Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Greek Life/Moussaka

I remember when I was applying to college, 'the list' was defined by finding schools that satisfied a few basic criteria. Big or small? Metropolitan or rural? And so on, until finally the most important question was asked, "Greek life?" From my perspective, eight years at a small all-girls school was the only taste of sorority life I ever needed. Other people saw the opportunity to pledge as a right of passage and a crucial part of a 'real' college experience. To be honest, I could care less about some pin that I will keep for the rest of my life until my daughter becomes a 'legacy' member of the same sorority as me. But hey, I am just being opinionated here, I know lovely and amazing women who are in sororities, so I shouldn't generalize.

If it's any comfort to all you sorority sisters and fraternity brothers out there, my love for Greek food most certainly makes up for my dislike of Greek life.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keeping Warm/Easy Split Pea-sy Soup

It actually snowed here the other day. On October 22 it snowed. I still can't get over it, I know it’s supposed to be colder this far north, but snow, already!? Until this weekend, I have stubbornly been pretending it wasn't all that cold even though the thermometer has already gone as low as 28 degrees (that’s -2 degrees for all you Canadian readers). Not surprisingly, I found myself sick as a dog and navigating an October snowstorm wearing nothing but a flimsy scarf and light jacket. Clearly, being stubborn did not work in my favor. So, I finally had no choice but to give in to winter, my gloves and boots are officially in use and I turned the heat on in my apartment.

The only good news about this ridiculous weather is that soup season has officially begun, and although I may not like the cold, I love soup. It is the only dinner that can actually thaw me out after a long session in the frigid library. Also, I love eating anything out of a bowl with a spoon; you can try and figure that one out because I still haven't.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sanity/Cinnamon Chocolate-Chip Sour Cream Cake

Sometimes I am compelled to question my sanity. I mean, I woke up at an ungodly hour yesterday morning and moseyed to the supermarket just so I could buy the ingredients to make this cake. You see the thing is, its not that I was craving sweets or chocolate or anything, but I had decided that I was going to bake a cake for my blog. So, despite papers and midterms, at 8 am I was lurking outside the supermarket waiting for the doors to open. By 10:30 piping hot deliciousness was sneaking out of my oven. I wish I could have been in my roommate’s head when she walked out of her room and there was already a cake baking. I wouldn't blame her for worrying, normal people don’t make cakes the second they roll out of bed. Except for me that is, I swear I am totally normal.

It all started on Monday, when I decided that things have been looking a little salty around here recently, so I knew it was time to bake something up. I have more or less a million recipes bookmarked on my computer, but I didn’t feel like making anything fancy or difficult. To quote my oh-so-eloquent self, “I just want to make a cake where I just throw everything into a bowl and ta-dah!”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Discovering Spices/Zaatar Pizza

One of these days I'm going to set off with a backpack and a notebook and discover the world one spice at a time. I want to explore and learn more about different cultures based on the flavors that define them: moles in Mexico, curries in India, chilies in Thailand, the possibilities are endless. I do think that graduating before I run off would probably be the best idea, so right now I am working on bringing the flavors of the world to my kitchen. Sometimes this intimidates me, foreign spices are, well, foreign and I am not totally comfortable with their depths of flavor. Anyhow, since I don't want to be a total ignoramus when I do set off on my voyage, I just go with it and hope for the best. So far, things have turned out pretty tasty to say the least.

Za’atar is a mix of sumac, wild thyme, sesame seeds and salt. Its complex flavors are earthy and bright, and it can be used for infinite purposes: as a dry rub on meat, sprinkled on hummus, and almost anywhere else you want (after tasting it, you’ll want it everywhere).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Daring Cooks/Pho (Fuh?)

So apparently, the classic Vietnamese noodle dish Pho, is actually pronounced fuh? Yes, the question mark is part of the pronunciation. I am all about authenticity, but fuh?, seriously? I was home this weekend and I kept talking about the pho (fuh?) I had to make for this month's Daring Cooks challenge. Each time I said pho the Americanized way I would correct myself, try to say fuh? and then my sister and I would just erupt in laughter. Maturity central. I eventually had to resort to mispronouncing this dish because the absurdity was getting really out of hand. I am all about authentic flavors, but when it comes to pho, I think I am going to have to stick with the inauthentic pronunciation.

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Golden Tickets/100-mile Brunch

*UPDATE* did a little write up about me, click on the picture to check it out!

I have never won a thing in my life. When I played softball in 8th grade, I managed to hit the ball once all season, and somehow the ball boomeranged back, hit me on the shoulder and I literally tagged myself out. This past week my luck turned, I was the winner of Edible Manhattan's raffle for two tickets to the NYC Wine and Food Festival's Great Performances Farm to Table Table 100-mile Brunch. Did you know that 100 years ago people used to eat more oyster meat than beef? Yesterday's brunch was filled with all kinds of fun facts like this, but the best part of all was the food. Every dish tasted fresh and flavorful, and everything from the bread to the vegetables to the cheeses came from within a 100-mile radius of New York.

My sister and I walked into to the sunny room at the top of the New York Fire museum and went straight for the Widow's Hole Oysters from the North Fork. They were briny and sweet, and washed down with the unusual Un-Bloody Mary (vodka flavored with tomato consommé rather than juice) they were the perfect first taste of the meal to come.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

So Long Gourmet/Ten Minute Dinner

Gourmet magazine is folding. I know that this is no longer news, but it is still shocking to me. I have loved this magazine for as long as I can remember, when I was younger flipping through the pages and gazing at beautiful pictures fueled my love for cooking and food. Since then, it is has always the magazine I buy at airports, my stoic companion for fun, uncertain, and sad trips alike. I imagine that something new and "better" is already in the works, but for me Gourmet will remain the first and the best. Really, I am just grateful to the people who devoted their lives to this beautiful publication; their hard work and love for this magazine did not go unnoticed.

Last night for dinner I wanted to make Orecchiette with Pancetta and Broccoli, one of Gourmet’s “ten-minute mains.” Although it has often been regarded as the food magazines for connoisseurs, in the past ten years big efforts were made to make Gourmet more accessible to everyone.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Real Life/Tomato-Shallot Tarte Tatin

Everyone is always telling me to take advantage of my last year of university. Apparently, the best years of my life are ending and I have to live it up while I still can, because soon enough "real life" will start. I don't know if I agree with that, I really hope that even when summer no longer means 4 months of time off and winter holidays turns into Christmas day, I will still be having fun. The fact is, I didn't leave my house once on Saturday because I was studying; that doesn't really sound like fun to me. I am not complaining, that's what you do when you're a student, but Saturday in the midst of excel spreadsheets and journal articles, I paused to think about what I would be doing if I weren't studying. Maybe I would be out for a walk, maybe a fun brunch with friends, but most probably I would be cooking something new. So I promised myself that yesterday, despite my work, I would do at least one of those things.

My leftover puff pastry has been haunting me from my fridge for almost a week now. I promised myself that something delicious was on the way, but I couldn't figure out what to make. This is precious stuff. Homemade puff pastry is no small feat, and I had to be certain that whatever I made with it would be perfect. I wanted a savory dish that would be the star of my Sunday dinner. Tonight, a star was definitely born.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Starting the Day off Right/Homemade Granola

When I was younger, my mornings consisted of waking up, getting dressed, brushing my teeth and then sitting down to breakfast with my family. This was something I usually looked forward to, even if waking up early for school was always somewhat of a challenge. When these early wake ups got the best of me and I walked into the kitchen scowling and cranky, my mother would look at me and say "Frenchie, let's start over."

This set off a chain of events, first I would get annoyed that my mom was so weird, gawd. Then, eventually, like so many kids I did what I was told. I would walk out of the kitchen and walk back in with an exaggerated fake smile pasted to my face and my mother would look at me and say, with a shining smile, "Good Morning Frenchie, it is so nice to see you today." Despite all my huffing and puffing, I always ended up with a real smile on my face, and to this day those are the mornings I remember best.