It’s almost over. 2013 has been good to me, with exciting developments and lots of change, but with all the fluster and the bluster, with all the new types of stress and the unrelenting, unfamiliar feeling (for me) of not quite being able to maintain the grip on things in the way that I would like to, I know that I’ll be just fine when 2013 is a speck in the rearview mirror. Maybe it always feels this way, with the rush that November and December always are. And maybe the fluster and bluster is just a sign of activity. Whatever. Next.
My grandmother had the tradition every New Year’s Eve of setting outside a coffee mug that contains a quarter, nickel, dime, and penny. The coins should be shiny, and the mug should go out where it’ll get lots of air circulation. This was thought to promise prosperity, and I’ve never missed a year, never deviated from it or questioned it. The only thing is that living in New York, my access to the outdoors is a fire escape, so I’ve never been sure if that’s enough air circulation or not. Maybe you’ll want to give this a try. Continue reading
The other night I found myself sitting at my computer thinking about ghee. Several years ago I had a habit of regularly making it, and I’d use it in all manner of curries and sautés—it was fun to keep on hand, and it would last for forever. It’d been a while since I’d made a batch. As I was sitting there, I had the realization that ghee is nothing more than—get this—strained browned butter. It’s not that I ever thought ghee was a complicated thing to wrap your head around—surely others have conceptualized it this way before. But in any case, it was revelation enough that it catapulted me into the kitchen.
To make ghee, melt a stick—or two or three or fifteen—of butter over medium heat in a saucepan or small skillet that’s not black (it’ll be hard to gauge the ghee’s color if you use a dark pan, such as a cast-iron skillet). As it cooks, sizzling away as the water evaporates, the solids will separate, clinging to the sides and dropping to the bottom of the pan, and they’ll begin to take on color. You’ll want to watch closely, because once the solids start to color, they can go from blond to black in a matter of seconds. Look for them to turn reddish-brown—which is when you have browned butter! Remove the pan from the heat and immediately, carefully pour the butter through a cheesecloth-lined sieve to strain out the solids. (The purpose of separating the solids is to allow the ghee to have a high smoke point.) Once it cools, you can keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. Continue reading
At some point last year, my friend and 61 Local colleague Laura and I were at work, whiling away a slow shift by discussing dinner clubs. We came up with the idea for one that focuses on a curated selection of ingredients, where each 6-course dinner would have an ingredient spotlight, and then each course would have to use it in some interesting way. As we explored the possibilities, we decided that we needed to see this dinner club realized. Laura and I picked the ingredients—olive oil, honey, ginger, miso, mint, and orange—and I assembled our cooks and diners: Camila, Colin, Matthew, Laura, Nozlee, and me.
Dinner clubs are always fun for someone who likes to cook, eat, and linger over a dining table talking about food. But this one has been so much fun—so exciting, due in part to getting a great balance of food-curious people who are largely new to each other, but also because of all of the creative and delicious dishes that we’ve tasted. A few highlights: For our olive oil dinner, Nozlee made martinis that featured olive oil-infused vermouth. For her ginger appetizer, Laura made ginger-scented meringues stuffed with gingery, curried blue cheese. And at this most recent dinner Colin made a miso-banana ice cream, flavored with kecap manis, the sweet, thick Indonesian soy sauce. Continue reading
Wherever you stand on the cold soup spectrum—do you think they’re silly and have no reason to exist? Or do you just think we ought to call them smoothies, rather than soup? Didn’t we discuss this last year?—today’s recipe is one I was excited about well before I found time to make it. I wanted a simple edamame soup that would provide a good base for some fun garnishes. It turned out to be rich and hearty whether you serve it hot or cold, and easy and cheap, too.
Not to overwhelm you with quinoa, but I can’t help myself right now. This is very much a blueprint recipe and hopefully it’ll provide some ideas in terms of giving your old grain-based salads new tricks. My inspiration today, clearly, is spring: I want grill marks, I want tart and snappy textures, a zesty vinaigrette, and most of all, I want green.
When I think of fried rice, I think of, well, takeout containers, but I also think of vegetables that have a lot of crunch. This is one of the primary principles behind the stir-fry method: vegetables get a shock of very high heat, are tossed—literally tossed in a wok by a flick of the wrist—and that’s about it.
To accomplish this, each ingredient is cooked separately. This may seem tedious on paper, but trust me, it’s so not a big deal. The only real elbow grease required in a dish like this is to chop all the vegetables, and if you eat vegetables with any frequency at all, those are some familiar muscles you’ll be flexing. Continue reading
A lot of my dinners are ones that could double as breakfast. That’s probably just a fact of the vegetarian experience, at least for those of us who eat eggs. But to think I’ve been complaining about potatoes so much lately. I’ve been forced to make amends because my CSA has delivered 2 pounds of potatoes every week since Hurricane Irene (sadly, they got hit pretty badly, so we’re lucky to get anything at all). Sweet potatoes, of course, aren’t all that closely related to the potatoes we’re most familiar with—I think of them as a lot more like winter squash than Russets—but as I’m calling this recipe a “hash,” there’s little way around the newfound potato- and breakfast love in these parts.
I like dishes like this a lot, one-dish meals where the principle is just to throw things into the skillet in sequential order of how long they’ll take to cook, and then cross your fingers that everything finishes at the same time. The dishes for which it works best are those that have forgiving ingredients, and in this case there’s some give with the mushrooms and the kale. I was happily relieved, while I came up with the cooking times below, to find that the sweet potatoes never even came close to turning to mush. In fact in each test they were cooked perfectly, so sweet potatoes may be more forgiving than I thought. Continue reading