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Smoked salmon and ricotta wraps

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

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.

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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

Sopa Gairebé Fredolic

You may have noticed a dearth of anything Thanksgiving-related (save for our annual pre-Thanksgiving duck, of course) here on the blog. That, my friends, was intentional: I’m not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving food to begin with (a little roast turkey goes a long way for me) and depending on the year and whose house we’re staying at, we tend to not do a lot of cooking. That probably sounds a little strange given that we cook so much on our own, but Thanksgiving is a day so steeped in food traditions that we’ll defer to them–well, at least until we get to take over the reigns of hosting the meal down the road. As for this year, Michael did an excellent job in roasting a 19-pound bird and I brought un poco de España into the mix with a few early-afternoon tapas that were well-received by my in-laws. Read More

Curry and Fra Diavolo Chickens with Grilled Tomatoes

I’ve been remiss with recounting the rest of our London escapades, what with distractions like Eataly and Coney Island diverting me too much–but no more! Our first day in London culminated with a visit to Asda, otherwise known as Walmart in the U.K., to pick up some provisions for our hosts and ourselves for dinner. I was pretty insistent on making a visit to at least one grocery store while we were in England (yes, I’m a nerd–carry on!) and so why not a visit to the Big Bad Blue Behemoth’s English cousin?

ASDA: the English Wal-Mart

This isn’t C’s primary grocery store–as we walked through the car park she mentioned that the store isn’t that great and wasn’t very big, and subsequently was floored when she saw it for the first time post-renovation. The addition of a loft-like second floor seems to have opened up the place a bit, and the produce section resembled more of Target’s PFresh rather than what you’d normally see at a Walmart here in the States (though, in all honesty, my experience with Walmart Supercenters is limited and only based off of a few visits to random ones over the years). We didn’t spend a crazy amount of money, though, and bought some pretty sweet produce–easily on par with what we’d find at Fairway with regards to selection. The only complaint I had was that my desire to replace our heavy Tesco reusable shopping back with one from Asda was all for naught because the bags were very flimsy indeed.

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Vermicelli Salad Bowl with Vietnamese BBQ Pork Meatballs

I don’t know how far back to go with this one. Okay. In New York around seven, I used to enjoy watching The Simpsons, often while eating (yes, we eat in front of the TV, I know it’s bad…) Then, one night, I was horrified to realize that they were removing my precious cartoon for some lousy talk show. But I’m a survivor, and I made do. I started watching Emeril Live on Cooking Channel. I like the show, it just gets a bit repetitive at times, is all. And even though The Simpsons has returned to its predestined time slot, I still flip back to the big E often, I can’t help it. Read More

Avocado Salad with Hearts of Palm and Marinated Roasted Red Peppers

Let’s face it. It’s hot. Really, really hot. So hot it dulls the appetite down to a soft hum that’s more the imperative We should probably eat something rather than the typical insatiable urge to feast upon deliciousness until every last morsel is devoured. Furthermore, the thought of even rotating a knob on the gas range feels like some kind of crime against terrestrial thermodynamics, as if someone might catch you adding heat to an already oppressively hot planet and cry “You’re making it worse!!!”

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