Search results for 'tv free february'

Guilty Pleasure Pasta (and a return to TV)

1 Mar

Yay! It’s March 1st!! Why you might ask, is this worth celebrating? Well, for me, it’s the end of the self-imposed, twenty-eight day long “holiday” of TV Free February. Yes, that’s right, I voluntarily removed myself from watching all TV (except NY1 in the mornings) at home.

Why on Earth would anyone do this to herself? Well, mainly because, sometime in January, I looked at my bulging book case and realised I hadn’t finished one “serious” book in the last 6 months. And why does this matter? I guess mainly because I consider myself an, at least somewhat, intelligent person. I have the degree to “prove” it, my mother is in mensa (and you’ve got to figure at least some of her genes got passed on to me) and well, I’ve always really enjoyed tackling the “difficult” books. And so it was under this misguided set of ideals, and with a slightly inflated ego, that I undertook TV Free February.

And might I say, this was no easy task.

I could watch TV at work (it’s part of my job), and I could watch TV at the local bar. I did cheat three times, but I also managed to complete one very “serious” novel. I cheated once for Puppy Bowl, once for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (do we see a theme here…?) and once because an episode of Project Runway was on and the boy wasn’t here to rain guilt down upon my head.

So, tonight I will break my self-imposed TV fast and re-enter the world of Law & Order re-runs, new episodes of Iron Chef America and my dearly, dearly missed Project Runway (thank you Gothamist for your weekly updates!). I will work my little tooshie off so that I can make it home in time to watch The Simpsons from my own armchair. I will revel in the geekiness that is Alton Brown, and if I’m a really, really good girl at work, just possibly, the re-run of Project Runway will be one I haven’t seen before.

And what does a TV deprived, self-proclaimed gastronomical geek eat while catching up on all her favorite televised dreck? Only the simplest, most personal, most guilty of guilty pleasures will do.

Elbow macaroni, coated in lots of butter and topped with salsa from a jar.

To quote my gastronomical idol, “Mmmm… Convenient

But lest you think I have not learned a thing in my 28 day long, self-imposed exile, I am still on track to complete two more serious novels by the end of March. That is, as long as I don’t get caught up in Top Chef.

The Chowder Bowl

5 Feb

So, the Giants won the Super Bowl.

Fourth Avenue Station, Brooklyn

If you’re anything like me, you’re still trying to figure out how they even got into what the NFL wants you to think of as “The Big Game” in the first place.

Perhaps, as a New Yorker, I’ve come to expect our teams to be mostly mediocre. The Yankees, as much as I love them, seem to have lost the come-from-behind fire that made them so exciting to watch for so many years. The Mets are always claiming to have finally procured that last player they need to become the best team ever, and then nothing happens. And then there’s the Knicks. Oh sweet mercy, the Knicks! Have you ever seen such a spectacle? They’re like a goat rodeo masquerading as a professional sports team.

Fourth Avenue Station, Brooklyn

I suppose I should admit right off the bat that I’m not a football fan.

That said, I was still aware that the New England Patriots were having a “magic season.” I knew that their quarterback was dating Giselle, I knew that they had the hubris to pre-print a book about their perfect year, I knew that they were virtually guaranteed to win. Yet I had no inkling that the team from our own backyard (also known as New Jersey) was even fair to middling this year.

And so, even though it is once again “TV free February,” Isaac and I granted ourselves a special dispensation to watch the game. And Puppy Bowl, of course. And since you can’t have a Super Bowl without food, I discovered something important, something I could get behind. This game wasn’t about a perfect season, or blue-collar heroes, about pretty-boy quarterbacks or coaching dynasties.

Fourth Avenue Station, Brooklyn

Oh no my friends.

This game was about chowder supremacy.

New England clam chowder vs. Manhattan clam chowder. Creamy and white vs. tomatoey and piquant. The chowder known around the world vs. the chowder maligned as the “other” chowder. The chowder kids cheer for vs. the chowder that makes kids groan.

Fourth Avenue Station, Brooklyn

But, not really. In my heart, there is only one chowder. New England clam chowder forever! I’ve tried to like Manhattan clam chowder, I really have. I love tomatoes and I love clams, but Manhattan clam chowder I do not love. It’s not a chowder. Chowders have cream and butter. But Isaac? Exactly the opposite. He loves Manhattan clam chowder best.

So instead of making New England clam chowder, which would have implied clandestine culinary support of the Patriots, or Manhattan clam chowder, which would have made the cook grumpy, a sure way to ruin the soup, we made Brooklyn clam chowder.

Fred loves football AND clams

What’s Brooklyn clam chowder you ask? It’s an homage to two of the greatest dishes we’ve discovered since moving to Bay Ridge.

The first is Polonica‘s cucumber soup; a simple broth, made creamy with a touch of sour cream and flavored with Polish dill pickles and tons of fresh dill. The second is a special we had once at local Italian stalwart Canedo’s; clams and mussels steamed in white wine with tons of garlic and hot, pickled cherry peppers.

Homesick Texan's Mythical Biscuits

Brooklyn clam chowder has its foundations in New England clam chowder, but the pickled peppers do give it a Manhattan chowder-esque reddish hue. I know it sounds weird to put pickles in soup, but you’ll just have to trust me on this. They add a beguiling flavor that’s very hard to put your finger on, an unexpected lightness and delicacy to a soup that can be a bit heavy.

Brooklyn Clam Chowder

If I may mix my metaphors, this chowder is a real home run. Especially when served with an endless supply of Lisa’s extraordinary biscuits, a pat of Ronnybrook garlic butter and a growler of locally-brewed SixPoint beer.

Brooklyn Clam Chowder

Top it all off with a Giants victory, and you’ve got the recipe for a very pleasant Sunday evening.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Brooklyn Clam Chowder.

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Root Cellar Soup (and a pot of promise)

21 Mar

Saturday was a sad, draining and depressing day. One of my best friend’s mother’s had succumbed to cancer earlier in the week, and so a group of Manhattan and Brooklyn-ites headed over a bridge or through a tunnel to New Jersey for a beautiful remembrance of an amazing woman’s life.

I was tired and hungry when we got back to the city, so off we went to feast on therapeutic buttermilk battered fried green beans. I guess the boy could tell I was in no mood to think or cook, so he suggested trucking up to the farmer’s market to procure some root vege so he could make one of his famous pureed soups for me. What sane girl would say no to that?

We settled on a classic; Parsnip & Apple, but once at the market I was seduced by the Jerusalem Artichokes. As I was scrubbing the girasole, the boy was sauteing the onions and garlic and said to me, “Is there anything more full of promise than a pot of onions and garlic?” It was a nice thought at the end of a crappy, sad day, that a glug of olive oil, a few onions and crushed garlic could truly be the start of nearly any dish from around the world.

We didn’t get to eat the soup on Saturday, some group therapy was in order (read, a party) so we cooled the soup, grabbed some Gin and headed out into the night.

But Sunday was all about relaxing. With the soup bubbling away on the stove, I cued up disc 2 of Bleak House (another series I had missed during TV Free February), decanted a bottle of wine and got set to do nothing. It was blissful.

I don’t think my wine choice was perfect for the meal, a 2000 Chateau Ste. Anne from Bandol in Provence. It smelled lovely, all flowers and leather in the glass, but tasted a little tight and tannic with the soup. Perhaps I decanted it too late. But, after a little time to breathe, it eventually went very, very well with a little Wallace & Gromit.

Head below the jump for the recipe for this easy, soothing soup.
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The Flavor Of Yellow

14 Mar

Why are kids and dogs fascinated with holes? Why do we lose our fascination with digging as we age?

I love beaches, always have.

Coney Island in Winter

My favorite thing to do on a beach is beachcomb. I have a rather nice collection of shells and rocks that I’ve managed to collect since The Boy and I have been dating. I bring something home from every trip we take.

Coney Island in Winter

I can beachcomb for hours now, but could not when I was a kid, I would get bored then and begin digging holes. Like most kids I wondered what would happen if I finally managed to get down to the magma in the middle of the earth, and like most kids, I never made it that far. But now I know. If I dug a hole right out in front of my apartment here in Brooklyn I’d end up in the middle of the Indian Sea, somewhere off of Australia.

I was kind of hoping I’d actually end up on the subcontinent of India. Why? Because something, aside from Gogol, should explain my recent obsession with Indian (and Middle Eastern) food. But alas. I learned from starting a hole where my friend Ruth lives in Bombay that I’d have to live somewhere in the South Pacific, off the coast of Peru, to have this excuse hold water.

Coney Island in Winter

So let’s move on to possible explanation number two. Might it be Meat-Free March? Possibly. And what is Meat-Free March? I’m not sure to tell you the whole truth, but it’s some attempt to control the chaos eddying around me I guess. Perhaps it’s the redheaded cousin of TV-Free February, which was scotched this year by the move.

Coney Island in Winter

Either way, after being a vegetarian for 13 years, one month is a breeze. Unfortunately I’ve also remembered why I was the only fat vegetarian I knew, it’s so easy to slip into a diet that consists mainly of cheese (glorious cheese!). We had an everyone-eats-cheese-dinner over the weekend (that was gloriously aided and abetted by Patrick from Stinky Brooklyn, thank you!) and so had to do some culinary atonement wherein I discovered the flavor of yellow.

And what is the flavor of yellow?

Grated Curried Cauliflower

Curried cauliflower.

Gobbi Matar ki Sabzi to be exact.

On one of my recent book buying rampages I picked up Smita Chandra’s Cuisines Of India. This is a big, workmanlike book in which she covers both traditional and contemporary fusion recipes. In the section on ancient India, this cauliflower recipe jumped out at me immediately due to this phrase, “Grating the cauliflower not only reduces cooking time but also helps brown it thoroughly during sautéeing, enhancing the flavor of the dish.”

It sounded like a quick, 20 minute way to simulate roasted cauliflower, but with delicious spices taken along for the ride. I had to try it.

I’m glad we did. It was so delicious. I don’t keep garam masala lying around, so I had to improvise that, which I think worked out just fine.

Grated Curried Cauliflower & Gingered Lentils

I’m amazed at how much depth of flavor came out of such a quick dish. There was heat and intense, punchy spikes, but also mellow, blissed out layers of delicacy. This is a keeper.

The recipe said to serve with spinach and dal, which sounded like too much fuss, so I simply boiled some lentils with mustard seeds and ginger. These are actually better as leftovers. The flavors have had time to meld to great effect, and they’re luscious mixed into leftover basmati and warmed up. Good stuff for an after work dinner.

And so, I present to you the flavor of yellow. I’m very glad I don’t know what the flavor of blue is.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Grated Cauliflower Curry & Gingered Lentils.

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