Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kitchen, Sweet Kitchen...

... I have missed you so!

It feels like I've been gone for days and weeks on end, so yesterday it was good to spend the whole afternoon and evening cooking and stuffing myself. I swear, life doesn't feel right if I'm not creating things in my kitchen. Fortunately, life is right again!

After years of carrying around a ragged folder bulging with recipes on scraps of paper of all shapes and sizes, I decided it was time to organize the recipes so that I wouldn't have to sort through several hundred pages in order to find the one damn thing I was looking for. Now, everything is neatly categorized. The "quiche and tarts" section only contains a select few recipes, but upon sorting through them, I remembered that I've always wanted to make this fresh tomato and mozzarella tart with a puff pastry crust. Long ago, I had a tiny sliver of this at my dear friend Ari's house, and the mere thought of it has had me salivating ever since.

You can read about the recipe here, but be forewarned that Cooks Illustrated will ask you to sign up for a free trial membership in order to view the entire recipe. 

And also, be forewarned that this tart is NOT a low-calorie item! So of course, I had to make vegan ice cream for dessert.  Pics and recipe coming soon.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Taste of Tea

In my last post I mentioned Phil Gelb, a local chef whom I recently spent the day assisting.  While we were chopping and slicing and dicing the day away, Phil made some of the most incredible green tea.  It was soooo smooth, not bitter, just perfectly robust.  I drank cup after cup, which is not something I usually do.  The name of the company that sells it is Cha-no-Aji - The Taste of Tea.

As far as I know, this tea isn't available in stores, so I had to order my own batch immediately!  Well truth be told, I bought it for my sweetie but he's been kind enough to share.  We've been enjoying both the Genmaicha (green tea with brown rice), and the Night Blooming Jasmine.  This is seriously the most fragrant and exquisite jasmine tea I've ever tasted.  I think this tea might transform me from a person who  likes tea into a total tea junkie.

In other news, for the first time in months, I find myself with nothing on the calendar for the next five days except work, and that feels luxurious.  I will finally find myself with time to get back in the kitchen, and hopefully will have delicious things to report about as the week goes on.  For now, I've gotta get back to my tea.

Monday, June 16, 2008

In the Mood for Food

Forgive the meager postings as of late. Besides a couple more attempts at making gnocchi (with some pretty good results, I might add!), I haven't been too creative in the kitchen lately. Since I've recently gone on the debt diet, I've been eating a lot more steamed vegetables, beans & rice. It's not so bad, in fact I'm still eating very, very well. But between being strapped for cash and short on time, there hasn't been a lot of room for fabulous dinner parties in recent months.

That being said, I did get to partake in someone else's fabulous dinner party recently. There was a memorial celebration dinner honoring the aforementioned Matthew Sperry, and I was fortunate to be able to assist the chef, Phil Gelb. Phil's personal chef business is called In the Mood for Food, and he makes the most delicious and beautifully presented vegetarian and vegan food, and it was my pleasure to spend the day with him chopping and slicing and dicing, helping to create a scrumptious, gorgeous meal for a small group of Matthew's family and friends.

The menu featured homemade fettuccine, and would you believe that I've never really made fresh pasta before (I can just hear my Dad scolding me from afar!!!)?

Well I didn't actually make it; I merely did my part to help it dry, but it sure was fun.

Some day, I'll get back to my Italian roots and get obsessed with making fresh pasta.  For now, I'm content to be the one who sprinkles the flour.


There was so much good food that night, including a salad of arugula and radicchio with roasted apricots, with a dressing of roasted apricot, basil and miso.

I could go on and on, but I have to head straight for dessert: a totally decadent, smooth as silk, dreamy chocolate ice cream - all vegan! I make a lot of ice cream myself and so far have had very limited success with the vegan varieties, but clearly I just hadn't met the right ice cream maker yet, and now I have. I'm still dreaming of this chocolate cupcake with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce, made with nary a dairy product in sight.

See, I told you I was still eating well!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Phil's business name is inspired by the movie In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai, which incidentally, I just saw over the weekend.  What a beautiful film - every set, every scene, just so perfectly perfectly presented and lovely to behold.  Definitely worth checking out.

Thanks for tuning in, folks.   More to come before too long.  I've been working on revising my Second Best Chili You Will Ever Taste to be both vegetarian and made in the pressure cooker, so I hope to be posting about that in the next month or so.   Until next time, cheers!

Monday, June 09, 2008

"The Mouse Went Squeak...

... and pooped in the potty. Poop poop, poopity poop!"

Oh, they just don't write lyrics like that anymore. Or wait, yes they do! Those particular lyrics were written by my friend Lily, who is just shy of three years old. They were written as part of the Treasure Mouth Children's Karaoke event on Saturday, in memory of Matthew Sperry. There was a live band improvising the music, and the kids improvised the lyrics, and I, along with my singing pals in Loretta Lynch, got to sing whatever the kids wrote. Some personal favorite lines, in addition to the brilliant musings on mouse poop, were:

"A: You're beautiful.
B: You're adorable.
C: You're a cup full of charm."

And sometimes, two words are all you need to make a song. In this case, the two words were "HOT BURP".

Also quite compelling was the line "I was born in this hole and I'll die in this hole".

Kids, gotta love 'em!

I never had the good fortune to meet Matthew Sperry personally, but he was and still is loved and dear to many people I know, and I'm sorry I never crossed paths with him. It was truly an honor to be a part of the memorial event honoring his life.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Nicest Compliment I Ever Got...

So I was gone out of town and away from work for 3 days. Upon my return, my co-worker and friend said "I'm so glad you're back... when you're gone, this place goes to culinary hell!". Aw, thanks Berge!

I DO love that part of my job where I get to go to the grocery store every week and buy all manner of snacks and fresh fruit and beer and wine and strawberry shortcake and fancy cheese... for all of us to enjoy! And it's nice to know that my culinary obsessions do not go unappreciated :)