My love of Top Chef has gotten to the point that I have a section of my main bookshelf dedicated to some of my favorite judges* and cheftestants from the show—though I will admit that Tom Colicchio’s books live up in my New York section, because most of these books came out way after his did—and while I’ve enjoyed them all, I’ve been heartily enjoying Gail Simmons’ Bringing it Home as it is filled with really interesting recipes and lots of excellent anecdotes about Top Chef from foods she loved while on location to lots of interesting tips based on professional chef techniques that she’s observed along the way, along with her own insight from her days in culinary school. Gail has long been one of my favorite staples of the show because she’s a delightful mix of knowledge, insight, warmth, and the occasional dollop of well-timed snark: Read More
While I can’t believe January is almost over, I’m also relieved that January is almost over. This is my least favorite time of year, and furry blanket and globe lights aside, I’m eager for the trees to have leaves on them again and for a 60-degree day to be a normal one rather than a data point either supporting or denying the existence of climate change. At least this weekend we get a respite of sorts from football, so for the first time since September our neighborhood will not be run amok by people trolling for parking spots to hit up the bars all day. Next weekend, on the other hand, should be interesting—while the Ravens aren’t in the Super Bowl (obviously), we are close enough to Philly that there are many an Eagles fan around here too, so I have a feeling we’ll be staying firmly in our apartment after Michael returns home from the gym. We do have some excellent food plans for that day, so I’m not complaining. Read More
With the holidays over and things slowly coming back to normal, I want to get back into the habit of blogging more regularly again. So in order to do that, I need to clear out some mental clutter.
Tuesday marked the first day in about two weeks that the temperatures went significantly over the freezing point; when preparing to go out to pick up some bread for dinner, I had steeled myself for the slap of cold I had come to expect when walking outside and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was…mild. I know it’s still early-ish in January and we have a long ways to go until spring, but it’s nice to have a bit of a respite from it for at least a few days.
With Christmas less than a week away, it’s time for me to start packing up all of our stuff to bring back to PA for the holiday weekend and get a cooking game plan set for Christmas Eve. We’re leading that particular dance this year, which is great since we did zero cooking during Thanksgiving. We are going to do the seven fishes this year, but in order to maintain our sanity and to make sure that everyone can try at least a bit of everything, we’re keeping the portions small and basically treating the meal like a tasting menu. Read More
I was doing so well in getting back to the blogging habit, and then my weekends got busy there in October between visits home and visitors here and a trip up to New York for work, so I’ve been a little distracted from this space. I’m always eager to get back to cooking after a few days on the road, and that combined with the acquisition of five new cookbooks since my self-imposed buying embargo lifted meant that I took to both weekend meal planning and figuring out what I’m making this week while Michael is away with gusto.
One of those books was the Cherry Bombe cookbook, which was one I was not expecting to get so soon, but a few weeks ago I was scrolling through Instagram and saw that the authors (and founders of the magazine) were coming to Baltimore as part of their cookbook tour, and they were having a really cool event up at Trohv in the Hampden neighborhood. It was billed as a party featuring some local food people and promised delicious snacks and YesWayRose’s Summer Water, so I ended up getting two tickets for Michael and myself and we took an Uber up on an otherwise unassuming Monday evening after work. Read More
Few dishes scream “I was big in the nineties!” like shrimp scampi, maybe because even writing words takes me back to a table at a Red Lobster with a plate of butterflied fried shrimp and shirmp scampi before me, with the latter drowning in too much butter and probably some crappy white wine. It was so ubiquitous (to the point of nauseatingly generic) that it served as symbol in the ’90s romantic comedy Only You* that a shared love of the dish was a superficial connection at best.
So color me surprised when a few weeks ago I was flipping through the remainder of my cookbooks that I had yet to use and I found myself flagging a recipe for shrimp scampi in Alton Brown’s first cookbook I’m Just Here for the Food. There was no butter involved here–just a couple of tablespoons of olive oil–and not even a mention of wine. Instead, the idea is that you broil the shrimp with the garlic and some seasoning (salt, pepper, and some Old Bay) for a couple of minutes, and then stir in some lemon juice, panko breadcrumbs, and parsley, and put it back in the broiler to let the shrimp cook through and the breadcrumbs attain a lovely golden color. Intrigued, I put it on the list of things to make for dinner this past week. Read More
Despite taking that unexpected break from this project back in July and August, I’m actually really, really close to my goal now of making something from all of my cookbooks. Per the spreadsheet I’ve been using to track my progress I’m now 93% of the way there, and I only have seven books left to go before I’m finished. Most of this was due to me returning to this project with a vengeance in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve since flagged stuff to make in every single remaining book so I have a plan–I just have to figure out when I’m going to make everything.
One of the hopes I had for this exercise was to be able to introduce new recipes into our repertoire, because we had been leaning hard on old favorites a bit too frequently lately. My big hope was to find a few new ideas on what to do with our weekly boneless chicken thigh staples, because as I alluded to in my last post I had been resorting to throwing them on the Griddler and then tossing them with some sort of mango salsa or herby pesto. A fine idea to have, of course, but also kind of boring after doing it too frequently. Read More