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Home-cured gravlax with Wasa crackers, cream cheese, and pickled shallots

Another year, another New Year’s Eve in the books. Like last year our celebration was small but special as we were able to sit and nosh and chat all evening, and honestly I couldn’t ask for much more than that. I was beyond excited because it was the first time we could properly entertain in our new digs without bags of paper and flattened boxes lying everywhere, and truth be told I kind of felt like Marnie from Girls when she was fluttering about that North Fork house getting it ready for what would be the dinner party from hell.

(Fortunately our get-together did not include a choreographed dance number, not enough food for everyone who was gathered, or a drunken confession session in which everyone’s dirty laundry was aired, so really the comparison ended during the preparation stage.)

When it came to the menu we largely stuck to the edict of not serving brand new recipes, sticking with tried and true staples like hummus, lamb meatballs, and my crostini with mozzarella di bufula and serrano ham, but I admittedly did try something that was sort of new by trying Tom Colicchio’s recipe for cured salmon. It’s not the first time I’ve made gravlax, nor was this the first time we’ve tried making a cured product following a Tom Colicchio recipe, so it didn’t feel quite as much of a risk as, say, test-driving a recipe from either the Le Bernadin cookbook or even the Gramercy Tavern cookbook. Read More

Argentinian Ribeye Skewers with Chimichurri

Argentinian Ribeye Skewers with Chimichurri

I can’t believe I’m writing this on the day of the World Cup final—it definitely has flown by even faster than it did four years ago, and what a tournament of surprises: who would have thought that the US Men’s National Team would not only make it out of the Group of Death but that Tim Howard would make a record 16 saves during the match against Belgium? (I’m pretty salty that he isn’t on the best goaltending award shortlist, by the way.) Moreover, who would have expected the epic meltdown that was the Germany-Brazil semifinal, especially considering that Brazil had the ultimate home pitch advantage? Read More

Chilean sea bass tiradito

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.

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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

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Pan-Fried Striped Bass with Pancetta and Parsley

A few months ago, right around Valentine’s Day, one of my coworkers asked me for some advice on making paella, and if I’d mind lending him a cookbook with a recipe in it. That night found me pulling my various Spanish cookbooks and reviewing the paella recipes contained therein; I wanted to give him one that was authentic but presented in an accessible way. I ended up bringing in my copies of The Barcelona Cookbook and Made in Spain for him to peruse, and between the two he was able to cobble together a recipe that would work for him.

My point of this story? When I went and pulled all of those cookbooks off the shelves, I realized I had upwards of at least fifteen dedicated to Spanish and//or Catalonian cooking. And that only counts the books we keep downstairs–the less-often used go upstairs in our loft “library.”

Common sense, recollection, and this blog’s archives tell me that I shouldn’t be so surprised by this, but I am all the same. Read More

Pan-seared trout with prosciutto and garlic-chile oil

Whole fish rank pretty high on the list of ingredients that are intimidating to work with when I’m cooking by myself. This isn’t the first time fresh whole fish have been featured here–when in New York we had more than our fair share of sardines and mackerel–but this was the first time I went at it on my own, using a new-to-me recipe because I’ve been on this ambitious cooking streak since we’ve gotten back from Spain. My trepidation in making this dish was actually three-fold:

  1. Was one fish enough for two people?
  2. The fish I did buy would not fit well into our only nonstick pan.
  3. I would overcook the fish. I prefer an ever-so-slightly underdone fish to overdone fish, because if it’s really an issue it can be reheated again. Overcooked fish tastes like cat food to me, and I really wasn’t in a mood to waste the $9 or so I spent on this lovely trout.

For the most part, my fears were unfounded as I was not only able to successfully cook this fish, Michael even declared it to be the best whole fish he’s ever had. I don’t credit my skills on that front, but rather the ingeniousness of the preparation.

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Copper River Sockeye Gravlax with Goat Cheese on a a Pumpernickel Bagel

Much like any supermarket around the country, ordering anything from the deli department at Fairway can require a wait of some duration on the weekends, and you just have to roll with the punches and try not to shoot too many death glares at the hapless dad ordering half the case’s contents a quarter pound at a time. Being a New York supermarket, though, Fairway also has a smoked fish counter right next to the deli where you don’t have to take a number and usually it’s a very simple in-and-out process…until you get stuck behind the mom ordering two pounds of smoked salmon for her brunch that day, and they don’t bring in another person to help alleviate the growing line behind her as the slicer stands there methodically making her way through the enormous salmon fillet (and then another fillet because one was not enough). I guess it was to be expected–it was Saturday morning on the Upper West Side, after all–but when you only need someone to spoon some alici into a plastic dish and hand it over to you, your patience wears ever thinner as each expertly-cut slice of pink fish is added to the pile.

The mom turned to us with an apologetic smile on her face–at least she waited with us, I suppose–and remarked that maybe she should have just gotten some pizzas or sandwiches after all. I silently grumbled that Fairway has a catering office so she could have at least called ahead, but by then it was a  cow’s opinion so it didn’t matter either way. (Incidentally, one way I entertain myself while waiting for such things is mentally flipping through my internal encyclopedia of pop-culture references. That leads me to giggle for no reason, but at least that ‘s better than giving strangers the stink-eye, right?)

That particular shopping trip came to mind when I was slicing through our little piece of gravlax last week, as I was only trying to slice enough to top half a bagel each for Michael and I as a mid-afternoon snack. Getting those gorgeous slices is not nearly as easy as it looks–no wonder the pros slice at the pace they do. Read More

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