What You Should Do This Sunday

5th Jul 2007

It's been an impromptu vacation here at the Paupered Chef.  Does it count as a vacation if you don't necessarily plan on it?  We'll be back to our blogging by Monday with some exciting announcements, so you'll have to wait until then.

But in the meantime, if you live in New York, there is a promised-to-be-legendary last-minute event being put together by Tom over at Grocery Guy , in Sou...

I Joined the Park Slope Food Coop and Found Garlic Scapes

21st Jun 2007

Coopfacade_300

Since moving to Boerum Hill , groceries have been tough.  We used to live steps away from a B61 bus stop, which takes you directly to Fairway , where almost any food or ingredient can be bought, and at reasonable prices (though their produce isn't always the best).  But now going to Fairway truly is a hassle, and I don't think we've since been.  Shopping in Manhattan is fine in small...

Tommy''s Margarita

18th Jun 2007

margarita 6

My drink of the summer so far has been the margarita, a fact that may leave most of you thinking, “so what?”  And normally that's fine--nothing is that impressive about a cut-rate tequila mixed with a big bottle of margarita mix that’s dumped in a salt crusted glass the size of a punch bowl.  But I’ve been messing with the holy trinity of lime, tequila and triple sec, thanks to one l...

Vermouth Is More Than an Alternative to Wine

13th Jun 2007

Serious_eats

Curious about what vermouth is made with, and how it can be useful in cooking?  So were we. Head over to Serious Eats and we'll tell you about it .

Zucchini Carpaccio''s Best Week Ever

11th Jun 2007

zucchini 10

So, I’d been eating too much meat.  After days of centering every single meal around some big cut, I realized it was time for a little break.  There aren’t too many times in my life that I can honestly say this, but what I wanted was zucchini.  And for those in need of a zucchini recipe, there really is only one place to go: Chocolate and Zucchini .

This adoring blog is in no need of mo...

Tacos in a Tortilla Factory, Bushwick, Brooklyn

6th Jun 2007

Library_5121

Bushwick, named by the Dutch Boswijk for “town in the woods,”  is no longer a town in the woods—it is a rapidly gentrifying section of Brooklyn southeast of tragically hip Williamsburg.  Once one of the most blighted areas in town after the blackout lootings of 1977--at that time, it was characterized by empty lots, drugs, and arson, and the majority of residents who could leave, l...

On New York Apartments, Grilling, and the Aussie Burger

31st May 2007

Library_6203

By some miracle, my girlfriend and I have recently moved into a beautiful, spacious, freshly painted apartment with a backyard, a washer/dryer, and a dishwasher: three luxuries that most New Yorkers offer up onto the pyre of compromise very early on.  It’s simply assumed: you won’t have those things.  You live in the city because the people that live here are interesting, and there are o...

What''s in the Wonton? Asian Dumplings for the Novice

30th May 2007

wonton01

My only real dumpling experience has been at the Rickshaw Dumpling Bar , a tasty, if tad expensive little shop in Flatiron.  There you could get fried or steamed dumplings with whatever filling you wanted for around $6.  A box full of those, a warm, sun-drenched day in Madison Square Park, and all is right with the world.  I know Chinatown has some great deals, some where 5 or more can...

Kimchi and Me: Steak and Eggs over Kimchi Rice

24th May 2007

kimchi 9

Lest you all forget my infatuation with the pickled cabbage , it is powerful.  When I worked in Manhattan, the attraction to the stuff had me trudging over to the Korean buffet at least once a week.  But I no longer work in Manhattan, and while I'm very happy with my new job, I do miss my kimchi.

I’m not sure why it never occurred to me until now to secure my own stash.  Like a lot o...

OJ for the Masses

23rd May 2007

Serious_eats

Tired of paying extra for that glass of OJ? We tested some oranges and came out with an economical alternative.

Consider the Blue Crab

21st May 2007

Library_6151

Everybody’s always talking about lobster--in a roll mixed with mayonnaise, sliced in two and charred on a grill, served with dipping butter next to a tender piece of filet mignon.  The fact is, this animal gets far too much attention.  No doubt about it, lobster is quite something--but how often can you afford to eat it?  For the same reason we rarely eat filet mignon--and then only when it/a>...

The Florets Hit the Fan: Roasted Broccoli

16th May 2007

broccoli 1

"That's it?" you might be saying.  But yes.  This is a recipe for broccoli.  Well, roasted broccoli.  I did salt that beef lurking around out of focus in the background for hours, submerge it in lukewarm water for another hour, and sear it at high heat.  But the broccoli was better.  Even the stems were great.  Long relegated to second class citizens to the beautiful florets up top, whe...

My Favorite New Dinner: Fregola with Zucchini and Pine Nuts

15th May 2007

Library_6082

A couple months ago I was eating at Otto , which is the place to bring friends who are visiting: a bit touristy, but very affordable; good to great food that’s easy to share; and most importantly, they have olive oil gelato , which floors just about everyone who tries it.  One thing we always do is order lots of the $4 vegetable dishes, like tiny radishes with anchovy-mustard sauce, o...

The Long Lazy Road to Grillades

8th May 2007

grillades 7

I have been meaning to get around to this earlier: I really like the food blog New Orleans Cuisine .   I have no real connection to New Orleans outside of a dead great aunt and gorgeous visit a month before that storm came when my girlfriend and I flirted with the idea of staying.  But that's really it.  I listen to Louis Armstrong occasionally.  I've heard of Juvenile.  But I do lov...

The Year of the Pig: Adventures in Cookbooks, River Cottage, and Chinatown

4th May 2007

Charcuterie Porksons

I’ve bought two cookbooks in the last week that teach you how to do funny things with pigs.  The first, which I haven’t had nearly enough time to explore, is Michael Ruhlman ’s Charcuterie , co-written with Brian Polcyn, a book about the wonders of salting, smoking, and curing meat, a tradition of which pork is the oinking mascot.  Much has been written of this book’s breakt...

A Cool Side of Coleslaw

1st May 2007

coleslaw7

It's the food I never really think about, yet can't help but order.  While everyone else is thinking about fries or onion rings, whenever I hit a diner for some reason the one thing I want is coleslaw.  Maybe it just has the appearance of being a vegetable dish in a fried food haven, but it seems a cool retreat for all the hot food.

The problem with coleslaw is that it can often feel like t...

Cooking in a Bag: Cod with Mussels and Saffron-infused Wine

25th Apr 2007

Saffroncod_17
I’ve only recently reached a point where I’m ever so slightly bored with cooking. Don’t worry--it’s only a very subtle, mild boredom, easily fixed. But it’s there, and it’s a stage I’m sure many cooks experience periodically. What compels me to make the same old dish again? And even if I use new ingredients, isn’t it still the same technique? I’m a qualified saute-er, I can braise successfull...

How Low Can You Go?

20th Apr 2007

slow slow chicken 2

I tend to get caught up on certain cook book authors, and for the past month it has been all about Heston Blumenthal. Head chef at the Fat Duck in the U.K., his cookbook In Search of Perfection has been fostering idea after crazy idea.  In a Serious Eats article, we wrote about cooking a pizza on the bottom of a cast iron skillet , to great success.  The best part is that his mad-...

So Much Celery

19th Apr 2007

Help us find ways to use one of our least favorite vegetables in the fridge .

The Duck Confit is Served

16th Apr 2007

Library_5995

I was cleaning out my fridge, throwing away plastic bags full of blackened herbs and limp celery and muttering about how I felt wasteful, of course, but also uncreative.  Why does the ability to look into the fridge and dream up recipes with what’s there elude me?  I'm a failure and a hack.  Why even cook anymore?  I should just order takeout and go to sleep.

But in the midst of this crisis...

Steamed Salmon and a Smelly Kitchen

12th Apr 2007

steamed salmon 1

Every once in a while I get really excited about something I've never made before, and before I really have a firm understanding about what I'm getting myself into,  I'm in the middle of making it.  "Hey, I've never made a whole ham . Let's do it tonight even though we have no guests."  This is the thinking that lead me to pull out an apparatus that has never, ever been used in my kitchen...

Skirt Steak with Red Potato Salad and Greens (A Harmony, Starring Limes)

5th Apr 2007

Library_5539

Sometimes all you can hope for at the end of a long day is a little bit of harmony.  Whether through yoga, walking your dog, or blasting Bona Drag , you find it and somehow the day washes away.  Often I find this harmony by cooking (sometimes with the Morrissey at the same time)--a chance to relax, create, and then have something delicious to show for it.  I have a recipe that, while dec...

Seriously Confused

4th Apr 2007

Serious_eats

Think the world of wine is just sort of confusing?  Watch us destroy what little faith you still had, and gain a few tips for your next quick stop at the wine store .

Cast Iron Corn Bread

1st Apr 2007

cornbread 6

Is there anything my cast iron skillet can't do?  Whether it's steaks , peppers , or even pizza , the big hunk of metal is good for most of my high heat needs.  But for bread?  I'd never really done that before.   Neither, for that matter, had I ever really wanted to make cornbread before.

I have no real love of this southern staple.  I don't really have any fond memories o...

Are Frozen French Fries Any Good?

28th Mar 2007

Serious_eats
Maybe you've heard about the Thomas Keller controversy over frozen fries .  Well, we tried to make some at home--with mixed but interesting results. Check it out !

Pasta Carbonara Part Deux: Simpler, Heartier, and Less Healthy

22nd Mar 2007

pasta carbonara 7

It happened again.  I'm just minding my own business, slowing making my way through Bill Buford's book Heat , and I get to passage where Alex, a former chef at Babbo, describes how Frankie, his screaming superior, had taught him how to make pasta Carbonara:

You render your guanciale, and make a sauce with and the egg whites, and then, after you've plated it, you add your yolks, uncook...

A Toast to Wednesday

21st Mar 2007

Serious_eats
Got a problem with screw caps on wine? Head on over to Serious Eats , where we'll try to talk some sense into you!

Short Ribs Finally Worth Writing About

19th Mar 2007

Shortribs_10

The most well-documented failure on this website was the first time we cooked beef short ribs .  Tough, sinewy, and ugly--a big fibrous brick of protein fastened onto a sled of white bone by tendons and mysterious pieces of grizzle.  Short ribs are the beef equivalent to a Salman Rushdie novel: willfully difficult, at times indecent and gross, but after an extended period of histrionic o...

Eggs in Purgatory

15th Mar 2007

eggsinpurgatory01

I'm not sure why, but it wasn't until last week when my mom handed me a fresh copy of Heat , that I realized I had forgotten to read it.  I'd read another Bill Buford book, his manic and terribly disturbing Among the Thugs , along with his New Yorker profile on Batali and a narrative on his experience slaughtering animals in Tuscany, the latter two of which are included in some form in...

Serious Eats Spring Break!

14th Mar 2007

Serious_eats
No, we're not on spring break baking our pale flesh under the hot sun--though now that I mention that...  Instead, Blake's been in Brooklyn.  But he did get his hands on some of the first asparagus of the season. Check it out !

A Paupered Year in Review: Our Favorites

9th Mar 2007

Pork2_1 Library_5101_1_1 Library_3735_1 P1010159_2_1

As we've mentioned, what's popular is not always what we predicted, and there's little correlation between how much effort we put into a post and the amount of feedback/enthusiasm we receive.  The public has their favorite posts, and we're much obliged.  But then we have our favorites.  The posts that we remember most vividly, that provided the most interesting experiences, the...

A Paupered Year in Review: Themed Weeks Bring Fame and/or Indifference

8th Mar 2007

One technique that seems to ensure instant fame for your blog is to plop down on a Monday morning and announce that you're going to be taking the vast reading public through a "week" of themed material.  Like the novel and three-hour movies, its epic scale means you'll be able to delve deeply into the intricacies of a certain topic, while still wrapping things up nicely by Friday.  It's a bloggi...

A Blog Breather

7th Mar 2007

Take a break from all this year end nostalgia and head over to Serious Eats to see how we learned to broil pizza .  As you might imagine, we love it.

A Paupered Year in Review: Most Bizarrely Popular

7th Mar 2007

These posts are what we'd call sleepers.  When published, they didn't always make much of a splash.  Sometimes, they were haphazard little posts we threw up in a rush.  We expected people to smile a little, maybe comment, then the posts would fall into the archives forever.

Thank God for Google.  As the year progressed, we started to notice that many people were arriving at our website through...

A Paupered Year in Review: The Worst

6th Mar 2007

Yesterday we presented you with a list of our favorite food pictures for the year.  But for every perfectly framed culinary moment, we had a hundred average ones which got quickly erased or were forever banished to the external hard drive.  We tried to be good editors.

But occasionally a truly bad picture would emerge, a creation so terrible it took a gall to make.  And even more gall to...

A Paupered Year in Review: Our Favorite Pictures

5th Mar 2007

We began this little site round 'bout a year ago.  We had big plans for year in review week, and of course got sidetracked.  Now, it's about a year-and-a-month review, but whatever.  This week we'll be going through a few of the things we've collected over the year.

More than recipes, cooking experience, good advice, writing practice, and interesting friendships, the one thing we seem to have a...

The Slow Egg: How to Use Loads of Butter and Lose Ten Pounds

1st Mar 2007

incredible egg 08

As you might imagine, I read a lot about food.  I have the Omnivores Dilemma , The United States of Arugula , Julie and Julia , Garlic and Sapphires , In Search of Perfection , Real Food , and I'm Just Here For the Food , not even counting regular old cookbooks, and the four or five wine and spirit guides.  While I enjoy some of the gossip of the food world, I get...

Wednesday Blogs

28th Feb 2007

We've been keeping busy.  Tomorrow will return to our normally scheduled content, but check out what else we've been up to lately.


Recently, we've been setting the beer aside and dipping our toes into the cocktail lifestyle. Where to start? We believe the Old Fashioned is the great first cocktail, and we did a little research to find out.

Gothamist_1

Ever wondered what to do with 20-pounds ...

Macaroni Gratin vs. Macaroni and Cheese

27th Feb 2007

Macgratin_8

I’ve already done my public fawning over Thomas Keller’s cookbooks.  The absurd attention to details, the flowery short essays about “the importance of onion soup” in the philosophy of bistro cooking, the potential of preparing-ahead the “building blocks” of cooking (like soffrito and aioli ) that allow you to continue preparing uncomplicated dishes with simple, inspired combin...

Serious Eats

21st Feb 2007

Serious_eats

Loyal readers! Check us out today on Ed Levine's Serious Eats , where we try to make our own Fruity Pebbles, fail, and settle on breakfast bars.

Last week we created a Valentine's Menu for Hard Up Lovers .

Slow-Roasted Chicken

19th Feb 2007

slow roasted chicken 3

I realize now things have gotten out of control.  What started as a simple pursuit to find the ultimate method to roast a chicken has taken up way too much of my time.  I like to roast a chicken at least once a week.  But this is less a ritual than a weekly torture session.  Rather than repeat the same well-worn recipe that has been time-tested and approved, I try something new every singl...

Mexican Hot Chocolate

15th Feb 2007

Hot_chocolate_8

The other night, when everyone was hunkered down in their apartments waiting for the snowstorm to envelop us, I made hot chocolate.  Cold weather and snow are among the best excuses to indulge in this gastronomic excess (I'm talking about the stuff made from scratch).  It is sometimes acceptable in the instance of rainy weather, or thunderstorms.  Otherwise, it's simply gluttony.

There are...

On Canned Salmon

12th Feb 2007

Img_1666 We all grew up on tuna fish sandwiches, whether we liked it or not.  Sally pulls out her bag of carrots and a PB & J, Frankie his bologna with Kraft slices, and I pull out a soggy, fishy, tuna sandwich, and everyone stares.  And holds their nose. But it turns out my mom was on the right track: James Beard famously said that tuna is the "only food better canned than fresh."  He was entirely w...

The Disputed Origins of Lasagna

9th Feb 2007

By Elin Raun

Lasagna_26

Lasagna , on the contrary, is British. Or so they claim . In a feud finding its origins in the first cookery book believed to be published in Britain (during the reign of Richard II in the 14 th Century), British researchers declare the dish, widely believed to be Italian, as their own. After much jockeying between cooks and diplomats, no one can be sure. Perhaps the Rom...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 5: Real Pizza

6th Feb 2007

_ Check out Day 1 to figure out why Nick is spending so much time on lunch spots in Manhattan . _

pwifrealpizza01

Of all the foods I could nosh on in NYC for a quick, cheap lunch, nothing was as obvious as pizza.  The capital of that tasty dish, New York should have had interesting pizza places pouring out of its alleyways, with enough springy crusts, milky cheeses, and bright sauces to keep me filled...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 4: New Lands

2nd Feb 2007

_ Check out Day 1 to figure out why Nick is spending so much time on lunch spots in Manhattan . _

pwifnewlands01

After a few months, even the finds of Flatiron become slightly boring for no other reason than repitition.  I began looking farther afield for something tasty.  With the subway less than a block away, I dreampt of being able to zoom up to any restaurant I pleased.  The whole of Manhattan...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 3: Embarrassingly Poor

31st Jan 2007

_ Check out Day 1 to figure out why Nick is spending so much time on lunch spots in Manhattan . _

pwifempoor01

While the $5 limit I usually impose on lunch might seem low by some standards, there are times when even that is a little too high. Whether it's close to payday or after a long expensive weekend, sometimes you need to go lower.  That's when you have to dive deep into the belly of the city t...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 2: In Search of India

30th Jan 2007

_ Check out Day 1 to figure out why Nick is spending so much time on lunch spots in Manhattan . _

pwifindia01

Good, cheap Indian food should be a relatively easy find.  Some 10 minute walk away is Murray Hill, a neighborhood that is also affectionately known as Curry Hill.  During lunch, a stretch along Lexington Avenue becomes packed with yellow taxis attempting to find a parking spot.  The idli...

A Paupered Week in Flatiron Day 1: The Great Burrito

29th Jan 2007

pwifgreatburrito01

It didn't start off as a quest.  I had a job in the Flatiron section of Manhattan and I needed to eat cheaply.  I'm not much of a brown bagger, and soups don't always interest me, so I began to search for the best places to find a meal for around $5.  It became an obsession.  See, Flatiron and the eastern part of Chelsea have some of the finest restaurants in the world, but they are far fr...

Cassoulet, Hooray!

25th Jan 2007

Cassoulet2_10 It was a terrifying moment: The bottom of my pan was lined with raw pig skin, on top of which were alternating layers of beans, the meat from pig knuckles, duck confit, sausages, a paste made of blended onions and more boiled pig skin--and I was rapidly reaching the top rim.  In fact, I'd already reached it.  I still had a bowl of beans, not to mention 4 cups of gelatinous bean and pork water...

This Week''s Coupon Clipper

23rd Jan 2007

2007_01_porkshoulder7_2 Check out my Gothamist post on what to do with 10 pounds of hog for $6.91.  If burritos don't tip your fancy, look back at our previous post about pulled pork sandwiches , which we devoured during the warm weather of Grill Week .  Who else has nostalgia for those 80 degree days?

Duck Confit, Part 2

21st Jan 2007

Duck Confit, Part 2 Library_4928 It turned out that, for my 6 legs totaling 3 pounds, the large contained on the right (1.75 pounds) was the perfect amount for the confit.  I threw my three D'Artagan containers in the freezer for another time.

Duck Confit, Part 1

19th Jan 2007

It's snowing in Brooklyn this morning.  When I opened my eyes it had just begun to fall, and I padded over to my window like a little child at Christmas.  Snow makes me very happy, as does winter in general--I absolutely love bundling up in all sorts of ridiculous scarves and hats and I love the invigorating nip of freezing wind.   When it's summer and hot, there's nothing you can really do ab...

Check out the Coupon Clipper

17th Jan 2007

Fairway If you drop by Fairway this weekend, pick up the specials on the way in and notice the ridiculous quote plastered on the front .  Who would sink to such depths to promote a big grocery store?  Well, me. I've started writing a weekly column at Gothamist called the Coupon Clipper, a feature where I search for the best deals around the major grocery stores in New York City.  My first Cou...

Clams Marinières (And More Thomas Keller "Building Blocks")

12th Jan 2007

Library_4903 I'm no stranger to clams.  I'm no stranger to the whole bivalve genus.  I think that we've cooked mussels more than any other dish for this website, even going so far as titling a post " Because You Can Throw Just About Anything In the Pot with Mussels and It Will Taste Glorious ."   Clams are cooked much the same way: you make a simple broth with herbs and usually a little butter...

Just Call it Baccala: How to Eat Salt Cod

11th Jan 2007

salted cod 15

I've been attempting to eat more fish this year.  In fact, it's something of a resolution for me.  Whether I did it to be healthier, get fitter, or simply have a more varied diet, I instantly dreamt of grilled salmon, roasted whole red snappers, halibut tacos, and other feasts of fresh, flaky fish that would pump me full of omega 3 and immune me from any possible disease.  What I wasn't thi...

How-To: Soffritto

10th Jan 2007

Library_4881 I've been reading Thomas Keller's two cookbooks lately, one for each of his Napa Valley restaurants--Bouchon and The French Laundry--and I've doing a lot of drooling.  First off, they are probably the most gorgeous cookbooks I've ever seen, physically.  From the text design to the layout, paper quality, printing colors, it's all overwhelming. Then, of course, there is the matter of Keller's r...

1 Fish 2 Fish: How to Roast a Fish Whole

5th Jan 2007

2fish 08

It's all around us: the studies exclaim the health benefits of fish and those miracle omega-3 fats, which you can either get by pill popping those capsules or by simply eating more fish.  With the New Year come and gone, and the resolutions stated, it is time for us to try and at least keep one:  We're going to try to eat more fish.  It's a rather hard resolution to keep--fish is expensive...

Scaloppine Alla Marsala

3rd Jan 2007

veal 7

Happy New Year!  Those are the first words we've written in a long time here at the Paupered Chef because for all the holiday spirit, the roasts, the wine, and the interesting family rituals we could have informed you about, we decided to be lazy.  Unlike successful people, we took the break for exactly what it was, and waited until our respective families fed us until we couldn't stomach an...

Handmade Eggnog: Creates Arm Pain, Soothes Arm Pain

20th Dec 2006

eggnog 09

Let's say you're just not feeling the joy you need to properly celebrate a festive party.  It's the holiday season, and you need a slightly alcoholic milk product to help you reach that next level of cheer.  The store-bought stuff?  Gluey and tasting of artificial thickeners.  You need some true, homemade eggnog--that's been established.  Perhaps you prepared for this situation and made t...

Mexican Chopped Salad with Avocado Dressing

18th Dec 2006

avocado sauce 09

Ah, the avocado.  I'm not sure where it can't be used--sandwiches, tacos, burritos, soups, or salads.  The last, particularly, has been of interest lately, as it adds some healthy heftiness (is that a real thing?) to any otherwise wimpy salad.  But not content to merely place it in my salads, I wondered what it might be like on it.

But I was worried it might go too far.  When it comes...

Five Minutes Later, Pancakes

15th Dec 2006

Img_1243 Sometimes, you get a craving for a totally inappropriate thing, at a totally inappropriate hour, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.  Your mind is made up; the universe has decided.  You submit to your instincts and go far, far out of your way to make it a reality.  In New York, it's famously easy: you can call somebody, and 15 minutes later you've got banana ice cream with a...

Return of the Brussels Sprouts

13th Dec 2006

brussels 2 3

Brussels Sprouts have quite an affect on people.  After seeing me mess up some perfectly fine sprouts , the people spoke and they resoundingly told me to roast.  The comment section offered no less than 5 different versions of this affair, and not knowing exactly where to start I went for the simplest recipe.  Meg's recipe called for nothing but a little olive oil, salt and pepper, an...

Eating Tacos All Over San Antonio

If that means eating 5 lunches in one day, so be it.

11th Dec 2006

Satacos_1

Honestly, there's a real need for these signs.  When we were venturing around the mercado square in San Antonio, a land of slightly schlocky and catchpenny Mexican crafts, every third vendor warned against this practice, where gringo , giggling tourists pretended to experience Mexican culture by putting on outrageous hats and saying " Arriba, Arriba " like Speedy Gonzalez. How to a...

Hot Toddy?

7th Dec 2006

hotty toddy 11

Feeling a little bit under the weather and a bit perturbed with my job, I returned home last night needing some kind of a cure.  Like hot chocolate made by your mother, I needed a home remedy with exactly zero medicinal value, which would warm me up and send me straight to bed.  I didn't have any chocolate, but I did have a great big bottle of Bourbon and one idea.

I wanted a hot toddy, eve...

On the Difficulty of Roasting a Good Chicken

5th Dec 2006

Herb_roasted_chicken_23 There's a passage in Anthony Bourdain's book of bistro recipes, Les Halles , that goes something like this: "If you can't roast a chicken, you are a sorry, incompetent idiot who should dig his own grave."  Apparently, roasting a chicken should be marvelously easy: throw salt and pepper on that bad boy, put into the oven, and out comes a crisp-skinned, succulent, juicy, hot dinner, twice as...

The Mean Green Brussels Sprouts

1st Dec 2006

brussel sprouts 02

These are called Brussels sprouts, and unless you had some especially mean parents growing up, this might be your first time together.  Even I, who had been force-fed green beans for the first 10 years of my life, never had to touch them because my dad hated them so much.  I don't think I'm the only one.  I've never seen them on a menu, and have never been confronted with them at a friends...

Is Broiling a Steak as Good as Grilling One?

29th Nov 2006

Sirloin_1

There is "no doubt early man cooked his meats using dry heat," claims Madeleine Kamman, author of the esteemed Making of a Cook and a very friendly-looking lady who I sometimes wish was my grandmother.  She speculates that he might have discovered this gastronomic feat in the instance of two different accidents, producing two enduring ways of cooking meat.  The first, a discovery...

Puerto Rican Pork Chops

28th Nov 2006

Daisymartinez_1 In the hazy hours of Saturday morning, between the first and second cups of coffee when the outside is just too far away and the Food Network is airing another ridiculously boring episode on commercially packaged food, I watch Daisy.  Sure there are other crazy public television cooks with loads of character and sass to stretch ( look at this guy ), but Daisy does it best.  And she's not p...

Thanksgiving Link Hysteria

22nd Nov 2006

Turkey_2

“In the United States, we have the grandest plat convivial of them all, the holiday turkey, which we share with 245 million other Americans, including the members of the armed forces, for whom the government spares no expense in jetting turkeys about the globe. There is an uncanny and intoxicating sense of oneness in enjoying a dish with a quarter billion of your fellows. No fus...

My Birthday Dinner

17th Nov 2006

Birthday_21 I (Blake) turned 24 yesterday and, in celebration, my girlfriend thought up and orchestrated a gorgeous meal of French provincial food.  From the surf to the turf, we ate, drank, and otherwise acted like shameless hedonists.  Since I'm groggy and barely awake this morning, and don't much feel like working very hard, I'll just put up some pictures and perhaps post the recipes some other time...

Filet Mignon the Poor Man''s Way

15th Nov 2006

filet mignon 14

Every weekend I quickly scan Fairway's specials to see what deal I'll get off with this week.  This time, I thought it was a joke, because I saw this sucker staring back at me .   Filet Mignon for $5.99, which is a minor miracle on par with shooting stars and finding a real pastrami sandwich.  Considering this cut regularly fetches prices that stumble towards the $20 mark, something...

Lucali''s: The Mysterious Pizzeria in Carroll Gardens

12th Nov 2006

lucali 18

Mark Iacono, chef and owner of Lucali's, began making pizza publicly 4 weeks ago.  "I didn't even tell my family that I was opening this place," he claims.  When he pulled the brown paper down off the windows on Day 1, he was hoping a few neighbors might be curious, and he'd have a few weeks of experimenting and tinkering with the pizza formula before he officially opened.

Literally 30 minu...

Homemade Apple Sauce is a Lot Easier Than You Thought

8th Nov 2006

Applesauce_16 I've been eating apples constantly this season, unable to help myself every time I saunter by the Union Square market (which is every morning, lunch hour, and evening on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).  For once in my life, I may actually be approaching the appropriate serving suggestion for daily fruits and vegetables. I love breaking through the crisp, taut skin with my teeth, the spray of j...

Fajitas With Charcoal and a Sprinkling of Rust

5th Nov 2006

fajitas 05

I screwed up.  During the last throes of summer , I treated my grill with the utmost love and care.  But I'm apparently a fair-weather fan, for as soon as the temperature dipped I completely forgot about it and retreated into the warmth of my kitchen.  Not only did I neglect my cooking apparatus for a solid month, I didn't even bother to cover it.  I didn't even set it close to a wall...

On Discovering Lentils

3rd Nov 2006

Lentil_sausage_8

Rice, beans, pasta.  These are the ways we make sure we haven't incidentally fallen into the Calorie Restriction Diet .  They keep us looking flush and healthy and let us concentrate our attention on careful preparation of everything else on the plate.  Just about every recipe we've cooked has one of these ingredients incorporated so that we don't leave the table hungry.

Yet I've never...

Skirt Steak with Haughty Green Beans

30th Oct 2006

skirt steak 13

I had no idea.  Abby and I are staring at this picture of skirt steak with string beans with mouths agape, salivating over the chance to make this fine meal , when we notice that nowhere in the ingredients are those beans listed.  We double check, and then wonder what it was exactly that we were looking at.  All they they had was something called haricot verts.  "I'm not sure what that...

Refried Bean Tacos with Chorizo

27th Oct 2006

Refried_beans_8 First off, a language lesson: refried beans are not fried twice.  It's understandable that most people, myself included until I started writing this, assume a literal translation of the word "refried" and, employing razor-sharp detective skills, deduce that the beans are fried, let rest, and then fried again. But the word refried is actually an approximation of the Spanish word refrito , me...

Spanish Braised Monkfish

23rd Oct 2006

ls ugliest monkfish 02

One of the many things that happens when you cook often and with whole ingredients is that you start to face up to the creatures you are eating.  When I roast a chicken at 500 degrees, handling its raw flesh and trussing it, and then take a large knife to its carcass, I still understand that this was once a feathered bird that bid its life on some farm, whether that was indoors or out.  I'm...

Steingarten on Why We Turn to Espresso

23rd Oct 2006

Espresso From Jeffrey Steingarten's essay "Explaining Espresso," via his collection It Must Have Been Something I Ate :

It's no wonder that humankind's most persistent activity over the past few hundred years has been inventing new ways of making coffee.  How many coffeemakers you have at home depends on 1) your age 2) your love of coffee 3) your love of toys, and 4) your total inability to...

School Days

22nd Oct 2006

Pudding_8 Corn_dogs_02 Salisbury_steak_09 Library_4676 If you were functioning on the subway this morning, you probably saw a steady stream of backpacked kids parading around with wide mouths and unsure stares.  That daze was the stern face of school, the great unknown and the official end to summer.  Standing amongst those kids, I tried remember my own back-to-school feeling, the churning stomach, the moment when I knew it was all ov...

Because You Can Throw Just About Anything In the Pot with Mussels and It Will Taste Glorious

19th Oct 2006

Leek_mussels_7 Every time I go to a grocery store and, while making my merry way down the produce aisle, I see leeks, a little jolt of suspicion and hesitation runs through me.  My shoulders tense up a little, my eyes get shifty, and I keep walking.  What are those giant, oversized green onions?  What steroids have they been fed?  Are they from a Jonathan Swift novel?  And why do these arm-length veget...

"Mexican" Chicken Stew: Return of the Leftovers

18th Oct 2006

chicken stew 14

"Just use whatever leftovers are in the fridge."

That little statement is repeated endlessly throughout the course of one day on the Food Network and I'm not sure who they are trying to fool.  It's as if those celebrity chefs aren't paid enough to send an assistant to the store to pick up some tomatoes--not that they need to.  Their fantastically clean fridges come stocked with leftover t...

White Bean Herb Salad with Tuna

13th Oct 2006

Tuna_bean_3 Lately I’ve been going to restaurants and leaving with ideas for what to cook at home.  A previous post , a salad of roasted squash and dandelion greens, was inspired by the restaurant 360 , an unpretentious little spot where you can eat for $25 and the wine list, which emphasises organic, is very reasonable.  My version of the squash salad wasn’t nearly as good--I didn’t have the...

Check Me Out in the 2007 Zagat Guide

11th Oct 2006

557 As you probably know by now, the New York City 2007 Zagat Guide has been published.  Josh over at The Food Section has comprehensive information and a comparison running all the way back to 1996, showing which restaurants have shuffled in the top ten, in both food rankings and popularity.  I find it especially interesting that New York City's average meal cost on a global scale, ranking 4t...

Roasted Squash Salad with Bacon and Dandelion Greens

11th Oct 2006

Squash_salad_1 Someone is really concerned about us. We eat a lot of meat and not enough vegetables.  Nick spent a week devouring ham and now his face is the color of plain file folders .  (I'm in the office--this is the only simile available to me.)  We're facing vitamin deficiencies, colon problems.  We're afraid to go outside.  Because if we just ate a bunch of raw vegetables, we'd have nothing...

Red Beans and Rice

9th Oct 2006

red beans and rice 12

After four days of intense bonding with my 10 pound ham , the meat stopped magically improving in the fridge, and started instead to develop what could best be described as a funk.  Not necessarily revolting, and I'm sure perfectly edible, the smell was offending enough.  And with something less than a pound left, I didn't feel too bad chucking the slimy, sour-smelling flesh into the...

Croque-Monsieur: The Incriminating Ham Sandwich

5th Oct 2006

cromon 8

I'll have to admit the real reason I bought a 10 pound ham , beyond "I'd never done it before" cop-out, was to have enough meat to make as many ham sandwiches as I could possibly stomach in a week.  Sure, that Boar's Head Black Forest ham can stuff a hero, but thick slabs of real, brown sugar encrusted ham exist on an entirely different plane of pleasure.  And for three days I had enormo...

Ham Steaks with Red Eye Gravy

4th Oct 2006

red eye 2

By the second day the roughly 8 pound ham I had foil-wrapped in my refrigerator had started to express its full potential.  What had tasted perfectly fine the day before became a sensuous, hands on event the next, as it had somehow increased in flavor as it waited in the fridge.  I wanted nothing more than to slouch over the kitchen table, picking hunks right off.  How could anything...

Baked Ham: The Story of 10 Pounds of Meat, 2 People, and 4 Days to Finish It

2nd Oct 2006

nickham3

I had no reason to buy a ham.  No guests were coming over, there was no potluck to attend.  It was just a Monday and I had never baked one before and wanted to try.  So I hopped on my bike and set out to Fairway to secure the biggest ham I could find.  Sure, I could have trained myself on some perfectly reasonable ham steaks that would have happily fed my girlfriend and me for one, maybe t...

An Unlikely Salad Concoction

28th Sep 2006

Raun_salad_5 I never have any idea what to put in a salad.  I know this much: make your own dressing, that's a given.  Mushrooms are a good bet, as they soak up all the flavor and end up being remarkably delicious.  Leaves: yes.  Good oilve oil and vinegar (or lemon / lime juice).  Salt, fresh pepper.  Avocado if you feel fancy.  Raw onions, just a bit, taste sweet when combined in with the vinegar....

Artichoke Heart Risotto

26th Sep 2006

Library_4806 On Sunday night, I was subconsciously looking for a kind of willing-the-weather-to-change activity.  After a cool week of light sweaters and no sweating on the subway platform, Saturday and Sunday heralded the return of muggy weather, which was very unwelcome.  The threat of rain provided sufficient justification for me to hole up and read and watch movies all weekend (save a trip to Bensonhu...

Sizzlin'' Steaks the Down-home Ole'' Fashioned Way

22nd Sep 2006

shell steak 07

Just like your grandmother, I now own a cast-iron skillet.  It seemed like the logical choice after I realized the finite possibilities of non-stick, yet was not ready to burn my whole month's salary on an All-Clad frying pan.  This cost $19.  It's heavy as a brick--actually, more like a couple bricks.  You can toss this war-horse around with glee and it will take it all.  Clang it around...

As Tomato Season Ends and They Start Getting Cheaper at the Farmers'' Market, A Recipe to Take Advantage

20th Sep 2006

Tomato_pasta_2 Traditionally, I've wondered why farmers' markets are so expensive.  It's almost a given that the price per pound for things can reach double what you'd pay in a grocery store.  It doesn't make any sense to me: we're cutting out lots of middlemen, the farmer and I, by communicating directly with one another.  There's no shipping the tomatoes halfway around the world, no large distributor tha...

Atlantic Antic: Sardines, Whole Pigs, and Too Many People

19th Sep 2006

Atlantic_antic_12_1 This wasn't one of those Manhattan street fairs that blocked traffic on random weekends and offered the same tired stand of roasted corn, corn dogs, and grease laden elephant ears, block after block.  Brooklyn's Atlantic Antic (rated number one street festival by Time Out!) was as hodge podge as Atlantic Avenue always is, except now the music spilled onto the streets and so could the beer (...

School Days Friday: Chicken Nuggets Make Us Get All Political

15th Sep 2006

Library_4676 As we were pulling the dark brown breaded chicken nuggets from the bubbling pot, dropping them onto the oil-soaked paper towel to cool and drain, the whole thing struck me: this is the most unhealthy food I’ve eaten all year.  It follows: Kids eat total crap in school.  If it isn’t fried, it’s poor quality meat seasoned like crazy, processed and emulsified and water-injected and general...

School Days Thursday: The Mystery of Salisbury Steak

14th Sep 2006

Salisbury_steak_11 Besides meatloaf, it's the ultimate mystery meat.  Coated with a thick brown sauce and usually hard as a rock, Salisbury steak was the meal I most genuinely hated during my school years.  Its presence institgated the hoarding of dinner rolls and the unfortunate act of talking to girls, just so I could make off with one of their mini cobs of corn.  It was a tough day on the streets, and one I...

School Days Wednesdays: Corn Dogs Made Right

13th Sep 2006

Corn_dogs_15 Hot Dogs are the universally pretty-tasty food.  From middle school to college cafeteria dining, the fair ladies in hairnets have always had quite a hard time messing up the basic formula: buy from distributor, boil or steam, place in bun and send the smiling kids off to the condiments line to fight over packets of pickle relish, and who has to end up with the dijon mustard once the packets of...

Grill Week

11th Sep 2006

Img_0232 And like that, it's over.  Summer's stronghold has disappeared.  The days no longer top out in the 90's, the sweat only beads down my face around noon, and that funk has actually started to lose it's grip on the 14th Street Station.  Last week I only walked on the side of the street completely covered in shadow, and now I can walk wherever I choose.  Really, I'm not sad. But I just got a gr...

School Days Tuesday: The Snack Pack

11th Sep 2006

Pudding_8 Billy Madison: I guess that Snack Pack is pretty good huh? [the little kid smiles and nods] Billy Madison: Wanna trade me the rest of it for this banana? [the little kid smiles and shakes his head] Billy Madison: You know how how hard I could beat you? From Internet Movie Database. In any serious discussion of school lunch food, you cannot forget to mention the packed lunch.  Anyon...