Sunday, February 10, 2013

Old Dog, New Tricks

After almost 100 posts (this is 99), I am really proud to say that I am officially competent in the kitchen.  Most of the past posts were about what “we” cooked, but honestly, JustAwesome was taking the lead and I was running backup/sous chef/dishwasher.

Last night I made some really great pizzas—the dough, the sauce,  the toppings, etc.—all by myself. Generally, I feel shy about cooking for guests, but last night I was rockin’ and rollin,’ baby!! The pizzas were delicious. I also made a caesar-like salad (from the Frankies’ book) with homemade croutons.

I felt a little anxious during the first pizza but once I saw how well it was going, I was able to relax... I should also say that I was beta-testing a pizza app put out by our friends at Pizza A Casa and it was like having Mark Bello in the apartment with me, coaching me along. Greatest App Ever. Fucking awesome.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Artisanal Angst?

People sneer at the word Artisanal. I don’t know why. 

I totally get it. I don’t want to sit at a desk all day. Could I survive with my own line of brandied cherries or custom dog scarves? Can we simplify—build that pizza oven and not work for The Man? Can I learn a craft, and learn it slowly and thoughtfully? Can I wrap it in pretty fabric and attach a letter-pressed card made out of old tissues?

What is the threat anyway? Does it matter if I buy $7.00 mustard or shop for blue eggs? Is my support of these companies a threat to big business? Are they not the American Dream? I love finding special chocolates made from beans that were tickled to death by dwarf bunnies. I love going to New Amsterdam market and Smorgasburg and Hester Street Fair. I love Farmers’ Markets and canvas bags. I love the Fair Trade, the locavore and the heirloom. I love hipsters.

NYMag article that causes a lot of sneering.

JustAwesome’s video. Worth every minute (seven). Please repost it, if you like it. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Recipe for Success

Disaster struck, but sadly not in this way. We had hoped to make two kinds of pastas last night but the dough just wasn’t right and, well, that’s all she wrote.

JustAwesome and I took 2 cups of GoWithTheFlow and poured into a large bowl with 1 cup of RunToTheStoreForPasta. Then added 2 Fun Friends with a certain amount of spice, mixed with wine/beer and tossed in one cute baby with a giant sense of humor. And stirred. On high.

Crisis Adverted. Serves 5.

Fortunately JustAwesome made this cake which might be the easiest cake ever. It tastes like an ice cream sandwich and ages beautifully (read: Sunday breakfast). Basically you layer cookies and whipped heavy cream, put in the fridge for a few hours, and top with chocolate (we smushed a Flake). Ours looks a little messy but...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Taste of a Memory

Fresh Matzo from Streit’s

One of my favorite things about living on the Lower East Side is walking past Streit’s Matzos on Rivington Street. Skip the store and walk to the factory window. Say hello, smile, and within seconds a sizzling hot piece of fresh matzo will come through the window. Everytime. There is nothing better on this earth. Be careful not to burn your tongue.

I eat matzo (or matzah, or matzoh) all year round. I love Matzah Brei*. Maybe it is nostalgic—the taste of a memory: my sister, Wendle Wigs, making it for me after school, or having it at Dubrow’s with my grandmother before she went to work in the garment district. But I love it. It always lifts my spirits when I’m blue.

Obligatory follow up matzah brie discussion: scrambled versus pancake, sweet versus savory, soak the matzo or rinse the matzo. Scrambled, salt & pepper, rinsed.

After eating my hot matzo, I decided to pop into the store to see what else they sell. I found these cookies called Kichel, that were just mentioned in the book that I was reading. (Unorthodox. LOVED IT!) I hoped that they’d be savory, almost like the British baked goods that JustAwesome covets. Savory, yes. Delicious, no. Maybe this is something you need to be nostalgic for. They taste like stale soup nuts, that had maybe been wet once, with a bit of sugar on top. Horrible. The taste of someone else’s memory.

Fortunately, JustAwesome had bought some chocolate spread at Pain Quotidien last week.

And so she made lemonade from lemons. Not horrible.

Kichel with chocolate spread

*notice the second comment on the Bittman article!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is a great night to stay home, cook and watch a movie. And an even better excuse to eat my new favorite vegetable. Cabbage. It is like an entirely different vegetable once we started cooking it. An exciting new vegetable!!

Pasta with Caramelized Cabbage,
Anchovies and Bread Crumbs

So, we made this. It was way more delicious than imaginable. Definitely adding to our repertoire of pantry meals. Like this one.

And for dessert, mint ice cream. Mint tastes green. Mmmm.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Sláinte.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Home Cookin’

I find this blog to be a little embarrassing sometimes. The feedback I receive tells me that people think that I am either a very good cook (I am not) or a food snob (I am not). I do this blog because JustAwesome wanted me to start cooking a meal a week, you know, to help out.

I am just learning how to cook and while I’ve gotten much more comfortable and proficient, I am not a great cook. I follow recipes. I lack instincts. I lack comfort. And most of what I blog here, JA pulls together. But I am helping more and being more of a participant in the planning of what we eat. I think that takes some of the burden off of her. This is the shot heard round the world. And writing this blog gives me something to do, rather than stare at her all day. (She even set up the Blogger account and named it Feral Cook. True story. I am that annoying.)

I am not a snob. I love to eat. I don’t even think I have a very sophisticated palette. But I get to eat lots of great, healthy and creative things—that JA cooks or tricks me into cooking—AND we do what other nonparentswholiveinNewYorkCity do—we eat out a lot. I am starting to taste more, really taste what is inside of each dish. More tasting, less shoveling. I am not a snob but I’ve been around. I love a good taco just as much as a 5-course tasting menu at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Well, maybe not just as much, but yeah, a lot.

So what do I do with my time? What does the Feral Cook, who is neither Feral nor a Cook do? I celebrate JustAwesome. Everyday. I try to do little things around the house, like organizing her t-shirts or cleaning the liquor cabinet. That’s when I’m really cooking—when I am doing little things to show my love. And in return she makes me yummy food and keeps me healthy. Win-Win.

Life is short. Celebrate your loved ones. Everyday.

The Great T-Shirt Project!
Stay tuned for The Great
Sock Project...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Science of Chow Fun

I really wanted a big bowl of greasy chow fun last night—the ultimate comfort food, to me. Apparently there are scientific reasons why we eat/overindulge when we are sad. I ain’t no scientist but I know its true! I am half expecting Richard Simmons to knock on my window one of these days. Overeating. Overindulging. Big time.

I loosely followed this recipe, but not really. I wish my photos looked half as good as that one, but honestly, it tasted pretty perfect. I went with a garlic-ginger-onion concoction with soy, rice wine vinegar, hot sesame oil and whatever else I had in my fridge. Fresh peanuts. (We’re not traditional here...) And I added roast pork to mine. Within 5 blocks of my apartment I was able to get the works: fresh rice noodles, vegetables, pork, sprouts. Yay!

Could I have bought a better one for way less work? Yes, of course. But mine was fun to assemble and had way less oil in it! And I’m supposed to keep busy (also science!)

Scientific conclusion: YAY!! Frown is upside down with anticipation of leftovers for lunch.