Friday, August 31, 2012

Foodie Faves: Salad Savvy
What’s cooking? Parsley Shallot Vinaigrette

My husband and I almost came to blows over making the salad the other night. He insisted he was only tearing the lettuce because I had forbid him to cut it with a knife. But his method of tearing was to grasp several leaves at once and rip them apart with the same sort of action you’d use to take the head off a chicken. The Arnold Schwarzenegger school of salad making.

Now, I’ll admit to a certain degree of...umm...high-handedness when it comes to kitchen techniques, and my technique is to tear the lettuce into slightly-larger-than-bite-sized pieces, one leaf at a time. Takes me forever, but it looks great. I know, I know, it’s a miracle that he wants to help at all when the Kitchen Goddess is at the helm. But let’s not kid ourselves – when you’ve been in charge of the meals for 35 years, you develop certain – shall we say preferences? – about preparing the food.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Preserving Summer
What’s cooking? Lemony Fig Preserves

“This is the last week of the peaches, ma’am.” That’s what the guy at the farmers’ market said yesterday morning, sending me into yet another fury of fruit-buying. “So I’ll take an extra box of them,” I said. Then I rushed over to the other good fruit stand and bought four boxes of purple plums. At the counter, I noticed really good looking dark figs, and grabbed three boxes of those. And just as I was about to break free, I saw that they also had those big, tart red-orange plums. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with these,” I said, “but give me a couple of pounds.”

As September comes rushing toward us, I’m scrambling to develop culinary souvenirs of the summer. In addition to a precious batch of bright sugar plum soup, I’ve frozen a quart of mellow, slightly sweet corn soup. Then there are the desserts – with berries no longer in season, I’ve been making sorbets from every melon that’s rolled my way.

Friday, August 24, 2012

What’s cooking? Raspberry Chocolate Almond Spread

I really think I must have been possessed at the farmers’ market this week. The weather had cooled off – the morning temperature was about 66 degrees when I got out of my car at 8:00 a.m. I was maybe the first person at the market when it opened.

I’m not normally an early morning person. Late night is when I shine. But here in New Jersey, my husband and I are dealing with the one-car phenomenon, because parking in Jersey City is completely ridiculous. The main streets in our neighborhood have parking only on one side of the street, and then only if you have a “Zone 1” permit. (We do not.) You can park in front of our building, but the number of spaces available is very small versus the number of folks living in the building, and the fight for those spaces isn’t pretty. So when we bought the apartment, we made sure to get a place that came with a slot in the garage. But that’s only one.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Foodie Faves: Julia’s New App

She makes it look so easy. Julia, that is. In my last post, I mentioned her new app, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” which has just been released by Random House Digital (owner of Knopf, her publisher) in celebration of the 100th anniversary of her birth. And while I’d have paid $2.99 just for the treat of watching Julia in action again, I must tell you that it’s about the best value I’ve gotten for that amount in recent memory. By the way, the brief on this app at the iTunes Store says the $2.99 is a special introductory price through the end of August.

For starters, I love that it’s more about technique than straight-out recipes, although the techniques all relate to at least one recipe from the book (MAFC). There are the 30 video clips starring Julia, as she demonstrates how to poach an egg or make hollandaise sauce or truss a chicken. (I can’t decide if these were from her TV series or if she did them separately for some other commercial purpose – she wears the same clothes in all the ones I’ve watched. Hmmm.) In fact, she makes it look so easy that I’m encouraged to try many of these things myself. A confession: I recently poached my first egg ever. Really. And while the look of it wasn’t perfect, I plan to spend some time watching Julia to see if I can’t improve.

So it’s a fun app, and particularly instructional for those of us who learn better from watching than from reading. You only get 32 recipes, but she gives you variations on many of them that expand the range of possibilities.

Other nice features include a grocery list you can edit and email to yourself; good color photos of the finished dishes; and a remarkable page of “Other Information” that includes a glossary of cooking terms, a discussion of kitchen equipment, an illustrated how-to on knife skills, and an extensive treatise  – with recipes, separate from the featured recipes – on stocks.

You’ll even learn how to pronounce “bouillabaisse.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Celebrating Julia Child
What’s cooking? Vichyssoise

Kitchen Goddess note to iPad fans: I’ve just purchased the Mastering the Art of French Cooking app, which I will review more extensively in another post. It’s only got 36 recipes, but each contains a complete clip – in color – of Julia herself cooking the recipe. So just for that, I give it 5 stars. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Kitchen Olympics
What’s cooking? Watermelon Sorbet with Wine-Basil Gelée

Tomato Gymnastics

I was in Texas a week ago, and thanks to an excellent sprinkler system, my garden has taken on Olympic qualities in spite of the toasty temperatures and my absence. Admittedly, what I have planted there is mostly basil and tomatoes and green beans, all of which you have to work pretty hard to kill.

My husband joined me for part of the time, then decamped back to New Jersey where the golfing can take place in more reasonable temperatures. Which left me alone with the beans and tomatoes and basil. And no one around at night to tell me (a) that I should probably go to bed, or (b) that if I insist on staying up, I can’t be banging around in the kitchen. You see where this is headed, don’t you?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How Many Ways Can You Dice a Tomato?
What’s cooking? Potato and Green Bean Salad with Arugula Pesto

In the cookbook-developing, recipe-writing, food-blogging world, it’s generally accepted that if you change three ingredients in a recipe, you can call it yours. If you’re writing about another person’s recipe – in print or online – you should give attribution, noting that the recipe is “adapted from so-and-so,” but that also means you have to actually adapt (rewrite) the procedures, to reflect your own production of the dish. And even if you change the ingredients and rewrite the procedures, it’s considered gracious and greatly appreciated if you note that the recipe is “inspired by so-and-so.”

So with that etiquette in mind, here’s a little story.