Oct 30, 2009

la maison du chocolat

i love treats. and when i am very lucky, as i was rather recently, r brings home a distinctive, charming, quite small, brown bag with something wonderful inside. truffles from la maison du chocolat. one my favorite treats in the world. have a great weekend. with maybe some of your favorite treats. xo, g.

Oct 29, 2009

braised cabbage and pork tenderloin medallions

the humble cabbage. i am rather enamored of cabbage. always have been. mon petit chou, the french term of endearment (translates to "my little cabbage"), has always made perfect sense to me. this love affair with the cabbage, well it seems to run in families, as my youngest has always displayed a strong predilection for cabbage slaw or cole slaw. have you ever seen a 9 month baby, or a somewhat small child ravenously grabbing at everyone's tiny side of cole slaw in a restaurant? that was probably him. he's bigger now, but we still have to order extra sides of cole slaw with our lobster rolls. this recipe works equally well with green cabbage, or a mix of the two, but the color is so appealing i usually choose red which of course is actually a deep purple. makes an interesting companion to pork, sausage, duck or goose. and the kids love it because it is sweet and sour and purple.

braised cabbage
1 lovely head of cabbage, sliced and chopped (not super thin here, a bit more rustic works best)
1 large onion, chopped
1 large apple, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup of apple cider
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

sautee onion in a tablespoon or two of olive oil (butter here is dreamy, but i've switched for health reasons and the taste is close enough that i won't go back). add in your cabbage and saute on high heat for a few minutes. add your cider and cider vinegar. then salt. cover and simmer on med to med-low for 40 minutes or so. add in apple, chopped quite fine or grated. correct seasoning, adding more salt and/or vinegar. i usually add a bit more salt and vinegar, the vinegar taste seems to fade a bit as time goes on. simmer another 10 minutes to incorporate the flavors. then serve.

the pork tenderloin medallions are so simple, gorgeous and take so little time, it's a wonder you don't see them more often. i buy two small pork tenderloins and slice them up. salt while on cutting board. heat up the copper skillet (best for browning meats) and sautee them for 2-3 minutes per side. lovely.

i usually serve this with a mixed green salad that includes fresh apples, leeks and shallot mustard vinaigrette, as pictured above, and rather similar to this one. add in some mixed roasted potatoes to round things out. mon petit chou.

Oct 28, 2009

perfect pomegranates and please get better already fruit salad

we've been hit by the flu bug. the little guy has missed 3 days of school and counting. and we have a touch of asthma, so caution is not something we are throwing to the wind just now. needless to say, though i am saying it anyway, i haven't been able to get a thing done around here, and the others are not feeling so great either. i am cooking lots of healthy foods like this and this and making please get better already fruit salad. which, this week anyway, is fresh raspberries, blackberries, local empire apples, really perfect pomegranates (really, have you ever seen such a specimen? gorgeous), baby bananas, organic grapes, clementines and a little tangelo or lime juice for a dressing. food as medicine. plenty of green tea, iced or hot depending on which way the fever is swinging. trying to nutritionally coax everyone back to good health.

Oct 23, 2009

green and yellow

a stroll outside this morning and dinner last night. this weekend is long overdue. happy friday everyone. xo, g

Oct 21, 2009

chicken burrito, veggie burrito

we've had a stressful week. companies being bought, sold and acquired, children with demanding tests and schedules, too many events on the calendar. not nearly enough sleep. new, stressful situations. big storms. ladybugs attacking our house (really, thousands of them). okay okay. that's enough dwelling on that. on to what to feed this tired, stressed out group. something soothing. something simple. something warm and comforting. something fresh and delicious. something to take advantage of the tomatoes corn and squash still fresh and delicious at the the farmers market. once you do the math, the answer is obviously burritos. this is hardly a recipe. but then the best food never is. you just assemble it. here's what we do:

chicken or veggie burritos
first, make the beans. since we didn't have a day to soak i started with 3 cans of black beans. two cans of black beans whole. 1 can of black refried beans (no extra flavors or spices added. just beans.)

yummy beans (that started in a can, it is possible)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 cans of black beans
saute onion, then garlic until translucent. add beans and their liquid. simmer for 1 hour. add salt to taste.


simple salsa
1 large or two medium chopped fresh tomatoes
2 ears of corn, steamed, kernals off the cob
1 shallot, sliced thin, chopped
large bunch of cilantro, stems minced, leaves lightly chopped
juice of 1 lime
fresh jalapeno minced, as much or as little as you desire

simple guacamole
2 avocados, mashed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small shallot, sliced thin, chopped
nice bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
juice of 1 lime

zucchini and or yellow squash 
thinly sliced. lightly salted. sauteed in olive oil. butternut squash works well here also as long as it is cut into matchsticks. (harder to chop than the summer squashes so i didn't use this time...nobody wants a stressed out cook).

for the chicken i usually use a rotisserie chicken from whole foods. only 7 dollars for a whole chicken, already roasted. hard to beat the convenience or thrift of that. i shred the chicken, sautee it briefly with some sort of seasoning, a little salsa or cumin, cilantro lime, whatever i have on hand.

heat the tortillas. i have found for me the easiest way is to wrap a giant stack in a tightly sealed foil pouch and put it in a hot oven for 10 minutes. then keep them warm with kitchen towels covering the foil. they stay hot a long time.

meanwhile, crumble some queso fresco or grate some kid friendly cheese that melts well: medium cheddar or monterey jack or colby jack cheese. also, put a little sour cream out in a bowl with a spoon on the assembly line.

when the tortillas are ready. assemble and layer.  first the beans and cheese, then the meat or veg and guac and salsa. roll up, wrap up, secure. now, hold the warm soft stuffed tortilla in your hands for a short pause before eating. so nice and warm. take a nice deep breath. relax. enjoy.

Oct 20, 2009

pin cushion plant

hoping to keep these alive at least through thanksgiving. they need a lot of water and attract fruit flies like crazy, but they are awfully cute.

Oct 16, 2009

apricot oat bars

it's been four days since i posted an oat-related baked good recipe, so clearly it is time for another. apricot oat bars. we love these. so easy middle aged kids and tweens can make them unaided (the only tricky part involves proper use of oven mitts). much younger kids can make these with a bit of help.

apricot oat bars
2 sticks butter, melted in the microwave
1 1/2 cups california dried apricots, snipped into quarters with kitchen scissors
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup oat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour or whole wheat flour or a mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain yogurt

preheat oven to 350 F. line 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper. melt butter. snip apricots. combine dry ingredients: oats, flours, brown sugar and salt. mix until no lumps are present. add the melted butter, egg, yogurt, vanilla extract and apricots. mix with a large wooden spoon until well blended. ceremoniously heave the goopy dough into the prepared baking pan. smash, press, and otherwise smoosh the dough around to the outer edges, creating a smooth level surface eradicating all empty spaces (little kids are brilliant at this). bake for 45 minutes and/or until the top is a pleasing shade of light golden brown. allow to cool for 5 minutes. then cut into squares (best if this is done while bars are still rather warm). let cool for another 20 minutes before consuming (otherwise they will crumble more than you would like). great for a fast breakfast, or with tea.

rather dreary, freezing and with pouring rain here in the new york corridor this weekend. great for staying in. happy weekend none the less. xo, g.

Oct 15, 2009

"i know how to cook"

here is something i am very excited about. "i know how to cook" the quintessential home cookery book in france by ginette mathiot, translated for the first time ever into english. the wonderful clotilde dusoulier of chocolate and zucchini did the translation. i love her blog, it was the first cooking blog i ever read so many years ago. i was fortunate enough to meet her last year. she is really smart, really charming, truly lovely. as fan of french cooking and clotilde, i was terribly excited to receive the book in the mail on saturday, having preordered it from amazon. and looking through the pages, it is even better than i'd hoped. a perfectly french sole meuniere or aoli or eclair or cheese souffle is all within my grasp. too bad i am thinking i've been spending to much time in the kitchen lately (largely baking oat-based baked goods of late). i don't know what to cook first. 

meanwhile "the silver spoon" italy's quintessential home cookery book was translated into english for the first time a few years ago, which changed my life i love it so. and "vefa's kitchen" greece's quintessential home cookery book was translated for the first time earlier this year and i am excited to dive into that as well, and am especially keen to learn all of eggplants many secrets. spain's 10001 recipes is out too, but i don't have that one yet. they are all gorgeous, beautiful, thoughtfully designed, have quite a heft, and have incredible recipes, many of them so simple to prepare that they are hardly recipes at all, more like a way of life. anyway. i love cooking my way around the world and phaidon press is making that a little easier these days. the world is getting closer all the time.

Oct 14, 2009

what have i been doing?

messing around with (mostly abstract) watercolors lately. trying to put in at least 15 hours a week of actual painting/drawing/printing time. of course another 15 are spent setting up, cleaning up, procuring supplies, organizing the studio, planning, image research, viewing art at museums and galleries and of course searching for inspiration/motivation. my thought is, it doesn't matter what i produce, it only matters that i produce, that i show up and do my best effort every day. takes the thinking out of it, less pressure, more freedom. all of these things encourage quality. plus that 10,000 hours business. you know, the concept (born out through research) that to become expert at anything what's really required is not so much talent but 10,000 hours of effort to become accomplished. whether it is speaking french, cooking, writing a novel, negotiating business deals, becoming a yogi, painting. step 1, put in the time. what i love about watercolors are the light, the color,  the transparency. the immediacy of a wet brush in your hand that is going to dry really quickly, or drip and splotch up your work in the blink of an eye. good fun.

Oct 13, 2009

apple crisp

i had a great weekend. i hope you enjoyed yourselves as well. it was r's birthday. we went out with friends. we stayed in. we hung out with the kids and enjoyed each other's company. we got important chores done. we relaxed. we watched movies. we ate well. we had three days. we rested up.

we even had time to bake a dessert. it was not our traditional birthday faire, chocolate cake with ganache frosting. but it was the simpler more rustic apple crisp. one of those desserts invented for when you have a bunch of apples lying around that aren't getting any younger. 20 minutes to put together and an hour to bake. of course this one is full of oats. apples and oats are a natural combination, ask any horse. but you won't find any cinnamon in here, i don't like it with apples. i like the clean taste of apples, as in tart tatin which relies on the butter and sugar caramelizing together to enhance the apple flavor. but, of course, cinnamon or nutmeg could be added here with good result.

i love apple season. having grown up in the eastern middle west. apples were my favorite food, local orchards were plentiful, fresh cider was delicious. back then i preferred jonathan apples. now i like empires best of all the local apples. nice crisp crunch, tart sweet balance. macintosh and macouns can be good too. read up on your favorite apple varieties here.

note: plums, peaches and rhubarb also make great crisps.

apple crisp
preheat oven to 375 F

2 lbs of apples give or take i used 7 medium to large apples, about 4 cups, peeled and sliced
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1 TBSP sugar

place sliced apples in a medium bowl. add lemon and sugar and stir.
meanwhile make the topping:

1 stick of butter (1/2 cup chilled, sliced)
1 cup of oats
1 cup flour (mix of oat floar, all purpose and whole wheat pastry flour is what i generally use)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans or pistachios might be nice (optional)

combine with your hands until well mixed and sticks together appropriately. a ceramic dish works well as it won't react with the acidic apple mixture. often a gratin pan is used. place apple mixture in pan. cover with crisp mixture. bake in 375 F oven for 1 hour. top should be lightly browned and crisped. apples should be well cooked.

easy peasy. after making lots of tarts lately it is nice to take a break from rolling out pastry. a little more nutritious than pies or tarts with the addition of the oats/nuts, and a more beneficial butter to apple ratio. every little bit helps right?

Oct 8, 2009

pumpkin tart

i've been at it again. baking pumpkin pies and tarts. i can't help myself. it is a compulsion. when i taste that rich custardy pie with the crumbly delicate crust i know everything is right in the world. it can't be helped.

since it is not actually thanksgiving, no need to wait for that old excuse, i had time to make a homemade crust rather than buying a frozen one from whole foods. it turned out great. really well. i read about 10 recipes for pie crust and then condensed them into a new variation which worked perfectly for pumpkin pie. since it is a wet custard type pie, the crust can undercook. to offset this i added a bit of cream, which adds to the general flakiness of a crust as it is more fat. i also warmed the pie crust in the oven slightly before adding the pumpkin mixture. when i make plum tarts or summer fruit tarts i add an egg yolk to the crust when i am adding the ice water which makes the crust slightly more cookie like and therefore hold up to the considerable juice from the fresh fruit.

pie crust 
for two 9 inch pie pans

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or oat flour or a mix of the two 
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into slices
3  TBSP ice water (add one at a time, may need or less depending on humidity/age of flour)
2 TBSP heavy cream

mix flours with salt and sugar. place in food processor. add cold butter slices. pulse until combined and looking like coarse meal. add 1 TBSP ice water and 1 TBSP cream. pulse until just mixed. add another TBSP of ice water and cream. pulse. dough should be starting to come together now. add 1 more TBSP ice water if needed. 

form two discs with the dough. allow to rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes. roll out and place into pie or tart pans. if making a pumpkin pie, it will work best if you warm the dough in the pan in a 350 F oven. for 4 to 5 minutes before adding the pumpkin filling mixture.

filling recipe reprinted below

2 15oz cans pumpkin**
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP minced crystallized ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, whisked
whisk the pumpkin, cream, milk, sugars, salt and spices together thoroughly. correct flavor if necessary (sweeter, ginger, etc) add in whisked eggs. pour into prepared pie crusts in pans. bake in a preheated oven set at 375 for 35 to 40 minutes for a tart and 45 to 55 minutes for a deep dish pie until done, should jiggle just a bit in the center. when you make it in a tart pan as pictured above, it is done in 30 to 35. allow pie to cool for 30 minutes before devouring (in my case, maybe you just eat pie in a restrained and civilized fashion, i do try).

p.s. this time i made it with 2 cups milk and 1 cup cream, for a lighter version, still works well and is lighter. not quite the sinfully-rich version, but completely delicious all the same.

** i use organic canned pumpkin, i have tried making the squash myself, but found the experience laborious and the pie kind of watery and flavorless, not dense and rich. yes, i did use the smaller pie pumpkins they sell around here. altogether disappointing. i don't think i will try it again any time soon. 

Oct 7, 2009

tomato cream sauce

can't decide between tomato or cream sauce for your pasta? constituents noisily lobbying against each other for one or the other? embrace the and. tomato cream sauce. i made this last night. you see i had to drive carpool for an hour in the late afternoon, come home for 45 minutes and head back out to high school curriculum night having fixed and eaten dinner during those same 45 minutes. sound familiar? the all too familiar school year rush. tomato cream sauce and freshly made cheese tortellini to the rescue. i am happy to report our dinner was ready in less than 30 minutes and at least 15 of that was water boiling, another 5 for parmesan cheese grating. phew. i even had time to brush my hair and change my clothes.

tomato cream sauce
3 TBSP olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh tomato (juicy heirlooms work great here, but so do cherry tomaotes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 TBSP organic heavy cream 
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

start pasta water pot boiling. chop tomatoes. (seed or don't seed, it's up to you, i let the clock decide). place in bowl. add salt and olive oil. stir. let rest while you prep grated cheese and vegetables. cook veg. set table. heat saucepan to medium. add salted tomatoes. swirl around for a few minutes. start fresh pasta. add cream. swirl again. sprinkle in parmesan cheese. swirl and sprinkle until all set. allow to simmer another minute or two. drain pasta. pour sauce over pasta. put back on stove for a minute in the warm pan. stir gently. serve. my kids are crazy for this sauce. really nice to have some fresh italian bread to mop up the remaining sauce. tart, creamy, salty, richly satisfying. 

Oct 5, 2009

in memorium

i am going to miss gourmet magazine desperately. conde nast is shutting down gourmet, cookie and modern bride. gourmet! i will especially miss ruth reichl, she has done great things with that title. the layout, the design, her commentary and the great writers she selected as contributors. reading w. hodding carter's extreme frugality posts was always a joy. and so much else. ruth reichl truly amazing, and the recipes were superlative. i am hoping her new tv series, gourmet's adventures with ruth, will still be on pbs. see all about it here. cookie is really cute and always seems to have stylish family friendly lofts and houses on display, wildly creative and colorful. fun. so long friends, you will be missed. 

and internet, you are so disruptive to so many businesses. i love you, but you are cruelly changing everything without regard to quality!

p.s. hodding carter has just started a blog to continue his extreme frugality series, also a book in the works. check out the blog here. and ruth's tv series will still arrive next week on pbs. (yay!)

Oct 2, 2009


today's friday photo and harbinger of autumn: the kabocha squash or japanese pumpkin. bright orange flesh, like a butternut, but with a rich creamy chestnut sort of texture. so delicious so many ways. simmered with a dashi-based sauce. roasted. in soba or udon soup. in japan, you can find them atop pastries and desserts and always with the skin intact, the green is so striking with the orange. don't know how i'll be using this one yet, but i am very much looking forward to it. it is great to have new ingredients to play with for inspiration, marvelous these seasons. have a lovely weekend.

Oct 1, 2009


i got a great package in the mail a while back. i had ordered it for myself, but this did not in any way dampen my enthusiasm/surprise/delight when it arrived. swedish linen dish towels from manos (one of my favorite places on the www). the towels were so beautiful that i had a eureka moment and immediately ordered more (to actually use as dish towels) because i decided to hang them as window coverings in the kitchen with little clothes pins and butcher's twine as they happen to be exactly the same width as the glass. i find them charming. happily, i get to admire them all the time now. i am in love with linen, sweden and stripes so they suit me well. also they cover the perfect amount of window and they let the perfect amount of light in. oh yes i had big plans for fabulous linen cafe curtains in here, with some ribbon stripes, but as often happens, the window is an irregular size and cafe curtain rods are too short and so a special order would be required. naturally, outrageous additional costs would incur. and so here we are. but seriously, do you think i can get away with these swedish linen dish towels as kitchen curtains? i am not so sure. for now, they are staying.
p.s. talk about extreme frugality, cost = $8/window.