Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Eternal Saga of the Sweet Potato

Lunchtime at Rare Bar&Grill on Bleecker Street in the West Village.

Sweet Potato Fries! O, Merciless Heaven! The Sweet Potato Fry as side-dish just makes a warm, fuzzy thing (my heart? is it love?) turn over in my chest. And by Sweet Potato Fry side-dish I mean just what you see above: a glorious, heaping mess of impossibly twisty, golden fried strands. This is how they should always come. A moutain in a cereal bowl, glowing in their own ethereal orange light. Ah, life...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Gingerbread Houses and Other Reprehensible Qualities of Children's Fairytales

Let me start you off with a little bit of false advertisting. Those cookies to the left of my text? I didn't make those. The cookies I made, as friend Siri so kindly, thoughtfully, and frequently pointed out, were not even shaped like men (thereby, I suppose, completely surpassing the rudimentary purpose and integrity of gingerbread men). But mine, as angels, sleds, and snowmen, are not equipped to hop out of the oven and drown unsuspecting foxes with a lot of demeaning chatter about "run run" and "you can't catch me" etc, I would like to point out.

So I made my offensively shaped gingerbread creatures: obtuse sleds, angels whose heads broke off, and snowmen with queer, smiling choclate chip eyes. And Siri ate the icing straight from the bowl, just like the classy dame that she is. Either way, it was a fine holiday bonanza.

After three or four glasses of warm-rummy-apple cider, I was in far too giddy, giggly of a condition to go about the serious business of making gingerbread from scratch. I copped out and used a mix. This doesn't mean I think that you should, though. Making gingergread from scratch is one of the small victories left in life; it's one of those foodstuffs that comes so regularly and acceptably preprocessed that you can practically envision gingerbread trees sprouting plump, frosted cookies that are merely plucked and packaged upon ripening. Who even really knows what goes INTO gingerbread? Well...now you will. Here's a basic gingerbread recipe (gently modified from the Joy Of Cooking), provided for your holiday task-mastering. Enjoy!

You Will Need:

3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmet
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp.)
1/2 cup white sguar
1 egg
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses

To Make:

In a large bowl, sift of whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molassses and beat until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating until well mixed.

Divide the dough in half, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. (I discovered that, save an actual rolling pin, a heavily floured water glass works best for this.) Use a gingerbread cutter to cut out the cookies, and place them in an ungreased baking tray.

Bake for about 8 - 12 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. They are done when they are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown. Keep in mind they will firm up as they cool.

Siri made the kick-ass frosting, so I'll let her keep that recipe underneath highly fashionable cloak and veil. She was also the only who who could successfully make a six pointed paper snowflake. Don't you wish you were good at stuff, too?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

La-La-Love You

There's nothing worse than left-overs, right? Or isn't that at least what every ten year old kid wants you to think? Mom's Meatloaf. Capital M Capital M: two letters that, in context, are the most unwavering and tyrannical of all beasts. The twin pillars of pre-adolescent doom. For me, the first sure sign of impending adulthood was the exact moment when I looked at a tupperware full of last nights sludgy vegetables and went "panini!" instead of "eew". Since then, life has been a series of difficult relationships with all sorts of stubborn gastronomic remainders; I've become a girl in stupidly single-minded pursuit of the ultimate meal over-haul. Things have substantially improved since my first sodden attempt at a sandwich, to the point that I accept, nay—enjoy, the sometimes daunting challenge of complete culinary reconstruction. (College was particularly encouraging to my left-over management skills.)

So, I was a bit surprised when recently confronted with the seemingly hopeless: I had too many apples. Remember my fun and fancy-free applepicking excursion? Well, three or four pounds of apples later, I came to the hard-bitten realization that their continued consumption would require much more than an endless parade of sauces and pies. So I went out on a limb one morning before work, and I made an Apple Omelette. It was, no joke, delicious.

You Will Need:
1 Apple
Goat Cheese
Green Onions
A pinch rosemary
1 tbsp. olive oil

How To Make It:
Core and peel the apple, dicing it into small cubes. Dump them in a pan with olive oil over medium to low heat.
While they are gently cooking, mix the egg with the goat cheese, green onions, rosemary, and walnuts.
Once the apples have had the chance to cook down a little, dump the egg mixture into the pan.
Let the mixture cook, until the bottom of the egg looks sturdy enough to fold over and turn in the pan (making it into an omelette shape).
Once cooked through, remove from the pan and serve.

It's important to let the apples cook a little beforehand so their texture softens enough to mix well with a bite of egg. (You get enough crunch with the walnuts.) If you're a doubter, just try making it once! And tell me how it goes.