March 17, 2013
I’ve been vagabonding around Paris of late, staying at one obliging friend’s apartment after another while they’re out of town, house-sitting or cat-sitting or what have you. It’s a great way to experience different parts of the city, to be sure, but it’s also a formula for feeling constantly not-quite-at-home.
There are things I do to make myself feel less like an interloper into someone else’s space: saturating the house with my favorite music; drinking inordinate amounts of tea while staring out of the windows, familiarizing myself with the view; making the kitchen smell like my kitchen.
One of the defining smells of the kitchen in which I grew up is sesame oil. My standard after-school snack when I was a little girl was a bowl of rice mixed with a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil, the distinct nutty smell of the oil amplified by the heat of the rice.
This bowl of greens and grains is like a grown-up version of my carb-bomb after school snack. Delicate Brussels sprouts leaves and crunchy coconut are tossed in an Asian-inspired vinaigrette, walked quickly through the oven just to get them toasty, and served over hot, fluffy brown rice. I know it sounds way too healthy to be exciting, but trust me: this is some seriously addictive stuff, friends.
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 30, 2012
The gentleman’s been watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy while home sick with the flu. Consequently, I can’t call these potatoes. I must call them po-ta-toes.
Here’s another option for the quintessential side, if you don’t want to, you know, “boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew.” Hasselback taters!
Potatoes get cut into thin slices, with just a bit of potato at the bottom holding them together. Then each slice gets a hug from from either side with butter or parmesan or garlic, then baked until the slices crisp up into delicate leaves. Excellent served with roasted chicken.
November 21, 2012
Hello from Nice! I’m spending a few weeks here on the French Riviera to get away from the gloom and doom of Paris. Sad part? Spending Thanksgiving alone. That does feel a bit wrong, even if I did go to that awesome Friendsgiving party last week.
This is a dish I made a couple weeks ago, but I think it would be great to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck or, as in my case, to have as an alternative to a huge turkey (because turkey for one isn’t really plausible, is it?). It’s vegetarian but substantial, with the meaty texture of the mushrooms mixing with the crunch of the nuts. And sage mixed with nuts always tastes vaguely like sausage to me, so I don’t really miss the meat.
If you want extra credit, make this with my recipe for homemade pie crust, but it works just as well with store-bought. Since it’s a rustic galette, there’s no pinching and shaping of dough, just a pretty, lazy folding up of the sides.
November 7, 2012
I have come to realize something about myself, and it is this: my favorite part of soup is bread.
Take this tomato soup, for instance. Usually I just have a bowl of it with a grilled cheese sandwich like any red-blooded American who grew up on Campbell’s and Kraft, but the other day I decided that it would be infinitely better if I were to skew the sandwich-to-soup ratio a bit and do it French onion style. I filled a ramekin half-full with tomato soup, added some toasted baguette slices, sprinkled on some cheese, and broiled the sucker.
Parts of the bread get saturated with the soup and parts of it stay crispy, while the cheese melts and oozes into the crevices. There’s enough topping to get a bite of cheese bread with each spoonful of bright red soup, which is just how it should be.
October 15, 2012
I know we just skipped into mid-October, but stay with me here. I know there are still tomatoes out there at the markets, and there’s no better way to celebrate a good tomato than to smash the heck out of it on some bread.
To be honest with you, reader, I haven’t been in much of a cooking mood. I still cook, of course, but it hasn’t been joyful experimentation in a while. It’s been stuff like this: simple, tasty, but but but.
I have to convince myself that it’s something you want to see. It’s just some bread with stuff on it, after all. Not even a sandwich. But this blog is about connecting with people, and maybe someone out there just wants a snack and doesn’t want to go out and buy camembert or smoked paprika to make one. But I bet you have bread, and garlic, and oil, and tomato, don’t you?
October 12, 2012
Why yes, I’m still obsessed with duck fat. Why do you ask?
These potatoes are the most perfect breakfast potatoes I’ve ever encountered. The secret is in boiling the potatoes beforehand — if you don’t, the insides of the potatoes dry out while you’re trying to brown them in the skillet. This way, the potatoes are creamy all the way through, and the outer layers absorb the delicious duck fat more readily.
I like to serve them with the other items that make up my ideal breakfast experience: soft-scrambled eggs, a bit of toast, good salted butter, jam, and several pieces of bacon. But I’ve also served them with braised dishes and stews like short ribs and boeuf bourguignon, and they’re delicious outside the breakfast sphere too.