Friday, December 23, 2011

Foodity Food Food

Fudgy peanut butter bars:

Very similar to peanut butter oat bars. Not quite as good (in my opinion), but marginally quicker and easier to whip up, so good for a party where you realize you're short on dessert!


I remember polenta being delicious, but this recipe I followed the other day not only about took off my arms stirring but is so bland that it actually tastes like you're eating nothing.

Scalloped potatoes:

Always a joy.

Leftover latke oil:

Good for frying many things.

Grilled cheese becomes...

...oil-drenched double deliciousness!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


P.S. I feel super awesome for having just figured out how to embed a song. Although I don't know if I could do it again.

Two Things

1. These cookies:

Caramel-drizzled Cardamon Palmiers
(another one from Alice Medrich)

B. I cut most of them wrong because the directions were confusing. However, the wrongly cut ones were doughier and I think better than the rightly cut pretty ones. But they were much harder to flip on the pan when it came time.
C. The sugar on top clearly does not turn into caramel.
D. Amanda loves them. I thought they do a good job doing what they are supposed to do, but they're not really what I look for in a cookie.
E. I had something else to say but Alex came in and talked to me and I forgot.

2. New friend Emily thought of this latke trick: When squeezing potato/onion, use cheesecloth! This results in significantly less droppage of potato into sink.

P.S. Blogger posting seems to be in working order again. Mystery unsolved but no longer relevant.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


was super fun!

It was Alex's second day off in a row, after almost a month of nonstop work. So we made a day of it!

First, we went ice skating in Bryant Park!

This was fun. It was not even too cold, and by the time we'd been skating for half an hour, I had taken off my gloves, scarf, and hat, and unbuttoned the top of my coat! It took a little while to find my skating legs, but then I got pretty good. Today my hip flexers and the tops of my quads are so sore!

Anyway, once we stopped ice skating, after about an hour, I was suddenly so hungry I could barely function. So Alex took charge, and found us a little Cuban restaurant on 45th and 5th - and it was a total find! Alex ordered empanadas, which were only ok - Mama's in Sunnyside is much better - but I had a pork sandwich with sweet plantains and green salsa and onions, and it was just the perfect combination of flavors. And I don't even really like pork!

Escape to Cuba!

After eating, we thought we would continue subway stopping the 6 for a while. So we wandered over toward the 51st St. stop, drifting at one point into a very very fancy hotel-type building, all lit.

Eventually, we got on the subway, and emerged several stops later at 86th St., as we had last left off at 77th. The area around 86th and Lex is not particularly interesting, as far as I can tell, but there is a cute bakery we did not enter.

There are also pretty lights, and a good looking restaurant that was closed.

We had walked east a couple blocks at this point, and started heading north toward the 96th St. stop, and come 90th St., we happened upon Ruppert Park. I am interested in parks, so we wandered through!

One tree looked like it was conducting!

Once we had crossed through the park to what I guess was 91st St., we found that for a block it was a pedestrian-only street, which is great.

We also passed the Tasti D-Lite that Alex and Meredith and I stopped at a year and a half ago when we were walking down from the top of the park looking desperately for frozen yogurt!

Also, we found the super sexual pill.

We eventually achieved 96th St., and took the train one stop up to 103rd, which housed a lovely mural.

We also stopped at the East Harlem Cafe, which was cozy and lovely and delightful despite their bad hot chocolate. I would go back for the coffee and the atmosphere!

Across the street were some truly great murals.

We reached 110th St. and turned left, heading toward the 2/3 stop at Malcolm X Blvd at the top of the park; we had some business on the Upper West Side, which shall remain unelucidated because it involved buying a present for somebody! On the way, we walked along the Harlem Meer, which is beautiful in the evening.

After our business on the Upper West Side, we headed down to Finnerty's at 13th and 2nd - the only 49ers bar in the city, as far as we can tell! It was great to walk into a sea of red, to feel at home among California expats for the '9ers-Steelers game - especially because the game was so so great and satisfying and exciting and fun!

We were among friends.

Anyway, there are more pictures from yesterday, and I'll post the full album on facebook, possibly as part of a winter album. (Although first I should make sure I've put up all the fall pictures I want to!) Tomorrow I'm having a latke party, so I'll have to keep y'all updated!

P.S. Usually when I go to create a new post on blogger, it gives me the options of viewing what I'm doing in html or in, I don't know, regular, where it actually has buttons to do what I want to do and format how I want to format. But today it is only showing the html option! This is a pain, because I don't know all the html codes for centering text, changing font size, etc. Does anybody know what the deal is or how to fix?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stuff and Other Stuff. You Know, the Usual.

So I was transcribing at my desk, which faces out the back windows, this morning, keeping a casual eye on the guys doing some power line work across the way, when I suddenly heard alarmed shouts and caught a glimpse of them all scattering - to get out of the way, it turned out, of this:

Naturally, I found this highly amusing, and indeed my work suffered for the next hour as I watched their efforts to remove the ladder-thing from this poor guy's yard.

Perhaps you can guess from the existence of these photos that I was not,
shall we say,
working very hard.

This guy was equally interested in the proceedings
occurring in his neighbor's backyard.

Success at last!

After about an hour they finally got it out and down toward the street, and I had to go back to work, alas.

Anyway, what I was actually primarily intending to post about was, as usual, food! I'm working through savory recipes just as I'm working through sweet ones, with some delicious results:

Rice pilaf!

Rice pilaf is super easy and cheap and healthful and delicious. How rare is that?!? It's seriously just rice (I used brown rice), curry paste (which I had to get from Whole Foods because nobody else had it, but still), and whatever veggies you feel like (I used carrots, peas, and broccoli), sauteed in a little oil or butter and then simmered in a bunch of water or stock for like half an hour. I've been eating it with a little sour cream, which, obviously, decreases the health factor some (but it's light sour cream!), but also, equally obviously, increases the delicious factor way more.


Seymour Seid's Super Special Spuds!

The recipe on this is actually pretty unhelpful; the cooking directions are unclear, and it is definitely underseasoned, but it is basically like the dinner version of hash browns, so what's not to like? Potato, onion, and cheese, to which we added salt, pepper, ground mustard, and a little cayenne (actually, not enough of any of those things, or enough cheese - next time we'll know better), cooked covered in some butter, and then split between two for dinner! A keeper!

Currently we have a giant pot of what will be turkey stock sitting on the stove, with the remains of the Thanksgiving carcass inside. I have never made stock before, so it is fun!

Anyway, we also had four leftover Parker House rolls from Thanskgiving, which had gone super stale.

I was thinking about making them into bread pudding, but they weren't really enough, plus also I couldn't find my bread pudding recipe until too late, so instead, I them turned into...

...delicious tiny French toast!

I also tried two more scone recipes, and a clear favorite (actually the one I expected) emerged, so I tossed the rest. I haven't yet tried the chocolate walnut ones Ruthy sent me, though! That will be exciting.

I also tried two kinds of pound cake, with less definitive results.

The regular pound cake tasted ok and was a little denser and sweeter than I prefer, but had a truly perfect crust: light, crisp, delightful.

The light pound cake (which has leavening in it - baking powder and soda, if I remember correctly) has a fuller, less sweet taste, and is fluffy and soft. But the crust is just regular chewy boring crust.

I make pound cake so rarely it seems silly to have two recipes, so maybe next time I'll see if I can somehow combine the two. Debby posited that the amount of butter in the regular pound cake contributed to the crust; I wonder if the sugar has anything to do with it. Because I'd love to decrease the sugar and add leavening to the regular kind (plus trade in the nutmeg for mace, which is what the light kind calls for), and see if I can achieve beautiful crust + nicer taste + fluffy.

Anyway, I also made peanut butter cream filled cookies to take to book club (I now belong to two! - updates on those later), and they were a little bit of a pain, as are all two-part cookies, but totally delicious. They're basically oatmeal cookies sandwiched together with peanut butter buttercream. I think I would bake the cookies for slightly less time next time, as they were a littel crunchy (although Alex liked them that way), but I'm for sure keeping the recipe. They were a big hit at book club, for one thing! And they're way better than the stupid mocha pecan bars I made for a little party two weeks ago (actually, the other two people at the party really liked them, but my roommates and I, who have experience with actually delicious desserts, understood that they were subpar).

Yummy peanut butter cream filled cookies

I'm also on a little bit of a pudding kick this week, starting yesterday. I found recipes for bread pudding, rice pudding, chocolate mousse, and assorted recipes for vanilla, coconut, chocolate, and tapioca pudding (if I can ever find tapioca to put in the pudding. Foodtown, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods are all lacking in this arena, as is the 24-hour mart on the corner). Yesterday I made two different kinds of chocolate pudding.

Pudding actually looks pretty gross in photographs

The one on the left is from a page I have of four different custard and pudding recipes, photocopied from page 185 of I have no idea what. The recipes on that page include Vanilla Cream Pudding (with variations for butterscotch and chocolate, and which is the one I used), Pot de Creme au Chocolate (which I have made before and which is totally delicious, especially with whipped cream), Mock Creme Brulee (which calls for a package of vanilla pudding and pie filling, so I probably will never make it), and Tapioca Cream (see note above about tapioca). Basically, this chocolate pudding tastes more or less like store-bought chocolate pudding - aka, completely delicious.

The one on the right is from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert, and uses actual chocolate instead of cocoa. It is bitter and rich, and I would keep it except that the Pot de Creme from the photocopied page does the same thing better. So that recipe got tossed!

And that's about it for food right now! Here is some miscellany from my life:

beautiful new comforter
due to having
I assume
left the old comforter at the dry cleaner
since it was nowhere to be found
and I don't know how else it is possible
to lose a comforter

woman in Times Square subway station
who looked like a poodle
thanks to her very silly legging and shoe combination

Chanuka presents from Judy and David!
I look forward to these all year!
They are so fun to individually unwrap each night!
Plus they included chocolate gelt for Alex,
and it is delicious.

and last and best,
Ricco is visiting from Texas!
Yay, Ricco!
He is a friend from UCI,
and he is great.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Peanut Butter Kick

I'm on a peanut butter kick! Peanut butter oat bars (soooo good), peanut butter cookies (Aunt Carolyn's favorite recipe, deservedly so), peanut blossoms (except I had only four Hershey's kisses [thankfully dark chocolate], so I sandwiched the rest together with ganache... even better!). I also still have fudgy peanut butter bars on the list! This is possibly the most delicious phase of my recipe-trying project.

I'm also in the middle of scones, although I'm more cautious about when I bake them because they pretty much have to get eaten the same day. I made a chocolate chip scone recipe from an old newspaper clipping (although I forgot to add the chocolate chips, because the recipe never told me to!) and a chocolate scone recipe from a magazine (probably Sunset), and neither of them were up to par, so I tossed them. So it's back to my two basic buttermilk scone recipes, which I'll probably make at the same time sometime soon to pick a preference and toss the other.

Other recent failures:

Honey crisps, from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert cookbook. Made primarily of honey, butter, sugar, with a pinch of ginger. But the ginger just made them a little caustic, and there was this whole irrelevant step of wrapping them around a spoon to make them a neat shape, except then they just collapsed as if I'd folded them in half. And they were nice and crisp for about a day, and after that got sticky and gloppy and weird. They didn't even go well in tea. I tossed the last ten or so of them. It's too bad, because I loved her honey ice cream recipe. I do have a couple more of her dessert recipes, I think, and I'll still give them a try, although I tossed a few just because I am never likely, for example, to go out and buy buckwheat flour just for scones.

Also, espresso nut cookies (non-chocolate). Basically they tasted like neither espresso nor nuts, so all that was left was a sort of store-bought cookie dough taste. Blech. Jamie ate some when she was sick, because they were so plain. Fortunately, I am clever, and used them instead of graham crackers in a couple of crumb crusts! They make a slightly soggier and less voluminous crust, but they do the job and nobody but me really notices the difference. Now I have only a few left!

Anyway, that's the duds. Thanksgiving was a hit - see facebook for my photo chronicle! Everyone is always skeptical that squash pie is better than pumpkin pie, but I remain unfazed, because everyone also changes their mind after they eat some! What does perplex me, though, is how my chocolate mousse pie - a very simple dessert that I've been making for about a decade - sometimes turns out completely rich and delicious and perfect, and sometimes comes out pretty good-to-ok. I can't figure out that I do anything differently! Although I have noticed that it is maintains better flavor stored in the freezer than the fridge.

I just finished reading a memoir called Spiced, written by pastry chef Dalia Jurgensen. Actually, I'm pretty biased against even "top-notch" restaurant desserts, because even when they're by chefs who claim to be all about taste, they're very very rarely as good as I want them to be - and almost never worth the money. But Spiced was so engaging that if I could afford to eat at Dressler, I would give hers a try!

Although while we're on the desserts-not-made-by-me topic, Alex and I recently discovered Insomnia Cookies on the upper west side, after a between-shows dinner date, and were totally won over! I bought a peanut butter and a chocolate mint chip cookie, and they were both delicious - possibly a first for me, actually liking a cookie bought at a bakery. I will be returning anytime I find myself on the Upper West Side!

Next up on my cooking agenda: cheese souffle with Alex for dinner tonight (two nights ago I made a butternut squash soup that calls for apples, and it's ok, but a little weird and too sweet. we're eating it with sourdough and/or stuffing, which help take some of the apple-y edge out of it. the touch of curry paste in it is great, though!), and something dessert for a little get together with friends for tomorrow! Not that we don't still have chocolate mousse pie, peanut butter cookies, and peanut blossoms, but I want to make something new :)

I've been listening to an audiobook while I cook t his week, as I accidentally put it on hold instead of the print version. It's called When the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, and it is a quest story chock full of interlocking stories, mystery, and kindness. I'm halfway through and loving it!

And that's all for now!

Peanut blossoms sandwiches


Dutch baby!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Alexia came to visit a few weeks ago! It was lovely. I got to meet her girlfriend Kate and Kate's mom, and she got to meet Alex, and it was the best time!

We need a stepladder.

Sometimes Alex brings me beautiful flowers!

Jamie gave me a birthday present, made by her mother! Now I have to actually procure her birthday present in return.

I walked across the Queensboro Bridge and the view was lovely! More photos on facebook.

Some egg yolks are oranger than others.

I made melktert, which seemed like it would be weird and turned out to be delicious vanilla custard in sour cream pie crust with lots of cinnamon and brown sugar on top. So that settled that.

Also I made quiche! Yum.

Jamie found a great jacket that zips things off to turn into a jacket-vest, which as far as we can tell has no point except fashion.

Alex says hello!