Rugelach was always one of those desserts that I wanted to try to make. For whatever reason, there seemed to be some mystery to it, some complexity locked within its spiral shape. At the bakery or deli, I always peered through the glass cases with equal parts wonder and admiration. How did they get that perfect spiral shape? How did they get the filling so evenly distributed?
In bakeries with rugelach, I always felt tempted to try one. What was an ordinary, cookie or brownie, when there was rugelach. What was a simple circle or square when there was a dough-filled spiral? Indeed, each bakery Continue reading
The idea of making a roulade seemed, at first glance, somewhat intimidating. There was the rolling, then unrolling, and finally, the re-rolling. The instructions seemed intricate and the cake seemed delicate. Visions of a cake suddenly collapsing and crumbling under its own weight flashed before me, wiping away my mixing and baking efforts in a moment.
But then I stopped, and remembered that this was not the first time that I faced what seemed to be an insurmountable cooking hurdle. There had, after all, been many intimidating cooking projects before this one. I had made flan, caramelizing sugar. I had made oat bread, coaxing the yeast. I had made spanakopita, Continue reading
A savory alternative to cinnamon twists is cheese straws. The preparation and process is much the same, but instead of cinnamon and sugar, try gruyere, parmesan, Continue reading
After our adventures in Tuscany, we headed to Rome. And as the saying goes: When in Rome, eat like a Roman.
On our third night in Rome, we decided to skip the hotel concierge and consult a higher authority: Google. Google sent us to Pizzeria Baffetto in the Campo Marzio neighborhood.
The cab driver dropped us off as close as he could, and we set out on the cobblestone streets to find the pizzeria. After a minute of walking, we saw a line extending several feet out of the door. If this was the line at 9:00 at night, it had to be good pizza.
After forty minutes passed, we took our seat Continue reading
French recipes are, understandably, often steeped in history. The nation is as proud of its culinary traditions as it is of its epistolary and philosophical ones. It’s why the incursion of soft drinks and hamburgers are as noxious as the incursion of English words like “le leader,” “le power” and “le hot-dog.” It’s why Jose Bove can become a national icon for burning down a McDonalds, and why Maria Antoinette’s remarks about brioche could topple a monarch. The evolution of French culture and identity can be easily traced along the x-axis of language, and y-axis of cooking.
The center of this graph, the 0,0 point, might well be Marcel Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, or The Remembrance of Things Past. In one section Continue reading
Cooking offers the chance to learn something new.
Sometimes, it’s a new cooking style – broiling or deep frying, perhaps. Other times, cooking offers the opportunity to try a new spice or a new vegetable. When I learned the difference between sweet potatoes and yams, I went out and bought two different types of yams.
Not surprisingly, when I learned the difference between the different types of winter squash, I went out and bought three different types of squash. Among them were two varieties I had never tried: acorn and ambercup.
Roasting different varieties together has its advantages. It offers the chance Continue reading
Thanksgiving is no time for experiments. On any regular Thursday, the pizza parlor is just a phone call away. But on Thanksgiving, there is no such luxury.
This year, I stuck with Ina Garten’s recipe for roast turkey. Though, unlike the two previous years, I decided to brine my turkey – a technique which I had not yet tried. Brining – the process of immersing the meat in a salt-water mixture – works to dry and salt the meat by osmosis. That is, excess salt from the juice flows into the meat, while excess water from the meat, flows into the juice. Which doesn’t sound great: who wants dry, salty meat?
Fortunately, the osmotic process is not finished. As the salt enters the meat, Continue reading
During my senior year of high school, I got my first laptop. By today’s standards, it was slow and it was heavy. It hardly had any memory and it couldn’t even play a movie. But it had an ethernet port, and so, it had potential.
When I got to college, Firestone library was only a few hundred yards from my dorm room. But on a cold, wind-swept winter day, its collection and online database couldn’t have seemed farther. Fortunately, with a few keystrokes, and mouse clicks, its newspaper articles and scholarly journals were within reach. From the university network, I could also stream my Russian language files and download my French politics assignment. Early into freshman year, my laptop had become the epicenter of my college education.
Ten years later, Continue reading