The first time I officially cooked for Charlie was on his birthday, a year ago to date.
There had been plenty of non-official cooking prior, back when we were friends and I would host a group for pulled brisket tacos or bring a bowl of succotash to the BBQ he was throwing for the 4th of July. For this first official meal though, I have virtually no recollection of what I made. And I mean virtually, as I usually hold this blog accountable for logging for the vast majority of things that come out of my kitchen and the significant moments they commemorate. But alas, for this significant moment, I’ve got nothing.
What I do remember is going to three different markets in preparation. First, to Murray’s to pick up Charlie’s favorite cheeses, then to Chelsea Market to get the finest cured meats in all the land, and finally to Lobster Place for oysters.
Since this was a mere three weeks into dating, I of course waited until he arrived to shuck the oysters so I could impress him with my masculine energy in the kitchen by popping each shell open with the ease of a beer bottle. This worked for about 5 minutes, until I severed one of my thumbs and had to reassure him that I was “toooootally FINE!” as blood poured down to my elbow. I taught him how to shuck the rest of the oysters while wrestling with my Bounty tourniquet, and he did so well, the job became permanently his. Continue reading
Earlier this year, when I did my 30 day detox and went off caffeine, sugar, and alcohol, I became something I never thought I would: a full-time tea drinker.
While red wine and raw chocolate chip cookies quickly became a mainstay in my diet again, coffee was something I was determined to kick to the curb for good. Tea just felt so much better on my system. My stomach no longer cried in protest every morning. And even though I still relied on a bit of green tea to pick me up after I migrated downstairs from my sleeping loft, it wasn’t enough caffeine that my body couldn’t cope without it.
So even though I get weird looks at my local hipster coffee shop (where I am presently sitting and writing this post) when I order a cup of Jasmine Ginger, and sometimes I miss the taste, I’m happy that I made the switch. And now that I have, I’ve been trying to take my tea game to the next level.
To find out what the tea equivalent is of single drips and cold brews, I turned to the woman The Times dubbed as the “Tea Guru of New York,” Miriam Novalle. During last week’s Wellness Wednesday hangout we got to talking about why green tea is every wellness warriors’ go-to, the perfect herbal cure for those winter colds, and how simple rituals around tea can help heal your mind, body, and spirit.
I realize that I’ve spent a good chunk of my time here this past year attempting to quinoa-fy things. It’s honest, important work. Especially if the fruits of your labor include quinoa fried rice and tabouli. But I can’t say that it’s always particularly challenging.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or Nathan Myhrvold) to swap out cooked rice or bulgar wheat for one of their healthier, gluten-free grain friends. So when I got back to New York this fall, I wanted to really experiment—to push my quinoafication to the next level. I wanted to make something crazy. Something like quinoa paella.
I’ve been dabbling in paella preparations since my early days in the kitchen. You can see the proof by way of a scallop and chorizo paella in my cookbook. The technique is fairly simple: you sauté rice in a mixture of aromatics—usually a sofrito of onions, peppers, and garlic—then cover the rice with stock and simmer uncovered until the grains are tender, the liquid is absorbed, and a delicious crust has formed around the edges of the pan.
This crispy, semi-burnt rice is called socarrat. It’s a bona fide delicacy in Spain and the true indicator of whether you cooked an authentic paella. It’s also the name of a Spanish restaurant chain in New York City that appropriately serves only paella. So it’s kind of a big deal.
My biggest worry when I first went to quinoafy my paella recipe is that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish the socarrat. As I discovered during my Spring foray into quinoa pilafs, toasting the quinoa in the pan makes the liquid take even more time to absorb, meaning you have to cook the quinoa for longer in order to get the dry fluffy consistency you’re used to and not have the texture devolve into something Oliver Twist would never want seconds of. Continue reading
I’m so excited to have my first post up on the homepage of Mind Body Green! In it I’m talking about pointers for how to upgrade your grocery game to healthier options without spending beyond your means.
For people who are just learning to put down the Fruit Loops and start making their own scrambled eggs and granola from scratch, navigating the aisles of places like Whole Foods can be overwhelming. I get asked questions about how to make healthy eating more affordable in my cooking classes all the time. With impulse buying unnecessary grocery items and upgrading every purchase to organic and non-GMO, you can see why so many people think cooking this way is an expensive pursuit. So I hope you’ll pop over to MBG for all my tips on what’s actually worth the splurge. It’s all about priorities. Continue reading
Like all those cooks out there who’ve had the chutzpah to admit their failures (and, presumably, those annoying beacons of perfection who have not), I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in the kitchen.
In reflecting on them this past week, I’d say that most fall into one of two categories. The first is careless negligence, which includes things like forgetting the brussels sprouts in the oven until they resemble something that Khaleesi’s dragons might have sneezed on. A historical favorite is the time I poured cold stock from the fridge into a straight-from-the-oven Pyrex dish, causing it to shatter/explode dramatically and my neighbors to stop by to make sure everything was okay.
Then there’s the type of mistake that’s just pure technical ignorance. Since I didn’t go to cooking school, I’m particularly prone to this genre of fails. But because I prefer to drink uncurdled eggnog and to not have to throw away 6 ramekins of sunken, nasty soufflés, I tend to stick to recipes that are well within my comfort zone. But this approach to protecting my kitchen confidence proved problematic last week when I had to attend a potluck at Dana Cowin’s apartment, in honor of her new book Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen.
The evening gathered together some of my all time favorite women in the food community, including many who inspired me to start writing about my small kitchen triumphs and failures in the first place (cough cough, Deb). For the meal, we each had to bring a dish that we’d previously failed at and had since mastered.
I had many fails to choose from…obviously. The tortilla espagnola that covered my kitchen with raw egg when I tried to invert it, and the Canal House biscuits that came out as dense as cookies were among the front-runners. But sadly, I hadn’t yet found courage to right my wrongs, and trying to do so in time to impress my idols seemed like yet another recipe for disaster. Continue reading