Monday, October 12, 2015

Pastiche of Exoticized "Other" (Moroccan lamb burgers)

The hamburger, despite owing its name to the city of Hamburg, Germany, is considered a quintessentially American food. So as the mercury spikes and grills flare across the land, I wanted in on the action. A food with such cultural iconography (and such simple ingredients) naturally lends itself to extemporization and I opted to enhance my Americana with a trip to the spice market: Moroccan lamb burgers with gingered carrots, lemon-mint goat cheese, and microgreens. The carrot component is an easy make-ahead, but the rest is ready in minutes, leaving you more time to chill in the shade with a tall glass of iced peppermint tea.

Prepare to chill

Waffles 4 lyfe! (Liège-style Belgian waffles)

Over time, the entirety of my immediate family has trickled down to live in Chesapeake, Virginia. While I love the area, the job market has invariably left me further north. As the odd man out, it can sometimes be difficult to make family get-togethers. This was the case this most recent Mother's Day. I was sad to miss spending time with my family, but doubly so when I learned my equally epicurean sister had served gaufres de LiègeBelgian waffles with pearl sugar, as a holiday brunch.

Thus, with a waffle, I die

Bread, cheese, butter (Grilled cheese with prosciutto, pear, and fontina)

Though Aaron and I work the same hours and share the same nightmarish 2-hour commute, I am (unfairly) quite partial to reserving the kitchen as my exclusive domain. As such, I usually end up preparing dinner, so it's a bit of an extra special treat when Aaron volunteers to cook (or when I blithely volunteer him, anyway). He has no shortage of his own specialties and culinary history, but there's a dark side: Aaron spent several years of his formative existence declining to eat anything but Kraft macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. Now fully reformed and rehabilitated, he still carries a torch for the tried and true pairing of cheese and carbs, it's just that he's a little more enterprising when it comes to casting the supporting players. This grilled cheese sandwich starts with the holy trinity of bread, cheese, and butter, but also includes crisp, subtly sweet pear slices, salty prosciutto, and peppery arugula.
Extra crispy 

Salubrious, Celebratory Citrus (Triple citrus pound cake, citrus curd)

Hilariously overdue, I am loading the backlog of articles into the blog. Expect lots of updates, soon...

Now that Snowmageddon is but a fading memory, I'm ready to celebrate. This may seem somewhat incongruous, given my desire to go all-healthy last month, but every calorie-counter can find a way to make room for a little cake. If not for the pleasure of food, there's not much point eating, in the first place. Early spring is an interstitial season. For those in the northeast U.S., the first plants are just starting to perk up, leaving fresh & local food options a little thin on the ground. Spring greens like asparagus, fiddleheads, spinach, sweet peas, would all be appropriate, but I think they lack the right appeal for dessert. Instead, I opted for a melange of citrus fruits, which blend flavors I've always considered quintessentially summery, despite the most bountiful fruiting season being the dead of winter, splitting the difference for a spring theme. Triple citrus cake paired with citrus curd makes an easy, elegant dessert, appropriate for any time of year.


"Honey, stop baking" (Chicken, Kale, & Quinoa Salad)

I've been trying to be a little more health conscious, lately. As Chris Pratt put it upon being cast in Guardians of the Galaxy: "honey, stop baking, I have to lose 75 pounds!" I'm not quite so far gone yet, but I think it's a truth universally known that most Americans (or residents of developed nations, in general) could stand to be a little more mindful of what ends up on their plate. Of course, growing up with a food pyramid that's heavily influenced by lobbying from America's agribusiness conglomerates, it can sometimes be hard to divorce oneself from a craving for 11 servings of grains a day. Through use of other full-flavored ingredients and the selection of lesser evils, however, delicious, healthy, and satisfying meals are still an achievable goal. This month, I offer a chicken, kale, and quinoa salad, punched up with apples, bacon, and avocado.

For your approval

Friday, February 20, 2015

Decadent Delight (Gateau au chocolat fondant de Nathalie)

Chocolate cake is like the little black dress of dessert. It can be dressed up or down from the homeliest of meals to the pinnacle of haute cuisine and remain equally enticing in either environ. As a culture, we are given to hyperbole (and, as an individual, I am more so), so it would be no surprise to me if, when I say "this is the best chocolate cake in the world," you take it with a grain of salt. It helps that salt and chocolate pair so nicely. Perhaps it would change your mind, however, if I mentioned that a sizeable shard of the fractious and chaotic internet generally agrees this is, indeed, the cake of cakes? 

Truly, you are the cake of cakes

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jumbled Together (Russian Tea Cakes)

Russian Tea Cakes may be my very favorite variety of cookie. Also known as Italian wedding cakes, Mexican wedding cakes, Flexicans, polvorones, butterballs, and snowballs, you may know them best just as those buttery little spheres coated in powdered sugar, studded with finely ground nuts, and flavored with a variety of subtle seasonings. With their snowy white coats and elegant proportions, they make the perfect cookie to serve throughout the winter, arrayed on plates with doilies or tucked into gift bags. They're innocently sweet, utterly inoffensive, and melt on the tongue beautifully. Russian tea cakes, as the name suggests,  are the ideal pairing for strong tea served with lemon or cream and sugar. Less traditionally, but just as deliciously, I encourage the adoption of the "Russian coffee cake" and also offering coffee or cappuccino as accompaniment.

Cake: it's what's for dinner