Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stupid things I do (in the kitchen)

The lovely ladies at G3 tagged me for this one. Without my usual fanfare because I would like to shower before I go to work:

5 stupid things I do in the Kitchen:

1. Cut bagels in my hand. With a super sharp, super huge jimmy-johns issue bread knife. I have yet to hurt myself, but I get nervous every time I do it. Which is probably a sign I should stop.

2.Store all my spices in an old gift bag on the dining room floor. I wish I had a good explanation for this, but I don't. My mom sent me home one day with a buncha spices in a bag, and instead of taking them out and making them a home, I just keep putting more spices in the bag. Its really impractical. Maybe over Christmas break I'll clear them a shelf, like I said I would the whole summer.

3. Waste Wine. Cover your ears dad. I suck at finishing bottles. While folks like doctors and mothers against drunk driving and puritans and my professors may appreciate this, I feel incredibly guilty pouring 4 day old bottles down the drain so I can open another one. Consequently, I've taken this as a chance to work my way through the $5 wine selection at Trader Joe's that people constantly ask me questions about and I constantly have to say "uh, actually I haven't had that bottle yet, how about this $8 one? "(in the land of two-buck-chuck, I often get looks usually reserved for the insane and inept when I suggest this) Side note, most of these cheapies have sucked, and my well-bred instincts to stick to bottles closer to $10 seems to be well founded. Score 2 for the drain, Alli, 0.

4. Completely forget about side dishes. I haven't been as bad about this lately because I haven't planned as intricate meals lately (thanks, college) but it was becoming a hallmark of mine over the summer. It'd go something like this: buy fish to grill, the workings for an involved marinade, sweet potatoes to grill with it and asparagus to steam because the looked good. Spend 15 minutes talking grill in to lighting, 20 minutes marinading fish, realize that grill is over-ready, put sweet potatoes on (after some unsuspecting friend was forced in to oiling, salting etc. because I'm so worked up about the fish) get fish on grill, hover, hover, hover, bring in fish and potatoes (which are slightly burned because its 10pm by now and I can't see the grill very well) get everything inside and realize I forgot about asparagus. They don't get prepared, because its late and we're hungry and said friend doesn't care about asparagus by now, and so they sit in my fridge for the next week until they turn in to something that would make a 5th grade boy giggle with delight. I do this alllll the time.

5. Sit on the Floor. I have no good explanation as to why I do this. I just like it. My kitchen is a little small (and dirty) for me to sit on its floor too regularly, but it's one of my favorite places to be at my parents. Especially if I have something to read (if I'm talking to people though, I prefer to sit on the counters. Which my mom has mysteriously stopped asking me not to do. Perhaps adult privilege?). Plus, then the dog usually comes and lays on my legs. And I can sit squarely in front of the heat vent under the sink and wedge my self between the cabinets. It's a very childish pleasure, I'll admit.

So the next step with these things is to tag some one else to answer the question. I'm suddenly realizing that I don't have very many blog friends. Or really, any at all. Except of course for the one, the only, the delightful Brian Tucker. I'll tag Hannah Pants too, even though the only blog she has is the one we have to do for class, and she probably doesn't even know this blog of mine exists, just the silly one where I answer prompts for class in the craziest way I can still hope for an A on my blog grade. Yes, that's right, I have a blog grade. And because I feel bad that this post was photograph-free, here's a great picture of Hannah and I dressed up for a class project. (I am an essay, and she is a writing style-guide super hero. Can't you tell?)

For the curious: Yes, this really is what 300 level writing courses are like. (The project, and ugly step child blog for that matter, are for English 328, Writing, Style, and Technology. )

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The readers digest.

I really hate to say this, but I think I already miss summer. I cross my heart and hope to die that I love winter, but, really, it's not here yet. And moreover, I think I miss summer because I miss having Time, with a capitol T. For example, I shouldn't be doing this right now because I have two past-due education papers open in word (don't worry too much, I got an extension on one, and the other has minimal "late fees" if you will, it's just the principle of it). I couldn't help it though, i feel negligent for having not updated in so damn long. So, a Monday over-view:

10/13 Jason and I had a spur of the moment date to Cafe Felix. Felix is my favorite restaurant downtown, hands down. I'm always happy there (its never the best food I have ever tasted, but I am always happy), and this night was no exception. We had four plates, two glasses of wine and a coffee for $62, which, really, who can complain? We sat outside and I wore a skirt and then went home and graded tests and we held hands and drank tea and I felt like a Real Adult.

10/20 We made braised onion pasta, ala Orangette ala James Beard. Basically, this is onions, in butter, simmered for about an hour, and then slightly caramelized. It has somehow mastered delicate and hearty all at once, and I reccomend it very very highly. On a related note, my dad made a version of the from The French Farmhouse Cookbook that called for the pasta to be boiled with a bay leaf and twelve (it was very specific about that) sprigs of thyme, which I would recommend. It added a bit a of depth that my version was lacking. You can find the recipe here, which, coincidentally, is where I stole this picture from. In fact, so far, all of the pictures in this post have been stolen. Forgive me.

10/27 We had sushi take out and trekked to Royal Oak to see Atmosphere. If intelligent rap/hip-hop sounds like a nice cup of tea, Atmosphere is one of my favorite brews and I would recommend him highly. In other news, this has nothing to do with food. His new album is called "If life gives you lemons, paint that shit gold," though, so I'll say this bit is about lemons.

on Election night (a Tuesday, I know, bear with me, it's more important than Monday), I raced home from work just in time for the polls to close in the west, and crack a bottle of my favorite champagne (its a super-dry German guy, called Schloss Biebrich.or something like that. The best part? $4.99 a bottle). We toasted and jumped up and down a little and kissed a little and cried a little during Obama's speech. And since, this seems to be a popular food blog topic, what we ate: a simple salad of baby romaine with feta, beets, pecans and vinaigrette; breaded chicken breasts; and spanakopita. I know, I know, with the random, but we were hungry, and that was what I could scrape out of the fridge for two. We had chocolate souffles after, and smiled in ecstatic disbelief.

...Which brings us up to the present. Here and now, I have too much homework, too much homework, and too much homework.
Never fear though, this Monday was still spectacular. Well, dinner was at least. I was tired, and racing against the clock to finish an essay about "the visual rhetoric" of comics. BUT, I had this for dinner:

perhaps even better, I had that for dinner AND sat on the couch while it was made, because it was made by this dashing young fellow that seems to be hanging around a lot lately:

That is the boyfriend, and Cheesy baked penne with cauliflower entirely of his own creation, with out me butting in at all. All I did was hand him last month's Bon Appetit and a shopping list (alright, so I grated some cheese, but that was just because I needed a frustration outlet). He was nervous. I knew better than that, he's been sous chef-ing for my needy ass long enough to be more than prepared, even from his "I don't really know how to cook" stand point. I won that one, because it was delicious. He nailed the recipe, likely even better than I would have because I'm impatient and mistrustful. Be warned, this is RICH. where rich is a nice way of saying fat. But it is good. If I were to change it:
1. more cauliflower. and I don't even really like cauliflower.
2. It could use a little kick. I thinking diced canned chilles?

  • 1 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound head of cauliflower, cored, cut into 1-inch florets (more! cut the penne down some though if you're going to up the 'flower)
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes (all gone. used waxy store ones.)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (AKA skim milk works fine)
  • 3 cups coarsely grated Comté cheese (or half Gruyère and half Fontina; about 9 ounces), divided
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 10 ounces penne (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (from crustless French bread ground in processor) (or panko, I say)

Cook cauliflower in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using large sieve, transfer cauliflower to bowl. Add tomatoes to pot; cook 1 minute. Remove from water; peel and dice tomatoes. Reserve pot of water.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower; sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and green onions. Cook 1 minute to blend flavors. Remove from heat. Season with coarse salt and pepper.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in cream. Cook until sauce thickens, whisking occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add 2 cups Comté cheese; whisk until melted and sauce is smooth. Whisk in 1/2 cup Parmesan, then crème fraîche and mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

Return reserved pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain; return pasta to same pot. Stir in cauliflower mixture and sauce.

Butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Spoon in half of pasta mixture; sprinkle with 1/2 cup Comté cheese. Top with remaining pasta mixture and 1/2 cup Comté cheese. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in small skillet. Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Remove from heat; mix in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Sprinkle crumbs over pasta. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake pasta uncovered until heated through and bubbling, about 35 minutes.

... So there you have it. A readers digest month of Mondays.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

but in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.