Friday, March 7th, 2014
I’m happy to report that I’ve temporarily left behind the frozen tundra that is New Jersey and shed my Spiewak parka and salt-crusted snow boots (which I literally haven’t taken off in three months) for beautiful and sunny southern California. My legs are as pale as marshmallow sticks but I don’t care, I’m wearing shorts and life is good. So my posts will be a little less frequent this week, but I wanted to share a photo of a bowl of ramen I recently devoured at one of my favorite places—Ippudo NYC—as a reminder that, no matter where you are, or what the weather, a favorite meal can have the power to make the best of anything.
For me, ramen is that happy button meal that I can push to improve any polar vortex situation (a large Sapporo doesn’t hurt either). The rich broth, the silky noodles, the runny egg, the tender pork belly, the healthy dollop of miso paste and drizzle of garlic oil, the cabbage floating atop it all like a savory Japanese bath of goodness…I’m a happy slurping mess whenever I get a bowl in front of me. And funny enough, on our first full day in San Diego, we took the kids to Legoland, and guess what we had for lunch…yes, ramen! As my friend Sujin said, only at a California-based theme park would they have a ramen restaurant.
So what is your happy meal (not the kind with the movie-tie-in toy inside…but you know what I mean)? I’d love to know!
Monday, March 3rd, 2014
Whenever I’m trying to come up with a new recipe, or tweak a dish to make it a bit different or seasonal or more healthful, I have a few methods to get the juices flowing. I thought I’d share a few of them here, for those rare moments when inspiration, time, creativity, and hunger are aligned. So first off, there’s:
-Day-dreaming. Typically done while lying on the couch with the dog (presumably he is also day-dreaming about food), or while staring into the depths of the fridge or pantry. This can be surprisingly effective method for coming up with a new recipe because random ideas tend to jump out at you when you’re not trying too hard (like the sight of a carton of eggs in the fridge crammed up next to a bunch of herbs and a tube of anchovy paste gave birth to my green goddess deviled eggs). The negative flip side of this activity is that staring into your fridge can make you very hungry.
-Cookbook Grazing. Taking down my old-reliables from favorite authors—Deborah Madison, Claudia Roden, Marcella Hazan, Lidia Bastianich, Madhur Jaffrey, Alford & Duguid—and hoping they trigger some sort of idea or forgotten combination. An example of this is remembering Hazan’s technique for removing the skins from chickpeas before using them in a soup, or a Batali recipe for a citrus salsa that uses the whole lemon, peel and all, reminded me that I can use the ENTIRE lemon for some raw preparations. Warning: This technique of reading cookbooks also has the potential danger of making you very hungry.
-Eating: This might seem too obvious but having a good meal, particularly one cooked by an ace home cook or inventive chef, can spark a flurry of ideas. This weekend I had an egg sandwich called The Forager at High Street on Market in Philly, and to dress the sandwich (which consisted of scrambled eggs, braised kale and seared mushrooms on a kaiser roll), they made a black trumpet mayo…why I never thought of adding mushrooms to mayonnaise, I don’t know, but now the idea is latched in my noodle.
-Doodling: I find this method to possibly be the most satisfying. If I can draw the ingredients, then I can visualize how they might work together. This is particularly helpful when trying to create a dish with lots of layers and components, such as a 8-layer Nacho recipe, so that a sketch like this:
Will hopefully end up looking like this:
This is also a fun thing to do with the kids–have them draw their fantasy meal and then see if you can both make it for real. They might end up drawing something like gummy bear lasagna…but I’d actually love to see that doodle. If you want to be really inspired, check out this website: They Draw and Cook, which features illustrations of recipes from artists of all kinds. Pure eye candy.
Saturday, March 1st, 2014
During a visit to my new favorite fish shop METROPOLITAN SEAFOOD in Lebanon, NJ, the owner Mark asked me if I wanted to sample his large variety of oysters…of course I said, “bring it on”. I don’t like many things more than I like raw oysters (see HERE and HERE), and I thought I’d had them all, but then he shucked the cutest, tiniest, variety of oyster I’ve ever had—it’s an Olympia oyster, found on the West Coast in the Pacific and once thought to be extinct. Luckily they are making a return and, as you can see, they are the size of your pocket change but they pack a lot of sweet and briny deliciousness in that little shell. If you see them on a menu, you must try them!
Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
A NPR groupie’s dream came true today…not only did I get to meet the great Leonard Lopate, but my co-author and I were interviewed for his show on WNYC! We had a great chat about KEEPERS and my favorite topics: food, dinner, and cooking. You can listen to the interview HERE on the WNYC home page. It was really a thrill of a lifetime for me, not only to be on the radio, which is incredibly cool, but to see the NPR newsroom and how these broadcasts all come together. Bonus: Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia were in the waiting room when we got there! I didn’t bring up their brilliant “Is it Local” chicken sketch, but I wanted to.
I hope you get a chance to listen–and let me know what you think!
Friday, February 21st, 2014
Here is my list of items from the interweb this week that I thought were interesting, funny, helpful, beautiful and just so-random-that-I had-to-include. Enjoy and have a great weekend!
A very cool visual from BonAppetit.com on how to boil eggs and corresponding recipes from ramen to deviled:
Bon Appetit Egg Guide
Rihanna (handle @badgirlriri) celebrating her birthday on Instagram with cakes galore!
Samantha Bee–arguably the funniest and coolest celebrity mom out there–shares her week of food and cooking (I love her even more now):
Samantha Bee’s Grub Street Diet
My healthy-eating blogger-friend, Jessica Murnane, has a dairy/gluten/sugar-free cookie cookbook out (and guess who contributed a recipe for Almond Butter Buckeyes?)
You can order it here!
I have shared my love with Todd Selby’s work before, and his super-fun and beautiful book Edible Selby—this photo-essay of Brooklyn pie-bakery Four and Twenty Blackbirds is one of his best (it also makes me miss summer so much):
Edible Selby Visits Four and Twenty Blackbirds
This is completely not-food related (although I would totally wear this to a dressy lunch in Milan if someone asked me, and then I could pretend to be Tilda Swinton in THIS movie), but THIS was my favorite fashion week outfit (if money was no object):
Always hilarious Jon Stewart takes on the report that Subway’s bread has the same ingredients as a yoga mat:
Jon Stewart on Toxic Bread
And last but not least…KEEPERS is being offered as a pledge drive gift by NPR radio-station WNYC! So if you’re a fan and listener like myself, and have been thinking of donating, why not get a free-copy of KEEPERS while you’re at it!
KEEPERS WNYC Pledge Gift