Month: November 2005
Over at Seattlest, the soupe du jour is butternut squash with pear, cider, and vanilla bean, a homespun knock-off of a dish from one of my favorite local spots.
I’ve never been one for trying to recreate restaurant meals, but the soup I had at Crow was sufficiently delicious to warrant a go, and anyway, if I may be so bold—trained chefs of the world, please forgive me!—I thought I could make it even better. The original restaurant version was wonderfully light—almost frothy, really—but unabashedly opaque with cream; and its vanilla flavor, though dainty, was almost veering toward dessert. Using this recipe as a template, I aimed for a velvety but only lightly creamy soup, with just a subtle stroke of vanilla and a good, oomphy dose of pear. The results have me feeling like a proud parent. If you were in the vicinity of downtown Seattle at noon today, that scraping noise was me in my office, going after the last mouthful in the bowl.
I wait all year for Brussels sprouts. Many pine away patiently for October’s first pumpkins or November’s puckery cranberries, but I hang my hopes on a fresh fall Brussels sprout. This stance no doubt puts me in a minority—a happy one, meaning that entire market displays of sprouts are mine, all mine—but really, the state of the sprout in America today is a sad, sad thing. If another Thanksgiving dinner ends with a platter of Brussels sprouts still sitting untouched, we clearly have a national emergency, not a national holiday, on our hands. For many, the merest mention of Brussels sprouts conjures up childhood visions of bitter, mushy, nose-wrinkling wads of cruciferous terror. I’ve seen even the most ardent of…Read more
Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are. So spoke Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, legendary French gastronome. On the surface, it sounds like some sort of cheap parlor game, or maybe a fortune teller’s scam at a traveling circus, but the man had a point. What we eat is an everyday testament to our personal, cultural, and, some would say, political, experience. There’s not much to argue with there. But I’ve been thinking lately, as I’m sometimes known to do, and I wonder if Brillat-Savarin’s snappy quip might lend itself to a modest—and seasonal—update. I’d like to propose a new parlor game, and it goes like this: tell me what you want for Christmas, and I…Read more
In this week’s Seattlest episode, I’m devouring a ginger pear upside-down cake from Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook, a collection of recipes from one of Seattle’s best bakeries. Lest you hesitate for even a second before following the link, I must tell you that this was one of the most delicious cakes I’ve eaten in recent memory. Big, buttery, and oozing with caramelized pears, it had a remarkably moist, not-too-sweet crumb and a subtle kick of fresh ginger. I took a handsome chunk of it to work yesterday and came home with nary a crumb. Something tells me that, come Thanksgiving, one of these could earn you a year’s worth of gratitude.Read more
I’m not one for favorites. I have no favorite movie, no favorite color, no favorite number, no favorite song. Declaring something a favorite seems to freeze it unfavorably in time, mark it with an expiration date, foist it up onto a pedestal from which it will inevitably tumble when the next favorite comes along. Instead, I like to think of myself as more of an equal-opportunity appreciator. I have my preferences and my pets, certainly, but they are fluid, mutable, and therefore, I like to think, more fitting to the human condition. But, dear reader, I must make a shameful confession: come cold weather, I have a nasty bias toward braising. And though I hate myself a little for saying…Read more
Over at Seattlest, I’m singing the praises of roasted chicken, a favorite cold-weather staple and, as luck would have it, one of the first meat preparations I tackled after bidding ado to my (pseudo) vegetarianism. Since that fateful day when I roasted my first chicken, I’ve tried a number of recipes, but the outright finger-licking, fall-down goodness of the simple Zuni Café method makes it my gold standard. And I can’t resist sharing. P.S. On a side note: it appears, dear well-wishing reader, that my so-called flu is actually mononucleosis. In light of this new development, I wanted to issue a sad preemptive warning: in the interest of getting more shut-eye, I may have to back off on posting for…Read more
A few devoted readers may remember when, about eight months ago, in a post involving Spandex, my mother, erogenous zones, and whole wheat bread, I mentioned a woman named Sherry, an aerobics instructor for whom I once harbored a short-lived but memorable fascination. I was only five or six, too young to stay at home alone while my mother took her aerobics classes, but old enough to keep myself entertained in the back room of the gym—and to do some serious thinking about my life. Sherry was the nicest, prettiest, and most approachable of the instructors. She had a soft, crinkly, playful voice, and her legwarmers always matched her elastic belt. Her shiny, dark brown hair was something straight out…Read more
Sometimes details escape me, such as when I’m engaged in heated battle with a virus. For example, I have—until today—completely forgotten to announce, dear hungry reader, that you can now also find me and my writing over at Seattlest, a sibling of New York City’s illustrious group blog Gothamist, San Francisco’s SFist, Paris’s Parisist, and the rest of the -ist gang. I’ll be contributing weekly food pieces focused mainly on seasonal recipes and cooking, broadcasting from my kitchen, as usual. In my first article, I extolled the virtues of caramelized cauliflower, one of my favorite fall standbys and the recipe to turn to when you want to watch a sworn cauliflower hater literally eat his words. This week I turn…Read more