23 January 2008


M and I spent the weekend planning our honeymoon. We're going to Canada. Highlights include Montreal, with a visit to the cult hit restaurant Au Pied De Cochon, and Newfoundland, with $5 lobsters.

Also, a recent episode of "America's Test Kitchen" cottoned me on to a tip about getting eggs to room temperature in short order (for my favorite spaghetti carbonara). Chris Kimball says to take eggs right out of the fridge and cover them in hot tap water. They'll come up to room temp in a few minutes. Sounds like this would fit in well as a first step in the recipe.

14 January 2008

Previous Recipe - Stock Cube + Marmite

Oh, duh. A friend's comment made me remember that for the broccoli soup, instead of adding a stock cube, I stirred in a teaspoon of Marmite. I know, I know, most people find this stuff awful, but it really does add a lot of umami and not a lot of salt. Like fish sauce or anchovies, which you also might not love, you totally can't taste it, but it lifts the entire dish. I'll take a natural solution to the problem any day.

Veggie Cart + Stock Cube = Cheap Soup

A recent favorite trick, which I guess will only work for NYC residents, is to go by the local fruit & veg cart, where you can get a limited selection of produce for dead cheap. Three cups water. One Knorr stock cube. One clove garlic. A bunch of whatever vegetable is cheap that day.

Boil for 15 minutes and then run the hand blender through it. Yes, the stock cube has a little MSG in it, but the soup is healthy and tasty.

If we have leftover cream cheese, I usually throw a couple of tablespoons in, which results in a soup that's a little creamy without being a cream soup.

(No pictures on this one, as I'm afraid they all look like green or orange goo, but they're delicious.)

In the past week, we've done these:
  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • red bell pepper & carrot & celery

10 January 2008

Yearly Inspiration

So my birthday's coming up, and I'm asking you, dear reader, for a present. My email address is right there, just to the right of this post. Shoot me a quick email and let me know that you read regularly, if you do. It'll help keep me motivated to keep putting stuff up in 2008.

You can also help with suggesting topics or things you'd like to see. One of my resolutions is to start adding pictures to the blog.

If you're truly lurking and are too shy to email me directly, just comment anonymously on this post so I know you're there.

03 January 2008

A few words about spaghetti carbonara

So, I think I made the best carbonara I've ever made last night. So simple, so fast, so awesome, four ingredients. I've really settled on the fact, though, that the most essential step is to leave the eggs out to get to room temperature before cooking. I used 250 grams of spaghetti, 2 extra-large eggs, a mound of fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a heavy dose of diced pancetta. The pancetta I used was very lean, so I didn't have to pour off any of the fat after frying it up. I simply fried it until it was crispy and left it in the pan. I boiled the spaghetti and when they were just al dente, I took them direct from the water into the warm pancetta pan, swirling them around so that the water on the noodles effectively deglased the pan. The noodles also soaked up those traces of fat that had rendered off the pancetta. I had beaten two room temperature eggs with a generous dose of Parm. I stirred this into the noodles, then realized that I'd forgotten to warm the pasta bowls. I simply dipped a cup of pasta water into each bowl and let it sit for a minute. By that time, the spaghetti had firmed up. I dumped out the water, portioned out the spaghetti into the two bowls and served. Topped with more cheese and a generous amount of fresh ground pepper.


M's brother gave me for Xmas a bottle of white truffle oil and a bottle of lavender vinegar from a place called Oil & Vinegar in Chicago. They had suggested dressing a salad with a combination of the two. I'm usually a bit leery of white truffle oil, as I find it can be a bit overwhelming, and the combination sounded weird, but, again, damn. This was seriously one of the best salads I ever made. Ever. And I didn't really make it. It was just spinach, grated carrot, oil, vinegar and salt. Really incredible. If you're in Chicago, stop by and pick me up some more of this stuff.