Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ratatouille - FB2B, part 75

Look at this gorgeous, seasonal produce

Not to make anyone jealous who doesn't have access to the same, but how can one resist all these vibrant, beautiful colors. Obviously, I couldn't, as I grabbed all of this from the Greenmarket. While I do have quite a few recipes for cooking the vegetables individually, I had other plans for these gems.

The two recipes I consulted before starting

I am also one of those people who definitely eats with her eyes first, and I am very drawn to colors. From the September issue of BBC Good Food magazine, I had pulled a ratatouille recipe to try. This must be irresistibly appealing, at least for me, because when I went into my recipe file to file it (I'm trying to be good about keeping everything organized.), I discovered that I'd pulled a similar recipe from last year's September issue of the same magazine. There must be something that they put into their food photography to draw me in to the same recipe topic in two consecutive years.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

MMM, Steak - FB2B, part 74

This week in The New York Times, Frank Bruni re-reviews Peter Luger, the venerable steakhouse in New York City. This is a dining institution, revered in the hearts of many a carnivore and heralded as the standard-bearer of the genre, not least because of its imitators. It is held in the same esteem for some as a representative of the Big Apple along with The Statue of Liberty, The Empire State Building, subway breakdowns, street fairs, and Central Park. While Mr. Bruni found much to like about this 120-year-old eatery, he did downgrade it by one star from the previous review, which had given it three.

I vividly remember my one and only trip there several years ago, which made my tastebuds dance again as I read the article. It was the most wonderful steak I have ever eaten, seriously. The experience was just as Mr. Bruni had described his best trip to be. We had a very cute Irish waiter who was a great server, even the gruffness of the more senior waiter who was supervising our section was part and parcel of the ritual. Tomato salad to start, one order of Porterhouse rare and one medium, creamed spinach, red wine. I think I was still digesting my dinner the next day but it was so worth it.

The atmosphere was very old-school. While waiting for our party to gather, we hung out in the bar area. Everything about the place was all bare-bones dark wood, emanating testosterone and deal-making. Our group increased the quotient of women in the entire restaurant by about 4-fold. Someone must have had a sense of humor though, because in order to make it to the ladies room, it was necessary to pass a table of 3 priests enjoying their dinners.

While even Eater agreed that a downgrade was worthy, it was interesting to read the review, nonetheless, and my mouth was watering at the descriptions of Mr. Bruni's trips. Could I please have such a worthy job to do! I'll even put my hand up to do a comparison of Luger's versus other steakhouses in town. Does anyone want to come with me? Oh, I know there's at least a few of you readers who do.

Buon appetito!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Baking Bread - FB2B, part 73

The recipe for "No-Knead Bread" reverberated throughout the blog world last fall with many a bread baking novice trying it out with good results. I've always enjoyed making bread, but never really seem to get around to doing it very often, even though I took a course about it when I lived in London. There's a certain satisfaction about pulling a hot, crusty loaf out of the oven and impatiently waiting to cut into its soft, chewy goodness.

So I pulled the recipe and filed it away to try later. I'm not sure why I let it sit until now, but reading on Jaden's blog, Jaden's Steamy Kitchen, about the success of her son in making this bread made me feel a bit guilty about not having gotten myself together to do it as well. Epicurious and Slashfood both mentioned her post this week, and with the drop in temperature to a more fall-like consistency this weekend, the timing seemed right for me to try it, too. By now, it was cool enough that running the oven wouldn't also run me out of my apartment.

It's definitely as easy as everyone says it is. One step that I took that varied from the recipe was to dissolve the yeast in the warm water before mixing it into the flour. I'm not sure if that made a difference or not. The other was to use half-whole wheat flour and half-white flour, which produced a loaf slightly darker on the inside than you'll see in the other posts' pictures.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Picnic Foods - FB2B, part 72

I received an invitation to go to a cookout-style picnic on Labor Day, complete with hamburgers made on the grill. In these cases, my mind gets very suburban. I sort of go on autopilot and pull out of my brain the old childhood/family stand-bys to bring, dishes that I would normally never make. "Potato salad," I offered. "I'll make potato salad and... I'll bring cookies."

These aren't my own recipes but, rather, long-time family favorites. In fact, both of them are older than I am. My mom helpfully dug up the potato salad recipe, which at some point I'd typed up on a recipe card. "Stain Dating" (related to carbon dating) indicates that this card has been around for a while, and the "barbecue" on the top leads me to believe that I think I must have typed this up for some Girl Scout project that had to do with putting together meals or something. [This was in the days before stress management was a badge topic.]

Sunday, September 02, 2007

New Kitchen Toys - FB2B, part 71

Maybe I shouldn't ever be let go early from work on a Friday before a holiday weekend. See, I went shopping and bought a new kitchen toy, well two of them actually. In my defense, although they are one-use gadgets, they are really cute as you can see from the above photo. I'd seen these advertised in Olive magazine back in June or July and had posted their photo on my fridge, so this wasn't merely a whimsical purchase.

They look even better in person. I put them out on display, as they are so adorable. This is probably not a comment made about most egg cups, but these ones are from Alessi. It seemed a shame to hide them away in the cupboard, waiting to be used. Interestingly enough, they fit perfectly on my table, guarding over my salt cellar. The body holds the egg, while the hat comes apart to be filled with salt and pepper to season the egg as it is eaten with the spoon that is supplied. How convenient is that?

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