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.
December 2, 2012
It’s been a weird week. On top of hightailing it back to Paris after the break-in, I came home to a very sick dude who required lots of love and tea and homemade chicken noodle soup (coming eventually). My comfort comes from elsewhere.
I have a love affair with diners. On early afternoons on Saturdays or Sundays back in LA, after rolling out of bed, I would take a thick book to Rae’s or Bobby’s or whatever other first-name-apostrophe-s greasy spoon was closest and served never-ending coffee. I would order bacon soft, eggs over easy, hash well-done, and wheat toast with butter and jam. I would sit there at the counter and eat and read and drink coffee until I was gently vibrating in my seat. After a while, the waitresses stopped asking me if I wanted more coffee and just poured more whenever they happened by. Then they stopped asking me what I wanted to order and just brought me the usual. Once, I leant a copy of Infinite Jest to a Bobby’s waitress. Another time, a server at Rae’s let me borrow her copy of Maus. I liked being alone around people. This is how I would reset before the onrushing work week, and now I guess this is how I reset when life gets fuzzy around the edges.
Breakfast in America is as close to those diners as I’m going to find in this city. Heinz ketchup and French’s yellow on the table, bacon and eggs and pancakes and burgers on the menu (though with the shocking omission of biscuits and gravy). Purportedly bottomless cafe americain.
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 15, 2012
I apologize in advance for any bacon cravings that might ensue due to you reading this post.
This is one of those things that you don’t want to have lingering in the house. You want to make it for something (a party, another recipe, etc.) and then get it the hell out of your sight. Because no one’s willpower is strong enough to stand against candied bacon.
September 8, 2012
Let me make this clear: for many situations, there is no alternative to bacon.
Bacon comes from the bellies of happy, fat pigs. It is salty and smoky and nothing, not turkey bacon, not smoked tofu shaped and pressed to look like bacon, and especially not mushrooms, can ever take its place.
But you know what? Sometimes I get a little curious. I mean, come on. If I told you that if you take mushrooms and soak them in a little bit of soy sauce and bake them, they taste vaguely like bacon, would you believe me?
August 27, 2012
I have an extremely un-classy thing to compare these muffins to. Okay. Here goes.
Did you ever go to El Torito Grill? It’s this Mexican restaurant chain, mostly found on the west coast. I remember going on a lot of dates there in high school because, you know, it was high school. We had low standards and were low on pocket change.
Anyway. There was this corn cake thing that accompanied a lot of the dishes. Not cornbread, but this wet, doughy corn mash, partly whole corn kernels and partly cornbread. It was kind of sweet and I was addicted to the stuff. I would always order extra.
August 18, 2012
The best part of spending as much time thinking about food as I do is how ideas for dishes can morph and change the more you think about them.
This recipe started life as a post from Joy the Baker – which, if you’re reading this blog and not reading hers, well, you should really get on that — that had a recipe for tomato cobbler with a blue cheese biscuit topping. Genius, right? I’ve got tomatoes. I’ve got tomatoes coming out of my ears. And the funky saltiness of the blue cheese against the deep roasted sweetness and acidity of the tomatoes just made sense in my cook-brain.