Monday, April 16, 2012

snapshot: the food, the stories, the pictures

for those of you who follow me on
twitter - that teeny lot of you -
you know that i've been posting
as much there as i have been here,
save for using my phone to instagram
meals made at home
ingredients picked up at the store.
it's just...
it's just that sometimes it's easier to
come home and just make dinner,
you know?
no stopping and starting
with the camera,
with the silent fight larry
and i have as i turn the switch off to
take a picture using natural light as
he flicks it back on because who cooks
with such dimness in the kitchen?
with stopping to wash my hands,
to think about how to make something
that i'm tossing into a bowl,
pretty, instead of tossed into a bowl.

and then there's this:
you wouldn't want to read a lot
about what we've been cooking.
there have been a lot of salads.
a lot of soups.
a lot of things that you make because you have
to eat dinner, instead of things that you make
because they are blog-worthy, irresistible,
cutting edge or even slightly precious.

but, every once in a while,
i put something down on the table and
think, i want to remember this.
and then, instead of pulling out the camera and
turning out the lights, or dragging my food
outside onto the deck, i grab my phone and
take a quick(ish) picture, which
i upload to twitter. it makes me feel like
i'm still connected to...something.

so, if you're in that small twitter group,
you've most likely seen some of these.
but, if not, here's a glimpse into what i've been
cooking and doing the past couple months.

in january, we surprised our youngest sister, erin, with a surprise party (that she totally knew about), at my other sister, blair's, house. almost six months before, at my birthday dinner, erin told me that she wanted banana cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting for her 25th birthday. i made roasted banana cupcakes with the aforementioned chocolate cream cheese frosting (whipped using bittersweet chocolate) and these, which i've taken to making anytime i need a fail safe dessert. as usual, i left out the irish cream frosting and opted for the filling as a glaze. we balanced them on a cardboard tiered platter that we bought at homegoods. it teetered precariously all night, but never collapsed. score.

growing up, my mom made hummus for every holiday dinner. when i needed to bring in a dish for heritage day, i brought in a bowl with carrots. i'm russian and romanian - i'm not even sure hummus was entirely accurate, but nevertheless, it's the first dish of my mom's i regularly made. my mother feels very passionately about tahini-less hummus - hers is a simple blend of chickpeas, chopped onion, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and paprika for sprinkling. i made a batch when we had friends over, giving the mixture a heavy dose of smoked paprika and aleppo pepper before pressing puree.
smoked paprika and aleppo hummus

it may look like sludge, or optimistically, like deep chocolate hot fudge, but i promise you it was neither. this tangy, slightly spicy cherry ketchup was spread over dried cherry turkey burgers that larry made for a friday night dinner in february. he really wanted to skip the spread, but i decided to make it while he formed the patties. the ketchup was ready and waiting way before the burgers were done (somehow we had every ingredient in the pantry). and even though larry was dubious, he agreed it was important for the meal.
cherry ketchup

this doesn't look like much (except maybe a mess), but oh my goodness, we loved it. we haven't been eating a lot of pasta around here, but when i found the (new-to-me) blog, post punk kitchen, right around the same time she posted a recipe for these soba noodles, i was pretty sure we'd make it soon. we used green tea noodles, roasted broccoli instead of cauliflower, grilled tofu in place of lentils and scallions, which for me were necessary. commenters were pretty clear that this bowl of food was more than memorable, and even though i made it, i wasn't expecting much from such simple ingredients. i was wrong.
green tea soba noodles

a few weeks ago, several of us at work cooked lunch for the others to help raise money for a final fundraising push. i made those chocolate cupcakes again (fail safe, i promise you), using reduced coffee in place of stout and vanilla extract instead whisky (work event) and, for the second time, i made these salted brown butter rice crispy squares, using homemade marshmallows that i had sitting on the counter and desperately wanted to get rid of, lest they would be eaten or go unnoticed and stale.
brown butter rice krispies squares

my mom visited new orleans in mid-march. larry, innocently - i like to believe - asked her to pick up a bottle of bourbon he enjoyed on our last night in nola. at that table in cochon, he fell in love at first sip, not realizing that that drink was unavailable in, or for shipping to, new jersey. my mom searched the city, unable to uncover a bottle, until one day at restaurant august for lunch, she noticed it on the menu. she inquired, only to find out that only one liquor store in the city sold it. they trekked out there, got the bottle and wrapped it very carefully in a box they had shipped home. when she opened it in front of us, one week later, the buffalo trace was perfectly in tact. it was the jar of pickled okra, next to the bourbon, that had suffered. we made a deal: if i made her pickled okra, we were even. so, i looked at a few recipes before cobbling together my own: cherry peppers, a blend of white and apple cider vinegar, garlic, coriander and red pepper flakes. i think we were both happy with the results.
pickled okra

i can't claim to have made this tuscan onion confit from merrill of food52, unless you call cooking toasting the almonds the night before and coming home after 1 1/2 hours of cooking to stir the mixture and drizzle in extra vinegar. i wanted to make it to serve with the turkey my mother was making on easter sunday. (yes, somehow, we missed passover, but celebrated with an easter dinner this year - with several people at the table who do in fact celebrate easter.) however, i had to work the day before - luckily, larry agreed to take ownership of the confit. it was memorable: sticky, sweet, slightly tangy and deeply nutty.
pearl onion confit

that next night, i had planned to make a snap pea, radish and feta salad, in celebration of spring. but between the turkey, the confit, the matzoh stuffing and homemade applesauce, it just didn't seem like a spring table in need of a cold salad. the day of, i switched my plan to a recipe that was fast, required little prep and most importantly, took up a minimal amount of space in my mother's kitchen and her stove top while she tried to make dinner. i've never prepared radishes any way but raw, but now, i kind of love the tender bite of them braised. one tablespoon of butter doesn't seem like very much for 2 pounds of vegetables, but let me tell you, these radishes from food and wine were buttery. tinted pink, they were pretty, too. my only wish is that i had stirred the sorrel in, instead of sprinkling the greens on top.
butter-braised radishes

and that's that. 3 months. 8 recipes to show for it. 8 pretty good recipes. stories included.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I'm now alternating between craving cupcakes and marshmallows! Yum.