Friday, December 23, 2011

making a list

The 11-day office closure that I've been looking forward to has already been interrupted by work and is expected to be interrupted by further work next week. In an effort not to succumb to bad mood bears, I've made a list of all of the fun and relaxing things to do when not working.

1. Read about Roosevelt and the Night Circus.

2. Make many cookies.

3. Practice Moroccan recipes for January's cookbook club.

4. Listen to Buble's Christmas.

5. Eat some oysters and see A Christmas Carol.

6. Taste wine. This is a separate blog post in and of itself. After spending hours of research time on tripadvisor, my Sonoma wine country itinerary is a thing of pride.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

the enforcer

Read this fascinating three-part article about hockey, fighting, and Derek Boogaard who died earlier this year. And I'm not just saying that because I've met D.J. King at a bar in Clarendon.

black bean pumpkin soup

Do you need another delicious dinner idea? This time I recommend black bean pumpkin soup (don't worry, meat-needers, it has ham!). It's incredibly flavorful, and before you know it, you've eaten two gigantor bowls, you've burned your mouth, and you're so full that all you can do is sprawl on the couch and read the Steve Jobs biography. True story.

I made two minor substitutions out of necessity: additional shallots in place of the onion and Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon boxed wine instead of dry Sherry. That didn't seem to mess it up.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

around my french table

This month's cookbook club book: around my french table by Dorie Greenspan.

Yes, I've started a cookbook club. After reading this blog post, there was no way that I wasn't going to start/be in one. And having participated in regular book clubs before, two things have always held true for me: 1. I never like reading for pleasure a book that someone else has picked for me that I have little interest in. 2. Getting together and bringing snacks and food and eating and drinking wine were always the best part of book club. So why not make the club about the cooking and eating? Sheer genius.

We met this past Sunday and ate an amazing array of dishes from this month's book. We made: onion biscuits, cheese and olive bread, leek and potato soup, cafe-style grated carrot salad, bacon and eggs and asparagus salad, pumpkin-gorgonzola flans, a mustard tart, beef daube (beef stew, uses a whole bottle of wine!), hachis parmentier (shepherd's pie), slow-roasted tomatoes, cauliflower-bacon gratin, and apple cake with ice cream. Everyone's dish came out well, we had a great variety, and cookbook club is officially awesome.

This book has some solid recipes and was a good investment. My only complaint is that I can't make "pumpkin stuffed with everything good" (pie pumpkin stuffed with bacon, cheese, bread, cream, and herbs, baked, and pumpkin scraped and mixed into the filling; oh and then you can roast the pumpkin seeds for an extra fun snack) year-round. I made one in mid-October, but pumpkins were gone from my grocery store by October 30. Must plan ahead next year!

I'm definitely looking forward to January's cookbook club. Next book: TBD!

butter and shrimp and grits and bacon

Do you need a delicious dinner idea? Try making butter-poached shrimp with grits. I'll tell you what, despite the limitations imposed on me by the local Teeter -- only frozen shrimp instead of fresh and 5-minute grits instead of stoneground available -- the dish was incredibly satisfying and flavorful. Cooking the grits in bacon and the shrimp in a cup of butter (2 sticks!!) probably accounts for the flavor and buttery shrimp goodness. Hey, I never said this was a healthy dinner idea.

This recipe is apparently reprinted from Michael Ruhlman's Ruhlman's Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook's Manifesto. I'm curious to see some of his other recipes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On repeat

Snack on repeat: wasabi peas. Pro column: spicy and amazingly crunchy. If you put too many in your mouth, the wasabi shoots up your nose and clears your sinuses. Con column: contains MSG. Why, wasabi, why?

Song on repeat: It Will Rain by Bruno Mars. This song is a trifecta: it's a slow jam, it's from the latest Twilight movie soundtrack, and Bruno Mars happens to kind of be adorable.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

J&G's Butternut Squash Soup

Be under no illusions -- working with butternut squash is a huge p in the b. That being said, this recipe makes a pretty awesome soup.

I actually made this soup once last year and was underwhelmed by how little meat it had (none). It just wasn't filling. Yet fall is here again and I found myself craving this soup as an appetizer or a light lunch. So let's revisit.

The recipe calls for crème fraîche, and I can't read or say "crème fraîche" without thinking of a South Park episode that P had me watch a while ago. Um, this:

Harris Teeter didn't appear to sell crème fraîche, but the word on the street is that you can make your own using some cream and buttermilk and a little time out on your counter. It can be used like sour cream, but unlike sour cream, it can also be whipped. I decided to leave the crème fraîche experiment for another day and use Greek yogurt, which is arguably more healthy but still makes the soup plenty creamy.

I also followed the shiitake mushroom suggestion, because seriously, what are black trumpet mushrooms?? The shiitakes have their own distinct flavor, but I couldn't help liking them paired with the butternut squash.

The results taste like you're slurping up a bowl of autumn.

Full disclosure: I am not posting a picture of my soup because it didn't look quite as creamy (and bright orange) as the soup shown on metrocurean. Sorry for being so self-conscious about my butternut squash!

As a side note, Jean-Georges has a new cookbook that is to be released shortly. I am hoping to acquire it and perhaps have it be a contender for the next cookbook club book. What? Yes, cookbook club. The subject of another, later post (that will blow your mind).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I feel like i should start blogging again POD

Hello, Blog!

It's been almost a year since I've written and yes, I have totally missed you.  

I thought about you today. And thought about what you could look like post-makeover. All strutting around with a new theme, a new direction, if you will.

Any ideas? Ideas:

1. The first-world trials and tribulations of living with a vitamin b12 deficiency (underlying mystery element: is there a tapeworm somehow involved?! Probably not, but what if!)
2. A weekly guide to shopping at the Costco and what to do with 2-pound bags of shredded mozzarella and 2-pound containers of tzatziki yogurt dip. What samples are "in" and what samples are "out"?
3. The Russian Mother's Advice column (advice provided courtesy of my very own Russian mother). Advice topics range from proper fish oil consumption to proper pillow materials, from shoe styles to pregnancy preparedness. Whatever you're doing, you're doing it wrong! Or could be doing it better! From Russia[n mother] with love. 

Just kidding. It's good to see you.