Category Archives: Cooking Chronicles

A Moment in the Kitchen: Moroccan Salt-Preserved Lemons

From JH:

preparation

Citrus sits especially well with me during the holidays. As does canning. The obvious next step: Moroccan Salt-Preserved lemons. After consulting recipes from  Anthony Bourdain, David Lebovitz, and Epicurious, I dove into a slightly modified version of their useful recipes (yes to cinnamon and cloves; skip the bay leaves and black peppercorns), and then waited 30 days before presenting them to my curious holiday party hostesses and colleagues. What does one do with salt-preserved lemons? I steep them in hot water with a bit of honey and make tea, but they’re traditionally used in Moroccan tangines, and I imagine they’d make a delicious accompaniment to extra-sharp cheeses, too. It’s times like these that I envy those out in California. Remember this?

30 days after sealing, the lemons have softened

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, Gift Ideas, On the Cheap, Raw Materials

The Lunchbox: 5 Good Reasons to Bring your Lunch

From DW:

leftovers for lunch

1. $10 a day x 5 days a week=$2600 a year. That could buy birthday dinner for 4 friends and myself at Masa (NYC’s most expensive prixe-fix), that Isabel Marant leopard coat I am lusting after, a yoga trip in the dead of February for two to Playa Venao, or an EOS Canon Rebel with a few lenses.

2. My diet plan of eating light lunches inevitably fails when I am starving. To avoid that, I am now eating breakfast and bring my lunch. The food I make tastes a million times better than Fritos and M&Ms.

3. Risk of exposure to H1N1 and other seasonal flus and colds at buffet-style delis…eeks.

4. Adorable bento boxes and amazing lunchboxes. I’d eat anything packed in these!

5. Think of all the time I will save not having to decide on what I’m going to eat, and how. Time better spent stalking cyber-stalking blogs, planning a vacation, or reading something inspiring.

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Another Moment in the Kitchen with More Green Tomato Pickles

From JH:

ready for gifting

ready for gifting

Same great recipe. Just a new, more polished look. The labels, I bought at Kate’s Paperie, but they’re made by Cavallini Papers & Co. After dressing the tops of the jars with everything from ticker-stripes to chintz, I decided that I still like the natural burlap and kitchen twine best. Should you, like me, be opposed to buying over-prized burlap, I suggest hitting up your neighborhood restaurants for empty potato sacks. I’d bet they’re free.

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A Moment in the Kitchen: Roasted Tomato Sauce

From JH:

roasted H&O tomatoes

roasted H&O tomatoes

With the very last of my garden’s ripe tomatoes, I decided to make sauce. And because these tomatoes weren’t the sweetest (cold weather is the culprit, I suspect), I chose to roast them before turning them into a pomodoro. My recipe is an on-the-spot improvisation. I used:

As many tomatoes as you see above (a mix of Jersey Devils, Tommy Toes, Austin Red Pears, and one San Marzano)

4 cloves of garlic (stiff-neck, my new favorite), smashed

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine (Cote-de-Brouilly Beaujolais, specifically, but any hearty drinking wine will do)

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Put the tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet, and drizzle them with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt. Cook them in the oven on the center rack for approximately 20 minutes, or until some of the tomatoes are brown and others look like they’ve “popped.” Transfer the tomatoes/garlic and their oil to a large sauce pan, smoosh them until they’re saucy, add the wine and cracked pepper and bring to a boil. Once the sauce begins to boil, turn the heat to Low, and let simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Add salt to taste.

I must say, I’m pretty pleased with how my sauce turned out. Again, that it was made from tomatoes that I grew myself makes it even more delicious. And to make that satisfaction last just a little bit longer, I chose to freeze the sauce for later. Won’t it be so wonderful to have summer tomato sauce on a winter’s night not too far from now. Yes, I think it will.

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Filed under Cooking Chronicles, Do It Yourself, On the Cheap, The Growth of a Garden

The Art of Cheese Curling

From DW:

tete de moine with fig jam

tête de moine with fig jam

For my birthday, JH gave me a very sentimental gift: a Boska Cheese Curler and a wheel of the Swiss cow’s milk cheese, Tête de Moine.

A Cheese Curler?  Let me explain.

I know, it sounds cheesy (ehemmm) but JH and I have a ritual that’s deeply linked to this simple device. In fact, it’s fair to say that our friendship has evolved both with and because of it.

I’ll start at the beginning: Every month or so JH and I meet  for dinner at Black Mountain Winehouse, a small, discreet restaurant on the corner of Hoyt and Union Streets in Brooklyn. Tyler is always our gracious and entertaining host and, frankly, he probably knows way too much about us than we care to share at this point.

During the winter we sit by the open fire in the back; during the summer we sit by the open window in the front. We always drink copiously, spill our guts, dream out loud, and come up with future schemes and projects…this blog was one such late-night revelation.

At Black Mountain the menu specials change nightly, but thankfully, the cheeses remain the same, and with every meal we order a double dose of the delicious Tête de Moine, a Gruyere-like cheese made by monks in Switzerland. It’s name translates to “monk’s head” (not “head of less,” as I first thought); French soldiers called it this because during the revolution the monks that they captured had wheels of the stuff hidden in their robes.

The light, delicate flowers that the cheese curler makes of the Moines once seemed miraculous to me. I actually thought that the cheese grew into this filamentous floret—embarrassing––until Tyler showed us the Amazing Cheese Curler, the magical tool of his trade, and gave us a demo.

boska cheese culer in all her glory

boska cheese culer in all her glory

It seems pretty self-explanatory, but after trying it at home and destroying several wheels of expensive fromage that broke apart when I pushed , Tyler gave me the tip off: The cheese must be cold.

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Cortes Oysters

From JH:

fresh from the pacific

fresh from the pacific

So. Oysters. I wasn’t planning to eat them by the dozens when I arrived on Cortes Island, but seeing as they were, a.) readily available, b.) free, and c.) fresher than fresh, I couldn’t help myself (and why would I?). The preparation of choice: Grilled. Just put the oysters in their shells straight onto the barbeque and let them cook in their own salty sea juices until their shells pop open. It’s easier than shucking, and if you have any reservations about eating raw shellfish, this should put you at ease. To accompany my oysters, I made three dipping sauces, all from scratch and with what I had the kitchen already (again, not planning on oysters, but in truth, they don’t need much). Might I suggest:

1. Classic:  1 tsp minced shallot mixed with 1 tbsp champagne vinegar, 1 tsp olive oil, pinch of sea salt

2. Spicy:  1 tbsp finely chopped radish mixed with 1 tsp Sriachi hot sauce (any hot sauce you have on hand will do), 1 tbsp olive oil, pinch of sea salt

3. Citrus:  1 tbsp dijon mustard mixed with 2 tbsp lemon juice, splash of olive oil, sprinkling of chives

All three sauces are simple, really, but they make surprisingly delicious additions to a pretty perfect meal.

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Labor Day Lobster!

From DW:

DW and the lobster

DW and the lobster

I couldn’t  do it.  For one thing, the clawing and screaming in the pot, and anyway, who in NYC has storage space for a lobster pot?  It may be a cop-out,  but I discovered a way to circumvent the painful process. At  Fairway you can pick a fresh lobster out of the tank and they will cook it for you and pack it on ice.

All you have to do is heat the butter, or if you are feeling a little more ambitious, throw lemon, celery, and potato rolls in your cart and whip up a lobster roll. A perfect end-of -summer treat.

PS. Seafood Watch approves!

homemade lobster rolls

homemade lobster rolls

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