Friday, February 29, 2008

3-Min "Slow Carb" breakfast from Tim Ferris.

I love Tim Ferriss's "4-hour workweek" blog. Great life-hacks and ideas, but I didn't realize he was looking to become a food personality as well. He's good looking, so he's got that going for him, but his video demonstrating a 3-minute breakfast is almost 7 minutes long. Check it out:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A melted cheese tray - Warm Pecorino Fondue at Craftbar

I had some business in NYC a few weeks ago, and this time I worked ahead to get some restaurant recos. My neighbor, Ms. Goldberg, strongly suggested that I check out CraftBar - a creation of high-profile James Beard award winning chef Tom Colicchio (also now infamous as head judge on Top Chef). J the BF happened to have business in NYC at the same time, so we decided to have a pre-Valentine's day date night at this "moderately priced" outpost of Colicchio's Craft empire.

We started the meal with a Warm Pecorino Fondue which was good enough to make your teeth sweat. The dish itself was fascinating in the enticing combination of components of a cheese tray
(cheese, nuts, honey, spicy veggies) into a hot, creamy molten bowl of pleasure. The pecorino was melted along with acacia honey, hazelnuts and pepperoncini. The meal that followed was equally stunning and inspiring (including the warm frissee with gorgonzola and poached egg which I have already been trying the recreate).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Slow food express - Fusilli with Rich Meat Ragù

Sundays are my favorite day to cook - I get the morning to work out, pick up what I want from the grocery and go to town for the afternoon in the kitchen. Ideally, this would be time for me to execute "slow food" recipes where you take your time to build delicious hearty meals from scratch and let time-intensive technique and methods take over. Somehow, my Sundays rarely afford me that luxury.

Take this past weekend for instance. I got up late on Sunday (10:30am) struggled to get my breakfast in, sampled the Sunday New York Times and slugged my way into the gym. At that point, it was already pushing 3pm (time flies when you're slow) and I still needed to do my French lesson, cook dinner and make a weak attempt to catch up on some work after being in New York for the better part of last week. Further, J the BF had a flight at 9pm, so dinner needed to be served promptly by 7 in order for him to get to the airport in time for his flight.

Long story short, I needed to do a shortcut Sunday dinner. The New York Times Magazine featured a story on "Slow Food" which proclaimed that the secret to making the perfect ragù is time - time to let the meat and vegetables brown and brown and brown again concentrating the flavor and giving you a rich deep pudding-like sauce. My two favorite quotes from the article were:

"Brown food taste good" and
"Crud and scrape . . . crud and scrape."

You have to just read it to get it, but I didn't have time for all the crud and brown and whatever, but a rich hearty meat sauce and pasta was what I was hankering for. Instead, I turned to this recipe for Spaghetti with Rich Meat Ragù in Food and Wine. I subbed Fusilli (which I had on hand) and added a splash of cheap red wine as I had a hard time imagining this sauce with no wine - Ragùs need wine, don't they? Drunk harlot sauces that they are! I also tried to give the meats time to sufficiently brown and did a couple of rounds of "crud & scrape" before I gave up and just had to finish the devilish sauce.

All in all, took about an hour (vs. about 3 hours for a traditional version) and the hint of rosemary made it extra fab. I enjoyed it with a side of baby spinach wilted with garlic, olive oil, and Gorgonzola cheese plus a glass of Big House Red wine. When I have one of those fantasy Sundays, I'll try the slow crud and scrape version. I want to experience this brown food business.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Brrrr! Get some Southern heat up here! - Shaver's Chocolate Pecan Pie

We woke up on Sunday to 14-below weather with a wind chill of -38 degrees. "Why do we live here, again?" asked J the BF as we jumped out of bed only long enough to turn on the fireplace and rush back under the covers. This is a world away from the Alabama winters I grew up with for sure. At least we were not "up north" this weekend with our neighbors in International Falls, MN who were enjoying an air temp of 40 below (a record, fitting their new official title as "The Nation's Icebox").

This being the Twin Cities, we can't sit at home and hide from the weather. Instead, we get out and visit friends and act as if this sort of weather is normal. Our buddies JH and Dr. Sam host a monthly "soup" party during the winter where we gather at their place to share soup, wine, progressive ideas, art and other Yuppie liberal notions. I usually bring a dessert, so I decided to err toward something Southern to cut through the chill. I have this recipe for Chocolate Pecan Pie that I ripped out of a promotional magazine my mother had in her kitchen. We had it for Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, and it was a big hit - a fudgy just sweet-enough chocolate filling studded with loads of crunchy pecans. I love pecan pies because they are so rediculously easy to mix up and get great results.

Shaver's Chocolate Pecan Pie
1/2 c (1 stick) butter
2 squares (2 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c light corn syrup
1/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 c chopped or whole pecans
1 9 in. unbaked pie crust (I use Pillsbury frozen crusts - regular, not deep dish)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler over hot water.
Pour this into a large bowl and let cool slightly.
Add the beaten eggs, then stir in the sugar, corn syrup, flour, vanilla, and salt. Fold in the pecans.
Pour filling into crust and bake for 30 minutes or until the top looks dry (I cooked mine for about 37 minutes)

Recipe is from Paula Dean's Kitchen Classics (according to blogger Angelninas)