May 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
J: So, here I am in New England for Erik’s college graduation! I remember this time last year: I was half excited and half terrified about graduating and starting a new chapter of my life at grad school in a brand new city with nobody I knew. And now it’s Erik’s turn, and I know he’s going through a lot of the same things I did; he’ll be moving in with me this summer, which is exciting for both of us, but I know he’s a little nervous about being in a new part of the country. At the least, we’ll be doing a lot of cooking — I think that living together will make both of us push each other to get more creative with what we make and with the ingredients we use.
In fact, we’ve already gotten a jump start on that goal of creativity. We decided we would each come up with a new ingredient to “assign” to the other person, who would have to create a dish around it, somewhat reminiscent of Iron Chef America (though without the one-hour time limit, sassy judges, and insanity of Alton Brown). My first “secret ingredient” was tomatillos!
May 23, 2011 § Leave a Comment
E: At this very moment, sitting here writing this, I am five days away from receiving my college diploma. And, truth be told, it is and isn’t exciting. I always sort of figured I would get here, and so it isn’t exciting in an “I made it!” kind of way (though it is a relief to have made it through this semester alive). But I’m ready to either have the chance to go back in time and do it all again, or to be done and move on. And I am certainly ready to do that. As much as I’d like to put this week in stasis, before everyone goes their separate ways for a while or for ever, I’m truly ready to have some free time to do the things I want to do with my life.
One of those things is most certainly to get better at cooking, which is a big part of why Joanna and I do this blog thing anyway, rather than just making tasty food and consuming it in obscurity. Photographing and publishing about food forces you to be more critical of things that you make, to try them again and attempt to get them just right (I still have some gingerbread photos from Thanksgiving that haven’t gone up because the result was just so unpalatable to me that I have to find a successful recipe to post beside it, or I will feel like I’ve failed in my duties). And it also gives you a sort of reward, beyond the immediate gustatory satisfaction of preparing an excellent meal: you get to share it with friends and strangers alike. Successes and failures alike will endure.
May 20, 2011 § 2 Comments
E: Hello and welcome to Nombudsman, the one man show. Joanna is off at a conference for a few days, so I’m here holding down the fort, trying to get a post out on time (and failing, if I remember correctly when the last post went up). In any case, I’ve put together a post on a homemade tomato soup that she and I cooked together about a month ago. I am not a tomato soup fan, and I never really have been. My father loves the classic combination of tomato soup and grilled cheese, however, so this was really done with him in mind. That said, I found this to be very far removed, in a good way, from any tomato soup I’d had previously (with one exception: the Harvest, in Cambridge, makes a tomato soup that, to my tastes, destroys this one, but I couldn’t tell you what they did exactly to make it different).
I loved it. Joanna did too. For sure, there are some things we would do differently next time, but the freshly roasted tomatoes make the soup really bright and flavourful. And, if you are reading this and don’t have the time to cook up a fresh tomato soup tonight, take my advice and create yourself a smoked gouda grilled cheese. After making them for this, thinking they would be an interesting contrast to the soup, I cannot fathom why we hadn’t done grilled cheese like that before.
May 16, 2011 § 1 Comment
J: Okay, long title, I know. But this was a really fun dish that I came up with all by my lonesome, and I think you should try it! It took me two tries to get the stuffing and baking process right, and even at this point it could use a few tweaks probably, but it was pretty tasty both times. This was a chance for me to play around with a semi-new ingredient, since I haven’t worked much with pear, even though it’s one of my favorite fruits. Heck, I haven’t even had pear, aside from once or twice at Erik’s, in years; my father doesn’t like it much and, well, you could try to eat the pears that showed up occasionally in my university dining hall, but you’d probably best fortify your stomach with a steel lining beforehand.
You most certainly do not need any sort of steel-lining-fortification for this little number, though. Just patience, a bit of time, and a willingness to thrust your fingers into a hunk of meat.
May 12, 2011 § Leave a Comment
J: Erik’s mother makes the most delicious lemon poppyseed muffins, and since I live so far away from them, I don’t get to enjoy them as often as I’d like. Recently I was craving them, and decided that I would do an homage to her muffins in the form of lemon poppyseed scones! I used this recipe from Vanilla Sugar (incidentally that recipe is dynamite in its original form as well) and tweaked it a bit to come up with these wonderful little pastries.
May 9, 2011 § Leave a Comment
E: Hello everyone. I’m stepping in again today to post this quick and easy recipe for roasted potatoes. I made these for an Easter party, along with this green chili mac and cheese, and both went down really well. The original recipe for these used fingerlings, but I went with small red potatoes because that’s what I could find at the time. Also, the original had chive pesto, but the grocery store had no chives when I was there so I substituted some scallions and some basil. If you want to see the original recipe from Macheesmo, it is located here. I apologize for the poor quality picture of the final product, and the lack of good pictures of the roasting potatoes. I was in a rush, and only photographed the final dish just as I was heading out.
May 6, 2011 § Leave a Comment
J: Erik found this recipe on The Wednesday Chef, and as soon as I saw it I needed no convincing to make these delicious cupcakes. I’ve actually not made cupcakes since I started on my foodie journey, so this was a fun little deviation from the usual desserts in the form of various types of cookies or brownies. It’s kind of a long process, just because there’s a fair bit of waiting between steps to let the cupcakes cool and then do various sinfully delicious things to them (because clearly they weren’t already sinful enough). But it’s so worth it! These have such an absurdly rich chocolate flavor. The cream filling is really a must; when they were finished, they kind of reminded me of Hostess cupcakes, being cream-filled and all, but they are worlds better, both in taste and in ingredients (not that either of these things would be terribly hard to achieve).
So, in case the description and photo weren’t enough to convince you, read on: once you get to the end of this recipe, I’m pretty positive that you’ll want to make these as much as I did.
May 3, 2011 § 3 Comments
E: And so it is that my undergraduate thesis is basically finished, and has been presented to all the necessary persons. That’s not to say I don’t have quite a bit left to do before this year is over, but it means that the bulk of that-which-must-be-done-immediately is in fact complete, and so I will be back to posting more regularly. It is a relief to have that project off my back, but it just makes this whole graduation thing all the more surreal. I started my thesis almost a year ago, and it has occupied much of my attention, if not always my actual time, since then. I learned a lot in the process, and there’s much more I would do if I had the time, but I just did not expect to be “done” so soon.
So back to food, as I’m sure that’s why you’ve come. This one has been sitting on my computer for several months now (the recipe and pictures, not, thank goodness, the actual food), waiting for a time when I felt I could actually write it up and do it justice. And that time is now. I came up with this recipe as a modification of the French blended soup recipe we made a while ago. I wanted to take those flavors to the next level of complexity, and give it some aesthetic touches so it doesn’t just look like a bowl of blended stuff. It had been a while since I’d made anything with yogurt sauce, so I decided to go in a Greek direction (I’m pretty sure this soup would be delicious with lamb instead of chicken, if you wanted to try something different). Instead of serving soup and a side, I decided to put the side in the soup: a dollop of cool Greek yogurt sauce right in the middle. The slightly-spicy savory warmth of the soup contrasts beautifully with the cool, crisp cucumber and creamy yogurt. With some toasted bread and herb butter, I think it makes a delicious and complex meal, and I’d make it for just about anyone who likes soup and yogurt separately.