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photos by gluttonforlife

10.1.12 Came, Saw, Concord

It's October. How did that happen? If I close my eyes, I can see the pages of the calendar being ripped off and whisked away by the violent winds of time. And yet I can still taste the cream-cheese-&-jelly sandwich I ate with my daddy when he took me to lunch at the deli after nursery school. Time is so mysterious and elastic. Most of us are traveling back with as much frequecy as we move forward. Nothing evokes memory quite as viscerally as taste. Sometimes you can reclaim the past with just one bite. And now and then you can improve upon it, rendering the present moment that much sweeter. Here's a little variation on a theme: the schoolyard lunch, all grown up.
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Tagged — fennel
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photos by gluttonforlife

2.20.12 Spare Me

I've acquired an armload of new cookbooks—despite a total lack of shelf space to house them in our tiny cottage. I just can't resist, especially after reading so many entertaining and informative reviews, especially those from Food52's Piglet competition. The newest tomes are piled up beside my bed, and any seasonal ones (grilling, popsicles, etc) are temporarily lodged in the attic. Cooking in the Moment has now migrated from the bedroom to the kitchen and, though I've only officially cooked one recipe from it so far, I have added several more to my always evolving mental list of "things to be eaten soon." After reading Nigella Lawson's Piglet review of North Carolina chef Andrea Reusing's enticingly photographed and thoughtfully composed book, I was seized with the urge to make her roasted spareribs. Whatever she means by "cooking in the moment"—eating seasonally, I assume—I take it as an excuse to immediately make whatever I most feel like eating right this minute. So ribs it is.
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Tagged — fennel
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photos by gluttonforlife

2.15.12 Salad Days

Those were the days. Sometimes I yearn for the suppleness of youth, its insouciance and capacity for indulgence. But it's a fleeting moment of fantasy because I belong irrevocably to this moment. I inhabit this skin with a sense of purpose and without regret. There are times for looking back and times for looking ahead, but there's no time like the present. As Joni Mitchell sings, in her seminal song "Down To You," Everything comes and goes, marked by lovers and styles of clothes. Things that you held high and told yourself were true, lost or changing as the days come down to you.The salad days that matter now are on your plate. Channel your creativity and your quest for health into this ageless combination of the raw and the cooked. Interrupt the dreary weeks of winter with refreshing concoctions crisp with cabbage, celery, apple and bitter greens, and punctuated with sweet bursts of citrus and pomegranate. By all means toss in some protein—a grated hard-cooked egg; some oily tuna or smoked mackerel; a crumbly goat cheese or sharp pecorino. You're looking to create that perfect balance of flavors and textures: crunchy and creamy, sweet and tart, salty and spicy. As in all things, experience enhances your ability and wisdom makes a superb seasoning.
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Tagged — fennel
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1.18.10 Soup's On

You asked for soup, you got it. This rich and creamy combination of kabocha squash and fennel is a wonderful winter recipe from Suzanne Goin. She's an LA-based chef and I really recommend her cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. (I hope to eat at Lucques, or at AOC, her other place, when I'm in LA later this week.) This is a hearty vegetarian soup (although you can make it with chicken stock) and along with some cheese and salad I think it will leave you quite satisfied. As a general rule, I want to encourage you to play with recipes. Don't get all hung up if you don't have exactly what is called for (this is not baking, after all). Don't have stock on hand? Use water. No chiles de árbol? Try a pinch of cayenne pepper. Can't find the creme fraiche? I'll bet you've got a dollop of sour cream or Greek yoghurt. Go on, let your freak flag fly.This recipe is also a good template for other vegetable soups. Roast or steam or braise whatever you've got—broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, sweet potatoes. Sautee a flavor base in oil and/or butter: garlic, shallots, onions, maybe some celery, parsley, carrots. How about some herbs? Thyme, rosemary, bay leaves. Maybe even some stronger spices like cumin, curry or saffron. Now add some stock or water and your cooked vegetables and let it simmer together. Puree it all in your blender, or right in the pot with an immersion blender. Garnish it with something: croutons or toasted nuts for crunch; a squeeze of lemon or a dash of balsamic vinegar for brightness; a drizzle of pumpkin seed or extra-virgin olive oil. It's easy once you have a bit of a formula to follow, right? How about carrot soup with ginger, garnished with pumpernickel croutons and sea salt? Or broccoli soup with lemon zest, a hit of anchovy paste and some parmesan swirled through. Or cauliflower soup enriched with a little cream, with fried shallots sprinkled on top. You can also whip up a pistou, whizzing together green herbs, lemon zest, nuts and oil into a sort of French pesto that's wonderful stirred into soups.
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Tagged — fennel
Fennel-790-xxx
photo by george billard

1.2.09 Fresh Start

My favorite way to ring in the new year is in the company of dear friends, preferably staying in and sharing a delicious dinner. G and I ushered out 2009 in Stone Ridge at the spacious yet cozy home of our dear friend Stephanie. There were 6 of us knocking back Piggybacks (made with bacon-infused bourbon), cooking together and splitting our sides laughing as we played that guessing game from Inglorious Basterds. (Matthew made me Frank Bruni, which is definitely an inside joke.) At midnight, we grabbed pots and pans and headed out into the snowy night to make a ruckus.
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Tagged — fennel
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