Archive for January, 2010

A Brief Consideration

January 28, 2010


I’ve decided that Kitchen 2.0 should happen all at once with a contractor in another 3-6 months.  In the meantime, I want to explore ideas.  Like the idea of having Julia Child style pegboards, as seen at the Smithsonian.  Julia not only hung pots and pans on the board, all of which were outlined to indicate their proper home, but knives, utensils, gadgets, paper towels, and knick knacks.  I could conceivably use every empty wall in the kitchen!  There would be order and availability.  It would free up room in the cabinets for even more things like a food processor and a Dutch oven. Painted a zingy color (Julia’s is blue) would make it a little more attractive, because it is by nature, pretty ugly.  As I sit at my peninsula, I look straight at the rear wall, which covered in stuff, would it hurt my eyes, or make me anxious from the clutter?  Would all the hanging objects become a repository for dust and grease?  Food for thought.


The Pancake Chronicles

January 26, 2010


Digging into the files, I pulled out Mark Bittman’s Pancake Primer from 2006.  Six recipes in all, it took as many weekends to make and eat.  In short:

-Light, Fluffy and Rich Pancakes – and tangy from the zing of lemon zest, loved it – A

-Polenta Pancakes – lacking in big corn taste, which could be because of my imported Italian cornmeal, it also has the extra step of cooking the cornmeal first – C

-Baked Pancake – smelled heavenly while baking due to the vanilla.  Not as puffy and airy as a Dutch Baby, a little disappointing – C-

-Everyday Pancakes – the ideal pancake and easy, the melted butter makes it better – A

-Banana Pancakes – the addition of banana tops the archetype, nuts would make it perfect – A+

-Whole-Grain Pancakes – oats make for an interesting texture, but not much in flavor, maybe toasting them ahead of time?  But why make more work? – B-

All were so easy, so quick, and so cheap.  Why is going out for brunch such an ordeal?

J’Aime Le Cake Salé

January 21, 2010


Charmed by the website, I got the Chocoalate & Zucchini cookbook from the library, and have been enchanted since.  Particularly mesmerizing is the cake salé, essentially a quick bread made with sun dried tomatoes, pistachios, and chorizo.  Surprisingly, I had all the ingredients (all of different ages), but had never thought of combining them into a savory loaf.  The process was relatively easy, a simple batter that barely holds the bounty of ingredients together.  Baked for almost an hour, it rises to twice its volume, a torturous game of anticipation as the air fills with the smell of sweet tomatoes and spicy sausage.  Waiting for it to cool, was just as hard, as it looks at you, golden and flecked with green and red.  Finally, when the time came, each bite was salty, tangy, and crunchy.  The only thing better is when it’s toasted.  A great pantry cleaner, I’m looking forward to making more combinations in the larder.

It’s Like Another Country

January 19, 2010


…but not.  In determining what I should do on my three day weekend, I randomly chose Flushing, Queens from my file of clippings.  This method, as scientifically sound as my recipe pruning – stick my hand in the file and grab – resulted in a review for Temple Canteen, the cafeteria in the basement of the Hindu Temple Society of North America.  A twenty minute walk from the end of the line on the 7 train, I was starving by the time I got to the temple.  

Upon the recommendation in the NY Times review, I got the ghee roast dosa, a mango lassi, and to subside my hunger, a small bag of chat, sold in ziploc bags by the counter like potato chips, all for $6.50.  The canteen has a rec room look, big and white and plain, with only a big screen TV in the corner airing NY1 and ganesha presiding over the room.  There is a gift store, and of course, the kitchen, both offset from the room of folding tables and chairs.  Surprisingly full of families at 3pm, the kitchen was active, with a cook announcing orders when they were up on a not-so-sophisticated speaker system, giving the impression of being in a retirement home bingo game.  Same said cook gave me the thumbs up when I picked up my plate, a giant fried pancake/cone.  He was not wrong.  In essence, what I had was a lentil flour crepe laden with butter.  So pervasive with butter – it smelled like butter, tasted like butter, left butter on my fingers – it was almost like a butter raclette, a crisp lacy wafer of butter.  The dosa came with a coconut/cilantro chutney, and a spicier dal for dipping, but for every bite with, I had one without for more butter bliss.  

Walking back to the train on Bowne Street, I picked up some pan de queso from a Columbian bakery, and some spiced tofu and black beans from a Korean takeout kitchen, a “catering paradise”.  Not only did I go to India, but stopped by Colombia and Korea too.  All within 20 minutes of the 7.


Temple Canteen at Hindu Temple Society of North America

143-09 Holly Avenue at Bowne Street

Flushing, Queens


Vintage Slap Chop

January 14, 2010


I have been obsessed with the SlapChop, its ads, and its various derivatives.  In concept, I love anything that will make chopping onions tearless and nuts neat.  What I don’t love is a complicated clean up and precious real estate in the cabinet, so I’ve talked myself out of it.  Until…I saw a vintage chopper at the flea market.  It has the same zig zag blade, but is encased in clear and green plastic, much cuter than the modern white and black.  Instead of opening up “like a butterfly”, it has three pieces that screw apart for easy cleaning.  For $5, I kind of love it, let’s hope I’ll use it!

Cozying Up to the New Year

January 12, 2010


As the new year rolls around, I try to make an effort to atone for my holiday sins by eating healthy and eating cheap.  The farmer’s market has slim pickings right now, although I managed to get a good haul (and hauled it back) from the Santa Monica farmer’s market – two kinds of beets, little potatoes, parsnips, and purple carrots.  The beets had noticeably fresh tops which inspired me to cook them in garlic, red pepper flakes, and olive oil, maximizing my purchase.  The rest made for beautifully roast vegetables a la Alice Waters.  Over couscous, it makes for a light and fortifying meal.  New Year’s asceticism isn’t so bad after all.

Roasted Root Vegetables

-preheat oven to 400 degrees

-cup up a mix of beets, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, etc. into similar sized 1/2″ pieces to make about 4 cups

-place in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with 1/2t salt and 1/4 cup olive oil, toss to coat well

-place in a single layer on a roasting pan, roast for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, vegetables are ready when tender with golden brown spots

-optional, mince 2 garlic cloves and toss with hot vegetables immediately out of the oven