Strawberry Shortcake After Dark

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Hey you…you like-a the berries?  Come closer, I give you a berry.

I was not in Whole Foods today to buy strawberries, I was there to buy a pork product for this Thursday.  No, I will not specify beyond that; I’ve already said too much and will now have to reach through the internet and kill you.  But as I was walking through the produce section, the berries launched a full-on nasal assault with their sweet fragrance to which I succumbed instantly.  Because strawberries are the shit.

I knew immediately that I wanted to make a quick but grown-up strawberry shortcake: black-pepper buttermilk biscuits, strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar and honey-sweetened mascarpone.  Can I get a hell yeah?

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Spring Lamb By Way of Italy By Way of My Ass

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My ass is due east of Suck On It, Tunisia.

If I’m not cooking directly from a recipe or making one of my standby dishes, I’m trying to riff off someone else’s ideas. I can poach a mean egg and I have a decent sense of what goes with what (e.g., bacon goes with everything), but I don’t flatter myself that I’m particularly innovative or have some kind of culinary talentg. I have more of an all-around genius than a specific savant-like gift.

Every once in a while, though, I make up a dish that seems pretty unique (at least to me), an unexpected combo of flavors. I think this dish is one of those, at least until I buy a new cookbook and find out that it’s some kind of classic that I should have already known. Fuckin’ A.

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Thursday Night Smackdown: Ladies' Night Poussin

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Yes, I ate a baby chicken and no, I’m not sorry.

Dinner tonight comes thanks to douche-baggy pretty boy Tyler Florence’s Eat This Book: honey and soy glazed poussin with curried green apples.

I should state for the record that I have no real reason to believe that Tyler Florence is a douchebag. It’s just a feeling I have, but I’m pretty sure he’s That Guy. For example, this recipe comes from a section of the book called “devouring,” which contains a collection of recipes with no discernible theme, other than the fact that they’re all meant to be eaten. Other sections include Consuming, Tasting and Noshing and are equally motley. Why, Tyler? The recipes look pretty good; why don’t you want me to find them?

But his shrimp and grits recipe is the shit and his book was 50% off, so there you go.  I’m such an enabler.

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And this quiche did my taxes.

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Actually, it didn’t. This quiche had no fucking initiative.

Work is busy this week and Brian is out of town at a conference for work*, and that usually adds up to one thing: cereal for dinner every night. On top of that, part of me doesn’t want to move on to a new post because the feedback from the last one was so lovely and it sparked memories for so many of you; I especially appreciated the universal disdain for pink kitchenware. But eventually you have to move on from the schmaltzy shit and make a damn quiche.

Okay, I’m not quite ready to move on, so this’ll be a short one.

*In New Orleans. And I happen to know that at this exact moment, he’s out at a concert at the House of Blues. I ask you, what kind of “conference” is this? Your tax dollars at work, people.

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The Pancakes that Cured Cancer

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And they are available to you for a co-pay of only $3475 per pancake. Toppings are extra.

I know the title of this post may come off as just a tad flip. As someone who lost both parents to cancer (breast and colon) by age 26, who had cancer herself (Hodgkin’s Lymphona) in her teens, and who expects a second helping to hit any day now, I feel entitled to whip out my “Get-Out-of-Being Flippant About Cancer Jail Free” card for this occasion.

Despite the impact that breast cancer has had on my life, I despise the whole “buy this pink crap to cure cancer” bullshit. Buying pink crap doesn’t cure cancer, it puts more money into the pockets of people who manufacture and market pink crap – most of which probably dumps cancer-causing toxins into the environment, thus perpetuating the cycle of teddy bears wearing pink sweaters.* Granted, I don’t think that participating in the LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow Event will cure cancer either, but at least it’s an excuse to eat pancakes.

*If you want a pink blender because you really like pink, buy a pink blender.  But if you want to help women with breast cancer, donate directly to a place like Breast Cancer Action.  Or help an actual woman with breast cancer to get through a chemo session or go grocery shopping or clean her house.  

If you want more on the Pinkwashing of America, I recommend you to Twisty.

Also: If you want to start an argument about this in the comments? Don’t.

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Thursday Night Smackdown: I don't think you're ready for this jelly.

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Prunes, prunes, the musical fruit; the more you eat, the more you shit uncontrollably.

So I pretty much dream about prune-stuffed gnocchi with vin santo and foie gras every night. And often during the day, as well. So it’s a good thing that No. 9 Park gives out the recipe on request. And since Chef Barbara Lynch has a cookbook coming out this year and I’m taking the liberty of assuming that this recipe – her signature – will be in it, I feel justified in selecting it as this week’s smackdown.

Because maybe this will help jar the dish from my head. GET OUT OF MY BRAIN, YOU DIABOLICAL POTATO PILLOWS.

Also: This meal involves a $55 stick of butter. I am not kidding.

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Back to our regularly scheduled amateur food porn: Now with Hollandaise!

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Coming up at 11: When Asparagus Attacks

Some days, work is relatively stress-free and I get home by 5, excited and ready to cook up a storm. The other 364 days a year, I don’t. Unless each of my 6 readers starts loading this page 750,000 times a day each, I’ll be keeping my day job and looking for more quick but interesting weeknight meals.*

Some time ago, I declared the official foodie trend of Spring 2008 to be the poached egg. Today was a lovely spring day – sunny, brisk, daffodils in bloom, Target setting up shop on the street giving away flowers with each purchase of toxic chemical fertilizer – and I had some asparagus in the fridge that was about to buy the farm, so: roasted asparagus with poached eggs and green curry hollandaise. Hollandaise and asparagus are a classic pairing, as are poached eggs and hollandaise (eggs benedict, eggs florentine) and poached eggs and asparagus; marvel at the synergy!

*If you could start doing that, that would be great. Tell your friends and family!

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Boston II: Can I take this meal as a tax write off?

So I need to explain right up front that I have no pictures of Thursday night’s dining experience at No. 9 Park in Boston. Because sometimes I still forget my camera we were planning on eating in the restaurant’s cafe section, which would have meant a well-prepared but fairly straight-ahead 3 course prix fixe of dishes like pasta bolognese. Since I can and do take pictures of pasta bolognese at home, I thought I’d ditch the camera and have a relaxing, critique-free dinner. Once I realized the folly of this line of reasoning it was too late, and I was stuck with only a cellphone camera and insufficient lighting. Ergo, no photos.

In retrospect, I find it quaint that I thought I could go to No. 9 and restrain myself to the cafe menu, and even more precious that I thought I could go an entire evening without critiquing something.

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Boston I: Fine Burgers of Beantown

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Burger the First: An above-average room service burger.

For the most part my travels are foodcentric, if not completely food-related. Before undertaking any journey, my most extensive travel research is on good restaurants, local specialties and street food, often to the detriment of other necessary pieces of knowledge like language (except for food-related terms) and currency (except the prices of common food items). When I travel to a place I’ve been before – I lived in Cambridge and Boston for several years in grad school – I like a mix of old favorites and new experiences. Since they use dollars and speak English* in Boston, I was free to focus entirely on the food.

*One must, of course, point out the unique variety of English that is the Boston accent. Also, it may be convincingly argued that many Cantabrigians (yes, it’s what they’re called and yes, it’s irritating) speak a unique form of English called Critical Neo-Academese.

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Friday Night Smackdown: Welcome, Fish Overlords

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This red snapper wants to be taken to your leader.

Tonight, a special edition cranky and overtired Friday Night Smackdown: Whole fish baked in a salt crust from Cooking with Jamie by everyone’s favorite British scruffmuffin, Jamie Oliver. Because it’s a method I’ve been wanting to try, and it seemed like a pretty straightforward dish to prepare after a long day on the road.

Cue ominous strings of foreshadowing.

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