Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Eggnog of Peace

I know, neither healthy nor useful for lunch, but even philosophers should eat a little cream. Or even a lot.

So the story is, my sister demanded that I bring back some eggnog (it doesn't exist in the UK) but I could only find cartons, which are not really suitcase friendly... Thus, in order to abate her wrath, I've been trying to find a recipe for it instead, and a friend sent me the offering below. If anyone cares to join me in a transcontinental eggnog experiment, I should be very pleased.

12 eggs, separated
2 cups superfine sugar
1 pint brandy
1/2 pint light rum
1/2 pint peach brandy
3 pints milk
1 pint heavy cream
Note: If there is a problem with eggs in your region, do not prepare this recipe.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until thick. Slowly stir in the brandy, rum, peach brandy, milk and cream. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and pour into a punch bowl. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the eggnog. Grate a little nutmeg on top and serve in 4-ounce punch glasses.

Servings: Makes about 30 servings.

The alchohol situation can apparently be revised well by substituting Kahlua for the peach stuff 'n' all. Happy festive drinking!

Potato Pancakes

recipe makes 2 pancakes


1 medium-large russet potato
1 egg
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 onion
2-3 scallions
a small handful of fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

unsalted butter for cooking

sour cream for serving


(1) coarsely grate potato
(2) rinse grated potato in cold water and drain
(3) coarsley grate onion
(4) wrap drained potato and onion in paper towel and dry thoroughly (repeat this step till ingredients are reasonably dry)

(5) in a bowl, combine potato and onion, egg, flour, scallions, parsley, salt, and pepper

(6) melt a goodly amount of butter in a pan till the butter is hot but quiet
(7) divide potato pancake batter into two pancakes in the pan, and flatten gently with a spatula
(8) cook pancakes for about 4 minutes/ side on medium heat (do not flip the pancakes till they have turned golden brown on one side; add more butter before flipping if your pan looks dry)

(9) serve straight away (these pancakes taste best crispy)

(10) garnish with a dollop of sour cream

slightly modified version of Geraldine Ferraro's recipe

Monday, December 17, 2007

Orzo with garlic and green vegetables

This is really easy, and makes a delicious lunch.

Edamame (I use frozen)
Spinach (fresh is best)
A lot of garlic, sliced (at least 4 big cloves)
Some feta cheese
Other green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, zucchini) if you have them

Start cooking the orzo. In a small amount of olive oil, over medium heat, sauté the vegetables for a couple of minutes (you can put the frozen edamame right in with the fresh vegetables). Add the sliced garlic so that it has a chance to warm up and mellow out. Sauté for a couple of minutes more, then put a lid over the pan so that the vegetables steam just a bit and cook through (I like them to remain rather firm, though). The garlic should end up somewhat softened, but still something you can bite into (and not at all burned). Combine everything. Add a little fresh pepper. Warm up and mellow out yourself...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Easy Bok Choy & Crab Meat Stir Fry


9 oz. bok choy
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 cup cherry tomatoes
6 oz. crab meat
oil for cooking

white rice


(1) start rice

(2) trim bok choy into 1 inch slices
(3) cut tomatoes in half
(4) crush garlic
(5) drain crab meat

(6) heat oil in wok
(7) stir fry garlic till soft (30 seconds)
(8) add bok choy; cook till leaves wilt but stalks are still crisp
(9) add oyster sauce and tomatoes and stir fry for 1-2 minutes
(10) add crab meat, heat through (don't stir too much or the crab will break apart)
(11) add pepper to taste

(12) serve over rice

slightly modified recipe from "Cookshelf Thai"


"And inside the porcelain and pewter pots there was tea, milk, coffee; inside the beaded Bohemian crystal carafes, lemonade, fruit juice, Skiwasser: a thirst-quenching drink, this—composed, in equal parts, of water and raspberry syrup, with a slice of lemon added and a few grapes—which Micòl preferred above all else, and in which she displayed a special pride.

"Ah, that Skiwasser!  During the breaks between games, besides biting into a sandwich, which, not without some ostentation of religious anti-conformism, she always chose from those with ham, Micòl often gulped down an entire glass of her dear 'beverage,' constantly urging us also to take some, 'in homage'—she would say, laughing—'to the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire.'  The recipe—she had told us—had been given to her in Austria, in fact, at Offgastein, in the winter of '34: the only winter she and Alberto, 'in coalition,' had managed to go off for a fortnight on their own, to ski.  And though Skiwasser, as its name indicated, was a winter drink, and thus should be served boiling hot, still, in Austria too, there were people who continued to drink it in summer, like this, in the iced 'version' and without the lemon slice; and they called it Himbeerwasser, in this case.

"In any event we were to note carefully—she added with a comic emphasis, raising one finger—the grapes, 'very, very important,' had been her initiative, she herself had introduced them into the classic Tyrolean recipe.  It was her idea, and it meant a great deal to her: there was nothing to laugh about.  They represented, those grapes, the special Italian contributions to the holy and noble cause of Skiwasser, or rather to this, more exactly the special 'Italian variant, or rather Ferrarese, or rather . . . et cetera, et cetera.' "  (Bassani, Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini)

The Twelve Desserts of Christmas: On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

...a white chocolate trifle with spiced pears...in a pear tree, or a trifle bowl, as you wish.

750ml bottle dry white wine
2 cups pear juice
1/2 C sugar
12 crushed whole cardamon pods
2x 1" cubes of ginger, peeled
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
4 large pears, peeled (I used comice)

Combine all but the pears in a large saucepan and stir over medium high heat. Add pears and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, simmer about 30 minutes. Remove pears, refriderate until cold. Reduce liquid until about 2 cups. Strain out spices, chill until cold.

7 oz white chocolate
1/3 C brandy
1/4 pear juice
dash vanilla essence
1 8oz container tofutti (or mascarpone, if not going reduced dairy, which I did for the party)
1 C whipping cream (I'm not sure what one could substitute here - you could try more tofutti, but that would make a heavier mousse I think. Another option would be to replace 1/2 cream with egg whites, maybe 3 or 4, and beat those separately, then fold in with whipped cream)

Combine white chocolate, brandy, pear juice in top of double boiler. Stir until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, gradually add tofutti, whisking until smooth. Leave to cool. Beat cream until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture in 4 additions. Cover and chill until set, about 3 hours.

Assembling trifle:
Cut pears lengthwise in half, remove cores, cut lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices. I made sponge drops, but you could use ladyfingers - arrange these in the bottom of your trifle dish (glass is best so you can see the layers). Drizzle 5T pear syrup over ladyfingers/sponge. Spread 1/3 mousse on top, then pear slices. Repeat ladyfingers, syrup, mousse and pears 2 more times. Enjoy!

(modified from Bon Appetit magazine)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Easy curry

Sometimes it's nice to make a curry from scratch, blending the spices and all. But sometimes I use a curry paste, either for convenience or to try a slightly new spice variation. Patak's makes some good ones, which are available at Shalimar in Central Sq. This time I tried their balti paste. Here's a recipe for a curry that is very basic and very easy, but quite good. Makes a little more than enough for two.

You'll need all of these:
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
2 in. piece of ginger
1-2 tomatoes (or 1/2 can chopped tomatoes)
1 tbs. olive or vegetable oil
2 tbs. curry paste
1/4 tsp. chili powder, or more
squeeze of lemon

And some of these:
cauliflower, potatoes, peas, paneer, green beans, carrots, etc.

Dice the onion, mince the garlic and ginger, chop the vegetables and cilantro, and lightly fry the paneer (if using). Sauté the onion for a few minutes in the oil, then add the garlic, ginger, and any hard vegetables you're using (cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, etc.) and cook for a few minutes more, stirring often. Mix the curry paste in 1/2 cup of water and add it to the vegetables, along with the chopped tomatoes and any soft vegetables (green beans, etc.). Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the hardest vegetables are cooked. Add more water and/or more curry paste depending on how much sauce you want, and how strong you want it to be. (I usually add closer to a cup of water in all.) The paneer, if using, can be added at the simmering stage or near the end; the peas, if using, should be added five minutes before the end. When it's done, add a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of cilantro to each serving. Serve with rice and raita.

*A nice combination is cauliflower, peas and paneer (which you can also find at Shalimar). Potatoes diced on the small side, with cauliflower, is also very good. **In the winter, canned tomatoes are often better than the insipid fresh specimens in the produce section.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

office snacks

"I know I'm especially interested in recipes that are simple, quick,
healthy, delicious, and can be brought to the office the next day for

when i read this i think...the sidecar. though personally i prefer my alcoholic drinks *before* lunch...say, around 11 on a lawn with a croquet mallet.

chill martini glass in freezer.

create lemon twist.

pour sugar on a saucer.

place ice in shaker, preferably crushed.

add 1.5 oz brandy, 0.5 oz cointreau, and 0.5 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice.

shake shaker over the shoulder in a manly and vigorous fashion.

wipe the rim of the glass with the twist.

twist the rim of the glass in the sugar

pour contents of shaker into glass.

drop the twist in the glass.

kick back.

do not serve with Rosy Fruit Cocktail Slices.


giggle peas

today's piece of trivia: one of the few endearing features of the native tongue of kant, hegel and fichte is that chickpeas are called 'kichererbsen', i.e. giggle peas. not sure about the etymology of that...
the following is one of my stand-by lunches when I was very hungry the night before and am faced with no leftovers.

chickpea salad (makes enough for one)

the basics:
one can of chickpeas (alias garbanzos)
a hand full of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino
half a lemon
good sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a glug of olive oil

rinse the chickpeas and put them into your lunch tupperware. squeeze in the lemon juice, pour over the olive oil. add a few grinds of pepper, the parmesan and salt to taste.

you can upgrade, depending on the contents of your fridge and your patience. any of the following is nice:
a grated carrot
some fresh chopped parsley
some chopped avocado

I must say, I like the basic best. some bread to mop up the dressing is nice.

alright, peeps...

i'm happy to see that new soldiers have joined our ranks. may i suggest that you newbies either (a) create profiles that will help the rest of the brigade will be able to recognize you? i think i can figure out who cocoa chanel is, but some of the other pseudonyms are not telling enough.

also, here's a quick recipe for one of the tastiest breakfasts ever:


Goat cheese, a lot of
avocado, at least one for every two people
limes, some
a pinch of (preferably good [e.g., freshly ground sea]) salt
your favorite toastable bread


Put bread in toaster.

Cut avocado open, slice up and scoop insides into a bowl. Mix in lime juice and salt to taste. (I like to leave it chunky, but you can make it as smooth a mixture as you like.) Set aside.

Spread goat cheese on toasted and slightly (but not too much) cooled bread.

Spread avocado goodness on top of goat cheese.

Eat. Accompany with a cup of black tea with lemon and honey. Or your favorite morning blend.

Variations and additions:

A variation by Wutan Smash - mix the avocado goodness and goat cheese together before spreading on toast. Note: this is not for purists.

A good addition to this is creamy scrambled eggs--the kind alejandro makes.

Also, smoked salmon complements these flavors well.

Chinese honey and anise marinade

Remember that sticky, sweet, aniseedy sauce that you get in Chinese restaurants? I think it's used in Char Siu. Here is a way of making it at home.

6 tablespoons thickish honey
3 heaped tablespoons oyster sauce
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili flakes
4 whole star anise
salt and pepper

(i) Mix ingredients together. Marinade whatever you want for a good while beforehand.

The book I got this from says this is enough for 1.5 kg / 3 lbs of pork ribs. I'd be interested to hear what good uses our animal-loving friends would find for such a marinade.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Couscous with zucchini and feta

I found this recipe here. Delicious. My only modifications are to use shallots and to grate instead of stuff.

1 c. dry couscous
several shallots (or 1 small onion and some garlic), minced
2 medium zucchini, grated
feta cheese
chopped thyme (plus other herbs, if you have them)
a handful of pine nuts
olive oil, salt and pepper

Cook the couscous and lightly toast the pine nuts; set both aside. Sauté the shallots (or the onion and garlic), over medium heat, in a little olive oil. When softened, add the grated zucchini and cook a few minutes more (the zucchini will cook quickly). Add the sautéed vegetable mixture to the couscous, along with crumbled feta cheese, mixed chopped herbs, toasted pine nuts, a very small pinch of salt, and a healthy grinding of pepper. Small tomatoes are a good, optional addition.

This was originally a recipe for stuffed zucchini, and the idea was to scoop out the insides, cook it in the above way, and then re-stuff and bake them. That's good too, but the mixture is yummy enough that it's good on its own. And it's simpler not to bother with the scooping and the stuffing.

This makes enough for two people, or enough for one person + leftovers. It's not a really hearty main dish, but it's great for a light dinner, a side, or--my favorite--a late dinner and the next day's lunch.

A recipe from your friend the Cookie Monster

Here is a recipe for COOKIES!

1. Steal cookies.
2. Open mouth.

-Cookie Monster!!!!

I think this should be Kenny's picture ---->
And Alejandro's nickname should be (he'll kill me for this) El Dro.
And I accept "Vavavoom" on the condition that Elisa accepts "Sock Monkey".

Also, I propose that we make this a public blog. No one will read it anyway, but if we do have tasty recipes, and people google the ingredients, we might make someone's day--or, er, dinner. no?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's here!

So, we have a new blog.

I hereby declare a few rules:

(1) Real names are boring.

(2) Whenever you make something really yummy, share it.

(3) If you think of a better name for the blog, or a better address, or a better subtitle, let me know. I'm not *wild* about these, I just couldn't waste more time thinking carefully about them. I'm already taking a lengthy procrastination break to create this thing.

(4) Others are more than welcome to join. Let me know whom to add. You can also add them yourself.