Tag Archives: Bread Crumbs

Endive Gratin

Whenever I think of endives, I think of the year I spent in France.

During my junior year of college, I studied in Paris, at the Institute of Political Science, or Sciences-Po, as they called it.  While there, my classes were entirely in French – it being a french university and all.  I even took a Russian language course: nothing beats learning a foreign language in a different foreign language.

For the first semester, all of the international students – and there were a few hundred – went to lecture with the native French students, but then had smaller discussion groups among themselves.  The idea was to allow us to develop our French skills sufficiently, so that we could be fully immersed in the regular discussion groups by second semester.  It also allowed us a chance to meet the fellow international students struggling to learn the History of the Second Republic in French.

My Russian class, however, was the one class Continue reading

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Mozzarella Stuffed Tomatoes

Stuffed Tomatoes

Tomatoes have long been a source of suspicion and derision.

Tomatoes were first cultivated by the Aztecs around the 8th Century, who had given the fruit the name “tomatl.”  A few centuries later, the Conquistadors brought tomato seeds back with them to Europe.  But despite its arrival in the Old Continent, the tomato was not yet for eating.  European botanists placed the tomato alongside the Solanaceae family, a group of poisonous and narcotic plants, and came to view tomatoes as poisonous and hallucinogenic.

Stuffed Tomatoes Collage

Even once edible, tomatoes still served as a source of derision.  During the days Continue reading

Three-Cheese Suppli al Telefono

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I wasn’t quite sure what to name this dish.

After making my three-cheese risotto, I ended up with several servings of left-over, cold risotto.  Cold risotto, it turns out, is perfect for making fried risotto balls, alternately known as suppli or arancini.

Suppli is short for “Suppli al Telefono,” which translates as “telephone wires.”  Traditional suppli is fried risotto that has been stuffed with mozzarella cheese.  The idea, of course, is that biting into a good suppli produces a low-hanging mozzarella string, reminiscent of telephone wires.

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Arancini is Italian for “little orange,” because Continue reading

Chicken Piccata

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“We have not an hour of life In which our pleasures relish not some pain, Our sours some sweetness.”  — Philip Massinger.

Why does sour get such a bad name? The word is practically synonymous with misfortune and unpleasantness.   A business deal goes sour.  A friend develops sour grapes.  A neighbor becomes a sour puss.  You can’t help but develop a sour disposition.  In fact, under these conditions, your whole outlook on life may turn sour.

These expressions are hardly novel or recent. Sour has held its pejorative crown for centuries.  The expression “sour grapes” dates back Continue reading

Homemade Bread Crumbs

Seasoned Bread Crumbs: Awaiting Processing

Bread crumbs are one of those indispensable ingredients.   They give gratins and casseroles their attractive topping, they give meatloaf its consistent texture, and they give fried chicken its trademark crunch.  To accommodate these various roles, bread crumbs come in two styles: fresh (soft) or dried.

As the name implies, fresh, or soft, bread crumbs are fluffier and softer than their dried counterparts.  Because of their consistency, they are frequently used as a binder in meatloaf and dumplings, or as a topping for gratins and casseroles.  Dried bread crumbs, on the other hand, are finer and crisper than the fresh variety.  Their crisp texture makes them perfect for breading meat and seafood.  With the addition of herbs and spices, each variety can be transformed into seasoned bread crumbs.

Any good bread can serve as the raw material Continue reading

Chicken Roulade

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Within my circle of friends, two of us cook.  Which gave Jamey, the host of our weekly poker game, an idea.  He would volunteer to host a cook-off between Eric and I – a Top Chef Deathmatch as he billed it. As part of the competition, Eric and I would be charged with creating an appetizer and an entrée in ninety minutes, which our friends would then collectively judge and critique.  As part of the rules, Eric and I could bring our own proteins and rely on our girlfriends as sous-chefs.  We could also help ourselves to any ingredients and cookware we found in Jamey’s apartment.  The competition had yet another element.  The four judges would be bringing Continue reading

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Meatballs and Spaghetti

In August 2002 (back in the early days of blogging), Julie Powell began an interesting project on her blog.  Frustrated with her job, her marriage, and her living arrangements in one of the “outer boroughs,” she vowed to master the art of french cooking.  That is, Powell decided to make every one of the 536 recipes contained in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year’s time.  The project’s simplicity, balanced with its sheer scope, soon captured the interests of her fellow bloggers and several media outlets (and eventually earned her a book and movie deal).

On a much smaller scale, the Barefoot Bloggers make it their goal to blog roughly twenty-four of Ina Garten’s recipes every year – or two every month, which Continue reading