Holy Bourguignon, Batman!

In preparation for the cold weather ahead I decided to undertake a wintery classic to warm the bones. I adapted Ina Garten’s recipe, which seemed like it would most resemble the beef stew that my mom made when I was a kid. I was correct, and the results were outstanding. My primary departures from her recipe were the addition of potatoes (towards the end, to prevent mushiness), and I substituted dry cured turkey bacon for the applewood smoked bacon (please, spare me your snide remarks, I’ve heard them all before.) Also, at my genius mother’s suggestion, I threw in this morning’s leftover coffee — a little more than a cup — and reduced the amount of wine proportionally.

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Slices of garlic rubbed toast made with Sullivan Street Pane Pugliese, which has a wonderfully crunchy crust, were the perfect accompaniment and spared me the trouble of making noodles or rice.

Craving: Oven Roasted Tomatoes

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Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Breakfast for Dinner

A few months ago, Jason and I resolved to order delivery less often. This was not as difficult as it might sound to other New Yorkers, mostly because the delivery around here is pitiful, but also because we really do love to cook. We’ve been really good about it. However, in the wake of an insane week and both of us feeling like we got the beans kicked out of us with some sort of monster bug — when we did feel like eating, we cheated. twice.

So, when I finally (barely) felt up to cooking last night, I needed something that was an absolute no-brainer. After my investigation of the fridge turned up nothing particularly dinner-worthy, we decided on an old-standby: breakfast for dinner. Turkey bacon (my preference, not his), eggs (scrambled with cheese for him, over easy for me), and biscuits (okay, I cheated again; this time with Pillsbury).

think we made enough turkey bacon?

think we made enough turkey bacon?

Jason set the table and surprised me by peeling blood oranges. Little known fact: I hate peeling citrus. Try not to mind the fact that we made enough for 8. Sometimes I get carried away. (And, yes, that is coffee. It is not decaf. It is dinner time. That may have been a mistake).

Tonight, it wasn’t so much that I wasn’t physically up to preparing the meal as I was completely devoid of creativity. So, I fell back on another classic from our college days: chicken cutlets with mashed potatoes and salad. Being that we have grown up a bit since the good old days in our off-campus farm house, I substituted baby kale, orange grape tomatoes and olives drenched with lemon and a touch of really good, spicy olive oil for the iceberg and Wishbone Italian.

salad 2.0

salad 2.0

the finished plate.

the finished plate.

Seafood and Eat It

Mass hysteria about misidentified fish and mercury poisoning aside, I am fascinated with sushi. I began, as any formerly kosher novice would, with cucumber rolls (not actually sushi at all, I know). I gradually progressed to avocado rolls and then other vegetables…and then finally, I broke through to raw fish. These days, I’m a bit more adventurous (though I still won’t dabble in anything too crazy). Sitting at a sushi bar, watching the masters at work, I can become entranced. The process is one of discipline and precision, and the results are as beautiful as they are delicious.

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This year in one of my two christmas stockings (not bad for a Jewish girl, huh?) there were these amazing lollipops fashioned in the shape of sushi. The detail is incredible and they are possibly the best tasting lollipops I’ve ever had. One of them is even wrapped with dried seaweed!

Finally breaking into these bad boys last night immediately made me think of one of my oldest friends, Ben Moon. To say that he is multi-talented would be the understatement of the year. But don’t just trust me, go check out his website for yourself. (No really, take a break from reading this and sneak a quick peek.) But I digress. The point is, that among other things, he paints sushi. Paintings that actually make my mouth water when I look at them. And he was kind enough to allow me to post a few of them here for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Assorted Rolls - Oil Paint

Assorted Rolls – Oil Paint
© 2013 Ben Moon

Ikura with Quail Egg - Oil Paint

Ikura with Quail Egg – Oil Paint
© 2013 Ben Moon

Sashimi2 - Oil Paint

Sashimi2 – Oil Paint
© 2013 Ben Moon

A Change Will Do You Good

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Paccheri with Turkey Bolognese

You know that feeling you get — of secret relief — when dinner guests cancel or plans fall through at the last minute? The smile spreading across your face as they break the news from the other end of the line, as you force your voice to convey your “disappointment” at the “unfortunate” turn of events. All the while thanking the fates, because you are, in truth, a) exhausted, b) not feeling well, c) just plain antisocial at the moment or, in all likelihood, d) all of the above.  Am I alone here? Maybe it’s only in my head, and I just think it’s a common sentiment to justify years of flaking out myself.

Don’t get me wrong, we are disappointed. We really, truly, honestly would have been thrilled if you’d shown up. We’d have laughed and drank wine and talked until our faces turned blue. But, as I settle in for a quiet evening with the hubs — already in our pajamas at 6:30pm — I can’t help but feel very, well, relieved.

It’s not that I don’t love to host and cook dinner for friends, or go on a cleaning rampage in preparation for their arrival. In fact, it’s always worth it in the end. The feeling of accomplishment, the good company. But, sometimes I am not particularly overcome with an urge to dust the bookshelves. Occasionally, I don’t feel like making my food “look nice”. And, there are certainly days I would prefer not to keep up conversation…beyond the grunts of satisfaction that Jason and I make while enjoying our food side by side in front of the tube.

So tonight, when our plans unexpectedly changed and we were no longer expecting guests for dinner, it seemed like a good night for a quick fix. I threw together a quick tomato sauce from crushed and puréed canned tomatoes, sautéed onions and garlic, salt, pepper and a touch of cream. In a separate pan I seared ground turkey seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili flakes. Once the meat was browned, I added it to the simmering sauce.

Meanwhile, I boiled off some fancy pasta (part of an amazing wedding gift from out friends Carly and Jordan). Once it was al dente (perhaps a bit more than Jason would have liked), I drained it and combined it with the bolognese sauce and tossed it together off the heat. To finish the dish, I quickly toasted some breadcrumbs in butter with lemon zest and chili flakes for a bit of crunch and grated a modest copious amount of Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Voila! Well, that’s French, but you get the idea.

As we tucked in to the steaming plates of pasta in front of us — glasses filled with spicy red wine, the theme music for the season premier of Downton Abbey striking up on the television — I couldn’t have been happier for last minute cancellations and the good company I am fortunate to live with every day.

Last Meal: You’re looking at it.

Craving: Sleep.

When Life Gives You Blood Oranges…

So, what to do when you’re in the mood for guacamole and you’ve got 2 perfectly ripe avocados on your counter, but not a stitch of tomato, cilantro or lime in sight? (Did I mention it is bitterly cold out and the nearest grocery store is closed for the night?) Improvise.

Once again, I cut first and question later. It is only after I slice into the avocados and reveal their perfectly yellowish-green interiors, absent a single spot of brown, fragrant, perfectly firm AND tender, certainly starchy yesterday and bound to be mush by tomorrow… that I realize the cobwebs growing in my cupboard, the whistle of wind through my empty kitchen, the absolute lack of fresh produce, the empty shelves in the fridge. If only I had some citrus to squeeze on the MOST PERFECT AVOCADOS I have ever had the pleasure of opening. What am I going to do?

My eyes frantically scan the countertops and finally land on a large wooden bowl, empty with the exception of a single, solitary, lonely looking blood orange. Ah ha! I cut off the ends and squeeze it on liberally. I take a taste — a bit sweet for my liking, not enough of the acidic zip to cut through the richness of the avocados.I search for an onion and come up with a small one. Diced finely, I add it to the mix for a bit of crunch and zing. Slowly but surely, we are getting there. Now what to substitute for the cilantro? A quick perusal of my fridge tells me my options are limited to dill, dill, or more dill. A quick rough chop of the fronds and those go in the bowl, too. Upon further taste testing, I still feel it’s missing something. An eleventh hour revelation has me cutting supremes from the remaining blood orange (basically sectioning it while removing the pith, membrane and seeds, leaving only a succulent little citrus segment) and tossing those in with the rest. Falksalt (large pyramidal flakes of delicate sea salt from Sweden) and freshly cracked black pepper (the two things I could not have done without) serve as the finishing touches.

The final insult comes when I cradle the bowl of finished deliciousness in my arms and reach high into the pantry to pull down a bag of tortilla chips for dipping. Turns out, we’re out of those too. UTZ’s Kettle Cooked Salted Potato Chips it is, then.

I sit down cozily on the couch, and take my first bite. The chip is thick and slightly burnt around the edges (my favorite kind). It is a surprisingly perfect perch, affording a crunchy background to the rich and fatty chunks of avocado. The sharpness of the onions providing much needed contrast for the sweet morsels of blood orange. The dill, grassy and green tasting, may have been the saving grace of this dish. It added an herbaceous vibrancy to an otherwise lackluster dish.

In spite of my near-bare cupboards and my failing patience, and dictated entirely by our limited inventory — I think I stumbled on something worth repeating in the future. In the meantime, I think it’s time for a grocery run.

guacafauxle

GUAC-A-FAUX-LE

Last Meal: Linguine with Pesto

Craving: Olives