From the category archives:

Food

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Last week a friend and I were talking about how we actually cook – day in day out, when we’re exhausted-by-life-it’s-a-weeknight-and-we’re-working-late recipes. Namely, our survival recipes.   These Japanese Chicken Meatballs are a favorite around here – they aren’t fancy but they are fast, tasty and something that both the 5 year old and the 35 year old will eat.  I like them because they are easy to double and easy to freeze (the secret of surviving any work week in my mind) and when I say they are fast, I mean like three minutes prep time and 20 minutes to bake.

Update: A few readers asked what I serve these with and the short answer is: lots of things and whatever I have on hand.  I make roast sweet potato fries and sauteed cabbage a few times a month and these meatballs often end up with either of those as side dishes.  This week I served with a side of pesto pasta (last night) and on a cheese plate as a finger food (tonight). 

Japanese Chicken Meatballs

Adapted From It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen

ingredients
1 pound ground chicken (or turkey, or lamb)
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, very finely minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I like this brand)
2 teaspoons good-quality maple syrup (I sometimes use a tablespoon of maple syrup)

1. Thoroughly mix the chicken with the salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Roll the mixture into golf ball–sized meatballs. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 2o minutes until the meatballs until they’re cooked through.  

Note: Gwyneth and Julia suggest pan frying these – that would probably make them tastier, but, I need that 20 minutes of baking in the oven to do things like drink wine, start the bath running for bedtime and prep lunch for the kiddo.  Also, I dislike cleaning the stove and pan after frying, especially during the week. 

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One of the funny side effects of moving is the coupons: you read that right… the coupons.  Every day for the last six weeks we’ve been getting coupons for 10% off our purchase at Target, 15% at Blinds.com, 20% at Dwell.com, 25% at Pets.com, Pottery Barn – the list goes on. I mostly put them in a pile on my desk where they eventually expire, unused.  However, earlier this week a coupon arrived from Whole Foods – $25 off my purchase of $100. Ha! I thought – free cheese!  I had a little spring in my step as I put the chicken nuggets and the salad fixings and the school snacks in my cart.  Maybe because I felt like I had some free money to spend – I know, I know, questionable logic and no doubt what the coupon geniuses were going for – but  I lingered in aisles I usually avoid – condiments! frozen desserts! sauces! and found and bought these Zukali fire roasted Jalapenos ($7). Holy delicious! Tim’s been working lot of hours and often isn’t home for dinner,  so I had a solo dinner of toast, cheese (midnight moon goat) and these roasted jalapenos, with a side of vodka cocktail and it was a thing of beauty.  Highly recommend.

NB: Someone asked how spicy they are: I would say medium spicy but in a mellow fire roasted way – they have some satisfying kick but my mouth wasn’t on fire.   Caveat! I did not eat the seeds! So if you want more spiciness – eat the seeds.  Otherwise, just scoop them off.

 

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Tim cooked a steak (Hardwick Beef Ribeye) tonight so tender and so flavorful that it almost made me weep.  He used an Alton Brown technique where you get a cast iron pan really hot in the oven (500 degrees), then pan-sear the steak on the stove top and finally put the steak back in the oven to finish.  It’s safe to say we will be cooking steak no other way in this house from here on out. Paired with left-over roast fingerling potatoes and garlic spinach, the meal felt like a real celebration of spring.

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My mom sent me one of these plastic bag holders (that she made!) a few years ago. It is easily one of my favorite kitchen tools –  so satisfying to have a place for the plastic bags (instead of under the sink or in the trash).  Yesterday this elegant striped version popped up on Food 52 ($20) and I just had to share with you!

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Sometimes I feel like I’m more magpie than human since shiny things catch my eye easily.  Case in point: this red, candy-colored paring knife from Lamson.   Tim and I had a quickie dinner date tonight at Gotham West and walked through The Brooklyn Kitchen on our way out, and this knife sang its little siren song to me from behind the cash register.

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So we were out bid on the apartment in Park Slope. I’m sad, because on some level you have to emotionally invest in the idea of the apartment to be able to commit to spending every penny you own (and a lot of pennies you don’t own) on it, but I’m also upbeat (we’ve started the process!), and ready to keep looking.  It’s the journey that counts?!?!? Ha!

This Fuchsia Dunlop recipe originally caught my fancy because The Wednesday Chef presented it as a solution to what to do with that half used length of celery slowly being dehydrated in the bottom drawer of the fridge.  I’ve become obsessed with it because it is so delicious. SO LIPSMACKING DELICIOUS.  It’s my new favorite thing to cook on nights when we previously would have ordered some kind of take-out (like tonight).  It’s spicy but not too spicy and not too heavy or greasy because of ALL THE CELERY.  I bought the two semi-exotic ingredients on Amazon and my sister has reported being able to buy both at local grocery stores in Brooklyn so I’m not sure what that tells us except you might be able to find red bean paste at your local grocery and if you don’t, Amazon will ship it to you over night.

Photo credit Luisa @ The Wednesday Chef. 

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Sometimes the smallest changes make huge differences in my day-to-day existence.  Consider, if you will, breakfast.  I’m not much of a morning person, so breakfast has always been something of a struggle.  During my childhood, I was always late to the table and rushing through a bowl of Honey Nut Cherrios with ice cold milk (delicious, even if rushed).  I remember a lot of turkey sandwiches for breakfast in high school and  I don’t remember breakfast in college at all, even though those were probably the best years for it since the dining hall was open 24 hours a day so no matter the hour, breakfast was just a short walk away.  In my early professional life I religiously had a chocolate peanut butter Balance bar with a tiny single serve container of Smuckers peanut butter that in the days before Amazon (what!?!) I ordered over the phone from an speciality wholesaler.  HA! How times change.  Possibly because I’d bought the peanut butter in serious bulk, this is what I ate for breakfast every single day from 2001 – 2006.

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Then, I guess Michael Pollan happened, right? We all got collectively hip to high fructose corn syrup and the evils of processed food. So,  I gave up the Balance Bar with Smuckers on top (I was tired of it after so many years, too).  And I spent years trying to find something as easy, as portable, as satisfying.  I tried egg sandwiches from the local bodega (convenient), I tried salami with honey roasted peanuts (epicurean AND low carb), I tried left overs from dinner the night before (thrifty).   Tim remembers fondly that when I was pregnant I made us breakfast from scratch every day since I was in grad school and I had the time.  Once we had the baby, I ate a lot of toast (no butter, no jam, just toast, sometimes cinnamon raisin) since that was all I could cook with one hand (fussy baby in the other).  Once Alex starting eating real food, I’d just have some of whatever I made him (smoothies for a few years).  I even tried the newfangled, purportedly less processed bars (Kind, Lara, Epic). Somehow, however, breakfast remained elusive and a bit of a struggle, with lots of days seeing me skip breakfast altogether only to be predictably cranky and moody by noon.

In the last few months, I’ve had a breakfast breakthrough in the form of the humble apple. Even on the days when I’m shepherding the family through what a good friend calls “the morning olympics” I can dependably manage to grab and eat an apple, as I corral lunch boxes and mittens or as I ride the subway (almost no one scowls) or in the office with my second cup of coffee.  Often I have a second breakfast, once I’ve completed drop off, a quick egg or leftovers. Other times, the apple’s enough to get me to lunch. But the apple seems to set me off on the right foot and my moods have been 100% steadier.

Part of why these apples are so satisfying is that apple science has seriously improved since we were kids.  The Honeycrisp, the Pink Lady, the Fuji are all newish (last 20 years) hybrids bred to be delicious.  No mealy apples that make you sorry you took that first bite.  We’re talking juicy crisp every time.  I like Pink Lady and Fuji and Honeycrisp when I can find them (sometimes hard).

What are your go to breakfast foods? And how has it changed over the years?

PS: More about hybrid foods.

PPS: Cost of Honeycrisps explained.

PPPS: Apple people are amazing. 

PPPPS: I want to try the SweeTango.

NB: If apples don’t appeal to you for breakfast and you’re in need of inspiration, check out The Kitchn’s breakfast posts from the 2014 Cooking Cure. Lots of goodies, including how to make perfectly round eggs for breakfast sammies.

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The cavalry arrived today in the form of my mother.   We talk everyday on the phone but we don’t get to see each other in person that often, maybe two or three times a year.  Little everyday things like having her cook dinner, rub my feet, giggle at Alex’s antics suddenly felt brand new.  My mother’s confidence in life and in the kitchen is one of the things I most wish to emulate about her. Her certainty, her surety has been a balm all around me today. I laughed and laughed when I walked into the kitchen and she had cracked open the enormous Gourmet Magazine Cookbook that someone gave me years ago. While I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it, the cookbook has sat literally unopened ever since.  I had been intimated by the sheer size (over 1,000 pages) and Gourmet Magazine-ness of it.  Not to mention, I had only had two of the ingredients (lamb and onions) called for in the Navarin D’Agneau “Lamb Stew With Spring Vegetables“. My mom was undeterred and marched onwards, making an amazing stew with different ingredients but using the recipes cooking technique (braising in the oven).   Did you know you can substitute a tablespoon of white wine vinegar for a cup and a half of white wine?  Me neither.  It was a pleasure to watch her cook and a pleasure to have her here in New York.

PS My friend Kate and I joke about the fact that because we were both married in 2006 we ended up with some very similar items – the “I was married in 2006 and registered at Crate and Barrel” items like the red timer and red bowl in the photo above.  We were of our time, I guess!

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Here is a simple secret to a happy marriage: shared vices.  In the case of my marriage, this takes its primary form in a shared love of chocolate, followed by red wine, binge-watching TV and cured meats.  The only thing that would make my marriage better is if Tim liked to read fairy-tale retellings as much as I do. (I kid, I kid).  Tim and I take turns bringing home chocolate (sometimes fancy, sometimes we just eat baking chocolate chips right of out the bag).  Last night Tim procured all four of our shared vices simultaneously, most notably, a bar of Antidote Chocolate. It was delicious. Light notes of lavender and salt, but that grounded, not too sweet chocolate-ness too.  It gone in a blink. SO. SATISFYING. I also have a soft spot for anything mythology related, so I got a little thrill out the packaging which proclaimed:

PANAKEIA: GREEK GODDESS OF CURES AND WELL-BEING

Gentle and smooth, Panakeia’s healing potions are the Antidote to anything that strikes your heart or soul. She manifests through uplifting lavender and red alaea salt promoting stamina and vitality.

PS: Here are 15 ways to stay married for 15 years.

PPS: For those of you who share my reading predilections, you might enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone and the second in the series, Siege & Storm.  Set in Russia,  they loosely follow Russian folktales and I devoured in a weekend.

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1.30.14 – Grocery Scouting

January 30, 2014

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I have a soft spot in my heart for the Gourmet Garage on 96th and Park Avenue, which is a little bit bizarre because like most NYC groceries, it’s smallish, over-priced and almost never has everything you might have on your grocery list.  When I was pregnant with Alex it was the closest grocery store to our apartment on 91st street and as my pregnancy and the winter progressed my weekly Trader Joe’s runs became harder and harder and than stopped altogether. It seemed that every couple of days,  I’d bundle up and walk up to the Gourmet Garage and get a rotisserie chicken, some spinach and a pint of vanilla Haagen Dazs ice cream.  They play a nice mix of oldies and new pop and I loved to just drift along to the music, looking at the caviar and blintzes, the pastel striped raviolis, the coffee and nuts aisle before heading back home.

One of the things I’ve been working on the last couple of years, with mixed success, is enjoying wherever I am, whatever I’m doing —  my work, my subway ride, the grocery shopping, or changing diapers (back when I did that!) because somewhere along the line I realized these things are what make up the bulk of my life, so I’d better find a way to enjoy them, or enjoy more of them. Which sounds overly simplistic, and some part of me wants to roll her eyes, even as I type this, and say how could that possibly work in real life but the truest thing is sometimes (not always of course) it really does work.  Like tonight at Gourmet Garage, time slowed down as I pushed my basket mounted cart through the aisles, listening to the Rolling Stones, with the bright green pestos, creamy fresh pastas, soft pinks of prosciutto, salami, and hams all making me think of spring.  I was 100 percent in my body, relaxed and present. It wasn’t my whole day, it wasn’t my whole week, but, for 15 minutes today I was all of those things and it was enough.

In grocery scouting news I also picked up a small wedge of Midnight Moon Goat Milk Gouda, which was earthy and rich when I got it home and devoured it on some crisp crackers with a side of salami and red wine. I had a vision of spring grass and social goats cavorting. Delicious and highly recommended (you can buy a huge wheel online, but I think Whole Food caries smaller wedges, too).

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I love seeing how other people live and what tools they are obsessed with. Spotted today while visiting some lovely new friends and immediately coveted: the Technivorm Moccamaster Coffee Maker.  The industrial chic caught my eye and the coffee, served in these Emma Bridgewater mugs, was delicious.

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Scouting : Thanksgiving

November 8, 2013

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A few weeks ago my friend Faith asked me to brainstorm some ideas for setting her lovely Thanksgiving table this year.  Given my obsession with decorative arts, this was pure pleasure and I said yes before she could even get the words out.  We had a great time pinning images and talking on the phone.   [click to continue…]

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Just popping in to say hello with a Grocery Scouting find: a perfect, easy to use kitchen timer.  It doesn’t look like much, but, it’s easy to set, easy to start, easy to stop and a simple pleasure in the kitchen.

 

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Have you ever gone grocery shopping after work, tired, hungry but somehow indecisive?  I wandered the aisles of the Westside Market on the UWS tonight and came home with the most random items. Tim burst out laughing when he saw what was in the bag.   But you know, it was all delicious. We had chips and guac for dinner and it hit the spot.  I had the Muller yogurt with almonds for dessert and it was the perfect combo of smooth and crunchy.  I’m going to try my own hand at making this (and by making I mean, buying some sugared almonds and crushing them) since I like the Stonyfield Greek Yogurt better.  Highly recommend the chips!

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