Friday, June 27, 2008

Ice Cream Man On Edge!

The last few weeks I've had one thing on the brain and one thing only: ice cream. The finding of, eating of, and making of ice-cream. Number one on my summertime wish list right now? An ice cream maker. I would like nothing more in the world than to have made from scratch, fresh-fruit gelatos and sorbets prepared on a daily basis in my kitchen. O, Summertime! There are not even words for the feeling it brings me.

P.S. That top photo comes from a post on that I must insist be read:

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm Gonna Bake You! (Stay Gold, Ponyboy!)

One of my absolute favorite things about cooking is when a dish signals its completion by browning. From the decadent (creme brulée) to the demure (toast, anybody?), the deepening to gold of any cuisine is like some kind of consumptive mating dance...a visual offering that elicits desire in any onlooker à la peacock. Hence my attraction to a classic like the baked pasta casserole. So perfectly crusty and golden. I'm sure my recent infatuation with summer-time pizza is fully responsible for this recipe, and I apologize in advance for any disgusting and flagrant displays of joy on my part if you're around me the next time I make it.

You Will Need:

A few cups of pasta (the wider and heartier the noodle the better)
1 cup shredded mozarella
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cups of spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes (a little goes a long way, hoo boy)
1/2 onion (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (died)

To Make:

Prep time first! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and oil up a large/deep baking dish. Boil the pasta, toss it with olive oil, and set it aside for later. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Toss in the chopped onion and let it cook for several minutes, until the slices start to brown. Add in the garlic and the sun dried tomatoes. Stir the mixture and let it cook for a minute or so, making sure everything is thoroughly coated. Then add the spinach, making sure everything is still well mixed. A few whirls around with your spatula should do it, then remove the goods from the heat. Toss it in the large bowl with the pasta, and stir everything together. Then stir it some more. Add a layer of this mixture to the bottom of the baking dish, following it with a hearty dusting of sliced mozzarella. Repeat, until all the pasta and all the cheese are used up. Make sure to leave enough cheese to be sprinkled over the very top...this is the key part, now. (Without the cheese topping you'll have none of the fine and delicious golden crust.)

Cover the dish and place it in the oven, cooking for about thirty to forty minutes. Trust me, you'll know when it's done. Aromatic, bubbling...sigh. I wish I could eat the whole thing all over again right now.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


It was a perfect summer day, so Siri (of Ringo, Have A Banana) and I celebrated it on my roof by making salads and drinking an entire bottle of wine to ourselves. Afterward, we were determined to watch the Royal Tenenbaums for some reason...I can't really quite remember why, though. Either way, the dream remains unrealized and we've now retired to the couch to eat ice cream and watch Seinfield. Ain't nothing wrong with second-bests. It was a lovely evening.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sum-Sum-Sum I Sum(mer)- I Let Go

I'm not normally a big maker of salads. Big time lover of them, yes, but not a big-time maker. Although I've always silently acknowledged this fact about myself, I've done little to try and understand it. See also: any other single characteristic I've ever exhibited in my entire life. Woe is me, though, the onset of my first humidity-happy, East Coast summer has been very convincing in favor of salads. The idea of anything but the lightest and coolest of cuisines is difficult to stomach--waka waka waka.

Salads are excellent dumping grounds for leftovers, cravings, and all kinds of seasonal goodies. Anything that happens to strike my fancy at the grocery store can easily be negotiated into a salad by weeks end, a quality that I'm particularly fond of in a dish due to my bad habit of wandering into corner stores and emerging hours later the proud parent of 8 pounds of strange vegetables. Also, keeping myself in supply of fresh spinach and mesclun mix is as easy as 1-2-walk to the corner store and buy a container for only two dollars-3. The rest is a revolving door of ingredients and fly-by-night fancies. This tempeh and avocado concoction was dreamt up as I scavenged my recently cleaned (i.e. everything thrown away) fridge for a satisfying lunch. It's definitely light, but full of good proteins and veggies for a filling and utterly delightful dish.

You Will Need:
8 oz. tempeh
1/4 an avocado
1/2 med. sized tomato, diced
1/4 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup sliced carrots
Handful of sliced almonds.
A few tbls. of vinegar

To Make:

Tempeh preparation takes longest, so best to do it first. Dice up the tempeh into 3/4 inch cubes and lay them out on a baking sheet. No oil or prep is necessary. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (or somewhere in the vicinity), and slide the baking sheet in. Check in on them periodically, turning to make sure all sides turn golden. Once they are crispy and brownish, they're ready to go.
Rinse your spinach and toss it with the chickpeas, diced tomato, carrots, and almonds. Place this part in a bowl and lay some avocado slices over it. When the tempeh is done, throw that on top and drizzle vinegar to taste over the whole she-bang. I say this every time but: delicious!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Summer's First Sound!

The first time I ever came to New York, my friend Julia and I survived exclusively on two dollar slices of cheese pizza selected at random from various sidewalk cafes. It was the dead of winter, fresh snow shivering in the still air, and I remember being particularly grateful for each still-steaming, gratuitously layered slice of genuine Big Apple 'za. I was then unacquainted with East Coast weather beyond the novelty of a Christmas spent in Ohio with my extended family, and I thought that pizza must be the pinnacle of all NYC cold-weather-food staples. Short of heavy drinking, it was second to none in terms of combining comfort and satisfaction with warmth.

I certainly wasn't giving summer a second thought at the time, let alone the idea that I might be a bona-fide resident of NYC by the time the season rolled through again, so I was pleasantly surprised by my recent discovery that pizza transcends seasonal parameters and is actually the perfect food all year round. It was a revelation sparked first by a decadent pie-on-the-promenade in Brooklyn Heights (see above), and then fully solidified by a hasty grease-fest on the LIRR coming home from Long Beach yesterday afternoon. After gorging at the latter, we all laid back, hands comfortably resting on newly-inflated belly's, to satisfactorily contemplate the greenery idling by our windows.

If I thought that pizza was good when it was cold out, it was only because I was utterly clueless to the delight of pizza when it is quite literally BOILING out. As far as slices go, I'll admit that the Long Island wedge was a simpleton...bubbly cheese crested with grease and ringed with a slim, attractively golden crust, but of a quality smartly bolstered by its consumption on such a perfectly hot summer day. It became the perfect accessory to my already overblown sense of adolescence. (A sense wrought upon me by the coming of every June, let me remind you, an academic hangover of sorts from my still habitual expectation of summer vacation.) It's just so easy to pretend I'm still a kid on a summer day when I'm toting around a massive hunk of dripping, cheesy pizza. Sigh! If only Miss Julia could see me now...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Sometimes I feel like I'm just a few gestation periods shy of being a full-on pregnant woman. My cravings for certain foods are so strange, sudden, and intense that the only possible explanation must be preggers. Sorry, Mom & Dad! But the Cheese Must Be HAD!