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I originally made this apple butter for that party last weekend, to pair with salty cheeses and buttery foie gras, but it works equally well here.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 1, 2012
I know we’ve talked about the process for balsamic reduction before, but I thought it was worth its own post. Now that I’ve had a big bottle of it at home for a while, I find myself reaching for it nearly every day — to drizzle on fruit, rub on roasts, or glaze vegetables.
The fact is, you aren’t going to use your best balsamic for everything. The really good balsamic vinegars have that spoon-coating thickness and deep richness from years of aging and slow evaporation in successively smaller barrels, and come with a price tag that matches the love and care put into each tiny bottle. It’s absolutely worth having a bottle of the good stuff around for special occasions, but it’s nice to have a thickened everyday balsamic for, well, everyday uses.
August 7, 2012
As some of you may know, I’ve been reading An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by the incredibly inspirational Tamar Adler. You may know because I cannot. Stop. Talking about it. If I know you in real life, I’ve probably told you to pick up this book. Maybe twice. It’s not only because the writing is so eloquent and personal — which it is. It’s because Adler has summed up the essence of what it is to cook, and to do it in a way that makes it feel as if everyone were born to make food, which, of course, we are.
Which is why I’ve decided to start a new intermittent series here that I’m calling Back to Basics. These aren’t recipes; they are more like guidelines, techniques. Things you can do with the last bit of this-or-that so it ends up contributing to something delicious instead of ending up in the trash, and things you can do when you first get a batch of food home so that it’s more likely to end up in your belly in the first place. Simple fundamentals to make cooking feel more like alchemy than chemistry.
That isn’t to say that I’m going to stop giving you the usual recipes, too — after all, if you’re craving peach pie, you can’t make it out of the odds and ends of your fridge without having to go out and get some peaches. But food bloggers and people can’t and don’t live on those glossily photographed dishes alone.
“No, the point is not to do everything perfectly. The point is to be able to make great food with what you have.”
And so, we come to broth.
July 11, 2012
I know mayo isn’t the sexiest topic, and making your own seems time-consuming and esoteric, akin to knitting your own socks (which I have also done, and which was also totally worth it).
But you guys, just trust me on this one. Homemade mayonnaise is so much better. It tastes less like the weird tongue-coating brilliant-white stuff from the jar and more like its cousin hollandaise. It elevates a simple tomato sandwich to heretofore unforeseen heights. You’ll treat it like what it really is — not sandwich spread, but sauce. I went through an entire jar in a matter of days, standing in the kitchen with bread and tomatoes, watching the freak July thunderstorms.