Sunday, January 9, 2011

Celebrating 1 Year of The Culinary Librarian!

Today marks the 1 Year Anniversary of The Culinary Librarian! 

First and foremost I would like to thank all of you! My readers! It is a complete pleasure to write knowing I have a great audience to read my work. I hope you have enjoyed 12 months of food and photos. May your mouth water for the next 365 days to come! 

In honor of the anniversary I have collected my favorite photos/stories from each month of 2010 for this celebratory post. Some come from blog posts, some from Facebook posts. Enjoy this look back at a year in the life of The Culinary Librarian! 

Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake

Last year around this time a few of my very good friends went off to my beloved Paris for a visit and since we like parties so much we had a little French-themed send off for them! I provided the dessert-- this decadent (yet very easy to execute!) soufflé cake. Making chocolate soufflés has been one of my favorite things to do since I fell in love with them at my old resto of employment, the now closed Carmine's Restaurant in Albany (replaced with the fantastic Grappa '72). Since I knew individual soufflés to be a breeze, I selected this cake  as the perfect start to a Parisian vacation. I also love the black & white tiles of my old apartment's kitchen and the butcher block that provide a very French background to the rich cake. 

The full post from January 2010: Les Joies du Chocolat-- sans peur!

For the Love of Duck
February found me cooking my very first duck breasts-- an activity which would borderline on obsession in the following months. My deep love of duck was set off one evening visiting my brother in Plattsburgh in the few days before I flew to Paris for my 4-month séjour and I tasted a bite of his crispy duck breast with that melting fatty skin. Délicieux! I was hooked. This past February, steeled with a few months of cooking in my own kitchen, I successfully crisped my own duck-breasts to perfection. This photo is of the duck just out of the oven-- fini.

Read the whole story & step-by-step prep in this blog post: Winter Animals- Le Canard

March Green Pea Soup

Just days after the vernal equinox I celebrated the start of spring by making some simple pea soup with frozen peas and fresh vegetables. I really only enjoy pureéd soups and this one was thick, rich and so flavorful thanks to some bacon throughout and atop the finished bowl. I love color in all aspects of life but especially the vibrancy of fruits and vegetables. The texture of foods play well against each other in the mouth and to the eye- see this crispy bacon and silky soup.

Ratatouille Mise-en-Place

Prep work is a side of my cooking I don't always show you and if you ever come over for dinner you hopefully don't see! This is the cutting board set out with the diced vegetables for making ratatouille. I always miss Paris when it rains, so in April I missed Paris exponentially. The first Ratatouille I ate was in the cafeteria at my foyer (where the food was dodgy, to say the least). I recreated my own and soothed my Paris-longing soul with a recipe from Judith Jones. These very white vegetables meld together to become a rich chromatic stew. 

Read more about my memories in the full post: Conjuring My Own Memories-- Making Ratatouille

Tomato Soup and Moving

The end of May brought a new address and more importantly a new kitchen for me. One of the last meals I cooked in my old apartment was this creamy tomato soup. The way the ingredients are swirled together in the pot is so beautiful. Cooking has an innate essence of artistry and this saucepan filled with a rainbow of color and texture contrasted with the very industrial look of the stove epitomizes that essence. Also, you can see my feet at the bottom edge of this photo (I tend to cook barefoot-- dangerous I know! I am a rebel) which my mom noticed instantly when I posted this to my Facebook page. 

See my mom's comment and a photo of the finished soup here: Favorite Food Photos

and a New Kitchen

During the month of June (and July and August) I was reading Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This is a photo of one of the very first recipes featured in the book and one of the first things I cooked living in my new apartment. This has become one of my standards in my recipe repertoire. I steam eggs into any number of things, not just greens. Eggs are one of my real staples as a cook usually cooking for only myself and one of my favorite things to eat! I love eggs fried, scrambled, poached, baked, steamed. These ones came out perfectly done, yolks runny, just as I like them. 

Read the full Animal Vegetable Miracle blog from August here: Locavore Limelight: Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal Vegetable Miracle"

A Culinary Destination and a New Camera!

In July I had the opportunity to take a quick trip to Portland, Maine with my dad and explore the many delectable delights the port city holds. The day before my mini-break I finally bought myself a proper digital camera (so from here on out the pictures are of a higher quality!). Armed with plenty of suggestions from my fellow foodie and friend Tiffany, The Creative Culinarian, I spent a whole day finding epicurean treasures around every corner. My favorite time of the day was lunch at one of the smartest little restaurants I've eaten at to date-- Duck Fat. I filled up on the most amazing poutine: french fries, fried in duck fat, topped with luscious duck gravy and melted cheese curds. Heaven. This was my favorite photo from my trip. 

See many more photos and read about my day traipsing Portland here: Culinary Destination: Portland Maine

Farmer's Market Fabulous

My two, week-long summer vacation's were spent with my family north of the city in Albany. On the way to my Aunt's pool one day my mom and I stopped off at the roadside farm stand a block from her house. Barber's Farm was providing the produce and an opportunity for some vibrant shots. This one was my favorite and shows the pure bounty of peak summer produce. In the month when the food calendar's list of in-season vegetables is almost solid I was able to photograph a table full of summer's best quality. 

See many more photographs from a variety of farmer's markets here: Farmer's Market Photos

My First Lobster!!!

After a summer dreaming about cooking my own lobster the planets aligned when my dad drove me back to the city from Albany and we stopped at Stew Leonard's where lobster was on sale. I steamed "Larry" in a little water with some saffron threads. My dad, an experienced lobster butcher, helped me access all of "Larry's" meaty goodness. It was fun, succulent and produced this buttery photo finish! 

Check out the full Lobster album on my Facebook page here: My First Lobster (Album)

New Mandolin plays great Stir Fry

The greatest thing that happened all year for me was truly being able to attend multiple parts of the New York City Wine & Food Festival. As such, I thought a photo from the event should be what I choose for October. But rather than post a photo of me and Angelo Sosa from Top Chef or a picture from Alton Brown's demo I opted with one of my overall favorite food photos I have ever taken. I absolutely LOVE all the bright color of this photo of chicken, quinoa and vegetable stir-fry that I made this past October. I had just gotten a new mandolin from Williams-Sonoma and fresh produce from the Farmer's Market and was in the kitchen feeling good when I made this. To top it all off- this meal was completely crave-worthy- savory, crunchy, tender.

Another stunner is all the vegetables piles high before their sauté: Favorite Food Photos     

Perfectly Cooked Scallops with Spinach Quinoa

Instead of opting for my Thanksgiving plate as November's photo, I selected this one of perfectly-seared scallops on a bed of (local) spinach quinoa. These scallops were purchased at the Farmer's Market a few blocks from my home and came out tender, buttery and caramelized just right. Another photo that is best to avoid on an empty stomach or late at night. In 2011 I plan to cook/prepare more seafood. 

A few of my favorite November photos are in my Thanksgiving post here: Happy Thanksgiving!

A True Obsession: Les Macarons

2010 saw my macaron obsession develop into a total addiction. From the time Macaron Cafe opened on 59th Street (conveniently across from the FIAF movie theatre I frequent) I have not gone more than a few weeks without enjoying a selection of their flawless French cookies. My first macaron was on Thanksgiving during my study abroad in Paris which was a pure epiphany. Luckily, New York seems to be on the bandwagon with me and there are even predictions that macarons will replace the cupcake in 2011 as the major sweet trend! I can only hope! 

I've chosen to leave you with this photo for another reason-- one of my first feats of the New Year is to make my very own macarons at home. After pleading for a food processor for Christmas my wish was granted and now I am fully equipped with machine and book, I (heart) Macarons. Look forward to photos on the Facebook page and a blog post in the near future dedicated entirely to my love affair with the macaron. 

Once again, thank you all for reading the blog, becoming a fan on Facebook and for following me on Twitter

Please keep reading, "liking," posting, and tweeting at me! I love to hear from you and would love suggestions about what you might want to hear from me. 

Feel free to shoot me an e-mail anytime: theculinarylibrarian[at] 

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