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Down To Earth

12 Mar

Apparently getting engaged makes me tongue-tied.

Or maybe getting engaged has given me so much to think about and so many things to do that I haven’t had the time to write.  Or cook.  But that’s also because suddenly everyone wants to take us out to dinner: friends, relatives, everyone.  It’s really nice–a whirlwind really–but I also can’t wait to sit back and relax a little bit this weekend, to roast a chicken a la Jacques Pepin, and maybe bake a loaf of bread.

But, before I do that (lest I sound ungrateful) I’d like to say a big, hearty and heartfelt thank you to each of you for your kind wishes and enthusiastic yays! You’re the nicest group of people to ever gather here at this little website.  Thank you all so much!

There are so many details to iron out, but since I’m sure you’re all just like the friends with whom I speak day-in and day-out, I figure you’d like a few details, too.  So here’s what I’ve got: We’re going to do a civil ceremony soon, like, the end of April soon.  Just our parents, my step-sister and her family and maybe Isaac’s sisters.  And then in September, we’re going to have a big party in our backyard up at the house!  Barbecue! Bocce! Croquet! Local beer! Finger Lakes wine! Laughter! Dancing! Smiles!

It’s going to be great and I can’t wait, but, it’s still incredibly overwhelming.  So in an attempt to bring things back down to earth a little bit, I’d like to talk about something very mundane: steamed potatoes.

Below the fold? More on steamed potatoes! Oh, and that whole wedding thing, too.

The Root Of The Matter

26 Feb

Isaac has been protesting of late that we haven’t been eating enough winter vegetables.

In his perfect world, winter would mean an endless parade of dinners featuring cabbage, squash, hearty greens and root vegetables.  Apparently, I have been depriving him of these things this winter.  So last week when I had a craving for lasagna, I knew how to get him to agree to it.  I suggested we have squash lasagna.

I know squash lasagna sounds a little weird, but it’s not. In fact, it’s awesome.  A few years ago I made a vegetarian lasagna that featured a thick, fragrant layer of spaghetti squash mingled with ricotta cheese and herbs.  Sometimes, when Isaac is dreaming about it, he’ll walk up to someone on the street and just start telling them about it.  Sometimes I suspect he keeps me around solely in case I decide to make that again … Kidding! But honestly, it was very good and I have no idea why I never wrote about it before, maybe because it’s a little complicated, and well, a little weird.

So, squash lasagna was on.  A layer of garlicky, herby butternut would replace the thick layers of cheese and bechamel.  And there would be a spicy, aggressive layer of chard.  And a topping of caramelized mushrooms and lots of fresh mozarella.  And then, while I was thumbing through the latest Bon Appetit and saw Molly‘s recipe for clereiac salad, I knew we had  a complete meal. When I asked Isaac what he thought, I think he actually did a little jig.

Head below the fold and take a jump with us.

Wednesday

10 Feb

It’s snowing here today.

I’ll be heading out to work in just a minute.

I’m crossing my fingers for pizza.

Stay warm.

Head below the fold for a few additional photos and a salad that is worth making any day, not just on a snow day.

Root Down

10 Nov

When I’m stressed out, I buy books.

And so, on the day before my surgery, I found myself in the cookbook section of the Strand.

I was looking for a copy of Nigel Slater’s Appetite to give as a going away present to an aspiring home cook, but what I was finding was a mountain of books I wanted.  There was I Know How to Cook, Momofuku and Ad Hoc at Home; Jim Lahey‘s new bread book, Judith Jones‘ treatise on the pleasures of cooking for one, the surreal world of Heston Blumenthal and no Nigel.

So, I grabbed a classic Jamie Oliver tome for my co-worker, and, just for good measure, The Veselka Cookbook (complete with a recipe for my beloved Christmas borscht!) and for absolutely no reason (other than I’m a sucker for puffy book covers), Stephane Reynaud’s French Feasts for me.

On Friday, Isaac made us a beautiful pureed cauliflower soup while I lazed on the couch, trying to purge the anesthesia from my body as quickly as possible.  By Saturday morning, I was ready to get up and go again (I think they give you something when you have surgery to make you feel energetic and happy the day after), so we wandered down to the Tucker Square greenmarket.

The plan was to roast the last of the wee tiny beets and bitty little carrots from the garden, but we needed to supplement them with something.  So I grabbed a butternut squash, an acorn squash, a bouquet of sage, rosemary and thyme and a smoked duck breast.

Here’s where I divulge to you an embarrassing secret:

Want to know what it is? Head below the fold.

Colorful Food

30 Sep

Many of the dinners we’ve eaten this summer have been rather monotone.  There’s been lots of green punctuated by little stripes and dots of red pepper.  It’s been a season devoid of the wild colors of heirloom tomatoes.  But this weekend, when we stayed in the city, we hit the greenmarkets and bought every colorful tomato we came across, and then I took them home and roasted them.

For years now I’ve seen recipes for oven-roasted cherry tomatoes on blog-after-blog but I never made them. The cool weather just never seemed to coincide with the end of tomato season.  But in this weird weather year, the conditions I’ve been waiting for have finally occurred and I made up for lost time¹.

We roasted some wickedly sweet little round red tomatoes on Saturday, then drizzled them with good balsamic and ate them with roasted duck breasts and yet another version of that gorgeous squash soup (this time with white beans for creaminess and a purple opal basil yogurt crema).  And then on Sunday I roasted a mix of colors and shapes and served them over smashed red bliss potatoes alongside a pan-roasted fillet of Spanish mackerel and another purple opal basil crema made zippy with one third of a Jawala pepper.

And now, after having had two dinners in a row graced by oven-roasted tomatoes, I can say this to you: Do not make my mistake! Roast when it’s roasting out if you must, but do roast some of your most perfect cherry tomatoes and serve them with whatever you’ve got .  Pasta, duck, fish, salad, beef, pork, chicken, polenta, rice, bread, quinoa, kasha, grits, jerky, tofu, ostrich, cardboard.  Anything.  Just make them.  You can thank me later.

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¹ Set the oven to 325°F.  Wash a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, put them in an roasting dish or dutch oven, coat with a few glugs of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a minced garlic clove or two and place in the oven.  Roast the tomatoes–scoot them about the pan with a toss or a spoon once or twice–for an hour or so until they’ve collapsed in on themselves, taken on a burnished hue and released their juices.  Remove and mix in a handful of torn basil.  Enjoy!