Thursday, April 29, 2010

Orange Salad

This is one of those things that could be really good.
I mean this could have been good enough to make you weep.
But it wasn't.

This was an orange salad.

Perhaps the time for really good oranges is long gone. I wouldn't know, I'm a newly converted orange eater.
Whatever it was, this salad was BITTER and really, really acidic. Vinegar AND oranges? I just don't know.

Here's what I'd do next time, because I really believe that with a little creativity this salad could be salvaged:

1. Less hot pepperyness. Less chili fiesta in the mouth. Just tone it down a little. Let the oranges sing through.
2. Get some really scrumptious, wonderful oranges.
3. Use basil or mint or some other herb that is less overpowering that cilantro.
4. Use absolute, best quality vinegar and olive oil. I didn't and you could tell.

Here's the recipe, despite Amanda Hesser's raves about it in the New York Times we were unimpressed.

1980: Spicy Orange Salad, Moroccan Style

This recipe appeared in an article in The Times by Craig Claiborne.

3 large seedless oranges

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red-wine or sherry vinegar


Freshly ground black pepper

⅓ cup chopped parsley

12 pitted black olives, preferably imported Greek or Italian.

1. Peel the oranges, paring away all the exterior white pulp. Cut each orange into 8 wedges. Cut each wedge into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

2. Place the cayenne, paprika, garlic, olive oil and vinegar in a salad bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and whisk to combine. Add the oranges, parsley and olives. Toss gently to blend. Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Food of Superheros... And Gods. Granola.

I love knowing what people eat for breakfast.

Your "she's creepy" alarm bells are probably going off, but this love is right in line with my other love, which is looking in other people's refrigerators.

You can learn a lot about someone by looking in their refrigerator.

Anyway. I love telling people what I ate for breakfast almost as much as I love knowing what they ate for breakfast. Especially, because I eat basically the same thing for breakfast. Every. Single. Day.

I eat granola. Always with a little milk (but not too much) and a dollop of plain, whole-milk yogurt. And sliced banana. And three diced strawberries. Or sometimes half of a chopped pear. Or a handful of blackberries. And a squeeze of honey. And the New York Times.
And then I am all set for the day.

Life is good in the mornings
at the kitchen table


with granola.

(Hey look! I'm channeling William Carlos Williams!)
Finally, this is a recipe for the faint of heart. (Or "The Flimsies" as Julia Child would say.)
All you have to do is stir.

Also, because my family is always hungry, this makes a lot, so scale it down if you need to.

Also, adapt this to your needs.

Cooking Is The Spirit of Invention.

Or whatever.

Have fun.

Family Recipe

6 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (I like a mixture of pecans, walnuts and almonds.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine chopped nuts and rolled oats in large mixing bowl.

Heat honey and canola oil together in microwave, or on stove top until warm. Not boiling or anything, but warm enough so that when you plunge your finger in, your finger KNOWS that it's warm. Stir the honey and oil together, and add vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Stir some more.
Pour wet ingredients over dry.
Stir until everything is throughly combined.

Spread in an even layer on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.

Once out of oven, stir around with spatula and sort of fluff everything up. You don't want it to stick to the pan.
Because that is no fun.

Allow to cool.


Briefly....or, Random Food Goals

Food Goals:

1. Write a letter to Judith Jones, author of The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, which is most divine.
2. Make doughnuts. Please. God, please, let me talk my mother into letting me make doughnuts.
3. Find the perfect oatmeal cookie.
4. Make some exciting salad dressings.
5. Learn a bit about classic French cooking techniques.
6. Cook healthy food. Not to be general or anything.
7. Learn how to grill. Do exciting things with vegetables.
8. Cook one Indian dish.
9. Make doughnuts. I'm telling you, I'm obsessed.
10. Make a bread that is not healthful, aka, brioche.
11. Make homemade graham crackers and marshmellows.

All of my goals are very high calorie.
Hopefully will get a recipe up by the end of the week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Greatest Thing I Have Ever Made, or The Miracle that is Pasta Primavera

I don't believe in plain pasta. Pasta should be hearty: it should be eaten with plenty of luscious sauce and vegetables and cheese and meaty complements, so that you're not hungry five minutes after you've finished.

The perfect pasta has been found: Pasta Primavera.
It's luscuious and light and creamy and lemony. It fulfills my pasta requirements.
The most wonderful thing, though, is that it's all topped with an incredible tomato balsamic sauce, which I'm going to call a "reduction", even though it sounds pretentious.

Even better, after eating I actually felt full.

Though many of the steps in this recipe seemed fussy, it's really relatively simple, and so completely and utterly worth it that it's probably the only thing you'll want to eat for the rest of your life, because that's just how good it is.

Note on recipe: I had no mushrooms, parsley (who does?), green beans, or pine nuts. I added finely shredded carrots to the tomato "reduction". It was still perfect, even though I was getting creative.

Pasta Primavera
from The Gourmet Cookbook

1 ounce dried morel mushrooms
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/4 green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
rounded 1/2 teasoon red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pints tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsalmic vinegar
3 tablespoons water
1 pound spaghettini
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Prepare the vegetables:
Soak morels in warm water in a small bowl for 30 minutes.
Lift mushrooms out of water and squeeze excess liquid back into bowl. Pour soaking liquid through a sieve lined witha dampened paper towel into a small bowl: reserve. Rinse throughly to remove grit, then squeeze dry. Cut off and discard any tough stems. Halve morels.

Add asparagus and beans to a 6 to 8 quart pot of boiling salted water, and cook, uncovered for 3 minutes. Add peas and cook until beans and asparagus and just tender, 1 to 2 minutes more. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, (or simply rise with cold water in a colander), drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 10 to 12 inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat. Add 1 teaspoon garlic and rounded 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook, stirring until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add drained vegetables and salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Cook the tomatos:
Cut half of tomatoes into quarters and halve remainder lenghtwise, keeping quarters and halves separate> Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same skillet over moderately low heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon garlic and remainging rounded 1/4 red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, just until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add quartered tomatoes, with salt and ppepper to taste and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are softened, about 3 minutes. Add halved tomatoes, vinegar and water and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and halved tomatoes are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm, covered.

Cook the spaghettini:
Return pot of water to a boil and cook spgahettinini until al dente; drain in a colander.
Immediately add butter, cream, zest and morels to (empty) pasta pot, bring to a simmer and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Stir in cheese, then add pasta, tossing to coat and adding as much of reserved morel soaking liquid as necessary (1/2 to 2/3 cup) to keep pasta well coated. Add green vegetables, parsley, basil, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to taste, toss gently to combine.

Serve pasta topped with tomatoes and if desired more Parmigiano-Reggino shavings.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Asparagus and Fingerling Potatos

Coat asparagus and potatos with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Generously salt and pepper. Bake at 500F for about 8 to 10 minutes. Sprinke asparagus with feta cheese. Serve with a poached egg and perhaps some toast.

Best Carrot Cake

Some of you are probably wondering- "Will she ever post something that's REAL FOOD?"

The answer is, yes. Eventually. But not today. Not now. Because I have to share this with you:
I am downright sentimental about this cake. The recipe is practically an HEIRLOOM.
It came from this book:

That's right, the Junior League of Enid Oklahoma.

You know that everything just gets better from here.
It's a perfect everyday cake, because it's quick to throw together. The texture is wonderful, light, but dense enough so that you know that you're actually eating something. It's sweet, but not too sweet, and when topped with a thick layer of maple cream cheese frosting... Bliss.

I like it as a sheet cake, so you can slice as many pieces as you want with out feeling guilty, because it's simply so HARMLESS looking. (Not to mention the fact that, like, has a VEGETABLE in it. Seriously. It's practically health food.) Also, it helps you become comfortable with emotional depth, it said so in the New York Times:

Carrot Cake
from Stir-Ups

For Cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
3 cups shredded carrot
1 teaspoon vanilla

For Icing:
1 stick butter
8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box powdered sugar*
best quality maple syrup, to taste

Combine flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, salt and oil. Beat in carrots and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Pour into two greatsed 9" cake pans, or a 9x13 inch loaf pan. Bake 9" ones at 350F for 30 minutes. Bake 1 hour when using loaf pan. Cool completely.
Icing: Cream butter with cream cheese. Add sugar, vanilla and several tablespoons maple syrup to taste. Beat until well blended. Slather cake. Eat. Immediately.