Homemade Gnudi from The Spotted Pig

Make these ethereal little bites at home.

15th Apr 2010

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I'm pretty sure the word "gnudi" wasn't on anyone's radar until they were served at The Spotted Pig in New York, which was when they became a food dork household name. In Italian, "gnudi" means what it sounds like in English: naked. It refers to little pasta-like dumplings that are "naked" of their pasta wrapper, raviolis without anything to enclose them. Gnudi are a bit like gnocchi, but...

My Chicago: Caputo Cheese Market, and a Search for Bottarga

This fishy roe is a meal in itself.

26th Jan 2010


My Chicago is about life as a cooks and eaters in our home city. Markets, restaurants, secret finds, really tasty bites--or just a great story. We're lucky to live here.

Bottarga would handily win the award for "foodstuff with least correlation between attractiveness and deliciousness," if such a thing existed.  It is a brown, firm lobe, and, poor thing, really quite ugly. A cured, pres...

How to Make Paneer

The Indian speciality is easier than you think.

6th Nov 2009

how to make paneer 1

The concept of making cheese has always fascinated me, the idea that you can take milk and add a little acid (or rennet) to magically separate it into curds and whey. Milk seems like such a stable liquid, a wholesome elixir of childhood, but with a little citric acid, lemon juice, yogurt, or rennet it completely de-stabalizes into thin, watery whey and fat chunks of curd.

What you do with t...

Auberge de la Loube, Buoux, France

Blake eats the best of France.

24th May 2009

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After we spent our Saturday morning at the sprawling market in Apt, sampling cheese and charcuterie, the only task ahead of us was to find a tiny hillside town called Buoux by lunchtime.  Exploring a mountainous countryside of hamlets and hairpin turns was all that awaited us. By the time we'd arrived a few hours later, the sun was falling lazily on a descent toward dusk; the air was fragrant...

Deep-Dish Pizza: Round 2

Nick learns from his mistakes and makes a good deep-dish pie at home.

3rd Apr 2009


I was determined not to fail this time.  My last attempt at deep-dish wasn't an absolute failure, but it was close.  It was too soggy and messy , and had none of the glorious qualities that my favorite Chicago pizzeria, Pequods , displayed.  I theorized about all kinds reasons for the failure, thinking it had something to do with the crust.  Then I just gave up and asked you all...

Digging into Deep-Dish

Nick struggles to perfect deep-dish pizza at home.

17th Mar 2009


Or at least, that was my hunch.  I searched for a long time and finally settled on this recipe from pizzamaking.com.  Deep-dish dough is very different from its thin crust counterpart. The crust has a healthy dose of cornmeal, which gives it an interesting crunch and texture.  All the elements seemed to be here.  I tracked down some tomatoes, cheese, and even decided to add some spinach (a...

The Plunge: Homemade Ravioli

13th Jan 2009

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How long do you cook ravioli?  I wondered this precisely the moment after I plunged my handmade ravioli into a raging cauldron of boiling water. It didn't occur to me that it might be an issue. I had always thought you pulled them as soon as they floated, or was that just gnocchi? When I consulted my recipe in The Silver Spoon it said I needed to cook them for 10 minutes, which sounded abs...

The Smash Technique and Skinny Burger Perfection

How to make the best burger at home.

11th Dec 2008


You know the burger obsession is going off the deep end when semi-serious discussion takes place over the burger making skills of a cartoon .  Please stick with me.  This cartoon happened feature J. Wellington Wimpy, the burger-loving sidekick of Popeye.  Hamburger America author George Motz found this clip and was there to comment on Wimpy's burger making skills: "Notice how even in...

Enchiladas Colorado: The Sauce That Can Do No Wrong

29th Aug 2008


This whole site was started when we were fresh from college and cooking together recklessly.   Since our lives have changed--moving in with girlfriends, marriage , and new cities (and boroughs )--we don't always get to indulge in those old times.  But with Blake in Chicago visiting this past week, it was like we were back at York Avenue in that tiny little apartment .  From ab...

Poutine, My Heart Loves You But Its Arteries Don''t

2nd Jun 2008


When Elin went to Montreal a couple years ago, she sent me an email with only a photograph attached, a picture with her mouth open, eyes closed, and a forkful of French fries covered in gravy.  The subject of the email said simply, "Poutine," and I knew that one day we would travel to Montreal where I could try this dish myself and experience the delight that was apparent on her face.

As if...

Why Wylie Dufresne Made Me Eat American Cheese

21st Apr 2008


“American cheese (processed cheese)”
-Wylie Dufresne, describing the type of cheese he likes on his burger

I haven’t exactly made my peace with American cheese .  I still don’t like it cubed, melted in grilled cheese, or laid across a deli sandwich.  I’m not that into reliving my childhood and, really, actual cheese always tastes better.  I thought that was the end of it...

Pasta Cacio e Pepe: Are Fancy Pastas Worth It?

14th Feb 2008


Do fancy ingredients make better meals?

Over the last couple years, with a great deal of enthusiasm, I've learned to cook more skillfully.  I spend all sorts of time reading endlessly about technique, ingredients, and recipes, and I cook almost every day.  I think my cooking has improved.  I've developed good instincts.  I know that a roast chicken needs to be very dry before it goes in...

A Night of Broiled Pizzas So Hot, Things Shattered

18th Jan 2008


What's more fun than a make-your-own-pizza party?  Not much.  My friend Austin was in town from Providence, Rhode Island, where he teaches Spanish, Latin, and mythology.  Often when we get together it's an excuse to do a lot of cooking.  Throughout college he would make Nick and me ridiculously good brunches with fresh chorizo, eggs, and breakfast potatoes, and occasionally expose us to hi...

Cheese Making Part 2: Yawn, I Made Ricotta

14th Jan 2008


After I miraculously created a ball of mozzarella from a gallon of milk and some powdery substances, I declared it a miracle and couldn’t wait to do it again.  And true to my plan, I tried to make it twice since that date and failed bitterly both times.  Much could have gone wrong.  I believe the first failure happened because I used cheese salt instead of citric acid at a crucial ste...

Cheese Making Part 1: 30 Minute Mozzarella

17th Dec 2007

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I had read about making cheese--like a lot of people, I assume--in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle .  It had never really occurred to me that cheese could be made easily at home, but once I read the passage where they made mozzarella in 30 minutes, I rashly bought the recommended kit .  And a three days later I had a bright yellow box from the New England Cheesemaking...

Risotto alla Milanese

8th Nov 2007


Back when I was writing about corn risotto and the magical risotto pancake , I was kicking around the Internet trying to discover exactly how to make one correctly.  Recipe after recipe called for a very specific risotto preparation, one I'd never even heard of, something called Risotto alla Milanese, or Milan-style Risotto.  It's flavored with chicken or beef stock, a simplified base of...

Week 2: We Feasted On Cheese!

14th Oct 2007

lake erie creamery

I was worried about lots of things when I began this little local adventure , but none stumped me more than cheese.  I’d simply never had any local cheese that I cared to have again.  I thought it was just going to be something I’d have to skip on along with avocados, limes, and olives (the latter is killing me!  Really, why can’t there be groves of olive trees straddling the Ohio...

I Invented a Risotto Recipe and Figured Out What to Do With the Leftovers

3rd Oct 2007


The other day I was watching Iron Chef and Lidia Bastianich was a judge on the show.  I'd never seen her in this role, and, frankly, it was scary.  The woman is a strange blend of passion and unsmiling seriousness.  Generally people who love food are laid back and groovy, and enthusiasm is usually tempered with a good dollop of sheepish self-consciousness: "I know I'm obsessed, and it m...

What Is This Mysterious Pizza Called?

1st Oct 2007

egg pizza 1

Perhaps spurred on by Blake’s admittedly tasty-looking pickle butter , I finally caved in and decided to write about one of my favorite snacks.  Though a tad less refined, and even a bit shameful, it’s something I absolutely adore.  I wish it were more interesting.  But it’s simply a thin crust pizza with a fried egg on top.  Not exactly a revelation, but it’s quick and surprisin...

The Pickle Butter and Ham Sandwich

26th Sep 2007


Lately I've been making this sandwich over and over again.  I don't know why.  It's nothing that unusual: ham, bread, sometimes cheese.  I've made it with the shrink-wrapped lunchmeat from my corner bodega; I've made it with thinly sliced Bayonne ham from the charcuterie .

The secret is in this invention I've taken to calling pickle butter.  I don't think I invented it; I think I r...

The Not-So-Humble Hot Brown

9th Sep 2007

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I’ve been gathering cook books by whatever method I can...and beggers usually can’t be choosers.  I borrow nearly anything I can lay my hands on.  I owe lots of money to the library.  And whenever I get to head home I usually make it out with an armful books my mom hoarded over the years ( I promise I’ll return them!).  One of those was The Louisville Courier-Journal Cookbook.  By a...

Cheap End-of-Summer Tomatoes and Stale Bread? Make a Bread Salad

5th Sep 2007


I don’t think I can ever tire of the holy trinity comprised of tomatoes, basil, and carbohydrates.  Whether it’s a straightforward pasta of raw tomatoes in olive oil with basil tossed with spaghetti, a bruschetta on grilled bread, or with fresh mozzarella and some balsamic or red wine vinegar—it always tastes fresh, simple, and surprisingly hearty.

Sometimes around the end of summer, or the...

Risotto-style Pasta: How to Make Dried Pasta Taste like Fresh

29th Aug 2007


I’d venture a guess and say that there’s nothing I cook more than pasta.  For someone as devoted to simple cooking with simple ingredients as I’ve become, there’s no dish more fitting and open to invention, nor in possession of a learning curve that’s forgiving at first, but can take a lifetime to master.  It’s easy enough to make a tomato sauce and boil some pasta—college stud...

Ziti with Tuscan-Style Cauliflower

27th Aug 2007

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Before this point in my life--some 24 years in--I’d never willingly eaten cauliflower.  Sure, it'd been sneaked into some of my dishes.  But I know for a fact that it has not played an integral role in any dish I’ve ever made.  A quick scan of our directory reveals only 1 mention of its name, and that was for a curried cauliflower dish that we didn’t even cook!  One of Blake’s form...

I Joined the Park Slope Food Coop and Found Garlic Scapes

21st Jun 2007


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...

Zucchini Carpaccio''s Best Week Ever

11th Jun 2007

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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...

On New York Apartments, Grilling, and the Aussie Burger

31st May 2007


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...

My Favorite New Dinner: Fregola with Zucchini and Pine Nuts

15th May 2007


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...

Eggs in Purgatory

15th Mar 2007


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...

Macaroni Gratin vs. Macaroni and Cheese

27th Feb 2007


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...

Croque-Monsieur: The Incriminating Ham Sandwich

5th Oct 2006

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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...

Dear Mom: This is the Breakfast in Bed That We Would Have Made You for Mother''s Day if We Could Have Afforded the Plane Ticket

14th May 2006

P1010110 Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  We know we might not be lawyers, stock brokers, or those people that have "money" or whatever that's called.  But we can cook.  And had we been able to be with you today, and, had we awoken (most likely by you) at the absolutely absurd hour that you rise, this is what we would have done.  So, please.  Stay in bed, read some of that paper and enjoy a full menu dedi...

Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Based on the potato, gnocchi is the ultimate pauper's meal--but it sure doesn't taste like it

28th Mar 2006


Gnocchi.  No idea. For years this has been the unpronounceable dish on the menu that starred me down and begged to be blurted out to the uproarious laughter of the seasoned waiter.  "Did you hear what he just said?" Hell, I didn't have any idea what it was.  Was it a type of pasta?  Dumpling?  Did it have a filling?  This feeling of inadequacy kept the recognizable dish on the menu page...

Aged Goat Cheese Omelette With Thyme

This is what happens when you start cooking before you’ve put in 30 seconds to check if you actually have what you need.

25th Jan 2006


When I can’t decide what I feel like cooking, I’ll often visit epicurious.com and bum around until an ingredient that sounds great pops up--then I’ll start searching for that ingredient and I always find something that sounds tasty.  In this case, my ingredient was goat cheese.  I was doing a few searches at www.jamieoliver.com --we basically follow him and his British humor around with to...