Saturday, September 12, 2009

Check out our new project!

We're cooking our way through the revised edition of Mark Bitman's How to Cook Everything!

Follow our exploits here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rigatoni with asparagus, ramps, pesto, and ricotta

On Saturday, Jon and I had our first successful trip of the season to the Union Square Greenmarket. The last time we'd trekked down there, the produce screamed winter, even though the weather teased spring. However, that unexpectedly un-rainy afternoon last weekend proved much more fruitful, and resulted in purchases of not just the baby spinach and ramps we'd seen in previous weeks, or the eggs we always buy there from Knollcrest Farm, but in lovely purple-tipped asparagus, too.

We had borrowed my mom's car for the weekend, so our next stop was the Brooklyn Fairway (with a quick detour to snag some of the season's first huaraches and pupusas at the Red Hook Ball Fields just down the street). There, in addition to our regular list of groceries, including a 35-strong army of Wallaby organic yogurts, we picked up some ricotta and fresh rigatoni.

We were too full of the Latin street food to eat much of a dinner that night at home, but on Sunday I steamed the asparagus, and tossed it along with chopped ramps in a pan of butter and olive oil, cooked the pasta and added it in, and then mixed it all up with some ricotta and the basil pesto I'd made the weekend before -- a delightfully verdant evocation of the season. I've been salivating at the photo ever since.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Okonomiyaki: Savory Japanese pancakes

While browsing the foodie web yesterday, I came across this post by 5 Star Foodie about the okonomiyaki she made at home after trying them on a trip to London. I'm a fan of savory pancakes from every cuisine I've tried, so it's no surprise that I've been eager to try okonomiyaki for ages. I haven't found a place in New York that serves them -- and I'd never thought to just try making them until I saw how easy it was in that blog post.

On the train home from work last night, I googled some recipes to make sure I had all the ingredients, and I saw that the most traditional version of the pancakes incorporates grated taro root in the batter, to give it a characteristic springy quality. Since Jon and I live among a wealth of Asian groceries, not least among them the original location of Han Ah Reum or H Mart, I figured I could probably pick up some fresh taro root, and why not make these as authentic as possible? I didn't want our first taste of these to be at all misleading.

So, I went with this recipe as a guideline, and mixed in fillings that we had around the house: chopped bok choy, shredded carrots, julienned red bell pepper, and sauteed shrimp. Then I topped it with a quick homemade okonomi sauce, kewpie mayonnaise, and, of course, our favorite condiment, sriracha, along with a smattering of shredded nori. They were easy and delicious, served up with an easy salad of mixed greens and blood orange, with a soy-citrus-ginger vinaigrette.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

An early spring feast

Inspired by our vernal meal at Blue Hill, we wanted to channel the first stirrings of the season when we cooked dinner on Monday night for a friend who had yet to experience the wonders of our new apartment (and new kitchen). On weeknights, I know it'll take us a while to get dinner on the table if we're making something suitable for company, so I always try to have something to snack on while we're cooking. Ever since I saw this recipe for edamame hummus and baked wonton chips on Not Eating Out in New York, I knew I had to make them, and so I did, with a spicier spin on the hummus and black sesame gomashio on the chips. They were delicious, and so green and spring-y, despite the need to use frozen edamame instead of fresh (since only the first tendrils of spring have really poked their heads out at this point).

While we munched on the hummus and chips, I mixed up the ingredients for asparagus and gruyere crustless quiches and poured them into ramekins to bake. While the main course spent its time in the oven, I was peeling the favas I had flipped out over at Whole Foods in order to repeat my favorite recipe from last spring, for warm fava bean salad with shallot-tarragon vinaigrette. The favas turned out as wonderfully as we remembered them, and despite an eruption of excess eggy goodness in the oven, the quiches were delightful in the end. Jon followed up with a demonstration of his dessert skills: a perfect springtime strawberry-rhubarb sorbet.


9 extra large eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
1/4 lb gruyere, grated
1/2 bunch asparagus
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter
mixed greens tossed with a mustard vinaigrette, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Slice the asparagus into inch-long sections and steam.
3. Beat together eggs, milk, and most of the cheese, reserving enough to top each quiche after baking. Mix in the asparagus, and add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Place a pat of butter in the bottom of each ramekin, and spread it around a bit to prevent sticking. Pour egg mixture into 3 or 4 standard-size ramekins, one for each guest.
5. Bake quiches 20-25 minutes, until they set on top.
6. Sprinkle reserved gruyere on top of each quiche, and move ramekins to the broiler for 90 seconds, or until cheese melts and starts to brown.
7. Carefully slide quiches out of ramekins with the help of a fork, and plate on top of salad.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Monday, April 27, 2009

Eating Out: Blue Hill at Stone Barns

We've been rabid fans of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Dan Barber's exquisite homage to the pastoral, ever since our first visits to this special restaurant set amid what were once actual stone barns on a Rockefeller-owned retreat in Tarrytown, NY. There's a location in the West Village, too, but we're so enamored of a trip to the close-by countryside -- to eat our vegetables next to the fields and greenhouses in which they were grown and our meat and eggs within sight of the animals that produced them -- that we've never ventured out to its urban cousin.

A meal at Blue Hill revolves around the most local, seasonal produce the earth and herds offer up, and one of our eating out goals is to visit at every possible turning point throughout the year, so we can experience their treatment of dozens of different vegetables, each at its peak of abundance and flavor. This is really the only restaurant in New York on which we'd splurge, though we're not averse to being taken there either.

Between our own devices and the generosity of others, we've now been there four times together (and I had been there once before without Jon). This, I'd have to imagine, makes us relative experts on Blue Hill and fair judges of the quality of any given experience there. When we made our first trip of the year up there on Saturday night, the resulting meal was a standout: spot-on and intriguing preparations of asparagus, lettuce, carrots, and ramps, the earliest signs of spring, evocative seafood, and the tenderest of grass-fed beef.

Here's a run-down of our menu, which begins with the typical profusion of amuse bouches:

Carrots and radishes on the fence
Emmer wheat and parmesan lollipops
Asparagus, pancetta, and sesame seeds
Yukon gold potato chips with sage, and farro crackers
Balthazar's potato bread with Blue Hill Farm butter and ricotta, and beet and carrot "salts"
Beet burgers (Second photo above)
Maine crab in carrot-dill broth with peppercorn sorbet
Asparagus with almonds, pistachios, caviar, and shaved preserved embryonic egg yolk (First photo above)
Crispino lettuce in lettuce broth with spring vegetables (Third photo above)
Maine lobster with ramps in fruit and vegetable sauce (Last photo above)
This morning's farm egg with speck and ramps on red wheat cake
Grass-fed beef with asparagus and parsnip puree
Citrus with milk jam and coconut sorbet (We got to eat dessert outside, which made this even more delicious than it looks below.)
Beet-chocolate cake with coffee sorbet
Pineapple with multi-grain cake and some sort of ice cream
Chestnut macarons
Cinnamon marshmallows, coffee meringue sticks, and chocolate-raspberry truffles

We were too overwhelmed by the time the second round of dessert came out to take in all the dessert descriptions... and it was too dark to get any good photos of them, but they were among the best desserts we've had there, for certain.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spaghetti frittata

Growing up, the only experience I had with cooking was when my brother and I joined our dad in his kitchen a few times a month. In high school, I began to experiment a bit with cooking for myself, but in college, I lost access to the requisite space and appliances to do much beyond microwave mac and cheese and suffer through meals in the dining hall.

The major exception was the summer I spent living with an amazing group of girls in a house in Somerville, Mass., a half-hour walk from our jobs near campus. A few of them were pretty tremendous cooks, and one of them, Naomi, introduced me to a dish that I fell in love with pretty instantly. I don't recall the details of her rendition of the spaghetti frittata, but I do remember how delicious it was, and how different from anything I'd ever seen.

The dish is now commonplace in our house, where Jon and I call it "spaghetti dentata" for the toothy bite the top layer of pasta develops under the broiler -- and where I vary the execution a bit every time I make it. Most often, we have this for brunch, but it makes for a great quick weeknight dinner, especially when you have lots of wonderful, farm-fresh eggs on hand from the greenmarket. Last night, I stirred some roasted garlic and onion jam into the mix, which gave it a pleasant sweetness, and served it over baby wild arugula with a mustardy vinaigrette.


1/2 package whole wheat spaghetti (we love the Trader Joe's brand)
6 extra large eggs
2 tbsp roasted garlic and onion jam (Stonewall Kitchen makes this incredible condiment)
3 tbsp grated parmigiano reggiano
1 tbsp butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain.
2. Beat the eggs with roasted garlic and onion jam and 2 tbsp parmigiano. Add salt to taste.
3. Melt butter in a 10-inch skillet. Pour egg mixture into pan, and immediately add spaghetti into egg mixture, making sure it's evenly distributed. Grind a generous amount of black pepper on top, and let cook over medium-high heat until the top is almost set (about 10 minutes).
4. Sprinkle remaining tbsp of parmigiano over top of fritta, and move the skillet to the broiler for the top to set and brown (about 3-4 minutes, but keep a close eye on it to ensure it doesn't burn).
5. Slice into six or eight wedges, serve, and eat.

Yield: 3-4 servings

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What we've been cooking

We know it's been a long time since we've posted here. Between the time pressures of Jon's first year of his PhD program, and the crush of production and post-production on my film, we haven't had much time to write about the food we've continued to cook all these months. In a sense, the blog had served its purpose -- it got us to consider our food more carefully and inspired us to cook with incredible frequency and passion. Still, now that things are winding down on my project, and with spring here and summer fast approaching, we want to try to start back up and share with all of you the exciting things we've been creating in our wonderful new kitchen in Woodside, Queens.

Here's a taste of what we've been cooking in our absence from the blog:

1. Golden beet napoleon with chevre and chocolate-balsamic vinegar, 2. Peas with shallots, tarragon, poached egg, and bacon, 3. Caramelized romanesco cauliflower, 4. Vegan carrot cake cookies with cream cheese frosting, 5. Spicy salmon with steamed broccoli, 6. Whole-wheat spring pea ravioli with ricotta and chives, 7. Shrimp with garlic scape pesto, 8. Cauliflower soup, 9. Fennel, orange, pistachio salad, 10. Homemade grilled pizza with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and a sprinkling of parmigiano reggiano, 11. Ramp and goat cheese crustless quiche with mixed greens, 12. Baby spinach, chicken, and asparagus salad with Dutch gouda and dijon vinaigrette, 13. Beet "panini" with caramelized onion and blue cheese

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