Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saag Gosht and Stuffed Dates

Sunday dinner was Indian night again at the apartment, and fresh from meeting Crystal, we were stocked again with juicy lamb stew meat.  While I studied, Matt set it simmering in a subtly-spiced spinach curry:

Cumin, coriander, chili, and lemon dominated, mellowed by the soft, earthy spinach and rich lamb.  Matt has a lighter hand with the cayenne than I do, so this was more of a comfort food than last week's rogan josh.

My favorite part, though, was his appetizer: medjool dates stuffed with prosciutto and marcona almonds, then baked until warm.

I've had the date/bacon combination before, but these were fantastic.  Medjools are so soft and sweet, and when warm, melt like brown sugar in your mouth.  Laced with the salty, tangy prosciutto, and given texture with the crunch of the almond, the only fault I could find was that I wanted to eat too many of them...


Monday, May 17, 2010

Cafe Summers-Couch

Since the life-changing advent of the espresso machine into our little home, Matt and I have been making noises about baking our own croissants.  This Saturday, we allocated the morning to finally making good on this big dream ... only to discover that a morning does not contain nearly enough hours to successfully make croissants. One week from exams, I spent fourteen hours making French pastries instead of studying:

 At 9:00 AM, we printed off the recipe from Epicurious, pulled out the big bowl and hand-mixer, and industriously whipped together some flour, yeast, and whole milk.

At 10:00 AM, we pounded three sticks of butter between the folds of a dishtowel into a thin slab half an inch thick, then chilled both dough and butter slab.

At 11:00 AM, we rolled out the dough and placed the butter on it, folding like you would a piece of paper you want to stuff in an envelope, rolling out again, folding again into envelope shape, before putting the whole thing back in the fridge to chill.

At 12:00 PM, we did this again.

At 1:00 PM, again.

By 2:00 PM, the butter slab had started to roll into the dough, starting to look kind of flaky (like a croissant!) so after a final roll-out and envelope fold, we could put it away to chill for ABSOLUTELY NO LESS THAN eight hours and ABSOLUTELY NO MORE THAN eighteen.

Eight hours from 2:00 PM is 10:00 PM.  Eighteen hours from 2:00 PM is 8:00 AM.  Neither is ideal, when you have friends coming over for the evening and an intent to drink a few beers on a Saturday night.

This is why you should always read through instructions all the way through before beginning a project.

In the end, we'd just worked too hard all day not to have the flaky, buttery reward at the end, so we pulled the dough out a little early (oh nooo) and started in on the next (no less complicated) steps:

We measured and cut half the dough into six rectangles, then measured and cut those rectangles into twelve triangles, then rolled those triangles into little crescent shapes on a baking sheet.  The other half the dough we measured and cut into eight rectangles, rolling each of those around an ounce of bittersweet chocolate, placing on another baking sheet.

We then placed these baking sheets into two trashbags, propping the trashbags up with glasses:

Ants on a Redwood

Found these ENORMOUS carrots and in a fit of nostalgia for the second grade couldn't resist slathering them with (organic) peanut butter and raisins.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This Pizza is a Whole Food


We spread Bertolli pasta sauce (tomatoes, assorted seasonings, olive oil) on a Rustic Naturals crust (flour, yeast, assorted seasonings) and topped with fresh grated mozzarella, some browned C&D farms ground beef, chopped mushrooms and black olives from Whole Foods.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Slings and Arrows

Friday night, instead of going to Law School Prom (yes, you read that right), I cooked a huge pot of pasta and my friend Galina brought over the first season of "Slings and Arrows," a Canadian show about a Shakespeare festival that was ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT.

I didn't photograph the pasta -- you've seen it before -- but we also dipped some strawberries in Lindt 85% dark chocolate and stuck them in the fridge to chill.  About three episodes in, we pulled them out with some tea:

Lessons learned include: when you dip strawberries in chocolate and chill them, place them on parchment paper instead of a plate.

The chocolate wants to stick to the plate more than it wants to stick to the berries.

Of course, this did not stop us from enjoying every last one.

At Home Indian

Before starting this regime, I'd say we ate out at least twice a week.  That number hasn't necessarily changed all that much, but following the rules has affected the locations at which we dine.  Fresh/local/organic seems to go hand in hand with this particular type of upscale American bistro restaurant.  You never see a fresh/local/organic Mexican, Chinese, or Indian place.  (Chicagoans, if there's some place I'm missing out on, PLEASE fill me in...)

So, much like living on a Reservation in South Dakota, the only solution is to COOK IT YOURSELF.

Enter Thursday night's lamb rogan josh with jasmine rice:

The recipe is one I found on SparkPeople.  Since you can read the recipe here I won't bore you with the details, but it basically involved a big simmering pot of red onions, green chilies, tomatoes, garlic and ginger mashed into a paste, chunks of tender lamb meat I chopped from a loin we bought from Crystal last week, and healthy doses of garam masala, chili powder, turmeric, cumin, and coriander.  Salt to taste, obvs.

Though the recipe doesn't include it, I also threw in some spinach for extra large muscles.

The curry came out incredibly fragrant and spicy, the garam masala and chili powders working together to smell and taste just like your local Indian restaurant's version.  Opening the tupperware the next day for leftovers honestly felt like digging into a doggie bag of leftover carry-out.

This is very exciting.  I consider myself a decent cook, but very very rarely do dishes come out tasting like something I would have paid $30 for...

We finished the meal with some simple coconut milk sherbets, an easy recipe from an Indian cookbook my mom gave me for Christmas one year: fill two cups with milk, adding two tablespoons each of dried coconut and granulated sugar to each.  Stir and freeze.

I froze these a little long, so we had to sort of chip at them with our spoons, but after the spicy lamb, they were cool, refreshing, deliciously creamy and sweet.

Everyone Looks Better in White

This post is an ode to my new dishware, courtesy of Matt. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

New York, New York

For those who were wondering when I started snoring in Evidence this morning: I returned last night from an amazing weekend with the girls in NYC.  (!!!) We shopped at Kleinfeld for my wedding dress (success!), toured Soho in sundresses on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, drank to excess at a beer garden and then to greater excess on Drea and Margaret's rooftop deck, and of course, above all other things, ATE.

Followers of the blog, they were extremely gracious hosts, researching restaurants that would fit the plan.  Turns out, eating unprocessed is pretty easy in New York, where the fresh and local movement is the hip thing to do if you're a chef.

Waiting on Drea to get out of work on Friday afternoon, I dined solo at Cafe 50 West, where I had a big, fresh salad and approximately the most incredible macaroni and cheese (with white truffle oil!) in the history of the world:

Friday night, we hit Jean-Georges' new restaurant, ABC Kitchen.  Totally committed to fresh/local/organic cuisine, the menu lists its source farms on the back.  No need to fear that anything here ever encountered a factory or warehouse:

Margaret had a goat cheese ravioli:

Drea ordered a roasted carrot salad which it would never have occurred to me to get, but turned out to be the greatest thing I had ever tasted:

I got the spicy pork ragu bigoli:

And Melissa had a pizza with prosciutto and kale:

(Sorry these photos are so blurry ... the lighting was a little too romantic for great quality pictures.)

On Saturday, Drea and I took a break from strolling in Soho to dine at another Jean-Georges restaurant, (Mercer)Market.  She and I shared an appetizer of roasted beets with goat cheese before digging into a tuna spring roll and eggs benedict, respectively:

I really can't describe how lemony and wonderful that hollandaise was.  Definitely on my list to learn how to make (without contracting salmonella).

We met up with Margaret after lunch and came upon -- no joke -- an organic ice cream truck.

When you write a blog of this sort and then COME UPON AN ORGANIC ICE CREAM TRUCK there is really a sort of obligation to get an ice cream cone.

So I did:

We finished Saturday with several hours at the Loreley beer garden, during and after which I made the (wise) decision to keep my camera in my bag.

Sunday afternoon, we wrapped up my visit with a trip to Shake Shack.  For those who aren't familiar and don't live in NYC, I'm so sorry.  For those who aren't familiar and do live in NYC, GO.   Make sure to check the Shack Cam before you go, though, to avoid an hours-long line.

I didn't bring the camera on this venture either, but Drea let me snap a photo of my ShackBurger with her iPhone:


To Juliet, Love Juliet

Have I mentioned yet that my birthday present to myself this year was an espresso machine?  Or that it has been TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY LIFE-CHANGING?

Pre-espresso machine I used to end up at Medici three or four times a week for lattes, at about $4 a pop. 

Post-espresso machine I am saving money by drinking wayyyyy more espresso than I ever did before.

This is where addiction and frugality meet back on the other side.