Sunday, January 30, 2011


It seems as though I will be traveling more than I'll be home in February (I'm actually writing and posting this from a plane somewhere over Ohio I think), which makes it kind of hard to make (and blog about) anything "homemade." Hotelmade, maybe, but not homemade. Luckily, because I am an underachiever in regular life (just like my standardized test scores have always indicated) I have a cache of cooking projects undertaken as much as a month ago, which I can now document for you, dear blog reader. I must admit, I am woefully behind on the craft projects, but hope to have something new to report in that department at least once in February.

You may recall that one of my "ambitions" for 2011 was to learn to cook Indian food. Dish number one was actually done in early January. I decided to ease into Indian cooking slowly, with this recipe by a white girl from Oklahoma, a state widely known for an entirely different ethnicity of "Indians." Despite this, Molly has not failed me in other recipes so I felt good about starting this project with her Chana Masala recipe. (Also, my Indian cookbooks hadn't arrived yet. I now own three: this doorstop, plus two lovely Madhur Jaffrey books, this one and this one.)

I hate to be a spoiler about this, but the Chana Masala turned out excellently. It's incredible how velvety the tomatoes get in this process - like nothing I have ever eaten before. Also, Molly indicates that you should garnish with whole milk yogurt but I took one look at the nutrition label on the whole milk yogurt at the store and decided to take my chances with 2%. (Honestly, you might as well just use heavy whipping cream if you are going to use whole milk yogurt. Good lord.) 2% Greek yogurt was perfectly delicious and what I will use from now on.

And now for the photojournalism:

Molly says to saute the onions until they begin to blacken, so I did. At this point, I am slightly worried that the whole thing is going to taste like burnt onions, but I proceed anyway.

Deglazing the pan. The spices have already been added and this already smells delicious. Neighbors beginning to hate me.

Crushing tomatoes with my bare hands. I am strong like bull.

Time for simmering. Now this is smelling a LOT. But it smells delicious. Take that, neighbors! (This is directed especially at the ones who smoke into the air shaft that is connected to my bathroom. Jerks.)

I would like to take a moment to point something out. Do you see that spoon I am stirring with in the above photo? It is one of the best kitchen tools ever. My Grandma Velma discovered it ages ago - I am talking the early 1980s here, people - and gave one to my mom. It has a blunt rather than a rounded end so it's especially good for scraping up all the brown bits when you're making anything that produces brown bits, in addition to stirring the pot. Brilliant. I think you can normally buy these at hardware stores; don't even try to get one somewhere like Williams-Sonoma. This is a working man's spoon. It is inexpensive. It is stainless steel and dishwasher safe and lasts an eternity. Mom has never replaced hers and it's approaching its 30th birthday. We might take it to Vegas to celebrate. You can find one of these spoons here.

Chickpeas added. Simmering underway. We're in the home stretch.
But then I get distracted. This was about a month ago so I can't remember exactly what drew my attention away from the stove. Probably something on The Martha Stewart Show. She was probably shearing sheep or something. Anyway, by the time I made my way back to the kitchen, I found this beneath the layers of spicy chickpea and tomato deliciousness:

Rats! Burned like an idiot who forgot to put on sunscreen.

Despite totally charring the bottom of the pan, I give two thumbs up, five stars, and an Oscar to the Chana Masala for Best Vegetarian Entree. It could even be vegan if you leave out the 2% Greek yogurt, but I think it's worth it to add it. It really does take this simple dish to another level. I hate writing "another level" because it is so trite (It kicks it up a notch! BAM!!) but it's true. It does. You should add it.

Here's how good this was: I couldn't wait to eat it. I was excited for the remaining lunches and dinners when I had Chana Masala. You know something is good when it makes the lunch you brought from home exciting to eat. One bit of caution, though. If you happen to get one of the cardamom pods in your bite of Chana Masala, do NOT eat it. Trust me. Nothing good comes from eating one of those things.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Putting the Fun in Fungi

Farm box surprises are so much fun. Last week I got a container of these:

I had no idea what kind of mushroom they were, so I looked them up. Trumpet!

I saw them this morning in the fridge when I was rooting around for the peanut butter and decided I would make something with them tonight.

A quick Epi search revealed lots of options. I considered a mushroom ragout to put on or in an omelette, but then I ran across this recipe and decided that I just had to make mushroom risotto. Had to.

Yum, right?

A major bonus to this decision was that I had all the ingredients already on hand. Not that Whole Foods isn't a real treat at 6:30pm on a weeknight.

I ended up modifying the Epi recipe considerably because I only had four and half ounces of those fabulous trumpet mushrooms. I cut the recipe to one-third, essentially. Except the parmesan.

Here's my version, which is DELICIOUS and, actually, really easy. When I eat alone at home, I don't usually make audible "mmm" sounds. I did tonight. This is one of the best things I've made in a while, and the recipe only took only 45 minutes, including some bonus shrimp I made.

Kate's Mushroom Risotto
Makes 3 appetizer-sized or 2 dinner-sized servings

2 tablespoons butter, divided
4 ounces fresh wild mushrooms, sliced (you could probably use any mushrooms for this, honestly)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
3/4 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup if you are grating using a microplane grater, which incidentally is one of my favorite kitchen tools)

1. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. As soon as it gets foamy, add the mushrooms, sprinkle with kosher salt, and saute until they are moderately browned, about 6 minutes.   Transfer mushrooms to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

These smell so good, it's hard to describe.

2. While the mushrooms are sauteeing, bring 4 cups chicken broth to simmer in a small (2 quart) saucepan; keep warm.

3. Melt remaining 1/2 tablespoons butter with 2 teaspoons olive oil in heavy medium saucepan (3-4 quarts is great) over medium-low heat. Add leek, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until tender and golden, 4 to 5 minutes.

Keep an eye on these, mine almost burned!

4. Add rice and increase heat to medium. Stir constantly until edges of rice begin to look translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Add white wine and stir until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

6. Add about 1/2 cup warm chicken broth; stir until almost all broth is absorbed, about 3 minutes

7. Continue adding broth by half-cupfuls, stirring until almost all broth is absorbed before adding more, until rice is halfway cooked, about 10 minutes. Note: you don't need to stir this constantly. Aim for stirring at least once every 3 minutes, and stir more frequently as the pan gets drier or you may get the rice stuck to the bottom (like I did). The good news is that if you do this, you can add more broth and scrape everything off the bottom and it just gets incorporated and doesn't affect the finished product.

8. Stir in sautéed mushrooms. Continue adding broth by half-cupfuls, stirring until almost all broth is absorbed before adding more, until rice is tender but still firm to bite and risotto is creamy, about 10 more minutes. 

9. Turn off the heat and stir in grated Parmesan cheese, if using. The end!

I decided that I wanted to add a little protein to this dish, so mid-process I pulled four frozen shrimp out of the freezer and defrosted and marinated them while making the risotto. I always keep a bag of high quality large frozen shrimp in the fridge. It's actually better to buy them this way than to by them from the fish case, as most of the shrimp in that case were previously frozen and are now defrosted. They're cheaper and fresher. The key to good frozen shrimp is to buy wild, not farmed shrimp, and to look at the ingredients. Make sure that the only things listed are shrimp and salt.

The "marinade" I used was white wine with two cloves of crushed garlic. I tossed the peeled shrimp in this and let them marinate while I cooked the risotto. Once the risotto was done, I patted the shrimp dry with a paper towel and seasoned them with salt and pepper. I heated a little bit of olive oil (about a teaspoon) in the same pan I sauteed the mushrooms in and added the shrimp. Once they got pink on one side, I flipped them and added the remaining marinade, cooking a few minutes until the shrimp were done.

And that was dinner. It was about a thousand times better than I was expecting and made for an excellent start to the week.

I am SO looking forward to lunch tomorrow.

Here's the nutrition info, excluding the shrimp "garnish."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Queen of Hearts, She Made Some Tarts

Well, I am not exactly the Queen of Hearts, but I did make a tart. A Meyer lemon tart, to be precise. I wasn’t kidding before about how much I love Meyer lemons. I LOVE them. 

You see, for Christmas I got Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, which I read cover to cover. In it, Alice makes lemon curd. I love Meyer lemons (in case you hadn’t caught that yet) and curd seemed the perfect application for them. Making the curd itself was incredibly easy – some eggs, some lemon juice and zest, some sugar, some salt. Cook until it thickens and refrigerate. Here are some pics of the process.

Ingredients all set to be heated gently.

Lemon curd is starting to thicken.

So pretty in that glass jar.

One of the unintended benefits of making lemon curd is that your whole home smells faintly of lemon. Which was just plain nice until Meredith came over and asked me if I had just cleaned. No! It was the lemon scent. Brilliant. So now I have a new pre-party trick when I run out of time because making lemon curd sure is faster and more fun than cleaning.

Once I had the lemon curd on hand, I had to figure out what to do with it. Because as you can see from the above photo, I had a good two cups of lemon curd. Rather more than I'd need for, say, a piece of toast. Conveniently, Alice suggests pairing it with a pate sucree crust (which is kind of like a sugar cookie crust) in tart form. I had a birthday party brunch coming up for my friend Katie, and this seemed like it would be a lovely thing to bring.

Spreading the lemon curd in the tart crust with my new-ish offset spatula.

It was at this stage in the process where I totally and utterly screwed up. You are supposed to blind bake the tart crust (i.e. bake it with no filling) first, then fill it, and bake it again until the filling sets. I forgot to blind bake it. So I put the filling in the raw crust. I realized my mistake once the tart was in the oven and it was too late to recover. I am happy to announce that the tart still came out edible, although the crust was not anything approximating crisp on the bottom and rather had to be scraped off the tart pan bottom. Boo. Luckily, my friends are forgiving upon being presented with homemade food. Thanks friends!

At least the part of the crust you can see looks like it's supposed to!

Alice’s lemon curd recipe is actually quite tart – no pun intended, I swear! – and could probably benefit from a touch more sugar. To solve this in the tart (and, let's be honest, also to help mask the crust error), I decorated the top with some mascarpone I had on hand, whipped with whipping cream and a bit of powdered sugar. A tart seems the perfect vehicle for a little fancy star tip frosting, I think. I ended up doing a lattice pattern to try to maximize the amount of mascarpone cream on top, without completely obscuring the pretty yellow curd. Surely “pretty,” “yellow,” and “curd” are not words often seen together. But it was.


Happy 30th Birthday Brunch Party, Katie!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Change from the Usual

Have returned from Rae and Jeff's fantastic and beautiful wedding weekend in Jackson Hole. This is where I deviate from the "blog about making things." Here's a quick tally on the weekend:

Days skiied: 3
Falls: 2
Trees hit: 1
Bruises: Countless
Mid-mountain hot cocoas: 2
Weddings: 1 incredibly beautiful and fun one
S'mores made and eaten: 1
Will Farrell sightings: 2
Conversations about Will Farrell sightings, including with strangers on ski lifts: 37
Texts and MMS sent to friends who couldn't make it to the wedding: 60+
Fun had: Not quantifiable

And now, in photos:

En route to Jackson, WY via the Denver Airport. I believe that sign should say "Gobi, Sahara, Sonoran" etc.
Actually, those are all the deserts I can name off the top of my head. This sign made me realize my knowledge of world deserts is woefully inadequate.  So, uh, thanks French cafe at the Denver Airport for exposing my knowledge gaps.

Dinner on Wednesday. The name of this pizza is the Guido Sarducci. Obviously, we had to order it. (It was delicious.)

Day 1 of Skiing. We pause midmountain and I spot this large nest (top middle of picture) in a tree.
Me: "What kind of nest do you think that is?"
Scott: "Bear."

Before the last run of the day. Taken 5 minutes before I slipped while putting on my ski as if it were a banana peel and fell flat on my back. Good thing I am wearing that helmet!

Duke Girls and husbands at the Rehearsal Dinner at the Mangy Moose.

No one told me there would be gardening! And me without my trowel.

Delicious wedding dinner. That looks like an unassuming bowl of soup but in reality it is God's Nectar. Chrissy asked for the recipe and we are all crossing our fingers that the chef emails it to her.

The remnants of my s'more (illuminated by the dance floor). There was a fire pit outside where we got to roast our own marshmallows. There was also a death luge on the way to the fire pit after the lovely Four Seasons heated sidewalks ended but it turns out stiletto heels make pretty good ice picks.

Hot cocoa at Casper Lodge. I love getting cocoa from the machine that says "PRESS BUTTON UNTIL CUP IS 2/3 FULL THEN RELEASE." Always have, always will.

I almost bought this frame just because of the picture it comes with.
I guess in lieu of going to the mall, 12 year olds in Wyoming shoot animals.

Badgers??? We don't need no stinkin' badgers! (Sorry, really could not help it.)
I thought we really hit the jackpot with that last store in town, but then we passed by this:

In case the glare on the window makes it hard to read, the sign says:
Fur Jockstraps
With Tail $34.95
W/Out $24.95
That's right, ladies, you can buy your man a TAIL for just $10!
As if the fur jockstrap alone wasn't disturbing enough.

After that fur underwear thing, I needed a drink.

Our private room at the Snake River Grill. Because we are classy. (Or, because we are loud and the restaurant instinctively knew better than to seat us in the main dining room.)

Surprise! Happy Birthday Carla! (She is sitting in the same seat Will Ferrell was in the night before, according to our waiter.)

Sunday morning breakfast at 10,450 feet. This is a waffle stuffed with Nutella and it is AMAZING. 
 Happy Wedding Rae and Jeff! Love you guys!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!

Actually, my favorite version of that famed line from Treasure of the Sierra Madre is not Mel Brooks' brilliant reuse of it in Blazing Saddles but instead the parody line written by Weird Al Yankovic in UHF ("Badgers? We don't need no stinkin' badgers!") Oh man, if you have not seen that movie, you really should. It's brilliant. I would like to quote it further but I feel like I'll lose people. ("Today...we teaching to fly!") Ok, ok, I'll stop.

The reason I bring up Treasure of the Sierra Madre is because my parents belong to a dinner club. (Stick with me on this, I swear it's relevant.) Their dinner club is comprised of 12 couples and each quarterly dinner they throw is a full-on extravaganza. Attendance is near 100%. Recipes are made, remade, and perfected in advance. The last time my parents hosted, the theme (due to an overabundance of leftover tequila from another party) guessed it...Treasure of the Sierra Madre. My super cute mom used denim for the tablecloths, had Mexican-style striped runners, mini cast iron cauldrons filled with sand and cactus paddles and some other decorative details I'll get to in a second.

As it so happens, I'm also in a dinner club, although I think ours only has about 14 people and we meet once a month. Our attendance rate is hovering around 50%. We're also a little less strict with adherence to a theme. Which is why my theme in hosting our dinner club last Sunday was "vaguely Southwestern."

I really, really love having people over. As soon as I signed up to host, I immediately got to thinking about the menu. I also really, really love menu planning. I called my mom to chat and we talked menus and I told her my plan for creatively rearranging the furniture in my living room to accommodate a table (or series of tables) for 10. Upon hearing that the theme was "vaguely Southwestern," Mom promptly packed up a box for me, the contents of which included an inflatable green saguaro cactus, one of her TotSM decor touches. I was instructed to decorate said cactus with Christmas lights.

I didn't.

What follows is my vaguely Southwestern menu along with some commentary (as if you expected any less). The menu actually started more fully Southwestern and got progressively more, uh, French, as the night wore on.  I chose a bunch of recipes I've made before and decided to do my gambling on the appetizers, figuring that if I screwed anything up, at least the meal would improve by the time we got to dinner and dessert (or people would drink more wine and forget that the appetizers sucked.) I am happy to report that the appetizers turned out fine.

To start:
Spicy Chicken Empanadas (not really that spicy) from this recipe for filling and this for the crust
Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa from this Rick Bayless recipe
Kate's Guacamole
Blue and Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips

For dinner:
Santa Fe Pork Stew (from The New Basics Cookbook)
Northern Cornbread (from The Best Recipe)
Winter Salad with Oranges, Olives, and Fennel (adapted from an Everyday Food recipe I saw on PBS something like 6 years ago)

Something sweet:
Profiteroles with Vanilla, Dulce de Leche (clinging to last shred of Southwesternness), and Coffee Ice Creams (from The Silver Palate)

A very delightful surprise of the evening was that Kathryn (who spells her name correctly) brought over a bottle of St. Germain liqueur. Yum. We combined it with some champagne and made ourselves lovely aperitifs. This is why I always have a bottle of something sparkling in the fridge - it sounds ridiculous but you never know when you're going to have an occasion worthy of bubbles. And if there's one thing I learned in Girl Scouts, it's be prepared. That and how much I loathe more than 2 consecutive nights of camping. And how to make a "sit upon" with a stack of newspaper, a garbage bag, and some duct tape. Truly a skill that has served me well in the rest of life.

But I digress.

I'm super happy with how the empanadas came out. I made them mini (3" half-circles) for appetizers, so I guess we could call them empanaditas. Here's a pic of the assembly. My crimping skills need a little work.

The empanaditas are very easy to make although rather time-consuming. The good news is that you can (and I did) make these ahead and freeze them. When you're ready to bake, brush with the egg wash (one whole egg plus one tablespoon of water, beaten) and bake from frozen. So easy.

I made the roasted tomatillo chipotle salsa because this time of year is not really conducive to nice tomatoes. Not sure I will make it again. The salsa turned out edible, but I found it to be a little bit bitter. But the recipe did require me to buy a can of chipotles. Here's the can:

First, who names a brand "colored person?" Odd, no? She is a bit orange, though, so maybe that's what they mean. Too much bronzer or something. And what is she looking at? She looks borderline disgusted to me. Like she's at a petting zoo and the goat is eating something strange yet so odd she can't turn away. Maybe he's eating a tin can of chipotle peppers.

I would ask how this particular packaging image would entice someone to buy La Morena versus another brand of chipotle peppers, but I thought the can was so funny, I bought it. Maybe that's their strategy. Weird lady on shelf = $$$ at checkout.

The most exciting part of the salsa - even better than the can lady - was that I discovered that I DO have a broiler - it's that drawer under my stove where I've been storing bakeware.

Oops. After having relocated the bakeware, I now have a fully dedicated and functional broiler. Exciting!

I wanted to make at least one appetizer that I knew would be good, so I went with my standard guacamole recipe, which always gets lots of compliments even though there is truly nothing special or weird or tricky about it. Here it is:

Kate’s Guacamole
Serves 2-4. Can be doubled, tripled, etc. as needed. I usually do a single batch if I’m making it for myself and a double batch when I make it for a party.

2 ripe avocados
Tomatoes, about 1/4 -1/2 cup, minced (I use grape tomatoes in the winter)
3 green onions, white part and 3 inches of green, minced
1 clove garlic, minced/mashed
1 jalapeno, seeded and stemmed, ribs removed, very finely minced (to taste)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro (I like to really load in the cilantro because I love it so much)
Juice of 1 small or half of one large lime
Liberal amounts of kosher salt (start with ½ teaspoon but expect to add more)

Mash avocado with a fork in a bowl. (I find it easiest to cut the avocado in half and then slice it into cubes while it’s still in the peel, then use a spoon to get it out of the peel and into the bowl.) Consistency should be creamy with avocado chunks remaining. Add all other ingredients except salt and combine thoroughly. Taste, then start adding salt, mixing between additions until it tastes right. You’ll know. Trust your taste buds. I think I often put in close to a full tablespoon. It takes a lot more salt than it seems like it should.

Salsa and guac were served with mixed blue and yellow corn chips. Blue corn really feels like New Mexico to me, so perfect for the theme. The leftovers were great to make chilaquiles with.

The remnants of chilaquiles made with leftover chips, salsa, and empanada filling the night after dinner club. They were a little dry - not enough salsa leftover - but we rectified that with my ample selection of hot sauces.
There's so much more food from this feast to write about, as well as a Meyer Lemon tart I made for Katie's birthday on Saturday and my first attempt at Indian food - Chana Masala - but I have to pack myself for a skiing and wedding adventure in Jackson Hole. Rae and Jeff are getting married Friday! So excited! And I have a 6am flight. So not excited about the 4am wake up! Also, I have to take some time now to repair my ski pants, which I split up the crotch the last time I went skiing. This happened during a particularly epic fall that had me flying through the air for about 10 feet a la Superman only to land in what I like to call the "reverse snow angel" (i.e. just like a snow angel, only face down) with one tip lodged in a mogul. I left my other ski a good 20 feet up the mountain. OF COURSE I was under a lift line. You know you've done something really spectacular when people are shouting from the lift "ARE YOU OK??" For the record, the only damage was to the ski pants. Thank God for fresh powder.

Look for the Winter Salad recipe in an upcoming post. Because winter is nowhere near over yet.

Monday, January 03, 2011

New York State of Mind

The cream and buttermilk combo actually turned into creme fraiche, just like Alice Waters said it would! I don't know why I doubted her.

With a cute little jar of creme fraiche on hand and almost the entire contents of my fridge comprised of smoked salmon (I love smoked salmon for New Year's), dill that was just a day shy of the compost bin, and various condiments, I decided to make Smoked Salmon Eggs. This is a recipe I invented a few years ago right around New Year's, a time of year when I tend to have smoked salmon on hand. In exploring new ways to eat it, other than with cream cheese on a bagel, I landed on this.

Don't get me wrong. I have been a smoked salmon lover my whole life. It was the highlight (and still is) of many a family holiday brunch, whether for Christmas, New Year's, Easter, or any other time I could convince Mom to buy some. Smoked salmon + cream cheese + capers + dill + bagel = heaven. 

That divine combination reminds me of the summer I lived in New York. I had a little Sunday morning ritual:  I'd hit up Starbucks for an iced americano, then walk down Broadway to H&H for a fresh Everything bagel, stopping at Zabar's on the way home for smoked salmon and the requisite accoutrements as noted above. The last stop on the way home was at a newsstand to get the Sunday New York Times. Upon arriving home, because I was apparently living in a fantasyland, I would park myself on my blue chaise lounge on the terrace attached to my penthouse apartment and read Sunday Styles, the Travel section, the Magazine, the Book Review, The Week In Review, and the Front Section (in that order) while dining on my bagel and sipping my coffee. If it was particularly nice out, I would accomplish all this in a swimsuit. Once I'd made my way through the paper, I'd start in on the Sunday Crossword. In pen.

Charmed life, much?

Anyhow, today I woke up with a headache which didn't go away all day, and I now keep eyeing the clock wondering how early is too early to go to bed. Probably as soon as I'm done with this glass of wine. This recipe is like comfort food to me and it seemed the perfect reminder of how charmed my life so often is, even if I don't live in an Upper West Side three bedroom/two bath penthouse apartment in a 24-hour doorman building with a private 500 square foot roof terrace and a grand piano in the living room.

Kate's Smoked Salmon Eggs
Serves 1. Easily doubled or tripled or whatever.

2 eggs, beaten with a fork
1 tablespoon creme fraiche (A trick from Jacques Pepin. You can sub sour cream if you haven't made your own creme fraiche yet.)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon capers in brine, drained
2 ounces smoked salmon, roughly chopped
2 pinches of kosher salt, divided
a few grinds of black pepper, divided
1 large shallot, finely chopped or 1/4 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon butter

A few sprigs of dill
A teaspoon or so of creme fraiche

1. Combine the eggs, creme fraiche, dill, capers, salmon, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk with a fork until well combined. Set aside (ideally next to the stove).

Here are the ingredients all ready to go for step 1. Sorry about the bad lighting and weird shadows. Please also note the nice new cutting board. It was a Christmas gift from Mom. Thanks Mom!
2. Heat the butter over medium heat in a nonstick skillet (I use a 10" for this). When it is foamy, add the onion, plus a pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper and stir occasionally until onions are caramelized. Adjust the heat so they don't cook too quickly. This will probably take 10 minutes.

3. Turn the heat down to low and wait 2 minutes for the pan to cool a bit. Then add the egg mixture all at once into the pan. Stir gently to separate the ingredients, then proceed to slowly scramble the eggs over low heat. This should take 5 to 8 minutes when the heat is properly low. The dish is done when the salmon is opaque.

4. Turn the eggs out onto a plate and garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and some dill. I like to plate up my eggs with a couple of homemade bagel chips as sometimes the eggs weep a bit and the juices on the plate are delicious. (Homemade bagel chips: Slice a bagel into 5 or 6 latitudinal slices and stick in the toaster, one slice per slot...yes, I just said latitudinal in a recipe. This is a great way to use leftover bagels that are a bit past their prime, or that bottom of a bagel that's left over after only eating half.) Sopping the juices up with a homemade bagel chip is slightly classier than just licking the juices directly off the plate, not that I would know from personal experience. A little glass of French Chardonnay isn't a bad addition, either.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Fraiche Start

Happy New Year!

It's a rainy, cold day here - perfect for a wonderful New Year's Brunch (thanks Nell!) and getting started on the tasks of the new year.

My new calendar is up.

I bought some seeded eucalyptus this morning. Love the fresh scent - it makes everything feel new.

I also made creme fraiche from scratch. Well, I started making it. It takes a day. I've never done this before but it seems easy. Just one cup of fresh whipping cream and one tablespoon of cultured buttermilk. It sits at room temperature for 24 hours, and supposedly at the end of that time you have a little jar of creme fraiche on your hands. I'll report back.

On my list of 2011 ambitions (alongside getting a dog and traveling more for fun and less for work) is learning to cook some Indian food. I'm aiming for 4 or 5 dishes - enough to put together an entire meal. Here's a shot of some new spices I've picked up to enable this endeavor. Dish number one will be Chana Masala - I'll let you know how that goes.

Clockwise from top: amchoor powder, curry powder, garam masala, green cardamom pods, cumin seed.

My neighbors are going to love me.

Here's to a healthy and happy 2011!