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Almond Mussels

It was a couple of weekends ago now on one of the few lazy Sundays we’ve had in a while and I was completely lacking any inspiration on what to make for dinner that night. I knew we were going to have steak because Michael had been letting one dry out for a day or so in the fridge (not so much dry-aging but just letting some of the moisture of the steak soak into a paper towel–it does make for a really good at-home slab of beef) and so really I needed to think of what could go well with that. Neither pasta nor bread/toast felt right for that night, so I started flipping through A Kitchen in France and immediately landed on Mimi Thorisson’s almond mussels.

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Hummus Kawarma from Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Given everything that’s going on in my newly-adopted city, it feels frivolous to post about food and recipes as if everything is awesome which is why I’ve been a bit quiet around here. It’s definitely been a surreal few days, from meeting Bryan Voltaggio and getting his latest cookbook at the Orioles game on Saturday to then being detained for a bit towards the end of the game, and then of course the events from earlier this week. You can still feel a little tension in the air, even around my neighborhood–everyone is trying to look out for everyone else and make sure they’re doing OK, which seems to be the dominant. Being as new to the city as we are, I feel ill-equipped to write about it at length, but here are some really thoughtful, interesting perspectives from people who understand the city and its dynamics far better than I do.

Of all of the positive pictures that have begun circulating on the internet as the city both cleans itself up and continues to protest, this lady (and the others who were burning sage along with her) has been giving me all of the feels as I write this.  Read More

Bluepoint oysters with cava, shallot, lemon, and basil vinaigrette with pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato).

I’m pleased to announce that The Manhattan [food] Project has become a blogging partner of The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project, and as such you’ll start seeing more content around sustainably-sourced seafood and ways to enjoy it at home. Both Michael and I do what we can to buy as much sustainable seafood as we can and during the week we stick with tried-and-true favorites like trout, skipjack tuna, striped bass, and Pacific cod, while on weekends we may also indulge in some bivalve action. Since our move we’ve also been eating quite a bit of local rockfish and though it is a bit of a strange fish to get used to from a cooking perspective, it’s extremely delicious.

The mission of the Project is to band together bloggers who want to help promote the message of sustainability when it comes to seafood, and moreover inform and encourage consumers to be asking for more sustainably-sourced seafood at their local stores. The market is an extremely confusing one, because it isn’t so simple as buying certain fish and avoiding others; sustainable fishing practices are also scrutinized to ensure that the surrounding aquaculture is disturbed as little as possible. Monterrey Bay’s Seafood Watch is an exhaustive source on identifying the best fish choices out there, while Greenpeace publishes an annual scorecard listing the best and worst retailers to buy seafood across the country. The latter has wrought some serious changes over the years regarding what consumers have available to them in-store; most notably, Trader Joe’s earned a ranking of 17th out of 20 chains evaluated back in 2008 while as of 2014 they have moved up to fourth on the list and have a “Good” rating. Read More

Blackberry Chicken

A few weeks ago I stumbled across a fantastic article in which a writer for Vice’s food site invited a French sommelier to test out some wines that are blatantly and shamelessly targeted at women. The results are exactly what you think they would be, as the tasting notes from both Perrine Prieur (the sommelier) and Gray Chapman (the writer) are hysterical. Prieur has no qualms in declaring one red “like a bad tank that hasn’t been cleaned, that they’re just throwing shit into,” while Chapman slayed me with several quips that I won’t spoil for you here.

It might seem like an easy premise for a bunch of laughs–ooo, the fancy French sommelier doesn’t like mass-produced wine–but it’s pretty clear that Prieur came to this experiment with an extremely open mind and was just crestfallen every time the alleged varietal was revealed to her. More importantly, she made a point of showing Chapman several wines in her own shop that were less expensive and more complex than any of the ones that were part of the taste test, and that’s the reason why Prieur has rocketed onto my list of favorite lady sommeliers along with Gretchen Thomas of the Barteca restaurant group.*

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Roasted Chicken with Safflower and Lemons

While I know it’s easy to hate the switchover to Daylight Savings Time because of losing an hour of sleep, I have to admit that I don’t hate it at all and now that we’ve moved back into the Mid-Atlantic, I kind of love it. Sunset on Sunday following the change was after 7:00 which is nothing short of extraordinary. Admittedly I am usually very in favor of this change because as a food blogger who likes to take pictures of the food we eat in natural light (and much preferring to do so when we actually cook it), being able to do so in the beginning of March feels downright heady. I can’t wait to see how bright it gets here in the summertime.

It’s fitting, then, that on the first day of extended daylight we make a roasted chicken that’s so bright and sunny itself thanks to the use of saffron and lemon. It’s a recipe from Saveur that’s incredibly simple with an extremely short ingredient list, but it creates such a savory and juicy chicken that even adding some potatoes to the roasting pan made them delicious by association. Read More

Blackberry-Rosemary Compote with Crottin goat cheese

If you follow me on Instagram (you should! I post there sometimes!) you may have noticed that over the course of February I was posting shots of various tableaux, usually featuring wine and/or cheese and tagging a local wine shop in all of them. It was part of a promotion they were running in which they would randomly select a winner and give them a $50 gift card, and while winning would obviously be awesome (a winner hasn’t been announced yet as of posting this), I also really liked the chance to exercise some creativity and take some interesting photos. Moreover, it also gave me an excellent reason to experiment some more in making some flavorful accompaniments to cheeses, and while the contest itself may be over, I’m looking forward to expanding my repertoire.

First up on the list: blackberry compote. Read More

Bacon-wrapped shrimp: Ron Swanson’s favorite food wrapped around his third-favorite food.

(Ed: I’m going to write about Parks and Recreation and make some references to events that unfolded in this most recent season, but there are are no spoilers about the actual finale here as I wrote this prior to it being aired.)

To thoroughly transpose a line from Shakespeare, I come not to bury Parks and Recreation, but to praise it. After all, It was truly the little sitcom that could–much like its spiritual predecessor, it started out with a shaky and short first season and then quickly found its footing with its second–but for whatever reason it never was able to break out to a huge audience despite being one of the smartest and funniest comedies on TV. To be an ardent fan meant knowing the show was constantly on the brink of cancellation year after year (with few exceptions), so while I’m annoyed that NBC has decided to burn off this final season by airing episodes back-to-back for seven weeks, I’m grateful that the series was able to make it to 125 episodes in the first place.

There are so many things to love about this show, but I think what may stay with me the most is that no other show, certainly in recent memory, used food to comedic effect better than Parks.* (30 Rock came close with its night cheese and a dogs taking steaks and Cheesy Blasters, though.) Whether it was grandiose set pieces like the Snake-Juice-fueled disaster from “The Fight” to the simple act of Tom Haverford singing “this is how you eat it” before diving into a hot pepper, food so often served as a springboard for fantastic comedic moments but also showed that it could forge bonds between even the most unlikeliest of people. In a recent interview Michael Schur noted that food (and specifically breakfast food) was a way for Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson specifically to come to an accord despite deeply different political viewpoints:

They are such different people, and we independently arrived at Leslie + waffles and Ron + bacon, so suddenly it seemed like a point of overlap. I always thought of it as hopeful. There is an old trick of diplomacy, where if you have two warring factions who agree to sit down at a table, you first choose something very simple and uncontroversial that they can agree on. You say, “What does everyone want to drink, water or motor oil?” When they all say water, you have begun the session with a point of mutual agreement. For Leslie and Ron, a 19th-century libertarian and a 21st-century progressive, that thing is breakfast food.

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