Caitlin arrived in Cincinnati last Saturday, partly for work, and partly to celebrate her 27th birthday (that Monday).
After picking her up at the airport, we headed to dinner. After dinner, we returned to my apartment, where – as is her custom – Caitlin examined the contents of my refrigerator. After sampling the almond butter and my homemade tzatziki sauce, she concentrated her sights on the large, domed item, carefully wrapped in foil.
It was, obviously, her cake. But what kind of cake, she wondered. Alas, I could not answer the question; it was not yet her birthday.
After a small amount of pleading (it was, after all, her birthday weekend), I agreed to give her a series of hints.
It had pumpkin, I told her, knowing Continue reading
Relationships are like cooking. Just as recipes often require staple ingredients, so too are relationships built on certain foundational elements. But, beyond the basics, the thrill of cooking resides for me in the unexpected combination of ingredients. The way a sprinkling of cayenne pepper intensifies chocolate with its smoky spice.
Charles and I share many ingredients between us: a love of writing and cooking (and a sometimes bossy attitude in the kitchen!), a creative eye, an interest in obscure documentaries, the desire to wander new cities by foot, and the legal profession. And while I cherish our similarities, my life has been enriched by our unique ingredients. Charles was raised Jewish in New Orleans and with several siblings, whereas I grew up in Washington, D.C. as an only child from an Irish Catholic family. Together, we’ve incorporated these traditions, yielding a flavor that is complex, new, and wonderful.
Last March, we tried our hand at hamantaschen in honor of Purim. In December, amidst law school final exams, I enjoyed Continue reading
As I’ve noted, popovers can be a fickle lot. Sometimes they don’t pop. Sometimes they explode. And sometimes, they simply refuse to come out of their cups.
But when everything comes together, when the popovers pop and glide effortlessly out of their cups, and the warm dough heats your fingertips, the results can be stunning. To give these popovers a winter touch, I used Continue reading
If you know me, you know I love sweet potatoes. So, when it came time to create a Thanksgiving menu, the question wasn’t whether I was going to serve sweet potatoes, the question was simply what recipe to choose.
I wanted something fairly simple to make, but that would nonetheless impress. I also wanted it to be something unique and fun. This recipe met Continue reading
In feeding my clafoutis addiction, I got into the habit of picking a handful of plums and peaches every Saturday morning at the Farmers’ Market. The peaches, both white and yellow, would make their way into my Peach Italian Ice. The plums, I decided, would partner perfectly with pancakes.
Plums were first cultivated in China about 2000 years ago, but didn’t arrive in the United States until about 1880, when the renowned botanist, Luther Burbank, began importing Japanese plums into California. Indeed, at last count, California was home to nearly 200 varieties of plums. Unfortunately, most plums are characterized Continue reading
Adding some vanilla-sugar is one of my favorite ways to spice up a recipe. Where ordinary sugar might seem dull and uninspired, the simple addition of vanilla-sugar gives any dish an extra sense of wow! Best of all, Continue reading
I have an impatient streak. It’s why I don’t play golf, and why I can’t read music. It’s why I prefer talking to texting, and why I bring work home. It might also be why I scheduled this post to publish while on vacation. So when things take longer than I think they should, I get frustrated. And when things don’t work out the first time, to say nothing of the second time, I get equally frustrated.
In the kitchen, however, I’m a little more forgiving. In the kitchen, I’m usually willing to forgive a first mishap, and to chalk it up as a culinary rough draft. Some of my recipes even look like the galleys of a novel, with the characteristic cross-outs and line-edits. Ingredients are substituted or subtracted like unwanted sentences, cooking times expand or contract like secondary characters, and quantities increase or decrease as if page numbers.
As writing is to cooking, I’m willing to work through a few rough drafts. And this recipe took more than a few. In all, Continue reading
Between Three-Cheese Risotto and the subsequent Suppli al Telefono, I seem to have rice on the brain. Naturally, I decided to make rice pudding with the little remaining rice I still had.
The beauty of this recipe rests in its simplicity. It’s six ingredients, one saucepan, and one stirring spoon. I use 1% milk and it remains delicious. If I have if after dinner, I can call it dessert. But with two cups of low-fat milk and a few servings of rice, I can also have it when I wake up, and call it breakfast.
I really recommend using Continue reading
Chantilly, France is a small commune located twenty miles North of Paris. For nearly 200 years, Chantilly belonged to the Princes of Conde, a younger branch of France’s royal family. During that period, the region served as an example of the ascendancy of French art, architecture, and taste. And on the matter of taste, no one exemplified French cooking better than Francois Vatel.
After an apprenticeship as a pastry chef, Vatel began working for Nicolas Fouquet at his Chateau in Vaux-le-Vicomte. Jealous of Fouquet’s displays of wealth and opulence, King Louis XIV jailed Fouquet in 1661. Six years later, Vatel moved to Chantilly, where he worked for Louis II de Bourbon, the Prince of Conde at the time. In 1671, King Louis announced he would be visiting the Prince at his Chateau in Chantilly. The visit required Vatel to prepare three days of meals for six hundred nobles and several thousand other members of the Sun King’s staff. Vatel was given fifteen days to prepare, and barely slept for most of them.
On the first day of his Majesty’s visit, unexpected guests arrived, leaving two tables without meat, plungingVatel into a deep depression. Continue reading
The expression “plain vanilla” strikes me as a bit of a misnomer.
The vanilla bean is the fruit of an orchid, and not just any orchid. Of the hundred or so species of vanilla-producing orchids, only two species produce a vanilla suitable for cooking. One species, vanilla planifolia, produces Bourbon vanilla, while the other species, vanilla tahitensis, produces Tahitian vanilla.
Bourbon vanilla and Tahitian vanilla are as exotic as they sound. That is, the varieties derive their names from their respective locales. Bourbon vanilla is produced from planifolia orchids grown on islands in the Indian Ocean, namely Madagascar, Comoros, and Réunion. Some three hundred years ago, Réunion was named Bourbon Island (Île Bourbon), in honor of the French royal family. Tahitian vanilla is produced from tahitensis orchids in French Polynesia (which includes Tahiti).
The different climates of each locale Continue reading