Saturday, September 29, 2007

So many questions ...

Spotted at a deli near my office:

I have nothing else to say about this.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

"pickling is the new knitting"

... says Brooklyn hipster. The NY Daily News has this story about a "canning consultant" who does workshops in New York. (Melissa, you may fancy yourself "assertively unhip," but I'm afraid your hobby has been deemed decidedly trendy!)

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

à la recherche des recettes!

The Cercle Français (French Club) at the school where I used to teach (Colorado State University) is looking for recipes from France and other French-speaking countries to publish in a cookbook to raise money for the club. If you have any tried-and-true recipes that you love and would be willing to have included, they'd be very appreciative! (They're currently short of their goal of 150.) No monetary compensation, of course, but I bet they'd be willing to cite your website under your name if you're a food blogger--so that means free publicity!

To share your recipes, please either post them here via the "comments" section or email them to me at babybilingual (at) gmail (dot) com.

Merci beaucoup!

Here's one of my favorites to get you started: Pasta Niçoise (inspired by the foods of Nice, on the French Riviera, and its delicious Salade Niçoise).

Pasta Niçoise

Adapted from a recipe in the Denver Post

2 Tbsp olive oil
3 large shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb haricots verts, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch slices (if haricots verts, the skinny French green beans, are not available, substitute regular green beans)
1/2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 c. red wine
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence (substitute dried Italian herb blend), or more to taste
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 c. pitted niçoise olives (very small briny black olives with pits; substitute larger black olives if necessary--but don't use canned black olives!)
1 lb rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 c. soft chèvre (goat cheese)
Toasted pine nuts (optional)

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat; sauté shallot and garlic until golden and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add green beans, broth, wine, herbs, salt, and pepper to taste; cook until beans are cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes (longer if using larger green beans).

Stir in olives; cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Put pasta in large serving bowl; add bean-olive mixture. Stir in chèvre. Sprinkle with pine nuts if desired and serve.

Other alternatives: Add (or substitute for the olives) chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle finely diced hard-boiled egg on top to boost protein for a vegetarian main dish.

Serves 8.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

grilled pizza

Has anyone had success with this approach? We tried a recipe tonight from Lynne "Splendid Table" Rossetto Kasper and it was a splendid failure. My lovely dough (Lis' favorite recipe from Gourmet) neither puffed up nor acquired grill marks as it was supposed to, at which point we're instructed to flip it over on the grill and add the desired toppings. We suspect the problem stems from not having a hot enough grill (after all, a pizza oven is over 500 degrees). But then doesn't everyone have this problem when they go to grill a pizza? Or is it just that no one else is foolish enough to try?

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Monday, September 17, 2007

street food in D.C. just got a little better

I don't know whether we have many regular D.C. readers (note to self: must get SiteMeter), but I know that some of you have some knowledge of the D.C. food scene (looking at you, Ed), and that you will sympathize when I say that D.C.'s downtown food carts suffer from a serious lack of imagination. Basically, it's all hot dogs (er, pardon me, half smokes), all the time. In fact, several months ago, when the city was preparing to issue its first licenses for new food carts after a long moratorium, it actually sponsored a workshop for prospective cart owners entitled "You Don't Have To Sell Hot Dogs." Sad, but true.

The first of these new carts have opened, and the buzz is positive. There's a Korean BBQ cart three blocks from my office, and I plan to go try its bulgogi tomorrow. There's a new halal cart that's supposed to have good chicken shawarma, and there's another cart opening soon that will sell chicken & waffles -- sadly, those two are a bit farther away for a lunchtime trek for me. Still, this is encouraging. It just makes me happy to know that somewhere in this city, you can (soon) buy soul food from a street vendor.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

cheddar-caraway biscuits, homemade applesauce

Every week, we get tons of apples from our farm share, and we're having trouble keeping up. They were starting to take over the fridge, so today I made some applesauce. I'd never made my own before, which now makes me feel a bit silly because it is ridiculously easy. You set it on heat and it practically makes itself.


3 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
1 c. water
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom

Bring apples, sugar & water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 25 minutes. Apples should be soft and breaking down at this point; cook uncovered for a few more minutes if there's still excess liquid. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and spices. Mash any huge chunks that still exist (I left mine slightly chunky). Makes about 3 cups.

And, because apples love cheddar cheese, I also made cheddar & caraway biscuits -- the first biscuits I've made that didn't resemble hockey pucks! I know very cold butter is the key, so I tried a trick I read about somewhere and froze the butter, then grated it with a box grater. That seemed to do the trick (well, that and very minimal handling of the dough), because they turned out very light and flaky, which you maybe wouldn't expect from a cheese biscuit. And the flavor? Well, I'm a sucker for sharp cheddar. The original recipe called for dill, but I tried caraway and black pepper. Yum.

Cheddar-Caraway Biscuits

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway seeds
black pepper (not sure how much I used)
5 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter (see my note above about the freezing and grating)
3/4 c. extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
3/4 c. plain yogurt
1/3 c. milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix dry ingredients; grate frozen butter with box grater, add to the flour mixture, and work in with a pastry cutter (or a couple of forks, or your food processor, or however you like to do it). Add cheese; mix until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk milk and yogurt together; add to flour mixture and mix until just combined. Drop by big spoonfuls (about 1/4 cup) onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 12 biscuits.


prison food

The SL County Jail started a master gardener program this year in collaboration with Utah State University. Inmates plant, tend, and harvest a variety of produce and either donate the food or sell it at the farmer's market. We've tried to buy from the program every time they are at the market. Their produce is great and incredibly cheap (since they are not looking for profits). A few inmates are always there, selling their vegetables and you can tell they are pretty proud of their work.

Compare that to this video about a convention for correctional system food. Maybe instead of worrying about sticks in corn dogs a few more correctional facilities could get inmates to grow some of their own food.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

win a prize!

Mark and I recently went out for Indian food with our friends Reid and Kate. As we looked at the menu, Reid was telling us about a mysterious dish called Chicken 65. When he attempted to order it -- off-menu, of course -- our waiter looked at him for a second, eyes narrowed, and deadpanned, "I have not heard of this dish." His look, however, said he totally knew about it. Since then, Mark -- a vegetarian, mind you -- has been obsessed with the idea of Chicken 65. Read more about it on his blog.

So, I have a challenge for you, dear readers: Successfully order Chicken 65 in an Indian restaurant (and document it to share here), and I will send you a prize. A real, tangible prize through the mail. (Except you, Reid, since you apparently already know where to get Chicken 65.)


clean-out-the-freezer bread pudding

Two people just can't eat a lot of fresh bread before it goes bad. I end up turning baguettes into bread crumbs and throwing rolls into the freezer. Ditto for pancakes and waffles--Mr. Tart and I can't even finish a half-batch of homemade breakfast goodies on our own. As a result, our freezer was bursting with leftover sweet and starchy goodies, and they had to go. It was time for bread pudding!

I used my favorite very easy recipe from Epicurious, but this time substituted leftover waffles and croissants (turning an already-French dish into a very-French dish). I cut them into big chunks and let them sit out on the counter until they weren't soft anymore, and then preceded with the recipe. (I also had more than the four cups' worth the recipe calls for, so I increased the amount of milk in the custard--enough to cover the pastry pieces--and also the baking time.) And I doubled the bourbon sauce--it's intense and delicious and takes the dessert from France back to New Orleans.

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