Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Things you do when your gig gets postponed: Slightly Salted Dulce de Leche

This whole business started because we here in Gotham lost this weekend to rain.

Well...perhaps not rain, exactly. That's kind of a misnomer. A more accurate description would be "mizzle," the heavy mist that lacks quite the heft of rain, but wraps itself around your hair and your soul nonetheless. The mizzle extended beyond the city, beyond the counties, off into the outlying states.

Typically, the afflictions of our neighbors don't concern me much; this weekend, however, it meant the cancellation of my plans--it's hard to play a concert in air as thick as water. As such, I found myself suddenly with a free Saturday yawning out before me, something I'd not stared down in quite some time. After quickly filling the void with brunch, quality girl time, and a long-overdue trip to Sahadi's, I found myself at loose ends in the late afternoon.

What's a girl to do?

If you're me, you bust out your favorite lidless saucepan and set to cooking up a righteous pot of dulce de leche.

This would probably be a good time to point out that I do not, despite evidence to the contrary, have much of a sweet tooth. Give me a salt lick over a lollipop any day of the week. I am, however, moderately obsessed with caramel in all its smoky, sweet, dusky incarnations; salted caramel is therefore manna from heaven, and as such I consider it a moral obligation to master its most lascivious secrets.

After this little experiment, I think it's safe to say that I have a ways to go before I achieve that lofty goal. To start, I should have used a larger pot. While I like my meals to present a certain element of danger, the enthusiasm with which this mixture froths and hisses as it cooks is a little intimidating at times--specifically, when it is boiling over the sides of my beloved 3-qt saucepan and setting my stove asail in a sea of boiling milk and vanilla pods. It's easily controlled if you keep a weather eye on the mix, but I am a notorious slacker, and would rather not spend three hours hovering over my stove like a vulture. So, larger pan.

I also suspect that I will be making adjustments to the sugar profile, perhaps swapping out the turbinado sugar for plain old light brown sugar--i'm not sure how i feel about the whispers of molasses the turbinado breathed into the concoction; it was somehow more overt than what I was expecting. I am also toying with the idea of using three different sugars (white, brown, turbinado) in the next batch to see what that will do to the flavor.

One thing I know for sure, however: next time, I will be adding more salt, earlier in the process. The addition of the sea salt was an afterthought; I had two jars of the sweet stuff, and given that my tooth is more savory than sweet, I thought the addition of a bit of salt to the smaller jar would make the dulce de leche more to my liking. I was right, but my light and late hand meant that the salt never quite incorporated into the caramel. While this resulted in delightful little bursts of unexpected salty crunch, it also meant an interruption of the silky texture and a failure to achieve the perfect synthesis of salty and sweet.

So, I'll be working on that for the next round.

These are all details, however; I'm really just writing out my kitchen notes for you. Don't let the minor complaints fool you: for all my grousing I ended up with two luscious, silky jars of quality dulce de leche. The only problem I have now is that I have too damn much on hand for a household that eats sweets as slowly as this one does. Anybody want some?

And, more to the point, does anyone have any awesome variations they'd recommend (or thoughts on variations they'd like to share)?

Slightly Salty Dulce de Leche

1 quart whole milk
1c sugar
1/2 c turbinado sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sea salt
  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan over MEDIUM HEAT, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the baking soda; stir to combine.
  3. Once the baking soda has dissolved, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for one hour. This mixture will develop ominous foam upon it--do not panic, and do not try to reincorporate it with the mixture--it will not cooperate, and there will be much sadness.
  4. After one hour, remove the vanilla pod, but keep the liquid on the stove; let it keep cooking and reduce until it's about a cup of rich, caramel-colored goodness (1 1/2 to 2 hours).
  5. Stir in the salt.
  6. Once the salt has dissolved, remove the pot from the heat; strain the mixture through a fine sieve into jars. It will keep quite merrily in your refrigerator for a month or so, assuming it lasts that long.

Monday, September 29, 2008

all the ways

The chili I grew up with is Cleveland chili—not Cincinnati chili, exactly, but a far cry from a Texas Bowl of Red. Cincinnati chili arrived in Ohio from Macedonia and/or Greece; it's a modified stew with warming spices of cinnamon, cloves, and chocolate.

My mom's version was the main course at large gatherings of my father's colleagues and students—the title of the recipe handed down to me is "Lab Party Six-Way Chili."

It's the garnishes—the ways—that make the dish. Cincinnati chili is traditionally served over spaghetti (or a hot dog) but we use macaroni. Kidney beans are non-negotiable for me. Then, cheese on top (cheddar or monterey jack), raw onions, green olives, jalapenos if you want. Sour cream (I don't like it.) Avocado with a little lime juice if you happen to have it around.

Chili is the right thing when the sky is gray, the stock market falling. It's cheap, it multiplies well, it's comforting and filling. It's forgiving and flexible. You can use more beans and less meat, depending on your preference. Other vegetables too: eggplant, maybe, a canned chipotle in adobo. Pile with toppings and sit in front of the tv. My mom visited this weekend, and left again, which always leaves both of us feeling a little bereft. But now I'm armed with chili in the freezer.

Lab Party Chili with All the Ways

1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chipped
2 T olive oil
1 lb ground beef, bison, turkey, or lamb, or some combination
1 large can tomatoes...keep another on hand in case it doesnt seem tomatoey enough to you.
1 cup water (put it in the tomato can to get the leftover juices)
1 green pepper or two cubanelle, sliced small
2 T bottled jalapeno peppers, chopped
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 to 1 1/2 tsp cumin seed
1 bay leaf
1 T chili powder (I increased this a little)
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 oz grated unsweetened chocolate (I used unsweetened cocoa powder)
2 cans kidney beans

chopped raw onions
shredded cheese
sour cream
sliced olives
avocado with squirt of lime

Brown the onion and garlic in a dutch oven. Add meat and brown (drain fat if meat is not extra lean.) Add remaining ingredients, simmer over low heat for 40 mins or an hour. It's even better if you cook it, cool, refrigerate overnight, and cook another hour the next day.

Serve over macaroni, with garnishes of your choice.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

muffins for moving day

Two of our best friends are moving from Manhattan to Astoria this weekend. It's an overwhelming task, coming home from work late on a Thursday and trying to put an entire apartment into moving boxes, arriving Saturday to find out the couch doesn't fit in the new place, and somehow setting up a home before going back to the office Monday.

We're headed over there to help unpack, and I wanted to bring something comforting, so I turned to Smitten Kitchen. Deb's recipe for Jacked Up Banana Bread struck me as a particularly fall-like recipe with its cinnamon and nutmeg, cloves, and bourbon. These are warming flavors, perfect for a rainy morning breakfast as our friends try out their new morning commute. I increased the bourbon, added walnuts, and substituted cornmeal for some of the flour. They're not that corny—you could try shifting more toward the cornbread side. I would also cut the sugar a bit more, especially if your bananas are superripe.

Fall Banana Muffins
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Simply Recipes)

Makes 12 muffins

4 small ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup muscovado sugar (light brown sugar would be fine)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of cornmeal
1/2 cup walnut pieces plus more for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices, baking soda and salt. Add the flour and cornmeal last, mix gently but do not overmix. Add 1/2 cup walnut pieces and fold in gently. Spoon into a lined muffin tray. Sprinkle walnut pieces on top of each muffin. Bake for 20 minutes, allow to cool five minutes in tray before moving to a rack to cool.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Your new secret weapon: Sticky Onion Relish.

Okay. Enough of that photographic navel-gazing! "Back to the recipes," I hear you clamor! And I, dear reader, humbly live to serve. So, today, I offer up to you one of my favorite culinary wonder-workers: sticky onion relish. Sweet, tart, tangy, and versatile, this delightful condiment is a workhorse, a multi-tasker that can help elevate even the humblest meal to unparallelled levels of awesomeness.

And did I mention it's ludicrously easy to make?

The trick to sticky onion relish is simply patience--what you're doing is not so much cooking the onions as melting them in a luscious sangria of butter, honey, and balsamic vinegar, elevating the onion to new levels of decadent richness. Like the pork, the key phrase at play here is slow and low.

I try to keep a jar of this miracle elixir on hand at all times--it handily jazzes up scrambled eggs, adds a rich sweetness to a tomato sauce, and even ups the elegance factor of the humble turkey sandwich. (I also recommend it with a chunk of good sharp cheddar for a quick afternoon pick-me-up). It stores well in the fridge, and never fails to make even the simplest meal look tremendously impressive.

if i had to make it a metaphor, i would describe it as high heels for your pantry.

Sticky onion relish

4 medium-sized red onions, sliced thinly
3 tbsp salted butter
1/4c balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
  1. In a deep skillet, melt 2 tbsp of butter over low heat.
  2. When it's melted and starts to bubble slightly, add the onions. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and aromatic.
  3. add the third tablespoon of butter.
  4. When the butter melts, add the balsamic vinegar. Stir constantly until the vinegar is entirely absorbed--the onions will smell amazing and start to appear creamy.
  5. Add the honey; continue to stir constantly until the onions are soft, creamy, and divine. You will probably know by the smell
Store in a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid; it should be quite happy in your fridge for up to three months.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

taste of texas

I was fortunate enough this August to get shipped off to Houston, Texas for a location shoot; though only scheduled to be down there for a day or so, I managed to convince The Powers That Be to let me squeeze in a few vacation days, so I could head out to Austin and catch up with some of my favorite people in the whole wide world. While I was there, we paid a visit to the Austin farmer's market, a scene of sights, smells, and sounds unparalleled in my experience. once I got past the terrifying gypsy fiddling of a 9-year-old girl (for atmosphere, one would assume), the experience took my breath away.

Though I am no stranger to farmer's markets, I was unprepared for the sights--thousands of peppers, piled lushly and exuding that nearly radioactive glow that only chilis have; baskets upon baskets of fresh hazelnuts; bundles of garlic and fresh tomatoes that practically screamed to be eaten. Most remarkable to my eye, however, was the color that permeated the scene: everywhere I looked, the market was suffused with a brilliant shade of red that i rather suspect can only exist under a Texas sky. It was practically in the air; you could almost taste it.

photos don't do it justice, but I had to try.

cookbooks anyone?

Not that I need more cookbooks, but thought I'd pass this along. Chronicle Books is having a sale (25% off plus free shipping) on food and drink titles through Tuesday September 30th. Use promocode FOODDRINK08 at checkout.

I'm tempted by The Country Cooking of France, but don't get me started.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

hitting summer's snooze button

One last plate piled with tomatoes, a few more leaves from our balcony basil plant...Before it turns to October, to baked squash and roasted cauliflower—nothing against roasted cauliflower, seriously, I love the stuff—one more night of tomatoes. They were luscious with a few slices of fresh mozzarella, coarse ground pepper, good olive oil, and a splash of balsamic.

I also served up the last of this summer's sweet corn chowder. You could still make this—there's still corn at the farmer's market. Or file for next August. I adapted the recipe from Leite's Culinaria for a dinner party and froze the leftovers.

I used turkey bacon because some of our guests don't eat pork, but I'm sure bacon or guincale would be fabulous. I didn't have enough chicken stock to double the recipe, so I also made a quick corncob stock by boiling the cobs in water for about ten minutes. I used local Ronnybrook 2% milk, though cream would be good. Finally—and this is important—I did not cook the corn kernels with the potatoes. Good sweet corn needs almost no cooking. I added half the raw kernels to the potato mixture, letting them sit a minute with the burner off before whizzing them up with my immersion blender, then added the rest of the corn. The soup is quite sweet, and delicious with a salad of bitter lettuces if you've had enough of tomatoes by this point. I don't blame you. But just think how you'll feel in December...

Monday, September 22, 2008

The big reveal: Porkstravaganza!

Before I begin, let me be sure to emphasize this: pulled pork is for neither the faint of heart nor the impatient. You cannot rush it, you cannot push it, and you cannot expect it to stop and wait for you while you run around trying to get bleach out of your eye (long story). However, if you are made of the appropriately stern stuff, this melting, luscious chunk of meat is well worth the wait and the effort.

The HMS Pork Shoulder was set to sail on Sunday evening, so I started the project on Friday, stripping the skin from the 10-lb shoulder (a harrowing process i hope to repeat as little as possible) and docking it in a heavily salted and seasoned brine. I left it mostly unattended in the refrigerator for the next 24 hours, after which I drained it, patted it dry, gave it a nice massage with lots of spice rub, and put it in my preheated 225 degree oven. And there it stayed for the next 16 hours or so in the company of a shallow pan of water one rack below.

The REAL fun began about 10 hours later, though, when the sweet, spicy smell of the roasting meat began to drift lazily through the apartment, coaxing us gently into the waking world with its savory fingers.

I am hard-pressed to find another reason that I would so cheerfully wake at 6:30 on a Sunday morning.

But, wake I did, and from then on the great chunk of meat required a bit more of my attention--though I'd covered it in foil, it needed basting (with bourbon and pan drippings) every couple of hours and a near-constant monitoring of its internal temperature. When it hit 200, I turned off the oven and let the meat cool down in tandem with it. This is key--the slow cooling helps keep the moisture in.

Once it was cool enough to touch, i went after it with a pair of forks (though not before i rather stupidly tried to remove it from the roasting pan using the bone as a handle--if your pork is cooked properly, the bone will just fall right out), shredding it into a savory filigree that went gorgeously with the Cross-Bronx barbecue sauce (so named because the flavors are a riff on the famous Manhattan cocktail, made ghetto fabulous by the use of black cherry soda), sticky onion relish, and copious quantities of liquor and good company.

So what did I learn? Pulled pork is awesome. Slow and low is key. There is something viscerally delightful about being able to subdue a cut of meat using a spoon. And bourbon makes everything better.

(but I already knew that.)


1 8-10 lb, bone-in pork shoulder, skin removed

equal parts:
Onion powder
Garlic powder
½ part kosher salt
½ c brown sugar

2 quarts cold water
½ c spice rub
½ c brown sugar
½ kosher salt

36 hours before serving:
  1. prepare the brine.
  2. Place the pork shoulder inside a 2-gallon, zip-top bag
  3. Pour the brine over the pork, ensuring that it’s completely submerged.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, ideally for up to 24.
15-24 hours before serving:
  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a shallow roasting dish filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven.
  2. Remove the pork from the brine and place in a roasting dish. Pat surface dry.
  3. Cover entire surface with remaining spice rub mixture—really massage it in, and be sure to get it inside/under any flaps you might encounter.
  4. Place in oven until the meat hits 200 degrees at the thickest part—approximately 1.5-2 hours per pound. Check on it every few hours to ensure that there is liquid in the bottom of the roasting dish; baste with this liquid (or, if you’re feeling feisty, add a little bourbon to the mix) every four hours or so. Remove the water pan from step one after it’s run dry.
  5. When the meat hits the target temperature, Turn off the oven. Loosely cover the pork, and allow to rest for two hours.
  6. Tear that sucker apart with forks. Serve it with the Cross-Bronx barbecue sauce.


1 c onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 20 oz bottle of ketchup
½ c bourbon
½ jar cherry preserves
10 oz black cherry soda
¼ c orange juice
¼ c dry vermouth
¼ c balsamic vinegar
½ c brown sugar
kosher salt
black pepper
  1. In a deep saucepan, sauté the onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil or butter over medium heat, until just translucent (about 6 min).
  2. Add the garlic; sauté for another minute
  3. Add ketchup, bourbon, preserves, soda, juice, vermouth, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  4. Simmer until reduced by half, so it’s nice and thick.
As with every recipe I write, amounts are approximate—tinker and test until it tastes right and delicious to you.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

equipment love: chicago metallic commercial jelly roll pan

For the cookies, I used a new cookie sheet from Chicago Metallic like this one. It worked like a dream—it's not marketed as nonstick but the cookies did not stick at all. Nonstick sort of freaks me out, so I'm glad this one works.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

famous new york times cookies, approximately

Coming on late September . . . This morning, we ate our breakfast outside on the balcony, but I had to pull out my old college sweatshirt, and I'm no longer craving ice in my coffee. Nice, though, to huddle with my favorite mug and the newspaper now that the air in the city is crisp and the overwhelming smell of august—sidewalk trash sitting out in the sun—has passed.

And nice to turn the oven on again, and fill the apartment with the scent of vanilla and warm butter. Especially since the dough was already made, and just the fun part was left.

They are not exactly those cookies. They're smaller, and made with only all-purpose flour. And muscovado sugar instead of light brown sugar, and a mix of several kinds of 60-70% chocolate. I cooked them about 9 minutes at 325º, then rested on the cookie sheet another 6 minutes. They shouldn't be overbaked. Otherwise, I followed the recipe. Flakes of Maldon sea salt (which my fiancé, Matt, likes to eat out of hand) on top, every time I remembered (4 out of 6 cookie sheets worth scored the salt.)

They smelled terrific. And tasted terrific just out of the oven, as all barely cooked, caramely, melted-chocolately, just-out-of-the-oven cookies do. Are they the Platonic ideal of warm chocolate chip cookies? Maybe. But they're still chocolate chip cookies, which should be a simple pleasure, I think. Just right for September.

Note: once they were cooled off, these were a bit salty. While the cookies were warm, the salt was just an accent that brought out the flavors of butter, chocolate, etc. Cool, they were just sort of salty. Like chocolate chip pretzels. So maybe next time I'd lay off the salt a little. Or be sure to microwave the cookies a bit before serving!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Coming soon on Pithy and Cleaver: Porkstravaganza 2008

Stay tuned, folks: this weekend comes part two* of my pulled pork project, Porkstravaganza 2008. Come Sunday, I will be roasting up 8 pounds of pure porcine poetry in the pursuit of the perfect medianoche. If you have any words of wisdom, leave them in the comments. If not...well, you'll get a full report next week.

Once more unto the breach!

* I can already hear you asking what happened to part 1--suffice it to say, it predates this blog, and didn't turn out quite the way i wanted it. Delicious, yes. But nonetheless not quite what i was after.

miso cod and the triumphant return of the roast potato.

Growing up in Northern California, these things called seasons were more or less a mystery to me. Winter was marked by two weeks of rain; summer by the dry heat that would spring up to the mid-nineties before plummeting back down to the year-round evening average of 45. I didn't own a proper winter coat, and I certainly paid no attention to changes in the offerings in the produce section. The only seasonal markers I had with regards to food came around the holidays, when we would bake about a quarter of a million pounds of lebkuchen, my family's traditional Christmas sweet, and high summer, when my mother's tomato plants would leave us awash in bushels of the divine fruit (and the ants that loved it, and drove mom crazy).

Now that I live on the east coast, i try to take a little more pleasure in the change of the seasons. While i continue to blithely serve asparagus in October and make risotto in deepest July, I do make a bit more of an effort to be a bit more seasonally appropriate; with the first whiff of cool air, I happily trade in my fresh limas and heirloom tomatoes for parsnips and chard (though I will admit to a certain reticence when it comes to giving up my peaches). I also merrily resurrect that old rascal, the roast potato.

Last night marked its reappearance in my culinary bag of tricks; paired with miso-glazed cod and roasted (okay, more like incinerated, but that's how i like it) asparagus, it made a meal that was more than a match for the curious transitional weather we're experiencing here in Gotham City. I branched out a bit, using fingerling potatoes (blue and creamy red), to mixed results--though colorful, they lacked the waxy sweetness i was anticipating; however, the delicious, chewy and salty skins more than made up for it.

When planning this menu, I hemmed and hawed for a bit, wondering if the three components were too different to create a cohesive dish--after all, shouldn't i serve asian-style fish with rice? shouldn't the asparagus be steamed in this context? i thought about it for a solid two minutes before coming to the conclusion that has become my mantra where cookery is concerned: fuck it! If it tastes good, who the hell cares?

Words to live by, if ever.

Miso-glazed cod

1 slab of cod

2 tbsp red miso paste
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp sake
1 tsp brown sugar
drizzle sesame oil
drizzle soy sauce

Preheat your broiler.

Combine all the wet ingredients, plus the sugar. all the amounts are estimated--taste and tinker until you get the amounts you like. Place the cod in a zip-top bag, and pour the marinade over it; toss to coat evenly. Place the bag in a shallow dish and put it in the fridge for as long as you have time.

Place the fish under the broiler for approximately five minutes a side (take it out of the bag first, obvs)--excess glaze in the pan will probably start to scorch a little, which will rather perversely make your kitchen smell divine. delish!

an embarrassment of riches

Life (at least from a vegetable standpoint) may never be quite this easy again. You see, the Union Square farmer's market is right in the middle of my walk to and from work. It's a fabulous market. It even has its own blog. I think that after a few years of low-paying publishing jobs, shopping for fresh food has fully replaced any urges I might have had to keep up with fashion. Even if I have no plans to cook, I can't walk by without admiring (and buying) those perfect peaches, a bag full of multicolored string beans, and local scallops from the fish stand. (Not sure my officemates appreciate that contribution to our shared fridge.) In addition to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the Union Square market is open on Saturdays (though it's a zoo) and there are two other local farmer's markets open on Tuesdays, and Sundays, respectively. So yes, there's a farmer's market in my path every single day—except Thursday.

That's where the CSA comes in. When I saw that the new Downtown CSA held its pickup on Thursdays, I couldn't resist. But I'm going to be honest. For someone who walks to work
through a farmer's market almost every day, I'm not sure it's an ideal arrangement. I feel a ton of pressure to cook everything that is perishable on that first night, but sometimes these things don't really go together! We share our share with another couple, so CSA night is a great excuse for a dinner party. But there have been funny menus—one night I did an entire dinner of bruschetta: bruschetta with beets and goat cheese, tomatoes and basil, beet greens and cannellini. It was good, but kind of a lot of bruschetta. Sometimes, Thursday night rolls around and all I can muster is salad and pasta...the vegetables just keep coming...

I'm not sure if I'll continue the CSA next year. Some of the produce has been extraordinary—the cherry tomatoes were sweeter than any others I have tasted. It's a really friendly community, which is exciting to find in New York. I like contributing directly to an organic farmer, and I know that providing them the money up front is very helpful. But I like interacting with farmers every week
at the Union Square market, too, and I like waiting for cooking inspiration to strike me there. I guess it's not such a bad dilemma.

Quick Baked Ziti with Greens and Hot Salami
I had no plan for this week's vegetables until I stopped by Russo's, a local Italian market, on my way back from the CSA pickup. They had samples of hot salami out to taste, and it seemed the perfect accent for the giant bunch of tatsoi. Mixing different kinds of greens balances the flavor. You could also add white beans to this for a bit more protein.

Serves five, or four plus tomorrow's lunch.

1 lb ziti (I used DeCecco)
1 large purple onion, sliced
3 small green peppers or italian frying peppers, sliced
1 clove garlic—or more if you like it
1/4 lb freshly sliced spicy salami
1 small serrano pepper, sliced
1 large bunch greens (I used tatsoi) torn into pieces
1 smaller bunch different greens (I used spicy mustard greens) torn into pieces
1 T assorted fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, sage)
1 T fresh basil
1/2 lb ricotta
1/2 lb other cheese: fresh mozzarella, asiago, parmesan
2 cups milk
handful of panko or breadcrumbs

Cook ziti until VERY al dente (maybe 3/4 of the way done.) Reserve a bit of the pasta water. Meanwhile, saute onion with a little olive oil in dutch oven until quite soft, add sliced pepper, garlic, salami, and serrano and saute a few more minutes, stirring. Add greens and a half cup or so of pasta water and saute/steam until slightly wilted—don't cook all the way, since this is going in the oven. Turn off burner. Stir in herbs, cooked pasta, ricotta, milk, and half of the other cheese until evenly distributed. Top with the rest of the cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Scatter breadcrumbs over the top. Pop in a 350 oven for 30 minutes. Serve with salad.

Bonus mystery vegetable.
Guess what this is?
I swear that's its natural color. And it's not a tropical fruit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

everyone else is doing it...

I am not very good at throwing parties. And what I mean by that is, I am not very good to myself when I throw parties. Early in the week, it seems brilliant to me to plan an assortment of five or ten different dips, from handmade anchoide to wasabi-lime-pea, assortments of farmer's market vegetables chopped in perfect bite sizes by hand, warm olives marinated with a mix of herbs and citrus, etc etc, leaving me dreading the event by Friday. As time goes by, though, I'm getting a little, tiny bit better at taking it easy. Cooking for groups (especially on weeknights) now needs to involve foods that multiply well and can be prepared in advance—chili! braised lamb shoulder! giant peach cobbler! The days of individual pizzas may be over.

At least I'm trying. We're having a party this weekend, and I'm keeping it simple. There will be plenty of beer. And there will be cookies.

But not just any cookies. Those cookies. I'm totally late on this one, I know, everyone's over it already. I just couldn't get them out of my mind after seeing them here, and here...

So I bought the féves (and some other very nice chocolate, Callebaut Bittersweet 70%) and some Muscovado sugar, which was recommended on egullet, and I'm raring to go. I'll keep you posted.

oh, hi.

two designers.
two boroughs.
two kitchens.
two overdeveloped senses of culinary adventure.

We (being Maggie and Shiv) met in a design class and quickly bonded over our love of the 12-column grid and heirloom beans. After much ruminating and many brunches, we two have decided to dip a toe into the blogging waters, to share our adventures, ambitions, triumphs, catastrophes and, of course, recipes.

pull up a chair. grab a drink.

welcome to our world.