January 20, 2013
It’s story time with Miss Diane! Gather ’round kids.
Once there was a little girl who was a very picky eater. She didn’t like spicy foods, she didn’t like foods that were “too green,” and was generally scared of foods she’d never tried before. Eventually, the little girl grew up to be a college student who, while still being a picky eater, loved to eat.
One day, the girl had a realization. If I get over my pickiness, she thought, I can eat more food! Maybe I don’t actually hate the things I don’t think I like… maybe I never gave them a proper chance.
And so she started with mushrooms. She took some plump, pretty mushrooms, and stuffed them with everything she liked: bacon, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic…
If I don’t like them stuffed with all these good things, she thought, then I probably actually hate them. She took a fat, juicy stuffed mushroom between her fingers and took a bite. She’s been loving mushrooms ever since.
November 13, 2012
This is one of the appetizers (besides the copious charcuterie and cheese) that I served at our last little get-together.
It’s simple, seasonal, and extremely flavorful — the sweet butternuts squash is accentuated by the chile-infused honey and the crispiness of the puff pastry is mirrored by that of the sage. When I made it, I used an entire bird’s-eye chile and found it a bit too spicy — I’ve scaled that down to 1/2 a chile here to rein it in a bit.
October 16, 2012
Chestnuts are making their way back to the street vendors. Sometimes, stepping out of a metro stop, I smell the familiar smoky charcoal smell of the roasters and almost stop to buy a handful.
But invariably, whenever I do buy some, they’re nearly impossible to peel. That’s why I’ve taken to roasting them at home — I can cut huge slits in the peels before roasting them, and they nearly fall off after being roasted.
I’ve also found what seems to be the perfect dipping sauce for chestnuts: chestnut honey, or miel de châtaignier, mixed with a good amount of coarse-ground pepper. The tongue-coating quality of the honey helps to mitigate the tendency of fresh-roasted chestnuts of being a little dry, and the pepper cuts through their creaminess with some spice. And I must admit, pairing honey made from chestnut flowers with the nuts that those trees eventually produced is pleasingly recursive.
October 9, 2012
I don’t know if you can tell, but I get really excited about food. It’s not just the end product, the delicious thing I get to put in my mouth that does so much more than just nourish my body. It’s the process, too, the learning and doing and standing in the kitchen, working with my hands, listening to things sizzle and pop, my glasses steaming up as I open the oven door.
I had some amazing kale and taleggio arancini during the kale party at Verjus a couple of weeks ago, and they were stellar. Perfectly prepared balls of rice and cheese and vegetal kale, deep-fried to a golden brown and served with a salty-sweet bacon compote. It’s a dish that makes sense — you know by reading the description that there’s no way that this could be bad, and chef Braden Perkins didn’t disappoint.
The plate cost €8, a steal for such high-caliber food. And yet, and still. There was something missing. I didn’t make it myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love dining out, and I know my skill in the kitchen can’t match a trained chef’s, but… but what? I guess I miss the challenge. How extremely clever I feel whenever a dish turns out just how I wanted it to. I wanted to be the one whipping out those perfect arancini with that sticky, perfectly paired sauce. So I came home and made some.
And yes, I felt extremely clever.
September 12, 2012
Sometimes, things just make sense. Like when two fantastic food concepts smash together in just the right way.
Fried green tomatoes are crispy and golden and fantastic by themselves… but stack them with fresh mozzarella and basil and a good heavy drizzle of balsamic reduction, and it’s the most unique and hearty caprese salad I’ve ever seen. And just look how pretty.
Can’t you imagine serving this as an appetizer at a dinner party, arranged willy-nilly on a big platter with basil leaves and balsamic scattered all over? But it’s simple enough to make for lunch today. Because the tomatoes are baked for a while, it doesn’t matter as much that tomatoes are sneaking out of season as we speak. Just get on it and make these ASAP before they’re all gone until next year!
August 6, 2012
This is another recipe from that party we threw. These are fantastically rich salty-sweet morsels that just happen to be gluten- and dairy-free. They stay chewy for days after they come out of the oven, and the crunchy flakes of salt contrast beautifully with the melty chocolate.
And seriously? There’s no creaming or melting or separating involved: just stir a bunch of ingredients together in a bowl, drop them on a cookie sheet, and add chocolate. This is the recipe for when you’re craving dessert and want it in your mouth ASAP.
August 3, 2012
Our dear expat friends Jules and Alex are leaving Paris for San Francisco, so Tim and I threw a little farewell gathering for them. It was fantastic seeing everyone and sending the couple off with one last hurrah.
Lovely Alex is gluten- and dairy-intolerant, so I wanted to make sure to have lots of snacks that she could enjoy. And you know, wrap anything in bacon and it’s going to be heavenly, right? These were quite popular — lots of eyes rolling back in heads and quiet moments alone in corners, just tasting and chewing.