19.11.13

About Champagne Cocktails

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I do so love me a glass of bubbly and since every day is a celebration around these parts (CARPE THAT DIEM, BITCHES!), there's almost always a bottle in my fridge. And since there's almost always a bottle in my fridge, that bottle is generally an inexpensive (ok, cheap) sparkling wine. Do I wish every bottle was a bottle of Moët Impérial? Of course I do. Am I made of money? Of course I'm not. But I've found that one of the easiest ways to elevate that bottle of Cristal(ino) is by adding stuff to it!

The concept is simple: Put stuff in a glass (from a splash to half-full (or half-empty, I suppose), depending on how much you want your cocktail to taste like other stuff). Top glass off with bubbles. Simple.

One of my favorites is this, which I will now dub... Blueberry Pom Royale.

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As you can see, the "stuff" is just Blueberry POM Wonderful.

Some other traditional variations include:

Mimosa: Just add OJ!

Bellini: Fresh peach puree!

The classic Champagne Cocktail: Pop a sugar cube in the bottom of your champagne flute and shake 3 drops of bitters onto it. Add an ounce of Cognac and fill'er up with French Champagne. Feel classy!

French 75: Stuff includes 1 1/2 ounces of Cognac, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, and 1/2 ounce lemon juice. I <3 you, French 75!

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Um, whatever this monstrosity was. ANYWHO, I think you've gotten the point.

Cheers!

26.8.13

About Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee

Summer is winding down, and I suppose I should have posted this recipe months ago but life went from bad to horrifyingly awful since my last post and, well, that's all I'm going to say about that. But THIS, this is by far the very best way to make iced coffee (if you're the iced coffee sort), and if you've done it right (which, if you're literate--which I assume you are, otherwise, the fuck you doing here?--should be no problem) will give you just about the smoothest brew imaginable.

So here's what you need:

3 ½ cups water
1 ¾ cups ground coffee

Mix that together in a big pitcher.

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Cover it up, and let it steep for at least 12 hours, but not more than 24 hours, at room temperature. Then, give everything one more stir (to loosen up the coffee grounds TRUST ME ON THIS ONE), and strain your mixture through a coffee filter.

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Pour your coffee concentrate into a bottle and park that baby in the fridge until it's chilled.

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Now, it's important to note that what you've made is actually a coffee concentrate, so when the time for drinking comes, you're probably going to want to dilute it with at least an equal amount of water.

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Serve that over ice with a little milk and simple syrup (if you like), have your boyfriend make you one of his world-famous omelets, and get ready to face whatever new horrors life decides to chuck directly at your face.

9.1.13

About How I Learned To Cook

Well hello there. I just thought I'd pop by for a sec and see how y'all are doing. More than one of you has asked the question so I thought maybe it's time I drop by to answer that question, and by "that question" I mean, "What the hell happened here?"

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To be blunt, I almost died. The day after my last post I was hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism. Several, actually; both of my lungs were completely riddled with clots, and that pretty much changed everything. I was put on medication that severely limited my diet (no alcohol, no greens, no fats, NO ALCOHOL), and as you might guess, a severely limited diet severely limits the recipes one might want to share on one's recipe blog.

Luckily(?) that medication didn't work, and at the end of the summer I almost died AGAIN. And of course I did, because I'm the girl who had chicken pox TWICE as a child. So I switched over to this new experimental drug that has no diet restrictions (YAY ALCOHOL), but as I told Vahid last weekend, that does nothing to alleviate the shitty lighting situation I've got going on in my kitchen. Until I figure out a solution to that problem, all of those half-written recipes I have waiting in the wings will just have to wait some more (wings, incidentally, being one of those waiting recipes).

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I thought that while I'm checking in I might as well talk to you about how I learned to cook in the first place, you know, in case that maybe helps you learn how to cook or get more comfortable in the kitchen or whatever it is you hope to accomplish by reading this nonsense. I don't know your life. But I do know mine, and yes, it all started in my mother's kitchen.

As many of you know, my mother is an amazing cook. But she comes from "the old country," and from what I've gathered over the years, people from "the old country" see their children mainly as sources of manual labor. So while I started helping my mother cook at an obscenely early age (I was rolling chả giò before I could talk), I was basically doing all the hard work. Like rolling chả giò. Crushing cornflakes and peanuts. Peeling potatoes. Prepping green beans. You know, all the SEXY GLAMOROUS STUFF.

While I did pick up a few things from my mom, and from all the crazy group meals my friends and I shared in college, it wasn't until I got to law school that I bought my first cookbook. And that cookbook is this cookbook.

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I wanted to learn how to cook everything, so I bought a book on how to cook everything. And to this day, it's still the first place I turn to when I want to try something new. The instructions are clear, the recipes are simple, and most of all, they are bare-bones BASIC. In other words, they're the perfect jumping off point for experimentation. My copy of How To Cook Everything is filled with scribbles: ingredients to add, extra steps to up the ante, notes on what worked really well. If you don't have a copy, run out and get one immediately.

When I first moved to DC I didn't have cable, so I ended up watching a whole lot of PBS. (The other day my boyfriend said he'd fight to the death anyone who dared suggest that I wasn't the very first American to watch Downton Abbey. I still watch a lot of PBS apparently.) And while I was watching a lot of PBS, I watched a lot of America's Test Kitchen. Hoo boy, this show. If you want very specific instructions on how to do things, this is the show for you. Their recipes are INSANELY FUSSY; like, they are the polar opposite of Bittman's. But they are really, really great at actually teaching you how to cook. They not only show you how to dice an onion, they explain why it's important that your onion is diced evenly. They get to the science of cooking, and when you understand that, cooking is easy peasy.

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It wasn't until I moved in with Mitch and Seth that I got cable, and started watching Good Eats. That thing I said about ATK and the science of cooking? Consider this a graduate course.

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So there you have it. I learned how to cook from a book and two television shows. Looking back it turns out this was an incredibly boring story, so if you made it this far, I apologize for putting you to sleep. Maybe I'll bake you a cake or something.

25.3.12

About Roasted Asparagus

Why roast asparagus? Crunch and caramelization, both of which are BEST. So luckily this is pretty easy. Just make sure you use thick-stalked asparagus. And if the stalks feel particularly woody you can peel off the tough outer layer with a vegetable peeler. Then just lay them out on a foil-lined sheet pan:



Add a glug of olive oil and a couple pinches of salt and pepper, then mix all that up with your hands:



Then put the sheet pan on the bottom rack of an oven pre-heated to 450 F. After 10 minutes flip your spears over and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

18.3.12

About Vegetable Soup

So the weather outside is weather, specifically unreasonably unseasonably warm weather--I think it's been in the 80s all week? RIDICULOUS. Even more ridiculous is that in the middle of all this I made SOUP for dinner. HOT SOUP. HOT VEGETABLE SOUP. Please don't bring this up in a couple months when it's 129 degrees outside and I'm in the midst of one of my annual summer WHIIIIIIIIIIIIINE sessions.

But really, I have a very good reason for making this. See, the last few weeks? I've been eating nothing but pizza and wings and poutine and all other manner of, just, crap? And my dresses maybe feel more like sausage casings? So perhaps I need to rethink my eating habits a bit? Would you like another unnecessary question mark? There you go.

This recipe is insanely healthy for you; it's basically nothing but vegetables after all. And luckily, it is delicious. It's seriously one of my favorite soup recipes, so much so that a couple of years ago I pretty much had a bowl every day and accidentally lost 15 pounds. Bonus! It's also really easy since the measurements aren't exactly precise. Like, you see how I say you need 2 cups of some sort of leafy green vegetable down there? Well, for some reason I always end up adding, like, 3 pounds of kale. (I really like kale.)

This makes a lot, but don't worry; it freezes beautifully. Here's what you need:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1-2 stalks of celery
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 3+ cloves of garlic
  • 6 cups broth or water
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 medium head of broccoli
  • ½ medium head of cauliflower
  • ½ small head of cabbage
  • About 61 cents' worth of dark, leafy greens (or 2 cups, shredded)
  • 1 lemon
  • A couple tablespoons of fresh herbs (parsley, dill, and chives are especially nice)
First thing is that you're going to want to give all of that vegetable matter up there a rough chop. Don't worry about getting a perfect dice, because it's all gonna end up blended together anyway. (That is, unless you don't want a blended soup, in which case you should make sure each cube is perfectly symmetrical and exactly the same size. It's what the French would have wanted.)

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In a dutch oven or stock pot (something big, basically), heat the oil over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer. Saute the aromatics (your onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, and garlic) with a pinch of salt until they soften.

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At this point you can deglaze the pan with a glug or two of white wine if you happen to have any around. When the wine has almost entirely evaporated, add the both. (If you don't have any wine then just add the broth.) Crank the heat up to high and add the thyme, bay leaves, and the rest of your vegetables.

Now, if you've got my crazy kale addiction, chances are everything won't fit in the pot so good. But NEVER FEAR. Just slap a lid on that sucker and in a scant couple minutes your leafy greens will be wilted enough for you to give everything a good stir.

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Once the pot comes to a boil, turn the heat way down and let everything simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or however long it takes for everything to become nice and tender without overcooking it into mush.



Fish out the thyme stalks and bay leaves and blend that shit up.



Add the juice of that lemon I told you to get, and then salt and pepper it to taste. (My guess is that you'll need a fair bit of salt.) And you're pretty much ready to go. Just ladle some soup into a bowl and garnish it with some of those fresh herbs I told you to get. (If you're feeling particularly fancy, you can also add a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt.)



Let the healthy eating begin!

16.3.12

About Prepping Greens

Not just any greens, mind you. I'm talking about the dark green leafy vegetables that are pretty much the healthiest foods on the planet.

Wait a sec, that's not actually entirely accurate. What I'm REALLY talking about is a subset of the dark green leafy vegetables that are pretty much the healthiest foods on the planet, namely the kinds with big leaves and big stalks. And what kinds are those? Oh, you know, collard greens and mustard greens and turnip greens and Swiss chard and kale. In other words, the Southern kind.

The thing about the Southern kind is that because the leaves are so big, the stalks are big. And big stalks take a lot longer to cook than leaves, no matter how big those leaves are. So in order to cook greens just right, you need to first separate the leaves from the stalks. How does one do this, you ask? Just watch this handy instructional video:



And while we're on the topic of greens, please enjoy this picture of adorable Capitals defenseman Mike Green:

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14.3.12