Archive | November, 2006

Danke. Merci. Hvala. Grazie. Obrigado. Gracias. Cheers.

28 Nov

I’d like to give thanks.

Dr. Frank Konstantin 1999 Sparkling Brut Champagne

Thank you to my mother, who for the first time in my 30-odd years on earth, suggested I relax and spend Thanksgiving in the City. I’d like to say thank you to Whole Foods for being open until 4pm on Thanksgiving day so I could sleep in and watch the parade. Thank you to NBC for airing a dog show after the parade. And finally, thank you to the boy for making a wicked pomme purée.

And it wasn’t just any old mashed potatoes. It was a purée of beautiful yellow creamers and celeriac with goat’s milk and goat’s butter, a riff on one of the ugliest and yet most delicious comfort foods I’ve ever come across, Chartreuse Mash. Goat’s milk and butter differ from cow’s milk and butter in exactly the same way their cheeses do. There’s a distinct goatiness, that if you love, you love. If you’re a lover, I implore you to run out and get some goat goods and make either of these purées. The silky spuds are the perfect vehicle for the tangy, earthy, herby, goaty aromas and flavors.

Chevre Pomme Puree

What was my contribution to the meal you ask? I had to have stuffing. Straight from the bag, slightly doctored and baked in the oven, stuffing. Absolutely, hands down, no questions asked, unequivocally my favorite holiday side dish ever. My mom starts with some celery and an onion, to that I added some brown clamshell mushrooms, a medley of dried berries (golden raisins, cherries, blueberries and cranberries), sage, the stuffing mix and some chicken stock. Mix, mix, mix and then layer into a baking dish, covered with foil, to bake for as long as need be. The crustier the better!

mmmmm... stuffing

But of course, no matter how low key a day is, two people cannot live on side dishes alone. What was our entree you ask? Well, it wasn’t turkey. In fact, it wasn’t a fowl at all. No, we had clams & cod. Adapted from the Stonewall Kitchen and baked in the oven with some lemon and bread crumbs, it was simple, clean, and to be honest, probably something closer to what the pilgrims actually ate all those many years ago.

Thanksgiving Clams & Cod

And finally, having thanked family, boyfriend and corporate conglomerates, I’d like to thank you guys, my readers and blog friends, and wish you all very happy holidays to come (and maybe, one year, a Thanksgiving full of relaxation, too).

The Best Thing Ever To Come Out Of My Kitchen

21 Nov

Well, there she is, the best thing ever to come out of my kitchen, and she’s a loaf of bread.

No-Knead Bread

Yes, yes, she may be a bit of a band-wagon-jumping-loaf, every food blogger out there worth his or her salt has made this loaf, the famous Minimalist’s no-knead loaf, but, to me, and to my loaf, it was a massive triumph.

I have left countless comments on countless blogposts about pastries and breads saying, “Oh man, that looks so good! I wish I could make that but, well, I can’t bake!” Now I know that’s a lie.

So, to other bake-o-phobes out there, it’s okay! Jump in! Join the no-knead party! It’s easy, it’s kinda fun and it’s oh so very, very gratifying and best of all, heavenly smelling and possibly the most delicious thing you’ll ever make with your own two hands and then scarf down greedily, leaving crumbs for Mr. Mouseypants. Yes, it’s that good.

No-Knead Bread

I started my loaf on Friday night, using 2 cups all purpose white flour and 1 cup white whole wheat flour. I doubled the salt and added a packet of Sugar In The Raw borrowed from the boy’s office. For those on the hunt for instant yeast, I got mine at Trader Joe’s. It says “Perfect Rise,” but after some pow-wowing with my bread-expert friend Virginia, we concluded it is the same thing as the red Saf-Instant so favored by professional bakers.

I let it rise for exactly 18 hours. It was spongy and full of air holes and smelled pleasantly yeasty and it was sticky, but you know what? Sometimes you just have to get your hands dirty! I tipped it out onto a well floured board, shaped it as well as I could, covered it with saran wrap and let it sit 15 minutes.

Then, just like the directions say I folded it a few times and placed it on a towel I had strewn with cornmeal. Now, here’s where I should have actually read ahead in the directions… I wanted the cornmeal on the bottom and flour on the top, so that’s what I did, cornmeal on the bottom towel, flour on the top. Ah, no Ann, you should have done the exact opposite! You see, when you plop the dough into the pot, you flip it over. Doh! Oh well, next time!

No-Knead Bread

From there everything went exactly as the recipe states. I pulled her gorgeousness out, let her sit, and then dug in. The first slice I ate with butter. The second with ajvar. And the third piece with Eldress Hall’s Tomato Soup. It was heaven. Pure, simple, minimalist culinary heaven.

And where was the boy during all this? Visiting family in Colorado. In fact, I was so blissed out on bread that I started a second loaf that very same evening so he could enjoy it fresh and warm from the oven when he arrived home. And what became of that loaf? Well, that’s kind of a sad tale actually.

No-Knead Bread & Shaker Tomato Soup

Sunday morning our sleepy heroine climbed out of bed, searching desperately for her slippers. It was a cold, gray morning. Slippers on, arms wrapped about her body for warmth, she padded into the kitchen to check her bread dough, which had spent the night silently slumbering on the shelf above her stove. Still groggy she chose not to use the step ladder, confident she could reach that high.

Fortunately, she saved her dough, unfortunately, she dropped her large, heavy cutting board onto her stove. Immediately an odor of gas consumed our heroine, but her nose was so stuffy, she just wasn’t sure. Were the odors real? Were they imaginary? She couldn’t tell.

After a few minutes, she couldn’t stand her paranoia anymore so she went out for a walk. Upon arriving home, she thought the odor was still there, but again, wasn’t sure. So off she set for another Brooklyn amble. This time upon arriving home, she was sure she could smell something, so again she left her humble abode and called the only person that would know what to do, her mom.

Mom said call the FDNY. Our heroine balked. What if the firemen forced everyone to evacuate the building? All her neighbors would hate her! In her infinite mom wisdom her mother replied “They’ll hate you more if you blow up their apartments!” Ah, logic…

So call the FDNY she did, and they came. One nice man ventured up to the 4th floor with our heroine. Upon entering the apartment his estimable sniffer went into overdrive, “Yes ma’am, you’ve got a leak in here, you did the right thing.” He called down to the truck, three more men made the four-floor ascent, one carrying a thingy that looked and sounded like something from Ghostbusters.

Areeeeeeeeeearoooooooooooareeeeeeeeeeeem! It went.

What does that mean our heroine asked? Mr. Mustache said, “That there’s gas in here ma’am, you’ll have to step outside.” And so into her tiny, tiny kitchen four rather large men with tanks on their backs wedged themselves in, breaking many things along the way. But they turned off the gas and all was safe again.

The firemen told our heroine she was going to have to get a new stove. This made her very, very sad as she knows how slow to act her landlord can be. Visions of eating out every night for weeks on end brought the shimmer of a tear to the corner of our heronie’s limpid hazel eyes.

But an hour later the ConEd guy showed up and determined that the leak had probably been fixed when the firemen clamped the valve shut. He ran tests, lit matches and declared emphatically that all was, yet again, well, and that our heroine could continue to bake and cook to her heart’s content.

The only problem? In her deep sadness our heroine had thrown away her bread dough.

So the moral of the story? Even in real life tales of woe, sometimes, all’s well that ends well. So don’t be too hasty in throwing away that slow-rise dough!

heirloom·modern: Eldress Hall’s 1907 Tomato Bisque

20 Nov

Hmmm… It seems I should re-name heirloom·modern. Maybe, Heirloom Tomato Modern? Of the now five entries in this occasional editorial feature, three are for tomato soup. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps in the past tomato soups were more flexible, more interesting, more varied. Or, maybe I just really like tomato soup!

heirloom·modern: Eldress Hall’s 1907 Shaker Tomato Bisque

What was the occasion that called for yet another tomato soup? I had just pulled “the best thing ever to come out of my kitchen” from the oven, and while it was cooling I realised I needed a simple foil for this “best thing.”

Shaker Tomato Bisque

I didn’t feel like running to the market, my brain felt wibbly from hunger and exertion, I wanted something quick and easy. I poked my head in the fridge. Aha! A carton of Pomis! I poked my nose in The Best Of Shaker Cooking. Aha! A simple tomato bisque! (The Shakers are so reliable for simple, quick recipes). Et voila! Dinner was decided.

There are three recipes for tomato soup in this amazing book, but this one from Frances Hall intrigued me with its inclusion of baking soda.

Although she is not noted as being a member of the faithful at Hancock Village, this reference leads me to believe that Frances Hall was actually the last eldress of this beautiful village that is now a working museum (and definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area, A. because it didn’t bore me as a 7th grader on a field trip and B. There’s an amazing restaurant there).

And what of the baking soda? As near as I can figure it added a delicate lightness to this soup which would be very, very necessary if you followed the original recipe which calls for 1 quart of milk (most likely whole and with cream back then) and 1/2 cup of heavy cream! I did not follow those measurements and, after tasting the soup sans dairy and realising it tasted just like Campbell’s, embarked on some very necessary modernising.

I cut down on the dairy, added some garlic and tossed in some slightly spicy, seductively smoky Spanish pimenton de la vera. The pepper added such a lovely, almost bacon-y flavor. Utterly delicious!

Shaker Tomato Bisque

And what is “the best thing ever to come out of my kitchen?” You’ll just have to stay tuned til tomorrow (or snoop around on my flickr page, should be pretty obvious from there).

Head below the jump for my adaptation of Eldress Hall’s Tomato Bisque.

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A Brooklyn Amble

16 Nov

Last week sucked. So, on the advice of blog friends Sher and Julie, I took a walk. From Windsor Terrace to Williamsburg. Of course the boy came along, too. It just wouldn’t be a long walk without him!

Ft. Greene Park Leaf

We began with breakfast. It seemed a logical starting point, and the sanest thing to do given our goal of walking several miles. My favorite place to break my fast in the Five Boroughs has got to be Café Steinhof on 7th Avenue in Park Slope. It’s a quaint, sunny Austrian joint with really good un-breakfasty food because in all honesty, I’m not a huge fan of breakfast.

I hate waffles and pancakes and, to be honest, don’t really care for eggs all that much either. But when the eggs surround light-as-air dumplings and pan-fried mushrooms and are served with a peppery cress salad, yeah, I’ll eat the eggs, and I’ll love every minute of it!

Unfortunately they were down to one working burner and were serving only the simplest eggs (sunny-side up or over-easy only) and sausages, as well as salads and sandwiches. This was a near tragedy. They were forcing me to break out of a rut!

But as with most happy accidents this one had a happy ending. I cannot implore you enough if you go, to try the Steinhof Salad Platter. I don’t know how they can call them salads, they’re more like pickles, really, really good pickles. That platter very nearly eclipses the one served at Momofuku, and that’s lofty praise! There’s pickled red cabbage that sits perfectly on the fence between sweet and sour, vividly vinegary chilled potatoes, paper thin cucumbers, and my favorite, savory rosemary tomatoes. Sorry there are no pictures, but we absolutely inhaled this dish. Utterly delicious.

Fully sated, we headed due north, down the Slope. Saturday was a perfect fall day, so I’ll stop my babbling and let the pictures tell the story.

The brownstone-lined streets of Boerum Hill, are to me, much finer than those of Park Slope.

Brownstone

The ginkgos in Ft. Greene Park were in full flame.

Ft. Green Park

As were the elms (and there’s that guy that always walks through my photos).

Ft. Greene Park

The neighborhood surrounding the park has some absolutely stunning architecture.

Ft. Greene brownstone

And some fairly pedestrian buildings as well. But I love old carriage houses, I love imagining what New York was like when it was a city that ran only on real horsepower.

Ft. Greene carriage house

Somewhere past Pratt we turned left, heading for Williamsburg. I have no idea what neighborhood this was, but there was a guy schooling his pigeons. It was lovely. I love how so many individuals move as a whole.

Ft. Greene pigeons

We walked along the edge of the Navy Yard. The neighborhood we skirted is populated mostly by Hasidic Jews and for some reason I felt bad taking photos. It was the shabbos, families were out strolling about, visiting with friends, it just felt tacky. So you’ll have to trust me that the balconies on all the buildings that we can only infer are used for making sukkahs for the celebration of Sukkot, give the area a very Old World feel.

We finally made it to the water. Just over there on the other side of the bridge is where we live.

Williamsburg Bridge

Our ultimate goal was a sample sale which turned out to be a total bust, but the walk wasn’t. I love this fire escape on the side of an old shrine.

Williamsburg fire escape

The neighborhood really is changing, but there will always be hipsters in Williamsburg, and their ironic conveyances.

Ironic Williamsburg El Camino

Finally, it was time to head home. We were pooped. We tried to stop by Marlow & Sons to say hi to Grocery Guy, but he didn’t seem to be there.

We briefly toyed with the idea of walking home over the bridge, but our feet were just too tired. Instead we tromped up Broadway, past the Williamsburgh Bank and the famous Peter Luger Steakhouse to the elevated J-line.

Williamsburgh Bank

Back on the other island, we popped into the Essex Street Market to visit Max, because, what long walk doesn’t deserve a little cheese at its end?

Cheese

People Drop By From Time To Time… Part 3

14 Nov

The human being is a curious beast, always asking questions, looking for answers, trying to explain the strange things that occur in the world. WordPress is a free service with lots of great features, but hands down my favorite feature is the ability to see the search terms people used to find my site.

Pickled Beet Red Eggs

Sometimes they’re legit. I love seeing people get here because their chili is too spicy. They’ve come to the right place, I’ve got that. But the numerous people getting here because their goats have bloating. Well, no, you’ve come to the wrong place… And to the person that knows where to find the tiny bunnies that don’t grow, I’m still waiting. Please contact me asap!

And now, without further ado, I present to you the weird and wonderful world of search queries, food only for once, chez Granny Cart.

Fresh Mozzarella

Culinary Curiosities.

Find voluptuous veggies (hmmm)

hot dog grilling gizmo (you mean this?)

garlic magical elixir (I concur)

snob salad (sounds like my alumni association cocktail parties)

Strawberries

amazing vending machine (where? WHERE?)

what is chicken lobster (I don’t know, why don’t you tell us…)

potato flecks making machine (I bet if 3-2-1 Contact was still around they’d know where to find one)

recipes that require LOTS of blueberries (I guess we know who the thieves are now!)

I put curry on my curry (now that does sound like a predicament!)

Almonds

can you eat air potoatoes? (shouldn’t the question have been, what are air potatoes?)

And finally my two favorites.

mens primal instincts cooking dinner (they have those?! just kidding)

And.

They’ve come for the cheese sandwiches. (OH GOD NO!!!!)