Ever eager to wed high and low, I was planning to make elegant Jello shots with champagne and strawberries for Is My Blog Burning 15 (my first!). When it came down to it, though, I didn't feel like spending $10 for a bottle of bad champagne and so bought sparkling lemonade instead (a good thing, too, since I ended up eating this for breakfast). Tiny, gemlike raspberries seemed likelier candidates than humongous strawberries for suspension in a clear bowl. Though they ended up surprising me by bobbing to the top, overall I was pleased with the way this looked and tasted. The gelatin was not too sweet and very refreshing; you could still feel the starry fizz, which is exactly what I was hoping for. The raspberries still tasted fantastic (I had been gobbling them while dissolving the gelatin), which was a relief, since it would have been a shame to waste all those expensive fresh berries. Next time I will make this in a shallower glass dish, or one big shallow dish to be cut into cubes, each cube containing one raspberry and looking like an ice cube! That would be fun to float in a girly cocktail.
1. Sprinkle 3.5 tsp. unflavored gelatin over 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan. Let sit for five minutes, then turn burner on and dissolve gelatin over low heat, stirring constantly. I added and dissolved a spoonful of honey and wish I had added a tiny bit more, maybe 2 tbs.
2. When gelatin has dissolved, turn off heat and stir in 1 bottle (750 ml.) sparkling lemonade. Lemonade will foam up and look like a crazy science experiment!
3. When it subsides, pour into containers (you will have about 5 cups of liquid). Stir in 2 cups of raspberries (or however many you want to eat), cover, and refrigerate until set.
UPDATE: I love the tiny version at Food Chronicles--and the pictures she links to of Blair Fukumura's desserts. Now I am dying to make little Damien Hirst Jello shots!
When IS MY BLOG BURNING 14was announced, I thought for sure I would manage to post something orange by the deadline. Knowing me and deadlines, I should have thought otherwise, but I did spend a couple of weeks thinking about orange food. Sincere efforts to concentrate on butternut squash and ruddy spices were pretty much unsuccessful--my thoughts kept swerving back to the unnatural glow of Kraft macaroni and cheese, Doritos, and chile con queso. Eventually I thought of pimiento cheese, one of those foods that I viewed with deep suspicion in childhood. I've come around to other such foods (fish, avocados, mushrooms...oh, the lost years) but had yet to try pimiento cheese. Why not now? I found a recipe on Epicurious and, after asking around a bit, discovered that only Southerners are aware of this food (I'm from Houston). Since we were supposed to post during a weekend I happened to be flying to a friend's wedding with my trusty companion, who fears red states, I thought some pimiento cheese sandwiches for the plane would be a perfect way to ease him into the event.
It probably goes without saying that watching me frantically make a spread out of grated cheese, pimientos, and mayonnaise when I should have been packing was not a perfect way to ease anyone into anything! But I made some adorable crustless sandwiches and some shredded carrot salad and put them in a bag with two oranges. How was it? Well, I cracked out a sandwich when we sat down on the plane. As some Epicurious commenters suggested, I had jazzed it up a bit with garlic and Tobasco, and that sucker was pungent. I ate mine on principle, but I don't think I'll be making my own pimiento cheese again any time soon. For scaring Yankees in the future I will stick to chile con Velveeta and Texas Gold Bars.
Even though I will eat food way out of season--yes, even tomatoes! and yes, I persist in finding something that tastes good about them--I love reading Alice Waters's descriptions of the perfect, perfect thing at the perfect, perfect moment. But she's a little bit scary with her absolutism, no? I have always been too intimidated by the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook to cook from it. A shocking number of recipes begin with instructions like "remove the pigeons' feet and heads," and this is a little more hard-core and authentic than I'm ready to be. Sunday morning, though, I noticed a pasta recipe that looked easy enough: buckwheat pasta with rocket and goat cheese.
You'll forgive me for using soba instead of making my own buckwheat pasta as suggested. There were two things I loved about this simple preparation: it came together in about 30 minutes of easy work by one person, and it bridges the gap between stick-to-your-ribs satisfying (cream, goat cheese, chewy noodles) and springtime lightness (haricots verts, arugula).
Gosh, I always feel pretentious writing or saying haricots verts.
I also got to buy one of those Coach Farm cheese buttons that are always so tempting. Those are the Coach Farm goats up there! The leftover cheese and arugula made a yummy salad the next day.
to serve 2 (with other courses, could serve 3 or 4):
6 oz. soba noodles 1/4 lb. haricots verts 1 cup half-and-half (N.B. book calls for cream, but half-and-half was fine) 1.5 oz. soft, plain goat cheese 2 handfuls of arugula salt and pepper
1. Put water on to boil for soba and haricots verts. I used two pots, but you could use one, doing the beans first, lifting them out, then throwing the pasta in the still-boiling bean water. 2. While water comes to a boil, heat half-and-half (or cream) over medium-low flame, until it has reduced slightly (5 minutes? I'm not at all sure I followed this step correctly). Off-heat, whisk in goat cheese to make a smooth sauce. 3. Blanch haricots, 2 or 3 minutes, then chop into whatever size pleases you. 4. Cook soba according to package directions. 5. Toss soba, cheese sauce, and beans with 2 handfuls of (still uncooked) arugula. Salt and pepper to taste and serve in big bowls.
This month I ate a lot of food that did not make it up here due to apartment + job hunt + Gothamist + social obligations. Seeing as one of the main points of this enterprise is to serve as a sort of eating and cooking scrapbook--to combat the continually dismaying dissolution of one day into the next--I am as ever a bit disappointed in myself. But I'll try to be plucky: pack up leftovers, wash dishes, wipe down counters, and get ready to do it all again tomorrow. Here are some of the things I made.
Soupy rice with peas from Fast Food My Way. Blandly comforting; much improved by addition of salt and pepper.
Basic muffins from The Joy of Cooking. Did not compare to more interesting muffins from last fall, the heyday of muffin making. Need to keep more berries-oatmeal-etc. on hand.
Baked ziti from an old Mark Bittman piece. Unbelievably satisfying and tasty, thanks to spicy Italian pork sausage from Whole Foods. Prompted the suggestion, "we should make baked ziti every Friday night so we can eat it all weekend long." The pound cake of pasta recipes: 1lb. sausage, 1lb. mozzarella, 1lb. pasta. Yikes.
Baked chicken with chili powder and honey from May Gourmet. Recipe here. Solid weeknight food. Baked on a bed of sweet potatoes, which became wonderfully greasy and spicy.
Succotash with edamame instead of lima beans from May Gourmet. Recipe here. Better received by some than others. Frozen, shelled edamame nice to have around.
Soba noodles with shitake mushrooms from Encore with Claudine. Including ginger, garlic, and jalapeno, a bit more complicated than the Nigella version I am accustomed to. But just as clean and earthy tasting and filling.
Tuna with tapenade from Encore with Claudine. More on this later, most likely. We overcooked the tuna, but that couldn't spoil it. Went surprisingly well with the soba and shitake--all strong, earthy flavors.
Poached pears with chocolate sauce from Encore with Claudine. A little too sweet, perhaps because I bought the wrong chocolate, but you can't argue with pears and chocolate sauce.
Baked skinless chicken thighs smeared with adobo sauce and canned chipotles to use in tacos, quesadillas, and nachos. Inspired by Gourmet...exciting new discovery: you can smear anything on chicken thighs and cook them at 425 for 30 or 35 minutes. Yum.
I bought real parmesean cheese for something and can't remember what; it was only because I had that that I made the soupy rice with peas. Hmmm.
To recover from a busy month of birthday food and eating on the run, I made the vegetable tian from Barefoot in Paris. Um, yes, it was a month ago...I am playing catch-up now but hope to have my ducks in a row soon.
I was surprised to realize that this is only the second recipe I've tried from Barefoot in Paris, the other being boeuf bourguinon <...happy memories of chuck stewed in wine...>. It was, of course, supereasy, delicious (even better the next day), and (I thought) very pretty. I had never heard of a "tian," so I looked it up in the Larousse. A tian is one of those foods, like a tagine or a gratin, that is named after the dish it is traditionally prepared in. Larousse did not clarify how it differs from a gratin--to me it looks to be exactly the same thing. In any event, slices of vegetables (in this case, zucchini, tomatoes, and potatoes) are layered on top of sauteed onions, sprinkled with thyme and olive oil, and popped in the oven. The veg came out succulent and sunny-tasting, as in a good ratatouille.
Yesterday afternoon I took a nap instead of braving the crowds at Fairway. Not having procured the cream, goat cheese, haricots verts, and arugula needed to mess with an Alice Waters pasta recipe that had been selected when the day was young and ambition was in the air, we were left with cauliflower, potatoes, broccoli, and bulgar wheat for dinner. The cauliflower and potatoes got mustard seed and cumin, the broccoli got plenty of butter, and the bulgar wheat, in its debut performance on my plate, got rave reviews. The all-veggie dinner was as satisfying and almost as yummy as last week's tuna with tapenade.