April 9, 2014
Guys, I’m on a scone jag.
A couple weeks ago I had an incredibly disappointing scone from (sigh) Starbucks. It was so unsatisfying, such an affront to the good name of moist, flavorful scones, that I made three different kinds of scones that weekend alone – making my pastry-loving friends and colleagues very happy. And my freezer very full.
This recipe is a variation of the very first scone recipe I fell in love with, back in high school when I first discovered the magic of the oven. Rich with the mahogany sweetness of brown sugar, bumped even higher with a bit of molasses, and loaded with toasted pecans and brown butter, this is a far cry from the sad, dry scones in the coffee shop pastry case.
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.
February 9, 2013
I’ve been going out to eat a lot lately. I feel like I’m finally starting to figure out this Paris thing, and a big part of that is hanging out with friends at good restaurants… which means that I’m not cooking as much.
There’s this thing that happens when I eat a lot of restaurant food, though, where I start to crave the kind of thing that restaurants don’t tend to serve. Long-simmered, inexpensive cuts of meat. Saucy brown stuff. The kind of food that isn’t pretty on a plate, but sticks to your ribs.
This is what I want today, after several nights of restaurant food. Fork tender pork meets a nutty, buttery, oniony sauce that’s rendered rich and complex by a cajun-style, chestnut-colored roux. Plus pajamas, plus Netflix, plus beer, equals perfect night in.
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.