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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

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.

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.

A Better Way to Caramelize Onions

The title says it all. Read on for the easiest way ever to improve your cooking.

The Food Lab: A Better Way to Caramelize Onions (Plus, French Onion Dip!) | Serious Eats, via not martha

A Very Slow Adventure

After weeks of research and deliberation over whether to introduce a new appliance to our smallish kitchen, I bought a slow cooker. And then I promptly sent it back. The reviews I’d been too hasty to read said that the model I’d purchased has a tendency to shut off randomly, and the last thing I needed (other than a new hobby – stay tuned for that post) was some random thing to worry about, like whether my slow cooker was actually consuming electricity.

In the interim, I pored over two books I’d ordered, The Gourmet Slow Cooker and The Indian Slow Cooker. I was intrigued by the idea of making a soup or stew without constant attention or stirring. And I’d read enough recipes to understand that the slow cooker is not magic; it’s basically a very hot metal box – not unlike an oven – that uses heat plus liquid to simmer delicious food. So a decent amount of prep work can be involved in a good recipe. This is not the 1970s, when one dumped several cans of soup and vegetables into the pot and was rewarded with a mushy bowl of “stew.” I could see that a lot of searing would be involved in producing anything newsworthy.

The new slow cooker, a 6-quart oval Crock-Pot, arrived last week. And my home has never smelled so good as it has during the past three days.

On Day One, I made the Provençal Beef Stew from The Gourmet Slow Cooker. Mr Apparently is still talking about it, and we’re racing to see who can claim the leftovers first. It was without a doubt the best stew I’ve ever made. Browning three pounds of beef at six turns per cube is a lot of work with the tongs, but the results were worth every moment. I wish I’d thought to take a photo. I remembered this for the next experiment:

whole chicken, before

Whole chicken, before cooking

One Day Two I discovered Harvestland chicken on sale on my local grocer, and so a whole chicken went into the slow cooker. I used an amalgam of various recipes found on the web as follows:

  1. Remove skin and excess fat from the chicken. (The Ghost of Apparently Past, who was a vegetarian for twelve years, still can’t quite believe I did this.)
  2. Place halved new potatoes on the bottom of the pot to prevent the chicken from stewing in its own fat.
  3. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Place sprigs of rosemary and thyme on top of the chicken and slices of lemon on top. Quarter an onion and place it on the cavity. Distribute whole cloves of garlic around the chicken. (I had only a bit in the house, and so have been referring to this recipe as “Chicken with Five Cloves of Garlic.”)
  4. Cook on high for four hours.

The chicken was tasty, if a little boring. I like Maillard reaction, crispiness and burnt-sugar flavors, and so while the chicken tasted quite good, I was vaguely underwhelmed by eating it as a meal along with some wild rice and fromage d’Affinois. I’d be more interested in using the cooked chicken in another dish, such as tacos or pulled chicken sandwiches, or perhaps chicken noodle soup. I think the next chicken foray will involve sauce.

whole chicken, after

Whole chicken, after cooking

Day Three: Oh, if you could only smell my kitchen right now – it’s like being in a bakery. I took three egg rolls (not the fried Chinese kind, but rather the eggy sort of bread), a day-old baguette and some plump raisins and dried cranberries and more or less followed this recipe for Slow Cooker Bread Pudding. It’s taking all of my resolve not to stick a fork in it right now, but I want to take a pretty photo when it’s done.

bread pudding

Just before the "lid ajar" step

Update: OMG, incredibly yummy bread pudding. But, the edges burned to a crisp during the first ten minutes of the “set the lid ajar” phase. I’d recommend either not following this instruction and letting it sit for a few minutes before serving, or just keeping a close eye on the dish while the steam escapes. I’d also recommend trying to keep any dried fruit away from the edges. Burned raisins are not so delicious. But the fruit in the center? Perfectly plump and redolent of milk and vanilla.

My favorite part of this whole adventure – other than the actual eating of the Provençal stew, which was really most delectable –  has been the three distinct moments when I thought, “What’s that delicious smell? Oh, it’s the slow cooker. And I’m not even in the kitchen!”

So, what’s your favorite slow cooker recipe? I’m ready to try it.