• Rutabaga, Celery, Dill, & Smoked Chicken Soup
  • Matcha Whoopie Pies with Sakura Buttercream Filling
  • Chicken with Oyster Mushrooms, Portobellos, & Napa Cabbage
  • Mushroom Chicken Pie
  • Pistachio Wasabi Beets
  • Sichuan Chili Oil, and variety of cold-chicken-based lunches
  • Lemony Pea and Radish Salad with Mint
  • The Fort Greene
  • East African Sweet Pea Soup
  • Lazy, Rustic, Haphazard, and Amazing Sour Cherry Pies
  • Malaysian Chicken Satay
  • The Wildman’s iPhone App
  • Welsh Cakes with Dried Apricots and Candied Ginger
  • Farmhouse Pork with Black Beans and Green Peppers (and Trotter Gear)
  • Black Pepper Tofu with Pork
  • Peposo
  • Toasted Hazelnut Chai
  • Kentucky Coffee Spread
  • Banana Guacamole
  • Spicy Shrimp with Wine Rice
  • Double Ginger Chocolate Chunk Scones
  • Artichoke and Blood Orange Salad (with frisee, parsley, and cardamom)
  • Chevre Truffles
  • Clementine Sassafras Ice Cream
  • Jack is Closed (but you can vote for our pie on Sunday)
  • Our Wedding
  • Pecan Mole
  • Son-in-Law Eggs
  • Saffron Turmeric Cake with Meyer Lemon Sorbet, Argan Oil Whipped Cream, Almond Brittle, and Thyme
  • My Triumphant Return, with a Book Giveaway!

Mushroom Chicken Pie

I hate mushrooms. The flavor is fine, but the texture grosses me out.

Wait, no, I only like expensive mushrooms. They have a different and much nicer texture. Morels, chanterelles, yum!

Wait, no, I also like mushrooms that have been finely chopped and sautéed with onions and/or shallots. That fixes up the texture, too.

Point being, this is my new perfect breakfast food. It’s ostensibly a pie, but it’s more like huge mound of meat-enhanced duxelles surrounded by a very thin layer of phyllo.

(My food blogging resolution this year is to be even more open to using terrible Hipstamatic photos rather than deny you tasty recipes when I lack the time to set up a nice photo shoot.)

Mushroom Chicken Pie
~2.5 lbs chicken thighs (or any poultry thighs, really)
~3lbs mixed mushrooms (we generally use chanterelles, portobellos, and shiitakes)
4-5 onions (same amount as the mushrooms, by volume)
phyllo dough
butter or oil
bread crumbs (optional – we generally don’t bother)
some truffle spread or olive tapenade (nice with, but still tasty without)
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (nice with, but still tasty without)

1. Preheat your oven to 400 F.

2. Heat a pan with a bit of oil in it, and sear the thighs. They don’t have to be cooked through, just nicely browned on both sides. When you remove the thighs, be sure to keep enough fat in the pan to brown the onions.

3. Pull the meat off the bones and set aside in a large bowl.

4. Coarsely chop the mushrooms and set aside.

5. Coarsely chop the onions.

6. Saute the onions in the remaining chicken fat in that pan you used earlier, until golden, adding butter or oil if necessary (it probably won’t be).

7. Stir in the mushrooms and saute (in multiple batches if necessary, but you DO want to crowd the pan). Again, add butter or oil if necessary. When the mushrooms stop releasing liquid, they are done.

8. In a food processor, finely chop (but do not puree) the mushrooms and onions (and truffle/olive stuff if you have any).

9. Stir the mushroom/onion mix (and thyme leaves if you have any) in with the chicken.

10. Spread 4 layers phyllo into a pie pan, brushing butter (or oil) on and (optional) sprinkling bread crumbs between each layer.

11. Pour the mushroom mixture into the pie pan over the phyllo, and cover with another 4 layers of phyllo, similarly layered with butter. Cut off any phyllo that hangs over the edge of the pie pan.

12. Stab a bunch of holes in the top crust.

13. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden.

Pistachio Wasabi Beets

This is another Dave invention, but of course. It’s sweet and spicy and we’ve made it a bunch of times over the past year, so it’s way past time for me to share it with you!

The spicy awesomeness of these beets comes from wasabi oil, which you can find locally if you live in a city with a large in Chinatown. If not, your alternatives are to order wasabi oil in Amazon (not the brand I have, but it’s probably about the same), or just use horseradish instead.

Pistachio Wasabi Beets
5 beets
1/2 C pistachios
3 tbsp sour cherry vinegar (red wine vinegar works fine, honestly)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp wasabi oil (or less if you’re not so into the spicy)
flaky sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 375 F.

2. Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil. Wrap each beet individually in tinfoil (put it in the middle, then scrunch the edges together at the top) and place on the baking sheet. No oil needed – they’ll roast fine on their own.

3. Roast the beets in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender when you poke a fork in.

4. Peel the beets, then cut into 1/2″ cubes.

5. Crush the pistachios, either by chopping coarsely or using a mortar and pestle.

5. Mix everything together and season to taste.

6. Sprinkle extra pistachios on top right before serving if you care about things looking pretty.

Sichuan Chili Oil, and variety of cold-chicken-based lunches

I was a major chicken salad kick this past summer, sort of. I mean, I hate mayonnaise, so my definition of chicken salad is more ‘shredded cold chicken with a bunch of really flavorful stuff mixed in’. But that works great for me!

Basically, I cook some chicken breasts on the bone, let them cool, then shred the meat. Stir in some set of add-ins, separate into pint containers for lunches for the rest of the week. I’m a protein junky, so this is basically exactly what I need when I find myself crashing in the middle of the day. Sure, technically there’s a microwave at the office, but it’s summer! I can’t possibly deal with that during the hot months.

Here are the best of the non-mayo chicken salad variations I made and ate over the summer:

- almond butter, fresh turmeric, lime juice, scallions, celery, toasted cashews

- Sichuan chili oil (recipe below), mint, fried shallots, toasted cashews, and fresh cucumber in a side tupper

- Sichuan chili oil (recipe below), kohlrabi, parsley, fried young garlic, toasted sliced almonds

- red onion, parsley, toasted walnuts, Spanish paprika, scallions, roasted red bell peppers, walnut oil, sherry vinegar

- fried summer squash (zucchini and pattypan) in lots of olive oil, fried young garlic, toasted partially smashed up hazelnuts, lots of black pepper

(Photo credit to my Mom, who recently got back from a vacation where she saw a lot of chickens running around on the beach.)

Sichuan Chili Oil
(from Fuschia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty)

1/2 C chile flakes (I generally use a combination of coarse Korean chili flakes and crushed facing heaven chiles, but you can use any kind you like, at whatever heat level you like)
2 C neutral oil (I use safflower oil, usually)


1. Put the chile flakes into a glass jar.

2. Heat the oil on the stove until it hits 225-250 F. (If you go over, just let it cool down to that range, no big deal.)

3. Pour it over the chile flakes and stir once or twice.

That’s it. It keeps basically forever, and tastes amazing on everything.

I store mine in the fridge, because I worry whenever vegetable matter is introduced into an anaerobic environment.

Lemony Pea and Radish Salad with Mint

Hi again! Sorry I’ve been missing for so long. I’ve had an extraordinary year, and mostly I just haven’t had a great setup for taking photos of all the wonderful food I’ve been cooking.

A friend scolded me and then mailed me a light box, with the condition that I use it to start posting my recipes here again for her to make. Um. Sorry, and thank you! It arrived two days ago, so please consider this my first grateful payment!

I am obsessed with this salad. It’s a pretty drastic adaptation from a recipe in one of the Ottolenghi cookbooks, which I’ve been obsessed with ever since I had the pleasure of eating at one of their locations when visiting London a few years ago. It’s vivid and intense and refreshing all at the same time.

In adapting it from the original, I removed green beans and baby chard (insufficiently crisp!), and added radishes (more crisp!) and lemon juice (more vivid!), and used mint (more refreshing!) instead of tarragon (insufficiently refreshing!).

Simple to make, and it simply wakes me up and makes me happy. Enjoy!

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The Fort Greene

Dave invented a cocktail. I remain not much of a drinker, but I like green drinks, so he concocted this one for me. Hooray! It tastes like being alive, and like chill breezes on perfect warm days, and like the first day of spring when it’s warm enough to spread your toes in the grass.

(Scotty: “What is it?”
Data: “It is… green, sir.”)

Actually, what it is is delicious!

The Fort Greene
4 gin (Dave happened to use Tanqueray, but you surely know gins better than I do)
4 grapefruit juice
4 cucumber juice
2 simple syrup
1 lemon juice

This recipe is written in proportions, not quantities.

To make cucumber juice you just blend some cucumbers, strain through a fine strainer, then [optionally] strain through coffee filters. Squeeze your citrus fruits to get at their juices, as one does. Simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar, boiled until the sugar is fully dissolved, then allowed to cool. That’s about all there is to it, really. Mix, serve over ice, enjoy, think happy springtime thoughts my way!

East African Sweet Pea Soup

East African Sweet Pea Soup
(adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant: Ethnic and Regional Recipes from the Cooks at the Legendary Restaurant by the Moosewood Collective)

Hurry, hurry, you have to make this soup! I took a Hipstamatic photo just so I could post it for you all the sooner!

I adapted this from one of the fantastic Moosewood cookbooks, with just a few adjustments. I like to have extra meatiness and protein in my soups, so I use pork stock instead of water. Less liquid, too – I like my soups thick and hearty, not too watery – more like stews than soups, perhaps. I’m also opposed to puree soups, so I did a minimal immersion blender partial puree of this one before adding the peas, to retain some texture.

It’s absolutely delicious, and I think I’m about to go back for a third bowl…

2 C coarsely chopped onion (about 3 medium onions)
safflower or other neutral oil for frying
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp grated fresh peeled ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp cayenne
2 tomatoes, diced into 1/2″ cubes
1 sweet potato (approximately 2 C diced), diced into 1/2″ cubes
2 C pork stock
1/2 C water
1 lb frozen green peas

1. Saute the onions in a splash of oil over medium heat in a medium pot, until they just turn translucent.

2. Stir in the spices, salt, ginger, and garlic and saute for another minute or two, until very fragrant.

3. Stir in the diced tomatoes and sweet potato until coated with spices, then immediately stir in the pork stock and water to dissolve the spices and deglaze the pot.

4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the sweet potato chunks are tender (about 20 minutes).

5. Partially puree. I like lots of chunks, so I just use an immersion blender to puree just enough to thicken the soup some.

6. Stir in the frozen peas and simmer just until everything is nice and hot again.

7. Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve.

Lazy, Rustic, Haphazard, and Amazing Sour Cherry Pies

I’ve gotten seriously lazy with my sour cherry pies.

I make at least half a dozen every year, or my father sulks. It’s just one of those things. The tree is ready in mid-June, so everyone gathers together to pick, pit, barbecue, and eat. I’ve learned to make the crust dough in advance at home and just bring it over and stick it into Dad’s freezer before we attack the tree. These things get easier over time.

But since the tree keeps growing and I make more and more pies each year, I’ve had to learn a few shortcuts along the way. A few improvements. How do you make so many pies without anyone getting bored, without driving yourself nuts with irritation, while maintaining high quality and tastiness? Well, I think I’ve finally figured it out. This is how.

Forget pie tins. Forget measurements and mixing up the filling carefully. Forget lattices or double crusts. Forget everything you’ve ever learned about how to make a beautiful pie. No one cares if these are beautiful. If they’re delicious, dayenu, it’s more than enough for us. Don’t lead us through the desert. Just make us a few more pies!

Lazy. Haphazard. I make an almond-meal based tart dough, roll out chunks of it, and just splat them onto foil-covered baking sheets. I squeeze much of the juice out of cherries, handfuls at a time, and spread them across the middle of the sheet of dough. Sprinkle on some sort of starch to absorb the liquid, brown sugar, flavorful booze, a bit of cinnamon, some vanilla and almond extracts.

Want variety? Sure, make a few wishniak pies, a few with whisky, some with amaretto. Whatever makes you happy. Just splash it right on top. Then cover all your sins with crumblies, and stick it in the oven. One or two pies per baking sheet. My oven fits four baking sheets. We get the job done. Someone else runs out for ice cream in the end.

Sour Cherry Archives
2008: Sour Cherry Coffee Cake
2007: Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger
2007: Sour Cherry Braised Lamb Shanks
2006: Dave’s Sour Cherry Barbecue Sauce and Baby Back Ribs
2006: Sour Cherry Almond Milk Sorbet
2006: Sour Cherry Sage Flower Jam
2006: Sour Cherry Pie (Old Version)

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Malaysian Chicken Satay

We had a big going-away barbecue for my brother Jordan, who is off to Ghana for the summer as of yesterday. How better to say goodbye than with cherries and satay and live music from all his fabulous musician friends?

It was a fantastic excuse to remake my favorite satay recipe, chicken marinated in a vibrant yellow concoction fragrant with lemongrass and turmeric and coriander, sharp and floral with galangal and ginger, and sweet with rich, dark brown palm sugar, and served Thai-style with chunks of fresh sweet pineapple on the end of each skewer.

I’m in love with this sauce, as you can see. I want to put it on everything now. Steak. Eggs. More chicken. Duck! Everything!

That’s my Dad, following my instructions with rolling eyes and good cheer, basting the skewers of satay with a smashed stalk of lemongrass as a brush, and oil that was steeped with lemongrass for half an hour or so before the grilling began. There is no better smell than lemongrass oil dripping onto the coals and the smoke bursting up around intensely spiced meat.

Have a great summer, Jordan! We miss you already! And in your honor, everyone else who reads this should go make and eat some of this bright, intense, tasty chicken satay!

2009: Saffron Turmeric Cake with Meyer Lemon Sorbet, Argan Oil Whipped Cream, Almond Brittle, and Thyme
2008: Chocolate-Whiskey Pudding Cake
2007: Strawberry Tarragon Sorbet
2006: Apricot Ketchup

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The Wildman’s iPhone App

My favorite urban forager and educational hike leader, Wildman Steve Brill, finally made my dreams come true when he released his Wild Edibles app this spring.

Now, I’ll start with my full disclosure – the Wildman gave me a promo code to download a free copy of the app, so that’s what I did. But in all honesty, I would’ve happily paid for it anyway. I’ve been hoping he’d create a wild foraging app ever since I bought my iPhone two summers ago, after all! My fantasy involved some sort of 20 questions style tool, but the well-organized database he put together instead serves just as well as what I’d envisioned.

I love his hikes through NYC parks, where he teaches us how to identify edible and medicinal plants around the city. I love his beautiful artwork, which is all through his cookbooks and now the app. And I love his recipes (even when I adapt them to suit my ovo-lacto palate).

The Wildman’s new Wild Edibles app is an incredibly thorough directory of the edible and medicinal plants you’re likely to find in North America. It’s easy to browse and search through, and full of photos and drawings to help you identify what you’re looking at. I particularly appreciate the big pink warning (and yellow alert sign on all images) when a plant has poisonous lookalikes, and the tasty looking recipes included with many of the entries.

A friend and I had a lot of fun playing with the app when trying to find cattails out on Long Island, and seeing how her recollections of eating cattails matched up with the Wildman’s advice. I’m going on a big road trip this summer, and I can’t wait to put it to good use then!

I’m also very proud of my [tiny] involvement – the Wildman emailed me to say that he put a note in the app about prickly ash and Sichuan peppercorns, which he hadn’t known about until I got excited and mentioned the connection when we found prickly ash trees in Prospect Park last summer!

(And speaking of using the iPhone with urban foraging – when we found those trees last summer, I immediately dropped a little pin into my maps app on my phone to mark the spot. So now, I can just search for ‘prickly ash’ on my phone and follow the gps directions straight to the right spot in the middle of the park. This sort of nifty use of technology is probably my favorite thing about living in the future!)

So, have fun! I’m getting more and more into urban farming, with my bees and my Dad’s sour cherry tree and the myoga (a Japanese ginger relative, with delicious flowers) I planted last fall. But nothing really beats being able to wander around and identify what you’re looking at as you go. At least in the context of urban foraging, this is the future I wanted.

Welsh Cakes with Dried Apricots and Candied Ginger

Rose was going on and on about how incredibly easy and delicious Welsh cakes were, so I had to make them! But I couldn’t find my nutmeg and had to substitute mace, and then it occurred to me that I have slightly more flavorful turbinado sugar around, and then I glanced upon the candied ginger and dried apricots when hunting for the currants… and how could I resist messing with the recipe then?

These are sort of pancake-ish, sort of scone-ish, and really fantastic for breakfast. You can make the dough in advance (though really, it comes together very quickly), and the cakes are fried up in an ungreased pan just before serving (none of them lasted long enough to test whether they’re still good the next day).

Also, I’m still a Hipstamatic addict:

2008: Goose Stew
2007: Curried Cauliflower
2006: Freeform Caramel Prawn Pies

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Farmhouse Pork with Black Beans and Green Peppers (and Trotter Gear)

God, look at those charred peppers! They’re the long, vaguely gnarly, kinda slender but not really, fairly spicy but not very, probably Italian ones I find at my local organic Korean grocery store. I love them with a deep and abiding love. Dave, however, is pretty sure that nightshades give him stomachaches, so I don’t get to cook with them very much lately.

He’s out of town for a conference this weekend, and I was trying to make up for missing him by cooking delicious foods that he can’t eat. This tasty, spicy, black bean sauce pork dish was perfect!

I find that I’m losing my interest in refined food lately. I don’t want to deal with the tiny dabs of sauces and careful presentations. My photography oomph is being taken over by marketing photos for my glass work, and I’m less interested in taking the time to arrange careful photos of my food. But I still love variety in my food, and I’m still particularly in love with Chinese cuisine. I actually just read Fuschia Dunlop’s memoir, and now I’m even more hopeful of managing to come to like more of the unfamiliarly textured foods I mostly shy away from nowadays.

But peasant food doesn’t have to be boring or bland. The peppers are vivid here in flavor as well as in heat. I raised the proportion of fermented black beans because I love their intensity, and I threw in an ice cube of the trotter gear I made with trotters and pig tails from Bobolink farm according to Fergus Henderson’s recipe, which calls for intense homemade chicken stock as a building block for building that tasty building block.

I’ve come to prefer peasant food, sure, but my peasant food is damn good.

2008: Kumquat Marmalade
2007: Chewy Maple Cookies
2006: Cocoa Nib and Currant Rugelach

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Black Pepper Tofu with Pork

Dear people who live in or visit London,

Have you stopped by Ottolenghi yet? You should. It is a happy place that makes people happy. I spent about 2 hours fighting through insane crowds and delayed buses to get there during a London tube strike once (not counting the time spent flying across the pond and back, of course), and it was worth it. (Though to be fair, partially for the adventure and nearby chocolate shop.)

In other news, we made a modified version of Ottolenghii’s black pepper tofu, modified for us carnivores who keep Momofuku-style pickled chilies in our fridge, just in case. Though the black pepper is incredibly spicy all on its own, no chilies needed, which I’ve never experienced before playing with this recipe. And I’m really learning to love tofu in spicy dishes. It’s absolutely marvelous!

My apologies for the terrible photography. We made this dish while my mother was borrowing my good camera, so this is the iPhone Hipstamatic version of food blogging instead. It’s hardly ideal, but it’s better than failing to get my version of the recipe out to you.

2008: Shredded Burdock Root
2007: Lamb Kofta with Apricot Sauce

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The last half dozen times or so we made peposo, we ate it all too quickly for me to get a photo for you and post about it. It’s a winter staple in my household, and I regret not having posted it sooner. Sorry about that! I happened to have my camera out at the right moment today, though, so here you finally go.

We’ve adapted this recipe pretty thoroughly to make a lot of perfect winter stew in one go, a huge batch of amazing winy braised meats drenched in a thick, luscious sauce just begging to be soaked up with crusty bread. The original recipe called for a kilo of 2″ chunks of stewing beef. Here, well, we cook about 10 lbs of mixed cuts of beef and lamb and veal on the bone, good meaty braising cuts to cook low and slow in the wine. The mix of meats drastically improves the flavour, and using shank allows you to stir the marrow back into the sauce in the end, thereby elevating the dish to so much more than a simple winter braise.

The cookbook this recipe was inspired by, Piano, Piano, Pieno by Susan McKenna Grant, claims that Peposo originated in Impruneta, a town famous for its pottery where workers would cook this meal while keeping endless watch over the kilns. I can’t speak to the historical accuracy, but I like to let it simmer while I’m working at the torch and keeping watch over my kiln myself.

This recipe is going to look expensive, I’ll warn you. It calls for 10 lbs of meat and 2-3 bottles of wine. But go for the cheap wine, and keep in mind that this is enough at least a dozen meals, probably more. (Looking into my fridge now, I know we’ve eaten 5 meals of it already, and there’s about 6 C of it left. So that’s maybe closer to 17 portions, total? Something like that. It’s pretty intense, with bread and a nice salad on the side.) We make it in huge batches, and if we get sick of eating it (highly unlikely!), we freeze individual portions for later. But if you’d rather keep it cheap or smaller, feel free to scale it down! It’s very forgiving.

It’s dead simple, ultimately. There are basically five ingredients, and mostly you just let it simmer while you putter about doing whatever else you feel like doing for a few hours. Watch a movie. Go for a walk. Read a book. Write that novel. Get some damn work done. Enjoy the smell. Eat the glorious results.

2009: Miso Almond Romanesco
2008: Saffron Duck Pot Pie
2007: Stewed Garlicky Black Bean Spare Ribs

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Toasted Hazelnut Chai

The tea shelf in my pantry is absurd. Dozens of teas from everywhere I go, stacked and falling over next to nearly as many varieties of honey on the other end of the shelf. I’ve been a bit obsessed with Lupicia teas for the past few years, ever since I discovered that they make teas that taste like roasted chestnuts and salty sakura mochi and sweet beans. But I’ve never found a commercial chai that tastes as good as the one I’m posting here now. Just a bit of toasting and pounding, and you have enough chai to last months, perfect rich spices to ease you into your day each morning.

In other news, I finally put together a main site to gather up all my projects and portfolios. I’ve also started an etsy shop, where I’m selling my lampworked glass beads and jewelry.

My bees are doing well. It’s been a rough summer for them, and I had to replace the queen once, but the hive is now going strong. I’m pretty confident that they have good odds heading into winter, at least, and still have hope that they’ll manage to make some honey for me if we get a good nectar run this fall.

I finally got stung for the first time by my hive. Turned out that it’s much less of a big deal than it was back when I was a kid! And I totally deserved it – I was doing a hive inspection alone, and I squished more bees than usual when stacking the supers back up at the end. But that’s okay – I’ll still gladly go in wearing shorts and tanktops and a loose veil, and pet fuzzly walls of bees in the hive. Me and the ladies, we get along just fine.

2008: Black and White Cookies
2007: Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves)

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Kentucky Coffee Spread

I went on another foraging hike with Wildman Steve Brill this past Saturday in honor of Dave’s 30th birthday. This time, I came prepared – I dropped pins on my iPhone map whenever we passed a tree or bush that I knew I’d want to be able to find again later! But putting aside the tale of our first attempt at wild foraged NYC nocino, I want to tell you about the seeds of the Kentucky coffee tree.

Early in the hike, we passed a huge Kentucky coffee trees with leaves like the tailfeathers of a bird. The Wildman pointed out the seed pods on the ground, and told us that the seeds could be roasted and used as a tasty caffeine-free coffee substitute. After a bit of hunting, our eyes adjusted to looking for seeds instead of seed pods, and we collected baggies full of what looked like malted milk balls hidden among the dead leaves at the side of the path.

This next photo is by the Wildman himself, reposted here just so you can see what the seeds actually look like.

Following the Wildman’s instructions, when we got home we roasted the seeds in a foil-covered baking pan at 300 F for 2 hours. (The foil is there because some of the seeds end up popping like popcorn!) Our kitchen smelled like roasted chicory, and we thought of grinding up the whole seeds to make Kentucky coffee.

Dave and I are halfway through an elimination diet at the moment, though, and we’ve been craving chocolate much more than coffee. So, thinking back to when I made chocolate from scratch, we shelled the roasted seeds and used only the meaty innards.

Those innards, we ground to as fine a powder as we could. (We used a coffee grinder, but I’d strongly recommend using a superblender or sumeet instead.) I can pretty much guarantee you’ll want to sieve out the lumps.

Finally, we added in agave nectar (2:3 :: roasted and pitted Kentucky coffee tree seeds : agave nectar) and salt to taste, and blended until smooth.

It’s like a wild foraged chocolate spread or nutella substitute! What a perfect spread for toast or pancake. The Kentucky coffee spread had an intense, interesting darkness to it, and a touch of bitterness that was perfectly mellowed by the agave. As soon as this elimination diet is over, I am treating myself to a breakfast of crepes with sour cream and this Kentucky coffee spread.

One of these days, we have to go back and pick up more. In the meantime, you should go on one of the Wildman’s hikes. I think this was third or fourth one I’ve been on, and I still learned new things and had a great time.

2009: Son-In-Law Eggs
2008: Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

Banana Guacamole

I really need to pick up my own copy of Eat Me by Kenny Shopsin of Shopsin’s (read the background story here). I read a friend’s copy, and absolutely loved Kenny’s explanation of how he deconstructs dishes and puts them together in unexpected but perfectly reasonable (once he explains them to you, that is) permutations. It actually reminded me a lot of this conversation from Off the Bone about alienating falafel from its Middle Eastern context and thinking of it as a savory herb and chickpea fritter instead.

And if that weren’t enough, here you can find a post with a link to an mp3 of a cute little girl reading the full list of pancakes on the Shopsin’s insanely long menu.

This dish is based on the bit in the book where Kenny mentions that he started making banana guacamole when he realized that green bananas are much like avocados, really. His recipe? Pick your favorite guacamole recipe, and use bananas instead of avocados. That’s it.

So, that’s what we did. We put together a guacamole recipe that we liked, and used ripe bananas instead of green ones to create a dip that’s something between guacamole and banana ketchup. If you have your own guacamole recipe, or want to cut down on the sweetness and use green bananas instead, give it a try and let us know how it goes!

Honestly, I don’t really tend to like the food at Shopsin’s. I want to, because it’s brilliant and charming and they used to have a copy of Pynchon’s Gravity Rainbow in the windowsill to read while waiting for your order, but it never really worked for me. The stories and ideas, however, really do.

In other news, I finally put together a site that consolidates all my various writings, galleries, arts, and activities. It’s up here. Which means that I’ll finally keep Habeas to food alone, and put my glasswork and beekeeping stories &c over there instead.

(Yeah, did I mention that I’m a beekeeper now? I have bees!)

2008: Ramp Udon Soup with Bacon Consommé and Asparagus Tempura
2007: Banana Rum Ketchup
2006: Ramp Butter

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Spicy Shrimp with Wine Rice

Perhaps you’ve perused the fridge at Kam Man or some other Chinatown grocery store and seen jars of this crazy awesome mushy liquid that looks like rotting rice in cloudy water. It’s sweet and boozy, a tasty precursor to more refined sakes. You can brew your own using Chinese wine balls (actually, yeast balls), but personally, I just buy it by the jar.

This recipe was adapted from Ken Hom, who has become my go-to source for quick and easy weeknight dinners. (I can’t believe I’m writing this. Since when do I prioritize quick and easy? Honestly, I still don’t, but once in a while when we get home late it really is nice to be able to throw something together in a rush.)

I’ve never eaten anything else like this. That’s really the point. It tastes almost as alcoholic as Dave’s chocolate mousse, with that gorgeously savory spiciness from the chili bean paste. Dave (my partner) is trying to avoid nightshades nowadays, which didn’t stop me from making a whole batch of this to eat myself over the next week. So worth it, even for me alone.

2008: Rhubarb Soup with Nicoise Olive Cookies
2007: Sour Cherry Braised Lamb Shanks
2006: Pear and Basil Tart

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Double Ginger Chocolate Chunk Scones

My honorary aunt and dear friend recently gave me a copy of Enlightened Chocolate by Camilla V. Saulsbury. It’s a collection of ‘healthy’(-ish) chocolate recipes. My concept of healthy-ish cooking is to bake infrequently and give away most of my cookies, not fret over ingredients, but some of the recipes here actually look pretty tasty.

These scones are just wonderful. Dave has slowly introduced me to enjoying baked goods made with whole wheat flour over the past few years – he started by sneaking a little bit into his breads, and then increasing the percentage slowly over time. It’s pretty amazing, but now I love that touch of whole wheat flour flavor mixed with the ginger in this recipe. Next time I might even go so far as to make it with half whole wheat flour, half cake flour! (“I’ve really learned how to manipulate your brain,” says he.)

I added extra chocolate and extra ginger, messed with the flour percentages, and used whole milk instead of fat-free. I also like cutting smaller scones, because they’re so much easier to share. And oh, they’re absolutely perfect with a big mug of genma chai for breakfast in the morning.

2008: Quick-Pickled Cucumbers with Chili Bean Sauce
2007: Chicken and Rice, Curry Banana, Roots and Rhizomes Stew
2006: Aztec Marshmallows

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Artichoke and Blood Orange Salad (with frisee, parsley, and cardamom)

Going through older post drafts, I’m always a bit startled when I come across a photo that I actually really like! It always seems to me that surely I must have posted all the good photos already, and only left the dregs as drafts. But apparently not.

Salad may not seem that exciting, but for me it’s revolutionary. In fact, so are blood oranges – I can’t stand regular oranges, but blood oranges taste just different enough. The redder they are, the better they taste. I can’t tell if that’s a real difference, or if I just like that the reddest ones look less like oranges. We made this during the height of Dave’s obsession with stovetop approximated sous vide cooking, and my obsession with finding salads I actually enjoy eating.

I think what won me over was the realization that salads could include fruit and spices and artistry, and not just a bunch of leaves on a plate. Who knew?


2008: Cocoa Nib Flans with Raw Sugar Sauce
2007: Stewed Garlicky Black Bean Spare Ribs

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Chevre Truffles

These truffles were inspired by Goat Lady Dairy, which I encountered at the farmers market in Greensboro, North Carolina last winter. Her chevre truffles were a blended ganache, about 60% chocolate to 40% chevre, with a bit of vanilla and salt as well – and they were fantastic! Of course, I had to come back home to NYC eventually, so I had to figure out how to make my own replacement instead of just relying on Goat Lady Dairy for my fix.

The Greensboro farmers market was just amazing. It turns out that Goat Lady Dairy does an occasional restaurant sort of like ours (sigh), excepts theirs takes place in their barn. I also met Ross Flynn of Cane Creek Farm, who chatted with me about tasty cow hearts, Ossabaw pigs (apparently more like historical Iberico than the Iberico available today!), and other meaty topics along those lines.

After getting home and going through some experimentation, I came to the conclusion that I liked simple salted chocolate-dipped chevre even better than blended chevre truffles. They look nicer to me, and I love the texture contrast as you bite through the chocolate shell and and the cold, creamy chevre bursts out into your mouth.

I’m a bit fussy, and I only like very mild cheeses. I always buy my chevre at the Union Square or Grand Army Plaza greenmarkets from Lynnhaven Farm, which has the mildest, sweetest, creamiest chevre around. It has just the right level of tanginess for my taste, and it works perfectly in these truffles.

I’ve also included cheat to get you out of having to temper the chocolate. It turns out that if you melt a bit of neutral oil in with your chocolate, it will help stabilize the crystal structure and keep your chocolate from blooming or otherwise appearing to be out of temper. It’s a great trick for dipping things in chocolate when you just don’t have the time or inclination to go through the whole process of actually tempering the chocolate properly. Seems too easy to work, but it does.

2008: Home-Cured Salmon with Black Pepper and Coriander
2007: Forbidden Rice with Persimmon and Coconut
2006: Truffled Gruyere Risotto

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Clementine Sassafras Ice Cream

This recipe was inspired by Wildman Steve Brill, who has a foraged, vegan version in his Wild Vegetarian Cookbook. The Wildman uses cashews for their creamy texture and actual sassafras roots foraged from city parks for their vivid flavor, but our civilized ovo-lacto interpretation can be made with ingredients actually purchased in stores.

It’s clementine season again, and our apartment is never without a big wooden bowl full of clementines in the middle of the dining room table. I get my sassafras extract at New York Cake Supplies, though you can easily order it online or find it in other gourmet food stores.

This ice cream tastes like melted sunlight. (Sunlight qua frozen hot chocolate, perhaps?) It has all those wonderful bright citrus notes – though maybe I’m a bit overexcited, given what a clementine addict I become every winter. And sassafras is one of the key ingredients in root beer, and it tastes like root beer without all the distractions getting in the way.

In other news, we got some press by winning the savory category of the First Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off with our muffin-sized individual saffron duck pot pies. Thank you to everyone who came out to eat and compete!

There was a big crowd with about 40 pies on the table, and we had a great time tasting as many as we could and hanging out with other food bloggers and pie enthusiasts. With such a great start, I’m awfully tempted to compete in more cook-offs from now on!

2008: Pork & Sundried Tomato Cappelletti with Pomegranate Walnut Sauce
2007: Cubed Radish Kimchi
2006: Kabocha Beef Tagine with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon

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Jack is Closed (but you can vote for our pie on Sunday)

I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is that my occasional restaurant, Jack, is shutting down. Due to increasing incompatibility with the venue, we can no longer continue to hold our monthly restaurant nights. It lasted almost two years, and has been an amazing experience. Next, we try to write a book proposal, I suppose. (Though if Palo Santo wanted to take us on as dessert consultants, we wouldn’t complain! We should be so lucky.)

We’re still in mourning over the loss of the restaurant, in a sense. It was a huge part of our lives. But I don’t doubt that the next wacky project is always just around the corner. Compiling long to-do lists of project ideas is my forte.

The good news is that in the meantime, we’re taking our suddenly free weekend as an opportunity to finally join the local cook-off scene. (For those of you elsewhere in the world, here’s the thing: NYC has a burgeoning cook-off scene that has really gotten huge over the past couple of years. Crazy, huh?)

This Sunday we’re going to compete at the 1st Annual Brooklyn Pie Bake-Off Benefit. Come on out, eat delicious pie, and vote for us!

2008: Chile Lime Sweet Potatoes with Spinach Clove Yogurt
2007: Cranberry Quince Sorbet
2006: Cocoa Nib Caramel & Almond Butter Nougat Bars

Our Wedding

So, here’s the story: that photo up there is of me and Dave with our goddaughter on our wedding day.

(I might have a bit more time for taking food photos and writing now that the wedding planning is over!)

(Also, before I forget to give this most important credit: the photos in this post are all from proofs by Annaliese Moyer unless otherwise indicated.)

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Pecan Mole

We’ve served this sauce at the restaurant twice now, and I’m not tired of it yet, which is an absolute miracle for me. It was another one of Dave’s brilliant sauces, where he came up with the main idea and all I had to do was taste and give him a few suggestions for rounding out the flavor in the end.

When we’re cooking in our tiny Lyceum kitchen, we can’t really hear what’s going on in the big room outside. Our waiters come back and tell us what people say and how they look, and we eagerly wait to see which plates come back with fingerswipe marks in lieu of leftover sauce.

When this mole was served the first time, though, a moment later someone out in the dining room exclaimed with delight so loudly that I could hear it back in the kitchen: “Oh my god, this sauce! There’s so much going on!”

Back to work, anyways. We are at t minus 3 weeks for the wedding, and there’s still so much left to do! There are fans to be made, Zambian honey to be labeled, and the flower girl still needs new shoes.

Right after the wedding, we’re leaving to wander around Southeast Asia for 3 weeks. We have a few days in Tokyo on the way to Bangkok, and then eventually we fly home from Hanoi. Haven’t figured out the middle yet. I definitely want to stop by Chiang Mai and Siem Reap (and Angkor Wat, of course), possibly somewhere in Malaysia, and almost certainly not Singapore or Laos. Indonesia is tempting, but 3 weeks just isn’t enough time. Melaka is iffy enough as is.

Any advice? Restaurants we need to check out, people we need to meet, places we should avoid?

2008: Duck Confit and Fig Crostini
2007: Fig, Sweet Potato, and Wild Rice Stuffing
2006: Blueberry Port Chutney Shortbread Bars

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Son-in-Law Eggs

In anticipation of passing through Thailand as part of our honeymoon, I’ve been pulling out some of my favorite Thai cookbooks (stolen from my mother with her consent when I first moved out, as she has great taste) and playing around with them lately. It doesn’t really make sense, since I know I’ll spend at least the first month after returning from the trip trying to recreate a lot of the flavors and textures we’ll encounter there, but I’m having fun.

This dish is a really fantastic Thai dish that I’ve never seen in restaurants around here. And to be honest, it’s actually just Rasa Malaysia‘s version, but with the different forms of tamarind and chili powder that I tend to have on hand, and taking out the peanuts, which I hate. I read through about half a dozen different recipes, but this looked the best, and it was a smashing hit when I made it.

The sauce is sweet and sour and luscious and plate-lickingly good. I keep thinking of other things I can douse in it!

2008: Sour Cherry Coffee Cake
2007: Apple Caramel Ice Cream
2006: Blueberry Oatmeal Crisp with Lime Ice Cream

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Saffron Turmeric Cake with Meyer Lemon Sorbet, Argan Oil Whipped Cream, Almond Brittle, and Thyme

I’ve been meaning to post this for months! Since a few of you requested it, I may as well start with the backlog here. This was a really fun dish to throw together. The saffron turmeric cake was an adaptation of a chocolate cake recipe, where Dave started by replacing the cocoa powder with turmeric and went on from there. It is intensely flavorful and moist and one of the most perfect cakes we’ve ever developed.

You can see from the photo how vividly red the inside of the cake is. It turns out that turmeric, a bright yellow root most commonly sold as a powder here in the U.S., turns red when it reacts with alkaline substances. In fact, the red dot traditionally worn by many Indian women in the center of the forehead is made by mixing powdered turmeric with lime (not the fruit!).

I can’t remember why we decided to pair it with the thyme brittle and the meyer lemon sorbet (I’m sure it made sense at the time, and it worked really well), but I definitely recall that we added thyme because we had read that meyer lemon contains one of the same flavor compounds as thyme.

Our few sets of our muffin pans are still stained red from making rounds of these cakes, but it was entirely worth it.

Now, what you’ve all been waiting for: the winners of my CIA book giveaway! I used a random number generator to pick winners from the comments. The winners are Sandy, Kathryn, Vicki, Alison, Esme, and Red! Winners, please email me your addresses and I’ll have a book sent out to each of you pronto. Thanks to everyone for playing along!

2008: Chocolate-Whiskey Pudding Cake
2007: Rum-Drenched Cocoa-Nana Bread
2006: Saffron Dill Cappelletti Stuffed With Leeks

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My Triumphant Return, with a Book Giveaway!

Ah, so it turns out that I took an unplanned hiatus from blogging. Sorry about that. Dave and I just moved to a much nicer apartment, and we are finally wedding planning in earnest, so things have been pretty overwhelming around here.

As part of my return to food blogging, I have presents for you! (It’s sort of like how hobbits give presents to everyone else on their birthdays.) I have three copies each of two new books from the Culinary Institute of America to give away: Baking & Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft 2nd Edition and Remarkable Service: A Guide to Winning and Keeping Customers for Servers, Managers, and Restaurant Owners 2nd Edition.

More on the book giveaway later, or feel free to skip to the bottom of this post for instructions on how to win one of these books.

Wedding planning, did I say? It’s coming up fast, and we are caught up in the panic of it all. We finally sent out save-the-date cards, at least! Not all family friends are thrilled by them, but they tell the true story – we are utterly silly geeks in love.

I’ve also been making a lot of art, mostly handspun yarn.

I’m in love with texture, as usual. It’s much like my cooking, really.

And vivid colors.

Now when I wear out old suits (which happens frequently, what with all the lawyering), I can just cut the fabric into strips and spin it into more yarn.

I even crocheted a yarmulke for my cat brother.

Not everything is fiber art and law, though. I also finally started building blinds for our new apartment out of card catalog cards from one of Columbia University’s old defunct card catalogs.

Okay, let’s get back to what you really care about – the CIA book giveaway!

The Rules: To win one of the books, leave a comment on this post telling me which Jack: an occasional restaurant dish you’d most like to see me post the recipe for (or, y’know, just say hi!). In about two weeks, I’ll pick 6 comments randomly, and have the publisher send a copy of one of the books to each of the 6 winners. (Unfortunately, the publisher can only ship to people located in the USA or Canada.)

Again, the books are Baking & Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft 2nd Edition and Remarkable Service: A Guide to Winning and Keeping Customers for Servers, Managers, and Restaurant Owners 2nd Edition. The publisher’s blurbs are as follows:

Baking & Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft 2nd Edition: The first edition of Baking & Pastry has taken its place alongside The Professional Chef as a must-have guide for all culinary students and professionals, and has been praised by top chefs as “the ultimate baking and pastry reference” from “the best culinary school in the world.” This edition will improve upon the first with new recipes, photos, instructional illustrations, and information on the ingredients and techniques needed to create spectacular breads and desserts.

Considered to be the most comprehensive reference on the market, Baking & Pastry contains foundational chapters covering ingredient and equipment identification, baking science and food safety, and baking formulas and percentages, as well as information on career opportunities for baking and pastry professionals. The book includes a total of 625 recipes ranging from basic to advanced in difficulty, and features appendices with useful conversion and equivalency charts, reading and resource information, and a glossary of terms. Accompanied by 389 four-color photographs and 72 illustrations, this completely revised and expanded text contains new sections on everything from baking entrepreneurship and principles of design to breakfast pastries and vegan baking.

Remarkable Service: A Guide to Winning and Keeping Customers for Servers, Managers, and Restaurant Owners 2nd Edition: The first edition of Remarkable Service and its follow-up, At Your Service, have been trusted resources in the food service industry since 2001. This new edition will be fully updated with new content and photography throughout, making it the must-have guide to service and hospitality.

Remarkable Service addresses the needs of a wide range of dining establishments, from casual and outdoor dining to upscale restaurants and catering operations. Chapters cover everything from training and hiring staff, preparation for service, and front-door hospitality to money handling, styles of modern table service, and the relationship between the front and back of the house. This new edition includes the most up-to-date information currently available on serving customers in the contemporary restaurant world.

Miso Almond Romanesco

Everyone loves romanesco, the green fractal cauliflower that has been appearing more and more in stores and greenmarkets in the area over the past few years. It’s gorgeous, in a geeky sort of way, and very tasty, especially when you let it get a good pan sear during the cooking process.

Don’t let the green fool you into thinking this counts as a nutritious vegetable, though. It’s mostly starch, and the sweet sauce in this recipe doesn’t exactly help on the health front. It is, however, addictively delicious.

Eating fractals is fun!

In other news, I went down to North Carolina this past weekend. There, I bought a drop spindle and taught myself to handspin yarn. Here’s my first yarn, in progress and on the spindle. It’s a merino/silk blend, done with navajo 3-ply, with curly locks twisted in for the fun of it.

I also got my very first shooting lesson, with a friend’s air rifle in his backyard. I’m not particularly fond of guns, in theory, but I am fond of learning new skills. And as another friend put it, I’m now entirely prepared for the collapse of civilization. I can shoot, I can spin, I can cure meat, and I can litigate.

I’m fairly pleased with myself – I hit the black on my very first target.

On the plane, I was doodling, and I created this rough little map of the directions from my apartment to my favorite dim sum place. I need to get a better scan of it, but here it is for now. Ping’s Seafood makes the best har chow (long shrimp noodles) ever.

The directions are of limited value, though, because Dave and I are actually apartment-hunting right now. We’re supposed to hear back today about the first place we applied for, so please keep your fingers crossed for us.

Anyways, onto the delicious fractal recipe!

2008: Broiled Yellowtail with Grapefruit Salsa
2007: Malaysian Beef Curry with Thick Onion Sauce (Daging Nasi Kandar)

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Rosemary Noodles with Pigeon Essences

I had so much fun cooking this! The recipe comes from Chez Panisse Cooking, and it’s one of those recipes you look at and you just know it’ll be an adventure to create. I mean, pigeon essences! What could be better?

Dave practically cried at the thought of pounding those beautiful pigeons through the food mill. It was tragic. But me, well, I got to say something I never in my life expected to be able to say: Apparently I like pigeon liver, in the appropriate context.

Intrigued yet?

We bought the pigeons from our current favorite Chinatown butcher, where they were completely uneviscerated and, of course, labeled squab. Fowl is supposed to be eviscerated before it can be sold here, but these squab were clearly labeled as coming under the Confucian Exemption.

I’d never eviscerated a bird before. Fish, sure. But birdies were a new adventure. Dave read me instructions off the internet, always a step behind what I had already done with gloved hands and a sharp little knife. I was very proud of myself for leaping ahead blindly into something new and making it work, always the skill I’m most proud of in myself, in every arena.

So, I butchered my pigeons and Dave roasted them for me. He made the pasta dough and I rolled it out and cut it. He minced the giblets and hearts and cooked the livers, and I pounded the pigeons through the food mill. We make a good team, me and him, splitting up the tasks to create fun, tasty monstrosities just because I saw the phrase “pigeon essences” and decided it had to be done.

So, here it is, just about straight from the original recipe. Next time I’d get some extra pigeon and shred roasted meat into the dish, too, for extra texture and to make Dave happy. If there is a next time. We’ve made the rosemary noodles since, but no matter how tasty, food milling the pigeons was just too traumatic for us to repeat.

2008: Saffron Duck Pot Pie
2007: Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins

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Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

I know, I know, Alton Brown says you should always make your stuffing separately, not actually stuff your bird with it. But we made this stuffing when friends from out of town were visiting, and it was splendid stuffed right into the duck we roasted for dinner one night.

I’ve had a cold for the past few weeks, and Dave is just starting to come down with the same thing now. We spent part of the holidays visiting his family down in Philly, and head home tomorrow. I’m ready for some easy comfort food like this, to help us limp through New Year’s and towards better health together. Have to build up my strength – I have at least one trial on in January, and more to come. Life, it is still not boring.

While I’m on a total tangent, let me ramble a bit about the latest turn my practice has taken. I feel like an old country doctor lately. I’ve been doing house calls and hospital visits to execute powers of attorney and wills and such for elderly patients who simply can’t make it out to my office on their own. It’s very satisfying – I like to pretend that I’m traveling old country roads instead of the NYC subway system, that I’m visiting in the dead of night in the middle of a storm instead of in early afternoon during a light flurry of snow and sleet and rain. It’s a small part of what I do lately, but it has a sort of fun that I just don’t find anywhere else.

As soon as I turned 18, my Dad started taking me to visit his elderly clients at home and in hospitals to witness will signings. It’s weirdly one of the real cozy pleasures of the business, being able to do that.

It’s on my mind this month, since I did a few earlier in the month, and over the holidays and bouts of sneezing, coziness and home are very much on my mind. I always have to resist the urge to bring along gifts of homemade cookies when I head out for these signings. Probably inappropriate, under the circumstances. But it’s all tied together in my head.

It’s like feeding people. A way of reaching out to take care of each other.

It’s a grand life.

Happy new year, in case I don’t have a chance to post again this week! May your 2009 contain joy, health, and interesting times in only the very best of ways.


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Menu for Hope: Dinner for Two at Jack: an occasional restaurant! (Prize # UE03)

It’s time for Menu of Hope again! What is Menu of Hope, you ask? Well, here’s a FAQ. In sum, Menu for Hope is an annual fundraising event hosted by Chez Pim. Last year, Menu for Hope raised nearly $100,000 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry.

From December 15-24, food bloggers from all over the world will be offering food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. You can buy raffle tickets to bid on these prizes. Tickets cost $10 each, and you may buy as many tickets as you’d like for any one prize or for multiple prizes. At the end of the nine-day-long campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.

You can learn about all the other East Coast prizes at Jaden’s East Coast USA regional listing, and I encourage you to bid on not only dinner for two at Jack: an occasional restaurant (Prize # UE03), but many of the other prizes as well! They’re not only for a good cause; they’re just plain tasty, too.

As Pim explains:

Once again we’ve chosen to work with the UN World Food Programme. WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.

With the success of last year’s campaign to support the school lunch program in Lesotho, we are going to continue our support to the same program. During the duration of Menu for Hope V, we will be posting updates from the kids and the farmers we supported this past year.

If you weren’t around last year for Menu for Hope 4, let me explain a bit about why we are supporting this particular program. We chose to support the school lunch program because providing food for the children not only keeps them alive, but keeps them in school so that they learn the skills to feed themselves in the future. We chose to support the program in Lesotho because it is a model program in local procurement – buying food locally to support local farmers and the local economy. Instead of shipping surplus corn across the ocean, the WFP is buying directly from local subsistent farmers who practice conservation farming methods in Lesotho to feed the children there.

Now, let’s get to the point; you want to know what I’m ready to put on the table. Well, here it is: Dave and I are offering dinner for two at Jack: an occasional restaurant (Prize # UE03). We serve elaborate, multi-course meals at our exclusive restaurant once a month at the Brooklyn Lyceum in Park Slope (Brooklyn, NY, USA).

Dinner for two would normally cost $150, but we are offering it as a prize for the low low cost of $10 raffle tickets through Menu for Hope this year. Not only that, but we’ll add seats for you to any Jack dinner you like, even if it is listed as sold out on the website. Given that we’re already sold out for January 24, 2009 and almost sold out for February 21, 2009 already, and March is a special book release dinner, winning this prize may be the only way for you to get into Jack for dinner before April of next year!

So, go bid! You’ve got until Dec 24 to buy your tickets. Just go to the FirstGiving Menu For Hope site and follow the instructions (as described below). To be in the running to win dinner for two at Jack: an occasional restaurant, you’ll need to enter the code ‘UE03′ in the ‘Personal Message’/'Your Comment’ section.

To Enter

If you’re interested in buying into the raffle, here’s what you need to do:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at http://www.chezpim.com/blogs/2008/12/menu-for-hope-2.html

2. Go to the donation site at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope5 and make a donation.

3. Please specify which prize you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’/'Your Comment’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code. Of course, you all want dinner for two at Jack: an occasional restaurant (Prize # UE03), but don’t forget – you can buy as many raffle tickets as you want, for as many prizes as you want!

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for UE01 and 3 tickets for UE03. You’d write that as: 2xUE01, 3xUE03.

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we can claim the corporate match.

5. Please do NOT check the box that hides your email address from us. We need to be able to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim after December 24th for the results of the raffle.

Thanks for your participation, and good luck in the raffle!

Home-Cured Salmon with Black Pepper and Coriander

When we catered the VIP suite at SalonCon in September, we tried to think of a fun and interesting way to make sure people got some protein in their diets during the day. Conferences and conventions are notorious for people taking poor care of themselves, and failing to eat real food or get enough sleep. We wanted to do our part to help solve that problem this time.

After leafing through Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie again, we decided to play with his cured salmon recipe, and we eventually made a few different flavors to provide to the VIP suite. After some experimentation, our favorite was still one that Ruhlman suggested in the book – black pepper and coriander.

We eventually served it as a one bite course at the restaurant as well, with with fresh cucumber and dill on top of a pine nut tuile.

This home-cured salmon is also a wonderful substitute for lox if thinly sliced rather than cubed. Nothing beats Brooklyn bagels, but the lox you can buy at the store doesn’t come close to beating salmon cured at home and flavored any way you please.

2007: Clementine Sunchoke Puree
2006: Persian Pomegranate Soup (Ash-e Anar)

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Pork & Sundried Tomato Cappelletti with Pomegranate Walnut Sauce

My dear friend Ariana gave me her pasta maker, because she never used it. But me? I use it all the time. I love rolling the dough through the rollers, thinner and thinner, and goofing around shaping filled pasta of various sorts.

Well, everyone needs a hobby.

This is another variation on Fesenjan, that wonderful Persian/Afghani dish made of chicken (or pigeon, or whatever fowl you prefer), walnuts, and pomegranate molasses. We’ve riffed off of it before, but this version is absolutely the tastiest one yet. I could eat this for lunch every day, happily. Sometimes I do.

We’re starting to consider actually buying a second freezer, because we’re at the point where we sometimes need to use duct tape to keep ours shut, its contents always ready to leap out and ATTACK!

We would fill our second freezer with all our homemade stocks, and homemade frozen basteeya and filled pastas for quick ‘n easy dinners on nights when we come home late to work. It would be a dream come true. Our landlords would be very upset with us, though, so a dream it remains.

In the meantime, enjoy the cappelletti!

2007: Cubed Radish Kimchi
2006: Kabocha Beef Tagine with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemon

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Judging the BlissPR Bakeoff

Food blogging opens a lot of doors. I’ve made wonderful friends, received gifts and marketing materials, started an occasional restaurant, and really had a lot of fun.

About a week and a half ago, though, something new happened. BlissPR asked me to be the celebrity guest judge for their company’s holiday bakeoff party. I don’t think I’m much of a celebrity (not until someone writes a Wikipedia entry about me, anyways!), but it sounded like fun, so I accepted.

Everyone was friendly, excited, and proud of the food they’d made. We met at one employee’s apartment, where her young children helped us out in judging the entries. Up above you can see my cake expert for the night. Her brother acted as my cookie expert.

I was very charmed by the way they put their recipes together. Being a PR firm, they had each contestant write up a bit of a press release to go with their recipe. The stories were fun to read, just as I love reading the stories food bloggers write about each recipe we post. It offers a window into the emotional background of the food that I love.

My favorite cookbooks tend to be the ones with enough background and flavor text that I can read them like novels, too. Everything tastes better when contextualized well.

I was pretty impressed by the woman who actually printed out photos of all the BlissPR employees in sugar and food coloring to decorate her cake. Watching the kids argue over who would get to eat their mother’s head was very charming.

We actually ran an interesting experiment on the children. One of the women there and I were discussing whether there were any innate personality differences between little boys and little girls. Personally, I lean towards saying no, and I’ll spare you the full argument here since this is a post about food. She said yes. She felt that little girls were calmer and more likely negotiate and be tricky than little boys.

We ran the experiment by asking the little girl and the little boy at the party what they would do if someone told them they couldn’t eat cake in the den, but they really wanted to anyway. (It’s just a game!, we assured them. Eating cake was totally okay!) The little girl told us that she would punch the person who told her not to eat the cake. The little boy told us that he would sneak into the room to eat the cake without anyone knowing.

I rest my cake case.

All though food was wonderful, but I personally liked the chocolatey drinks the best. So, as a gift from the bakeoff to you, here are the recipes for the two drinks that I enjoyed most that evening. They’re simple, but so tasty that the Winter Wonderland Delight was the only entry I was actually able to finish off rather than tasting and setting aside to leave room for more that night.

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Chile Lime Sweet Potatoes with Spinach Clove Yogurt

I actually think it’ll be easier to get back to posting regularly once I use up all the drafts I have waiting to be posted. Seems a bit backwards, but it’s sort of like the way deadlines make it easier to get work done. (Good thing I am in a profession with an overabundance of deadlines.)

I’m a huge Madhur Jaffrey fan, and this was a combination of two of her recipes that I thought would work well together. If I were the sort to host a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home, I’d consider serving this along with the turkey – I think it would go very well with that soft of feast. Luckily, I’m not – my family’s tradition is spending Thanksgiving having steak at Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn. Forget dry turkey and lots of cleanup, and bring in the luscious almost-bloody meat and chocolate Thanksgiving gelt and no room left for dessert at the end.

Actually, come to think of it, I’d eat this dish with steak, too. It’s sweet and spicy and tangy, hot and cold together, and even my yogurt and potato hating partner agreed that it was pretty good. And that’s an accomplishment.

Oh, by the way – do any of you know anything about event spaces in NYC? If so, please email me at habeasbruleeATgmailDOTcom. Wedding planning is a difficult conundrum, and I’d love to pick your brains if you’re familiar with interesting spaces in the city.

2007: Hungarian Sausage, Baby Bok Choy, and Sweet Potato Soup
2006: Töltött Káposzta (Stuffed Cabbage)

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Cinnamon Marzipan Sichuan Peppercorn Truffles

While I’m playing catch-up and trying to get back into the habit of blogging, here’s another set of truffles I made over the summer. I have a great love of the tingliness of Sichuan peppercorns in sweets as well as in savory dishes, and the flavor of them always makes me think of libraries and crinkling yellow pages of gorgeous old books. In a delicious way, I mean. If books were made of candy, this is what they’d taste like.

A few publicity announcements:

Our occasional restaurant, Jack, is mentioned in the Fall 2008 issue of Edible Brooklyn. You can see a scan of the cover and the page 11 article about us here.

And if you’re of a mind to stop by a bookstore or order a book to read about business and leadership, we were also mentioned on page 21 of Seth Godin‘s latest book, Tribes.

Incidentally, we went apple-picking last weekend.

We found that apple already bitten but still on the tree like that when we walked by. My youngest brother added the eyes.

Several apple pies later, we’re down to only about 30 pounds of apples left! Well. It’s time to get more creative with them.

2007: Pumpkin Seed Cocoa Nib Brittle
2006: Rosemary Currant Shortbread with Cumin Ginger Apples

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Jerk Chicken and Jerk Corn Chowder

I’m feeling very justified in my lifelong Depression-era housewife mentality lately, I must say. Times are rough for everyone, and it feels like they’re just getting worse. Good thing I’ve been doing home canning and jam-making for years, not to mention saving bacon grease in a can in my freezer and freezing chicken carcasses every time we roast a chicken to turn into stock. I do it partially because it’s fun, and partially because I feel guilty for being wasteful otherwise.

This set of recipes and photos is actually from late summer. We had a large crowd come over for dinner one night, and we bought about twice as much chicken as we needed to feed them all. It was a simple matter to put together this fantastic jerk seasoning sauce and braise the chicken in it to feed the crowd, and everyone loved it.

When our guests left, we looked at the leftover jerk chicken and decided to break it down into useful components immediately. We put on gloves and shredded the meat off the bone, freezing it in single-serving ziplock bags for later packed lunches. We put the skin and bones in the freezer, and the next day we simmered them down to create a pot of fragrant jerk chicken stock, which we strained and froze as well.

Once amazing fresh local corn started coming in at the greenmarkets, we mostly got into the habit of grilling it or putting it under the broiler until the husk blackened, and then eating it plain. Sometimes I add a bit of lime juice, salt, and chipotle to perk it up, but only with less spectacular corn, really. The good stuff would be wasted with that sort of dilution of flavor, at least for the first few weeks it’s available each summer.

Point being, once I sated my corn urges to the point where I was willing to eat it gussied up, we started thinking about chowder, and remembered the jerk chicken stock waiting in our freezer. A perfect solution! And so jerk corn chowder was born, to my great delight.

Both of these meals were wonderfully tasty, comfort food, and very much dishes I intend to make again.

2007: Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger
2006: Dave’s Autumn Rice

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Pickled Garlic Seeds

After garlic scape season is over, garlic flowers are ready, full of garlic seeds. You don’t usually see these at the greenmarkets unless you ask a kind farmer to bring them in for you, but if you do, they are just wonderful, a rare treat.

The garlic flowers are bursting with seeds like tiny cloves of garlic, packed all around the surface of the spherical flower. When you get them home, it takes some work to pull the seeds off the flowers, but you can pickle and can them and enjoy the tiny intense bursts of flavor for the rest of the year.

We pickled our garlic seeds earlier in the summer, back when there were garlic seeds to be found. My partner, Dave, went to the farmer at the greenmarket and asked for garlic seeds. The farmer laughed at him and told him that garlic grows from garlic cloves, not from seeds! Well, we knew this already, and Dave was prepared for this line of argument.

“But my friend said you’d sell them to me so I can pickle them!” he said, or something like that (I wasn’t there). Oh, oh, the seeds in the flowers, sure, the farmer said he could have them for us the next week.

The next week, I went back. By then we’d probably convinced our farmer that we were some sort of collective, a secret organization bent on getting garlic seeds at any cost and sending over a new person each time to try to pry them from his grasp. He had forgotten them at home, he told me. Try again next week.

The next week, Dave went back, and finally, triumph! He bought garlic flowers full of seeds like sunflowers, and took them home to pry them out and prepare them for the pickling.

We’ve been serving these a lot at the restaurant (where I really ought to take more photos to share with you guys), and people always ask us for the recipe. Here it is! And if you stop by my apartment, I will you feed these to you by the spoonful, because I have an absurd number of jars of them filling up the jam shelves in my living room. (Yes, my living room has jam shelves. Yes, really. It’s a life I’m proud to live.)

And just as a brief aside: So, Dave and I were recently in California, where we stopped by Le Sanctuaire. It was a great showroom, with many interesting things to see and taste. We came home with a canister of pumpkin seed puree that has been inspiring us ever since. And I was thrilled that the charming gentleman running the showroom, Ben, had heard of this humble blog. (Hi, Ben! It was a pleasure to meet you during our trip!)

2007: Horchata
2006: Lamb Tagine with Pearl Onions, Dates, and Sugar Snap Peas

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Zambian Honey and Rumquat Truffles

You can make the honey truffles with any honey you like, but I used Zambian honey from Zambezi. I met the woman who imports it at the Fancy Food Show this year, and loved her story. She was in Zambia with the Peace Corps and loved the honey there, and started up the import business of it when she moved back to the U.S. I have a carboy full of mead made with it brewing up right now, half of which will go straight to her as soon as it is ready.

In the meantime, I’ve been making these honey truffles nonstop, and they have been a hit with everyone who tried them, including everyone wandered into the VIP Suite at SalonCon, which we catered earlier this month.

Also, Dave finally put together a craft blog for me to post the inedible things I make when my fingers start itching and my brain starts sizzling. He named it Rumquat after the rum ganache and kumquat marmalade filled truffles I was making the night he put the site together.

I’m in the airport on my way to the California (mostly Berkeley, Mountain View, and San Francisco) for a week, my second trip off to visit Mike Develin (mostly named here because someday I’m going to get a wacky email from someone saying, “Hey, I know Mike! You know him, too? Let’s chat and cause wacky hijinks to occur!”). We entirely failed to make reservations for any exciting restaurants, but I’m mostly interested in time spent with friends wandering by the beach, in any event. Still, if you can think of any good foodie spots thereabouts that don’t require reservations made way in advance, please let me know!

2007: Chewy Cherry Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies
2006: Dave’s Sour Cherry Barbecue Sauce and Baby Back Ribs

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Black and White Cookies

I had a lot of fun recreating these classic Brooklyn cookies at home. I grew up with these – everyone around here did, it seems. And everyone has their own way of eating them. I like the vanilla side better (which is definitely the exception for me), so I eat the chocolate side first. My brother, Josh Sucher (of Block Factory Consulting), likes to save the line down the center for last, and he always gets annoyed with me if I take a bite from that precious balanced line when he offers part of his cookies to me.

Storebought black and white cookies are fun, and nostalgic, but usually a bit stale and dense. So why not make them at home? They’re easy to throw together, and they will be the best black and white cookies you’ve ever tasted.

The best part for me was offering them to my family, in honor of years of sharing black and white cookies bought from the deli downstairs at 26 Court Street in Brooklyn Heights.

In other news, our next dinner at the restaurant will be on September 20, 2008. You can see the menu here. We were overbooked for our August dinner several weeks in advance, so if you’re interested, you should go and reserve your seats sooner rather than later.

2007: Dolmas (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

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Duck Confit and Fig Crostini

Figs are marvelous. Dave and I have been eating them with duck confit (as in this spectacularly tasty recipe, all rich luscious duck and bright fresh figs with mustard seeds and curry leaves to perk everything up), pickling them, and just generally reveling in their availability lately.

Instead of apologizing for not updating this blog often enough, let me tell you some interesting things:

Comment #17 was randomly picked as the winner for the A Pig in Provence by Georgeanne Brennan book giveaway from Yummr. Congratulations, Michelle! Just get me your address and Yummr will ship the book directly to you.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to create dishes and meals based on color palettes from Kris’s Color Stripes?

Our occasional restaurant will be catering the VIP suite at SalonCon on September 13th. SalonCon is a one day event in NJ focusing on.. well.. check out their FAQ. Their tagline is “the Victorian Era for the 21st Century”. They have music, book readings, steampunk and neo-Victorian art, a ball, and a set of salons with speakers, suggested readings, and of course a lot of spirited discussion. If you can, please stop by to say hello, join in the event, and taste some of the tasty treats that we will be providing.

Nancy Weber, an author, caterer, and all-around magnificently creative and wonderful woman, has started making these fantastic butcher’s aprons. The photo below is of me wearing mine while trimming lamb shanks (which we braised into melting tenderness using a adaptation of our Pomegranate Ginger Saffron Braised Lamb Neck recipe). I got mine when I saw it hanging in her apartment and fell in love with it on the spot. You can buy your own butcher’s apron here if you’re interested.

2007: Ma La Chicken with Roly-Poly Squash
2006: Fig and Date Basteeya

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Book Giveaway: A Pig in Provence by Georgeanne Brennan

So, I was just introduced to Yummr, which is a foodie community website with a social networking bent. The deal there is that you can share recipes and cooking videos, and by participation earn points towards winning prizes at their Bazaar, which was most recently updated to include a few copies of Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way.

Courtesy of Houghton-Mifflin Books, Yummr is offering to send a copy of A Pig in Provence by Georgeanne Brennan free to one of you folks who read my blog.

In order to win a copy of the book, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. Around the end of next week, I’ll pick one name randomly, and Yummr will mail the winner a copy of A Pig in Provence. The only restriction is that you must be a resident of the US or Canada.

Good luck!

Duck Hearts with Cinnamon Juniper Sauce

Let me explain. No, it is too much! Let me sum up.

I got it into my head that I had to pick up some duck hearts. These things happen.

It turns out that you can buy duck hearts at Ottomanelli’s Meat Market (285 Bleecker Street, NY, NY) in 5 pound bags for something like $3-4/pound. Just order a bag and in a few days you will have infinite duck hearts to play with. Thaw them just enough to separate them into ziplock bags with maybe 1/2 pound duck hearts in each, label the bags with the date and contents, and freeze whatever you don’t cook immediately.

This way, if you want a quick snack of duck hearts in the middle of the week, you can pull out a small portion of them to play with! You never know when the duck heart munchies may hit. INFINITE DUCK HEARTS!

I get these urges sometimes, you see.

My partner, Dave, said that he’s going to have to put a single duck heart in with my lunch every day from now until eternity, and if I’m good he’ll even cook them first.

If you’re in a rush, you can quickly saute the hearts in butter and make a simple pan sauce with chicken stock and balsamic vinegar to pour over them. This takes just a few minutes to throw together and is splendid with toasted english muffins.

But on nights when you have the time to cook something a little more complex, it takes just a few minutes longer to throw together these duck hearts with cinnamon juniper sauce instead. Cinnamon juniper duck is an old Hungarian specialty, according to George Lang, who provided the inspiration (but not the recipe) for this dish.

Don’t worry. This dish was so good, it’s even four-year-old-picky-eater approved.

My grandmother informs me that we did it all wrong, and we should have browned onions in the pan before adding the duck hearts and done it up as a paprikas.

Anyways, duck hearts.

2007: Turkish-Style Burdock Root
2006: Basil Sorbet with Lemon Olive Oil

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Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

I’m in Portland right now, but I made this sour cherry coffee cake not long before I left Brooklyn, with sour cherries we picked from my father’s tree.

Bonnie helped us pick the first round of cherries off the tree,

It was a 4-foot-all dwarf tree when my parents first bought it, but now it dwarfs us all.

We picked cherries for two days, and ended up with about 3 dozen jars of jam, 4 pies, 2 coffee cakes, sour cherry syrup, sour cherry molasses, at least a gallon of pitted sour cherries in the freezer, and a Persian sour cherry meatball polow (a sort of pilaf, a rice dish). And we left about a third of the cherries on the tree because we were stuck heading out of town before all of them had fully ripened, and some of them were too high up and too far out from the house for us to reach no matter how we tried.

Next year, maybe we should just rent a cherry picker and make no travel plans for June just to be sure to pick them all!

2007: Apple Caramel Ice Cream
2006: Blueberry Oatmeal Crisp with Lime Ice Cream

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Tomato Jam

This tomato jam is adapted from a recipe for a Moroccan chicken tagine. Sweet and savory, this jam is best served with hearty entrees. It is not suitable for home canning, so please don’t use this recipe to preserve your gorgeous summer tomatoes unless you first make sure to adjust the recipe, for your own safety’s sake!

Speaking of safety concerns, is that salmonella outbreak scare still on? If so, this is a perfect way to cook and eat all those tomatoes that aren’t safe to eat raw.

(I know these photos are too similar, but I’m feeling indecisive and can’t figure out which one I like better. I should probably ask one of the Flickr photo critique groups for help, really.)

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Chocolate-Whiskey Pudding Cake

This cake is light and luscious, like a barely cooked chocolate mousse. It’s best served with strawberries, which are coming in gorgeous from New Jersey to the Greenmarkets right about now.

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting Pille of nami-nami while she was visiting New York. She brought us some wonderful gifts, including grated rye bread from Estonia. Dave immediately jumped up when she showed us what she had brought and made her caramelized rye bread with whipped cream for us as a late-night snack.

I don’t usually like rye bread. I’m boring – I like challah and english muffins and ciabatta and other simple, plain white breads. I don’t like the sourness of sourdough or the complexity of wholegrain loafs. Rye is not my thing. That said, the caramelized grated rye bread with whipped cream was spectacular! I never expected to like it, but when I tasted it, I loved it. I ate a small bowlful even despite the sore throat I had at the time.

I mention this because we’re thinking of serving them together at the restaurant one of these days, chocolate and whiskey and rye and cream and fruit and a few other things to pull it all together. Sounds good, doesn’t it? If you can’t join us when we serve it, you should give it a try at home.

I haven’t really posted about my life much, lately. Dave and Katya and I are all doing well. It’s gotten too hot for glassblowing, so we’ve put that on hold for the summer. That said, it’s finally hot enough to open up the window and get enough airflow for lampworking, so I should be back to making glass beads pretty soon.

On the wedding planning front (August 2009, so we have plenty of time), we stuck our heads in the sand for a while, and I told Dave that he has to be the bride. I’ll look pretty and show up, but don’t really want to be the primary wedding planner in the meantime. We are leaning strongly towards doing it out at my parents’ house in the Hamptons, but are just looking around for an indoor space out there that we could reserve as emergency back-up in case there’s a hurricane. And apparently we need to figure out who our vendors will be before we can apply for an event permit from the Village of North Haven. Then we can worry about the fun stuff, like what I should wear and how we can entertain people without renting a dance floor.

On the law firm front, I’ve gotten more into will drafting and estate planning. This summer is stuffed with depositions for a few employment discrimination cases I’m working on. And I have the usual allotment of other cases, criminal, matrimonial, and more. Two of my legal clients had dinner at my restaurant the other night, and we went through the will signing there for their convenience. It’s not every day your chef comes out of the kitchen with legal documents and notary stamp in hand, but that’s my life and it works.

2007: Rum-Drenched Cocoa-Nana Bread
2006: Onion Jam Thumbprint Cookies; Saffron Dill Cappelletti Stuffed With Leeks

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Results: Does My Blog Look Good In This? – May 2008

I was completely overwhelmed by all the gorgeous entries to DMBLGIT this month. Choosing the winners was a difficult task! I must congratulate and thank our kind judges, who went through all the wonderful photos we received and somehow managed to score them: Baconbit from Greenmarket Report, Aran from Cannelle et Vanille, Bron Marshall, and Brilynn from Jumbo Empanadas.

Each picture was scored in three categories: edibility, originality, and aesthetics. The photo receiving the highest total score in each of those categories, excluding the three overall winners, is the specific category winner.

The winner in the Edibility category is:
Rasa Malaysia‘s Fruit Salad with Baby Shrimps and Toasted Coconut.

The winner in the Originality category is:
Piggy’s Cooking Journal‘s Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake.

The winner in the Aesthetics category is:
Cookbook Catchall‘s great green salad.

The overall winners have the highest scores in all three categories combined.
In third place is:
Fotocuisine‘s Nori Crusted Ahi with Soy-Lime-Honey-Wasabi glaze, over Pad Thai Stir Fry.

In second place is:
Scrumptious Photography‘s Mojito Cupcake.

The winner is:
Lemonpi‘s gorgeous Cheesecake Pops!

Congratulations to all the winners! You can still see all the entries here. You can find the announcement for the next round, which will be hosted by Tartelette, here.

Fava Beans with Seaweed Pop Rocks

These are dead simple, very tasty, and wonderfully vocal – both the pop rocks and people’s reaction to them.

Shell your fava beans. Remember, favas need to be removed from the pod, and then the skin has to be removed from each bean individually. It’s a pain in the ass, but worth it once in a while.

Make the seaweed pop rocks right before serving by combining a mix of finely ground kelp, dulce, and nori with unflavored pop rocks and Maldon salt. You can grind the seaweed in advance, but if you mix the pop rocks in too early they will end up clumping together into a solid, non-poppy mass. They’re mostly sugar, and quite hydroscopic.

Saute the fava beans in butter until they smell utterly delicious. Put into small serving spoons or dishes. Sprinkle with seaweed pop rocks and serve immediately.

2007: Fava Bean and Cherry Salad
2006: Lemongrass Saffron Soda and Ginger Ice Cream Float

Ramp Udon Soup with Bacon Consommé and Asparagus Tempura

Everyone knows that ramps and bacon go well together. Everyone who knows about ramps, that is – and if you don’t, get down to the Union Square greenmarket or the Park Slope Food Co-op (if you live in NYC) or wherever your local source may be sometime in the next week or so before they disappear for the year!

Ramps are wild leeks, the incredibly pungent and delicious greens that appear for just a few weeks each spring. Even Wildman Steve Brill says that ramps are “simply the best-tasting member of the entire onion family, wild or commercial.” If he could take me on a foraging hike for them, I’d adore him even more than I already do.

The only cost (besides $3/bunch (at the greenmarket, at least)) is the stench aroma. People who live near the mountains, where ramps are ubiquitous enough for there to be whole festivals dedicated to them, always seem surprised that us city dwellers see these stinky weeds as a gourmet delicacy. (Of course, they see them as worthy of festivals and getting kicked out of the house for the smell. There’s no arguing about it; ramps are delicious.)

Here’s a somewhat unusual ramp recipe for you, using the traditional pairing of ramps and bacon along with homemade udon, and taking advantage of that gorgeous local asparagus you can find this time of year as well.

As for the udon, well – when we served it at the restaurant, one diner told our waitress that it was the best udon he’s ever tasted in his life. Give it a try yourself!

2007: Banana Rum Ketchup
2006: Ramp Butter

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Does My Blog Look Good In This? – May 2008

This month, I’m thrilled to be hosting the peer-judged food photography contest Does My Blog Look Good in This? – May 2008 edition. You can find the results from April’s edition on Ms. Adventures in Italy.

The rules are explained in further detail below, but the gist of it is – submit a food photo that you posted to your blog in April 2008 for a chance of winning fame, fortune, acclaim from all, and one of those nifty colorful banners up above!

First, for anyone new to my blog, let me introduce myself. I’m an attorney with a solo practice in Brooklyn, New York. I live in a little hobbit hole of an apartment in Park Slope with my partner, Dave, and our cat, Katya. Dave and I run and cook at Jack: an occasional restaurant every two weeks or so. I love to cook, and I love my Canon 30D! Dave does at least half the cooking for the blog and the restaurant, but he backs off and leaves all the photography to me.

I’ll put up a post introducing the judges in more detail later on, but for now I am simply pleased to announce that aside from myself, your judges this round will be Baconbit from Greenmarket Report, Aran from Cannelle et Vanille, Bron Marshall, and Brilynn from Jumbo Empanadas.

Like Sara, I’ve been lucky enough to be recognized by DMBLGIT in past editions, and it’s one of my favorite food blog events out there. I love discovering new bloggers and amazing food stylists and photographers by skimming through the galleries every time, and I can’t wait to see who I find as I go through the entries while hosting this month.


Each food blogger can submit one photograph that was posted to their blog during the contest month (April). Photographs are reviewed by a panel of judges, who score them in three categories: edibility, aesthetics, and originality. The host then compiles the scores to determine the winners. The specific things the judges will be looking for are as follows:

* Aesthetics: composition, food styling, lighting, focus, etc.
* Edibility: “does the photo make us want to dive in and eat the food?”
* Originality: the photograph that catches our attention and makes us want to say “wow!”, displaying something we might not have seen before.
* Overall Winner: top overall scores in all three categories combined

There are three overall winners for photographs with the highest point totals in all three categories combined, and one winner in each of the three individual categories.

How to enter your photograph:

* Only one entry per person (a single photograph, no diptychs)
* The photograph must have been taken by you.
* The photograph must have appeared on your blog during the month of April.
* Entries must be received by May 23, 2008

Send your entry to habeasbrulee@gmail.com, with DMBLGIT as the subject. Please include the following:

* your name
* your blog’s name and URL
* your photograph’s title
* the URL of the post containing the photograph
* type of camera used
* Please send photos of no more than 500 pixels in width

All submissions will be posted to the May 2008 DMBLGIT gallery, which will be updated as I receive entries. Please give me a few days to update the gallery with your submission!

Good luck!

Moroccan Inspired Pork Shanks

Just a few announcements here, as I share the recipe for the pork shanks we served at Jack last weekend.

If you’re a blogger of any sort living in NYC, you should come join us at the Brooklyn Blogfest tonight. It will be held at (hold you breath, wait for it, wait for it…) the Brooklyn Lyceum in Park Slope – yes, the very same fabulous location where Dave and I hold our restaurant nights twice a month.

I’ll be there to help set up and participate. I was interviewed for a video of Brooklyn Bloggers that will be played at the event. And, most importantly from your perspective, I’m sure, we’ll be giving away samples of Dave’s brilliantly fantastic homemade marshmallows in a selection of flavors – kahlua, lemon/rose/almond, and Aztec 3.0. I think our plan is to have about 200 bags of marshmallows to give away, so with an expected turnout of closer to 300 people, you better get there early if you want marshmallows tonight!

And speaking of the our restaurant, the May 24, 2008 menu is finally up.

Okay, back to the recipe. These pork shanks were loosely based on some of the fruity tagines we’ve eaten. Since Morocco is an Islamic country, making what basically amounts to a pork shank tagine is probably unheard of in traditional Moroccan cuisine. Sure is tasty, though!

2007: Amaretto Brownies with Saffron Creme Anglaise and Bee Pollen Spice Mix
2006: Paprika Sticky Rolls

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Rhubarb Soup with Nicoise Olive Cookies

This was our amuse bouche for our opening night at Jack. I’m a bit obsessed with nicoise olives at the moment, because I absolutely hated all olives until I discovered these at the Park Avenue Bistro not too long ago. So now I’m using them to add depth to stews, intricacy to cookies, and inspiration all around.

I love alternating sips of chilled, tart rhubarb soup with bites of crumbly, salty olive cookies. I know it sounds odd, but they really were quite lovely together! Brave the olive cookies; you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Also, my apologies for the radio silence lately. It’s been spring on and off, and I just want to go out and wander the streets and parks whenever the sun comes out. I treasure every evening spent having dinner outdoors in a tank top, every smell of earth and green growing wonder, and even the comforting smell of rain first hitting the pavement. I spent last Sunday night in Prospect Park at a marching band scavenger hunt and capture the flag game. Not to mention the lawyering that takes up time, too. Life is grand, every moment of it.

Speaking of which, if any of you locals like playing board games (such as Scrabble or Go), stop by the Brooklyn Lyceum and say hi on Monday night. I’ll be there.

2007: Sour Cherry Braised Lamb Shanks
2006: Pear and Basil Tart

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Parsnip Mint Soup

There’s something about temperature contrasts that really works for me, so I love the hot soup and cold salsa here with every bite. The salsa is also pretty key for me because when it come down to it, I just don’t like smooth soups without any texture to them.

The greenmarkets are full of these big, meaty parsnips lately – take advantage of them!

In other news, there are still a few seats available for the May 3rd dinner at Jack, and we just announced the May 10th menu yesterday.

2007: Persimmon Mint Salsa
2006: Striped Bass with Ramps

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Chickpea-Stuffed Delicata Squash

Well, we survived our opening night at Jack! It was tons of fun, and I hope that everyone outside the kitchen enjoyed it as much as we did. We’re gearing up for our next dinner on May 3rd, and oh, oh, did all the locals see? Apparently ramps finally hit the Union Square greenmarket as of this morning! Spring has sprung. The cherry tree in front of our apartment is in bloom.

That said, here is a winter squash dish that makes even devoted carnivores like me happy and satisfied.

Spring recipes coming soon, I promise. Just as soon as Dave brings home those ramps tonight!

2007: Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Urfa-Biber Mint Sizzle
2006: Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

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Goose Stew

This is another recipe adapted from A Drizzle of Honey: The Life and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, a cookbook full of recipes for foods cooked and eaten by Jews and conversos in the Iberian Peninsula during the time of the Inquisition. About a year and a half ago, I posted my adaptation of the Crypto-Jewish Brazilian Yellow Stew from this book, which was absolutely splendid.

This goose stew is a bit harder to put together, but it is tasty as well. In fact, one of the adaptations we made here was adding bulgur to soak up some of the spiced goose stock and add heft to the stew, which I realized later makes it somewhat more similar to the Crypto-Jewish Brazilian Yellow Stew than the cookbook authors intended.

I shared the recipe with my friend Cat, who made a completely different adaptation of it. She used pomegranate seeds, as the recipe originally called for, and didn’t add in the bulgur. She left out the rose hips (as we did) and the ginger (which we left in). And most drastically, she used lamb instead of leftover roast goose. Oh versatile recipe! She and her fiance said that their version was mindblowingly delicious as well.

We made it with goose because we just happened to be roasting a goose anyway, for our belated second (or perhaps fourth, depending on whose count we use) Thanksgiving dinner in March. It’s never too late for an extra Thanksgiving, and it’s always worth making the time for more food, family, love, and gratitude for the time we share with each other. Also, goose.

Although I described A Drizzle of Honey when I posted that last recipe we adapted from it, I feel compelled to repeat the description here:

The recipes in this book were mostly gleaned from testimony denouncing the Jews during the inquisition. Jews were often identified by cultural signs, such as their culinary customs, and servants would be called to testify on the types of food their mistresses would cook. Testimony against them would often allege that they cut the fat and veins from their meat, salted their meat, would not eat pork, or cooked stews on Friday afternoon to eat cold on Saturday. Even cooking meat in olive oil was seen as evidence of secret “Judaizing,” because most Christians preferred to cook their meat in rendered fat, particularly lard.

Jewish women were cited as having myriad creative excuses, such as claiming that they ate cold meat on Saturday because it tasted better cold. Many really did seem to believe that they removed the fat and veins because the meat tasted better that way, or salted the meat in order to better preserve it. We do these things because our mothers did them, and we do not always quite remember why.

Many of the women whose recipes I have here were murdered for cooking these meals. It is a strange feeling, going through this book and reading stories of betrayal and death, each followed by a description of an intriguing dish. Following their recipes feels like a very delicious act of remembrance.

2007: Baby Lion’s Head Meatballs
2006: Freeform Caramel Prawn Pies

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Creamy Kimchi Grits with Shredded Brussel Sprouts, Shrimp, and Pork/Beer Sauce

When Aki and Alex posted about making kimchi broth, I was inspired. It seemed like the perfect excuse to finally make some grits, which I’ve been meaning to do and yet not getting around to for a long time.

These grits are spicy, brilliantly flavored, creamy, meaty from the pork stock, and just an all-around success. I love them to bits, really. The shredded brussel sprouts are crispy, satisfying, and also meaty from bacon grease. And who could complain about shrimp with pork and kimchi? (Only my mother, and she only keeps kosher on the high holy days as is.)

I actually made this a few weeks ago, when Dave was sick with some sort of food poisoning or stomach bug that laid him low for two weeks. Despite his stomach cramps and general misery, he wanted to go back for second helpings. If that’s not a great endorsement, I don’t know what is.

2007: Raspberry Pomegranate Urfa-Biber Brownies
2006: Carrot Cake

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Roundup: Sugar High Friday #41: Sweet Gifts

The theme for this month’s Sugar High Friday was Sugar High Friday #41: Sweet Gifts, where I asked you to tell me about a dessert you made (or want to make) for somebody else.

What an amazing group of people you are, to have created such a huge collection of sweet gifts for your friends, family, and loved ones all over the world! I’ve enjoyed reading all of your stories and imagining the tastiness of your desserts. Thank you so much for participating and sharing your stories with me here.

Next month’s Sugar High Friday will be hosted by La Petite Boulangette, and the theme is Asian Sweet Invasion.

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Menu for May 3, 2008 at Jack

I just wanted to announce that we just posted the menu for our May 3, 2008 dinner at our occasional restaurant, Jack. You can check the Jack website for more information.

Here is the May 3, 2008 menu:

Ramp Udon Soup
bacon consommé, asparagus tempura

Roasted Marrow Bone
radish watercress salad, toast

Pan-Seared Red Snapper
soupy saffron rice, braised leeks with hazelnuts and balsamic vinegar

Moroccan Inspired Pork Shank
apricots, couscous, cucumber salad

Sour Cherry Twist
almond, matcha, cocoa nib, saffron, sage

Click here to make your reservations now.

Kumquat Marmalade

These are my words of wisdom to you: Go make kumquat marmalade while you still can.

Get 1.5 lbs kumquats and slice them up thinly, reserving the seeds. Tie the seeds in a cheesecloth bag. Put the kumquat slices and the bag of seeds together in a non-reactive pot with 4 C water and cover it and let it sit for 24 hours.

The next day, put the pot on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil over moderate heat. Once it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mixture reduce down for 45 minutes to an hour, or until it has reduced down to about 4 C.

Once that’s done, 4 C sugar goes in with constant stirring, and everything cooks for another 15-20 minutes, or until it hits about 215-220 F and a teaspoon of mixture dropped onto a cold plate gels. Actually, you don’t even need a cold plate – just drip a bit onto a spoon and blow on it until it cools. It’s easy to see it gel that way, even.

Remove the bag of seeds at this point, and the marmalade is done. You can safely seal it in canning jars, freeze it, or keep it in the fridge.

This stuff is seriously simple and sublime. We made a batch using earl grey tea instead of water, too.

Lemon Sage Sausage and Hungarianish Sausage

I don’t have much time to write out these recipes for you today, what with planning for my occasional restaurant, Jack, taking up all of my non-lawyering time right now. We are busy making sure we have all the plates we need, picking up linens, and working out some menus for months down the line. It an incredibly exciting process for us!

So, yes, it takes up a lot of time. As Prince Humperdinck said in the movie version of the immortal S. Morgenstern’s The Princess Bride, “I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.”

We are having a soft opening for which no reservations are available this weekend, and I’ll try to take a few photos then. Our real opening night is April 12th, and I’ve been really, really enjoying watching the reservations start to come in.

Life sure isn’t boring.

So, rather than leave you entirely high and dry, here are a few photos and recipes for some sausages I made earlier this winter. Dave’s holiday present to me this year was a meat grinder and a sausage stuffer, and these two sausage batches were made in my first bout of playing with my presents.

If you need some advice on the mechanics of making sausage, you can check out Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman, or just google around.

The basic idea is: cut up your meat and fat into small cubes and marinate with your seasonings in the fridge over night. Put your grinder, bowl, and meat into the freezer until quite cold. Grind into a cold bowl sitting inside a larger bowl filled with ice. Again, get the meat and your stand mixer bowl very cold, then beat the ground meat with cold liquid to bind and emulsify it. Cook sample patties to taste the flavoring until you’re happy. Stuff into casings or use as patties, whichever you prefer.

The recipes below have my notes on both the seasoning proportions that we actually used, and the way we’d make them differently in the future.

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Jack: my occasional restaurant

This is my secret project, unveiled.

Dave and I are starting an occasional restaurant named Jack at the Brooklyn Lyceum here in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NYC.

Our first dinner will be on April 12, 2008.

We are open for one seating per night at 7pm on Saturday nights, every other week or so. Our fixed multi-course tasting menu changes each time. Menus and dates are posted in advance on the Jack website, BYOB, and reservations are absolutely required. Our cuisine is eclectic, innovative, and very tasty – well, if you read this blog, you know that part already!

The Brooklyn Lyceum is a miscellaneous arts space in what used to be Public Bath #7, which now houses theatre, opera, a batting cage, gallery space, aerial silk and yoga classes, and more.

It’s this huge, crazy, magnificently insane sort of a building. We are using the upstairs space for the restaurant, which is a giant floor-through room which often houses theatre, open mics, and the batting cage.

We’ll be creating an intimate space in that hugeness by way of theatrical lighting to create the dining area, letting the rest of of that marvelous room just fade away into darkness all around.

Our tasting menus will each have 5 announced courses, but there will generally be a few extras thrown in as well, of course.

Now that we’ve gone live, I’ll probably update here whenever we post a new menu, and after each dinner to let you know how it goes. And of course, I intend to share some of our recipes here after we serve them as well. I won’t let this blog get stagnant, I promise.

So, please go check out Jack: an occasional restaurant, join us for dinner, and spread the news!

Shredded Burdock Root

Yesterday morning, I took and passed the final exam for New York’s food protection certification. Not a difficult hurdle, but it’s nice to have that under my belt at last. If you’re at all interested in ever working in food preparation in New York, I suggest you go out and get the certification now, while it is still free. It has no expiration date! You can take the class online, and then you just have to spend an hour at 160 W. 100th St. to take the test. It will cost $105 in a few months, is why I suggest going for it now.

Yes, I do have a secret project in the works. I’m not quite ready to unveil it, but I’m almost there. Sure makes blogging difficult in the meantime, though!

So, here, let me distract you with tasty tasty burdock. Burdock root tastes like a sort of nutty artichoke, it’s really quite wonderful. Doesn’t look like much in the store, but it’s marvelous once you get it home and play with it.

This was mildly inspired by a cold Korean burdock dish I had as part of the banchan at Moim in Park Slope, and by a number of Japanese burdock (aka gobo) recipes I skimmed over while trying to figure out how to make what I had in mind.

Burdock prepared this way ends up crunchety, tasty, and just a little bit on the sweet and sharp side from the rice vinegar and sugar. It works really well with a number of dishes, but the first time we made it we ate it with a simple roast chicken with shallots that had been roasted in with the pan drippings, basmati rice that had been cooked with more grated burdock in, and fresh pea shoots. It was one of those really sublime quick weekday dinners.

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Sugar High Friday #41: Sweet Gifts

First things first: Up there, that’s a photo of my entirely-too-cute goddaughter eating freshly made marshmallow straight from the spatula. We’re pretty brave (some might say stupid), sugaring up a 4-year-old like that. But how can you deny a child such a sweet, sweet gift?

I’m thrilled that I get to host Sugar High Friday again this month. Sugar High Friday is a traveling event that was originally created by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess. Last month, Rachel of Vampituity hosted Sugar High Friday #40: Pies That Evoke Your Dreams (follow the link for the round-up). It’s a hard act to follow, but I’ll try.

The theme for March is: Sugar High Friday #41: Sweet Gifts.

In order to participate, please post the recipe for a dessert you made (or want to make) for someone else. Any sweet will do, as long as you also share the story of why you made (or want to make) that particular dessert for that particular person! The emphasis here is on the story more than the dessert, but I’m sure you make your best desserts when they’re meant to be gifts (unless you intentionally made a gross dessert as a prank gift, which would also count for this theme).

Now, the rules:

You must post your entry and email me to notify me of it by Monday, March 24, 2008 . I don’t really have the time to scour the internet searching for your entries, so if you don’t send me an email with the info listed below, it may not be included in the round-up. It’s just a matter of practicality, really.

Don’t forget to mention and link to this announcement in your post and if you can, also include a link to the round-up once it is up.

Send an email with the following information to habeasbrulee-AT-gmail-DOT-com:
Your name
Your blog’s name
Your blog’s URL (homepage)
The title of your entry
Your entry’s permalink (individual URL)
A 200×200 image (please give the file the same name as your blog)

If you don’t have a blog, you can post your write-up and picture (if any) on any website, or in the comments to this post, and I will still include it in the round-up.

The round-up will be posted on Friday, March 28, 2008.

Tea Cookies

A friend and I recently went to check out Amai Tea & Bake House, because we like having tea together and I am big on supporting food bloggers in their endeavors (Amai is run by the blogger behind Lovescool).

We really enjoyed the tea sweets there, and when I got home I found Amai’s recipe for matcha (green tea) cookies.

Green tea is nice and all, but in my pantry I have some wonderful oolongs, not to mention my coconut vanilla tea, herbal masala chai, strawberry rose tea, homemade peach mace vanilla tea, and more. I wanted to create a variety of tea cookies with all of my wonderful teas!

So I ground up some oolong tea to a powder in a clean coffee grinder, and gave it a go.


The tea flavor is subtle but unmistakably present. The cookies have the slight crumbliness of butter cookies, but are more tender than most, and are particularly satisfying when eaten with a sip of tea between each bite.

I posted this to Gothamist for Valentine’s Day, and I’m reposting it here to make another confession: Dave and I have actually started wedding planning. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you may remember how he proposed last April. Since then, New York courts have begun recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages. We talked to a lot of people and between ourselves about it and came to the decision that that, especially right after a couple of women we know decided to get married, was good enough for us.

We’re thinking August 2009, so we have plenty of time to plan.

Funny how that feels like such a short schedule!

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Quick-Pickled Cucumbers with Chili Bean Sauce

I’ve been focusing so much on heavy, rich winter dishes lately, it’s really time to switch gears and try something different. Something clean and fresh and light to clear the palate. So instead of a braise, why not a try a nice quick pickle to go with a simple dinner? Crunchy, salty, spicy, and satisfying, these quick pickled cucumbers add a nice kick to most any meal.

I grew up hating pickles, by which I meant those typically pickled cucumbers they give you with your sandwich at the deli. I still won’t eat them. Seems a bit strange, since I love both cucumbers and vinegar. But what I’ve slowly learned is that I do like other sorts of pickled fruits and vegetables – I started with a love of pickled ginger, and most recently I was utterly wowed by a jar of homemade pickled garlic seeds that a friend gave to me.

Quick pickles are a way of feeding that urge with a lighter touch, and without having to go to all the trouble of setting up the large pot of boiling water for home canning. It’s more like cucumber salad, really, which I also love. (In fact, I’d be hard pressed to tell you the difference between quick-pickled cucumbers and cucumber salad. Perhaps it has to do with the intensity of flavor? The way we categorize food in our minds is fascinating in itself.)

Around this time last year, we were making: Chicken and Rice, Curry Banana, Roots and Rhizomes Stew

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Red Cabbage with Chestnuts

Here is an absolutely luscious, rich winter dish. I started off working with an Alice Waters recipe, but then I was inspired by Michael Ruhlman‘s love of veal stock to meat things up a bit to great effect.

Way I see it, he’s absolutely wrong in declaring veal stock to be “a selfless stock” – it does have a flavor of its own, and only seems neutral if it’s part of the baseline flavor profile of your culture. Maybe Ruhlman can’t taste veal stock, but I can. Though to be fair, I barely taste garlic and onions at this point because they are so ubiquitous in our cooking.

That said, Ruhlman was right about veal stock being a tasty tool to have in your arsenal. It elevated the cabbage and chestnuts here into something magnificent.

Around this time last year, we were making: Pink Grapefruit Ginger Cream Cookies

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Kumquat Braised Oxtail with Chestnut Stracci

This is one of our great successes this winter.

Oxtail braised with sweet spices, tons of kumquats, low and slow until the sauce is richly fragrant, smooth and thick. The meat is shredded off the bone into the strained sauce with balsamic vinegar stirred in for added complexity, and served with homemade chestnut flour pasta, which adds some toothsome sweetness to balance the intense meatiness of the oxtail.

The almost floral fragrance of the kumquats elevates this dish into something extraordinary. It reminds me of the way preserved lemon adds a sublime quality to Moroccan tagines, though it was actually thrown together from what we happened to notice while shopping at the food co-op, not inspired by any particular recipe or cuisine.

The chestnut stracci recipe is more traditionally based, adapted from an Italian recipe for irregular scraps of pasta made with chestnut flour and eggs. I’m told that “stracci” means “rags,” which is what those pasta scraps are meant to look like. I threw them together after reading through a few recipes and finding the proportions that ultimately worked best for me.

Go on, give this a try before kumquats are gone for the year!

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Roundup of Food Blog Posts I’ve Enjoyed #13

Yes, February is a bit late for me to be posting Christmas photos. But I have a pile of links to share with you that I’ve been collecting since last October or so, and I never did share any Christmas photos with you at all.

I’m a typical agnostic cultural Jew in Brooklyn, raised by a conservative Jewish family. Pesach is my favorite holiday of the year, because I love the seders. But now that I’m with Dave, I’ve had to broaden my horizons a bit. Now, when winter comes, we have Channukah with my family, another Channukah with his mother, and Christmas with his father.

This winter, we invited my 4 year old goddaughter and her mother to join us for Christmas, which I must say is the best idea we’ve had in ages. I spent a lot of time taking photos of her, which made it extra funny when it turned out that her mama Santa had left a Fisher Price digital camera under the tree for her.

That’s her in the photo, of course. Isn’t she beautiful? I don’t see her nearly often enough, but I look forward to it and love her to bits whenever I can. I should be able to see her this month, and I can’t wait! And I think Dave enjoys having her around even more than I do. They play games like Duck Tag (which is what you call it when you play tag on the way to the duck pond) and he teaches her how to type. It is cute beyond words.

Anyways, enough about my favorite small girl in all the world. Onto the links to tasty food blog posts!

Dorie Greenspan’s Slippery-Slidey Cinnamon-Espresso Cup Custard sounds like a mouthful in the best possible way.

Helen from Tartelette made a few marvelous sounding treats: Meyer Lemon Cake Roll and
Pumpkin Praline Tartelettes with Butter Pecan Ice Cream.

Banana Bread Ice Cream from katesmash is high on my to-try list.

Deb from Smitten Kitchen always has a few interesting ideas up her sleeves. Most recently, I’ve bookmarked her Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette, Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Cake (cubes of colossal cheer!), and Black Bean Pumpkin Soup.

Aki and Alex rarely post recipes, but when they do I am always interested. Here is their White Chocolate and Yogurt Ice Cream.

Who could say no to Chai Oatmeal Cookies?

Pim made gorgeous jars of Tomato Confit: oven-dried tomato in olive oil. Not to mention her quince caramels!

My quince-obsessed partner would probably also love Mercedes’s Quince Ice Cream with Almond Praline.

I am completely inspired by Khymos’s edible cocktails with gelatin – they are gorgeous!

Have you ever wondered how to make those little chocolate bottles filled with liquor? Chadzilla explains how yo make vodka pills, the basic building block for creating liquor-filled chocolates of your own.

For a tasty snack, I’d like to try the Carrot and Rosemary Miniature Scones from Chocolate & Zucchini.

These simple Whole Wheat Squash Ravioli With Sage Butter from Cookthink just fill me with quiet glee, as do their radishes with prosciutto.

From Obachan’s Kitchen, I found Ichigo Daifuku – Japanese sweets made of strawberry and sweet bean paste in rice cake. They remind me of the sakura mochi I eat at the Cherry Blossom Festival every year.

Bea can make even a simple egg look luscious and refined, in her Eggs en cocotte with salmon, leek and its mouillettes. And for a sweeter of eggs, she also made these wintry gorgeous Vanilla Cardamom Snow Eggs, which are her favorite treat.

I only discovered walnut liquor very recently, at a tasting near Union Square. Right afterwards, of course, I stumbled across this Vin de Noix recipe at Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook. I am awfully tempted to gather unripe black walnuts in Prospect Park next summer to create a batch of this!

Evil Jungle Prince made Chinese shrimp dumplings even more delicious by browning them in a pan, making pan fried har gow.

From Elise at Simply Recipes, I’d love to try her Kiwi Salsa and her Brandied Cranberry, White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Here’s a wonderfully creative (and garlicky) idea – Roasted Beets with Celery Root Skordalia!

I am in love with Kuidaore’s Vacherin Mont Blanc – a sublime tower of delicate meringue layered with vanilla and rum flavored chestnut puree, it looks like something that should be served in one of the grand old dessert cafes in Hungary.

Speaking of desserts that would make my mother’s palate rejoice, Fanny from Foodbeam made a to-die-for Mousse aux châtaignes (chestnut mousse).

I am completely intrigued by Kitchen Wench’s Ho-dduk (Korean yeast-risen pancakes with sweet nut filling). They look like a great winter snack, and mostly I want to eat them while walking to the train in the morning on my way into the office.

David Lebovitz’s ice cream needs no introduction. How about his Chocolate and Banana Ice Cream, which he says is the easiest recipe of them all?

Lucullian Delights always has the freshest, prettiest photos. In particular, the Braised Leeks with Hazelnuts and Balsamic Vinegar caught my eye as something I’d love to make.

As I was saying, I grew up in a typically Ashkenazi Brooklyn Jewish family, but I’d love to make Barbara’s Sephardic Matzo Ball Soup for my parents and brothers to see how it holds up. Nothing beats Mom’s chicken soup, of course, but there’s no harm in adding to our repertoire. I also am dying to try her highly caffeinated BuzzBarz!

From the Passionate Cook, another recipe to tantalize my leek obsession, Leek, Gruyère & Hazelnut Quiche.

I bought My Bombay Kitchen after seeing this recipe for One Hundred Almond Curry up at the Traveler’s Lunchbox, and I love it dearly after trying out a few more of the Parsi recipes contained therein.

And from Milk and Cookies, the most beautiful grapefruit creation of the year for me, Grapefruit Soufflé.

This Apricot Chestnut Tarte Tatin from Figs, Bay, & Wine combines some of my absolute favorite flavors in a way that never occurred to me – I can’t wait for apricots to come back into season so I can make it myself!

Vanessa made Winter Sage Pesto with sage and spinach, which I really enjoyed when I played around with her recipe at home.

I always get excited when I come across Hungarian recipes, like this Raspberry Hungarian Pastry I found on The Kitchn.

I’m not sure I can think of anything more delicious sounding than these Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Maple Cinnamon Glaze.

And speaking of Hungarians, I am so pleased to have found Toadberry, a blog full of Hungarian treats, among other things. It caught my eye first with the recipe for Gerbeaud Slice, a signature pastry from Gerbeaud Cafe in Budapest. I remember sitting in Gerbeaud Cafe late one night with Dave a few summers ago, drinking hot chocolate and ice wine and eating wonderful desserts. Seeing this recipe brings back that memory for me, and I look forward to trying it out.

Around this time last year, we were making: Sweet and Sour Lotus Root; Monkey Bread

Kumquat Cake

This cake is obscenely rich; it is more of a custard or pudding than a cake, almost. It is so moist that it may seem undercooked until you remember just how many eggs and pureed kumquats you poured into that wet batter to make it.

It started out as a recipe for orange cake, but I prefer kumquats, and I suspect it would work just fine with whatever citrus you happen to prefer.

Dave thinks it’s a bit too sweet, but that’s why I suggest pairing it with sour cream (or perhaps sour cream ice cream) – the tartness balances everything out perfectly.

I would serve small squares of this as part of the mignardise at the end of a decadent meal.

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Red Bean and Walnut Soup

This soup is of Georgian origin, where pairing red beans and walnuts appears to be some sort of national pastime. It sure beats baseball. This is a rustic soup, lusciously creamy and actually good for you, too. (Unless you overload on the olive oil, that is. Since I don’t specify quantities there, on your own head be it.)

I definitely plan to make this again. Next time, however, I think I will use it in a shallow bowl or curved plate as the bottom saucy layer of a plated entree, instead of serving it as a soup on its own. It was wonderful as a soup, but I think it would also shine as part of a composed dish.

Every recipe is a building block. Every recipe is not just a meal, but also a component and a tool.

How would you suggest using this as part of a composed dish?

Around this time last year, we were making: Sweet and Sour Lotus Root

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Rakott Palacsinta (Hungarian Pancake Cake)

First things first. I would really appreciate it if you would go vote for me in Culinate’s Death By Chocolate contest.

Also, I heard today is crepe day, so we made a Hungarian crepe cake!

My grandmother says that she used to make this with a different filling in each layer – jam, ground walnuts, chocolate cream, cottage cheese, poppy seeds, whatever she was in the mood for. When I told her that I made mine with just a walnut filling and chocolate on top, she huffed a bit, then said, “It’s okay, I make it with walnuts sometimes too.”

If you trust Ima more than you trust me (probably wise, when we’re talking about Hungarian food), you should make a smaller portion of the walnut filling I describe below, and use layers of jam, chocolate, and cottage cheese as well as walnut layers between the pancakes.

But if you trust me, well, believe that my way of making Rakott Palacsinta (which Ima tells me translates to ‘Raising Palacsinta’) is very delicious, too.

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Sunchoke Fish Chowder

Yes, that’s bacon sprinkled on top of an Arabic spiced New England fish chowder pictured in front of my tallis bag, which features a beautiful watercolor painting of Jerusalem. Sacrelicious, maybe, but it all makes sense – this chowder is made with Jerusalem artichokes instead of potatoes, after all.

Sunchokes (a/k/a Jerusalem artichokes) are subtly magnificent root vegetables whose creamy flavor does wonders in transforming a simple fish chowder into something special. I also added za’atar (our version is a blend of thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, and sumac) to this chowder instead of the more traditional thyme, which added an extra dimension of flavor.

I could live off of chowder perfectly happily for weeks, myself. As a kid, I sometimes did. So it’s nice to mix things up and make the ordinary extraordinary again.

Please don’t be scared away because the recipe calls for fish stock. Your fishmonger will almost certainly give you fish frames (bones and perhaps heads) for free, and unlike with meat, you won’t have to simmer your fish bones for hours. Twenty minutes of simmering, ten minutes of steeping off the heat, and you’re done.

We used to freeze fish stock in case of chowder, but it’s so quick to make (and space is at such a premium in our freezer) that we stopped bothering. Now, we just simmer up a batch each time we need it.

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Seven (7) Things About Me

I usually don’t do memes, but Helen from Food Stories tagged me. The rules are:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Sure. First, though, let me identify the photo above – I made that glass bowl at our glassblowing studio a few weeks ago, and it is currently my favorite of my pieces.

Here are 7 random (except not really random) things about me:

1. When I was a little kid, and my Dad’s sailboat was tied to the buoy with the sail fastened down, I would lie on top of the boom with my legs wrapped around it, reading. In the wind the boom would slam back and forth, but I held on tight, and I never lost my page. This terrified my mother, who was convinced that I would fall off and hurt myself. Needless to say, I was fine.

2. One of the first things I can remember about my partner, Dave, is the response he gave when I was discussing the importance of dressing in a professional manner, shortly after we first met. He told me, “Well, I wouldn’t want you to end up in some sort of sartorial star chamber!”

3. I am the one who carried my youngest brother home from the hospital. He’s about 14 years younger than I am, and sometimes I feel I’m more like his wacky young aunt or second mother than his big sister, since we didn’t exactly grow up together the way I did with the older of my younger brothers.

4. I once went bungee-jumping, and sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can still feel the wind in my face and the terror and delight of what it is to fly.

5. I didn’t go to law school because I necessarily wanted to be a lawyer. I went to law school because I thought it would be a fun way to spend three years of my life. I was right.

6. I have a lot of foods I don’t really like – most whole nuts, most mushrooms, oranges in most circumstances, very smelly cheeses, and more. But when I go out to a great restaurant and order a tasting menu, I only tell them my shortlist of things I hate and will never be brave with at all: peanuts, and anything that tastes like licorice (including fennel and anise).

7. A lot of you know this already, but I started my own law firm last year, and it has been a wild and amazing ride ever since. The most satisfying case I have worked on was when I helped defend a man charged with 2nd degree murder based only on DNA evidence, and we won an acquittal. The biggest profile case I have worked on was when I spent several months defending depositions of people who were arrested at the 2004 Republican National Convention, as part of helping to represent some of the arrestees in their civil rights case against the City of New York. And that’s not to mention all the family/matrimonial cases, estate planning, discrimination, and other stuff I’ve been doing as part of my general practice since I hung up my shingle last spring. My point is, running a law practice still exhilarates me, it’s going pretty well, and I’m still working hard to continue building my practice. (It is unclear to me whether this paragraph would count as attorney advertising under the most recent NY rules, so I’ll just put in this disclaimer just in case.)

I’m tagging: Homesick Texan, Feisty Bento, La Tartine Gourmande, My Korean Kitchen, Bron Marshall, Beyond Salmon, and Hungry in Hogtown.

Around this time last year, we were making: Stir-Fried String Beans with Pork and Pork

Broiled Yellowtail with Grapefruit Salsa

About two weeks ago, I received an email from Edelman Interactive, offering me a free promotional fish – a Kona Kampachi from Kona Blue. Given that I was under no obligation to blog about the fish at all, and I love fish, I accepted.

I was offered my choice of fillets or a whole fish, and took the whole fish, because meat on the bone always ends up more tender and flavorful. Also, fish are cute.

So, I emailed my partner, Dave, to let him know that we would be getting a free fish from the next week’s catch. He thought this was pretty hilarious:

“Note: Edelman is the PR firm for both Microsoft and Walmart. All they need is Exxon for the holy trinity! Actually they do have Shell, which is about the same.

“Oh, wait, they also represented the tobacco companies. Jesus, just about every evil corp on earth is on their list: the Mormons! AT&T! American Petroleum Institute! Diebold! the MPAA! PhRMA! Raytheon!

“Wow. I’m totally in favor of taking their free fish, and blogging about Edelman.”

The fish was supposed to arrive on Thursday, and Dave and I were looking forward to trying it out together on Thursday night. Unfortunately, FedEx was delayed and it did not arrive until Friday morning, when Dave was already out of town for the weekend, and I was already scheduled to leave for Virginia that afternoon.

There was no choice – I had to take the fish down to Virginia with me.

As soon as the fish arrived, I climbed out of my office window to put it out on my industrial balcony to keep it cold until it was time to go. (I deeply regret not taking a photo of it out there. Sorry about that.) And once I put out all the fires I could that day (as an attorney, that’s often my job), I loaded my 20 lb. box of ice and fishie onto a small handcart and took it down into the NYC subway system.

From there, we went to the Chinatown bus. I loaded the fish into the bottom luggage compartment, which I expected would keep it cooler than the heated seating area above.

When my fish and I got to my friend Ariana’s home in Virginia, and we finally opened up the box, this is what we saw. A whole fish. I’d expected it to be a cleaned and gutted fish, but no, it really was complete in its entirety.

He’s a cutie, isn’t he?

He and Ariana soon became best buddies.

She was a bit squeamish about the whole fish, but fascination won out until it was time to actually clean and gut him. I had to do that myself, for the first time in years and years. I went fishing a lot as a child, and learned to gut fish back then, but this was my first time cleaning a fish in my adult life without my father’s supervision.

Further down in this post, you’ll find fully illustrated instructions on how to clean and gut a fish.

In the meantime, though, you can enjoy these cute photos of Ariana with the fish instead.

The fish was gorgeous. After just a few days in transit from Hawaii to New York to Virginia after he was caught, he still smelled clean and fresh, and his tail was just beautiful.

And damned if he wasn’t the friendliest fellow we’d met in ages.

Talkative, too.

Ariana and I brainstormed fish recipes together. She’d done her research while I was on the bus, and had a few ideas to begin with. In the end, we decided to broil the fish very simply, and serve it with an easily thrown together grapefruit salsa.

The grapefruit salsa recipe is further down, and you’ll find it if you keep on reading. For the fish, all we did was fill the body cavity with some butter, some grated fresh ginger, and a bunch of scallions cut into 2″ long pieces (green parts only).

As Helen from Beyond Salmon suggests, we broiled the fish for 5 minutes on each side, then finished by baking it at 425 F for a total of 10 minutes per inch of thickness (including the 10 minutes broiling time). (So, for example, a fish that is 3″ thick would be broiled for 5 minutes on each side, then baked at 425 F for an additional 20 minutes.)

We served it with the grapefruit salsa and some simply roasted sweet potatoes.

It was absolutely delicious.

The ginger flavor had infused very nicely into the flesh while cooking, and it paired marvelously well with the grapefruit salsa.

As advertised, it was extremely mild and non-fishy, which Ariana in particular appreciated. I rather like oily flavorful fish (such as mackerel), but this was nice, too. It was very moist and tender, which in part was because it had been cooked on the bone, and in part because the Kona Kampachi has a fairly high fat content to begin with.

Ariana, her husband, and I had it for lunch on Saturday, and then we served the rest of the fish as party food to her guests that afternoon. There were at least 8 servings on that fish, and we enjoyed it entirely.

Each and every bite.

The fish was kitty-approved by Oz, king of kings.

We licked our fingers, and so did he.

Though to be fair, Oz is an equal opportunity fish lover.

And a mighty hunter, too.

Could you resist such a fluffy kitty, even with tasty fish on the line? I think not.

Around this time last year, we were making: Stewed Garlicky Black Bean Spare Ribs, Malaysian Beef Curry with Thick Onion Sauce (Daging Nasi Kandar)

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Cocoa Nib Flans with Raw Sugar Sauce

For New Year’s Eve this year, Dave and I served a multi-course meal, full of complex and labor-intensive dishes. What had our guests raving and demanding seconds and thirds, though? These simple little flans, which I threw together on a whim the day before.

This basic flan recipe has only 5 ingredients, and takes just about no effort whatsoever. Add some cocoa nibs and infuse the cream before mixing everything together, though, and you have a more interesting and elegant dessert.

The combination of the cocoa nib infusion and dark muscovado sugar resulted in a rich, intense coffee flavor – I don’t quite understand why this happened, but I certainly don’t object! Perhaps I should call them Faux Coffee Flans instead.

You don’t have to find cocoa nibs to make this work, though. Make plain flans (which still taste and look extraordinary), or infuse the cream with other flavors (rosemary, cinnamon, whatever you like) instead.

If you like to entertain without putting in too much effort, this is a fantastic recipe to have in your box of tricks. Flans look and taste so amazing, no one ever guesses how easy they are to make in advance.

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Rainbow Cookies

Rainbow cookies are quite possibly my favorite cookies. Ever. Whenever someone brings a cookie assortment from an Italian bakery, I always eat all the rainbow cookies first, and usually discard the rest.

The best rainbow cookies money can buy are available at Isaac’s Bake Shop, 1419 Avenue J in Brooklyn, NY, right across the street from Di Fara’s pizza, and just a few blocks away from where I grew up. (I still think it’s pretty funny that people come from Manhattan to our old local pizza joint out in Brooklyn. These are probably the same people who used to bitch about the commute when I’d invite them over to hang out at my parents’ place during high school!)

The second best rainbow cookies money can buy can be found at Ferrara Bakery at 195 Grand Street in Little Italy in Manhattan, and in their outpost around the corner on Mulberry Street just off of Canal Street. (Calling it Little Italy feels absurd at this point, though. I think we’ll all agree that Little Italy has mostly been swallowed up by Chinatown over the years. It fell victim to the most famous of the classic blunders: Never get involved in a land war in Asia.)

But the best rainbow cookies that money can’t buy can be found right here in my kitchen.

Rainbow cookies are usually colored to match the Italian flag, with stripes of green, white, and red, but my rainbow cookies reflect my ancestry and are instead colored to match the Hungarian flag, with stripes of green, white, and red.

The Italian flag looks like this:

But the Hungarian flag looks like this:

What makes them better than storebought rainbow cookies? Why are they worth the bother to make? Well, the layers are more intensely almondy and moister than the storebought kind. The jam is fresher, and if you’re really feeling into it, you can use any sort of interesting or even homemade jam instead of the regular kind. You can choose your favorite kind of chocolate, and you can put on just as much or as little as you like.

Sure, they take a few days to make, but you’re not actually working during all that time. The layers aren’t very fussy to bake or put together, and it’s really just a matter of waiting until the next night to glaze and chocolatize them. Probably the hardest part of the recipe is tempering the chocolate, which I still have trouble doing.

Before I learned about tempering chocolate and its 6 different crystal structures, 5 of which are up to no good, I had no problem tempering it accidentally every time. But once I learned how to temper it, I screwed it up constantly. So, if you’ve never heard of tempering, don’t read that part of the recipe! Murphy will undoubtly turn on you if you do. But if you’ve already been tainted by the concept, read on through the end and I’ll try to guide you through the process as best I can.

And here’s another perk: you can store these cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks, or probably freeze them indefinitely.

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Menu for Hope Winners Announced

The Menu for Hope winners have been announced! Go over to Chez Pim to see if your name is on that long, long list.

This year, Menu for Hope raised $91,118, which is a big chunk of change over last year’s total. Thank you to everyone who participated, by offering prizes or by bidding, in pulling this together. Feels like a pretty good way to start the year to me.

Congratulations to April Ho, who won the Habeas Brulee prize, A Private Cooking Class for 2! We’re really looking forward to cooking with you and whomever you choose to bring along. I’ve sent you an email already, but if you didn’t get it, just email me at habeasbrulee@gmail.com or leave a comment here and we’ll figure it out.

Roasted Rice Cakes with Onions and Red Chili Pepper Sauce

I love Momofuku, especially now that the Noodle Bar has moved to a larger location where Dave and I can actually bring our friends and chat with them at a table over dinner instead of just hoping to find one or two spaces at the bar. The food is amazing, and being the devoted carnivore that I am, I enjoy chef David Chang’s devotion to adding meat to every dish on the menu (with one exception). Momofuku is not the place to bring vegetarians or people who keep kosher, but for the rest of us it is a pleasure to visit.

While I hope beyond hope that Chang will eventually write a cookbook, Dave decided to do his best to recreate one of our favorite Momofuku dishes on his own in the meantime. Here, then, is his version of Momofuku’s Roasted Rice Cakes – it’s not the Momofuku recipe, but just our own attempt to make something similar at home. (Hey David Chang, if you read this – did we come close to getting it right?)

It’s hot and chewy and crispy and spicy and more than a bit overwhelming on the palate, in a good way.

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Saffron Duck Pot Pie

Here is a meat pie to warm and satisfy you, now that winter has come and I am waiting on the edge of my seat for the first real snowstorm of the year. Loosely inspired by Moroccan basteeya, this pot pie marries a rich and savory meaty filling with traditionally sweet spices, and you can sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top if you like to heighten the effect.

I only post recipes I actually like, but I have to tell you that this one makes it to my list of personal favorites. Dave and I made one of these pies at first, and the next night we couldn’t resist making another few to last us for the rest of the week.

The crust is made with lard and butter, resulting in an extravagantly light and flaky pastry that contrasts well with the luscious filling.

And speaking of meat pie, has anyone seen Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd yet? I saw Sweeney Todd on Broadway a few years ago, and wasn’t very impressed by the production, but the story is fun and Johnny Depp is usually wonderful in all that he does.

Anyways, I suspect this pie tastes better made with duck than it would if it were made with your neighbors. And for best flavor, I suggest making it with duck, with the help and company of your neighbors.

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Roundup: A Recipe From the Crease of My Right Eye

Here are the wonderful recipes that you sent in for my food blogging event, A Recipe From the Crease of my Right Eye, inspired by Catherynne M. Valente’s two-book series, The Orphan’s Tales.

Ramona from The Houndstooth Gourmet
Golabki – Polish Stuffed Cabbage
Ramona’s stuffed cabbage reflect the nature of the books, where stories are stuffed within stories like tasty meats within sumptuous cabbage leaves. (Okay, I’m being a bit silly, but it’s close enough for me.)

Mrs. W from Mrs. W’s Kitchen
Cardamom-Kissed Dates Stuffed with Hazelnuts, Fruit-Nut Squares, and Frozen Treat in the Sultan’s Garden
Mrs. W was inspired by the excerpts and reviews of the books she read online, and by the cultures she thinks of when reminded of the Arabian Nights, to create three incredible sounding desserts.

Torrey Stenmark from Tereshkova2001
The Cookies of the Mice
These mice cookies look dangerously cute, but if you’ve read the books you know that dangerous is the operative term here. I love that Torrey even included Baldtail, dipped in yellow!

Alanna from A Veggie Venture
Broccoli & Tomato Holiday Wreath
Alanna’s recipe is sneaking in because the broccoli and tomatoes are stuffed and pressed into a ring mold. Sneaky, sneaky! But the more the merrier, and it’s an interesting and festive recipe, so why not?

Sophie from Scarlet and Friends
Stuffed Kourambiedes
Not only are these cookies are stuffed with almonds and layered with a coating of powdered sugar, but Sophie also added extra spices to fit the scents of the books. It’s based on a Greek housewives’ recipe, and I must say that the cookies look a little cutely mouse-like, too.

Rose and Leek Fried Sandwiches
Now, this is creative cooking! Laura based her dish on this quote from Cat Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice: “Oh! Roses are very interesting, are they not? Did you know that if you feed one nothing but sugar water and a mash of honeybees, it becomes sweet and thick enough to be fried for sandwiches, like boar meat or fish? We have lunched on rose and leek sandwiches for most of this season!”


Kelly from Is there no way out of the mind?
Spiced Pear & Caramel Trifle
For her first entry into a bloggers’ cooking challenge, Kelly creating a lusciously spicy dessert, perfect for the first brush of winter, inspired by the spice-smog of Ajanabh.

Apples Doused in Cardamom Wine
This dish was based on this quote from Cat Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice:“I think I might have stayed there, I might have walked through the Carnival with a child’s hand in mine, eaten apples doused in cardamom wine and told her how once, when I was very young, I had seen the old Queen dancing in her lonely hall, her embers red as bleeding, and I thought she was so beautiful, then. I thought she must be so happy. I might have done those things.”

Forbidden Rice with Persimmon and Coconut
This was inspired by the Basilisk’s “little courtyard full of persimmons and coconuts”.

It was hard to pick a winner here! The cookies of the mice were so cute, and the rose and leek sandwiches were just brave and brilliant. But I think the winner has to be Mrs. W, for her Cardamom-Kissed Dates Stuffed with Hazelnuts, Fruit-Nut Squares, and Frozen Treat in the Sultan’s Garden.

Mrs. W was so inspired by the reviews and excerpts of the books that she found online that she went ahead and made three gorgeous desserts, all of which look delicious and really capture the sense and scents of the books, without directly coming from any particular language in them.

Thank you for playing, everyone, and for your inspiration! Congratulations, Mrs. W!

Around this time last year, we were making: Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins

The Best of 2007

I got a copy of Larousse Gastronomique for the holidays this year. What an amazing resource! That’s Dave looking through it up above.

Here is another resource that I hope you will enjoy: my favorite recipes and most exciting news from 2007, rounded up below!

January: I started the year with a brand-new digital SLR camera, and have had tons of fun with it since. This month, I made some of my favorite dishes ever: Stewed Garlicky Black Bean Spare Ribs, Stir-Fried String Beans with Pork and Pork, and Malaysian Beef Curry with Thick Onion Sauce (Daging Nasi Kandar) (which I’m making again for New Year’s Eve tonight). I also created Balsamic Fudge Drops, which is probably one of the most often recreated and adapted recipes on this site. I’ve seen variations of it show up all around the internets this past year, and loved coming across each and every one.

February: This month, I discovered the sheer fun of homemade Monkey Bread, and figured out a recipe for one of my favorite side dishes ever, Sweet and Sour Lotus Root.

March: This month, Dave meditated on the essential nature of cookies and invented Chewy Maple Cookies, which continue to blow everyone away. I also loved our Leek and Oyster Chowder and Raspberry Pomegranate Urfa-Biber Brownies. But the real winner of the month was my recipe for Pomegranate Ginger Saffron Braised Lamb Neck, which we’ve made again and again, usually using brisket instead of lamb neck. We even served the brisket version at the Passover seder we hosted this year.

And in inedible news, March was the month I left my job for the last time and set out on my own with my own solo law firm. It has brought me greater fear and joy than I ever thought possible, and now, 9 months later, I can look back and say that I haven’t once regretted taking the leap.

April: Dave proposed to me early in the morning on April Fool’s Day, and it wasn’t a joke at all. This was the month we got engaged. No food news can match that for April 2007.

May: My favorite dish from May has got to be our Amaretto Brownies with Saffron Creme Anglaise and Bee Pollen Spice Mix. They have a few components you have to make separately, but together they were absolutely heavenly. We also made a Chocolate Birthday Cake for a little boy, using the best plain chocolate layer cake recipe I’ve ever found.

June: This was the month of Cucumber Salad in Two Grandmotherly Styles, both of which make my favorites list for the year. And for a moist, rich cake that will last forever, we made Rum-Drenched Cocoa-Nana Bread.

July: My favorite July recipe is actually one of my favorite recipes of all time, a dessert I take great pride in, and one of the most delicious things to ever come out of this kitchen: Hazelnut Cookie Sherry Vinegar Swirl Ice Cream.

August: This month, we took advantage of beautiful fresh figs to create what may have been my first and best stuffing, Fig, Sweet Potato, and Wild Rice Stuffing.

September: After discovering Burmese food, this month’s best creation was a Not-So-Green Mango Salad.

October: This month, Dave and I learned how to make Horchata from scratch, the perfect creamy non-dairy beverage to soothe your palate between bites of a spicyhot meal. Dave created a brilliant composed dessert, Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger, where we learned how wonderfully sour cherries pair with pickled ginger. And on Halloween, we made the simplest, tastiest candy to come out of our kitchen this year, Pumpkin Seed Cocoa Nib Brittle.

November: I think that everything we made this month was a favorite of mine. We started the month with Smoke Date Beef Ribs, which we’ve probably made three times since (and that was only last month!). Next, I Magyar-ized a versatile sausage soup to make a warm and satisfying Hungarian Sausage, Baby Bok Choy, and Sweet Potato Soup. Through Dave’s 2007 quince obsession, we learned that Cranberry Quince Sorbet is just amazingly creamy, because of all the pectin in the fruit. And, of course, November was the month I made bacon!

December: This month, I created my new favorite snack, Nibby Strawberry Chestnut Cookies. And for a lovely dinner, we made Miso Butterscotch Spare Ribs.
Have a happy new year, everyone!

To see other food bloggers’ Best of 2007 posts, check out the Best of 2007 Roundup at One Hot Stove.

Parsi New Year’s Milkshake (Faluda)

The last recipe in Niloufer Ichaporia King’s new Parsi cookbook, My Bombay Kitchen, this light dessert drink is supposed to be served on March 21st, the Parsi New Year. It is a creamy, slipperycrunchity, really tasty delight, and certainly delicious enough to have year round, or perhaps on our own New Year’s Eve tomorrow night.

It’s a cinch to throw together. Soak some basil seeds in water (just a teaspoon or so will be enough for several people, since they swell up quite a lot). Once they’ve had a chance to swell, spoon some into each glass. Add whole milk up to about an inch from the top of the cup, then pour in some saffron or rose syrup, and top it with a bit of vanilla ice cream.

You can buy basil seeds and rose syrup at Kalustyan’s (Lexington Ave at E. 28th St. in Manhattan), or order them online.

If you prefer to use saffron syrup, as I did, it’s simple to make your own at home. Just steep a pinch of saffron in some hot water, then simmer it in a pot with equal parts saffron water and sugar until it thickens into a simple syrup. Strain out and discard the saffron, and chill the syrup, which will keep indefinitely in the fridge.

Saffron syrup is my new favorite condiment, after making it for this shake. I’ve been pouring it over bowls of ice cream, and at some point I want to soak it into my homemade nutless baklava.

In honor of the new year, I’m going to take an idea from a few of my favorite fellow food bloggers, and try to make a habit of telling you what was going on in my kitchen each year around the time I make each post. To start it off:

Around this time last year, we were making: Cardamom Meyer Lemon Créme Brûlée Bubbles, Scallop Chickpea Tagine

Roundup of Food Blog Posts I’ve Enjoyed #12

Dave and I are still into glassblowing, all right! That’s a photo of us in the studio, working a piece. I’m the gaffer in the photo, making what turned out to be a pretty glorious red mug, and Dave is blowing air into the piece as I shape it with wet newspaper.

Those silly purple glasses are actually didymium, meant to protect our eyes and allow us to see what we’re doing through the glare of the heat and flame.

The photography is by my dear friend, the brilliant and talented artist Scott Lefton.

To bring things back to food, here are a few food blog posts that I loved and highly recommend to you.

Mercedes from Desert Candy made a few ice creams that I can’t get out of my head: Olive Oil Ice Cream with Balsamic Chocolate Sauce and Sour Cream Brown Sugar Ice Cream.

And speaking of ice cream, Bruno made Vietnamese Coffee Gelato w/ Toblerone Chunks and Sesame Seed Tuile Mini Cones. I love the presentation and the flavor combination! The little cones look so very gobblable here.

Now, we all know how amazing David Lebovitz is. But right now, I’m particularly craving his Apricot Soufflés.

Our Tartelette has tempted me with her Ricotta Cake With Meyer Lemon Curd, a delicately beautiful concoction that looks like it packs a fully whammy of flavor. And given that Dave’s on a bit of a quince kick, I’m just dying to make her gorgeous Quince Tartlets With Olive Oil and Cardamom Crust, too.

What better way to celebrate New Year’s Eve than to follow up your late latkes with some homemade Babka, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen? And when you’re sick of holiday foods, switch things up a bit with her Arroz con Pollo.

Now, there are just cool. Over at VeganYumYum, I came across the most astounding Knit Night Cupcakes, decorated with perfect balls of yarn, needles, scarves, and knitting projects in progress, all made of sugar. Seriously, you have got to go over there and admire those sugar art skills. They are beyond belief.

Next, stop by Cook and Eat to try out the Baked Plum Pudding – something like a tart, something like a cake, but delicious and lovely no matter what you choose to call it.

I still have some chestnut flour in my fridge, and I have my eye on the Castagnaccio over at Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once as a wonderful way to use it up.

From one of my new favorite blogs, Never Bashful with Butter, come these Apricot Cream Cheese Butter Cookies, which look tiny, tasty, and altogether scrumptious.

Kate from Aapplemint had a brilliant idea for how to make madeleines if you don’t have a madeleine pan – you can make Chocolate Almond Madeleines in spoons instead!

This post on making ikura from Blue Lotus is basically completely useless to those of us in the States, where it is basically impossible to find raw salmon roe sacs. Still, I found it completely fascinating to read, and hope to someday have the opportunity to put it to use.

The delicate, translucent, beautiful panes of herbs and phyllo I found over at Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook, which she calls Herb Bouquet Breadsticks, completely capture and enrapture my imagination.

A favorite food blog post round-up just wouldn’t be complete without a few recipes from Rasa Malaysia. This time, I’d like to draw your attention to her Ma Po Tofu, a rendition of that numbingly spicy classic, and her Szechuan Wok-fried Chicken, which looks like a perfect dead simple yet intensely flavorful weekday dinner.

Heidi from 101 Cookbooks intrigued me with her description of her moist, quiche-like Sun-dried Tomato Cottage Cheese Muffin Recipe, which she suggests thinking of as “a souffle’s heartier, denser, more portable cousin”.

Who could resist this Fresh Fig Frangipane Tart I found over at Apple & Spice? Not me!

Over at Tigers & Strawberries, Barbara offers a Meditation on Heads-On Shrimp, wherein she describes how to make a complex and satisfying shrimp stock (and enjoys sucking out shrimp heads on the side). She also made a fantastic Kimchi Noodle Soup, which I think saved me from my last cold earlier this fall. After trying it, I am immensely grateful to her for sharing the idea, and it has joined my small but mighty permanent Sick Food roster, along with Mom’s chicken soup.

Did you know that pumpkin and chocolate work well together? I sure didn’t, until I found these Double Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes at Pinch My Salt.

Angela at A Spoonful of Sugar tells us that Swedish Saffron Bread is a traditional celebratory bread for Swedish Christmas, or rather, St. Lucia’s Day. I’m not familiar with the religious aspects of the holiday, but I still want to tear into that bread!

Oh what a decadent treat it must be, the French Toast Bread Pudding from Matt Bites.

I am always inspired by Alanna at A Veggie Venture, and in particular I can’t seem to get the thought of her Acorn Squash with Mustard & Honey out of my mind.

Aren’t you completely intoxicated by the thought of these Artichoke Crowns Stuffed with Saffron-Scented Crab I found over at Leite’s Culinaria? I know I am.

Brilynn posted a recipe for Pomegranate Rice that seriously inspired me to go out and buy a copy of Marcus Samuelsson’s The Soul of a New Cuisine, it looked so good. I’ve made a few of his other recipes so far, and I have enjoyed them all.

Gattina’s Green Ravioli with Purple Cabbage & Sage are so vivid, they are an absolute treat just to look at in her splendid photos. If they taste only half so good as they look, I would be satisfied.

EMJC’s 2007 Latke Competition

This post may seem a bit late, but it’s timely, really. Channukah came so early this year, you might as well make latkes for Christmas! Or New Year’s Eve. Or you can make latkes to celebrate my birthday from afar on January 2nd.

All those pans shown above were in a row during the East Midwood Jewish Center‘s 2007 Latke Bake-off, as all the competitors worked together in the kitchen to make their latkes. (Which were fried. No baking involved. The title makes no sense, but let us just say that it was justified by the sheer deliciousness of the event.) Some people donated their recipes, while others (including the winner, to my dismay) kept their spice mixes secret.

We all had a wonderful time cooking together, and last I heard, the Park Slope Jewish Center has challenged us to a latke competition next year. (I have mixed loyalties: I grew up at EMJC, but now live in Park Slope.)

Up there, those are my Dad’s hands as he spooned his latke batter into the pan. He makes his latkes with potatoes, onions, and carrots. They are absolutely fantastic, and I have looked forward to them every year all my life. He’s only really allowed to cook twice a year, outdoor grilling excluded: latkes during Channukah, and matzah brie during Passover.

I really love seeing my father’s hands in action.

And that, that was my father flipping his latkes, with my partner, Dave, in the background. Dave was working on our beet latkes, which didn’t even place in the top three! Man. The world is not yet ready for beet latkes, tasty as they truly are. They’re on the sweet side, and they’re not beautiful, which I’m sure put people off of even trying them.

The winning latkes were potato-based, with some onion in there, and some sort of secret Middle Eastern spice blend that the winner refused to share. She told us that she mixed it together at home and put it in a mislabeled container just to confuse us, so we couldn’t figure it out. It was pretty heavy on the thyme, that much I’m sure of.

It was an honor to lose to her. Her latkes were the best I’ve ever had.

Next year, Dave wants to have a better voting system in place, and I want to create the perfect latke: my father’s latkes, with that thyme-based spice mix, made just a bit thinner and crispier than any of the latkes we had this year. Now, to reverse engineer that spice mix recipe!

Are you sick of looking at my father yet? Let’s move on to a quick view of those pans again, alone and in action.

If you’re interested, we made Cumin-Scented Beet Latkes from Epicurious, which we discovered when Dave’s mother made them last year. They look a bit burnt because the beets are so dark to begin with (thus no photos of our creations), but they are wonderful to eat, and I would make them again. Just not for a competition judged by members of my parents’ conservative synagogue.

Miso Butterscotch Spare Ribs

Inspired by the miso butterscotch pork belly Dave and I had with our friend Allyson at Tailor earlier this fall, these ribs are meatier, heftier, and to my belly more satisfying than Sam Mason’s creation. The pork belly was just splendid, and it’s just that I personally prefer less fatty meat, cooked on the bone for more flavor.

What really happened was that my butcher sold me some rib-on pork belly, and I had to remove the ribs myself in order to cure the belly into pancetta (which was, for the record, the most amazing pork product I have ever put in my mouth). We couldn’t let the ribs go to waste, so Dave threw this dish together.

I know that sometimes I post recipes that seem complicated to make, but this one is easy and simple, with a pretty short ingredient list. Go ahead, try it! You’ll be glad you did.

Miso butterscotch is a fantastic idea – thank you, Sam Mason! I have a few more thoughts on how to use it, and I’d love to hear any suggestions the rest of you have as well. I definitely want to swirl it into brownies, and I think it would be wonderful in some sort of banana pecan tartlets.

Unrelated but important: There are only three days left to donate to charity by bidding on my cooking class for two and all the other wonderful prizes for Menu for Hope!

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Nibby Strawberry Chestnut Cookies

On a cold winter night, with icy slush waiting just outside the door, the greatest comfort I can imagine involves warm chestnuts, chocolate, and dried strawberries, far more flavorful than the imported ones you can buy this time of year. And last night, as we hid indoors from the “wintry mix” outside (it sounds like a delicious treat, but in fact is a sleeting, slushy, freezing, rainy mess), we were desperate for what comfort we could find.

These cookies are in the extended sandy-textured cookie family, but they’re not your traditional shortbreadish cookies at all. They are a bit sandy, but they’re also lusciously tender, and they absolutely melt in your mouth. Which is not something I usually get to say about cookies.

The chestnut flour may not be identifiable as chestnut to most people who taste these, but it adds a very distinct and silky flavor of its own. The dried strawberries are bursts of intense flavor popping up throughout.

What really happened, of course, was that I bought dried strawberries and chestnut flour and declared that I wanted to bake something with them. When I got home, I looked through my cookbooks until I found a recipe I could adapt to contain them – in this case, Alice Medrich’s nibby buckwheat cookies. A bit of nudging of ingredients later, and my nibby strawberry chestnut cookies were born.

If I make a few more batches and use up more of the chestnut flour and dried strawberries that my kitchen is currently drowning in, maybe I’ll even be able to see my countertop again!

For the food photography folks, you’ll laugh at what I did to take this photo. The background is a piece of really nice paper I picked up in Chinatown, and I didn’t want to ruin it by placing these buttery cookies directly on it. How did I solve the dilemma?

Well, I built little stacks of quarters and placed a cookie carefully on each stack. Four quarter stacks were low enough that they only impacted the shadow lengths slightly, but they were high enough to keep my nice fibrous paper clean and safe. Brilliant or ridiculous? I think both.

I’m submitting these cookies to Food Blogga‘s Christmas Cookies from Around the World 2007.

Also, please remember that Habeas Brûlée 2008 wall calendars are now available for purchase.

And last but probably most important, remember that there’s still time left to donate to charity by bidding on my cooking class for two and all the other wonderful prizes for Menu for Hope!

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Habeas Brûlée 2008 Wall Calendar for Sale Now

I’m a bit late this year, but I finally put together a set of my favorite images from the past year, along with their corresponding recipes, to create the 2008 calendar.

Habeas Brûlée 2008 wall calendars are now available for purchase here.

Sorry for the delay! Channukah snuck in early this year, and things got away from me a bit there.

And remember, there’s still time left to donate to charity by bidding on my cooking class for two for Menu for Hope!

Menu for Hope: A Cooking Class for Two! (Prize # UE31)

It’s time for Menu of Hope again! What is Menu of Hope, you ask? Well, here’s a FAQ. In sum, Menu for Hope is an annual fundraising hosted by Chez Pim. Last year, Menu for Hope raised an incredible $62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry.

From December 10-21, food bloggers from all over the world will be offering food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. You can buy raffle tickets to bid on these prizes. Tickets cost $10 each, and you may buy as many tickets as you’d like for any one prize or for multiple prizes. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.

You can learn about all the other East Coast prizes at Adam Kuban’s East Coast USA regional listing, and I encourage you to bid on not only my cooking class (Prize # UE31), but many of the other prizes as well! They’re not only for a good cause; they’re just plain tasty, too.

As Pim explains:

The UN World Food Programme is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.

With a special permission from the WFP, the funds raised by Menu for Hope 4 will be earmarked for the school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa. We chose to support the school lunch program because providing food for the children not only keeps them alive, but keeps them in school so that they learn the skills to feed themselves in the future. We chose to support the program in Lesotho because it is a model program in local procurement – buying food locally to support local farmers and the local economy. Instead of shipping surplus corn across the ocean, the WFP is buying directly from local subsistent farmers who practice conservation farming methods in Lesotho to feed the children there.

Now, let’s get to the point; you want to know what I’m ready to put on the table. Well, here it is: Dave and I are offering to teach a cooking class for two! (Prize # UE31) Yes, that’s right, all the fun of cooking with us in our huge (for NYC) Park Slope kitchen, with us sharing all of our tips and tricks along the way.

We’re happy to tailor the class to you. Want to learn to make kimchi, preserve lemons, and pitch yeast for mead? We can have a fermentation class! If you’re interested in learning sugar art, we can teach you to build a croquemouche or blow sugar bubbles. If you choose to bring your child in as your classmate, we’ll find a set of kid-friendly recipes to work on together. We can focus on a theme ingredient, technique, cuisine, or whatever interests you most!

If you’ve ever read our recipes and thought a dish looked like something you’d like to eat, but wouldn’t have time to make yourself, come in and we’ll show you how fun and easy it can be to make it together.

Or if you’d like something even more personalized, we’ll go through the fundamentals of tasting your spices and ingredients and developing a sense of which flavors and textures will go well together. Afterwards, we’ll cook a few dishes based on the flavor combinations we’ve discovered.

Whether you’d rather learn some of our specialties, or explore a new cuisine or experimental recipes with us, we look forward to cooking with you!

So, go bid! You’ve got until Dec 21 to buy your tickets. Just go to the First Giving Menu For Hope site and follow the instructions (as described below). To be in the running to win our cooking class for two!, you’ll need to enter the code ‘UE31′ in the personal message section.

To Enter

If you’re interested in buying into the raffle, here’s what you need to do:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at http://www.chezpim.com/blogs/2007/12/menu-for-hope-4.html

2. Go to the donation site at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope4 and make a donation.

3. Please specify which prize you’d like in the ‘Personal Message’ section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code. Of course, you all want my cooking class (Prize # UE31), but here’s a simpler example:

Basic Order

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02. Example:

Advanced Order

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday, January 9 for the results of the raffle.

Thanks for your participation, and good luck in the raffle!

Clementine Sunchoke Puree

This puree was inspired by a dish we had at Alinea, during the most impressive meal I have ever been served. The dish that inspired us was lobster (butter-poached, I believe), served with lobster mousse, sunchoke puree, and sweet orange, all surrounded by the hyacinth aroma released by boiling water being poured over hyacinths in the bowl holding the smaller bowl of edible food. It was one of the most luxurious experiences I have ever had, and it entirely justified my weekend jaunt to Chicago for the sake of one meal at Alinea.

How can we bring the faintest suggestion of this wonderment back to our fundamentally time-pressed readers back home, we wondered. Well, not many people are going to cook lobster at home. That’s just uncommon, for some reason. (I suspect most people are reluctant to experiment on spendy foods, and also squeamish about killing their own meats.) Likewise, putting together a dish of hyacinth aroma isn’t very likely for most home cooks, intoxicating as it was. So, citrus and sunchokes remained.

Here is a pared down, but still completely delicious, ultra-simple side dish, pairing the lush simplicity of creamy sunchoke puree with the brightness of clementines, which I vastly prefer to oranges, anyways.

As for the garnish, well, all things are improved by homemade bacon.

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Forbidden Rice with Persimmon and Coconut

Before I explain this dish, I just want to announce that the 2007 Food Blog Awards are now open for nominations. You can nominate your favorite food blogs in various different categories here. Hurry up, because nominations end in just a few days, on Wednesday, December 5th!

Because I am proud of my work, I just might suggest that you nominate my humble blog for food blog of the year, best food blog – writing, or best food blog – photography.

And if I were completely shameless, I would specifically recommend nominating my Kitchenaid Upgrade post, my Cucumber Salad in Two Grandmotherly Styles post, my Beginning Charcuterie: Bacon post, my Apples Doused in Cardamom Wine post, or any other particular post that you like for best food blog – post. And I am completely shameless! It is one of the necessary virtues of being a trial lawyer. There is absolutely no way to get up in front of a jury unless you are willing to embarrass yourself for the sake of your client.

That said, please don’t forget to also nominate the other amazing food blogs out there that are completely worthy of your praise and attention. I’ve already done that part myself.

Enough about contests; let’s talk about the food!

This is another dish inspired by The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente. In her layered maze of story within story, I found persimmons and coconuts to play with.

The Basilisk lived in “his little courtyard full of persimmons and coconuts”, in the spice city of Ajanabh. A girl who was somehow safe from his gaze, who refused to turn to stone, befriended him and visited him often. She cared for him, hurt and alone, after his tongue was torn out by the companions of a dead Star, who needed it to tell their tale the only way they could.

Another girl, who looked just like his friend, came to visit one day, and the Basilisk was surprised and dismayed when she turned to stone before his eyes.

“Holding his grief before him like a lamp, the Basilisk left the city of Ajanabh. And holding his rage before him like a pike, he stared hard at everything he passed: fence-posts, stables, windmills. Basil-fronds. Garlic-patches. Red-pepper fields and black-pepper fields, the green peppers and the pink, and the cinnamon-groves, and the coriander-fields, and the saffron-fields, and the cumin-farms, the salt flats with their crystals like hard, cutting snow, the mustard-plants, the paprika-bushes, and the vanilla beans, thin and dark on the vine. “

After the Basilisk left, I like to think that his friend remained, and that she gathered persimmons and coconuts from the courtyard where she used to visit him. I like to think that she brought them home to to make desserts like this Forbidden Rice with Persimmon and Coconut to eat in remembrance of the Basilisk.

Forbidden rice is a purplish black rice, supposedly called that because in ancient China it was forbidden to be eaten by anyone other than the Emperor. I don’t know if the tale is true, but since this is a dessert grown from a story to begin with, another story should fit in just fine. And more importantly, forbidden rice is a very tasty indeed.

This is my second entry to my food blog event ending on December 17th, A Recipe From the Crease of My Right Eye. Better hurry up and get your entries in soon! Remember, there is a prize at the end for the winning entry!

And while I’m at it, I am submitting this entry to Novel Food as well.

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Cubed Radish Kimchi

For my first attempt at making this sweet, salty, spicy, satisfyingly crisp bite o’ banchan, I followed this recipe from one of my favorite Korean food blogs, Evil Jungle Prince. Unfortunately, it turned out to be way too fishy for me. (This may have something to do with my misreading the measurement for anchovy sauce as calling for tablespoons instead of teaspoons, but never mind that, and let us never speak of it again.)

Full of despair, I turned to the fine folks at the eGullet kimchi thread for advice. Properly comforted that I could safely reduce the amount of anchovy sauce without suffering fatal intestinal maelstroms as a result, I decided to try again.

I adjusted the proportions a bit more to my liking, and stole a few ideas from this other recipe (also from Evil Jungle Prince) as well.

Finally – success!

Korean food is my latest obsession. I ordered a cookbook, bookmarked a few blogs, and am going wild in the kitchen. I found a grocery store near my apartment that sells fabulously tasty homemade gochujang (red pepper paste) in little tupperware-ish tubs, and picked up everything else I need Han Ah Reum in K-town.

It’s a good thing Dave loves the cubed radish kimchi, and can tolerate my filling the fridge with things like tiny spicy salty sweet itsy bitsy anchovies for the munching.

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Beginning Charcuterie: Bacon

Shortly after my bacon was complete, I just had to tell my brother, Josh Sucher, about my pride and delight. We ended up typing back and forth at each other about it, because such is our relationship – we used to IM each other while sitting in our separate bedrooms down the hall from each other, too.


“I made BACON!”

My brother:

“Danielle. I don’t understand why slicing off pigmeats before crisply cooking them is such an accomplishment.”


A week and a half ago, I had to ask my excellent butcher to special order a skin-on pork belly for me.
I had to order nitrite, pink salt.
I put together a basic dry cure mix of salt, pink salt, and sugar.
Cut my belly into three pieces, split my basic cure into three bowls and spiced each differently.
Cured it in my fridge for about 10 days, flipping each slab every other day.
Today, smoked it for about 5 hours, some over apple wood, some over hickory.
THEN I got to slice the pigmeats and crisply cook them.”

I think that’s a pretty good accomplishment, really.

It all started when I picked up a copy of Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. The bacon, it called to me. I love preserving jams and pickles, fermenting my own vinegar, kimchi, and mead, so it really came as no surprise that I quickly became obsessed with the idea of curing and preserving my own meats as well.

My butcher wouldn’t sell me less than 10 pounds of pork belly, ribs included, because it’s not an item that sells well from the case. Sure, okay. When we got the meat I trimmed off the ribs and some of the belly for dinner that night, and cut the rest into 3 slabs of approximately 2 1/2 lbs each.

Each slab was cured with about 1/4 C of Michael Ruhlman’s basic dry cure, as detailed in his book, Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. In addition, the maple bacon was cured with about 3/8 C maple syrup; the Sichuan bacon had 2 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns and 2 tbsp lapsang souchong tea spread on the meaty side after the cure was applied, and the sage mustard bacon had something like 2 tsp mustard seed (popped in a pan first), 1 tsp ground sage, 3 smashed cloves of garlic, and 2 tsp cracked peppercorns mixed into its cure.

I left each slab in its separate bag to cure in our fridge for about 10 days, flipping over all three slabs every other day. At the end of that time, the slabs were rinsed, patted dry, and left uncovered in the fridge overnight to develop a pellicle – a drier, slightly tacky layer on the surface that helps the smoke adhere to the meat.

Now, imagine the absurdity of our situation: we live in a small garden apartment in a Park Slope brownstone. We have in our backyard a small smoker grill, which is a cylinder approximately 15″ in diameter. It has space for charcoal and wood in the bottom, a bowl for ice or cold water above that, and a grill at the top.

Because our smoker is so small and our pigmeats were so large, we had to smoke the bacon in two batches. Because it was chilly out, we sat in the kitchen smelling of wood smoke from hair and coat, wandering out into the backyard every now and then to replenish the charcoal, wood, and ice, and to test the external and internal temperatures of the meat.

For the first batch, we used apple wood, and smoked the entire slab of maple bacon and half of each of the others.

For the second batch, we used hickory, and smoked the remaining half slabs of the Sichuan and sage mustard bacons.

We tried to keep the smoke down around 200 F, and slowly smoked the bacon up to an internal temperature of 150 F over the course of about 5-7 hours. It helped that it was a chilly autumn day. When each slab was done, we brought it inside and carefully sliced off the skin to freeze and use later. (Can you imagine roasting a leg of lamb wrapped in bacon skin? Or using it to flavor stews or beans? The possibilities are endless!)

Our maple bacon is amazing – it is easily the best bacon I have ever eaten.

With the sage mustard bacon, the sage flavor really came through very nicely. The Sichuan bacon was probably the least flavorful of the three, which means that it was merely great.

I’m glad that we experimented with different woods, because we found that the Sichuan and sage mustard bacons were better smoked over hickory than over apple – that is, they were fantastic over apple, but truly extraordinary over hickory.

I think that I prefer sweeter bacon for eating plain, and I expect the more savory batches to really shine best when used in chowders and such.

Now that we have all this bacon (our freezer is crammed with sandwich bags full of bacon, 2 ounces in each), it’s time for a chowder night! And beans, we must make beans!

I have some pancetta and salt pork curing in my fridge right now. Yesterday, I diced and flavored the meat for my first sausage, which I will be grinding and stuffing later today. Next, I really want to make a Hungarian spiced bacon (with edes paprika, garlic, and allspice or clove), and a sweet bacon with Calvados.

Not to mention, I am quite possibly even more excited about the possibilities for using these gorgeous bacon skins than I am about the bacon itself.

Anyone have any other ideas or recipes that call for bacon which you can recommend?

Cranberry Quince Sorbet

Quinces are in season, and this year I mean to take advantage of it. Quinces are like apples’ upscale cousins – tarter, rosier, more gussied up and elegant. While the apple is available right here, right now, the quince must be cooked for a long time until its pale flesh turns a ruddy hue and its lush sweetness is fully evoked. The apple wants you without hesitation, but the quince must be seduced.

When picking a quince, choose the yellowest-skinned fruit you can find. The green fuzzy ones aren’t quite ripe yet – not that you could tell by tasting, since even a ripe quince is too tart to eat raw.

To make this sorbet, we had to simmer the quince down with sugar, water, and vanilla for a long while before adding in the cranberry, running it through a food mill, then chilling and churning the resulting puree. It’s a slow process, but it doesn’t require much supervision, and the final product is well worth the wait.

This is a sorbet, a real vegan treat, but when you put it in your mouth, it’s hard to believe that it contains no dairy. The creaminess is astounding.

In fact, this is my entry for Vegan Ventures, where Tasty Palettes is gathering up vegan recipes this month.

(Not being vegan myself, though, I prefer to eat it with a rich, decadent, dairy-laden chocolate sauce drizzled on top.)

I think Dave plans on making a savory, warm version of this as a cranberry quince sauce for Thanksgiving.

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A Recipe From the Crease of my Right Eye

I am announcing a new food blogging event, A Recipe From the Crease of my Right Eye.

This event, like my Apples Doused in Cardamom Wine, is inspired by The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente. It is the second book in a now-complete series (the first was The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden), and it was just published a few weeks ago.

As I explained in my last post, the stories in these books are told by a girl with ink-stained, story-stained eyes, to a young son of the Sultan who escapes the watch of his older sister to come out into the garden and hear them. The stories are nested each within each like dolls, like the tales from Arabian Nights, all twining together to make a larger epic. They are not fairy tales, exactly, because they have plots and characters with lives of their own, men and women and beasts who are real people stalking the pages of these books.

The food and spice imagery in these books is inspiring. Not only does the boy steal food from the Sultan’s palace to bring to the girl, but the imagery infuses the rest of the stories as well.

In one tale from the first book, a young female satyr takes the skin of a young male selkie and hides it so he can stay with her. The selkie tells the satyr that her lips taste of red berries, redder than he ever thought possible.

In the second book, the basilisk lives in a grove of persimmon and coconut, a girl dances in shoes made of cinnamon, and Ajanabh, the city of spice, is filled with a spice-smog, “the faintest sigh of cardamom and cumin and cinnamon breathing through the night.” It is filled with quail eggs and cinnamon candies, rose and leek sandwiches, sugar pies and lamb fat. And more, and more.

This event, A Recipe From the Crease of my Right Eye, is a celebration of Catherynne M. Valente’s The Orphan’s Tales. To participate, all you have to do is post a recipe inspired by the books. This includes any recipe involving things that are layered or things that are stuffed (which echo the structure of the stories), as well as things that are otherwise inspired by the books.

This event comes with a prize. I will give the author of the best recipe (as determined by me, perhaps with Cat’s help) a copy of both Orphan’s Tales books. If the winner already has them, I’ll give him or her a copy of two of Cat’s other books.

The deadline is December 17, 2007.

You do not have to be a food blogger to participate. You can post your recipe on a non-food blog, a non-blog website, or in the comments to this post.

When you post your recipe, include a link back to this post. Then email me at habeasbrulee@gmail.com with:

Your name
The name of your blog
The URL of your blog
The name your dish
The URL of your dish

A photo of your dish, if you have one, should be attached to the email.

Apples Doused in Cardamom Wine

This recipe was inspired by The Orphan’s Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente. It is the second book of the now-complete series (the first was The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden), and it was just published a few weeks ago. It is brilliant and beautiful, rich and deep, powerful, and important for you to read.

(Obligatory disclaimer: Cat is a friend of mine. But these books are so wondrous that I would recommend them even if I didn’t know her at all.)

The stories in these books are told by a girl with ink-stained, story-stained eyes, to a young son of the Sultan who escapes the watch of his older sister to come out into the garden and hear them. The stories are nested each within each like dolls, like the tales from Arabian Nights, all twining together to make a larger epic. They are not fairy tales, exactly, because they have plots and characters with lives of their own, men and women and beasts who are real people stalking the pages of these books.

In Cities of Coin and Spice, a young Djinn, one of the queens of the Djinn army surrounding a dying city where only the artists and performers remain, enters the city alone to search for a small object. She is caught up in the tales of its inhabitants, and just before the army begins to crash up against the gate, she thinks:

“I think I might have stayed there, I might have walked through the Carnival with a child’s hand in mine, eaten apples doused in cardamom wine and told her how once, when I was very young, I had seen the old Queen dancing in her lonely hall, her embers red as bleeding, and I thought she was so beautiful, then. I thought she must be so happy. I might have done those things.”

When I came across that, it occurred to me that I happened to have home-brewed cardamom wine in abundance already.

You see, this past April, I began brewing a batch of Herbal Masala mead (so named because the spicing was based on that of Kalustyan’s Herbal Masala Chai) – honey wine with cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger. Months later, when we racked and bottled it, we found that the cardamom was the strongest note, the flavor that with each sip blew each of us away.

This recipe is inspired by the dreams of a queen of the Djinn seduced by a dying city. She might have walked through the Carnival eating these apples, poached in cardamom honey wine and filled with cardamom whipped cream. She might have.

But she didn’t.

I did, though. And you can.

This is my first gift to the newborn book. And given the overflowing inspiration of it, I am sure this will not be my last.

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Hungarian Sausage, Baby Bok Choy, and Sweet Potato Soup

My grandmother has congestive heart failure, which means that she is restricted to a low-salt diet. When she gets sick in the winter this goes straight out the window, because she tends to order in salty soup from the local take-out Chinese food place on the corner. I try to stave this off by delivering homemade chicken stock to her whenever we make up a batch. All she ever cares about is broth, anyway.

(She also has diabetes. No sugar and no salt, can you imagine? We work very hard to make tasty things for her, and she always appreciates that we go out of our way to make even desserts that she can eat.)

Point being, when I stopped by with soup earlier this week, she insisted that I take some her Hungarian sausage in exchange. Hungarian sausage is just about the best stuff around, spicysavory with paprika and all sorts of other tasty stuff going on.

When I was in Hungary, I spent a lot of time going into supermarkets and butchers’ shops, trying to order my favorite kind of kolbasz (sausage). People would smile and have whole conversations at me that I could not understand, and I would resort to simply pointing at the hanging meats and asking, “Edes? Finom?” (Sweet? Delicious?)

“Edes! Finom!” they would affirm, and pack me off with my meats, happy as can be.

My fridge also happened to be stuffed with extra baby bok choy this week, because Dave picked up a pound and a half of it when all I needed was a handful for a bowl of Barbara‘s amazing Kimchi Noodle Soup.

What to do, what to do? I decided to adapt Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe for Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup to use up the greens and meats that just happened to be filling my fridge. I made a few other changes to the recipe along the way, too, reducing the fat and adding in a few shallots.

It turned out fantastic!

Okay, listen. Most of the flavor in this soup comes from the sausage. So if you’re going to make this, use the tastiest sausage you can get your grubby little paws on. If you live in NYC, that means getting up to the hentes (pronounced hentesh, this is the Hungarian word for butcher) on the corner of E. 81st St. and 2nd Ave and buying a selection of Hungarian sausages to mix and match into the soup.

Just smile at them and ask, “Edes? Csipos? Finom?” (Ay-desh (‘ay’ like ‘hay’ without the h), meaning sweet; chee-poshe, meaning spicy; fee-nome, meaning delicious.)

They will take good care of you there.

And suddenly it occurs to me that this post would make an excellent entry for Apples & Thyme, a food blog event celebrating our relationships with our mothers and grandmothers.

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Smoky Date Beef Ribs

Date molasses. Date molasses! I was introduced to this stuff by a friend who made a brilliant spicysweet ice cream with it (which I will one day make, play with, and post, quite probably). It’s an intensely flavored syrup that you can find in middle eastern grocery stores, and it lives in our pantry alongside our pomegranate molasses, although we keep our saba (grape molasses) and our homemade sour cherry molasses in the fridge.

These ribs also feature mesquite smoke powder, which you can order from Auntie Arwen’s Spices (a really wonderful resource, where I also love to stock up on Two Knives Special Curry Blend and Thief in a Jug Garam Masala).

I feel like a cheater using smoke powder, but with our tiny apartment, we only like to go through the hassle of setting up the smoker for truly serious endeavors, like homemade bacon (which is curing in the fridge right now, so I’ll let you know how it goes sometime next week). For ribs like this, mesquite smoke powder is incredibly tasty without all the fuss.

I must confess that I first posted this recipe to Gothamist last week. I only mention this because the two comments that post garnered are beyond funny. One person wrote:

I am dissapointed. From scrolling down and only looking at the picture I assumed this had to do with the fact that this cut of meat looks like Manhattan. I was wrong.

And the other wrote:

is there a vegetarian option?

You gotta just laugh.

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Pumpkin Seed Cocoa Nib Brittle

This is autumn in its purest form, by which I probably mean its most candy-like form. Forget maple sugar drizzled on snow and all those other mental images we all picked up from Little House on the Prairie – this brittle is the real deal.

Offering to friends and officemates has been a blast, because people have a hard time identifying the ingredients. Chocolate? Nuts? No one knows.

The brittle was delicious on its own, but I think it would be even better as a crunchy garnish to cheesecake or some other creamy dessert. And I’m actually considering making up another bash to garnish the pumpkin curry cupcakes with maple buttercream frosting I’m making for a friend’s wedding this weekend. The authors of the recipe, which I originally found in Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate, even suggested grinding it up into brittle crumbs and using it to brighten up your oatmeal in the morning.

I really love dishes which work well as components in a large variety of meals, because they feel like not only a tasty finished product, but also like yet another tool to work with.

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Almond Buttermilk Biscuits with Sour Cherry Compote, Butterscotch, and Candied Pickled Ginger

This dessert is entirely Dave’s creation. He calls it CBGB (cherries, biscuits, ginger, and butterscotch), but I just can’t bring myself to call it that, personally. I prefer recipe names that really warn you about what you’re getting yourself into. It’s a due process issue, as far as I’m concerned – when I skim through recipes, I expect fair notice just by looking at their titles.

Here’s what you’re getting yourself into: The light, soft buttermilk biscuit has just a touch of almond flavor to it, that comes out more with each bite. It is the sturdy base which supports the other components in this dish. The sour cherry compote just blazes with flavor, tart and sweet and intoxicatingly intense. The pickled ginger barely needs to be candied at all, but the added sugar adds a nice crunch to the already crisp ginger.

The pickled ginger and sour cherry flavors really sing together – those two are the key flavors in this dish, the ones that truly dazzle the senses. And the creamy buttermilk pulls everything together, finishing the job in perfect harmony.

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Roundup: Yes, Of Course You Can Pair Garlic With That!

That fellow up there? That’s my partner, Dave. The one I’m always posting about. You may not have realized it yet, but this food blog is little more than a love poem to him.

He doesn’t really have anything to do with this post, though. This is the roundup of all your fabulous entries to Yes, Of Course You Can Pair Garlic With That! – an exaltation of unusual garlic pairings.

The entries are posted in approximately the order in which they came in. If I missed anyone, it was unintentional and I apologize, and will remedy the problem as soon as I am alerted to it.

Onto the garlic!

Knoblauch-Walnuss-Brownies (Garlic Walnut Brownies)
Hedonistin from Low Budget Cooking
Braving a dislike of nuts to create these brownies, Hedonistin determined in the end that they were pretty good, even despite the nuts. I really enjoyed the description of the progress of flavors and impressions that developed with each bite.

Roasted Garlic and Goat Stuffed Apples with Raisins, Honey and Cashews
Lyra Spang from Rice and Beans in DC
I can’t even begin to count the pairings Lyra put together here – garlic and honey, garlic and cashews, garlic and baked apples, and more!

Spaghetti with Maple-Glazed Carrots, Garlic & Raisins
Graeme Keeton from Blood Sugar
Garlic and… maple!

Clementine’s Garlic-Bean Pasta
Sarah from What Smells So Good?
Garlic and clementines is definitely a new pairing for me. Sarah describes the multiple uses she had for garlic in this dish best herself: “This is a satisfying vegan main course that takes full advantage of the flavour possibilities of garlic, here cooked until soft for sweetness and body along with sweet oranges, sautéed until golden for depth, and added raw with crushed red pepper flakes for brightness.”

Crockpot Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken
Lisa from La Mia Cucina
Garlic is so lusciously sweet, that even though I’ve never tried the combination myself, I’m not surprised it paired so well with brown sugar. Gorgeous work!

Ajo Blanco (Spanish Garlic Soup)
Ramona from The Houndstooth Gourmet
Ramona points out that “the Spanish have been pairing almonds (which have the same saturated fat amount as hazelnuts) with garlic since the days of the Moors, and the pairing dates back as far as Roman Hispania. [Ajo Blanco] is the original gazpacho and it’s primary ingredients are almonds and garlic.”

Pork Chop, Peaches and Garlic on a Bed of Couscous
Elizabeth from blog from OUR kitchen
Elizabeth wrote that the only change she would make next time would be to add more garlic!

Garlic BBQ Sauce
Mrs. W from Mrs. W’s Kitchen
This is the most astounding pairing I have ever encountered – garlic and Dr. Pepper. Mrs. W, my hat’s off to you.

Chocolate-Dipped Candied Garlic
Linda from make life sweeter!
This one I definitely have to try!

Chicken Legs with Hazelnut Garlic Paprika Crust
Lizet Kruyff from Mededelingen van land en tuinbouw
As a good Hungarian, I appreciate the addition of paprika to this mouthwatering chicken.

Chocolate-Covered Garlic and Caramel Surprise Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jessica from Su Good Sweets
Jessica, you’re local, won’t you spare some chocolate garlic fishes for me?

Apple and Plum Tarts Glazed with Garlic Jelly and Tuna, Hazelnut and Garlic Pasta
Julia from starkeymonster
The garlic jelly fruit tart looks amazing! This is another one that I will certainly have to try myself.

Chicken Hazelnut Lasagna with Roasted Garlic Bechamel

Gabi from The Feast Within
This is the sort of recipe I was dreaming of when I started this event. Thank you, Gabi, for making my dreams come true.

June 2017
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