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 15, 2012
We are creatures of habit in this apartment. As soon as we wake up, I walk over to the stove and make scrambled eggs for the gentleman: two eggs, a swirl of cream, seven grinds of pepper, a scattering of allumettes of crispy bacon. Quickly broken up with a spatula and stirred over the lowest possible heat until they’re just cooked but still a bit wet, served with a mug of iced tea. We both catch up on the news and emails that have accumulated in the night, we get ready for the day, and when the gent leaves for the office, I make myself some oatmeal.
For a long time, my oatmeal was a variation of the gentleman’s preferred breakfast. I scattered a little cooked bacon into my oatmeal with seven grinds of pepper and a good amount of salt and cooked an egg over-easy and let the yolk run all over and into the oatmeal. But lately I’ve been wanting something sweet with my coffee, and to keep myself from eating cookies for breakfast, I’ve turned to this: oatmeal with homemade apple butter.
I originally made this apple butter for that party last weekend, to pair with salty cheeses and buttery foie gras, but it works equally well here. It’s like a grown-up version of that instant apple-cinnamon oatmeal that I’m sure lots of us relied upon in college for non-ramen sustenance. For me, the nuts and cream are crucial for texture and mouthfeel, but feel free to leave them out if you’re into pure unadulterated apple-cinnamon oatiness.
October 31, 2012
My boss once said to me, “You know, you are probably the most outwardly normal-seeming person who is actually completely batshit insane.” He said something on this order once a month or so, usually because I had said something heavily nerdy, such as reciting the first few lines of The Canterbury Tales in Middle English, or was eating something that he considered weird, such as raw corn on the cob or roasted bone marrow. Nothing like walking into the office and seeing your assistant chowing down on a hunk of cow bone.
Bone marrow is one of those divisive dishes. You either get it or you don’t. I’ve been trying to convert people to the gospel of marrow for years now, ever since I read about it in college and immediately went out to the local grocery store and to roast my own. “It’s like warm, gelatinous, beefy butter!” I would say. I would get weird looks.
Later, via Anthony Bourdain, I learned to pair my marrow with a parsley salad, dressed simply in lemon juice and shallots. Later still, I began experimenting with that salad and have landed on something a bit more peculiar, with a base of fig-infused white wine vinegar and minced preserved lemons for a citrusy kick. It cuts through the unctuous fattiness of the marrow perfectly.
October 30, 2012
The other day, I was waiting outside a restaurant in the Marais when I started to feel something I’d never felt before in Paris. My fingers and toes were starting to go numb.
I know I talk about the weather a lot here, and I know that must get incredibly boring, but there’s just so much weather here that I’ve never experienced before: grey, rainy springs, summer that lasts about two weeks, the first cold snap of fall. That last one is something we’re in this week. When we finally got inside the restaurant a few days ago, I kept my jacket on the whole time and my toes didn’t warm up until we got home and I put them up on one of the heaters for a few minutes.
The cold also drove me into my warm cozy kitchen to try something that’s been on my mind: what I’ve been thinking of as sweet risotto, but what the internet tells me is rice pudding. Short-grained arborio rice, toasted to a nutty brown with butter, enriched with vanilla-speckled milk until it’s creamy and soft.
October 26, 2012
This is one of those recipes I had to make five times over before I posted it on the blog, because each time I made a batch I ate all of it before I got pictures.
You’d be surprised how quickly one smallish Asian girl can scarf down two apples’ worth of chips, especially if they’ve been baked to a caramelly brown and have the scent of pumpkin spice coming off of them.
Can you tell I’m obsessed? In fact, I’ve got another batch of them in the oven right now, making the apartment smell of apple pie heaven. I keep thinking I’m going to wrap them up all pretty and give them to friends as little gifts, but then I just eat them all again. I mean, it’s not like they’re deep fried or anything.
October 25, 2012
This snack is like butter and jam on toast, but tweaked into something a little more sophisticated.
The camembert has a buttery, creamy texture, but, you know, cheesier. It’s got a little funk on it. But it’s not a punch-you-in-the-face funk, just a mellow funk.
The grapes here are cooked just a little — not to the point where they’ve turned into jam, but just enough to warm them up and concentrate their sugars. You can use any grapes you like, as long as they’re seedless, but I happen to love the colors on the gorgeous flame grapes. The thyme lends a savory note that keeps this snack from heading into dessert territory.
I snacked on this on a rainy afternoon before a long night of chugging through some work emails, but these lovely little crostini would be equally at home as the appetizer at a fall party.
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.