Chicken “Tacos Mexicanos” with Pico de Gallo
Perhaps one day I will live in that mythical part of the foodie world where I buy and consume only freshly butchered free range organic meat. Seriously, I dream about that day. For now, as the wife of a graduate student who has left gainful employment to chase my culinary dreams, I eat whatever meat is on sale and pray that I am not giving us both cancer. That means that there are always spare chicken breasts chasing around my refrigerator because chicken is always sold in groups of three breasts.
I ask myself, who on earth needs three chicken breasts? People usually cook for two, or four. I’ve never seen a recipe written that “serves three.” Despite our general habits of consumption, where I live one can only buy chicken in quantities of three or six. Six is occasionally a reasonable number, and happens to be the number of people I can squeeze around my table in the wintertime. However, most of the time that leaves me dealing with extra breasts. (And not in the sense of my polka-star father’s favorite song “They’re Always in the Way.”)
Peanut Butter Mousse with Kaluah Ganach
As I’ve mentioned before, my husband may be the world’s worst chocoholic. I think one of the first things I ever really understood about my husband was his absolute adoration for all things chocolate. Continue reading
Black Bean Chicken Chili
Last night I was running late. Really late. It’s never a good thing to be leaving the grocery store fifteen minutes before your dinner guest is expected. Even if that guest is one of your best friends and the gathering is only a casual catch-up-drop-by-this-is-really-not- a-dinner-party-spontaneous sort of a thing.
As I was driving home from the grocery store, with no plan about what to make and the knowledge that I would have ten minutes to put it together, I was feeling a little panicky.
Bristling with impatience as I sat at a red light, I came up with and rapidly discarded several menu options. Everything, even my quickest of quick meal classics took at least fifteen minutes of preparation time. Then, with a sigh of relief, I remembered the easiest recipe ever. It also happens to be the first recipe I ever created from scratch by myself. Not that I am really proud of it or anything…
Peanut Noodles with Tofu
I cook for the people that I care about. When they are sick, tired, stressed, or coping with great tragedy. When they are elated, successful, or celebrating. Occasionally, I even cook for them just because they are hungry.
When my two best friends were preparing for their PhD. exams, I brought them brain food to eat the night before: grilled wild salmon with brown rice pilaf and spinach. When another passed his exams it was a tropical carrot cake with cream cheese icing. I’m always the girl who brings the birthday cake or I host the whole birthday dinner. Events like these are fun to cook for, and I do it with great exuberance.
As I’ve mentioned before, I love ethnic markets. Any small storefront bodega or Asian market beckons to me. When I enter, I rarely look for something specific, but rather pick up any ingredients that strike my fancy. I am particularly drawn by colorful ingredients, unfamiliar produce, and new packaging or formulations of favorite ingredients.
I find that this shopping habit keeps my cooking fresh, and challenges me to learn new techniques and cooking methods. It also sparks my creativity, forcing me to really think about the way and ingredients tastes and looks and how it will work with food that I normally use.
Recent trips have netted me a number of interesting finds that come together in this dish.
When is a scone not just a scone?
I might not have mentioned this here before, but I am currently in the process of opening a crêperie (Parisian-style, not the béchamel-soaked-retro-American style) . A few months ago, while I began to contemplate leaving real estate for work that wouldn’t eat my soul from the inside out, I sat down with a friend who owned and operated my favorite coffee house.
I was hoping to get some advice about starting up a food venture, but I emerged from the conversation with a companion in an expansion venture. It turned out that he was adding square footage, and was struggling to come up with food offerings. Ever since I lived in Paris and bought my first crepe pans I’ve been unable to understand why these wonderful foodstuffs weren’t more broadly available in the U.S.. The crêperie concept also had the additional benefit of being operable out of the very limited kitchen space we would have available to us. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I read the article on No-Knead Bread by Mark Bittman with interest and a vague sense of disbelief. His claim, that it was possible to make artisan quality bread with a dense toothy crumb and a substantial professional crust at home, seemed like an impossibility. I was curious enough to try it out, but I lacked a 6-8 quart pot that was oven safe at the 450 degree temperature that the recipe called for. Even though I didn’t have the proper tools at the time I clipped the recipe and saved it for a day when I would have such a pot in my life.
The claims in the article were sufficiently seductive that I was thinking about the possibility of bread even as I was shopping for Betty. As soon as the family left town and I recovered from our still-to-be discussed cookie baking marathon, I had my yeast out and ready. Part of the attraction of this recipe is its total simplicity. A few ingredient, a wet dough, a long 18 hour slow rise, a brief shaping then a two hour second rise all add up to very little active time in the kitchen. Continue reading