Da posto

Time passed, and it was decreed that cook eat FRET needed a little root work, and thus made her pilgrimage to New York. She’s the outgoing sort who has food-blogger friends from all over the country (world, at this point?), so Gil and I met up with her, Zen Can Cook and Colloquial Cooking for dinner at Del Posto Friday night. Thursday Night Smackdown was unable to make it, so we feasted on her portion of the lardo that came around with the bread basket, and I’ll blame her when my skinny jeans no longer fit.

Our dinner companions were everything you could ask for — friendly, smart and talented, and honestly just lovely people, all-around. I’ll leave a review of the food to them, but must put in a plug for my dessert, the Sfera di Caprino, Celery & Fig Agrodolce & Celery Sorbetto, as the menu so mouthwateringly puts it. Delicious and unusual. Probably not something I’ll try to duplicate even in the slightest, but if someone out there would like to do the honors, I would not complain if you got back to me with your recipe.

Grazie!

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It has been brought to my attention (though it hadn’t really escaped my notice) that I don’t post often enough. But that’s not entirely true; just check my guest post at TNS for evidence.

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But I do have a couple of things from last weekend that are sitting in my drafts folder collecting pixel-dust, so maybe the criticism is justified. It’s really a shame, because this meal could only have been better if I’d caught the trout myself minutes before firing up the (brand new) grill. But without access to decent trout streams here, I thought Whole Foods would be an acceptable substitute. I stuffed the fish with thin lemon slices and sprigs of thyme just before grilling — simple preparations are perfect with fresh trout. Dinner was on the table about 15 minutes later, served with an avocado, tomato and red onion salad, and grilled asparagus on the side. It’s that time of year, after all.

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Hey Cecily, you asked what I could do with limes…does this work?

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Cornmeal cookies with lime glaze, inspired by the same at Amy’s Bread. These were a little crispier and less cakey than the originals, but were still just my kind of cookie — crumbly, crunchy, sweet/tart and completely lacking in chocolate.

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And just for you, Claire — more Rufus pictures:

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The thing about a greyhound is, it’s really hard to get the nose and eyes in focus at the same time if your camera isn’t on a tripod.

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But the boy really knows how to relax.

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And I could learn a thing or two about patience from him.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Da posto”

On the shoulders of giants

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You guys know I usually like to wing it in the kitchen, right? It’s certainly not a surprise to poor Gil, who has to deal with my creations. (Btw — sorry for that particularly meh quinoa salad I made for dinner recently, honey!) But sometimes I do the thing up proper-like and follow real recipes from people who know what they’re doing — people like Mario Batali, Patricia Wells and Giuliano Bugialli.

Above, you see the first of two pasta dishes we’ve had in the last couple of weeks. Ground veal and ground pork sang a song of ragu from the freezer, and at their insistence, I did a web search for a real recipe to follow. The first link I clicked featured a video of Mario Batali making a traditional Ragu Bolognese. I’m so happy I followed the video’s instructions instead of the written recipe below; I never, ever, would have thought to cook each stage of the recipe for as long as instructed. But the prolonged cooking added a depth of flavor I’ve never achieved in my years of sauce-making. I might use slightly less wine next time because that flavor was especially strong (and not my favorite thing in the world, to be honest), but diffused with ample amounts of pasta, it was phenomenal.

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A few weeks ago, Gil and I got to spend three whole nights in the city during a pharmaceutical conference he attended for his magazine. I took full advantage of my time there and met up with friends on three consecutive nights for dinner and drinks. The first night I didn’t venture out of my work neighborhood, meeting my friend Scott at Bar Stuzzichini. I went mainly for the small plates (the arancini were disappointing this time, but I plan to recreate the zucchini alla scapece just as soon as my grill comes out for the season — possibly this very weekend), but the pasta dish we shared was the real revelation: macherroni alla chitarra, or pasta with pistachio and lemon cream sauce.

Once we made it home, I started researching recipes in my Italian cookbooks and decided to use a simple lemon-cream sauce adapted from Patricia Wells’ Trattoria and Giuliano Bugialli’s Bugialli On Pasta. I toasted shelled pistachios, cooled and chopped them, the steeped the smaller bits (pistachio dust, really) in lemon juice and cream while I made the pasta with my brand new Kitchenaid Pasta Rollers. (I happened to find them fairly heavily discounted on Amazon, but they’re worth paying an everyday price for.) After cooking the pasta, I tossed it with the cream sauce and grated Parmesan over a low flame until the sauce had thickened. Just before serving, I added more Parmesan, chopped parsley and more chopped pistachios. It was a great success, but not quite as pistachio-infused as the original. I have more experimenting to do before I give you a real recipe, but I’m pretty happy with the results of my first go-round. It’s hard to go wrong when you listen to the experts.

’08 Advent Calendar, Day 12

Celebrate the season! Just take it easy at the office party, or you’ll be sending an email like the one I received a few years ago:

You’re the last person I remember talking to on Wednesday night. Everything kind of went black at some point & I don’t remember how I got home. All I know is that I woke up on my living room floor Thursday morning, covered in candle wax. How much of an ass did I make of myself at the party? And how embarrassed should I be today?

For the 2007 Advent Calendar, click here.

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “’08 Advent Calendar, Day 12”

Gobble, gobble


brined & roasted turkey breast with roasted onions, garlicky savoy cabbage, and caramelized apples

Any of you who’ve seen me on Facebook this week know I’ve been ever-so-slightly stressing over cooking Thanksgiving dinner for seven. It isn’t the number of people or even cooking a full meal for them, it’s the turkey that’s getting to me. Can someone please explain the allure of turkey? I’ve never been a fan, and always managed to avoid more than the token piece whenever it was served. It isn’t even that it’s usually dry, because I’m more of a dark meat fan. It’s just so … dull, more like a meat substitute than real meat.

Given my indifference to the bird, it should come as no surprise that I have no experience cooking it. So, observing (for the first time in my life) the rule that you never serve anything to guests you haven’t made at least once before, I did a dry run a couple of weeks ago using Alton Brown’s brine recipe. It garnered rave reviews online, but I thought the turkey was still meh, though moistly meh, granted. So hey, that’s something.

But last week the heavens parted when I read the LA Times article on the Zuni Café method of roasting a turkey and decided to give that a try, as it promises flavorful turkey with delicious crispy skin. The problem is, I had to start it Sunday because I didn’t want to deal with it before work at 5am Monday, so it’ll brine a little bit longer than the 3 days + 8 hours recommended in the recipe. Claudia warned me against it, but I’m an irrepresible risk-taker. Hell, I’m a maverick. (I just had to find a way to get that in there, sorry.) And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the extra day of salting doesn’t ruin the bird, but we’ll have plenty of sides to munch on if it isn’t great.

So my menu, traditional though it may be, is:

turkey
roasted sweet potato and butternut squash soup
wild rice salad
mashed potatoes and gravy
roasted asparagus with parmesan
corn pudding
cranberry chutney (I can’t find this recipe online, but it came from the November 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living)
apple crisp

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May your birds be juicy and your desserts plentiful.

So happy together

Gil spent the better part of the week in Atlanta for a conference, so he and Ru are awfully happy to be reunited.

Cute, but I think I’ve just taken the poster shot for NAMDLA.

Lost in the Supermarket

Grocery shopping with Gil is always an interesting experience. I enjoy lingering in gourmet or international groceries, but at the local Stop & Shop my goal is to get what I need and leave before despair over the state of the produce grips my soul. Gil sees it as an occasion to document the bizarre items that I swear don’t exist on the shelves until he calls them into being.

Because the pictures are starting to pile up, he’s started a regular Tuesday series called Lost in the Supermarket. Stop by every week to see his latest perplexing find!

This week he presents the doubleplusunkosher edition:

Tag!

Looks like I’ve been tagged. Since I performed so abysmally last time this happened (by taking at least three months to respond to only one question), I made an effort to be more up-to-date here.

Seven Random/Weird Facts About Myself

1. Gonna start out with a bang, here: I have dextrocardia with situs inversus. Another way to put it is all of my internal organs are flipped left-to-right. Yet another way is to say I’m ass-backwards, as many of you have long suspected.

2. The only celebrity I’ve ever been excited to see on the street was Gilbert Gottfried. Seriously. I nearly hugged him, but didn’t want to freak him out.

3. There’s “IM Amy” and “In-person Amy” and never the twain shall meet.

4. I hate parties. As soon as the invitation comes, I get anxious about actually having to talk to people and count the days till it’s over. And then the party comes and I’m fine — sometimes. Social butterfly, not so much.

5. I was an accompanist at several churches growing up, and served as Minister of Music at a Unity church before moving to NY.

6. I’m related to Ron Guidry, but only through marriage, so I still have an excuse for my complete lack of athletic ability.

7. The State of my Hair … is BAD.

My Seven Favorite Blogs
Most of these blogs have too much going on for me to tag, but I’m supposed to pick my favorites, not only the accessible ones. So here they are.

1. I couldn’t have made it through the last year without Andrew Sullivan.

2. I may not be Afrobella‘s target audience, but I love her writing, her wit, and her generosity of spirit.

3. Every post at Matt Bites is an inspiration. If someday I can be half the blogger, cook, and photographer he is, I’ll be a very happy woman.

4. Cuz she’s Fly!

5. Khoi Vinh’s Subtraction helps me to structure my thinking, especially about web design.

6. From movies to films and current events, The House Next Door‘s got you covered.

7. Even if you don’t agree with their politics (though I tend to), the heds alone are worth a visit to Reason Hit & Run.

I’m not going to tag anyone, but if you’d like to play along on your blog, link back to this post so everyone can check out your responses!