Thursday, June 30, 2005


More of Me on BAT

Hey there all you culinary cats and kittens. Just a few thoughts before my big post du jour.

The ever-fab Tiffany once again allowed me to post on her fantasti-catty site, Breakfast at Tiffany's, this time, rambling about PICNICS. Check it out. (And here is a link to the skirt, in case you want to see it. Sigh.)


The Daily Telegraph reported that protesters threatened to firebomb the Hadley Bowling Green Inn in Droitwich, Worcestershire, unless the eatery stopped offering squirrel pate at £7.95 ($19) a plate.

The paper said the restaurant received about 25 threatening telephone calls and a string of malicious emails.

"I don't know why squirrel meat is so controversial," restaurant spokesman Barney Reynolds said.

"In the past we've sold meat from fluffy little lambs and it's not been a problem."


And just in keeping with today's theme, here is a reprint from for Tom Cruise's Pasta Carbonara Recipe.

* 1/2 inch of olive oil (for frying pan)
* 2 cloves of minced garlic
* 1 chopped onion
* 8-12 thick slices of Italian bacon
* 4 eggs
* 2 packages of spaghetti
* 2 cups grated parmesan cheese

In a frying pan, combine ½ inch of olive oil, 2 cloves of minced garlic, one chopped onion and the Italian bacon cut into small squares. Let simmer for about a half-hour, being careful not to let the oil get to a boiling point.

In a bowl, beat 4 eggs with lots of salt and fresh ground pepper.

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil. Cook both packages of spaghetti until al dente, drain and immediately add egg mixture to pasta. Stir the egg mixture until it is well mixed. The eggs are actually cooked by the pasta. (Make sure the eggs are thoroughly cooked before proceeding.) Pour in the mixture from the frying pan and stir. Finish with the parmesan cheese and serve!


I'm off to Taste of to come soon!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Spaetzle with Butter

I was tagged for a meme (answering of which has caused me considerable consternation.) that asked about our earliest cooking memories. I was reminded of a time as a girl (in 5th grade. How old are we in the 5th grade?) when my best friend tried to teach me to make spaetzel, (oh how I wish I could flash back to THAT conversation) but we got caught by the nanny, we were subsequently punished for playing with the stove, and the spaetzle never made it into the pot .

My next encounter with this Germanic dumpling was at the hands of Chef Hans Rockenwagner who I had a mad, mad crush on at the time. I was assisting him in a cooking demo, but the stars in my eyes prevented me from actually absorbing any information, and just left me blushing and stammering and hoping his publicist/wife lingering in the wings wouldn't notice my adolescent lunacy.

But now, now, I am a woman, in full control. No nannies, no celebrity chefs (with impossibly broad shoulders) just me, some wet dough and a large pot of heavily salted boiling water. And as luck would have it, spaetzel are just about the easiest thing on earth to make. I served it/them with a classic brown butter and parsley sauce. Not exactly summer fare, but exceedingly tasty, simple to make, and (at least for me) a truly worthwhile endeavor, years in the making.

1/2 cup cold whole milk
2 whole eggs, 1 yolk
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup butter

In a food processor, combine the milk, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the flour and blend until smooth. It should be a little thicker than pancake batter. Add more milk to thin or flour to thicken.

Melt the butter over medium-low heat, and keep the pan on the burner.

Bring large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Working in batches, pour batter through a spaetzle maker, a colander, a slotted spoon or a wide hole cheese grater directly into the water. Stir gently to prevent them from globbing up. They will float to the surface, when that happens, give them another minute or so, then scoop out, and drain, then add into the melted butter. Toss and serve.

Makes enough for six as a side dish


Moving between cars - as well as resting one's feet on the seats, sipping from an open container (even a cup of coffee) and straddling a bicycle while riding the subway - will be prohibited under a new set of passenger rules adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's transit committee yesterday, the first such rule changes since 1994. -NY Times

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Curry Passionfruit Vodka Cocktail

We were ready for action, when we showed up 20 minutes early for our reservation at Spring restaurant. My favorite foxy boy was in town and the master plan was to have an appetizer/little bitty drinky at the bar and bask in the atmosphere of this swank joint before diving in to the food. (That would have been a much better joke if you knew in advance that the restaurant was built in a former bathhouse and that the dining room is the old swimming pool. But you know, whatever.)

It was a balmy night (my favorite kind. Natch) and we were parched (well, as parched as two people who had just had seemingly alcohol free mojitos at an outdoor bar down the street tend to be), but alas, as it always seems to happen in these situations, we were confounded about what to drink. Solution? Ask the bartender!

And boy-howdy did she do us a major favor by offering up the Passion-Fruit and Curry Vodka. Can you say WOW? We sure did. It was a basic simple syrup (sugar melted into water so there is no grit at the bottom of your bev) seasoned liberally (and I do mean liberally) with curry powder and passionfruit. Cocktail adventurers that we are, we could not resist. It was artfully mixed with a nice neutral vodka and how did it taste? Well baby, it was whiz-bang wake-up-little-Suzy fantastic-o-rama. Sweet, yet not cloying, spicy and heady, icy and smooth, it was, in fact, the ultimate drink. Not something you swig, just something you sip on a sultry night. Very grown up, very nirvana.

While looking up some info on the venerable Spring (highly recommended Asian-esque seafood. Pictures still trapped on my camera, so I wont bore you with a review) I was tickled to see that Chef McClain had cooked a meal at a
James Beard Foundation dinner in 2002 that included: "Spring roll with lobster and curry-passionfruit sauce." Hows that for finding new uses for tasty concoctions? From Lobster to Vodka that sauce can do it all.

I will give you my recreation recipe. I assume the Spring-sters whip up their own curry powder (and passionfruit coulis for that matter) but my version seems to work too. Drink it at your next cookout, or with any light seafood appetizer. Enjoy!

1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons madras curry powder
2 teaspoons
passionfruit syrup
8 oz. best quality vodka
1/2 lime
Starfruit or orange segment for garnish

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil and add the sugar. Stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in the curry powder. Allow to cool and stir in the passionfruit syrup. Can be make a week in advance.

In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 tablespoons of the curry syrup, 4 oz of vodka and a squeeze of lime. Shake vigorously and pour into glasses. Rub the lime around the rim and garnish with starfruit slice.

Makes two drinks and lots of curry-syrup


Passion fruit juice is a good source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and carotenoids (vitamin A). It is rich-flavored and strongly, but pleasantly aromatic.

Review of Spring from Zagats: A “multi-sensory experience” that’s “everything a gourmet restaurant should be”, this Wicker Park New American seafood “standout” has surveyors swooning over chef-partner Shawn McClain’s “subtle, savory” and “sublime” dishes offered with “high-class service” in an “über-cool”, “Zen” “converted bathhouse."

If you are in the area, the
Taste of Chicago runs through July 4th!


Monday, June 27, 2005


Melon, Mint and Bulgur Salad

I just bit into a plum that was so luscious and ripe, it burst all over my new top. That's my kind of mess. Fragrant and sweet. A good Monday omen, don't you think?

So anyway, the weekend was a dream, was it not? So gorgeous out! I basked in it. My family (the branch who are so perfectly dressed and blissfully happy, they look like they stepped out of a catalog), packed up a huge wicker basket (which was hilarious, since the beach is pretty much across the street) and made our way out onto the broiling sand to frolic and whatnot. It was idyllic. I always fantasize about digging for clams or some such, but fear of toxic food holds me back. Oh well, maybe next month when I am in NY...

So anyway, the menu was the standard fare (I was not in charge you see. It's all about nannies and housekeepers and the home-delivered milk in these parts) with a beautiful chicken salad replete with home grown grapes and lots of fresh tarragon* and marinated and grilled veggies, green beans (seasoned with soy and sesame oil) and fresh fruit for dessert. The one contribution I made was this salad, no cooking required, and a dream to make. The colors are incredible and the melon mixed (quite classically) with the mint is a burst of summer. Try, and enjoy!

1 cup bulgar wheat, cooked (or rehydrated) per package directions
1 small honeydew melon
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
15 sweet cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup minced mint
2 tablespoons minced assorted herbs (I used parsley and scallions)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all, season to taste and serve. MMMMMMmmmm

Serves four


There are certain people, whom certain herbs, the good digestion of disturbs. Henry the VIII divorced Catherine of Aragon because of her reckless use of tarragon. -Ogden Nash

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Thursday, June 23, 2005


Anyone For Pimms?


Today is one of those days where I just need to get my little self out into the golden sunshine. As luck would have it I have plans with the ladies for a terrific al fresco luncheon, and in the best British tradition,(because this is the best thing I found to quaff in the UK) there will be a huge pitcher of Pimms and Lemonade. Mmm, Pimms. A sophisticated, gin based drink. The flavor is a little bit tart, and a little bit bitter, and altogether perfect.

The Brits consider lemonade a carbonated lemon flavored bev (like Sprite without the Lime), so my version won't be 100% authentic, but it will be delicious, refreshing and the most outstanding way to while away the long shimmery day. I hope you will check out their site (it's hilarious, and has info on the history of the bev if you are interested.) Serve it with watercress and cucumber sandwiches and enjoy!

1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
juice of four large lemons
5 cups cold water
4 cups Pimms

In a large saucepan, bring 1 cup of water and the 1/2 cup of sugar, heat until the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

In a large pitcher, combine the rest of the ingredients with a lot of ice. Stir and enjoy.

Makes enough for 8 large drinks


"1823 - Oysters were favoured fare with London's City gents. Gin was hip, but its distinctive character and bitterness was habitually knocked back rather than savoured. In stepped shellfish-monger James Pimm in 1823, opening his famous Pimm's 'Oyster Bar' in the heart of London. Esteemed patrons were soon washing down oysters with the Pimm's 'house cup'. Flavoured with liqueurs and fruit extract, this more palatable 'gin-sling' kick-started the PIMM'S® story, winning the hearts of many."

Gin was invented around 1650 in the Netherlands by Dr Sylvuis, Professor of Medicine at Leyden, Holland. Originally, he intended this 'medicine' as a remedy for kidney disorders.

Random thought if you are in LA and looking for something to do tonight:
JAX OF ALL TRADES 8pm at the art/works Theater 6569 Santa Monica Blvd. For more info and tickets visit or call 323.960.7829

***DISCLAIMER/CREDIT*** I totally stole that photo from Sam from Becks and Posh...pretty though, isn't it!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Scallop, Tomato and Hearts of Palm Salad

The recipe for happiness is so simple. Each and every day you must, you absolutely must have a meal that reminds you of the transcendence of food. Eat something that is perfect. You must see and smell and touch and taste something that gives you a moment to pause and reflect and cherish and appreciate. It will alter your life. Have an assortment of alluring ingredients, an explosion of color, a mosaic of texture and everything bursting with vibrant taste. Combine all as best you know how. It's the recipe for perfection, divinity and pure joy all in one. (Though I suspect those are all sort of synonyms.) While eating, feel free to indulge in a sinfully fantastic wine (An Alsatian Riesling perhaps? Or maybe a cheeky Pinot Noir), smile up at the bright blue sky or the person you are with, and for that dazzling moment you take your first bite, know that you are truly, truly, a lucky kid. In case you can't think of a recipe that would make you beam with pleasure and melt with happiness, try this one. It always works for me. Enjoy!

8 large, plump, juicy scallops or some luscious medallions of spiney lobster
1 vibrant green hot house cucumber, peeled and sliced into paper thin rounds
1/2 cup hearts of palm sliced into thick rounds
1 small red onion, sliced so thin it is translucent
1 medium sized firm yellow tomato, sliced thick
1 medium sized green zebra tomato, sliced thick
2 Tbs. fruity olive oil
Coarse Salt and Fresh Cracked black pepper
Juice of 2 lemons
3/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs sticky-sweet corn syrup
1/4 cup white (riesling) wine
A few chives, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, corn syrup, chives and wine. Whisk together to create an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper. (You can also do this in a blender, just leave out the chives until you are done blending)

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Sear the scallops on both sides until golden brown and just barely cooked through, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Now the fun part. Arrange the cucumbers, hearts of palm, onion, tomatoes and scallops on a plate any way you see fit. (I like to use a ring and make them all into a stack with the dressing on the bottom.) Garnish with chives and serve.

Serves two as a main course or four as an appetizer (but if you do that, slice the scallops, through the equator, to make sure everyone gets some.)


Northeast bay scallops were nearly exterminated in the 1980's by the toxic algae 'brown tide.' While efforts have been made to restore the scallops, they haven't yet returned in great numbers.

"British potato farmers demonstrated outside Parliament on Monday to publicize their bid to remove the term "couch potato" from the Oxford English Dictionary, arguing that the description of slothful TV addicts harms the vegetable's image. The group of about 30 farmers carried signs that read "couch potato out" and "ban the term couch potato." A similar rally took place in Oxford, central England." - Associated Press

June is National Papaya Month. It is also National Soul Food Month and National Seafood Month (among others)

What? No pictures? Nope, not until I get my camera back, figure out how to make it work with this computer (which is a Mac, and KILLING me) and realize that Flickr isn't part of a grand conspiracy to drive me to drink. More.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Kitchen Fire Safety

A few days ago the ignitor in the oven stopped working. Man was that a drag. Nothing dims my flame like not being able to cook. We don't have a microwave, and you can't really grill every meal, so the repairman was called and a few days later, he came to (very slowly) replace it. Of course, he was the extra creepiest dude and asked all sorts of strange questions, like "Why don't you have children?" Excuse me??? It was icky and it was expensive, and it took 2 hours (most of which was time spent waiting for his computer to reboot. Aurg) but at least the end result was a working oven. Or so I thought.

Last night, the oven was turned on for the first time since the repair to bake a carefully (and beautifully, I must add) prepared Cherry Clafoutis. (Recipe from the June issue of Food and Wine, which has some crazy huge typos -- it calls for 2 cups of milk, but later in the recipe says, "add remaining 3 1/2 cups of milk") and the oven promptly and dramatically burst into flames. Black smoke billowed out, filling the kitchen with an excellently pervasive layer of silky soot. I instantly turned off the oven (but not after peering in to see the clafoutis, and how gorgeous is was. It had not caught fire, just the stove had) then nervously called 911 (I had never called before!), and within a heartbeat there were 4 fire trucks (with at least 20 firemen. As each new man headed up I said "It's just a tiny fire!" I felt so guilty, but I guess to a professional, every fire is a serious fire. I also just didn't know how they all expected to cram into a room that can just barely contain six adults!) of course, by the time they got into the kitchen, the flames were totally out. All they ended up doing was opening all the windows and scaring the lights out of the cat. (Poor Methuslesa) That, as far as I am concerned, was great. It was a supremely lucky thing that nothing else caught fire, but it did rattle my nerves like a rusty chain in a gale force wind and make me think a lot more about kitchen fire safety. So after downing three martinis at the local bar (courtesy of the warranty on the stove), I thought I should have a refresher course on kitchen fire safety.

In professional kitchens, there is usually a sprinkler system and a dry fire retardant system that can be triggered at the pull of a lever or just with enough smoke. In most private homes, we don't have that, so we have to know whats what and how to deal with it calmly and rationally. So here is what I know, and you should too.

Have a fire detector properly installed, and make sure the battery is working.

Have a small fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen

Keep stove tops free from combustibles: Pot-holders, boxes, plastic utensils, etc.

Routinely check for and clean up accumulated grease in the hood or near the stove. Clean or change all filters monthly.

The most common fire in a kitchen is a dry fire. This is when you leave the pot on the stove, the water (or whatever) boils out. "This usually doesn't cause a great deal of damage. The heat may sometimes damage the surrounding area. The smoke may leave a residue and an odor. Hopefully a little cleaning up is all it takes. " - Information from The Hanford Fire Department website. I wonder where Hanford is?

"The grease fire occurs when oil or grease type foods are heated and ignite. A grease fire can do significant damage. Open flames can extend to surrounding cabinets or other combustible items. If unnoticed, a grease fire can extend to a major house fire, engulfing the entire kitchen, adjacent rooms or even the attic. This becomes a dangerous life-threatening fire. "

"Oven Fires. Most of the time an oven fire is not serious. The fire is usually contained in the oven, which is designed for high heat anyway. The oven fire usually suffocates or is easily extinguished."

In all cases, make sure everyone evacuates the house, then call 911 and report the fire.

If the fire is very small, you can use a fire extinguisher to try and put it out. But if the fire gets out of control, get out of the house and wait for the fire department to arrive. (If I had had a fire extinguisher, I would not have had to call the fire department...)

You might be able to extinguish a grease fire on the stove in several different ways. The simplest way is to place a lid on the pan and the fire should suffocate. A large amount of baking soda can also be used to extinguish a grease fire, so always have some handy. Once you have the fire extinguished, don't forget to turn off the burner. If the flames are too high, don't risk getting burned.

Never, ever put water on a grease fire. Water will splatter the grease and dramatically increase the size of the fire. You will easily get burned! NEVER try to carry a flaming grease fire outside. It will quickly be too hot to carry and you will certainly spread the fire over the entire area.

Fires spread quickly and it is the smoke, and not the flames that can kill. Knowing what to do in a fire situation, and keeping a calm head are the best things you can do to prevent any serious damage.

Wow, well, that was serious wasn't it! to buy a new stove. (Just kidding)


Buy a fire extinguisher!

Hot tap water scald burns cause more deaths and hospitalizations than any other hot liquid burns.

The leading cause of home fires and related injuries is home-cooking equipment.

When a smoke detector is used in combination with a fire sprinkler, it can reduce the loss of life up to 98.5 percent -- an increase of 48.5 percent over what smoke detectors alone can do.

Monday, June 20, 2005


The Cola Challenge

I can get a little bit giddy when I hear about new products in the market. Yesterday for instance, I was making a beeline for the dried pasta section to read the ingredients on the recently launched Multi-Grain Pasta from Barilla, when I lost my course (actually, I stopped dead in my tracks) when I spotted the new, exciting and enticing Coca-Cola Zero. (No, I haven't been in a hole and missed the gigantic launch campaign. I was in England. Which is not exactly a hole, since there is a little more sunlight) That's right kids. Coke with no sugar in it. Not exactly a new concept, but I was intrigued. I just had to know what the difference between Diet Coke (or as everyone else in the world calls it, Coke Light.) a sugar free cola beverage and Coke Zero, a sugar free cola beverage by the same manufacturer was. I bought a few bottles for a side by side tasting, (a la the Pepsi Challenge) and label comparison. I also went to the Coke website, (which is hilarious. There are recipes, FAQs, history and my favorite, the rumor page.) and basically found out the difference is who they are marketing it to. Seems that mostly ladies drink DC, even though research suggests boys want a calorie free option too...according to their press release "Coca-Cola Zero will be sweetened with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium (ace-k) Brand name: Sunett" and will be marketed primarily to men and boys.

As for the soda itself, I'm not the biggest fan of cola in general, (my father calls it belly-wash or gullet-rot. Charming, eh?) but I do like the occasional tipple and th
ought it would be fun (and hyper active) to see if these products are noteably different in taste and most importantly, aftertaste.

So now, for you Coca-Cola addicts (and those of you with fear-of-splenda) here is the Fresh Approach Coke Product breakdown:

Coca-Cola Classic - Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors (vegetable source), caffeine

Diet Coke - Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, sodium saccharin, potassium benzoate (to protect taste), natural flavors (vegetable source), citric acid, caffeine, potassium citrate, aspartame, dimethylpolysiloxane. Phenylketonurics: Aspartame contains phenylalanine.

C2 - Water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sucrose, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavors, potassium benzoate (to protect taste), potassium citrate, caffeine, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose

Coca-Cola Zero - Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, aspartame, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, potassium citrate, acesulfame potassium and caffeine

My personal blind tasting (cold soda, no ice) of these four products had Diet Coke as the clear winner, Coke Classic next, Coke Zero then C2. I was amazed at how easy it was for me to pick out the ones I was familiar with. The Coke Zero left almost no aftertaste (the way I find Diet Coke does) and was much spicier. (It is my understanding that Cola is predominantly flavored with a synthetic reproduction of kola nuts and cloves. Nutmeg and vanilla are secondary flavors. ) C2 was like drinking chemicals...the sweetener was overwhelming and the flavors were over pronounced. And Coke Classic, well, it tasted just like it should. Sweet and spicy with a great effervesense and just a slightly sweet aftertaste.

I was surprised to see a second diet product from Coke, but with all of the artificial sweetener choices out there, it is no surprise to me that they are trying new things. I hope this was of interest. Tomorrow, back to food, I promise.


Coca-Cola makes more than 400 products that are available in 200 countries

Diet Coke with Lime was the number one selling flavored cola of 2004

The kola nut is the edible seed of several species of tropical tree. Many soft drink manufacturers now use synthetic chemicals that resemble the flavor of kola nuts.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Another Cookbook Meme

Meme, Meme, Meme. Kinda like internet chain letters, they are (seemingly) lists of questions bloggers send around and ask each other to answer.

Both Sarah at Delicious Life - a foxy LA woman who knows her food, and the multi-talented Lyn at Lex Culinaria (both of which are among my favorite blogs) tagged me to play this round on cookbooks and I am happy as can be to oblige. So here goes.

Total number of cookbooks you own - Somewhere in the mid 200's. There are quite a few I could most likely part with, (the Potato Experience comes to mind) but I just can't bring myself to do it. Even the worst ones have something of value in them, right?

Last Cookbook bought - I bought three recently. Nancy Silverton's Breads From The La Brea Bakery (more on that later), The exceedingly ethereal Kitchen of Light, from Andreas Viestad (because I have a strange fascination with Scandinavian cooking) and New Irish Cookery (because one of my dearest friends asked me to name five traditional Irish foods, and I couldn't. The Shame! The Shame!)

Last Food Book Read - I feel as if I have read them all, from The Potato to How To Cook A Wolf, Nathaniel's Nutmeg to How to Read a French Fry, so I have moved on to some more vintage books. The last one (which is always nearby) is a sensationally glamourous book given to me as a very thoughtful gift - My Favorite Things, By Dorothy Rodgers (The composers wife). It has a timeless elegance that I revere. She writes effortlessly about home decorating, entertaining and the subtle art of being a lady. The recipes are all so exceptionally classic you cant resist dreaming of a black tie dinner party dripping with Hollywood Glamour. I really love it. And since the equally ladylike Claire, who gave it to me, had to travel to - I'm sorry, was it 46? Yes,I believe she said 46 (though she may have been tipsy at the time) bookstores to find it for me, it is even that more special and something I will always cherish.

5 cookbooks that mean a lot to me - I wish like mad that I still had my (or, more accurately, my fathers) copy of the 1956 Okinawa Officers Wives Club Sukiyaki Cookbook. I lost track of it some years ago and it was the first book I think I ever cooked from. (Hopefully it is just stuck on a bookshelf somewhere in my fathers house just waiting to be rediscovered) The others that mean something to me are all ones that bring me back to my childhood (wow is this going to be the most cliche list ever) Julia Childs' The French Chef Cookbook, The un-PC-named Sunset Oriental Cookbook (which has the best recipe for tea-smoked duck, ever. Mouth watering goodness), The New York Times Cookbook, The Joy of Cooking and my favorite baking book of all time, Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts (that one isn't from my childhood, I just dig it, not being much of a baker)

5 People I would like to see answer this: I will just say two people, since it seems like this went round like wildfire: Sylvie at Soul Fusion Kitchen and Tiffany at Breakfast at Tiffany's (which isn't a food blog, but isn't exactly not one either...)

I'm off to yoga and then an Orthodox kosher BBQ...can't wait to see what I'm served.


More than 1000 cookbooks are published in the United States every year.

De Re Conquinaria written by Apicius in the 1st century A.D. is the world's oldest surviving cookbook

On a sort of unrelated topic, a great friend of my sister and brother-in-law, Steve Amick just recently published the book "The Lake, The River and The Other Lake" (he even named one of the characters after my brother-in-law) and it got a fantastic review in the New York Times. Check it out, he is an outstanding writer. (among other things!)


Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Turkey Fantastic

It's tricky to keep up with the comings and goings of a girl like me, don't you think? Seems like I'm aways on the move, jetting around hither thither, back and forth. One minute I'm lapping up the chocolate love at Cadbury World in England, and now two days later, I'm in fantastic, lovely, warm as can be (sigh with happiness) Chicago, where I will be loitering and checking out the culinary fab for a few days before my jet setting resumes. Seriously though, four days ago I had no plans at all to be here, but then I suddenly decided I needed a break from my British break, the invitation was extended, and I was off in a poof of jetfuel.

The perfect welcome back (though, since I'm not from Chicago, it's more like a welcome here) to the US was a glorious six pound turkey breast (From Whole Foods. Cost? $38. Yikers.) I was directed to last night with the humble request to make something tasty for dinner. I thought it would be the perfect time to whip up a meal that was somewhat out of charecter from a cookbook on the shelf. Turns out, I didn't use any specific recipe, but did concoct this, based on a a title of a recipe from Jewish Festival Cooking. Or was is Jewish Holiday Cooking? Anywho, I totally forget the name and it's too far away from where I am sitting to go find out. (Ah, the Midwestern attitude is already seeping into my bones. Next up, portions for one that could feed six and a deep dish pizza.) The concept they espoused was Red Wine, Pomegranate, Olive and Prune, so its not really even remotely the same anyway, though I do think it has a Middle Eastern flair I dont normally incorporate.

Even though I hope everything I am going to make is fab (ha HA) I was convinced this was going to come out funky as sin (aren't I optimistic!), since the fresh fruit with olives and capers seems like an odd match, but I was super thrilled at what an incredible combination of flavors it turned out to be. Sweet and fragrant, salty and piquant, juicy and tender, it was a dream to make and filled the house with outstanding smells that had me floating. It took about 15 minutes to concoct, and 1 hour to roast, but if you were using a chicken (which I suggest, since in retrospect, I should have divided the turkey and frozen part of it or at least made a second dish with half) it would be a touch quicker. Try, and ENJOY!

(I am hoping to get pictures up today, but my camera and this computer - an annoying Mac - seem to be in a power struggle. Stay tuned...)

1 six pound turkey breast (no ribs)
1 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup raspberry red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons honey
4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
4 plums, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
1 leek, sliced thin
1/4 cup pitted black, brine cured olives
1 large tablespoon capers, rinsed
1/4 cup raisins (or prunes. If you use them, leave out the fresh plums)
1/4 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 pats butter
1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed into 2 teaspoons cold water just prior to use
Olive oil to coat

Preheat your oven to 375F

In a medium saucepan, combine the juice, vinegar, stock, honey and garlic and simmer to reduce, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let chill for a few minutes.

Line a roasting pan with foil and add in a single layer the plums, celery, leek, olives, capers, raisins, raspberries, thyme and pepper. Toss with some olive oil and place the turkey on top. Pour the marinade over the turkey, then rub with one pat of the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes, basting twice. After 40 minutes, remove the foil and baste again. Continue to cook until the skin is crisp and the turkey is cooked through, about another 15 minutes.

When the turkey is cooked, remove and set aside. Strain the remaining liquid into a pan and set on high heat to reduce (if you want to remove the fat, do so at this time), add the remaining butter and cornstarch mixture. Whisk vigorously and serve over the sliced meat and remaining vegetables.

Serves eight


There are over 200 different known species of raspberries but only 2 species are grown on a large scale.

In 45 A.D. the raspberry fruit were called “ida,” probably after the mountain they were found growing on.

Honey is one of the oldest foods in existence. It was found in the tomb of King Tut and was still edible since honey never spoils.


Saturday, June 11, 2005


Field Trip! Cadbury World

Ooomah, Loompah, doompadee doo…I went to Cadbury World today! How fun is THAT? Since I got shut out of visiting Prince Charles' organic farm, (which made me very pouty) I thought this was an excellent second choice. (See earlier posts about THAT) We had the best time too. It’s the closest thing to Disney this neck of the world has, and I could not have been happier. (I know they are the true evil empire, but I still get nostalgic for a little Disney magic here and again, what can I say.) Through sights and sounds, a 3-D movie, a tour of the a real factory, animatronics and short films, in less than 45 minutes we learned about chocolate, how it is grown, how it is manufactured, the history of the Cadbury chocolate company and Bournville, the factory town they created. It was super-extra-cheezy-wholesome-family-fun. With chocolate.

We went through the funniest paper mache rainforest to see where the beans come from, and 1800’s Birmingham to see what the original Cadbury Tea and Chocolate shop looked like. (Yawn) We saw commercials from the 50’s and 80's (A touch risque if you ask me. A woman in a tub gorging on chocolate.) and a set from a recent commercial. We got to dip our own piece of caramel in chocolate, and rode a bean-mobile through Chocolate Wonderland. (I kid you not. I SO wish they hadn’t said no photos, because this was like It’s a Small World times 10. Tacky, yet compellingly adorable. Totally crazy stuff.) We saw robots making candy and machines wrapping it, people doing quality checks (wow they must hate chocolate) and learned how come their most popular product is called Dairy Milk (1904, they were going to call it Dairy Maid, but at the last minute changed the name so they wouldnt seem sexist. Awww.)

But best of all? The worlds largest Cadbury store? No. They give out lots of free samples! Wow did that rock. It cost a small fortune ($20 for adults) for the actual (self guided) tour, and as hard as they try (and they DO) it is a little bit too educational to really interest small children, (not that they notice) but man oh man, I thought it was the best thing ever. I was especially intrigued (by the smell of chocolate everywhere? It was like a dream) by the history of the company and how they built an entire town with houses, recreation, stores and more in the (essentially) middle of a field to accommodate their workers. (It’s a super cute town too. Lots of parks and playing fields and cute shops) And how during WW2 they created Ration Chocolate. And, (this rocks) I saw Cadbury Eggs being made! (How? I’ll never tell). There really was a lot to learn, and I for one am super stoked I went. So, if you are ever in Birmingham England, pop by.

Cadbury World. Bournville, Birmingham, B30 2LU, England. 0121 451 4180


Oompa Loompa doompadee doo, I've got another puzzle for youOompa Loompa doompadah dee, If you are wise you'll listen to meWhat do you get from a glut of TV? A pain in the neck and an IQ of threeWhy don't you try simply reading a book? Or could you just not bear to look? You'll get no commercialsOompa Loompa Doompadee Dah, If you're not greedy you will go farYou will live in happiness too, Like the OompaOompa Loompa doompadee do

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Theaters July


Cadbury World - Photo Posted by Hello

Friday, June 10, 2005


The Chippy

There is a silly (but screamingly accurate) joke about British people seeing a line (or as they insist on calling it, queue) and just getting in it without even knowing what its for. The freaky thing is, they really do too. And being the most patient people on earth it (apparently) doesn’t even phase them. They just stand there happily and wait. Like sweet little sheep (Which are prodigious around here too, by the way. What’s up with that? There is just no noticeable division between cities, towns and absolute countryside here. It confuses me! One second, I'm in a chic boutique, two minutes later I'm out on the street dodging a truck full of cows! Help! It's like I've stepped into Green Acres! Whoa, I think I'm having a - circa 50's - Gabor moment, bare with me. I do love those Gabors. So chic! So fab!)

So if you are even still with me, you may be wondering, what does this have to do with food? Well, it has everything to do with that British deep fried favorite, Fish and Chips. Or as its also known, the Chippy (which is, of course, what I call a 20 year old replacement girlfriend, not food). I went to one today. And it really was all about the wait. (Well, and the food. But the wait really lasted longer) They actually recommend certain places based on the length of the line. The longer the line, the better (purportedly) the food. Uh, sure, whatever. I guess that makes Dad’s Lane Fish the best place in the country, because dearie me was that line long! I think I stood there for 20 minutes to get my food, which took about 45 seconds to scoop, salt, vinegar, wrap and bag up.

A lot of these places don’t have seats, (and with the grease haze, you wouldn’t want to eat there anyway. I walked into one in London last week and the air was actually palpable, I had to leave before I had a teenaged acne attack!) so you do tend to take out. This sheds some light on the fact they like their fries (the chips) soggy, since if they start that way, you don’t get all sad when you get home to eat.

Anyway, after the hectically long wait; and confusing the locals by taking a ton of pictures mixed with looking a little overdressed to be buying a deep fried dinner in this itty bitty country village, I opted for the mini-cod special. I resisted getting Donan Kebab, (whatever that is) Fa*got, (Click to enlarge the photo of the menu below to see what I mean. I know I am totally, overly PC, but that word, the one they use for cigarettes, just makes me itchy. I do sort of wonder what it is though. A bundle of deep fried sticks?) or pickled eggs. (Still popular in these parts. How retro! Really, really, retro.) The mini cod special was just plenty thank you. It was actually enough food for six large American teamsters. The “small” was double the size of what I got, and I didn’t even see what a large was, but my guess is, it comes with a forklift.

I obviously didn’t go there for the fries, because I like them American style, (read: Crispy outside, fluffy interior) but the fish itself was outrageously tasty and they did go together pretty well. The fish was deep fried to a sensational shade of golden brown, still crunchy, (after the 5 minute ride home) didn’t even taste at all greasy and kept the fish outrageously moist and flavourful. The addition of the malt vinegar gave it a mild zip that was nice. (Nice? Yes. Nice.) that I guess solved the problem way back when of not having fresh lemons to squeeze over it (which would be tasty too I think).

So fish and chips have a long history here, and while I don’t think I would have them on any sort of regular basis, the food being deep fried and all, I do think the people there are doing a super excellent job (worlds better than what we ate at the seaside a few months ago. Dreary, soggy, oily and kinda rancid.) and whenever I am feeling reckless or in a shame spiral, off to Dad’s Lane I will go.



"Expenses for food on Amtrak runs about $83 million more than the food service brings in, according to the railroad's inspector general. That sum, twice Amtrak's food and beverage revenues, is without the cost of maintaining the dining cars on long-distance trains and the cafe cars used on short-haul routes; if those expenses are included, the losses come to about $130 million.

Some White House administration officials have suggested that Amtrak should eliminate food service. The railroad cut hot food last week in the first-class Metroliner cars, and on July 1, it will not serve any food on trains through Albany." -NY Times

For a whole other version of my blabbling, check out my guest blog post (which I warn you, is very much for-mature-audiences-only. Oh and if you're my mother, really, feel free to not read it. Air kisses!) at Breakfast At Tiffany's.

You have got to check out Kuidaore. It's the most intensely exquisite food blog.


Random Food (and other) Thoughts

Why hello there campers! I have a lot of little random tidbits I want to share today. None of them really make a full post of fab, but it will just have to do.

If you are interested, check out my frivolous guest blogger ramblings on life in England on the fantasti-catty, (and lately, very much for-mature-audiences-only) site, Breakfast At Tiffany’s. She is a doll for asking me to post there. Thanks Tiffany!

Home made (at least, in my home) Indian food is not photogenic.

I wrote an email to Prince Charles last week asking if the candy-addict-small-fry-who-sometimes-visits and I could take a tour of his organic farm that happens to be near by. I was shut out. This especially stung since it is on the Gaurdian's list of 50 things all Foodies should do. Pout.

My all time favorite yoga instructor, the super amazing (and extra flexible) Darin (at Crunch,) sometimes mentions after class that eating curry may help prevent Alzheimer’s. According to the NY Times, he may be right!

“Scientists have found that the magic ingredient is curcumin, a component of the yellow curry spice turmeric, that appears to reduce deposits of beta-amyloid proteins in the brains of elderly lab mice that ate curcumin as part of their diets, reports Reuters. Studies have found that in India, where curry spice is a dietary staple, the rate of Alzheimer's disease among elderly adults is very low.” – NY Times

Pimms is the way best beverage! Check it out!

I made tempura asparagus yesterday for cocktail hour. I wonder what the difference between tempura and just batter fried is.(Actually, I just looked it up, there is no difference, other than aesthetics, except tempura is what the Japanese call it.)

Come back later today for an exciting foray into Fish and Chips…you won’t want to miss it!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Shrimp Cocktail

Hot damn, do I love summertime. The heat is part of my very being. Finally, I can breath a sigh of relief because the sun has penetrated this chilly corner of the world, wrapping us in its warm embrace. (For today at least. Sigh) The outdoors are calling. The charm of this little cottage is that the kitchen looks out on the yard, and the garden beckons…I can hear it now “Pour a cocktail, make some sandwiches and come sit outside! Bask in the glow, drink in the sunshine!” What kind of girl would I be to deny that sort of plea? Not a very smart one, I say.

Ok, enough of that. I just wanted to get the mood established for next entry into my ongoing cocktail extravaganza. I thought it was time to bring things to the next level with the one, the only, Shrimp Cocktail (or as the Brits would call it, prawn cocktail). A simple concoction you can alter in a million ways. It was snappy and sophisticated, spicy and cooling (All at once. Imagine that). We loved it. It just screamed Zing baby Zing! Try this version and have your own early evening dip into the sunny side of life.

¼ cup tomato juice
¼ cup tomato ketchup
¼ cup chopped tomatoes
large pinch of cayenne pepper
a few dashes of tobasco sauce
large pinch of black pepper
1 small jalepeno, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ yellow onion, minced
1 small carrot, grated
2 cups medium shrimp, cooked and cooled (shells removed)
1 green onion, chopped
1 avocado, cubed

Combine the tomato juice, ketchup, tomatoes, cayenne, tobasco, pepper, jalepeno, garlic, onion and carrot. Taste and adjust seasoning. Let chill for 10 minutes to let flavors combine. Add the shrimp and stir to combine. Garnish with onion and avocado and serve.


Cocktail: 1. A beverage that combines an alcohol with a mixer 2. This term also applies to an appetizer served before a meal such as a "seafood" or "fruit" cocktail, which would be a dish of mixed seafood or mixed fruit respectively.

Today in 1953 John H. Kraft received a patent for the manufacture of soft surface cured cheese.

During the sixteenth century, explorers brought tomatoes to Europe from the New World. the first tomatoes were yellow, which is how they became known as "pomodoro," which means golden apple.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005


International Outdoor Food Market

Last Friday I went to the monthly International Outdoor Market in a neighboring village, where mostly Frenchmen (and a few Belgians) set up and sell their produce, bread (baked right there, in portable ovens, boggling my little mind) olives, cheese, sausages and the like. I was melting with happiness at the idea of sinking my teeth into some unpasteurised, unregulated, lable free fantasticness. I really was overwhelmed with excitement. Had I been unable to hear the cacophony of British teenagers (they had school off last week) blabbling in the backround, I would have sworn I was in France. I had to just stop, close my eyes and breath deeply. Ah yes, England is part of Europe afterall.

I had to control myself, since we weren’t going right home afterwards, but I did manage to buy some oustandinly piquant duck sausage, the largest artichokes I have ever laid eyes on (they took 2.5 hours to cook in the hugest pot I could find), a variety of glaced fruits (why not, right?) and some assorted puckery olives. The strawberries were tiny and luscious, I wanted to cry they tasted so divine. The line for the bread took about 15 minutes, but it was worth it to have a long golden baguette still warm from the oven placed into my waiting arms. It was crispy and light, and gone in about 10 minutes. I was in my own little corner of paradise.

To cook an artichoke:

First, using kitchen shears, trim off the spikey ends of the leaves. Trim the stem and submerge into a large pot of heavily salted boiling water with a slice or two of lemon. They will bob to the surface, so place a plate on top of them to keep them under. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. They are done when you can easily pull a leaf off. Serve with aioli, drawn butter or whatever tickles your fancy.


STOUFFER'S® Brand began in 1922, when Abraham and Mahala Stouffer opened a coffee shop in Cleveland, Ohio. Their sons later opened a chain of restaurants. At their first suburban restaurant, in the Shaker Square area of Cleveland take out demand grew, so they began freezing popular items and selling them at a retail outlet nearby. By 1954, the family had founded the frozen food operation bearing its name.

Stouffers was sold to Nestle in 1973

Their frozen Meatloaf dinner has 33 grams of protein per serving


International Food Market - Photo Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Chocolate Mousse


I sometimes think I should bake, and seeing as this house (ah, this strange old house) is less than equipted for all things culinary, it is a serious challenge, so I hardly ever make the effort.

Every time I do, the beating and whisking gets the better of me, and I start to think my forearms are going to look like Popeye, and let's face it, that is just not that hot a look.

That (and a few other reasons) is why, when the candy-obsessed small fry who occasionally visits asked if I would teach him how to make chocolate mousse, I shuddered for a moment before my heart melted and I said yes. Could YOU resist a seven year old with big blue eyes? Yeah, me either.

Roped in as I was, (trust me, he didn't forget I promised to teach him) I thought I should be prepared, so I went to the bookstore and copied a few recipes down, figuring we could make two and do a compare and contrast. I don’t remember the author of the first book (or its name) but I'm pretty sure the second one was by Nigella. None of that matters of course, because I totally lost the scrap of paper I wrote the recipes on anyway, and had to use a hodge podge of ideas from epicurious, (and frankly, I am amazed at how many recipes for mousse there ARE out there) that turned out to be a complete whipping nightmare (cue Sailor Man music), but overall very fun to make.

Sadly, but perhaps because I am not the most brilliant girl that ever was, the overall concoction not to the small frys liking. Why? We used bittersweet chocolate. He said (please read this with a falsetto British accent and visualize the moppet who has just licked his plate clean, saying this with a chocolate mustache and matching beard) “Um, you know how chocolate tastes good? This chocolate does when you are eating it, but after you eat it, it doesn’t taste good anymore.”

So what did we learn? Use milk chocolate in mousse for children, separating eggs is hard for people who still haven’t mastered tying their own shoes, and chocolate stains must be rinsed immediately with cold water.

By the way, the BF and I both loved it, even if it could have been a touch smoother (easily remedied with a mixer, I’m sure) so I thought I would reprint it, with changes of course. Oh and if you worry about raw eggs, you can certainly temper them here, but I didn't bother. Try it, and ENJOY!

4 large egg yolks
cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup water
8 ounces chocolate, chopped

Melt the chocolate in the microwave. (Double boiling is SO over.)

Whip the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale (by hand this took me about 6 minutes.)

Whip the cream to stiff peaks.

At this point you can add any extra flavors, like mint or vanilla to the choclate, and stir to combine.

Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate and combine, then fold into the cream. Chill until set, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Makes 6 servings


Length, in miles, of a hose used until last fall to smuggle vodka from Belarus to Lithuania: 2 - Harpers Magazine

June 7th is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

How did the jury find the hamburger? Grill-ty as charred!


Sunday, June 05, 2005


Chicken, Date & Honey Sausages*

Why hello there dear readers! How are you today? Good? I'm so glad to hear it!

Are you all familiar with Paper Chef? It’s a virtual, on-line cooking thingy brought to you every month by the dashing, daring and darling, Owen of Tomatilla, and judged by the exceedingly talented Julie of A Finger in Every Pie. Basically, four ingredients are chosen and the lot of us food bloggers with too much free time rally round the cause and cook up a storm to see who makes what and how.

Sadly, every time I think about entering, it is either a month with ingredients I haven’t got time to rustle up, combinations I’m just not keen on or I just plain run out of time. Which is why, when this months surprise requirements of Buttermilk, Dates, Eggs and Honey were announced, I wasn’t jumping on any bandwagon. Turns out though, after a harrowing week being off line, and a curious urge to make chicken forcemeat sausages, I decided to give it a whirl…what the heck right? Turns out, I made a sound choice, and am happily digesting the results. This is my first foray into the Paper Chef world, and win or lose, I’m glad I gave it the old college try.

I whipped these tasty morsels up in about 5 minutes (plus about 15 minutes of cooking and an hour long chill in the fridge). It was so simple, used only ingredients I already had on hand, and was inspired and delicious. I was trying to go for a middle-eastern feel with the dates (because, other than people in Palm Desert, who really eats dates?) and honey, without ending up with a dessert. The solution was in the addition of the red pepper flakes and copious amounts of black pepper, sure signs this is no post meal pudding.

I served them sliced cold, on a salad of mixed greens with a honey-mustard dressing and was extremely pleased with the overall taste. Perhaps in the future I will skip the buttermilk, since I don’t think it added anything, but the honey was a good note and the dates added interesting texture to such a smooth sausage. Speaking of smooth, it would have been more traditional (read: French) to have passed the mixture through a fine mesh sieve before adding the rest of the ingredients, but I haven’t got one, and am happy bucking the system anyway…

I hope you will try making forcemeat sometime too, it’s a great way to use up bits from the fridge (I also made salmon sausages while I was bothering. Same principle really…protein, cream, eggs, season, create emulsion, poach) and tastes dynamite. I wish they took a prettier picture, but as you can see (below) they are a little pale to pop. Anyway...try, and ENJOY!

1 egg
1 chicken breast, cooked
Thigh meat of chicken, cooked, cubed
½ teaspoon salt
a few grinds of fresh black pepper
1 large pinch red pepper flakes
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons cooked white rice
½ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon buttermilk
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4 large dates, chopped large
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
A few cashews, toasted, chopped

In a food processor, combine the egg, white meat of the chicken, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic, honey, buttermilk. Puree until smooth. Slowly add the heavy cream until incorporated.

Stir in the dates, dark meat, parsley, cashews and parsley. Mix to incorporate.

Have ready on your counter a 1.5 foot long piece of SaranWrap. In the center of the Saran, scoop out a long snake of the chicken mixture. Fold the plastic over it, hold the ends, and roll along the counter to create a tight packet. Tie off the ends. Repeat with tinfoil, twisting the ends tightly.

Chill for 15 minutes to set.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a gentle simmer, place the foil packet into the water, with the ends curled up. Poach for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickeness of the sausage.

Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the sausage to chill in the water about 1 hour. Remove from water, but keep in the foil until ready to eat.

This sausage is fully cooked, so it is good col, sliced onto salads, as an hors devour with a honey-mustard sauce or grilled (carefully) and tossed with pasta.

Makes one large sausage, enough for 2 people or 4 appetizers.


* Due to confusion as to what this recipe was, I changed the name from Chicken Sausages with Dates and Honey.

TOKYO, Wednesday, June 1 - To combat growing food shortages, the North Korean government is sending millions of city dwellers to work on farms each weekend, largely to transplant rice, according to foreign aid workers.

"The staff that work for us, the staff that work in the ministries, are going out to help farmers," said Richard Ragan, director of World Food Program operations in Pyongyang, referring to North Koreans who work for the program. Speaking by telephone on Wednesday, he said that in terms of food supplies North Koreans "are inching back to the precipice."

"It does happen every year," he said of the mobilization of workers to the fields, "but the difference this year is that everyone is involved."

Gerald Bourke, a World Food Program spokesman, said Wednesday that on a recent visit to the port of Wonsan, "We saw thousands of people who were marching out of the city."

"Later, we saw them digging out irrigation canals," he said, speaking by telephone from Beijing.
A decade ago, up to two million North Koreans starved to death in one of the rare peacetime famines of modern history. The famine was caused by a cutoff in Soviet aid, a collapse of North Korea's industrial economy, and the reluctance of a highly xenophobic government to receive foreign aid.

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Lemon Zesting Nirvana

Recently, I was the overexcited recipient of a gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma by the mega glam Legs McGee and two of her extra fab friends…it was a superb gift, and yet at the same time, a perfect form of torture. How does one spend a set amount in a cooking store? It was a challenge indeed. But I was determined to find something for exactly the amount prescribed and not a penny more. I have already dedicated a few years of my life and several thousand dollars to that store, and for the last few years have been on a mission to not give them much more (I falter sometimes, I admit).

The gift card burned a whole in my pocket, and burned even brighter in my mind…

I made the journey to the extra touristy Beverly Center to see what was to be seen, and to try to find the perfect item. Something I didn’t have, would actually use, and would remind me of what a fun night I had that ended in such a fantastic gift.

What to buy, what to buy.

It turns out, after examining a questionable bright pink ceramic bladed knife, I settled on a new silpat and the current love of my LIFE, the Microplaner. Oh my goodness, I am infatuated.

I had thought for so long that there was no reason I would need such a tool. I mean, I have razor sharp knives and have always been fine mincing the heck out of the glorious, essential-oil, sunshiney burst of flavor that is the zest. Wow was I ever wrong.

This thing is the cats MEOW. The bees KNEES. The creme de la CREME. It is a dream come true, and my newest bestest friend.

I have now used it to grate chocolate for cocoa, parmesan for pasta and lemons for pretty much everything else. It made quick work of garlic and turned coconut into a snow flurry delight.

I guess this entire post is an homage to the microplaner, because I just plain love the thing. Go, buy one, now.


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Undercooked turkey at a Camden restaurant is most likely the cause of one of the worst food-borne illness outbreaks in South Carolina in recent years, the state health department said Friday. More than 300 people were sickened and one 58-year-old man died after eating at the Old South Restaurant in Camden about two weeks ago. Some 56 people also were hospitalized, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control. Dr. Jerry Gibson, the state epidemiologist, said the agency conducted lab tests and interviews to determine the source of the salmonella.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Onion Bhaji

For reasons completely unknown to silly little me, the West Midlands (AKA, where I am right now) is known for being the epicenter of British-Indian cuisine (or as the Brits call it, sub Asian food).

The food of India is so pervasive here, there isn’t a food store I have come across yet that doesn’t serve or sell something tikka, balti or curry. Gas stations, pizzerias, butcher shops, fish and tackle, you name it, along side the more pedestrian fare you can get a wide variety of tasty snacks, including something called bhaji, a deep fried treat that (oh dear, am I about to say this? Yes, I fear I am) is good to eat. And yet, fountain sodas are hard to come by. Go figure. (Must be something to do with the aversion to ice.)

I tried to do some basic research on the bhaji, but didn’t come up with much. I just know it is something that is deep fried, and tastes super yummy. Based on a few samplings, I got creative and made a batch last night. I was super excited about how easy and delicious, deeply mahogany and beautiful they were. The onion flavor comes out well, but they are insanely hearty, so next time, I think I would make them smaller. They are actually quite similar concept into the corn fritters I made a few days ago, yet much denser and with a very different taste, with the heat of the chile, the hint of lemon from the coriander and the sweetness of the onion. They are a sensational snack, and easily reheated if you want to make a few in advance. Try it, and enjoy!

1 large onion, rough chopped, then lightly mashed (you want some of the onion juice to release)
¼ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon cumin
large pinch of salt
1 jalepeno pepper, rough chopped
1 cup flour (or, if you can find it, chickpea flour. Look in the low-carb section at the market, it's there sometimes)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup water
Oil to fry

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the mix and add the egg and onion. Gradually add water to make a semi thick paste. The consistency should be such that no liquid should drain out of spoon when dropping them in the oil. Fry in very hot oil, in small batches and serve immediately with mint raita (mix plain yogurt with a bunch of minced mint).

Makes eight small or four large

According to several surveys, 30 to 40 percent of families do not eat dinner together five to seven nights a week, though most families eat dinner together some days a week. Families with older teenagers eat fewer dinners together than those with younger children.

A 2004 study of children 11 to 18 years old found that frequent family meals were associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using marijuana; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and with better grades.

Another study last year, a survey of 12- to 17-year-olds found that teenagers who reported eating two or fewer dinners a week with family members were more than one and a half times as likely to smoke, drink or use illegal substances than were teenagers who had five to seven family dinners.

A study published last year found that girls who reported having more frequent family meals and a positive atmosphere during those meals were less likely to have eating disorders.

Researchers at Harvard looked at the types of activities that promoted language development. Family dinners were more important than play, story time and other family events. And those families that engaged in extended discourse at the dinner table, like story telling and explanations, rather than one-phrase comments, like "eat your vegetables," had children with better language skills, said Dr. Catherine Snow, professor of education at Harvard and the researcher of the study."When there is more than one adult at the table, it tends to make talk richer, topics are established by adult interest and can be extremely valuable opportunities for children to learn," Dr. Snow said. - NY Times

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