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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

How to Peel a Head of Garlic in 10 Seconds

Holy garlic, Batman. Are you one of those people for whom the odor of garlic just sticks to your fingers for days? I am. I love the stuff, but I don’t love smelling it on my fingertips at 7am.

I do have one of those silicone roller devices, and it works well to remove the papery garlic skin. But there’s still a lot of handling involved.

Now those nice people at Saveur.com have saved me from ever having to peel garlic again.

via Man Made DIY | Crafts for Men

Ramen, Really: Chang’s Lucky Peach

So after a couple of excellent pizzas at Vapiano, we walked over to the Strand for some book browsing. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you about the Strand; surely everyone who has ever set foot in NYC has been to its 55,000 square feet containing over 18 miles of books. And if you haven’t been there in some time, you should return – a recent(ish) renovation has left the store more spacious and easier to navigate than in years past.

We didn’t plan to buy any books. Famous last words, right? After our recent trip upstate, we returned with a shopping bag full of fiction, economic theory, Richard Scarry and the odd embroidery stitch dictionary. It’s not like we need any more books. But I have a weakness for the children’s section, and the last time we went I hadn’t had enough time to do any browsing for myself. As my high school math teacher often said, “You people can rationalize anything.”

We exercised restraint. Mr Apparently discovered the exact book I was planning to give him for his upcoming birthday. Apparently Jr came home with Picasso and Minou"" “>a lavishly-illustrated book about Picasso. I found Lucky Peach, a new food quarterly conceived and executed by Momofuku’s David Chang, writer Peter Meehan, and the team behind Tony Bourdain’s No Reservations.

And to seal the deal, the first issue is almost entirely devoted to ramen. In a previous iteration of this blog, I wrote a post outlining the Apparently family’s mid-2000′s obsession with the noodly stuff. It turns out that in NYC, we have barely scratched the surface. Japan offers no fewer than 20 regional variations – on what is originally Chinese fare – and even has a museum devoted to ramen history and lore.

I can’t think of the last time I’ve spent so much time with a magazine, and I’m only halfway through its thick, glossy pages. Did you know that the Deep South has its own variation on ramen? Or that Ruth Reichl used to toss the packets, doctor up the instant noodles and serve them to her son’s friends? Next in my queue: two articles by Harold McGee (whose classic On Food and Cooking, by the way, is illustrated by a Sunnysider). And then off to McSweeney’s for a subscription, which they wisely begin with Issue 2.

See a peek of Lucky Peach at the Huffington Post. (Steel yourself for some profane language, although in a surprise move, it’s Bourdain who comes off as the soft-spoken one in this lot.) And let me know what you think in the comments.

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Ramen

Every so often the Apparently family hops on the 7 train into Manhattan with only a vague destination in mind. Last night we found ourselves aiming for Madison Square Park, because we thought the line at Shake Shack might not be so onerous at 4:30pm. We were mistaken. Even on a Saturday afternoon, everyone wants an upscale hot dog.

Several happy discoveries were made from this false start:

photo from madisonsquarepark.org

1. Cool yet disconcerting art by Jaume Plensa in Madison Square Park.

2. The recently-opened NYC outpost of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. If ever there were a yuppie cheese shop, this is it. Everything is minimally designed yet handsomely packaged, and you can buy several kinds of frozen mac & cheese starting at $8.75 a box. But oh, the selection of their own and other’s cheeses, and oh, the farmhouse-table dark Cellar restaurant that just begs for a return visit. Those pictures don’t do The Cellar justice – for a below-ground space, it’s lovely.

3. Union Square Park Playground. We’re behind the curve on this one, but this awesome playground is far superior to the generic Luna Park restaurant that preceded it. Apparently Jr loved the real rocks to climb and the secret path through greenery to the slide entrance; his parents loved the very enclosed nature of the whole playground and its slightly hipster attitude: really steep slides, plenty of stuff to climb and weird human-sized metal cattails.

We made our way to Vapiano, a very bizarre Italian cafeteria-style bar and restaurant that is absolutely perfect for people with kids and also probably a good place to meet a large group of friends. Each adult receives a chip card upon entering, and all purchases are scanned to the card; you pay when you leave. Vapiano’s offerings include solid renditions of classic Italian staples: pizza, pastas, panini. The seating areas, full of wood tables with marble insets holding oils and pots of rosemary, has enough ambience for both adults and kids to feel they’re at an actual restaurant, but is casual enough that a fidgety preschooler can take a walk without being given the stink-eye by other patrons. Apparently Jr is generally good at restaurants, and so it’s amusing that Mr A and I like Vapiano for these particular reasons. We also like the food!

What does all this have to do with ramen, you may ask? This post is so much longer than I’d planned – you’ll have to wait until the next post to find out! But muse on this: what would happen if David Chang, Tony Bourdain and McSweeney’s had a love child? It would be a lucky little peach, wouldn’t it?

Paradise Escapes Me

Bon Appetit magazine publishes a column called RSVP, where readers write in to rave about some fabulous dish they ordered at a restaurant and to ask the magazine to procure the recipe. I actually sent a request once, for the white bean soup with arugula and pumpkin oil from MOMA’s Terrace 5, but as far as I know, it was never pursued or printed. I have a feeling that my next must-have recipe would go unnoticed as well.

The Apparently family has been to Woodstock, New York three times. First we spent a lovely babymoon in a charming house with an enormous bathtub. (Yes, that’s the primary thing I remember. I was eight months pregnant, and it was February. I spent the long weekend in front of the fireplace and in the tub.) Last fall we enjoyed a delightful week at a house up on a hill, and it was on that trip that we discovered Sunfrost Farms, a local, independent market with excellent produce, a juice bar, a quirky selection of groceries, every spice you could require on a weeklong vacation, and most importantly, a little house-made treat called “Organic Chocolate and Raw Fruit Paradise.” A package contains about 16 one-inch squares of chocolatey, nutty goodness, and I can’t get enough of them.

Wait. Stop. Now I have to go eat one. Look at this picture while I go to the kitchen.

deliciousness.

When we returned from our trip, I scoured the web trying to find a recipe that approximates this deliciousness, but I came up empty-handed.

Last week we had the good fortune to visit with friends in upstate New York. We followed a roundabout and exploratory route back to the city, both for pure exploration and in an attempt to keep Apparently Jr asleep in the back seat for as long as possible. I drove, and Mr Apparently navigated. He may have had a plan, and I suspect it had to do with coffee and baked goods rather than vegan date bars. But when I realized we were driving down Tinker Street in Bearsville, I couldn’t contain my excitement:

We have to stop at Sunfrost and buy the chocolate sunflower bars!

I sent Mr Apparently inside without clear directions, because although I secretly wanted him to purchase every package of organic fruit and nut paradise in the store, I didn’t want to be responsible for the actual eating of that much chocolate. I mean, of course I did, but…you know exactly what I mean. So he returned to the car with two packages (one marked carob, if I recall correctly – that one is gone) and a week later, after much self-control on all of our parts, we are down to the last two squares.

I need to find a recipe.

These may be close:

1. Raw Vegan Mango, Date, and Sunflower Tropical Energy Balls

No chocolate, but the base of fruits sounds right

2. Chocolate Date Balls (no cook!)

Closer, closer…

3. Sunflower Coconut Balls

Perhaps if I swapped out chocolate for the peanut butter? But the peanut binder may be the binder in this recipe.

Is this ringing any sort of bell? I am so serious when I say that if you send me a recipe that makes these little bites of yumminess, I will send you the nicest thank-you present. Perhaps even a batch of your very own.

Cheese, Glorious Cheese

Hello, again. Let’s not comment too much on my absence and just say that it takes a good seven days to recover from a twelve-day trip. I don’t know where the other week went.

Our local farmer’s market has been rather consistent over the past year. Except for Ballard’s Honey, no new tents popped up when the market reopened in June. So it was with great delight that I noticed two or three new vendors this past Saturday. And I can’t tell you who all of them were, because everyone else was overshadowed by the offerings of Ardith Mae Farm. Shereen and Todd Wilcox milk about 40 goats in Hallstead, Pennsylvania, and the resulting cheese is some of the best I’ve ever tasted from a sheep, goat or cow.

At this point I should note that the Apparently family doesn’t know a great deal about some foodie topics that people really pride themselves for enjoying, like Burgundy vintages or heirloom beans or cacao percentages. But we know our cheese around here, and this is the good stuff.

We tried the chevre, which was a solid, delicious offering, but it was a single taste of a peppercorn pyramid that won me over. Mr Apparently and I tried to make this piece of cheese last for more than two meals, but it was simply impossible. With its subtle bloomy rind, spicy peppercorns and fluffy, chalky center, the half-pyramid that we purchased was devoured within 24 hours.

You can find places where one can purchase Ardith Mae Farmstead Goat Cheese here, or just head to the Sunnyside Greenmarket!

Also, thanks to the NY Department of Agriculture and Markets for rescinding their ridiculous decree handed down in June (or rather, suddenly enforced after 40 years on the books) that prohibited artisanal cheese vendors from slicing and packaging cheese to order at markets. Customers and headline writers are happy once again.

 

Judging Wines by Their Labels

According to Matthew Latkiewicz at Grub Street, I like my wine French, Letterpress or Pottery Barn Catalogue.

He says, “I have gone into the field and done some research. I wanted to know whether I could identify the types of labels I liked and which turned me off. I think I have identified seven major wine-label groupings along with several subclasses. I also tasted a bunch of wines according to their labels and have made wildly ill-advised extrapolations about what the label means for your drinking experience.”

The Wheel of Wine Labels

 

Sloshed: Maybe We Should Be Judging Wines by Their Labels — Grub Street New York.

Remember the Marshmallow?

Some months ago I posted the beautiful little thing that is a single marshmallow roasted over your gas stove burner, resulting in 25 sticky, gooey calories of pure deliciousness.

Last month we were at the ginormous behemoth of fresh grocery retail, Stew Leonards, where we came across this magnificent thing.

You can’t tell from the photo how big these marshmallows are, but here’s a blog post that shows a “giant roaster” next to your garden-variety regular specimen.

Now, my post was supposed to be about how Mr Apparently roasted one of these beauties last week and it was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever eaten. The extra mass means more of those delicious melty internal sugars. At 90 calories this is more of an actual dessert commitment than a guilt-free snack, but since it’s about all one needs to eat post-dinner for an entire evening, it seemed completely worth it.

But tonight I had another one, and I’ve felt ill ever since. Clearly these supersized sugar bombs should not be eaten straight, but rather tempered with some chocolate and graham crackers.

To Dye For

We interrupt this torrid, deeply compelling series of embroidery posts to share photos of a last-minute egg dyeing session that took place this afternoon. Did you know that you can buy a Cars egg-dyeing kit? The CVS carries everything!

Apparently Jr liked the dyeing and the sticker-applying best.

dyeing eggs

I turned out to be an excellent egg excavator. It’s a good thing we had yet to throw away Apparently Jr’s baby snot sucker. Martha Stewart recommends them for blowing out eggs!

easter eggs

And Mr Apparently made an incredible egg dinner. Under this perfect omelet lurks chorizo, asparagus and hash browns.

eggs for dinner

We’re not a religious family, but we’re grooving on the bunny-spring-egg direction this year. And I believe Mr Apparently picked up some chocolate praline filled real eggs from Germany, along with an actual basket, at Chelsea Market. I’ve never been so excited to greet the Easter Bunny! Now, how will he deliver his goods? We don’t have a chimney…

Le Pain Quotidien’s Harvest Porridge

I’m no fan of chain restaurants, but the Belgian bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien can have my $3.25 for a decaf cafe au lait any day. I love the (reclaimed) communal tables, I love drinking (organic) coffee from a bowl and I love any (sugar-laden, highly calorific) baked good they care to put in front of me. Raisin bread topped with fresh ricotta and drizzled with honey and figs tastes even better when you call it a tartine.

harvest porridge

photo from Le Pain Quotidien

My all-time favorite dish at Le Pain Quotidien is a winter special called Harvest Porridge. It’s an oatmeal-like mush made from farro, almond milk and dried cranberries with pecans, walnuts and a quartered strawberry on top. I never ate oatmeal as a child, and even now I prefer it heavily sweetened, preferably with chocolate chips and marshmallows, a last reminder of the sort of communal living one does in one’s early twenties, where four young artists share a house but rarely go food shopping, leaving one to forage for midnight snacks concocted from whatever pantry staples are on hand. That is to say, hot cereal in its most nutritious form has mostly escaped me.

Until the porridge, which I ate on every trip to LPQ in the winter of 2009-10. And oh, was I disappointed to find it was not the seasonal special when I visited last fall. But to my great surprise, yesterday’s trip revealed the porridge at the top of the specials board. I cried out in surprise and delight, amusing the diners seated on either side of us (who surely and wrongly expected that my son, rather than myself, would be the one to disturb their meal. He, by the way, prefers the pain au chocolat and a soft-boiled egg).

And now I will stop rhapsodizing about the porridge and point you to both the recipe, reprinted at The White Blue Sky from Shape Magazine, and a blog called Northeast Locavore, who seems to be equally fond of the stuff and has already done thorough research on cooking farro and has adapted the recipe to ingredients you may be more likely to have on hand.

Thanks to both of them. And now I am off to order some farro.

What I Made This Week: Food Edition

I was a vegetarian for twelve years. Even once I started eating meat again, I was not entirely confident about cooking it myself. But the past few years have been full of experiments just leading up to the two giantic-piece-of-meat recipes I made this week. Be sure to read to the end for dessert!

The first recipe was Martha Stewart’s Inside Out “Stuffed” Chicken with Mushroom Dressing from the January (or perhaps February) issue of Living. The stuffing is prepared in an ovenproof skillet, and the chicken sits on top while the whole thing roasts in a 450 degree oven. I couldn’t find any kitchen twine, and all our dental floss is minty and waxed, so I pulled out my precious spool of silk buttonhole twist and tied up that chicken’s legs like a delicate little sewing project.

I’ll confess that while I found rubbing the chicken with softened butter fairly unpleasant, it was nowhere near as distasteful as skinning a whole chicken was for one of my first forays with the slow cooker. And I certainly preferred not having to shove any stuffing into the cavity. Despite being the same brand as my first whole chicken, this one did come with a little bag of parts inside. I considered freezing them for later use, but decided that handling a whole raw chicken was enough bravery for one day. The heart, or whatever dark organ lay limp in that plastic bag, went into the trash.

The chicken turned out delicious, and the stuffing was even better, despite the outer edges coming extremely close to burnt. If you make this recipe, I’d advise letting your stuffing mixture soak thoroughly in the broth so that no dry bread remains before the skillet goes into the oven. Also, you may wish to remove the chicken from the skillet and roast it in a separate pan for the last few minutes, allowing the center portion of stuffing to toast up nicely.

pulled pork

Yesterday I took the slow cooker on its sixth voyage, pulled pork. Overwhelmed by the hundreds of pulled pork recipes available online, I employed the basic recipe from the Crock-Pot manual along with some modifications from the recipes I’d browsed to come up with this simple plan (apologies to the three or four of you who may have read this elsewhere):

  • 1 6-lb. pork butt (which is actually a shoulder, who knew?)
  • 1 bottle of bbq sauce, divided
  • 2 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 orange, quartered

Scatter one onion on the bottom of the pot, then set the pork on top and cover it with the rest of the onions, orange quarters and half of the bbq sauce. Cook on high for 6 hours, then discard the orange, remove nearly all the bbq/pork juice from the bottom of the crock and shred the meat. Add more bbq sauce until the pork is your desired level of saucy, and keep warm until serving. In our case, this meant with arugula and my favorite Ba-Tampte Bread & Butter pickles on crusty rolls.

The only downside? I had no idea there would be so much connective tissue to remove, but I measure my meat prowess progress by the fact that I was only marginally squicked out. Now, what can I do with the four cups of quasi-broth (minus a disc of congealed fat that Mr Apparently removed this morning) from the pot? It must be good for something.

The pork itself was delicious, and some back-of-the-envelope math – along with a giant pan of leftovers in the fridge – indicates that slow cooking a six-pound pork shoulder at home is radically more cost-efficient than purchasing a 12-ounce package at Trader Joe’s. We’re going to be eating pulled pork for a week. No one is complaining.

a homemade life, by molly wizenberg

What do you do with three over-ripe bananas? We make banana bread. All the time. (Again, do you hear any complaining? Not in my house, where we eat it for breakfast, snacks and dessert.) After reading Molly Wizenberg’s charming memoir, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, I was determined to set aside my trusty old recipe to give her Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger a shot. I’d advise you to do the same. And if you have two helpers – one who knows how to measure and one who likes to pour – it takes only a few minutes to assemble the batter and pop it into the oven. You can get the little one ready for bed while the bread bakes and then have a bedtime snack. I’m not saying that a very full stomach is the reason why my preschooler slept until 8am this morning, but it’s certainly worth a try, no?

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