Monthly Archives: January 2009

New creuset

My patience paid off and I finally found a cheap le creuset casserole dish in the post xmas sales. I’m fairly sure my dad had this same dish when I was growing up, though here’s hoping I don’t follow his lead and burn pasta into it because I can’t tear myself away from Tetris. Or was it Dr Mario?

In any event, Sunday was inauguration day:

Chicory soldiers

Onward chicory soldiers

The casserole dish came with a free grill pan, so I had to break that in, too. Sunday’s menu: baked chicory, peas and brown rice accompanied grilled chicken in mustard and herbs.

I was very happy with the cookware, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t terrified of the grill pan. It smoked, it spat, it caught fire twice. I tried to be brave, but I really didn’t let it get hot enough to start off with which just prolonged the torture.

And sad to say, I think this was one of the first real and proper grown up meals I’ve ever made. There was a protein, a starch and not one but two (2!) vegetables. And once I get over the scarring experience of the grill pan, I’ll definitely be trying it again.

Recipes after the jump. Continue reading

Relationships with food

I’ve watched two programmes this week about weight.  The first was Horizon’s Why are Thin People not Fat, the premise of which was to overfeed slim people (double the normal calories, I think) for four weeks and see what happened.  It was interspersed with scientists and psychologists who work on obesity and fat issues, and it was really fascinating.

Many of the theories they discussed I was already familiar with, but the idea that our bodies have a weight that is genetically predetermined to be “normal” was new to me.  One study the programme discussed showed that obese people who lose 10% of their body weight and then are given exactly the amount of calories they need to maintain the 10% weight loss have a constant feeling of starvation – their bodies are giving them signals to go back up to their “normal” weight. I also thought the discussion of how different people relate to food was very interesting – most of the study participants just don’t eat when they’re not hungry, and found hitting their calories counts a massive struggle.

Continue reading

A man after my own heart

My number one weakness

My number one weakness

As much as I like good food, I must confess to a serious weakness for certain junk foods.  The full list is too long (and too shameful) to go into here, but Doritos are probably my top junk food indulgence.

So, reading this article in my hometown paper about Mike Pierce of Maverick (ugh, that word is forever tainted for me after the 2008 election) made me very happy.  He takes wine pairings extremely seriously, even for common snacks like Doritos.

I feel a wine-and-Doritos party to test out his theories is definitely in order.



When I was selling my apartment in New York, before every open house I made a double batch of chocolate chip cookies. The sale was quick and painless, and I got more requests for the recipe than I did offers on the apartment. The lesson from this: baked goods can jump start the housing market. These are some powerful cookies!

The recipe is adapted from the Gourmet cookbook, my copy of which is in storage 6,000 miles away. So I was very excited to discover that much of the book is online, courtesy of Google Books. The whole book isn’t online, and the names of the recipes aren’t there, which I suspect is the fault of the silly yellow font the book used, and not some dastardly plot on Google’s part. But it is searchable, so have fun.

If you like your cookies on the light and soft side, they don’t get any better than this.

10 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
cinnamon (optional)

Cream the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add in the egg and vanilla, stirring until mixed. Next add the flour, and when that is combined, the chocolate chips, stirring just until well distributed.

If, like me, you have a terrible mixer and the dough is quite soft and on the melty side, put it in the refrigerator to firm up a bit.

When ready, take small rounded spoonfuls of dough and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a 400° oven for 6-7 minutes, until golden and the edges are starting to brown.

Makes 20-25 small cookies.

New toys

My new toy

My new toy

I got a food processor for Christmas (which makes me feel very old), and I’m really excited about all the fun new things I can do with it.  I’ve never used a food processor before (my parents never had one), so I’m a total novice and open to any suggestions.  So far I’ve grated pounds of cheese for macaroni and cheese (I’m still on the comfort food kick, though mac & cheese with ridiculous cookies for dessert was probably taking that theme a step too far).  Continue reading

Cinnamon toast

Inspired by the list of  11 best foods you aren’t eating that’s making the rounds, I hereby divulge the secret of cinnamon toast (cinnamon is #4 on the list).

The bread you use and proportions of flavors is up to your own preferences, but however you do it: cream the butter with sugar and cinnamon first, spread on the bread and pop it under the broiler. It makes all the difference.

(Thanks Mim!)


More staples

He didn’t do it in comments, but Mark Bittman took up Anna’s call this week to write about stocking a kitchen. One post here on cheezcloth and the Times springs into action!

My pantry pales in comparison to Anna’s, it must be said. There’s an array of oils, vinegars and mustards, but otherwise it’s pretty haphazard. I tend to get obsessed with an ingredient or two, buy it in large quantities and then move on when it’s done. (Case in point: Barley. I made this five times in 3 weeks.) But I do leave the house every day so picking up an ingredient or two isn’t a hassle. More importantly, Jesse is in charge of forgotten provisions – and I think that’s the big difference.

The only food item I always have at all times is frozen peas. I add them to half the things I cook, and seem to need them as an ice pack for one reason or another at least once a week.


Quick, easy and healthy…for breakfast, lunch or dinner

The 5-minute meal

The 5-minute meal

I love frittatas, they’re my go-to food whenever I need something quick and easy to cook.  I’ll make them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I almost always have eggs in the fridge, and then I throw in whatever vegetables I have sitting around (that’s where the healthy comes from).  I usually use spinach, mushrooms, peppers, or some combination.  If it’s dinner, I might crumble some goat’s cheese over the top to make it a bit more substantial.

Quickly cook the veggies over medium high heat in a small omelette pan whilst beating two eggs and a splash of milk together with a fork.  Pour the eggs into the pan and let it sit until the bottom is cooked.  You can tell by the smell when the bottom is browned enough.  Then stick the pan under the grill, and the top will fluff up and brown.

And done.  5-minute meal.


Epicurious has a post on pickles asking what to do with leftover pickle juice. I was pleased that they started with the obvious – drink it. Then in comments, someone posted a link to, the existence of which I find incredibly delightful.  The site is full of good ideas for leftover pickle juice, not to mention pickle paraphernalia and pickle trivia.  Did you know that Amerigo Vespucci was a pickle peddler? I didn’t.

Thank you Pickle Packers International for brightening my snowy Monday at work.


What’s in your kitchen?

Some of my must-haves

Some of my must-haves

My recent adventure in my sister’s kitchen got me musing about staples…how much overlap is there between what different people consider necessities?  I’m sure there are things that are must-haves in my kitchen that other people wouldn’t even think to include in theirs, and vice versa.  I also try to keep as many non-perishables as my cupboards can hold, mainly because the mere thought of walking three blocks to the supermarket for a missing ingredient is often usually enough to make it a bread-and-cheese night.

My (probably incomplete) list is after the jump…feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comments. Continue reading