Search results for 'purée'

Traction

30 Jan

It’s amazing what you can accomplish with two cheap Ikea rugs.

Last weekend they helped avert a minor disaster.  Isaac and I have been shoveling the driveway upstate instead of hiring a plowing service.  It saves money and is good exercise, but we’re not quite as strong as a plow.  And since this has been an odd winter, with ice storms in between snow storms, our driveway has accumulated a viciously slick layer of ice below the snow.

On Friday, I loaded up Oliver with a bunch of little stuff to go upstate, while Isaac and his sister (who had flown in from Colorado for a mini-break that involved helping us move) packed a rental truck with our dining table and other furniture better suited to life upstate than life in a studio apartment.

I took the Taconic, happily bopping along to the awesome new Raconteurs album, managing somehow to stay on the road as I gawped at hawk after hawk perched ridiculously at the top of the tiniest tree, while the duo in the truck took the Thruway.  Beyond all expectations both vehicles arrived at the house at nearly the same time.  We showed Isaac’s sister around, unloaded and then decided it was time to return the truck.  We wanted to accomplish something other than moving that day.

And then reality kicked in.

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Ten Miles, Two Soups

18 Jan

Did you notice that I only posted once last week?

Bedford Avenue & Avenue Y

And only once the week before that, and the week before that, and the week before that? And that the posts really haven’t been about food?

Our friend Jack did.

Bedford Avenue Window

On Friday nights we like to stop by the bar that used to be our neighborhood local when we lived in the Lower East Side. We go to catch-up with friends, drink beer and laugh, you know, the usual things people do at bars. My job keeps me late on Fridays, so Isaac gets time to play pool and chat and gossip before I get there. Last Friday, Jack turned to Isaac and said, “So, what have you guys been eating? Annie hasn’t been posting…”

The Night Watchmen

I laughed and laughed when he told me this the next morning. It’s true. I had gone into a bit of a cooking slump right before Christmas. But boy, I was out of the gate fast and with gusto in the new year. The kitchen has been in heavy use and some truly spectacular stuff has been flowing out at a steady clip, but I seem to have lost all time management skills.

A Truly Decorative Cabbage

Case in point? This post. It’s at least a week late. But, it was held up for good reason. What’s the reason? Cartography.

Bedford Victorian

A few weekends ago, Isaac and I went on an epic walk. We walked Bedford Avenue from start to finish (give or take a block or two). Bedford is considered by many to be the longest street entirely contained within the County of Kings, a fact gleaned from Barry Lewis on Thanksgiving. Once we learned that, we knew we had to walk its 10 miles.

Door

We awoke two Saturdays ago to a glorious, warm January day. It was time. And so with coffee and bialys in hand, we rode the Q out to Sheepshead Bay, camera in tow. I got a little lost trying to get us from the subway station to Voorhies Avenue, the actual head of Bedford, so we started our trek at Avenue Y instead.

Light, Erasmus Hall High Shool

I know you’re all thinking, “Right, so you guys went on a walk, what do maps have to do with this?” Well… I made you one! Right here. Complete with pictures and captions. I think it puts the trek into a better context. And I did it because I love maps.

Lefferts Roof

We have an entire hallway lined with them in the apartment, right outside the bathroom. They’re those antique reproduction posters of cities like Paris, London, Venice and New York that you can buy in any art store. I love to study them while I’m brushing my teeth. And since I have a penchant for reading slightly trashy historical novels, they often provide insight as to where the characters are living. And, since we’re going to Florence in two months, I’ve been studying that one especially hard.

Studebaker Building

But, enough about maps, back to the walk.

Grant's Horse

We stopped for a “light” lunch somewhere around the midpoint of the walk. The plan was to snack in the middle and to end our trek in Greenpoint with a great, steaming bowl of white borscht like Brooklynguy suggested. Alas. Balboa was too much for us. The curry chicken, oxtail and mac & cheese (Oh the mac & cheese! How have I never thought of eating my mac & cheese with curry sauce until that day?) were delicious and filling enough to carry us through. We wanted to stop for borscht, but it just wasn’t prudent.

Mment

But what we did discover is that the trip to Greenpoint is actually quite easy from Bay Ridge, so we’ll be going back Brooklynguy! Don’t you worry! And soon. I need to have a borscht-off of some sort this year, since I failed so miserably at the Great De-Beet 2008.

Water Tank

We were achy and sore when we got home, because no matter how many times you go to the gym, a ten mile walk is still a ten mile walk, especially when it’s ten miles on hard city sidewalks. So dinner was a modest affair. Pasta in a thrown together tomato sauce. But the next night? Oh delicious soup!

The End, Greenpoint

I’m beginning to think there’s such a thing as blogronicity. Two days before New Year’s Eve, as Isaac was in the kitchen cooking up his pot of cauliflower soup, I surfed over to Clumsy‘s blog and found she had just made a cauliflower & leek soup. Monday morning as I was desperately trying to catch up on my interweb surfing, there she was again, with French onion soup, the meal I’d cooked the night before. I find it amusing how two people on two different coasts experiencing vastly different winters can crave the same thing. Funny.

French Onion Soup

So, in celebration of my new discovery, blogronicity, I’ll leave you with our recipes for the two soups, even though I know you’re just really here for the map.

Head below the jump for Isaac’s Cauliflower Soup and Annie’s French Onion Soup.

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Cause Celeb

7 Jan

I was in SoHo yesterday.

SoHo Sign

Isaac was off shopping for books and wine while I was, theoretically, returning something, buying sweet things and foraging for dinner provisions. In reality I was wandering around looking for pictures to take with my new toy.

I took pictures of buildings, of architectural details, of old signs, the usual things. I was wandering, thinking. Perhaps I should start taking pictures of people, I thought. I found myself on the corner of Broadway and Spring, and there, just across Broadway was a family, striking the most perfect tableau. I prepared to shoot. Then something registered in my brain, I looked again. Something looked familiar about the father. I looked one more time.

Sacrebleu. It was Eric Ripert.

SoHo Detail

We New Yorkers have a problem with celebrities, real, personal or imagined. We’re New Yorkers. We walk amongst some of the richest, most famous, most talented people on the face of the earth every minute of every day. We’re supposed to be cool, unruffled and unfazed when rubbing shoulders with Lloyd Blankfein, Maggie Gyllenhaal or Mario Batali.

But sometimes we run into someone that gets us excited. It’s a very personal thing.

Parker Posey always seems to be at the Kmart in Astor Place when I’m there. I think its funny, but I would never walk up to her and say, “Ohmigod! I loved you in Party Girl and you were so ridiculously, neurotically perfect in Best In Show.” I just couldn’t.

But running into Eric Ripert? It made me pause.

The Mirror at Balthazar

A few years ago when my office was on another street in another neighborhood, I was leaving work very late one night when I found an uncorrected proof of A Return To Cooking (written with the estimable Ruhlman I might add) in the lobby. This was odd for two reasons: 1. There were no book publishers in that building and 2. The lobby of this building was not a “free” space.

“Free” spaces are one of the more magical spots a building can have. For no discernible reason they pop up in dorms, offices and apartment buildings around the world. Bits of counter become the place to leave the detritus that one no longer wants or needs. My office has one, hidden waaaay back by the printers that no one uses, where I once found a $190 bottle of sunscreen and a collection of “Classics In Half The Time” books. I took the cream, I left the books (and I am proud to say that 6 months on, the books are all still there).

The roof at Savoy

I took Chef Ripert’s book home and leafed through it. There’s a few simple recipes, but on the whole, as one would expect from a three-Michelin starred chef, the bulk of the book is made up of complicated, daunting and futzy recipes. But, they are also tasty.

Each New Year’s Eve for the past four, Isaac and I have passed the evening cooking, drinking, eating, talking and laughing with the same couple. The first three years were at their place in Brooklyn, this year it was my turn to host. And so I turned to Chef Ripert for inspiration. And he provided amply.

SoHo Water Tanks

Isaac made Chef Ripert’s cauliflower soup as our starter. It was utterly perfect. Sweet, creamy, silky, buttery, rustic yet sophisticated, it is wonderful. We couldn’t find smoked scallops so we used bacon instead, and decided to substitute goat’s milk for heavy cream. Tinkering with a celebrity chef’s recipe is fun! And so I did a doozie on the main course.

It was to be Pan-Seared Muscovy Duck with Cherries and Rhubarb Purée, but come on people! It’s winter! There’s no way the fresh cherries were going to be good, and even though I found frozen rhubarb, I decided not to use it. So we ended up with Pan-Seared Duck Breasts with Mixed Berry, Dried Cherry and Cognac Sauce.

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? And it was. Partly because of my inventions, but a lot because of Chef Ripert’s exquisite techniques.

Happy New Year!

So it was all these things I was mulling as I stood on the corner of Broadway and Spring yesterday, asking myself, should I walk up to this man who’s just trying to enjoy a day out with his family and thank him for helping to make my New Year’s Eve dinner so spectacular and memorable?

The light changed, my heart beat a little faster. I started walking towards him. And then he ran into a friend and they all stopped in the middle of Broadway for hugs and kisses. My decision was made for me. As I passed them I smiled, and carried on.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Ann’s Berry Sauce for Duck, a la Ripert.

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Sing Me Spanish Mackerel

7 Dec

Apologies to fans of the poppiest band in the world and to those who appreciate truth in advertising.

Brooklyn Heights

I am a huge (huge!) fan of the New Pornographers. After years in the music industry, listening to all my friends and co-workers babbling incessantly about them, it was Isaac who actually got me to sit down and listen to them. One go round with Twin Cinema and I was a goner. The goofy lyrics, impossibly catchy guitar hooks and Neko‘s voice are a power pop lover’s triple threat.

(Wow, looking back at that last sentence makes me realize why I failed as music writer at my college newspaper.)

Brooklyn Heights, The Promenade

Whenever I’m in a bad mood at work, I’ll switch over to my New Pornographers station on Pandora. It’s really hard to be pissed off at your co-workers when you’re chair dancing in your cubicle to songs like “Use It,” “Letter From An Occupant,” and especially, “Sing Me Spanish Techno.” It’s from this last song that I’ve borrowed the title for this post.

You see, the idea of Spanish techno is funny already. I mean, I used to like techno, a lot. American techno was okay, the Brits got it right from time to time, but it was the French and the Germans that made the good stuff. Never the Spanish.

Brooklyn Heights, The Promenade

But what’s even funnier is the idea of a song about Spanish mackerel. And when this song gets stuck in my head (which it does frequently, I’m very susceptible to ohrwurms) I tend to half-hum/half-sing it aloud, and when I do, I change the lyrics to “Sing Me Spanish Mackerel.” It tickles the hell out of me and confuses the bejezus out of anyone within ear shot. That makes it even funnier.

The point I’m trying to make is that I made a soup this weekend that makes me as happy as listening to the perfect New Pornographers song during a hellacious commute home after a long day of work. They both make me do a goofy little dance. And while the soup may be Spanish in origin, it contains no mackerel (I suppose it could, but it doesn’t). That’s where that whole truth in advertising thing comes in.

Brooklyn Heights Mews

I initially conceived of it one day late last week while relaxing on the couch with a glass of good red wine. Isaac was sitting at the computer and asked what I wanted to cook this weekend. I said I had no idea and asked him to pass me a few cookbooks for inspiration. I don’t remember which book or recipe it was that lit the soupy fire, but I started formulating a potage of sorts of squid and scallops and shrimp in a saffron-y broth, kind of like a bouillabaisse, but with a little extra something.

The very next day, while I was attempting, in vain as usual, to keep up with all the blogs I love to read (see! even if I’m not leaving comments, I’m still reading!) I stopped by Ximena’s Lobstersquad where she had posted this recipe for Cazuela. It was exactly what I was looking for. Kind of.

Cazuela

There are three main points to consider when making Cazuela, as I see it, based on Ximena’s instructions:

  1. Feel free to adapt at will based on local ingredients and seasonality.
  2. Use a sofrito (something I love doing but often forget to do).
  3. Let the fishies have their due. As Ximena says, “The veg is again a matter of taste, but keep it in the range of asparagus, artichokes, spinach, that sort of thing. Not too many, this is a Spanish dish after all, it won’t do to make it all green. “

With those points as my guiding principals, I adapted the already adapted recipe and bent it to my will.

Cazuela

And oh boy, let me tell you one thing, this soup rocks.

Isaac and I had the leftovers for dinner again last night, and there is something so special about this soup. Neither of us can put our finger on what it is though. There isn’t a single ingredient that stands up and says, “Look at me! I’m the star!” It’s the New Pornographers of soups: the tomatoes are Neko, the shellfish are A.C. Newman and the spices are Dan Bejar.

(Ugh. Once again reminded by that last sentence that I should leave the music writing to the professionals!)

It definitely benefits from a day in the fridge, but, who wants to wait. For optimal deliciousness, enjoyment and happiness; bake the perfect loaf of kneaded no-knead bread, make this soup, download Challengers and combine.

Just try to keep the chair dancing to a minimum while you’re eating. No one likes soup stains on their shirt.

Cazuela

Editor’s Note: I’d like to draw everyones attention to a comment I received yesterday from Lou at Hangar One. Some of you may remember that on our trip to San Francisco in August I was very disapointed by an attempted, and aborted, trip to visit the Hangar One distillery. Apparently someone brought this post to the Hangar One guys’ attention and they left me this nice comment yesterday.

I think it’s an incredibly classy move and I appreciate the heck out of them taking the time to write to me and explain what was going on that day.

So lets all raise a glass to Lou and his team. Thanks again guys. It means a ton to me that you took the time to write, and you can be damn sure I’ll be taking you up on your offer of a tour and a tasting when I’m next in San Fran.

And remember, anyone willing to go to Alameda (where they film a lot of Mythbusters segments I believe!) can go visit the distillery. Just make sure you go Wednesday-Saturday from 12-7 or on Sunday from 12-6.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Challengers Cazuela.

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Pig Out

21 Nov

On Saturday morning, I still did not know what I was going to do for Thanksgiving.

I wish I lived here

My mom had made an off-hand comment about the whole family maybe coming down to Brooklyn to dine chez Granny Cart. Even though I was 98% sure she was joking, it lodged a bee in my bonnet. On Saturday morning I woke up and wanted to cook.If the whole Upstate gang was going to descend on my humble home, I was going to be ready for them.

And so for Saturday night dinner Isaac and I had a faux Thanksgiving dinner. No messing around with making up my own recipes, if I was going to cook for a crowd, I was going to make stuff that other people had already vetted. I turned to Florence Fabricant‘s Brussel’s Sprouts & Chestnuts in Brown Butter, Molly’s squash purée, and Flying Pigs farm‘s absolutely, utterly, fantastically, astonisingly perfect pork chops (with the maple & bourbon pan sauce, naturally).

Whaaaaa? Pork chops? For Thanksgiving dinner? Well… As odd as this may sound, on Saturday, there were no (affordable) turkeys at the greenmarket. I wanted meat, so we got pork chops. And boy oh boy were they good. They completely overwhelmed everything else.

I wish I lived here

Molly‘s purée was delicious. FloFab’s sprouts were good but watery (when she says to drain those sprouts, she means it). But the pork! Oh the pork!

This is the best method for cooking pork chops ever! And if, in fact, the whole crew were to descend upon Bay Ridge for Thanksgiving dinner I would have quite the conundrum: To cook a turkey (something I’ve never done) or to cook perfect pork chops (something I can definitely do).

World's most perfect pork chops, Brussel's sprouts in brown butter, and Orangette's squahs puree

Happily, it’s a conundrum I will not find myself in this year. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving day relaxing on our couch, catching up on my reading. What will we eat? The leftover squash and sprouts, to be sure, and I must have stuffing and maybe some mashed potatoes for Isaac (I’ve got my eye on this recipe, I bet the color is amazing).

Maybe we’ll have turkey, it all depends on today’s trip to the greenmarket. I know I’ll have turkey this weekend when I head Upstate for a slightly delayed turkey fest with the whole family, so I’m not all that stressed about it.

Or maybe I’ll just buy some more pork. The pilgrims had pigs didn’t they? No, apparently they did not. Poor pilgrims.