Tag Archives: The New York Times

#GlimpseoftheOrdinary

Dear Laura Shapiro,

Re: Instagram Your Leftovers

I read your essay in the New York Times , but I don’t have a phone with a camera in it, so please accept this blog post v. an Instagram of my home cooking.

This is not a recipe. Not really. Not in the written down sense, even when I’m done here writing it down.

Last week, I got a bag of too-crusty sourdough rolls at a deep discount from a bakery. I tossed them in the freezer. Saturday, while I was poking through, seeing what I had on hand before planning my midweek trip to the grocery store, Hmmm – I thought – better use those before I forget…..I took the bag out to defrost.

Sunday morning, I actually read the Baked French Toast recipe I was given as a way to use them up. The recipe was from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummand.

Although I had the bread, and the eggs on hand (really nice eggs from a friend who raises chickens….Really nice eggs), some other the other ingredients I did NOT have on hand.

One was milk – I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t keep milk on hand. And then there was the heavy cream…..I keep a little half and half for my coffee….And blueberry season is really over, but pears and apples, with a little prep, could work. That’s when the sugar amounts hit me – ½ cup of sugar, plus ½ cup of brown sugar plus another ½ cup of brown sugar…and then syrup on top?????? That’s a lotta sweet to start the day. Or end it.  And at this point I was planning for something suppery.

I did have some buttermilk on hand (Kate’s – real buttermilk, not cultured)

Kates ButtermilkKates buttermilkk

because I was going to make a Chilaquile Casserole variation from Still Life with Menu (p. 177)

Still life with Menu

with leftover tortillas that I had planned to use in my lunchtime salads until I set one on fire in the toaster oven at work, deciding then never to bring them to work again, at least in living memory of anyone who was there that day. And some shredded taco cheese.

Yes, I had shredded Taco cheese on hand because that’s what they sell at the 7-11 down the street and I wasn’t going to drive over to the grocery just for cheese. No judgement.

So I cubed the bread into bite sized bits, covering the bottom of a non-stick 9×13 pan. I beat my six beautiful and darkly yellowed yolked eggs and added 2 cups of buttermilk, and some salt and pepper. I opened a can of Rotelle tomatoes with mild chiles and added that. Then 1 cup of the shredded taco cheese. Poured it over the bread bits in the pan. Most of the cheese and the diced tomatoes stayed on the top, so I re-arranged them to cover evenly. Put the lid on the pan and popped it into the fridge, went about my day.

At 6 pm I was back, took the pan out of the fridge, preheated the oven to 350° and popped the (plastic) cover off. There are several warnings embossed into the cover reminding you that it is plastic and it should not go into a hot oven. The contents seemed a little dry, so I poured another cup or so of buttermilk on top.

Oven ready, lid off, pan in, timer on for 45 minutes.

Mozart_Kitchen_Timer_WB_1024x1024

This is my timer. Awesomeness.

 

Looking good, smelling like eggs and chiles and tomatoes and a little bit of cheese good, tasting just fine. Something greens, something fruity – supper or lunch for several days/nights.

It took me more time to write this down then to make and eat it.

And thus goes another ordinary day.

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Filed under Books, Pantry, Recipe, Supper

Bright Lights/Big City

I had a dinner adventure set for the City. (By ‘the City’ I mean Boston).

One friend I knew, two new friends to meet.

It came together surprisingly easy – a couple of e-mails and we had a day, a time and a place.

Too easy.

Sooooo

I google a map, get on a bus and go.

Which is about when the plans started to unravel.

But I won’t know this for a while.

Not everyone has my cell phone number – and I have an old fashioned NOT-smart phone.

flip phone

flip, not smart….

No Facebook,

facebook

no Twitter

twitterimage

no e-mail….

email

Just phone…..

I got to the restaurant early….natch

They let me sit at the Lounge and served me water.

When I asked about the reservation for four at seven, they said:

We have no such reservation

Hmmmmmmm……..

Just then, my phone rings.

It’s the friend of my friend and I can’t hear a word she’s saying because  a police motorcycle goes by, sirens and lights. Then a police cruiser, also all sirens and lights. Followed by a fire truck and and then an ambulance…..

fire truck lights

Sooo – friend of friend will be right there – there’s been a last minute change of plans…..

As I wait I realize I don’t know exactly what she looks like….did I mention I’m in

THE CITY?!?!

I’m in the City, waiting for someone I don’t actually know. I’m getting really hungry now, too. Should I go  back to the South Station, grab a bite and get on the next bus out of town?

But who’s that? Friendly, quizzical…..could this be friendly friend of friend?

Two minutes later I have a new friend.

We walk down the street, stop at a place with tables on the sidewalk, talk and talk,  order:

Chicken Meatballs with tomato vinaigrette, garlic cream and pine nuts; Artichoke and Bacon flatbread with lemon-thyme ricotta and parmesan; Fried Soft Shell Crab with lemon-herb fromage blanc and frisee ; Falafel Pancakes with tzatziki, serrano and scallion  (falafel AND a pancake – Yes, please!),

eat, talk, laugh, talk, talk, talk, laugh……and in the end she offered me all the leftovers.

Yes, please and Thank-you!

Especially the  Roasted Cauliflower with beet hummus, pine nuts and golden raisins.

Time out for teachable moment:

 

  1.  Why are some golden raisins called sultanas?
    1. Golden raisins are made from WHITE GRAPES (DUH). Kishmish is another name for them made from  a  variety of large white grape.  We almost definitely had Kishmish because they were HUGE. Sultanas may be so named because they were originally from the Ottoman Empire.
Thompson_seedless_grapes

White grapes make lighter raisins.

And now on to Cauliflower.

Cauliflower

The first time that I roasted cauliflower, oh so many years ago,  it was for a soup. I had roasted the cauliflower  and as it cooled my son and I ate almost all of it. I wrote a note on the recipe to roast 2 cauliflower when making the soup…because we’d eat one before  soup. This winter, cauliflower has been so trendy that I never made snag of one at the mark-down bin.

caulifower who;le roast NYT

The New York Times had a Whole Roasted Cauliflower story and suddenly cauliflower is trendy.

At one point this winter, between the roasting trend and the drought in Cali,  cauliflower  were very pricey, indeed. The whole point of the cauliflower is it’s very not pricey-ness. Like it’s cousins, cabbages and collards, it’s meant to feed the masses. The hungry masses.People like ME!

When Cauliflower was common,. we ate a lot of it.

Botanical-Cauliflower-Italian-780x990

I had not one, but TWO ulterior motives for the leftovers.

Motive the first – find the roasted cauliflower soup recipe and make a single serve batch…

Motive the second – bring in the rest and create a little Lunch Envy.

Come lunch, I unpack ,

why THIS? Falafel pancakes???? mmmmmnom, and oh, yes, soft shell crab.……nomnomnommmmmm…

Then I am undone by homemade sauce and homemade meatballs and homemade garlic buns, which made the room smell divine as they re-heated in the toaster oven.

Karma got me good.

When I got home I couldn’t find the soup recipe, so I ate the leftover cauliflower pretty much as it was. Which was pretty darn good.

So there are days when plans can be made and plans can be undone and it’s still all good.

And there are plans for another night in the City.

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Remember, Remember the Fifth of November

fawkes cartoon

Gunpowder, Treason and Plot….GunpowderPlot

300px-The_Gunpowder_Plot_Conspirators,_1605_from_NPG

That’s Guy, right in the center of things

In 1605, Guy Fawkes (the one who’s name became attached to the event) and others were found with gunpowder in the House of Parliament and seemed to be trying to blow up King and Parliament. This lead to

The Observance of 5th November Act 1605 (3 Ja. I, c. 1,) also known as the “Thanksgiving Act

The Bill was drafted and introduced on 23 January 1605/06 by Edward Montagu. It called for a public, annual thanksgiving for the failure of the Plot.

That ‘s right – November 5th was a Thanksgiving Day in 1606, which is years before 1621…. 1621 isn’t quite as First as it sometimes thinks it is. Just sayin’.

Guy Fawkes got a whole new life in the movies.

V_for_Vendetta_movie_poster

and thus begins a new life for the Guy – as the Mask

The Guy Fawkes Mask  - this one as origami

The Guy Fawkes Mask – this one as origami

Since bonfires are the constant celebration of this day of Thanksgiving

Bonfire in England for 5th of November

Bonfire in England for 5th of November

the foods most associated with this holiday are bonfire toffee plot toffeeand jacket potatoes.

Jacket potatoes?

Mr Potato Head as Indiana Jones with a JACKET

Mr Potato Head as Indiana Jones with a JACKET

But really, Jacket Potatoes are baked (the bonfire connection) with the skins still on….

These three lovely meals in a spud were feature in the New York Times recently

These three lovely meals in a spud were feature in the New York Times recently

The link to the story and the recipes are here: Jacket potatoes 

Don’t forget!

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Filed under Autumn, Holiday, Thanksgiving

Pizza measures up

I decide a few weeks ago to write more on pizza, because there’s more then one good pizza, and pizza just needs more attention.  Because it’s so common and easy to come by, I think that pizza gets overlooked.

Unless it’s being made far too much of by certain foodie sorts, who want it to ‘authentic in every detail.’ Usually meaning tricky, difficult, expensive, exclusive. All the things that pizza is not.

Plymouth has several places that offer really good – and really varied pizzas. There is Italian pizza and southern Italian pizza  and  Greek pizza and even Brazilian pizza as well as not one, but 2, chain  pizza places all in the general downtown area.

And there’s still more pizza to make at home.

Last week the New York Times jumped my pizza story by 2 days because the food pages come out on Wednesdays, with Sam Sifton’s  story “A Little Homework” which is about – you guessed it – making pizza at home.

Here’s the link: A Little pizza Homework   on the website they added pizza to the article title.The video about making the dough is very good. Notice that Falco uses only his hands to mix the flour and water to make up the dough – no spoons to wash up!

Sifton’s right – making pizza dough is easy peasy. And it can keep in the fridge for days, so you can find the time. It’s the special flour that I have a problem with. If you don’t have any 00 Italian flour on hand – make the dough anyhow. If you’re hot to try it, you can order it on line. King Arthur Flour has an Italian Pizza blend that’s like 00 flour, if Italian Pizza blend flour isn’t on your grocery store shelves.kaf Italina flourThere’s another video on pizza at How2heroes which calls for bread flour instead of 00…

What I like about all this is that the sauce is simplicity itself – canned tomatoes, olive oil and a little salt, blenderized.

waring blender

Time to pull out the blender…sometimes I just use crushed tomatoes on pizza.

The other thing I like is that he weighs out the ingredients, which with flour ESPECIALLY makes a world of difference, although with this small amount and for this particular items, eyeballing it will work. But if you don’t have a kitchen scale…here’s the one I’m lusting after now, and if I remember – someday will be the replacement for the perfectly fine but takes up too much room scale that I have now.

foldingscale

The Tri fold Folding Scale

Another version - the scale folds up

Another version – the scale folds up

 

This is the scale I have now - it has plenty of measuring left in it

This is the scale I have now – it has plenty of measuring left in it

The other, other thing I like in the paper was a sidebar on what to drink with pizza. The answer is – Drumroll, please –

Just about everything!

To quote Eric Asimov:

One thing never worth fretting about is what to drink with pizza. What could be bad? Nothing. (Please pause and reflect here. Talk among yourselves) The Italians seem to prefer beer or cola (Note: in my family, orange soda) I think anything with bubbles is delicious. Dry Lambrusco is great. So is Champagne, believe it or not, especially with the Green and White Pies. …..and there are more and more recommendations and the last line is 

What to drink with pizza? Whatever you like.

 

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Irish Breads

There’s more than one way to loaf around in Ireland…..

Soda breads

White and Brown

Brown Soda Bread

Brown Soda Bread

Soda Bread in farls - a griddle cake

White Soda Bread in farls – a griddle cake

Oatcakes

Irish Oatcakes (they're not just in Scotland or Wales)

Irish Oatcakes (they’re not just in Scotland or Wales)

Blaa

Waterford Blaa - in the Irish Food Guide

Waterford Blaa – in the Irish Food Guide

and Cakes.

This is called Irish Bread with Golden Raisins, but really it's tea cake, even if it shows up in The Boston Globe and even if Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven say bread - it's cake

This is called Irish Bread with Golden Raisins, but it is really not bread, even if it shows up by that name  in The Boston Globe and even if Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven say it’s bread – it’s cake.

Most of what will be passing for Irish bread this week is actually cake – tea cake and seedy cake. If it has sugar, butter, seeds or raisins in it – it’s a cake and not a bread. It’s delicious and delightful, please enjoy,  allowing  me my Marie Antoinette moment by letting you all eat cake, but bread is bread and all that added stuff is cake.

Oatcakes have morphed into a kind of biscuit – or cookie – for the most part and are probably the most traditional bread of Ireland, although not the most famous. Oats and griddle baking go back to the medieval period when Ireland was saving civilization for the world. Don’t believe me? Read Thomas Cahill.    How_the_Irish_Saved_Civilization

Blaa is a sort of yeasted white bread roll, perhaps named from the Norman ‘blanc’ when they stopped in to conquer  Ireland. Recently it was a headline in a New York Time travel article, Dining in Dublin from Boxty to Blaa ( http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/travel/dining-in-dublin-from-boxty-to-blaa.html?_r=0 ) which includes  In November, I spent a week in Dublin eating my way through some of these restaurants, most of which opened in the last few years. It was my fourth visit to this stately city of Georgian townhouses and lively pubs, and I’ve never eaten better.”  a sentence I hope to make my own some day.

Soda Bread is the kind of bread that screams “Irish Bread” in the month of March around here. It is a bread that is leavened with baking soda and not yeast. Commonly referred to as “quick bread” they go together quickly – no rising time – and are ready as soon as they come out of the oven. Many of them are best warm….and are improved the next day by toasting, because they do stale up almost as quickly as they cook.

Because milk is an important part of the Irish diet – it’s called the Emerald Isle because of all the grass that grows there, which I great fodder for cows, so the butter and beef of the country is not a cliché, but an important part of the culinary landscape for centuries – Soda bread is often made with sour milk or butter milk. The slight acidity level of this liquid actually makes the soda work better.

The classic Soda Bread is a pound of flour and a pint of sour milk, a spoonful of soda and a little salt. Mix together, form into a rough ball, slash a cross into the top to allow the steam to escape the middle so it bakes all the way inside OR to divide it into quarters, or farls, for griddle baking.  The cross  has no religious significance, or if it does I’d like to see a reference from someone who isn’t a detractor about the superstitious Irish. But in typical Irish fashion, we accept the venom of our detractors into as compliments. thus confusing them, and then start to believe our own press. Sigh.

And now for a recipe that isn’t particularly Irish in it’s origins, but turns out a really nice loaf in American kitchens.

Irish Whole Wheat Soda Bread

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour (four cups of flour is roughly a pound – measure it by weight if you have a scale…..)

1 Tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon double acting baking powder

1 ½ -2 cups buttermilk (2 cups is a pint, and a pint’s a pound the world around….)

  1. Combine the dry ingredients. Make sure there are no lumps in the soda, it’ll leave dark patches in the bread. I toss it into a bowl and use a whisk to combine everything.
  2. Add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough.
  3. Knead it until it comes together, maybe for a minute or two. It should be firm, velvety and able to hold it’s shape.
  4.  Form into a round loaf and place on a greased cookie sheet (or on a silpat on the cookie sheet). IF the dough is a little slack and starts to schlump on the sheet, butter a 8-inch cake pan or casserole dish and bake in that to give the bread it’s form. (How do I know this? You know how I know this)
  5.    OR in a genius move from the current Martha Stewart Living Good Thing: form the dough into 16 equal pieces and place on a lined cookie sheet – YES – Irish Bread in Individual Loaf Form!!!! I’m planning to freeze it at this point, and then making as much bread as I need at any given moment. (Marthastewart.com/soda-bread http://www.marthastewart.com/1055131/pull-apart-soda-bread)Or divide into farls and bake on a griddle and let me know how it works for you.
  6.    Bake in a 375° oven for 35-40 minutes. The loaf will be brown and have a hollow sound when rapped with your knuckles. 
  7.   James Beard let the loaf cool before slicing….let it cool at least a little, it makes it easier to slice. Slather with butter…maybe some marmalade….with bread like this who needs cake?

From James Beard. Beard On Bread. Alfred A. Knopf. 1973. pp.164-5

James Beard

James Beard

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Filed under Bread, Holiday, Irish