Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Boozy brownies



And three sticks of butter.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


What do you do when a farm gives you tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and fresh thyme? Make ratatouille, of course! I have a special place in my heart for the dish after watching the movie and dressing up as the little chef for screw, so when faced with this combination of fresh-picked produce, there was only one thing to make.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chard and eggplant lasagna

I wanted to make a veggie pie with Clagett Farm's chard, but since Helen C. is not a fan of eggs, I decided to made these instead. I had less eggplants and chard on hand than the recipe called for so my stuff to noodle ratio was a bit off, but this lasagna still turned out well. Without a heavy-handed portion of meat and cheese, it was light but filling.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mint tea

Saturday's bounty and the extended visit of our returning Watson fellow/chef/tea enthusiast were the inspirations I needed to get out of my cooking rut of Indian food and cereal. I'll certainly get to all the good stuff Helen and I have been cooking up, but since I only have ten minutes until my bedtime, this will just be a quick tea-related post. While enjoying a delicious dessert (teaser: it involves rum), we also used some of the mint I picked for tea. Steeping fresh mint produces a brew that's slightly sweet, citrus-y, and wonderfully refreshing. Sometimes one forgets that mint is much more than just menthol.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The vegetables of my labor

I could really use my kitchen back home right now.

I could use a spoonful of black rice vinegar, a dash of rice wine, and a big wok for some stir-fried eggplant. I'd like a cast iron skillet so I can make the creamiest scrambled eggs with a lot of chives. I need a large baking dish to make a pie with half a pound of chard. And I need a heavy-duty Wusthof chef's knife to cut up a butternut squash into 1/2 in dice so I can saute it with a lot of thyme. None of these things live in my tiny apartment kitchen.

Did I mention that my kitchen is overflowing with produce?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Feta and watermelon salad

I often tell people that one of the reasons I like to take pictures and write about food is because I remember things through food. When I visit a place, I often remember the food better than anything else. This summer was no different. I explored far off places with dear friends and ate better than I have in a long time. I soaked in the espresso-scented landscape of mountains and water in the Pacific Northwest, gobbled up peanut butter by the sporkfuls while hiking the toughest miles on the Appalachian Trail, and cooked up fantastic meals with friends in the loveliest of kitchens.

My past summer food memories seem to be dominated by fruits. Summers in Beijing would not be complete without seeing big blue trucks parked along dirt roads with a huge pile of watermelons as their only cargo. My family and I would buy as many as we could stick in the fridge and take them out again as soon as they were chilled. If we had company, we'd cut them into slices, but if it was just us, we would just cut them into halves and dig in with big spoons. They were the best way to cool down. In New Delhi, the only good thing about walking around in 120F weather is coming home and finding cold mangos in the fridge. There is nothing in the world like ripe Indian mangoes.

Living in India has ruined me for mangoes anywhere else. But luckily, I still very much enjoy watermelons, which brings me to this salad. Seriously, this salad is amazing. I'm really sad to have discovered it so late in the summer (if it's still summer at all). I've only had it twice and it's already one of my favorites. It's so incredibly refreshing that I almost wish the oppressively hot weather with its air quality warnings would come back so I can enjoy the cooling effects of this salad to its maximum potential.

It's just watermelon, feta, and your choice of greens (I like spinach because its mildness doesn't take away from the other two main ingredients). The feta, which goes surprisingly well with watermelon, does a really good job of making the salad a little more substantial and adding another dimension of flavor. On top of everything, I used a simple and light vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, olive oil, shallots and salt.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The New Vegetarian

I just added a new food blog to my google reader. Adding a new subscription always feel like a big commitment - more time wasted spent reading instead of doing work, another person to care about when they have something to say. But I think Yotam Ottolenghi's New Vegetarian is definitely worth it. The column has recipes that combine interesting ingredients in ways unfamiliar to me. And as someone who is constantly teetering on the edge of complete vegetarianism, I enjoy not having to think about how to substitute out the meat in a dish and worry about how that's going to affect its taste.

One of my favorite things about reading food blogs as opposed to a cookbook is that a good blog always reminds me of what's in season. Being constantly strapped for cash prevents me from buying too many fresh and fancy ingredients, so when I do, it better be good and worth the money. Here's an example of what's not worth the money: I once tried to buy a single heirloom tomato at the Dupont Circle farmers market and it was more than $6. Needless to say, I put it back on the shelf for some rich yuppy who won't flinch at the price. Anyway, good vegetarian food blogs tend to post recipes that use a lot of fresh ingredients, which tend to be the cheapest and the best-tasting when they're in season.

The New Vegetarian not only incorporates many seasonal ingredients, but also prepares them in interesting ways, often with plenty of herbs and spices. My go-to method of cooking most veggies is to roast them and/or stick them in salads, so I look forward to expanding my repertoire. Plus, his pictures are gorgeous!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Apartment cuisine: chana masala and stir-fried broccoli

This may look very similar to what I ate on one of my first nights at the apartment: something vaguely Indian and something green with rice.

But it's not! Instead of corn curry, it's chana masala, and instead of Trader Joe's Indian food, it's stir-fried broccoli.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What's the big deal with these small cakes?

I just don't understand this current fad. Can someone explain them to me?

The incredibly long line outside the mysteriously famous Georgetown Cupcake over the weekend

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Adventures in granola making, part 1 of many

When it comes to cereal and granola, I'm pretty picky: It needs to hold its crunch and not be too sweet. It can't have raisins or coconut, and it should have pumpkin seeds in it. Unfortunately, the types of cereal I like come almost exclusively in small boxes with high prices. Given my continued desire to eat lots of cereal and not go bankrupt, I decided to take the matter into my own hands.