Deconstructed Cheesecake with cheesecake foam and blackberry ravioli

In the past I’ve mentioned how Michael is not much of a dessert person but that the introduction of the iSi has changed that–if only slightly–but there is one dessert he loves and yet we never make at home: cheesecake.

(I’d make a bad joke about being a ‘bad wife” and not making it for him, but seriously–if he really wanted it that badly he would have made some himself by now. He did ask my mother for some baking tips to make one over Christmas so perhaps when I see a springform pan appear in an Amazon order I’ll know that he’s serious about giving one a try.) In all fairness, there was a really, really good reason for why we never made it when we lived in either New York or Stamford: one cheesecake is way too much for two otherwise reasonable people to eat, and to be completely frank we’d probably end up like Rachel and Chandler from the Friends episode “The One With All the Cheesecake,” driven to cheesecake-induced madness:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdYy_7rsLKk Read More

Cured Beef with Watercress Salad from Hawksmoor at Home

I’m not sure what it was that made me think making salt-cured beef in the fridge was a perfect idea for a chilly January weekend, but all I do know is that when I took out our copy of Hawksmoor at Home one Thursday morning before breakfast and I flipped open to that page, my stomach growled. Audibly. It also seemed so simple and the flavors so perfect to this time of year, since you grate up quite a bit of celery root and throw in some rosemary springs to meld with the salt and brown sugar–I mean, it was practically begging me to give it a try. Michael was sold on it pretty quickly, so over lunch I went out in search of ingredients and was able to place a lovely, just-over-one-pound piece of tenderloin into the cure and then into the fridge and I could feel very pleased that half of my Saturday dinner prep was well underway.
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Goat cheese with kumquat-rosemary marmalade

Signs you probably have been watching too much Top Chef via Hulu recently:

  1. You’re obsessed with timing and food prep, to the point where you have no issue doing significant prep work on a weekend afternoon because you’re paranoid something is going to happen when you actually get down to cooking dinner for real.
  2. You really, really want a GIF of Dale Talde yelling “FUCK” after his team lost the mise en place relay race before Wedding Wars because you need it to express your frustration with so many things in life. (Unfortunately it’s not in this clip but this is as close as I could get it.)
  3. You’re very upset that you can’t make one yourself and be done with it.
  4. You get very strong inclinations to make everything from Tom Colicchio’s cookbooks.
  5. You get feelings of anxiety when you go into your new-to-you supermarket because you know if you only had 30 minutes to shop you would be TOAST and not get half of the things you needed.

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The Hermès Madeleine

We’ve been in Baltimore for a month as of yesterday, and while there are adjustments to make like finding new food and wine stores and getting accustomed to driving around in a real city, overall the move has been a very positive one. We were mostly unpacked by the time New Year’s rolled around largely thanks to Michael going through box after box during his time off work, and even now we just have to figure out where to hang and/or place the remaining pictures we have stashed around the apartment.

(We also have to get used to living in a city with an actual football team again, and moreover living not that far from the stadium. We were spared the brunt of the excitement this year but I imagine next fall we won’t be making many plans to venture out on Sundays unless it’s to places we can walk.)

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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

Cava-Vermut Negre Fizz

It feels like vermouth is having a bit of a moment these days, isn’t it? It’s a moment that has been years in the making of course—I remember a few years ago when my friends at Saugatuck Grain and Grape were sampling tastes of a ridiculously delicious sweet vermouth that I had previously never heard of, and then a couple of years later one of the helpful people at Fairway’s wine shop was enthusiastically recommending a bottle of Vya to complete a little gift to Michael of Manhattan fixings. Now Spanish vermouth is getting stronger traction here, with brands both old and (seemingly) modern popping up in tapas bars and liquor stores alike with greater frequency.

I am by no means an expert on the stuff, but lately I’ve found myself embracing it and not simply as a mixer to go with whiskey or gin, or even as a substitute for regular wine in cooking. There are some really delicious brands out there and served in the way they were designed to be enjoyed…I have to say that I might be open to fer un vermut (or “to do a vermouth”) more often. As it is the case with many new experiences, however, I’ve found that this is often best done with the help of a familiar intermediary, and here cava is the ideal companion to convince you that vermouth is a mighty fine beverage component and not something to merely look at when fixing a martini. Read More

 

Open-Face “Bikini Comerç 24” Crostini

Writing about Tapas 24 in Barcelona has been on my to-do list since we finished our lunch there three and a half months ago, but I hesitated only because I was determined to offer a reinterpretation of one of the dishes we had and it took a little time to get it right. My notebook is covered with sketches of ideas and I’ve tried a few different iterations over the past few months, and I think I am satisfied enough to provide you with a delicious, very simple canapé for any New Year’s Eve celebrations. Better yet, it will not require to you get your hands on a fresh black truffle. (I know, I know—how magnanimous of me. You can hold your applause until the end.)

A moment of relative quiet in Tapas 24.

Tapas 24—it probably helps to add some context—had long been on my list of must-visit places in Barcelona (it’s strongly recommended by the crew at Barcelona Wine Bar via its guide to the best in Spain), but it was only on our most recent trip that we were able to make that a reality. The chef Carles Abellan was an acolyte of Ferran Adrià before setting out on creating his own little empire of restaurants, and Tapas 24 became the more casual offshoot of his first restaurant Comerç 24. Michael rightly likens the atmosphere of the place to that of a bustling train station, only I can assure you that the food is far better even than the likes you would find at Grand Central Terminal. There’s a set menu of classics plus daily specials, and during our meal we were both able to find a favorite off of each menu. While Michael preferred the pork belly with cabbage, shallots, and butter lettuce, I was partial to the bikini Comerç 24 for reasons that will be wholly unsurprising.

Bikini Comerç 24.

To be completely honest, I was a little mad at this sandwich because it’s simply black truffle, mozzarella di bufula, and jamón ibérico pressed between two pieces of white toast and cut into triangles, but all was quickly forgiven when I bit into the first one. My eyes bugged out (so much that Michael kept taking pictures of me diving into the rest of the plate) and I had to pace myself from wolfing down the whole plate before he could even get a taste. Even in the haze of a sandwich-induced stupor I knew that I’d want to revisit this again and again, so once we got back from our trip I started my experiments shortly thereafter. Read More

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