Shrimp and Orange Salad with Arugula and Fennel
It’s not even August and apparently stores are stocking their shelves for Hallow-freaking-ween. I’m very much aware that holiday creep is a huge thing in retail (back-to-school seems to go back on the shelves around the Fourth) but especially after the winter so many of us had to endure this year, well, cheering on the arrival of the season of inevitable misery seems abominably cruel. It’s not like this summer has been particularly arduous here in the Northeast—we’ve had some periods of hot and/or humid weather, but we’ve been pretty lucky so far: a day or two of intense humidity have beckoned a cold front blowing through almost immediately thereafter, and otherwise we’ve had pretty pleasant weather. There have been many a weekend afternoon spent on the local beaches, and even an evening or two listening to the rain while we sit on our balcony.
In short, I’m doing everything I can to appreciate the summer while it’s here, and I will be loath to give it up because gauzy clothes and cool drinks are superior to wooly socks, fun-size candies and hot toddies, no matter what anyone says. Read More
Chilean sea bass tiradito
[Ed: I’m trying to write some shorter posts to get me in the habit of writing much more regularly. So we’ll see how this goes.]
Chilean sea bass is not a fish that comes to our kitchen often, mainly because it’s both expensive and generally believed to be horribly overfished. The latter point might not be as troublesome as I had previously thought, though, because apparently measures have been taken to atone for overfishing and there are now viable options that are considered good choices. So I now feel slightly less guilty over succumbing to the temptation of buying Chilean sea bass (that was on sale!) last weekend in order to make this tiradito from The Family Meal.
Obligatory beauty shot of ramps.
A few months ago when we were in the throes of absolutely miserable weather, I had this feeling that ramp season would be embraced even more fervently than before, if only because it was definitive proof that spring was finally here and the long tyranny of this winter had come to an end. There had been some backlash against the ramp’s trendiness over the last few years, with some sniffing that while good, the hype surrounding them had ballooned out of control. Even by the time I had first gotten my hands on a few bunches back in 2010 the eye-rolling had already begun, but thankfully that hasn’t stopped the influx of ramps into the Union Square Greenmarket. As J. Kenji López-Alt rightly pointed out in 2011, part of what makes the ramp special is that we do have to wait for them to come every year and when they are available we have to make the most of them—in our increasingly on-demand society, it’s kind of refreshing to exercise some patience when it comes to food.
Ramen with quail eggs, scallions, quick pickles, and chicken thighs
A few months ago when the weather was extremely cold and grey and we were in search of serious culinary projects, Michael and I finally broke down and made ramen completely from scratch, including the noodles. The stand mixer and pasta machine were brought out, dough was wrestled with, and we watched the “Noodle” and “Tokyo” episodes of Mind of a Chef at least twice that Sunday as I wrestled with the extremely elastic dough. Our copies of Momofuku and Ivan Ramen were splayed out on the counter as we needed to reference them, and the whole apartment was infused with the scent of roasted pork bones and poached chicken as the broth simmered all day.
I had to bake a few batches of sodium carbonate so I would have more than enough to add to the dough mixture, and Michael felt compelled to write out the equation on the kitchen chalkboard because of course he did.
That first batch of from-scratch ramen came out exceptionally well: light, hearty, and oh those noodles had just the right amount of chewiness. We didn’t use all of the six-ounce portions that night so the rest went into the freezer, and this weekend we both decided it was time to finally use them. Read More
Smoked salmon and ricotta wraps
New Year’s Eve is my favorite food holiday, full stop. We don’t have to follow any specific food traditions, and instead we can make a number of small bites that follow whatever whims we may have in mind that particular year. In reality, the only rules that we do have around the holiday are simple:
- No leaving the apartment, even to do this same thing at someone else’s house, because that never ends well.
- Loungey clothes are necessary, if not required.
- Games will be played
- Wine, especially bubbly wines, will be consumed.
When our friend W asked what our plans were, I explained that we were pretty rigid on the not-leaving-the-apartment thing (seriously, the last time we tried to do this on New Year’s Eve, I ended up with a stomach virus) but that they were welcome to join us. As soon as she said that they would love to come, out came the cookbooks to brainstorm some ideas on what to make. I may have also put the El Bulli episode of No Reservations on while I browsed, and ultimately came up with more ideas for this dinner than I did for the dinners I was supposed to be planning for…because that’s how things tend to go.
Besides: a meal of this scale requires several days of brainstorming, and I ended up finding some fine meals to have on Sunday and Monday shortly thereafter. So there, husband. Read More
Roncal-stuffed piquilo peppers
Michael didn’t really believe me, I think, when I first mentioned that a storm was coming this weekend (and said storm has since blanketed the Northeast with a sizable amount of snow), but he willingly went along with my plan to stay in on Friday and Saturday and cook anyway. He balked a bit when I came home Thursday night laden with bags of provisions–likely thinking I was going overboard–but lo and behold, my instinct to stock up was right on the nose. That I was also able to get in and out of Fairway despite the fuller-than-usual parking lot was simply a bonus.
So while the snow fell and the wind howled on Friday night, we opened up a bottle of prosecco and got to work on a tapas spread. The one you see above was a bit of a punt. A delicious, delicious, punt.
Momofuku's chicken and egg
Neither Michael nor I said the actual words over the course of the last week of 2011, but in retrospect it was pretty clear we were both missing our tiny kitchen after four days of holiday celebrating with not much opportunity to get behind the stove. Day two of our mini-we-miss-New-York-Week (subtitle: the week we bounced back and forth between Tom Colicchio and David Chang’s cookbooks) was another “let’s take on a Serious Project!” day–although while this is a dish that takes some time to make, with a little planning I could see us enjoying this on a random weekday evening. It was also a great opportunity to break in one of our Christmas presents (although that is a very poor choice of words given what it is): Read More
Ginger Scallion Sauce
Were I not fairly certain that doing this would elicit more than a few odd glances (and if it lasted more than a day or two), I would make an enormous batch of David Chang’s ginger scallion sauce, dole it out into quart-sized containers and give it to people as holiday gifts. While not nearly as festive as a plate of Christmas cookies, I would dare any recipient to not fall for this sauce/condiment at first bite. It goes with virtually anything we’ve paired it with so far, from ramen to rice noodles to hanger steak; it’s rather economical to make over and over again once you’ve purchased a good supply of grapeseed oil, sherry vinegar and soy sauce; if you get the right kind of soy sauce (Tamari), it’s virtually gluten-free. Sure, the sodium content is higher than some would like, but it’s not so bad so long as you avoid eating the whole bowl yourself in one sitting.
It doesn’t help that it is all too tempting to do this, but self-restraint, people: show some and your forbearance will be rewarded. Read More
Marinated Hanger Steak Ssäm from Momofuku
I know, I know. We’re egregiously late in jumping on the David Chang/Momofuku bandwagon, but better late then never, right? This is what I’m chanting to myself as I write this post, feeling horribly out of date for never venturing even once to the East Village to try one of his Momofuku iterations, but in my defense I always assumed that all of his places were expensive and difficult to get into–and we really didn’t eat out that often anyway. (People who have asked me for restaurant recommendations know this all too well, as I end up usually directing them to various food stores rather than a lot of restaurants.) It’s not that we never ate out, but venturing to restaurants that didn’t publish menu prices seemed a little risky, or at least that’s what the pragmatist in me would rationalize. Feel free to correct me in the comments. Read More
Garlic Chicken Thighs with Israeli Couscous Casserole
After the escapades of my first foray into adventurous cooking on my own, I resolved to do better; specifically, I resolved to manage my time so that I wouldn’t be eating dinner at 8 once again. So I kept my time out of the apartment to a minimum and got my chicken into its marinade in the middle of the afternoon, because I was really excited about what I was making on Sunday and I really didn’t want to muck it up. This is a recipe that I had in my head for well over a week, and was one of the main impetuses to go to Despana the day before: it called for a cazuela and I love nothing more than a great excuse to hit up my favorite specialty shop in the city.
In any case, this fixation came about because I happened to pay attention to an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef a few weeks ago. She was making this garlicky chicken over an Israeli couscous concoction and it sounded pretty good to me, especially because it called for several vegetables–thereby making it not nearly as “guilty” an indulgence as, say, aglio e olio.
(I know I keep coming back to that particular pasta dish, but really–it is the easiest dish I know how to make and the temptation to break down and make it in the face of more complicated fare was always present in the back of my mind. I even bought a box of angel hair to keep in the pantry for emergencies.) Read More