Cranberry-Chocolate Biscotti

Biscotti

One of the problems of having a food blog is – quite obviously – making sure that you have food to photograph. This problem is particularly acute when making dinner or when otherwise cooking at night. Photography at night is a no-win situation. There is no natural light, leaving only the harsh glow of the incandescents. When it comes to dinner, there is the option of photographing on long exposures while the meal grows cold, or simply hoping for presentable leftovers. When it comes to other recipes, the challenge is saving enough for a future daytime photograph.

And that’s the rub here. I made these chocolate-cranberry biscotti Continue reading

Sesame Tofu Stir-Fry with Brown Rice and Carrot-Wasabi Soup

Sesame TofuIt’s funny.  Some of the easiest things to make can sometimes be the hardest.  Case in point: rice.  People have been cooking rice for thousands of years.  It is a staple crop and a foundation for meals for hundreds of millions of people around the world.  And damned if I can only make it well once out of every two tries.

I mean, I could always get a rice cooker, that could gauge the temperature and weight of the rice, and take all the chance out of my hands.  But I already have so many kitchen appliances.  And I only make rice so often.

Instead, I just stick to my saucepan Continue reading

New Orleans Pralines

Pralines

I will admit that my recipe headline is a bit redundant. When I think of Pralines I only think of New Orleans. I can imagine no other city evoked by these confections. It may, of course, be my own bias, having grown up in New Orleans, and having passed Aunt Sally’s Praline Shop in the French Quarter countless times.

A few weeks ago, Caitlin and some of her fellow bridesmaids hosted a bridal shower.  The bride-to-be was one of Caitlin’s childhood friends and the groom-to-be was another New Orleans boy (we make such good husbands).  With that in mind, the food and drinks for the evening were to have a Maryland (for her) and New Orleans (for him) theme.

Pralines

Among other items, I volunteered to make pralines for our guests.  At first, we had thought about ordering the pralines, but that seemed expensive, not to mention the threat of breakage.  So we transitioned to the plan that had me making several dozen pralines.

And several dozen I made.  My first batch was a complete and total failure.  I Continue reading

Soba Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Tofu

Soba Noodles

Until recently, I had never heard of Soba noodles.  Not once.  When I first heard them mentioned, I ran into the grocery store and emerged with some form of lo mein noodles.  The second time, replete with the knowledge that they were closer to whole wheat spaghetti, than chinese noodles, I came back with, well, whole wheat spaghetti, unable to locate the soba noodles.

Finally, I decided to no longer leave it up to chance.  I walked into the grocery store – our neighborhood Schnucks no less — and asked whether they carried Soba noodles.  Within a few seconds, a store employee had brought me exactly what I wanted – a clear package with Japanese characters adorning the label.  This was it.  I had found the elusive noodle.

In this case, Schnucks carried these Yamaimo Soba Noodles in their Asian aisle.  I had never seen Continue reading

Chicken Tagine with Fennel and Olives

Chicken TagineI enjoy cooking. I don’t find it to be either a chore or an obligation. And because I enjoy cooking, cookbooks and kitchen tools make successful gifts and presents. I’ve gotten carving knives, gourmet olive oils and vinegars, and blog- and New Orleans- themed cookbooks from friends and family. On my 30th birthday, Caitlin made me a doughnut cake, with the additional gift of the doughnut cake pans that helped to bake that cake.

More recently, I received a tagine, Continue reading

Tofu Chorizo Breakfast Tacos

Tofu Chorizo

The Best Cookbook Ever, as the name implies, is a damn good cookbook. I first checked the book out from the library about three months ago. Five or six “mind-blowing” and “deliciously awesome” recipes later, the book has become a kitchen fixture and a faithful auto-renewal. Its recipes may not really make you “cry as you cook from it [and] change your life forever” but it may just leave you constantly cooing over your culinary creations.

From their Soba Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms to Rigatoni Paprikash, each recipe has proved easy to make and delicious. Weekday meals have lost their repetitive dull. The Sussman brothers – living proof that the Hipster movement is alive and well – are also vegetarian friendly, with many of their entrées meat free. Tongue-in-cheek, many recipes suggest possible “Meatifications” for those who may be going “on a meat-eating walkabout” to discovery why they are, after all, vegetarian.

Speaking of meatification, this recipe began meatified. It was my adaptation – the result of finding Continue reading

Homemade Tamales with Black Beans and Spanish Rice

Tamales

For the best tamales, you should use your abuela’s recipe.  In my case, not having an abuela of my own, I borrowed the recipe from Stephanie’s abuela — Marie E. Salazar.

At first, I thought that making tamales would be difficult and agonized over the proper ingredients and procedure. I wondered whether the effort would pay off and whether the tamales would taste like those tamales we once had from a street vendor in Santa Fe. And most of all, I wondered whether I had the energy to embark on a two-day adventure of stewing, cooking, folding, and steaming, all by myself.

In her write-up, Continue reading