Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Weird Year...

So, 2012 turned out to be a pretty chaotic year for me.  After my pain issues made it impossible to continue my job, I had to go onto long-term disability and move to Portland (where I grew up from birth to age 18, but where I also hadn't lived in the last 15 years...) to be closer to family.  After crashing with my parents for a few months, I found the perfect rental less than a mile away (so we can have cooking fun together and they can also assist with the ever-growing list of things I need help with around the house)... 
Just before I moved, the best bunny in the history of bunnies passed away... and a week after moving in I adopted my little Jackson and have been enjoying the process of getting to know him (and teaching him that the world isn't so scary) ever since.  
 
I had grand plans for getting back to doing more cooking this year, but with all the chaos of moving (twice) and learning to deal with my new pain levels, that hasn't really happened.  I'm looking forward to 2013.  I have an epic list of things I want to cook, and all kinds of new kitchen toys to play with.  Hopefully I'll be popping up in this space more often in the coming year.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cookbook Adventures: Another Take on 48-Hour Short Ribs

I had such a delicious experience with her awesome zucchini dumplings, I went right back to Susan Feniger's Street Food to try another dish. 
The inspiration for trying (and modifying) Korean-Glazed Short Ribs with Sesame and Asian Pear was the abundance of Asian pears hanging from the tree in my back yard. 
Maybe it was because the marinade reminded me of the marinade for Momofuku's 48-hour short ribs, maybe it was just because after cooking short ribs sous vide I would never cook them any other way, but I ended up straying pretty far from the recipe when it came to the cooking of the ribs...  Whatever the reason, the results were totally awesome...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sous Vide Apple Craziness

A friend brought me a big bag of random apples (no idea what kind, just harvested from some trees he was working near), and I was trying to think of something more interesting than an apple crisp to make with them.  What I ended up making turned out pretty freaking cool...

Perfect Sous Vide Tuna

I'm always futzing with my tuna-cooking technique in our family-favorite recipe of Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shiitake Cream Sauce.  The recipe for the sauce is pretty much perfect as written (except I make a double-batch of sauce for 6 servings... because it's that good and I always want guests to get as much as they want...), but the prescribed method of cooking the tuna is kind of stupid.  After playing around with a few methods, I have finally found The One, giving me just a couple millimeters of sear on the outside with an interior that is warm and bright pink all the way through.
The key to this technique was to partially freeze the tuna steaks (for about 30-60 minutes... we just threw them in the freezer while we enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail on the patio) before searing in a very hot pan.  (This prevents the interior from overcooking while you get a good sear.)  From here you chill again for a few minutes before vacuum sealing and throwing into a 110°F water bath for 30 minutes.  This is the only way I'll be doing my tuna steaks from now on...  Perfection!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cookbook Adventures: Amazing Zucchini Dumplings

While pondering what to do with some extra zucchini from my mom's garden, I stumbled across a Cook the Book post over at Eatocracy with pictures of some insanely delicious-looking dumplings.  I knew the moment I saw that picture that I was going to have to make them myself as soon as possible..
 
My brother was laughing at me because I was explaining that I almost never cook vegetarian...  I told him I was planning to make these dumplings, and I said, "Ooh.  Those are vegetarian!  I'm serving them with pork..."  Subtract the pork from the equation, though, and they'd be a really impressive vegetarian appetizer...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Big Box of Produce

For my second Big Box of Produce in Portland, I went with an option that combined fruit and veggies. I'm not really a fruit person generally, but I felt like I should work on that... Like last time, everything in the box was absolutely gorgeous...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chicken Makhani and Other Yumminess

Prompted by another pound of beautiful green beans in my last produce delivery and by a desire to try some new recipes, those beans led to my cooking an Indian(-inspired) feast...
Chicken Makhani, Saag, Dal, and Green Beans with Coconut Spice...  (Plus homemade Naan, of course...)

Friday, July 27, 2012

From the Garden: Fava Bean Agnolotti with Curry Emulsion

While I was still crashing with my parents, I had the brilliant idea that "we" should grow our own fava beans in their amazing garden. 
I say "we" in the sense that I came up with the idea, ordered the seeds, then sat in a reclining patio chair with a glass of wine while I watched my mom plant them... I left the rest of the work to my mom, but she was kind enough to bring me the bulk of the harvest anyway...

Big Box of Produce

As the chaos of moving began to subside, I decided to try a Portland-area produce delivery service.  I really enjoyed the process of trying to cook my way through the Big Box of Produce that I ordered in Boston back in the day (even if that box was more than I could handle without living in the kitchen full-time), and it seemed like it was worth another try.  Out here in Portland my produce deliveries will come from OrganicsToYou.  Here's what came in my first box:

Aaaand... I'm Back.

It's been a while since I've posted here.  After moving to Portland I was staying with my parents for about 6 months, which made cooking a bit more complicated (if only because I had people who were willing to cook me delicious dinners while I worked on not hurting myself by over-doing it).  Now that I'm back in my own place I'll be doing much more cooking and posting... It feels good to be getting back into a routine...

A major change since last I posted is that my awesome Charley passed away in a tragic accident.  He was pretty much the greatest bunny in the history of bunnies, and I miss him like crazy.  He had been struggling with a recurring abscess in his jaw bone for a couple years and was never going to die of old age, but it still hurt to lose him so suddenly.
Because I know having a cute little fluff-ball around is good for putting a smile on my face even on bad days, I adopted another rabbit not long after I lost Charley.  His name is Jackson, and he's pretty freaking cute.  He lived the first 4 years of his life in a shelter and then in a crowded (but very loving) foster home, so he's a bit shy ("paranoid" is how the shelter described him... which is pretty accurate).  I'm working on bringing him out of his shell, though, and he's slowly coming along... little by little... 
So, yeah...  That's what's been happening around here...  More posts about cooking (and Jackson) to follow...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Everyday Yumminess: Perfect Ricotta Revisited

In all the chaos of preparing to move and then moving, it had been quite a while since I'd made a batch of ricotta. In the meantime, a comment appeared on my last post about ricotta from a brilliant woman named Lynn suggesting an improved technique that has all the convenience of the sous vide method but doesn't involve any consumables (bags, cheesecloth, etc...).
I tried this technique for yogurt-making a couple weeks ago and it was fantastic, then today I finally got around to making a batch of ricotta with this new method and it's super-cool. Thus, I thought I'd better share the new method as its own post so that even people who don't read the comments on the older post can learn about it.

Everyday Yumminess: Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Revisted

When I first made Thomas Keller's fried chicken recipe from the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook, it was pretty much the most amazing fried chicken I had ever tasted in my entire life. The recipe is pretty simple, especially by Thomas Keller standards, but I get super-stressed-out frying chicken on the bone, worrying about whether or not I will get it cooked perfectly all the way through to the bone without over-cooking it. The solution to this "problem" is the same solution I come up with for most kitchen problems: sous vide!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Everyday Yumminess: Totally Awesome French Fries (and a Tasty Burger)

I've always felt that perfect french fries are an important dish to have in one's making-your-friends-think-you're-a-good-cook repertoire. Historically, I used the method that "everyone" uses: soak in water, fry at low temperature to cook the interior, fry at high temperature to get the exterior crispy, then be sad 2 minutes later when your once-crispy fries have lost all crispiness. (Maybe that last part only happens to me? I don't know...) Poking around the interweb, I can across a lot of blogs (e.g., this one, which has step-by-step pictures) talking about cold oil french fries, a recipe that appears to have originated at Cook's Illustrated (and was inspired there by Jöel Robuchon). In short, they are super-easy to make, incredibly crunchy long after they finish cooking, and even have 1/3 less fat than fries cooked the usual way. Awesome.

Charley! (And an Update)

Hi there...
During my absence from this blog, quite a bit has happened. As a result of a lot of factors relating to pain management issues, I moved from Waltham to Portland, OR in January to crash with family until I can sort things out. Pedro and Rico, both blind and both having a hard time putting up with Charley's craziness lately, are with a new human in the Boston area who is giving them all the love and affection they so deserve. Mr. Charley, though, came to Portland with me.