I talk about food a lot. And other stuff.

But mostly food.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Greens and Eggs for Breakfasts

I've been way into greens for breakfast for a while now.  My favorite so far has been sauteed shallots, garlic and mixed greens (lots of spinach), served with goat cheese and  poached eggs on top.   

I make this for any meal of the day.  Sometimes I make a lemony vinaigrette for it, sometimes I add toasted pine nuts, sometimes I use scallions instead of shallots, sometimes I fry the eggs to make it go quicker.  I just learned that it's best to drain the finished greens by pressing them in a sieve before serving.  Otherwise you get a black/green puddle under your eggs half way through your meal.  Not terrible, but not very pretty.

Speaking of faster "melty eggs", I recently looked up ways to poach eggs in the microwave.  The ones pictured above are thusly cooked, but were my one and only success at this technique.  I love poached eggs, and really want a way to cook them that's faster than boiling water, adding white vinegar, putting the eggs in individual ramekins, submerging the lip and dropping the eggs in the water, and waiting four minutes.

I did these in a bowl with some water.  All other attempts exploded all over the microwave.  I like poachies so much, I think I need to invest in some sort of pan or microwave contraption.  Anyone out there have any experience with any of these?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Great Cookbooks: Eating Well Rush Hour

I'm always on the lookout for great cookbooks. This is the first in a series where I will share my favorites with you.
There are a few things I really really love in cookbooks: Lots of pictures, being arranged by season, and complete menus. This one has them all. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you (my dog-eared, ratty, well-loved edition of) The Eating Well Rush Hour Cookbook.

As is evidenced by this blog, I really love EatingWell. I have been reading EatingWell magazine since the very first issue. It all started with my mom's subscription, which taught us both that cooking in your home can produce complex, layered flavors, and helped us expand our palates and love of cooking. I got my own subscription in my adulthood, and have given it as a gift countless times ($15 for a whole year of a magazine that's basically a new cookbook in your mailbox every two months! What could be better?). After a while, I gathered up all the cookbooks I could. Even after they were out of print, I got them on E-Bay. This one is my favorite. Arranged by season, including whole menus and lots and lots of pictures, and comprised of meals that only take less than an hour to make, this is the cookbook that all others in my collection strive to beat. Most of my standby dishes are from this book - even if they are not kept with their menu cohorts. Most of my "cook something impressive, company is coming" meals come from this book - it's got whole, in-season menus!!

In the late 90s, I lost my beloved Rush Hour Cookbook to an apartment flood down my kitchen wall and into the cupboard where I kept my cookbooks. I contacted EatingWell to see if I could get another - I couldn't even find one on E-Bay at that time. Patsy Jamieson, then food editor and now contributing editor, searched around, found me one, taped some removed pages back in and sent it to me with a note inside:

This was like having a celebrity chef sign and send me something.  
I couldn't believe it.

I looked for it in the shop on the EatingWell website, and I do not see it for sale.  However, I do see I have some serious EatingWell cookbook catching up to do. (I only have 5 or 6 that were printed early on.  I'm sure you'll see them later in the Great Cookbook Series.) I did, however, find Rush Hour on E-Bay if you're interested.

Here is a list of my very favorites from this book, paired where applicable:


Pork Tenderloin with Keys Mango Sauce (the recipe linked here is a variation on the recipe in the book)

Fresh Berry Gratin (possibly my favorite EatingWell recipe of all time)


Swordfish Kebabs 
       (Not listed on the site. I'd get the book for this recipe alone.  I actually made it earlier this week!)


    (I substitute half the water for the rice with leftover coconut milk from the curry!)
I was inspired by this menu in April and made this.

Paella Rapida (I omit the mussels, myself)


Please try some of these out and let me know what you think.  I'm so happy to bring these older recipes out of the EatingWell site, and to share with you my love of this book.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

w00tstock. Three (five) hours of geeks and music (and food).

Hi, foodies.  I have a confession.  I'm not only a foodie.  I'm also a geek.  A nerd.  Often a spaz and a dork.  Sometimes even a dweeb.  I read David Eddings novels.  I like etymology.  My mom took me out of 3rd grade early one day to go to the opening day matinee of Return of the Jedi.  I carry a towel in my car, and not just because I have kids.  I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation every week while making tacos.  I played Diablo, Diablo II, WarCraft II, and Balder's Gate.  Before that, I played games on my ColecoVision and Nintendo 64.  Hell, I married the guy who played Crow T. Robot and Observer on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

None of that may make any sense to some of you.  Some of you already know.  One thing you should all know is that there is a show you should see, should it come to your town.  It is full of geeks, music, and runs about three (or five) of the funniest, most awesome hours evar.  That show is w00tstock.  And here are some pictures and clips.

Don't worry, foodies - There's cake - it's in the middle (and it's not a lie).  And I made cookies.  They're at the end.  You can skip down there if you just don't get it and/or care about the geeky stuff.  It's ok.  I won't judge and/or know.

So here are pictures and clips of what I saw last Monday at the Guthrie in Minneapolis.  It still geeks me out that my husband gets to do stuff like this for his job, and that I get to go along for the ride - my life is pretty surreal sometimes.  And awesome.

My Pass.  It's made of fabric and is a sticker!

Bill and some of the cast.  There was a lot of photobombing happening that night.  
This was sort of the mass photobomb.    

This clip is Paul and Storm introducing Len Peralta.  You should click that link and then click FlipFace and pay the man to make you one.  They. Are. Awesome.  Here's mine:

From this....

....to this.

...or this for Christmas.

Then I got bangs...

...and a new FlipFace (complete with necklace!)

OK, so that's Len.  Also in that clip above, is the CAKE from Celebration Generation. (See mass photobomb above, too.  Marie Porter, pastry genius and chef to the nerdy, is in the chef's whites in the middle.)  Backstage there were coffee brownies and chai blondies.  I bought the mix for the chai blondies - they have CAFFEINE IN THEM! And ARE AWESOME!!

She also inspired me to make these:

They're Rummy Bears.  
These little Gummy Bears are currently soaking up rum as I type this. 
More later on that.

Now, back to w00tstock. Here are some clips.

My husband, Bill, and Kevin Murphy invite Paul and Storm to the stage for a Sing-Along.  
Do you know the chorus?

The Whole Cast sings a generic National Anthem.

A w00tstock first.  

She said yes!

The big finale with the Dating Game Kiss at the end.

Trace Beaulieu, Kevin Murphy and Bill with Molly Lewis.
She plays the ukelele and writes songs.  And wants to have Stephen Frye's baby.

Here's Wil Wheaton wearing her shirt.

Here's Bill and the rest of the cast signing autographs.  
Yes.  After a FIVE HOUR SHOW, everyone signed autographs for 90 minutes.  
Bless you, Guthrie Staff, for not killing us all.

Wil Wheaton, Bill, Adam Savage and me.  
Dig my @rootsandzest tee shirt. 
You can get your own, personalized Twitter shirt from TinyRun.

I promised you cookies.  Here they are.  I made two kinds, but only took pictures of one.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate cookies.  Don't let the fact that it's a Weight Watchers recipe scare you.  They're awesome.

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup natural peanut butter (I used Trader Joe's peanut butter with flaxseeds)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

*Beat butter and sugars with a mixer until blended.   Add vanilla and egg; beat well.  Add peanut butter, beat until blended.  Divide butter mixture evenly between two bowls.
*Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.  Spoon half of flour mixture into one of the bowls of butter mixture; stir until well blended.
*Stir cocoa into remaining flour mixture; add to remaining bowl of butter mixture, stirring until well blended.
*Cover both bowls and chill at least one hour. (I did it overnight.)
*Preheat oven to 375F

*Roll peanut butter dough into 76 balls (1/2tsp works well for amount).  Roll chocolate dough into 76 balls.

*Gently roll together one chocolate ball and one peanut butter ball.  Place balls 2 inches apart on lightly grease baking sheets.  (Make sure to place them so you can see both sides.)

*Flatten cookies with the bottom of a glass or ramekin.

*Bake at 375F for 8 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

38 calories per cookie!

I also made EatingWell's Blueberry & White Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookies, but I had to do it quick so my kids wouldn't see, and didn't take any pictures.  Sorry!!

I brought these cookies and some wine to the show.  For backstage, not for me in the audience.

The wine (Rootstock Sauv. Blanc from Trader Joe's, changed with a Sharpie) was gone by the end of the show.  Finished onstage by the cast. (photo by HellZiggy)

(Len Peralta, Bill, Me, Adam SavageWil Wheaton,  John Scalzi (foreground), Mrs. Wheaton,  Chris Wright.  Photo taken by Molly Lewis.)

The leftover cookies were brought to the lobby of the hotel where the cast was staying and enjoyed until 4am.
The End.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New York: Sunday

Sunday found us eating again.  Yes.  Even after all that, and the ill-considered gelato.  We ate again!  This time we started in Brooklyn.

We went to Pies-n-Thighs, again to meet friends we'd never met.  

If you live Anywhere Near Brooklyn [Williamsburg] (yes, Manhattan counts as near), you should go for the biscuits and gravy alone.  Oh. My.  Also, on my way out, I was given a free donut hole.  What's better than that?

We then went to Greenpoint and saw this:

Hello, beautiful.

Second stop was my husband's hometown, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  We ate pizza from Gino's.  Now, if you click that link, you get a very different idea of what Gino's is.  Or what it was.  It was a storefront.  Just a counter, a brick oven, three guys and some awesome slices. 

 Luckily, all that is still there (we ate standing at the counter), in addition to the expanded menu, wood bar, and fancy napkins.  I almost ate it without taking a picture.  This was the most perfect piece of New York pizza I've ever had, so please forgive the first bite taken before I remembered to get out the ol' iPhone.

Again, people of New York, get your heinie on a train and go to 75th Street and 5th Ave and eat this pizza.

The evening found us wanting some Old New York.  We met some of my oldest friends (like, I've known them since 1987, not that they're old) at The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station.  It is apparently beautiful in there, though it was so dark, even after being there for an hour, I had a hard time appreciating the details.  For example, I just looked up that link, and had no idea the ceiling was that elaborate or that the bar stools were red.  We drank fancy, ridiculously expensive cocktails.  It was lovely to see them.

We then took a cab to The Plaza and had dinner at The Oak Room. (Click "Cuisine" for the menu.)  Lovely.  Pretty.  Super Slow Service - when I say I need a minute to look at the wine list, don't come back in twenty.   Also, when I'm done eating, you can take away the plate within fifteen minutes of my Very Obviously Putting My Fork And Knife On The Plate In The "Done" Position. Seriously.  

We had an appetizer of Crisp pork belly with ramp kimchi, green curried cauliflower and green papaya that I honestly forgot we had until I just looked at the menu.  Now that I remember it, I also remember that the scrapple at Momofuku and the pork belly at Piccolo in Minneapolis are both vastly superior.  I think Bill had the duck breast with confit strudel, spring onion puree, favas (forever ruined by Hollywood), morels and mulberries.  I had a ridiculously big 30-day aged Meyer natural prime New York strip with bone marrow crust, duck fat potatoes and sweet onion marmalade.  (PS - does anyone know what "SUPP $15" on a menu means?)  We had some sides, too.  Creamed spinach with bacon and leek, sweet and sour Brussels sprouts with glazed apples, and truffled tater tots with peach ketchup.

Giant marrow-crusted steak with duck fat potatoes and asparagus.  
That teeny drizzle near the cubes is the marmalade.  Pretty much not worth mentioning it on the menu if it's that little.
No, I didn't finish it, and it took a lot to leave some on my plate.  I have meat machismo. 

Creamed spinach 
Brussels sprouts

  We skipped dessert (learning from our gelato experience the night before), and instead moved to the Oak Bar, had another glass of wine and watched the horse and carriages trot around Central Park.

One thing that was really great at the Plaza was the ladies room.

All White Marble.

I'm glad there's a changing table in here, but it looked so out of place... perhaps some stick-on bling or something?

So, I had a lovely three days of eating in New York.  We did other stuff, too, like going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, walking through Central Park, Washington Square, Union Square, Bay Ridge Brooklyn...  Here are some tourist shots.  Hope you enjoy.  

New York: Saturday

Saturday morning we went to Colicchio and Sons for brunch.  We love the man.  He's a manly man who doesn't mince words, knows what he likes and doesn't skimp on the salt and pepper.  My burgers are better because of this man, who taught me through the television set to season-my-food-for-god-sake.  

The restaurant was empty.  We were the first ones to arrive, and it felt both really cool to be in the place before anyone and see only it, and really lame to be served in an empty restaurant.  About 20 minutes later, people started coming in, and I had a mimosa under my belt, and everything was great.

The ambiance was really cool.  Lots of windows, lots of wood, lots of right angles.  The music was weird, but fine - sort of eclectic to the point of funny.  I'll have to amend this post later when I can ask Bill if he can remember what we listened to.  I can only remember we both commented that my mother would have requested it be turned down, if not off.

Here's what we ate:

From back to front: 
Peekytoe Crab Omlette with Spring Onions, Nettles and Fontina Mornay
Toast.  The most perfect bacon ever.
Toads in the hole with spicy tomato piperade (which seemed to be more red bell peppers than tomatoes, but was Ah-may-zing.)

And we had jelly doughnuts.  
You heard me.

We then walked along The High Line, an elevated park that will eventually be a mile and a half long.  It's really cool, and if you go to New York you should put it on your list of things to see.

Art on The High Line.

Saturday night we got a real treat.  Bill's cousin, Paul Gerard, is the chef at the SoHo Grand Hotel.  Bill's in-town family joined us and Chef Paul gave us the royal treatment, bringing out plate after plate of food.  It was everything I could have dreamed of - delicious food, interesting stories from Bill's childhood, stories from behind the line at a fancy hotel, and the charisma of a chef who will someday add the word celebrity before his title, I'm sure.  Here's the food we ate:

Mushroom Toast - goat cheese and thyme (!)
Tuna Tiradito - raw sushi grade tuna, soft herbs, sea salt and roasted lemon toast
Fried Calamari - szechwan salt and pickled jalapeno

Trio of Flatbreads
Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil
White Pizza with Cracked Black Pepper
Ricotta and Meyer Lemon (!)

We then moved out to The Yard and had some more.  These were all on the outside patio menu, which is not listed online, so I'll do my best remembering what everything is.

Pork Buns (not so different from the ones we had at Momofuku the day before - and also delicious!)

Fried head-on prawns

When it started to rain, we moved back inside, but continued with the grill/patio food.

Burgers - there were three different kinds, but I missed the picture.  Drat!

Dale's Pale Ale.

Many kinds of sausages.
There was a Cuban, with ham wrapped around the sausage.
There was one with roasted peppers.
There was a greek sausage with goat cheese and meyer lemon (!)

Also, Piquillo Peppers stuffed with short ribs (!)

Let's see those again.
Piquillo Peppers stuffed with short ribs. (!)
Oh, yeah.

I have never been this full, and seldom been this happy.  Thank you, Chef Paul.  Your food was delicious, your hospitality generous, your bloodline fabulous.

Then we were stupid and walked to Little Italy, to this place:

And got this:

And then my stomach burst inside my body and I died.

Not really, but I sure was sorry I ate that gelato.
And happy to get in bed....
More to come!!