Monday, May 13, 2013
Friday, March 1, 2013
when i worked downtown i used to take the city bus to the office. i felt very cosmopolitan, me wearing my sneakers with my skirt suits, my pumps tucked into my oversized shoulder bag, ipod shuffle blaring while i waited alongside the city folk at the bus stop. let it be known, it was nothing like Sex In the City, with glamorous suits, perfectly coiffed hair and speaking loudly on the phone about statistics and sales and bears and bulls. i once tried to negotiate an hourly rate for a candidate, got mixed up, almost tripped and ended up paying the guy more than he deserved and my margin was screwed; i had to explain to my district manager what had happened, how i had wanted to be like samantha jones but ended up looking like horse face carrie bradshaw instead. thankfully he was well aware of my er... quirkiness and that was a lesson learned: don't walk & talk at the same time, you lose money and look like a jackass.
there was another time where i was put in an awkward position. i had just finished a work out (back when i actually had a gym membership!) and i was standing there, minding my own business when an old school lincoln pulled up, the passenger window rolled down and the driver leaned toward me. i honestly believed he was asking for directions, kinda sorta not really like Pretty Woman and i was/am not hooker and he was not richard gere in a Lotus Esprit. he yelled out "are you hacking?" now. mind you, i had no idea what that term meant, but i figured it couldn't be good. so the best defense is a good offense, i retorted: "DO I LOOK LIKE I AM? GET AWAY FROM ME BEFORE I CALL THE PO-PO!"
you guys. no one ever says po-po, i don't even think they used it in Boyz in the Hood. but that was what i said and tho the guy drove away, i felt uncomfortable, like i had done something completely not me and thankfully this dude didn't know it, but i still felt like a farce. (never mind that it was a kinda sorta not really dangerous situation, I WAS BEING PICKED UP ON THE STREET!)
i have been thinking a lot lately about comfort. or more importantly, being uncomfortable. to combat this niggling feeling i made a huge pot of greek bolognese, a sauce that i have been making for a number of years now, that with the simple inclusion of cinnamon, cloves and my addition of star anise reminds me of pho, always puts me at ease. we had this for dinner and lunch for 3 days straight, and we still have containers of it in the freezer for the days when i'm feeling the need for comfort.
tomato + meat sauce atop spaghetti squash
adapted from gastronomy blog
2 clove garlic thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 lb ground chicken
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1 can huge diced tomatoes (muir glen's organic)
1 can huge tomato sauce (muir glen's organic)
1 generous TBL tomato paste
4 sticks cinnamon
5 star anise pods
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 spaghetti squash, baked and scraped
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
In a pot cook up the meats, crumbling them until they're in small pieces, you may want to cook each meat separately. drain any excess oil and set aside the meat. in the same pot, pour in a splash of olive oil, add in the onions and garlic, saute on medium high until translucent. season with salt. then add in the meats, mix with garlic & onions. season again with salt. pour in tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. add in the cloves, cinnamon, & star anise, stir in the tomato paste. allow to simmer, with lid slightly on.
simmer for an hour or two, until sauce is thickened, stirring every so often. at this point, you can serve this with any kind of pasta, or, you can continually add water/stock/red wine and allow to reduce, only to do it all over again. i did this for about 4 hours. cool completely, lid and fridge.
next day, heat up gently and if you need to add some liquid and allow to reduce to desired thickness/consistency.
for the spaghetti squash, simply cut in half, put in oven at 350 for 45 minutes, face down on cookie sheet. when done, using a fork scrape out the stringy flesh. if you want, season with olive oil & salt & chopped parsley.
to serve, on plate or bowl, add in the spaghetti squash or pasta, top with sauce, garnish with chopped parsley and then grated parm. BOOM.
Monday, February 25, 2013
No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.
And the black sign painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, the one that reads:
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn
The circus looks abandoned and empty. But you think perhaps you can smell caramel wafting through the evening breeze, beneath the crisp scent of the autumn leaves. A subtle sweetness at the edges of the cold.
~ Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
vegan caramel popcorn
as inspired by dinners for winners
1/2 cup kernels (organic arrowhead mills)
2 TBL canola oil (or anything neutral with high smoke point, like grapeseed or sunflower seed)
pop on stovetop in a 7qt cast aluminum caldero pot. heat up oil at medium high temp, throw in a few kernels & wait for them to pop. that's when the oil is hot enough. add the rest of the kernels and shake to coat. put on lid with slight crack so that steam can escape. (but not so big that kernels fly out) approx: 5mins.
when kernels stop popping, it's done.
roast up 1 cup of raw unsalted peanuts, either in a frying pan or casserole dish in the oven at 350, about 10mins.
in the same casserole dish, mix up the roasted peanuts and popcorn. set aside while the caramel sauce is being made.
adapted from oh, lady cakes
2 cans of FULL FAT organic coconut milk, fridged over night
3/4 cup raw turbanado sugar
pinch of salt
measure out 1 1/2 cup of coconut milk, skim the tops where the full fatty part of the milk is. for the watered down stuff at the bottom of the cans, save for creamy soups. heat up in a saucepan on medium heat. add in the sugar and whisk. allow it to reach full on boil, and then set the clock to 25 minutes. whisk the entire time, add the salt at the end. it will change colors, deepening lusciously. it will thicken, at your own discretion and what you want, you can take it off the heat whenever. i opted for a consistency that would make it easy to pour out, plus, i knew it would continue to cook in the oven....
pour caramel over popcorn/peanut, mix thru and spread in casserole dish. bake in preheated 250F oven for 45 minutes, every 15minutes rotating the dish and mixing it. when time is up, remove from dish and spread on wax paper/parchment on cookie sheet. allow to cool. boom.
Friday, February 22, 2013
it is 11:30am in the morning. i'm working from home and i've stepped away from my desk, in the warm loft room where the mid day sunshine is streaming in, and whipping together a quick dessert, something sweet, something tart, just for my sweetheart. the tiny urban kitchen i spend the bulk of my home life in is steamy, there is a pot of potpourri simmering, giving off a heady aroma of citrus and rosemary. i'm trying to roll out the cookies but the dough is crumbly, dry. i can feel the despair creeping in my belly, insidious and gaining in force as i'm trying to salvage the dough pieces falling off the rolling pin.
it's finally reached a point where i cannot save the dough but i am unwilling to chuck it. plus, there's a conference call i need to call into. so i go back upstairs, dejected, with a cup of coffee in hand, my lower lip undoubtedly in a pout. and i can't concentrate. amidst planning to attend two college fairs, and reviewing resumes, as well as being present during the online meeting, i'm silently lamenting over the botched linzer cookies. i don't know about anyone else, but wasting food is not fun, especially when the ingredients used are hard or expensive to come by.
finally, it's time for lunch and while i prepare a simple chả lụa sandwich, i also have the kitchenaid mixing up the 2nd batch of cookies, that will, damnit, be a success!, i am sparked by genius. a tart. i have learned that i prefer cookie crust tarts, and so this fruit tart was born. in keeping in line with the ingredients in the dough, i decided the filling would be vegan as well. honestly, a curd would be just as lovely, topped with fruit of course, or a custard-based pastry cream.
moral of the story: have a Plan B, friends. it saves lives.
Friday, February 15, 2013
maybe you think that because dw & i are nuts for each other we're all about valentine's day. truth is: not really. at the risk of sounding very gushy, we're a couple with many anniversaries. we met in the month of February, we make note of the first email we ever exchanged (ahem, dw keeps ALL the emails i've ever written him!), then there's our first kiss (4th date) to our first vacation together, and then later this year, a wedding that will result in another anniversary to celebrate. so, you get it, valentine's day is just another day to us.
we had leftover soup for dinner, crouton'd crusty old bread and watched an already aired episode of Survivor. but, despite vday just being another day to us, i made a little something for us to nibble on, something special, something sweet, something tart, just for my sweetheart.
linzer cookies with fruit curd
1/2 cup earth balance soy margarine2 TBL organic sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/4 cup spelt flour
in stand mixer, mix soy margarine and sugars until fluffy, scraping sides often. Add in the salt, baking soda and almond flour, mix until just combined. add in the spelt flour and mix. divide dough into two disks, wrap in plastic and fridge for 30 minutes.
preheat oven 350F.
when ready, on the counter have parchment paper on the ready and sprinkled with flour. take one disk of dough and roll out as thin as possible. slide dough, still on the parchment paper, onto a baking sheet. cut dough with 2” cutter, square or circle, and then cut another shape/heart/whatever using a 1.5” cutter in center of half the cookies. (aim for 12 cookies) do not remove the centers yet. remove dough scraps from around cookies and freeze the cookies for about 10 minutes. meanwhile, do the 2nd disk like the first.
when ready, switch up the trays. transfer frozen cookies to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat. bake for 7-8 minutes. cool on wire rack.
assemble cookie sandwiches like so: sprinkle powdered sugar on cookies with cutout centers. spread uncut cookies with jam or curd and sandwich with powdered cutouts. serve immediately. Boom
store in an air tighter container until ready to spread with jam or curd; will keep for up to five days.
yield: 1 dozen 2" linzer cookie sandwiches. (PS. the scraps could be used to make more cookies, i rolled them into logs and cut them up to make into simple cookies)
my previous Feb. 14 posts:
hot milk cake + meyer lemon buttercream
curried lentil soup
diy heart cards