welcome.  It’s like a favorite uncle, or other cooky relative, who blows in and out, full of color and liveliness, and who never sticks around long enough to grate on you.  But, perhaps you never really get to know them either.

Fall tends to be a bit of a yearning season for me.  A busy, yet philosophical season.  And beyond a doubt, the most nostalgic season (which is saying something since I am, as a general rule, nostalgic!).  I think of the line in that goofy movie “You’ve Got Mail” when Meg Ryan’s character says that fall makes her want to buy a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.

Except, for me, when the weather becomes as bracing and clear as it was this morning, I find what I want to do is go door to door and sell folios full of static cling window decorations shaped like skeletons and bats and pumpkins and turkeys.

« Read the rest of this entry »

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.

« Read the rest of this entry »

“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.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Tartine with goat cheese and confit tomatoes

August 28, 2011 § 12 Comments

Hoo-wee, we are having some weather out there.  The wind and rain are battering my windows like ill-intentioned thugs trying to get in.  The potted plants and deck furniture have the look of a bunch of cast-aways where they’re clustered, near the entryway, but I think they’re giving me looks of thankfulness – ‘thank you for not leaving us out there!’  And, for perhaps the first time ever, I’m feeling rather glad we don’t have any large trees growing right next to our apartment building.

I’m so thankful that the hurricane had calmed somewhat, into a tropical storm, by the time it came to visit us this far north.  We still have power and water (knock on wood), so I cannot complain one bit.  It’s still nothing to mess with though.  Hunkering is the only word to describe what the city is doing.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Pasta with eggplant, tomatoes, and ricotta

August 18, 2011 § 24 Comments

Did you know that eggplants kick their blossoms off if they don’t get fertilized?  Just kick them off!  Like a bouncer unceremoniously tossing an unruly guest, by the collar, out into the back alley.  “And stay out!”  I know this now, after a bit of internet gardening-forum perusing, gasping, re-searching, and confirming.

As you may well have imagined, I developed a sudden, keenly focused, interest in the subject after I kept finding the blossoms of our eggplant lying scattered about on the porch below it, completely open and intact, un-chewed upon, as if they had been strewn by an industrious flower girl.  I had missed the wedding though.

At first I suspected birds or insects.  I imagined little beetles and ants popping the blossoms off and tossing them to the ground, laughing and egging each other on.  Like the insect version of cow tipping.  Until, finally, one day it happened right in front of my eyes.  One moment the blossom was on the plant, and the next it just fell off.  As if the eggplant simply didn’t want it anymore and was cutting it off, disowning it, which, I guess, in a sense, is what was happening.

« Read the rest of this entry »

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.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Tomato and nectarine caprese

August 2, 2011 § 13 Comments

Oh, hello!  Are you there?  Because I’m not.  Ok, technically I am physically here.  But my mind appears to have vacated the premises.  Half of it is scurrying nervously around, dusting off specific aims and trying to make sure its hypotheses match (sort of like socks, those hypotheses, in fact, I think my dryer might have eaten one of them).  The other half has up and taken off for the Mediterranean.  It seems to be hanging out on terrazza somewhere along the coast between Nice and Portofino.

Obviously the latter half is much cleverer, and knows what’s up.  It watches the busy, blustering academic part with a shrug of ‘who knows what that’s about,’ and pours itself a glass of wine while sighing contentedly, “ah, la vita really es bella, isn’t it?”

« Read the rest of this entry »

Ricotta Gnocchi with Butter Braised Summer Squash

July 18, 2011 § 12 Comments

Some magical things are going on amidst the pots of vegetables on our porch.  One of our tomatoes turned red.  Suddenly.  One day everything was green, and then the next there was a startling splash of red beaming at us from under a leaf!  It looked like something out of a fairytale, as striking as a single red rose on a bush.

And the eggplant is suddenly dangling with tiny eggplants, like charms swinging from a bracelet.  I keep feeling like the plants should give some sort of proud cluck, like a laying hen, before they sprout a fruit seemingly out of nowhere.

But, instead it happens stealthily, in the night.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the cheese category at Five And Spice.