Monday, April 19, 2010

Culinary Tweets

When I first started my own Twitter account back in the fall I really didn't know what to do with it. I thought Twitter was kind of pointless (due to facebook) and confusing (because I didn't get notified everytime anything happened by email, again due to facebook). I also was frustrated by the character limit and felt as if my thoughts were constantly being cut off.

It took me about a month to get the hang of it and realize just how useful 140 characters of microblogging can be-- especially for foodies! For one, tons of celebrity chefs, food critics, and respected foodies tweet many times a day, providing insights on a wide range of culinary areas. There are also plenty of restaurants/cafes/bakeries, grocery & specialty stores, food carts/trucks (especially helpful in NYC for the trucks who move daily and update their location on twitter), farmer's markets, foodie newletters, and culinary publications such as magazines & cookbooks who all provide insider tips, general information, event news, and promotional notifications. Twitter has become an excellent resource for me to find out about what is happening in the culinary world around me which is constantly changing. It is also an excellent forum for give-aways which I myself have been lucky enough to win (Gift Cards from Lenny's in NYC). The tweeters who win these give-aways are known as "Twinners" = Twitter + Winner. Some recent culinary give-aways include:
In all, whether you're looking to share information with others, post pictures of your latest gustation, tweet to your favorite chef about how much you love her/him, learn about all of @GaelGreene's latest thoughts about NYC Restaurants, or win something you've always wanted (i.e. a Kitchen Aid!) then Twitter is definitely worth trying out.
To follow me and check out some of my favorite culinary tweeters, check out my twitter page to the right or click here: @culinarylibrari.

Happy Tweeting!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Conjuring my own memories --- Making Ratatouille

In the movie "Ratatouille" Remy makes the food critic Anton Ego a dish of ratatouille which quickly takes him back via taste memory to when he was a little boy, hurt himself and his mommy made him warm soothing vegetable stew. For me, the first time I had the dish was in Paris while staying at the Foyer la Vigie. The dinners we were served were always a bit questionable and sometimes just inedible, but we had enough to eat and got to see some French cuisine a la cafeteria. The ratatouille was just fine though! Remy's always looks so delicious and chic that I knew I would have to make it myself someday. Tonight I set out with zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and red peppers in tow to make my first! There are a couple ways to make ratatouille. Most of them are just stewed stove-top which makes it a very easy dish for anyone to make. I consulted a couple recipes before deciding how to make it. I wanted to make a version that would turn out as decadent looking as Remy's and I found someone who claimed to be giving the "official" movie recipe online but it was far too involved and time consuming so I opted for a rustic stew version from Judith Jones' The Pleasures of Cooking for One. Mirelle Guillano's (the author of French Women Don't Get Fat) was a stove-top version, that used sliced vegetables instead of chunks. Her's said the vegetables had to cook for 2 hours compared to Jones' which took me about 40 minutes to make. The dish is very easy and enjoyable to make with superbly satisfying results!

The stew is very rich and quite delicious on its own. Best served with a chunk of fresh French bread with a bit of butter. I made enough for about three single servings so I froze two servings in sandwich bags. One serving I enjoyed with my friend Jocelin with herbes de provence roasted chicken breast and rice (since split in two would not be enough). The rice is definitely a goo choice to serve the stew over (and how I was served it at La Vigie). The third serving I enjoyed tonight with just a cut-up hot dog-- my way of celebrating the Yankees home opener!!
All in all ratatouille is delicious, easy to make, wonderful to enjoy, and great to share. Definitely going to be one I will make over and over again and perfect to my liking over the years.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What came first: the chicken or the egg?! (the mushrooms!!)

After multiple sources of inspiration about poached eggs, I began to think of them as silky and appealing though I had yet to have them. The March MS Everyday Food "How To" is all about poaching eggs. One evening, watching some late night programming, dissatisfied with whatever I had (or had not) eaten for dinner I decided why not try to poach my first egg!
I did and the result was exactly the silken smooth goodness Julie Powell raved about after enjoying her FIRST egg ever -- prepared by poaching in red wine, a la Julia Child, of course.
The following evening I prepared a batch of duxelles to keep in the freezer, using Judith Jones' good advice, and decided to prepare some chicken legs (in the duxelles pan) and make a pan sauce with chicken stock and some of the mushrooms and serve it over some boston lettuce with a poached egg. Very satisfying!
The more I cook the more I learn. End results for a lot of food preparation seem so impressive that without ever knowing the technique they can be intimidating to even imagine cooking. Again, fearlessness in the kitchen is one of the best tools any chef can have! The worst that can happen usually won't and the worst that is likely to happen is that one prepares something inedible. Trial & error-- without fear!!