Thursday, November 19, 2009

Steam Cleaning

I just got back from five days in New York, and if I were to sum up the trip in two words, they would be “art” and “food”. Or maybe “looking” and “eating.” And I guess "walking" should probably be in there somewhere too.

We saw some amazing art. David Hockney at Pace Wildenstein, Vasily Kandinsky at the Guggenheim, Enrique Chagoya at George Adams, and Maya Gold at Mike Weiss, to name a few.

And we ate some amazing food. Cavatelli with sausage and sage, Korean bar-b-qued cow’s tongue, duck rillette, horseradish and chili vodka (I know that’s not food, but it was really good), salt bagels with cream cheese, fish cake in garlic sauce, arepas with shredded chicken. 

But after five days of eating my way through New York, and a bumpy flight home, what I really wanted was something clean, healthy and homemade. My tummy was ready for a steam cleaning.

Back in my early vegetarian days, I used to love to make my way to Broadway, sit at the counter of Gravity Bar, and order vegetables and hummus. I was in highschool, was proud to be a vegetarian, and envied the flame colored dreadlocks of the waitress. Gravity Bar has long since closed, and the thought of being a vegetarian sends chills through my spine, but every now and then a big bowl of steamed vegetables with brown rice (or farro) and hummus is just what I need. 

Farro with Vegetables and Green Hummus
1 cup farro
Brussel sprouts
Other good steaming vegetables
Green hummus 
  1. Cook the farro. 5 cups water to 1 cup of farro. Boil for 5 minutes, simmer for about 40. Drain.
  2. Steam the vegetables. Beets will take the longest, so let them steam for about 10 minutes before you add the other vegetables for about 7 more minutes.
  3. Serve with green hummus.
Green Hummus
1 can garbanzo beans
1 clove garlic
Fresh leafy herbs (I like tarragon, or a combination of basil, Italian parsley and chives)
5-6 T tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Drain the beans, preserving the liquid.
  2. Puree all the ingredients in a food processor.
  3. Add back the bean water until you achieve your desired consistency, usually about half of the water.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Naps, Mugs and R&B

I was mugged twice last week. The first time was downtown. I was standing with my dad, holding my wallet in my hand (yeah, I know), and a guy came up, knocked it out of my hand and ran. My dad and I chased him and did a lot of screaming, but all said and done, the guy ended up with my wallet.

The second time, however, was glorious. A few weeks back I ordered two mugs from Caroline Douglas, and they finally arrived in the mail. They each tell a little story—peach and teal (a phase I'm in), mixed animal bodies, crowns and stripes, women dreaming. They’re amazing.

I wanted something really beautiful to go in them for their debut. So on Sunday afternoon while my apple cake was baking in the oven and Eric was napping on the couch, I turned on a little John Legend and made cranberry tea. It’s a steamy simmer that makes the house smell like fall, and at the end you’re rewarded with tangy, hot pink bliss.

While the first mugging was really unfortunate and a little unnerving, I’d say the second one more than made up for it.

Cranberry Tea
12 oz fresh cranberries
6 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
5-10 peppercorns
15-20 cloves
8-10 cardamom pods
1 orange
5 T sugar

  1. Simmer cranberries, water, cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and the peal of the orange for about 30 minutes, until the berries are mushy and paler in color.
  2. Remove from heat and add the sugar and the juice from the orange. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Strain.
  4. Serve hot in a really special mug or cold with seltzer.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some Assembly Required

It’s been a busy week—month, actually. And as a reward, we spent the weekend at these amazing little cabins in Mazama, WA. They’re situated in a way that make you feel like you have your own set of mountains to look at, specially lighted and framed with aspens for your viewing pleasure. The cabins are little with just enough space. And that space does not include a kitchen. All this means that not a lot of cooking happened for me this week.
But it doesn’t mean that we didn’t eat well. 
I love the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Ina Garten’s recipes are not exotic, or overly creative, but they are tasty and consistent. Every recipe I have tried from her books has come out well. One of my favorite Barefoot Contessa gems is a section in the back of her first book called “Assembling for Parties.” She raises the art of food assembly—or pairings—to a new level, and highlights the fact that picking and matching foods is an important step down the path of being a good “cook.”

I ate a lot of well assembled food last week.

Below is a list of some of my favorite pairings, with an autumn slant. If coffee and cream were considered a pairing, it would be on the top of my list, but I think that’s cheating. And I’ll admit that for a few minutes this weekend I swore that yogurt pretzels and champagne was a great combination, but I think I was a little too into the cabin getaway idea, or maybe the champagne. It’s actually kind of gross.

Fall Assemblies
  • Radishes with sea salt and pepper, sliced landjaeger, castelvetrano olives
  • Dubliner cheese and apples
  • Smoked almonds and pumpkin beer
  • Potato chips, oil cured olives, cornichons
  • Pickled carrots, smoked black cod, seedy crackers
  • Endive, gorgonzola, toasted walnuts (this one’s from Ina)