Another orangey post

Double-decker lasagna

Because the farmers’ market gods do not see fit to bestow seasonable, local produce upon us between Halloween and Thanksgiving, I stocked up on storage items last weekend — onions, potatoes and all manner of squash, plus another frozen tongue. It’ll be a long winter. But look, I’ve just gotta say: We need some new squash recipes around these parts. Roasted squash — excellent in a pinch. Good old squash soup — fine. It’s reliable, it’s easy, delicious and mostly unobjectionable, but I’m still kinda sick of it from last year, truth be told, so it might be a while before it graces my table and blog again.

In the interest of not boring myself or you (too late, they cry!) to death, I went all out and made a lasagna — something I never do. All those layers just kill me, but I was won over by this one. It was adapted from Giada’s recipe and was so good, I’ve got plans to make a few more updates and serve it as our Thanksgiving main course. This lasagna’s charms are subtle, but once it has you, it won’t let you go.

recipe after the jump

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An autumn breakfast


I’m tired of fighting it.

We had snow yesterday (snow, people!), so I’m diving into fall cooking starting with a simple breakfast — acorn squash roasted with cultured butter, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and a liberal sprinkling of salt. I’ll be restocking my squash supplies over the weekend so this kind of thing is always an option.

Update: I’ve added a recipe of sorts after the jump.

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new post

Hey, all. I owe you a big wrap-up of our last week or so, but my mind is elsewhere today. Ru was attacked by a neighbor’s dog yesterday on his afternoon stroll with the dog walker and is at the animal hospital awaiting surgery this morning. Gil’s out of town until tomorrow, so I’m just waiting by the phone and cleaning the house from top to bottom to keep busy.

The situation is especially infuriating because this same dog (a husky) broke through his electric fence and attacked another dog just two weeks ago and it seems the owners didn’t do enough to make sure it couldn’t happen again. So our boy has a big chunk of his haunch missing and needs one surgery today to install a rubber drain and another in a month or so to remove the drain and close the wound. (Ru’s vet took plenty of pictures of the wounds and his office notified the police department, so thank goodness that was taken care of before I even got there.)

So I rushed home from work and got to the animal hospital in time to see him before they closed for the evening.

He was even more pitiful than this when I first saw him, but at least his bed made him comfortable.

There was some panting, but he was loopy from the pain meds, so he wasn’t in a bad mood at all. I think he enjoyed the dirty t-shirt I brought for him, too.

But even getting his favorite new toy (John Calamari or Squid Vicious, depending on which one of us you ask) didn’t stop him from accusing me with his eyes when I was ready to go.

a week’s wrap-up after the jump

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Something old, something new

This isn’t your halmoni’s yuk gae jang.

I’ve been in love with Korean cooking for years, ever since I dated a Korean cowboy-type from Tulsa during my days of indentured servitude in grad school. He came from a family of amazing cooks and it really showed. Being me, I learned everything I could from him and then some, with the help of a basic, but now out-of-print cookbook.

The dishes that probably spring to mind when you think of Korean food are kimchi, savory-sweet bulgogi or my entry in the grilled-meats-that-can-make-you-weep contest galbee, but my favorite has always been yuk gae jang. It’s a beef soup so spicy with hot pepper paste it’ll turn your tongue inside-out. And I’m a fire eater, so you know, be careful if you order this in a restaurant.

Traditional versions of this soup still crop up in my kitchen from time to time, but over the years I’ve bastardized the recipe to make it more veg friendly. It’s meat-free, not vegetarian, but it’d be easy enough to substitute a mushroomy vegetable broth if you want to avoid animal products entirely.

Can you handle the heat?

I tweaked the basic recipe I last posted by making the stock with roasted meaty marrow bones to deepen the beef flavor. To increase the umami even more, I sautéed porcini mushrooms until they’d caramelized, then added them to the pot along with thinly sliced portobellos. It was just what I wanted that evening to warm my bones after the long greyhound hike, but was even better two days later when I stirred a couple of beaten eggs into the leftovers as they were reheating.

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But I’m always on the lookout for something new, as my overfilled bookmarks folder and Google docs will confirm. One of the more recent entries was a truly vegetarian option from 101 Cookbooks, Giant Chipotle White Beans. It was a last-minute decision, so I didn’t have time to soak any of my Rancho Gordo selections; instead, I cracked open the two cans of beans we had in the pantry — cannellinis and garbanzos. It wasn’t as weird as you’d think when all was said and done, but I’d probably stick to just cannellinis in the future.

But I’m here to testify about the sauce, which was the star of the show — beautifully balanced, smoky and deceptively rich, and dead simple to make. (I doubled the sauce recipe so I could use the other half on pizza later in the week and think that was one of my better food decisions in a while. Truly spectacular.) The beans were topped with some Bulgarian feta I’ve had marinating downstairs for a couple of months, and even with the canned bean melange, the dish was a home run. We nearly ate it all in one sitting, but just managed to save enough for me to bring to work as leftovers. Yes, leftovers. Holy schmoley, this was good stuff.

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Real Kitchens 101: Your weekend lagniappe.

Flan flan flan flan…

When Gil and I visited Milan last year, we had quite a few memorable meals, as you can imagine, and most of them were within walking distance of our hotel. The pizza at a nearby trattoria (run by Chinese immigrants in the dead-after-dark financial district) was leagues better than anything we’ve ever tried in the States, and the revelatory salumi at Osteria del Treno still makes it challenging for us to completely enjoy local cured meats (though I do have my eye on a couple of mail order purveyors). But my favorite dish of the trip, the one I recall with a sigh, had to be the parmesan flan at Joia.

The soft, cakey exterior of the flan spilled its secret as I cut my first bite and discovered a pool of parmesan flooding out to greet me. Much like the moment of piercing a poached egg yolk and realizing there are only a few fleeting seconds to truly enjoy the sensation at its finest, it filled me with delight and longing. But the ephemeral joys of these dishes are part of the reason we love them so, aren’t they?

Cooking Light published a recipe for parmesan flan in their most recent issue and I considered making it, but didn’t think it’d come even close to what I remembered, so I hit the interweb looking for a better more sinful recipe. I found it at Weir Cooking in the City. I did like CL’s idea of using fresh tomatoes as a topping, though, so I prepared a few heirloom tomatoes from the farmers’ market in my favorite summery way — doused with fruity olive oil and balsamic vinegar and shot through with minced garlic and slivered basil, with salt & pepper to taste. It’s simple and delicious as a bruschetta topping, on crackers, as a topping for fish or pasta, or even eaten on its own in great spoonfuls. Yum.

I forgot that convection ovens cook a little faster than regular ovens do, so the flans were a little crusty on top, but still completely delicious. I’ll keep looking for a recipe that duplicates that glorious parmesan flood, but until then, this flan is staying in the rotation.

recipe after the jump

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Ramping it up

Make this.


I used dough from our favorite local pizza joint and a bit more cheese than I’m entirely comfortable admitting to, and it was still so good I’m considering purchasing a bigger pizza stone just to make more of these at once.

Why are you still here? You should be hunting down ramps and grating fresh mozzarella!


Broccoli binge


Suggestible? Me? Why, whatever do you mean? Sure, my sister-in-law Jane sent a link to a roasted broccoli recipe that featured lovely charred stalks of broccoli bathed in garlicky olive oil a couple of days ago, and I whipped up a batch last night, but c’mon. I’m a woman of ideas … options … and strong cravings coupled with OCD, as it turns out.

I didn’t feel like making a bunch of other stuff for dinner, too, so the broccoli was the featured player. I made a little extra garlic oil at the start, boiled up some soba, toasted some pine nuts, and tossed the whole thing together for a quick and somewhat light meal (if you ignore the vat of oil). It was just a tiny bit bland, so I broke out the sriracha, which is excellent on all manner of foods, but especially noodles, which just drink it in.

recipe after the jump

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