Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Latest and Greatest - Part 1

I realize, with the exception of The Great Brooklyn Cook-Off (coverage and recipes coming soon), that lately this blog has been lacking in posts about food. I might have mentioned here and there what I've been cookin', but I've come up short on sharing the recipes. So, to make up for it, over the next few days I will post my top 5 recipes of 2006 (thus far, anyway).

They are not in order of favorites (how could I choose?!!!), but instead, the order in which I have made and enjoyed them, #1 being the most recent.

1. Lentil and Roasted Garlic Soup

2. Pork Vindaloo

3. Pizza with Roasted Mushroom, Spinach and Goat Cheese

4. Spicy Chicken Soup with Tortillas, Avocado and Lime

5. Lebanese Lamb and Been Stew

Are you drooling yet?
Look out for the recipes . . . Here is #1, enjoy!

Lentil and Roasted Garlic Soup

3/4 cup olive oil

10 cloves garlic, peelved and halved

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

3 cups water

1/2 cup French Green Lentils (these were a little hard to find. The dry bulk section of my market has them - and you can find them in specialty markets too)

1 medium leek (white parts and green parts only) thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
7 cups (you may need 1 more) vegetable broth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup red lentils
1 1/4 lb yams, peeled and cut into cubes
12 ounces kale, ribs discarded, leaves sliced

fresh grated parmesan cheese for topping

*This recipe takes some time in the kitchen, as it has many steps, but it was unquestionably worth the effort. Also, it goes grrrreat with beer bread!

Place the olive oil, garlic and rosemary in a heavy saucepan and cook over lowest possible heat until the garlic begins to brown (about 1.5 hours). Drain and reserve garlic and oil and separately , cover and chill, discard rosemary. (You can do this up to 2 days ahead of time.

Place 3 cups water and green lentils in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes, cool and drain.

Meanwhile heat 1/4 cup garlic oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add leek and sage and cook until leek is soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add 7 cups broth, soy sauce, green and red lentil to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium, cover and simmer until lentils are almost soft - about 15 minutes. Add yams and garlic and cook until yams are tender, about 10 minutes. (If you need to add more broth to keep veggies covered, do so by the 1/2 cup-full) Add kale to soup and simmer until wilted, about 5 minutes, and season with salt and pepper (won't need much).

Serve with parmesan cheese, sprinkled on top, and warm bread on the side. Yummy!
*Adapted from bon appétit

Monday, February 27, 2006

Total Decadence

This past Saturday, The Great Brooklyn Cook-Off went down and it was incredibly delicious. Soon to come is complete contest coverage, including recipes!

Other weekend highlights included a drunken piñata party we attended with our fellow chefs, full bellies and all.

And a trip to the Broadway Panhandler.

Lured in by a sale on Le Creuset pots and pans, Brad and I spoiled ourselves with some much coveted new kitchen gear (including a hand-crank pasta maker!) and . . .

this new oval dutch oven!!!!

Isn't it beautiful?!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Playing Petris

It's still got some kinks, but here's something else I've been up to.

Check it:


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Grossed Out and Exhausted

Let's talk first about why I am exhausted - The Joy of Tax.

Tonight I attended a 2.5 hour workshop hosted by the Freelancers Union (of which I am a member, and learned that I can write off the membership fees for) on taxes for freelancers. Immediately after work I headed all the way, way downtown to a building on Water Street where I then sat in a conference room and listened to people asking questions that even my tax ignorant ass knew had already been asked. The entire time I tried to grasp the accromnym and tax form number heavy information being offered, so I could "Maximize my knowledge in order to minimize my frustration" like the lecture promised. What I think happened instead is I slightly increased my knowledge and maximized my paranoia about what a pain in the rear this looming tax season is going to be.

And the grossed out part . . .

One of the cutest things about Francine is that she has been an only-dog long enough, that she plays with herself. Give her a ball or a stuffed toy, and she will hop around, shake it about and toss it up and try to catch it again to her little hearts desire. When we are out on dog walks at night we have taken to bringing a ball and playing fetch with her on the soccer field, but every night, when we first toss the ball for her, the fetch session is almost always preceeded by some highly enthusiastic, solitary playtime.

Tonight however, after we threw the ball to France and she joyously hopped around the field shaking the ball in her mouth and tossing it up to bounce after it again, she dropped it and trotted off towards something else that had caught her interest. From the distance we saw her hopping around and crouching down, tail wagging, like she had found a new plaything. She does this sometimes when she is first to spot a stick just right for throwing or a ball that was left by someone else. I said to Brad, "Look she's playing with something" and we walked over to inspect her finding. - Now get ready, here comes the gross part- It wasn't a stick, like I thought when I saw her pick the object up and shake it around, it was the dead body of a mouse.


The Great Brooklyn Cook-Off

It started as a simple dinner party – the idea was spawned over beer. But oh, the things that can develop through email when us wanna-be-chefs are bored at work . . .

The invitation was simple:


Hello ladies,

Just wanted to see if you and your boys are still into having a little
dinner next Saturday before Kate and Collin's party. Perhaps we could all bring a dish we've wanted to make. Unless Megan wants to call dibs, I'd be happy to play hostess. What do you say? Around 8?

I think I'm going to make something Mexican . . .

Notice the suggestion, "Perhaps we could all bring a dish we've wanted to make." Can of worms, I tell you - and so it began . . .


I'm not sure what I want to make yet - I don't have any Mexi dishes on my to-do recipe list, so let me know what you guys are gonna make when you have an idea and I'll come up with something that compliments.


It could be fun if we all made something from a different part of the world and see how well they go together. I'll let you know what I'm making as soon as I've decided.

Seems harmless, right? Just wait . . .


Hmmm, I have 3 ideas. Tell me which one you guys prefer:

1) Appetizer: I can't remember what the hell this dish is called, but it involves little masa cups filled with stuff. I'd fill some with achiote-orange pork, and some with a veggie thing, like roasted corn salsa and avocado.

2) Terascan chicken soup: Delicious soup made with smoked chicken, corn, zucchini, and lime, thickened with pureed beans and topped with quesa fresco.

3) Pork yum-yum: Can't remember the name of this dish either, but it's a pork loin pounded flat and rolled with a filling that involves raisins, breadcrumbs and chiles. Each person gets a roulade-looking slice topped with walnut cream sauce.


What I have in mind at this point is either Ancho Chilli and Coffee Braised Beef
Short Ribs, or a Tunisian Lamb Meatloaf with raisins, almonds and a custardy topping. . . those were at the top of my to-do cooking list, so . . . thoughts?

Oh, and if we want to go for an international thing - i could also definitely bring one of my new curry dishes, like Thai Green Beef? I also have a lamb and pork. . . .

Can we say I'll be the meat girl?


Man, this is turning into a real cook-off.

(You said it sista)

I'm fine with you and Megan being the meat girls. I'm really not very good at cooking meat,
anyway. But I do excel at vegetables, if I do say so myself (see: smug shrug of the shoulders and pursed-lip smile). So whatever I make will have loads of them. I was thinking about making fresh flour tortillas, too . . .

Now you see where I'm coming from.
Well, things were already beginning to heat up a bit, and then the guys got involved.


This is getting exciting. Josh is a huge fan of ice cream, so maybe he'll want to use my ice cream-making KitchenAid attachment to do dessert.


While all these recipes certainly sound delicious, this culinary arms race
is beginning to scare me a little. I have a feeling that my dessert will soon require butter hand-churned by an indigenous monk in some far-flung mountainous country, a dodo egg, and the blood of seven virgins. And virgin blood does not come cheap.


I know good place for virgin blood. Good price. Cheap for you.

And then the claws came out - Sorry kiddies, this is for grown-ups only.


Wimpy boy can bring the wine, then. ;)


I'd love to make some ice cream. I just don't want to be laughed at should I choose something less elaborate than rose water and gold leaf.

What do you think will happen tomorrow when I start accepting applications for judges?

When I found out the guys would be cooking after all, I volunteered Brad, our resident dressing enthusiast, to make a salad. He's in the kitchen right now, sweating and flipping through recipe books for inspiration, being that he already served his latest fave, pomagranite vinagrette, to the ladies last time we had dinner together.

As for me, well, I'm feeling pretty confident about my prospective entries. However, I need to get to work on drawing up the official contest rules.

Oh, and if you want to smell victory, come take a sniff of what's in my oven this coming Saturday afternoon.


You hear that? Huh?
That's right.
Look out cook-off.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


My goodness, what is happening around here - was that coffee post boring or what?! I certainly can't afford to threaten my loyal readership of nine with a snoozer like that. So, to make up for it, here is an absolutely hilarious photo of Francine:

Monday, February 20, 2006

Higher Standards

Anyone who drank beer in college knows that the dominant factor for beer selection in said institution is quantity over quality. However, anyone who truly loves beer (I have a hard time believing there are people in this world that do not) also knows that there is a certain coming of age that occurs after you have tasted one too many yummy microbrews to go back, and your selection standards are forever altered. From this point forward it is quality, or rather taste you seek, and the taste of beers previously admired for their high quantity to low price ratio are actually cringe inducing.

When it comes to coffee, I believe Brad had such a coming of age when he transitioned from his roommate/bachelor apartment to mine. We drank fresh roasted, fresh ground coffees until he could no longer go back to the 83 Meserole Street favorite, Cafe Bustelo.

My coffee palette was nurtured in a different manner, largely due to the generousity of roommates employed by coffee shops. During my junior year college, my roommate was a loyal employee of Starbucks, but was not much of a coffee lover. Since the policy of most coffee shops is to give it's employees a complimentary bag of beans each week (a 1/2lb or so), I would return home every so often to find a pouch of my latest, favorite roast sitting on our kitchen counter. A few years later, my roommate in Santa Fe worked for arguably the best coffee roaster in Santa Fe, and couldn't stand the thought of coffee at home after being around it all day. So, once again, guess who reaped the free, and might I add delicious, goods – me!

Even my parents, who raised me from the ripe old coffee drinking age of 14 on Maxwell House, have made the transition to regularly drinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee at home.

So now, Brad and I have more or less graduated to the level of coffee snobs. Lately we have been enjoying Jim's Organic coffee. They have a variety of roasts to tickle my every fancy, which I buy beans of loose from my local market. I am still a fan of starbucks, and Brad recently confessed to stopping at the Italian café next to his work for what he claims is a great cup of coffee most mornings, despite the two cups he drink at home during breakfast.

[My number one pet peeve of late has been the quality of the coffee I am often served after a delicous dinner, or with brunch, at restaurants. While it might be decent in quality, the coffee is often old, which can be just as bad, and a sour note after a great meal.]

This morning Brad and I experienced the same disapointment I have felt when my brother is the person chosen to make a beer run on my parent's tab, and in the company of one of his college buddies will return home with a case of 'Natty Light' to drink with dinner and poker. While Brad was preparing the coffee he came to the bottom of the beans and had to top it off with that we call the emergency reserve. (On days when we are desperate and out of coffee, we will be forced to settled for our deli's best offering, Chock Full O' Nuts. I often stash the small remainder of such coffee in our freeezer to pinch hit on future, desperate days.) When the coffee was brewed, I wish I had a picture of Brad's face as he tasted it - but it was, well, less than our standard of taste. Once you prefer the best, you can never go back.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pasta Fresca

Today I took my second class at the New School, on how to make fresh pasta. During the class I learned how to make four different types of pasta; ravioli, piccagge (wide rag noodles), gnocchi (di ricotta, not potato) and spaghetti. The pastas were all paired with different sauces and I came home with a great recipe for a roasted tomato sauce as well as ideas for variations on a roasted red pepper pesto that was made during the class.

One thing is for sure, as soon as I have time to take a trip to the Broadway Panhandler to buy a pasta hand crank, I'll be showing Brad what I learned and experimenting with ravioli fillings. Yummy!

Oh, and now I have a reason to start seriously lobbying for that Kitchen Aid mixer to be one of next year's Christmas gifts. With the pasta making attachment of course . . .

Friday, February 17, 2006

From Losing to Lost

If there is a demand for an antithesis to the Adrian Shaughnessy book I'm reading, I could write it. Forget about keeping my soul, let alone my integrity as a designer - yesterday I found myself at an all-time low. Not even Jesus could save me, despite the use of my expert photoshop skills to eminate his light in this image:

Yes, that's right, my project as at the ad agency where I worked yesterday was a 'custom bible cover' brochure mailer, in the style of in-your-face junk mail. It was ONLY funny in retrospect.

This afternoon I am attending a
lecture on day trading in the stock market at the 92nd street Y. My self-respect is praying to Jesus and the Native American above that it prompts a career change.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Married Life on V-Day

So, yesterday was Valentine's Day. When I asked Brad what special plans we should make for the day, he was quick to remind me that he heard the words "holiday created by greeting card companies" come out of my mouth. We agreed that restaurants were a silly idea on a guaranteed to be busy night and settled instead to cook a fancier-than-usual meal at home in honor of St. Valentine and Hallmark.

Brad selected this recipe for a Steak Diane, insprired by a Mark Bittman article that showed up in the Times recently, and as his Valentine gesture, even purchased the fillets (the groery buying is usually my responsibilty). In return, I spent several hours yesterday cleaning the apartment (including a crap load of dish washing, which I HATE) while I was home and went as far as to light candles and set the table for our glamorous meal.

Like a good husband, Brad came home with some beautiful flowers and a very yummy bottle of wine and shortly after, we went to work on the meal. I made some sesame biscuits, a salad and a side of french beans with sautéed mushrooms and shallots, while Brad took on the Steak Diane (he told me it would be more romantic that way). The result was amazing (
I HIGHLY recommend the steak recipe, it was so tender and the sauce was out of this world. Not to mention, easly and quick to make). We sat down to a delicious meal, complete with flowers and candle light. And the best part about being home was when we were done, Francine licked the plates clean.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Reading Material for the Soul

Recently I have been reading a book Brad gave me for Christmas, called How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul . The book is written by Adrian Shaughnessy, former co-founder of Intro design, who's lastest project, This is Real art, is WAY cool. He has enlisted the efforts of Kim Hiorthoy and BUILD designer, Michael C. Place, to name a few, and formed a of design group/all-star team of rockstars.

Anyway, Brad asked me last night as I was reading, if I was learning anything from the book. I told him that the book is good, well-written with a lot of honest and useful info about the design industry as it really is. The question is whether I am actually absorbing the content, as I have not had the opportunity to put the ideas presented in the book into practice. My excuse for this and for my recent lack of blog posts is best put in the words of Huey Lewis - I'm taking what they giving 'cause I'm working for a livin' - and yes, that means losing my soul (as a graphic designer that is).

Seems like the today's client has backed off for now, so, in the interest of trying to take something away from the book, as soon as I am done writing this post I am going to shift my attention to something I care about designing
. Something personal - although I'm not sure what that'll be just yet (I am not quite finished with the book, so maybe I'll actually start by finishing it). And then, I am going to bake some cookies.


When A.S asked designer illustrator, Peter Stemmler of Quickhoney, What he'd do differently if he were starting his career all over again, he replied, "Maybe I'd get a good office chair right away."

Good advice I think. No?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Seriously Deep

Well, according to the NY Times, yesterday's storm was the biggest ever in New York City's history.

Wow! Here's the article.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

It Really, Really Snowed

Some call it a blizzard. I didn't believe all the hype, but it happened.

I had several conversations over the past few days in which I doubted the likelihood of an actual blizzard. One conversation
with a delivery guy in the elevator after work on Friday, that unfortunately stuck with me, went something like this:

DG: So, you gonna have yo'self a good weekend?

H: We'll see. You hear about this so-called-blizzard everyone's talking about?

DG: Oh yeah

H: Everytime people start talking about a storm days ahead of time so they can make paranoid preparations to be snowed in, it snows like two inches.

Hee Hee. Yeah . . . Prolly won't even rain

Guess I better stock up on some movies to watch though

Yeah - I'll watch some movies with you if yo' boyfriend don't mind

. . . .

Yeah - I be REAL happy to keep you warm this weekend. Heee heee

. . . .

You have yo'self a good weekend now

Flattered, really.

Anyway, it snowed. A lot.

We finally mustered up the courage to venture out and take France on a walk around noon today. The roads were close to impassable, the sidewalks were just starting to be shoveled and it was still snowing! McCarren park was nothing but whiteness and Francine was a happy, happy dog in it.

When we used Francine to measure the snowfall at that time, our estimation was approximately two feet.

Luckily, we parked our car in the parking spaces under the overpass of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway near out house to avoid such pickles as this:

Brad has been VERY sick for the past few days, so when we returned home, I resumed my role of infirmary sidekick and we snuggled up for yet another day of chicken soup and movie watching. Although we did not trump the count of three movies watched yesterday, we did watch another two, while I finished knitting one poorly-contructed scarf. Little did we know, that while we were up to a whole lot of nothing on the couch, our neighbors were busily contructing a snow fort crime scene.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Monkey Want Nanner


Brad gave me the OK to release his
blog URL into the general public.

Keep in my that before this blog existed, my ear was the only audience for these "reviews", otherwise know as total-geek-out sessions, posted on
Monkey Want Nanner!!!.

So, please, read and enjoy.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Jesus Will Light My Way

On wednesday afternoon, Brad called me out to tell me that he was thinking we should go out for Mexican food for my birthday dinner (he had be deligated the task of planning the evening, as I was busy having one long day, of four loooong days at work). He then told me that he had gotten inspired to make me tamales as a surprise - but after looking up the recipe in one of my cookbooks, decided it was too much work. In this case I guess it's the thought that counts.

Friday night I celebrated my birthday at a local bar, The Royal Oak, where I enjoyed beer with a surprisingly good turn out of friends (19 to be exact - not counting Brad). Even more to my surprise, I recieved a number of gifts, inlcluding:

An ice cream sandich maker

An empress travel set (silk blanket, neck pillow and eye mask)

A set of beutifully printed piggy note cards

A citrus peeler

A four-way rubber band

An ornately framed picture of my self at 12-years old, dressed as a nerdy elf

A candle

A fancy flower vase

A Jesus nightlight

Happy Birthday? I think so.

Tonight Brad and I attended a Turduken Super Bowl Party, hosted by a design friend of mine from college, Joe Visconti. If you've never had TURDUCKEN before, I suggest you click on the word to find out more about this amazing festival of foul. We also won the advertising pool, by betting on the catagory to have the most advertisiments during the game - cars.

Here are some highlight of me, celebrating my 26th birthday:

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

My 26th Birthday

No time to write, I am trying to enjoy the last 21 minutes of my birthday to the fullest.

After that,
this all I have to look forward to!