Friday, December 7, 2012

A Very Macaron Giveaway!

I've been promising this giveaway since summertime. Plenty has been keeping me busy, and unfortunately from writing here, but holiday time is always a great time for a giveaway!

So here it is, a copy of I Heart Macarons AND a stationary set handmade by me! In late November I stopped into Paper Source on my way home from work to browse Christmas cards but instead of choosing any I learned about embossing and suddenly picked up a new hobby! It started with a Christmas wreath stamp and some red embossing powder and a green ink pad and has already progressed into a growing collection of crafting supplies.

One day I stopped in to the store again to consider a new stamp and found one with a single macaron- how perfect I thought! I chose a pink ink pad to pair it with and tested it out when i got home. So to add something special to the book giveaway and to continue my cruasade to get people to send more personalized mail I've made a set of eight macaron embossed note cards to go with this prize!

To win the book and stationary leave a comment (or email me,  if the comment form doesn't work for you: theculinarylibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com) telling me who you would send one of the macaron cards to if you won! 

I will choose someone at random next Friday, the 14th, and announce the winner. If you win you may choose to have your prize mailed as a gift, since it is holiday time! 

The contest will close Thursday December 13th at 11:59pm EST. The winner must provide an address within the US where the book will be mailed. 

Bonne chance! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Un Petit Peu de Paris en SoHo: Cocotte

A few weeks ago my co-worker texted me a photo of a business card, asking me "Free drinks tomorrow?" Of course this is an offer I try to never refuse. So we stopped by the pre-opening of the new French bar/small plates restaurant called Cocotte around the corner from work on Thompson Street below Prince in SoHo. The petite place was jam packed with friends and neighbors the first night we went but we could still feel a good energy and were already making plans to return sometime soon.

Finally tonight, after Sandy and busy schedules, we decided to stop in for some drinks after work. What we found was a relaxed Sunday night atmosphere and stellarly flavored food. Starting with deux verres de crémant (that is to say, French sparkling wine not from Champagne) we worked our way through a couple small plates, a silky dessert and my shoddy French conversation with the gracious staff. 

To begin we chose the champignons farcis - tiny mushroom caps filled with a delicate, earthy-colored chorizo stuffing and garnished with orange tomatoes. The portions are meant to be small, but they go a long way in terms of flavor. This is a good way to start a succession of assiettes at Cocotte because the savoriness of the mushrooms will have you primed to try more. 

Next we allowed our server/bartender Guillaume to select a dish. As he had mentioned his fondness for the hanger steak with bordelaise and shallots, I was not surprised when it was placed in front of us. I personally love hanger steak thanks to Chef Ludo's Meatopia creation. I've cooked the cut myself at home and have had great results. A quick cooking but very flavorful piece of meat. This is done delicately so as to not overcook the beef then sauced with the bordelaise that demands to be soaked up with the fresh bread it arrives with. 

Lastly, we couldn't end the night without dessert - especially after Raphael (co-creator/maitre d'-extraordinaire) brought me back to the kitchen to meet Sophie, the pastry chef (after a discussion of my macaron making) and Chef Sébastien Pourrat. We went for the made-that-day gâteau Basque. The pastry cream was smooth and the crust was salty-sweet with a gentle, sandy crumb. A great way to end a work day.

Cocotte, named for Chef Sébastien's nickname for his wife Sophie, is a warm, welcoming place for anyone looking for good wine, good food and equally good company. Francophiles and expats will feel right at home with the French-English menu and the sound of franglais in the air. I look forward to returning to Cocotte to explore the rest of the small plates, hopefully score a seat at the back-of-the-house Chef's table seats (in the most charming New York restaurant kitchen I've ever seen), and even just to stop in for a coffee or a glass of wine after work. If you generally like what I like, odds are you will love Cocotte! 


110 Thompson Street (below Prince)
SoHo, New York

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Holiday Shopping in NYC: Ingredients

From Halloween through the New Year there are tons of recipes floating around for ways to get cooking in this cozy holiday season. All the November and December issues of our favorite food magazines beg you to cook the perfect bird, amazing sides, stunning desserts and decorative cookies and treats to gift. But sometimes it can be difficult to find what you need when making a recipe for the first time, especially when its for seasonal items. The cold weather lately had me in a restocking mode – with a full kitchen I can avoid being out in the cold after work shopping. I have a short list of places to shop in my left hand column (over there <) but I thought this would be a good time to tell you about some of my favorite places to find special ingredients in the city and most often at good prices, too.

Boy do I love this place! I just stopped in yesterday to refresh my grain supplies and a few spices, too. This is a little specialty food store with huge bags and full bins of grains, spices, beans, flours, nuts and more to purchase in bulk. Buying in bulk is my favorite way to stock things like arborio rice (for risottos), cornmeal (for endless dishes of polenta), dried black beans, unique flours, and nuts. Since I’m usually cooking only for myself I don’t like to buy huge supplies of things and I try to avoid packaging whenever possible. At International Grocery you’ll find things like high-gluten flour and 6 different kinds of couscous with the option to get only as much as your recipe requires. Go with a list, go with cash ($10 credit card minimum), and don’t be shy in loading up on supplies and taking notes for the future. The gentlemen working at the store will assist you in scooping and weighing everything, so a list helps expedite your visit. Also, since the shop is not too large, ask if you don’t see something you think they would have – they probably do but it might not be obvious (like octopus or yogurt stored in the cooler).
543 Ninth Ave 10018 | 212-279-1000

International Grocery has a number of options for bulk spices, but at Kalustyan’s you’ll find a seemingly endless supply of ground, whole, mixed and unexpected spices, herbs and seasonings. The prices are excellent on most things – you can buy 3oz. packets of tons of spices at a price that is still less than buying them in a jar at the grocery store (most spice jars hold 2oz. give or take, $3-5 depending on the spice [in Manhattan at least!]). If you like to use your own spice jars or tins this is a great place for you, too, since the spices come in little plastic bags. They also have a TON of other specialty items. Come here first with your list, go to International Grocery to fill in the gaps. Also, for my Moroccan/New Years/Birthday party last year I bought nearly all of my supplies from Kalustyan's and International Grocery.
123 Lexington Ave 10016 | 212-685-3451

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Memories, Memoirs, and Sandy

As I write this New York City is in recovery mode from the raging path of Hurricane Sandy. She brought horrific winds, high waters and widespread damage. Thankfully my roommates and I, and our apartment were unharmed, barely a flickering light. I'm so grateful to have avoided any harm or damage but throughout the storm I've thought about what people will be remembering when all is back to normal and time has passed. 

For over a year I've been consuming food memoirs as if they were kernels of buttery popcorn at a suspenseful movie. Due to this I have taken on a strange perspective for how I consider life events, major and minor. As things happen I begin sorting them into chapters of my own imaginary memoir. I debate what will carry enough weight to exist within the "New York Years," if I will ever actually leave New York (I intend to, someday) and what might come after it. When it comes to Sandy I keep going back to the outpouring of food chatter that came about. Nowadays it is our default to share what we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner - but usually only if it is particularly amazing or interestingly mundane. Sandy brought about full fridge-clearing feasts, warm comfort foods, stress/anxiety munchies and odd flavor combinations shared thanks to Twitter

At my house we refused to buy bottled water, opting instead to fill empty wine bottles with clean tap water; I baked a chocolate banana bread for the sake of using up ripe bananas and correcting the lack of sweets in the house; Monday night dinner consisted of a first course of banana pancakes then an impromptu second course of Mexican black bean pizza due to a severe protein craving; tonight to rejoice in the calm post Sandy evening we made a feast of steak and pasta with a bright green salad. Food was a crutch and a way to entertain ourselves while waiting for the storm to begin then finally come to pass. In large part thanks to the uneventful effects of Sandy's fury chez moi, it will be the meals I can remember. 

I think food plays such an important part of memory because of all its sensory effects - we see, smell, touch, hear and taste as our mouths water and our stomachs yearn. In the coming months I hope to explore memory and memoirs more here on the Culinary Librarian. Here's hoping...

Monday, October 1, 2012


Even though my last post was titled "Transitions" there have been even more since then. All summer long I have been in anticipation of changes to come. The new job, the new apartment, the new roommates, the new kitchen, and above all a new attitude and a new outlook on life. Each and every change has come about with careful consideration and weighed options, and fortunately each has been a cause for celebration. 

The not-so-new job is still going very well, still not related to food but so far plenty to learn, plenty to contribute and even lots of fun to be had. The real star at this point is my new home life. I've gotten lucky, especially for New York, and have consistently lived with relative strangers who have turned out to be fun companions and some even good friends. Even if you live in the most beautiful place in the world it can be soured by poor quality of company. Thankfully, once again, I seem to have found myself among roommates-cum-friends to be. With good relationships in place I'm free to enjoy my new home at ease. And this is where all the celebration really comes in... 

Before I was in a decent sized bedroom... without windows. Before I had a nice wide kitchen with a full-size fridge and a working gas oven... that occupied half of the room considered to be the living room. As I said, I had wonderful roommates and a Manhattan-low rent so I was in that apartment for over two years. When it was time to find a new place, these factors created my primary requirements: windows/light/air and as real a kitchen I could find within my rent budget. I'm pleased and proud to say my needs have been met in abundance.

The new bedroom is bigger than the last (more room for my books!) and features two high and wide windows, full of light, air and city sounds. The kitchen, conveniently located right next to my bedroom, is galley-style with room for an eat-in table and chairs, lots of cabinets and up-above storage, a full-size gas stove, full size fridge and yet another window (expect better daylight food photos). In addition to these key features, the new place also has a spacious living room-cum-dining room, wide hallways, big closets and a black and white tiled bathroom. Seriously, there are wins left and right in this place! Oh there's laundry in the basement, too! And even with all of this my rent hardly changed (even when you divide the broker's fees across 12 months its not a big jump). I feel so fortunate. 

But back to anticipations. The job and apartment changes had been anticipated for years and months. Now that they have both happened, I'm finally picking up my new rhythm. This is the very first night I have come right home from work with no where to go, no one to see and no feeling of "should" in terms of unpacking, doing laundry, sorting apartment things, etc. Empowerment and liberation flow over me. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Transitions / Obsessions

You may be wondering why I haven't written in over a month, why I haven't been Tweeting as incessantly as normal or why you haven't seen what I've been eating for dinner on Facebook. The reason is I've been going through a series of transitions that still aren't completed, but should be soon. New job, new schedule, less free time (in a good way, but an adjustment), almost a new home and hopefully once I am in a new rhythm after all the new changes have settled in, a new outlook on life. 

The new job is surprisingly not related to food (nor was the old one) but I think I made a good decision and think I will find a lot of satisfaction while I am at work and it most days it won't feel much like work at all - in the best way. The new home will hopefully be warm, welcoming and see delicious dinners, jump-starting breakfasts and gracefully prepared take-to-work lunches - this is all to be seen at this point. Change is hard, and I'd be lying to you if I said the past few weeks have been a breeze. But is it the challenges that teach us about ourselves, that strengthen us for the future and that make us who we are. 

My point with this post is to check in, to show you I'm still here and that I've been thinking of you, my readers (however few there may be), and that I still love food and food writing just as much as ever. I've just had a lot on my plate (pun intended). One of the things I've always thought of doing here on the blog is a periodical favorites list. There are a number of blogs that do these, but I am 100% a gusher so having a bit of an outlet for the things I'm obsessed on a regular basis would be helpful for me and would hopefully introduce you to things you had yet to hear about but may also love. The list below is not all food related and it wouldn't be if I start doing this once in a while- which is another thing I like since I do try to keep The CL as food-centric as possible, but I love so, so, many things. 

So how about we test the waters and I'll do a list of just five things I can't get enough of right now and you let me know what you think. Okay? Good, here we go: 

Current Obsessions

1. The TRI Studios "Move Me Brightly" concert. 
The 70th Birthday Tribute Concert to Jerry Garcia took place a few days after his would-have-been 70th birthday at Bobby Weir's awesome studio/venue in San Rafael, California. There is this awesome mix of musicians and fantastic energy to the whole performance. Luckily I found out about the live stream in the nick of time and happened to be home to sit around and watch it. The quality was great and the concert went on for about 5 hours - true to genuine Dead show form. I love love love it! The favorites of this favorite: the two songs Cass McCombs performs (he's on the verge of becoming a next Current Obsession). You can watch most of the show through this Yahoo link. Check out Mr. McCombs on "Dupree's Diamond Blues" at around 16:50 and then a truly awesome version of "Terrapin Station" at 53:20. "Terrapin" had some added weight that night because of the wonderful rendition but also because "move me brightly" is a line from the song. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FIAF’s Bastille Day Celebration and 9 Steps to Perfection!

For the third year in a row I honored French National Day by celebrating on 60th Street with FIAF and friends. It wasn’t until last week that I realized I had yet to write a true post about the festival. So this year I’m going to tell you a bit more about a great event, how I celebrate, and hopefully entice you to mark your calendar’s and plan to get to Manhattan for next year’s fête (which according to my estimations should fall exactly on July 14th!).

My friends and I start the day with breakfast and bubbly. Since the festival starts at noon it’s a good idea to have a relaxing morning complete with a filling French-inspired meal and some proper champagne. Egg and cheese crêpes are always a favorite. Though I’ve yet to make them for Bastille day oeufs en cocotte served with a crusty baguette for dipping would be another great choice. If you’re not feeling up to cooking or if you apartment is too sweltering to bear in the city summer (often me) head to any of the city’s pastry shop/cafés- one of the many Le Pain Quotidien will do or get more authentic at MacarOn Café, Dominique Ansel Bakery or La Maison du Macaron. After you’ve had your fill and are feeling a bit light and giggly from the champagne make your way to East 60th Street between Fifth and Lexington Avenues.

There are a number of things you should make sure to do during your time at the Bastille Day Fête:
First: Stop to smell the roses at Ode à la Rose.
You might pick up a small bouquet to bring home, too.
Second: Eat as many macarons as necessary.
Don’t miss MacarOn Café’s special Bastille Day macaron.
Consider picking up a box from Fiancier, Francois Payard and MadMac. You will be craving these once your wine buzz and initial sugar high die down.

Friday, July 13, 2012

MacarOn Café hits Midtown with more than Macs

IMG_5192Yesterday morning my alarm clock went off an hour earlier than normal for a very good reason. I was invited to celebrate the grand opening of MacarOn Café's new location on Third  Avenue. As you may well know by now, MacarOn Café is one of my favorite spots in the city for getting my macaron fix. I can always count on a variety of flavors, something new to try, and above all consistently perfect shells and fillings. My favorite location has been the 59th and Madison shop; it is on my way home from work, right by FIAF and has cozy seating in the back. The new shop, located at 750 Third Avenue (between 46th and 47th) may very well become my preferred location in the coming weeks thanks to an evening menu and another favorite of mine: wine. The pink-and-white shop is officially open now but the evening menu and wine will begin in the coming weeks. I can't wait to try it out and will be sure to report back when I do.
The Third Avenue location is in a great spot, right by Grand Central, and easily accessible from the north, east, south or west. Yesterday white and pink balloons encouraged  guests to come in for a free macaron and maybe a perfectly made espresso beverage or a cup of Mariage Frères tea. I was glad to start my day with a balanced cappuccino complete with decorative foam on top.

IMG_5179Fortunately I was able to spend a bit of time chatting with Cecile and Arnaud Cannone, the chef and owners of MacarOn Café. Cecile and I spoke about the process of making macarons and, as always, ways of troubleshooting problems when baking the shells. She advised me how key controlling the humidity of the oven is and suggested not baking them in the summer when it is as humid as it has been in New York. We discussed some flavors- Cecile, like me, is a chocolate lover. I mentioned to her how I like that there are always new flavors to choose from when I come by. Most recently I tried the new Earl Grey, which I had bought for my friend Kyle. I don’t normally enjoy Earl Grey teas or bergamot in general so I didn’t try it until he told me it tasted like… Trix cereal! (They really do!) I told Cecile this but she hadn’t hear of our sugared-up American Trix. I suggest trying one out when you stop in.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

When You Can’t Stand the Heat but Want to be in The Kitchen…

WatercressIf you’re anything like me when it comes to feeding yourself, you feel off balance if its been a while since you made a full blown meal, baked a batch of cookies for loved ones, or simply tried making something new. With this heat wave that’s been riding through Manhattan I’ve had a hard time mustering up energy to cook much of anything. Today I resolved to spend sometime at the counter making some recipes I’ve had on my mind for a while- neither of which required heat. I also noticed that many of my favorite cookbooks have a blurb from Ms. Alice Waters on their covers today while cooking from my library. First I made a trip to Fairway to gather supplies. I stocked up on things for making lunch during the week, lots of green things, ice cream, and a whole pound of coffee with the hope that I’ll find the nerve to let the beans cold-brew for 15 hours according to the recipe in this month’s Bon Appetit.

loaded food processor watercress butterA few weeks ago I purchased watercress for the first time with the very good intention of trying out Cheryl Sternman Rule’s recipe from Ripe for watercress butter. Time passed, the greens wilted, tired and dried and no butter was made. The super green compound didn’t leave my mind when the first bunch went in the trash, though. I decided this would be a perfect hot-weather recipe to make and have on hand. Corn keeps showing up on my dinner plate demanding something more enticing than regular butter and salt so it seemed excellent timing to try Rule’s butter.

I softened my butter, cleaned then plucked away the thick stems of the watercress, peeled and roughly chopped some garlic, delicately measured out just enough honey, zested a lemon and whizzed it all together in my dear food processor. Some salt and pepper and a little tasting and recipe number one was done. I am happy to report the butter is as good as I imagined. I had a few done as the recipe calls for—on crackers, using Carr’s water crackers. These do indeed make for elegant appetizers I will gladly serve at parties in the future. I also tried it out on some toasted mini bagels I picked up at Fairway- so very delicious. If I swap this in for my regular salty French butter in the morning, will I be starting out my day healthier? I hope so! Cheryl also recommends tossing the leftover butter with hot pasta, potatoes or on bread. I’m thinking of combining it with my other recent love—soft-centered boiled eggs. So many possibilities! Just a note: when used with something hot the butter in the spread melts and heats up the watercress and turns the mixture dark green. The recipe can be found on page 226 of Ripe.
finished watercress butter watercress butter crackers watercress butter bagel

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Flavors and Childhood Memories with Eric Ripert and Christina Tosi at FIAF

This past Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending yet another wonderful food-focused event at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). “Sweet, Sour, Savory –  Fabulous Flavors” was a discussion with the one and only Chef Eric Ripert (of Le Bernardin in New York City) and Christina Tosi (of Momofuku Milkbar in New York City) moderated by Bon Appetit’s executive editor (and co-author of Chef Ripert’s book On the Line) Christine Muhlke. Flavor was the focus and as it does for so many of us, the conversation lead largely back to the taste beginnings of Chef Ripert’s and Chef Tosi’s childhood.

 © Junenoire Mitchell  
Christine Muhlke got the evening going by asking about the chefs’ earliest taste memories, as she posed it: “What’s your madeleine?” Both the chef’s remember mother/grandmother prepared sweets. Chef Tosi recalled raw oatmeal cookie dough, corn bake and other baked goods filled with butter. Chef Ripert mused about his grandmother’s elusive apple tart. It was about a 12” tart that he said he would gobble down a few times a week. Even when he was little he could smell the stages of the apple tart’s doneness; when it was starting to bake in the oven, when it was time to take it out and most importantly the moment when it had cooled enough to eat.

When asked about favorite treats both thought to favorite candies first. For Chef Tosi it was Whatchamacallits and Reese’s Cups. She told us what a picky eater she was and how much she finds that fact to contribute to her food experiences as an adult. When she was 18 or so she remembers having a BLT and tasting a raw tomato for the first time and how impacting it was. She ate a lot of junk food when she was young like candy, ice cream and sour cream and onion potato chips. Chef Ripert’s upbringing up in France and Andorra meant he didn’t eat junk food because as he says it just didn’t exist. What he loved was sneaking squares from a bar of dark chocolate on the weekends and taking cookies that had been hidden in the kitchen. On the way home from school, the snack time for French schoolchildren, he would enjoy meringues from the pâtisserie. There were also licorice candies they called Batman candy because they were black and white.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Negotiating Breakfast

Father's day is Sunday. I had started thinking about a Mother's Day post back in May but opted to save my idea for this week. Breakfast is something near and dear to my heart. As a family we revel in celebrating those simple, but sentimental, holidays at a late morning table full of food. Also, there are few foods that I truly tie to my father in memory- but big breakfast has always been as much, if not more so, his domain than my mother's. So here is a little bit about our morning meal tradition, with or without holiday occasion.

"Big Breakfast” is a term that has always been bandied about in my family. Less so now that we aren’t all under one roof, but it still comes up on occasion since none of us are too far apart. Big breakfast means a hot, filling meal made fresh, usually on the weekend or a holiday, when everyone eats together. No cold cereal, no yogurt, no singular toast or banana. The big breakfast goes all out. Almost certain to be eggs; if they’re not the main event they’re served as the savory side. There will be something sweet; usually carb forward stacks of waffles or pancakes, sometimes French toast or just buttered toast. And of course there will always be bacon. If all 6 (mom, dad, sister, brother, and my niece) of us are together there will be a big plate of bacon, maybe some stray sausage links or some slices of ham. Once in a while there will be potatoes, but since big breakfast tends to happen spur of the moment there isn’t always time for them.

Up until a few years ago breakfasts like these were always prepared by my mom or my dad. And typically one or the other, but not both. When it came to fried eggs and omelets my mom held down the fort and the battered up mornings were my dad’s turf. I’m not really sure why things seems to always fall this way, but it is how it is. Nowadays I’m happy to take over whatever, whenever necessary. My obsession with poached eggs has also infiltrated the big breakfast realm. Months ago when I was still working on my poaching craft my parents would grumble at the whisper of the word “poached” because the egg whites would get all over their sauce pans. Now that I’m at least partially masterful of the craft, I can poach with ease and the opposition has desisted. I’m also always game to make the pancakes or French toast, but for some reason I will always leave the waffles to my dad. I think someone gave us our first waffle iron a long while ago. Sometime in the early 90s. It had a white plastic exterior with a light that was orange when the waffles were cooking. That broke at some point and it was replaced with a sleek Cuisinart model with a metal and black design.  I think I was with my dad when we got it- at Christmastime at Macy's during our annual Christmas Eve shopping outing to buy all his presents for my mom. He always gets one or two things for "the family" that tend to be things he just wants in the house. Like the new waffle iron, from which we all benefit.

Wednesday Haiku: Delicious Guilt

red yellow or green
and mercury toxins. Still
red, rare seduction

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Impromptu Haiku Contest

Yesterday I decided I to get someone this copy of Michael Ruhlman's Ratio I have lying around that went unclaimed by its winner from the initial giveaway. So I went to Twitter and asked you all to send me food haiku and I would choose a winner after I had compiled fifteen. 

Here they are: 

Monday, April 23, 2012

LUDOBITES - Finally! LudoBites 8.0 at Lemon Moon

Stars and planets aligned and I was finally able to go to my first iteration of Chef Ludo Lefebvre's "pop-up" restaurant LudoBites in its eighth outpost. This time Chef Ludo took over Lemon Moon restaurant on West Olympic Boulevard. Thankfully, after so much hype and excitement there was not an ounce of disappointment from first experience under Chef Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre's care. 

By now it's been over two month's since I sipped hard cider and languished over course after course of Chef Ludo's cuisine. But better late than never, eh? And it doesn't feel like its something of the past because I am still thinking about and craving the tuna with somen I had that night every single day (no joke). (Sorry in advance for the dim photos, was trying not to be too ... flashy.)

So, let's start at the beginning. My dinner guest and I opted for the NV Cambremer Cidre. Our meal began with a bang- literally- as the cork popped out of the bottle of cider the moment the cage was undone.
Next it was time to survey the menu and devise our plan of attack. We didn't opt to have the whole menu, as many do. As it was I was totally full when we left after eating less than half of the menu. I admit I was thrilled to have this simple piece of paper finally sitting in front of me in real life, not just a photo on the internet for once:
Burgundy Gougères and Chicken Tandoori Crackling got things going. I found it smart and comforting that Chef Ludo offers up something as simple as cheese puffs on menu. It is a way to taste something familiar at start of the meal as a means of easing into his unique flavor combinations and cooking techniques. The cracklings were like super fancy nachos without a tortilla in sight. The chicken liver mousse was a meaty cloud on a crisp chicken skin 'chip'.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ripe: The Fruit and Vegetable Cookbook of Your Dreams

A few months back someone Tweeted the book trailer for a breath-taking cookbook all about fruits and vegetables. The book was Ripe and the author Cheryl Sternman Rule with luscious photography by Paulette Phlipot. I immediately shared the trailer with my Twitter followers and exclaimed my excitement over this vegetarian cookbook that looked like it would put all other vegetarian cookbooks to shame. I'm happy to report my gut feeling about the book was spot on. 

Fortunately, both Cheryl and Paulette were at the IACP Book and Blog Festival so I was able to meet them and finally get my hands on the book. On my subway ride home I carefully turned each glossy, high-color page. Fruits and vegetables never looked so good. Cheryl's introduction is the perfect beginning. She explains that this, yes, is a vegetarian cookbook but that, no, she won't emphasize that fact throughout. Also, the book is not arranged by season, as many produce-forward books are. Instead the book is a rainbow of nature's bounty, organized by color and alphabetically by the names of the highlighted fruits and vegetables. There has even been discussion about fore-edge of the book since it creates a bright waterfall of color.  

Each item has a corresponding recipe: Butternut Squash - Red Curry Glazed Butternut Squash with Coconut Rice (page 76), Blueberries - Blueberry Nutmeg Cake (page 240), Mushrooms - Cremini Farro Hash with Poached Eggs (page 294). Cheryl gets to the essence of each main ingredient while giving tips for how to buy, store and generally prepare. In addition to the main recipe every item has a list of three "Simple Uses"- recipes without directions. I love this part of the book- half the time when I look through food magazines, cookbooks, or blogs I see photos and get ideas about what to make and rarely follow the given recipe if I have a sense of how to make it already. This amplifies the amount of recipes in the book from seventy-five up to three hundred. And isn't the main thing we're always trying to get more creative with in the kitchen our produce? 

So, I love this book. And I highly recommend you check it out in your book store and give in to the urge to run home with it, make a list, then run back out to the farmer's market. When I got off the subway I ducked off to Fairway on the way to scoop up a mix of produce to get started. I ended up making a few Chocolate Covered Strawberries (page 60) [a genius, fruit based lunchtime dessert during the work week] and marking the Polenta-Stuffed Chard with Bubbly Parmesean (page 222) for a later date. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Introducing Wednesday Haiku

For a little while I've been debating something I could do regularly to ensure at least one post a week. Life, as it gets from time to time, has been quite busy as of late. I haven't been posting as frequently and its not for lack of inspiration but merely lack of time to devote to writing and writing well. It has never been my style to slap up a series of photos and put them out into the blogosphere to be ignored. 

What I have come up with for you combines two of my dear loves and creates a format I will easily be able to maintain on a weekly basis: culinary haiku. Somewhere in my heart I believe I have felt inspired by haiku even before learning about them in school. My affection for them flourished in one of the most memorable classes I took as an undergrad at SUNY Geneseo: Literature and the Environment. One of our first assignments was to write haiku. We were also asked to keep a journal for class. Somewhat naturally the two combined for me and I am glad to have a small notebook replete with haiku on a variety of topics. Typically haiku is supposed to focus on themes in nature, but I quickly argued in class and maintain the argument today, that everything that surrounds us is nature because it all exists within the natural world. Sure, a tree that grew without being planted or cultivated that lives in a dense forest may be more natural than a laptop, but they both are made from the earth and its naturally occurring inhabitants.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"An Everlasting Meal" and "Ratio" WINNERS!

Thank you to everyone who entered and shared the giveaway of these great books from Tamar Adler and Michael Ruhlman. They are fantastic tomes that I recommend you make part of your own collection. It was wonderful to read over all your thoughtful comments about how you integrate economy and grace into your own kitchen routine as well as which of Ruhlman's ratios piqued your interest. 

I divided all the entries into those for An Everlasting Meal and those for Ratio then used's random number generator to choose the two winners...