November 3, 2012 § 21 Comments
When I came up with the idea of making breakfast arepas, I felt extremely innovative.
I was first introduced to arepas several years ago in Boston by a friend of mine who excels in the sniffing-out-cheap-but-good-street-food department. I enjoyed the golden cheese-filled corn cakes a lot – it’s hard not to like warm cheesy corny stuff – but they didn’t excite me to the degree many other street foods (did somebody say kimchi tacos?) do.
Why? Probably because, for unknown reasons and a shameful lack of imagination on this front, it took me until just days ago to realize that you could stuff an arepa with more than just cheese or cheese and beans. So much more!
A few days ago, I saw an image of arepas filled with avocado, pork, and salsa, and my immediate thought, because there are few things on this planet I love more than avocado + egg for breakfast, was “arepas filled with avocado and fried eggs! ImustmakethisandeatitNOW!!!!” And I felt very clever for having such a unique idea.
Then, last night I was texting with my brother who lives in Manhattan (he has power back! Yay! I hope everyone else still without power also has it restored ever so quickly!) who had written to me to tell me that I really needed to try making a bourbon and maple syrup milkshake. (Um, yes, clearly I do.) Somehow it came up that he had eaten an arepa for dinner, and I told him excitedly, “guess what! I’m making breakfast arepas tomorrow morning!” « Read the rest of this entry »
February 21, 2012 § 15 Comments
Last Friday night we went out to dinner with some friends at a postage stamp sized little pop-up restaurant called Whisk, just around the corner from our house. We had an absolute blast, which was mostly due to being in the best of company, but the seven course tasting menu offered at the restaurant, aka the dining experience, was quite fun too. The food was legitimately good, fancy and conceptual, though it was not flawless.
Usually I sneer a little at deconstructed this, foamed that, or anything made into a gel version of itself. It can seem so pretentious. So if it is going to be done, it either needs to be executed near perfectly or be done tongue in cheek. At Whisk, it was neither, but they were so incredibly endearing and effusive about their project, so adorably bumbling as they mispronounced Camembert and granita in their excitement, that any apparent pretention was immediately forgiven. It felt like we were all playing house together, and we got to eat a very delicious meal during the course of it.
And I must say, their plating was truly beautiful and creative. I love carefully, stunningly plated food. It has some of the interesting aesthetic elements of abstract art and sculpture, except then you get to devour it! It is not something I have ever given a try myself though, except for carefully placed mounds and dollops (I do have this idea for a crazy project loitering in the back of my mind that, if enacted, could thoroughly change this, but that is something for the future). And, when I looked at the meal I created for us the very next day, it provided a pretty amusing contrast to Friday’s edible art. On Saturday, we ate piles.
January 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
I’ve been making a lot of mashed things lately. I’m beginning to wonder if I have some unconscious aggression seething inside me that’s coming out in my cooking, or something. After all, there are few things more cathartic than really pounding the heck out of some root vegetables. I learned in a Belgian restaurant that the Flemmish word for mash, apparently, is stoemp, which I really like the sound of. I think it’s a very accurate sound to convey the process of smashing your boiled food to a pulp. Well, until you get out the handheld mixer and decide to whip it up, to make it less stoemped and a little more light airy (the question is, does this then mean the suppressed aggression has reached scary levels?).
Anyways, I’ve been mashing just about every root vegetable known to man, except the classic potato. I made some very lovely mashed sweet potatoes (they were the light orange color I’m currently fancying painting my bathroom!), lightly sweetened with maple syrup but with a dash of salt for contrast. I was at a friend’s for dinner a couple of nights ago where we had cheesy beer waffles for supper (which, by the way may possibly be the absolute best use of a waffle iron EVER! They were amazing. I definitely will find the recipe). But, when we looked, the main other foodstuffs we could turn up was a large rutabaga. So, I iron chefed it with the other things I could find, those being: a lime, cream cheese, butter, cilantro, garlic, onion, and a small green bell pepper. Rutabagas aren’t particularly flavorful, so we figured we could add whatever we wanted to it, as long as the rest of the ingredients went together. I minced the onion and bell pepper and sautéed them. Meanwhile I peeled, chopped, and boiled the rutabaga until it was soft, and drained the water off. Then I smashed together the rutabaga with a couple of Tablespoons of the cream cheese and a plop of butter for creaminess, and the onion and pepper for some extra flavor. Inspired by the quasi-Latin-Americaness of the onions and pepper we also made a sort of chimichurri by mincing a clove of garlic, and a couple Tablespoons of cilantro, mixing these with a tsp. of lime zest, a squeeze of the lime, and finally a drizzle of olive oil to hold it all together. We sprinkled this on top of the mashed rutabaga, and it was actually quite delicious. (It didn’t go with the waffles at all though, oh well, that’s when you pretend you’ve made the food to be eaten in mini courses.) « Read the rest of this entry »
January 13, 2010 § 2 Comments
Sometimes as a result of my general lack of planning in procuring groceries, followed by a lack of meal planning until suppertime is near at hand, I find myself stuck in kind of an improvisatory cooking rut. It looks a little something like this. Emily’s One-pot Wonders: chop and sautee meat remove from pan (or open can of legumes); chop and sautee onions and garlic until soft, add random chopped vegetables and cook until beginning to be tender; add a blend of Italian spices or Moroccan spices or Latin American spices or Indian spices or just salt and pepper; add back meat; throw in a can of tomatoes; simmer; eat. All things considered it’s not bad at all (sometimes it’s even downright tasty!). But, after doing this for a certain period of time, I find it does start to get old. At that point, Emily-with-slightly-higher-expectations has to take rather-lazy-Emily by the shoulders and give her a good shake, and say something like, “you are a lazy ass! I think, at least I hope, you can handle getting 2 pots dirty. Try making something that requires at least a teensy weensy bit of foresight, for heaven sakes!”
And, usually I listen. This enchilada recipe is one of my most recent forays back into the world of cooking what might actually deserve the term a dish. It’s a recipe I originally got from a couple of friends back in college. It was so ooey-gooey-cheesy delicious, it quickly became a frequent guest at our dinner table and generally led to fights over who got to have the leftovers for lunch. I stopped making it because it somehow in my mind transformed into one of those recipes that just has too many steps that you don’t want to bother with – which is strange because it doesn’t! I think maybe the problem was I remembered the way the original recipe called for you to dip each individual tortilla into the sauce and shake it off before filling it, which led to catastrophic messes in the kitchen. But, this step is totally unnecessary if you just coat the bottom of the pan with sauce and then pour the rest over the top. « Read the rest of this entry »