Monday, July 26, 2010

Pancakes, hold the syrup!

JustAwesome has been experimenting for the past few weeks with chickpea flour and I’ve gotta tell you, I am really diggin’ it! I don’t know what excites me exactly but the texture and the flavors are just different, you know? Different then the same old, same old. It feels wholesome and homey and how often do you get your protein from your starch?

The recipes came from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the Globe and I have a very distinct feeling that we are going to be trying a lot of them.

Last week’s pancake was thick, like an American breakfast pancake, with onions, tomato and cumin mixed into the batter. It was so tasty. OMG! Almost like an Indian latke... But a bit too dry, it needed a topping. I thought maybe if we cut up some more tomatoes like on a bruschetta? Maybe a chutney? A yogurt? Definitely needed something. But not much.

We tried again this week, a simpler batter (sans tomoto/onion) and it was thinner like a crêpe or a dosa. JA pulled together some toppings from what we had in the fridge — a beautiful rainbow chard sauteéd presumably with garlic, some cremini mushrooms & shallots, and a jar of chutney that we picked up on Saturday at The New Amsterdam Market. JA had sampled it on a cheddar and chutney sandwich from our favorite cheesemongers...

Again, another great summer dinner. Light and fresh and simple. And on top of the stove. But if she buys any more flours, we are definitely going to have to move.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Home Alone!

I don’t know if it is clear to my 14 readers but if I say “we” made something, it usually means that JustAwesome made it. We made this and we made that. JA made it. All. She’ll come up with the idea and I’ll say, “Yummy! Me like!” and that’s about the extent of it. Maybe I’ll do a little shopping or a little chopping. I almost always do the dishes. But make no mistake, I didn’t make it. I barely helped.

Today I am making ice cream. We make amazing ice cream. I’ve never made it before.

After a really good restaurant-week lunch at Esca on Friday, we saw some farmers selling their crops out of their truck. No Farmers Market affiliation. What do I care? I have no idea what farm they’re from, I assume it is local, not organic. Again, I don’t care. I bought peaches and plums.

A scorching hot Sunday with nowhere to go, I pulled out our second copy of The Perfect Scoop (the first we gave away). We have other ice cream books, JA swears that this is the only one worth owning. I linked to his page, not the book, because it is a great site—with some recipes and general Parisian yumminess.

The goal: Peach Ice Cream.

Weird things:
1. Peeling the peaches was incredibly simple because I scored the bottoms and blanched for 20 seconds. Peeling the peaches was really, really weird though. I felt like the guy from Silence of the Lambs who was making clothes out of skin. Blech.

2. Our world-traveling neighbor brought us some vanilla beans (from Madagascar?) which I held onto for too long. Rather than use vanilla extract, I decided to soak the dried beans and bring them back to life. A good idea? I don’t know yet. Instead of cooking the peaches in fresh water, I decided I should use the water that I soaked the beans in. Another stupid idea or genius? I don’t know yet.

rehydrating the beans. stupid or genius?

I’ll toss the remainder of the beans in my cinnamon-sugar mixture, which I use every morning in my coffee. Mmmm! Genius!

I’m pretty sure I over puréed this thing. Sigh.

I’m not sure why I take such risks on stuff I’ve never done before. Maybe if it’s gross, JA won’t make me help out anymore. With my dumb luck, it’ll be amazing.

Well, I’m heading out to the movies now. I’m not allowed to run the ice cream maker without a grown up anyway. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dinner Deconstructed!

It wasn’t a roaring success, but it sure was fun!

After a nice, summer-acceptable (read: made on stove) winter-y dinner of a cauliflower-onion-carrot-chickpea-snow pea curry (Classic Korma) on short grain brown rice, we felt like heros:

1. We made something with the ingredients in our fridge & cupboard

2. We didn’t order in

3. We had no obvious hero (like, fish or pasta) to work with

It went great with a bottle of Cabernet Franc pulled from our new case of mixed summer reds from September Wines. Mmmm! Feeling good.


Meanwhile, we’re watching a cooking show called Chopped because someone JustAwesome knew from high school was a contestant. The premise: each contestant gets a basket and needs to prepare a course based on those ingredients. It was fun. The guy she knew won.

And not unlike, you know, practically, our dinner. Made from nothing. Tasty and healthy and filling.

So what to make for dessert, with the ingredients in our house?

Leftover vanilla ice cream topped with ground pretzel m&ms, that’s right, ground in our coffee grinder. The result: eh, but I was crackin’ up when she did it. We are luke warm on the m&ms, by the way. They sound better than they taste.

But how good is our coffee going to be tomorrow morning? I'm sure there’ll be some residual...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Frankies Caesar by JustAwesome

I’m so excited! I just got my copy of The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual. Frankies is one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, everything we’ve ever eaten there has been delicious. There are two of them, one in Brooklyn and one on the Lower Eastside, they’re both great but we usually go to the LES one because it’s in our ‘hood. It’s on the list of places we take out of town guests to give them a taste of awesome NYC food. And now they’ve put out a book giving away all their secrets! It’s packed with beautiful illustrations and simple but detailed recipes. The tone is sweet and playful, and you get some backstory about how the Frankies restaurants came to be. There’s even an illustrated timeline to help you plan out a Sunday Dinner like you wish your nonna made.

Yesterday I tried their Romaine Hearts with Caesar Dressing salad. I love a good Caesar Salad; crunchy refreshing lettuce covered in strong, funky dressing, what’s not to love? But I’ve always been a little afraid to make one at home, I’m not comfortable cooking with raw eggs. The Frankies dressing was a success, it was absolutely delicious, if you don’t believe me ask Feral, she kept saying, “I can’t believe you made this. This is THE BEST Caesar Salad I’ve ever had.” It was really easy to make. I’m not going to give you the recipe though because you NEED your own copy of this book. You can thank me later.

I served it with our favorite summer pasta dish.

Just heat up some olive oil, sauté garlic, crushed chili pepper and oregano until the apartment smells great. Then toss in some quartered cherry tomatoes, cook just long enough to warm them up and get the juices flowing. Add this to a big bowl of penne. Mix in a ton of arugula, it’ll wilt. If you’re lucky enough to have some fresh basil rip it up and toss it in there too. Add a couple of handfuls of pecorino and you’re done.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grain Salads That Deliver!

As I mentioned in a
post in May, JustAwesome took a class called Wholesome Grain Salads That Deliver with Peter Berley at the Natural Gourmet Institute. These grains salads are perfect summer meals when it is too darn hot. This one is a lentil and barley salad with sweet peppers and basil - though we were out of basil (I know!!) so she put arugula instead. Maybe a few other alterations too.

Delicious. Perfect dinners. Perfect leftovers for lunches. Filling, not boring. Very Tasty.

Very Tasty

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Heat Wave!

The biggest problem this time of year is what to make for dinner without turning on the oven. And, without ordering in. As most of you know, the Feral Cook likes to eat and, well, the Feral Cook needs to lose another 10-15 pounds (lost 12.5 to date!
Thanks, WW!)... So we try to eat home as often as we can.

Steamed Fish on Kale

This is what I made tonight. Courtesy of Mr. Bittman.
It was so easy. I’m definitely going to keep it on my list.

What do YOU like to make during a heat-wave?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Three-L lllama*


Hi, I’m Feral, and I do not know how to barbeque.

JustAwesome, Scout & I rented a little cabin upstate near New Paltz (High Falls) this holiday weekend. We had the best time—swimming holes (Scout doesn’t swim!!!), hammocks, llamas and walks in the woods. But our BBQ was not the best.

The good news is that we got the grill going this time, unlike when we went to Phoenicia, when we couldn’t even light the damn thing. Maybe I should’ve paid more attention to Bittman’s 101 Fast Recipes for Grilling. Maybe. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

Proud American beer and Scout.

NOT llama meat

We did beef cubes, veggie dogs, corn, string beans, portabella, shrimp, onions, peppers and potatoes. Everything was ok. But eh. Part of it might be the quality of the ingredients. Part might be the lack of marination or any seasonings/flavor. We will definitely be bringing our own olive oil next time - we joked about that last time. Now it is not a joke. I didn’t want to put canola oil on anything—that’s all there was in our lovely little cabin upstate. The cabin, by the way, came with homemade granola and a warm, scone delivery on Sunday morning. Pretty effin’ awesome.

I must buy a cabin/house, if only to improve my barbeque skills. But we’re home now. Drinking cocktails.
All is well.

Happy 4th, to my American readers. Happy 8th birthday to my niece Radley!

*The Lama (for DAD!!)
 The one-l lama,  He's a priest.  The two-l llama,  He's a beast.  And I will bet  A silk pajama  There isn't any  Three-l lllama.* 
-- Ogden Nash