Fall Out Of Fall With A Matzah Ball

Every year, around this time, it happens. The weather turns cold and I get a cold. And when I get a cold I make chicken soup. But this year, instead of the usual egg noodles I add from the bag, I decided to make my first matzah balls using the recipe from Joan Nathan’s “Jewish Cooking In America.”

IMG_1.JPG

Doesn’t that soup look great? Let me let you in on a secret.

Continue Reading

The Call of the Cauliflower

My grandmother used to boil vegetables. I’d ride my bike to her house on East Lexington Ave. in Oceanside, NY and I’d walk in and smell boiled cabbage and carrots and cauliflower (the “C” vegetables) which she’d then top with Mrs. Dash. I thought it was wonderful—it’s one of the few taste memories I have from childhood.

Now that I’m a grandmother, you won’t find me boiling vegetables for my 18 grandchildren. Instead, you’ll find me using a technique I garnered from one Mr. Mario Batali. It’s from his new book “Molto Italiano” and the recipe is for “Penne con Cavolfiore” (That’s eye-talian for cauliflower.) Here’s what you do. Pour 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil into a saute pan and add 4 cloves of crushed garlic and saute until softened and light golden brown. Then add 1 head of cauliflower which you’ve cored and broken into florets:

IMG_1.JPG

Season with salt and pepper stir and cook until softened for 12 to 14 minutes. (I also added red chile flakes but I’m a fiery gramma.)

IMG_2.JPG

Then you lower the heat and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes more. While all this is happening, boil some penne (1 pound) and cook until al dente. Drain it and add to the cauliflower:

IMG_3.JPG

Toss around, add chopped parsley, and grate some parmigiano over the top. That’s what I call a dinner! Though Mr. Batali’s “cavolfiore” will never displace my grandmother’s cauliflower—his parmigiano will can’t match her Mrs. Dash. Viva la grandma!

Make Bread

IMG_1.JPG

Last week the NYT published a piece on how to make supremely excellent bread at home with minimal work and maximum reward. Luisa of Wednesday Chef attempted it and her results look marvelous. But the other day I wanted home-made bread and I wanted it then and there. The NYT technique requires 12 hours of resting and I was impatient, so what could I do?

Continue Reading

Choose Your Own APPLE Adventure

(1) You go to the farmer’s market and bring back a bag of apples.

IMG_1.JPG

If you want to eat these apples out of the bag go to (2).

If you decide to make an apple pie go to (3).

(2) Oh no! You’re choking! No one’s there. You’re dead.

(3) You grab your Martha Stewart book and get to work.

Do you want to make Martha’s pate brisee? Go to 5.

Do you want to make Meg’s? Go to 4.

Continue Reading

70 Steps To Foie Gras Torchon

IMG_1.JPG

1. Receive a free lobe of foie gras from Mirepoix USA.

2. Post about it on your website.

3. Consider your options. (Option 1: Go as Foie Gras Head to that Halloween party; Option 2: Sear it and serve it; Option 3: Make a torchon from The French Laundry Cookbook.)

4. Decide on Option Two.

5. Meet Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune and ask her what she would do with a lobe of foie gras if she received one in the mail. Hear her say, “I’d make the recipe that appeared last summer in Saveur where you cure it in salt.” [This is the recipe. I think the article’s by her sister.]

6. Decide to make that recipe.

7. Consult Meg who has also received a lobe of foie gras. Let her convince you not to make that recipe, but to make Option 3: the torchon from The French Laundry cookbook. She says, “It’s totally worth it.” She says she’s going to make torchon with hers.

8. Decide to make that recipe.

9. Challenge her to a Torchon Tournament.

9. Begin the process.

Continue Reading

The Best Cookies Of Your Life

IMG_1.JPG

Diana and I are in love. No, not with each other, but with these chocolate chip cookies, our first apartment baking project that won raves from everyone who tried them. “These are seriously the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made,” said Diana. “These cookies are so good,” said Craig. “Meow,” said Lolita.

Of course, these cookies come to us from Our Lady of All Things Perfection, Miss Martha Stewart and her latest (and seriously awesome, in the Biblical sense) baking book: “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.” As she says in the recipe’s introduction, this recipe has a higher butter to sugar ratio which makes the cookies thin and crisper. When I was younger and more naive that description would’ve turned me off from a recipe: I like my cookies chewy. But the thing is, if you make them well, they come out chewy in the middle and crisp on the outside. These cookies resemble professional cookies more than any other I’ve made. And maybe, if you don’t tell anyone, I’ll post the recipe after the jump. JUST DON’T TELL ANYONE!

Continue Reading

To Cut An Artichoke

IMG_1.JPG

For months now I have watched Mario Batali cut artichokes on “Molto Mario,” demanding the participation of this three guests and charging that “it’s really easy and really worthwhile.” What’s infuriating (but admirable) is that he takes the time, each time, to explain the process to his audience. The religious viewer is left irritated at the repetition: “Ok, Mario,” you want to say, “I know how to cut an artichoke.”

I said that very thing last week watching him on Tivo when I had an idea. “I have an idea,” I said to myself. “Let’s buy some artichokes and see if I really do know how to cut an artichoke.”

And thus this post was born.

Continue Reading

A Say, Say, Savory Onion, Cheese and Bacon Tart

IMG_1.JPG

If it’s fair to mock Diane Keaton for ordering pastrami on white bread with mayo in “Annie Hall,” then it’s fair to mock me for not knowing much about savory tarts and quiche-like items. In my Jewish upbringing both in New York and Boca Raton, Florida I never encountered a savory tart or a quiche. Naturally, I’m sure I’ll get a flood of responses: “I’m Jewish and I ate quiche every day!” “My name is Shlomo Quichey and I resent everything you stand for.” Fair enough. I’m just saying from my experience, at many Jewish people’s homes, Bar Mitzvahs and buffet tables there wasn’t a savory tart or quiche in site. Satisfied?

My point is that savory tarts and quiches are unfamiliar to me. They are difficult for me to wrap my brain around: who would want to eat something that looks like a pie that isn’t sweet? It isn’t human. It isn’t right.

But it just so happened that at the end of last week I found, in my refrigerator, bacon, eggs and cheddar cheese. I entered those ingredients into Epicurious and came up with this, a fabulously well-reviewed bacon, egg and cheese tart. I had all of the ingredients. My interest was piqued. And as I said, this was fabulously well-reviewed. People wrote things like: “I was suicidal and this tart saved my life”; “This tart is better than my child. I sent my child to camp so I could spend more time with this tart.”

So for the specific tart-making directions, follow the recipe link. Here’s a vague overview.

First, you make and bake the tart crust:

IMG_1.JPG

I had some trouble, but I overcame.

Then you fry up some bacon:

IMG_2.JPG

In the bacon fat, you cook up onions (that’s a genius move). Then you add the onions to the tart:

IMG_3.JPG

Now to the onions, you add the bacon, cheese (I had cheddar, the recipe requires the other kind), and a cream mixture with nutmeg and other flavors.

IMG_4.JPG

You bake for a while and it comes out looking like this:

IMG_5.JPG

I must say, the result was truly excellent. The bacony, carmelized onions are transcendent, and the consistency of everything else–the egg/cream mixture, the tart dough–is sheer perfection. This is a savory tart for the savory tart doubter.

As you can see in the top pic, I served it with an arugula, yellow cherry tomato salad simply dressed with olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. ‘Twas a winning dinner served with a crisp white wine. Was also a winning lunch served the next day without wine because I’m not a drunkard. As for how this new affection for savory tarts affects my religious affiliations, all I have to say is that Mel Gibson is my Co-Pilot! Now we’re all in trouble.