"Bacon is the candy of meat."

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Gateau Kitchen: Before and After

All hail Mr. Gateau! Without going too crazy with the budget, we wanted to perk up our existing kitchen to make it more pleasant until we fill the coffers enough to to a real reno. From craptastic 60s Formica to new butcher block with a nice white sink and brushed stainless faucet. It all looks nice, but my favorite part is that I finally have a garbage disposal of my very own.

Friday, February 22, 2008

By the book

Like many people who like food and cooking, I have way too many cookbooks, a large number of which I've never/barely cooked from. So my chow friends and I decided to take on a little project -- we're going to take a book a week off the shelf, in whatever order we keep them, and cook one thing from it (something we've never made), then post about the results. So far what this has taught me is (a) we have too many vegetarian cookbooks from Mr. Gateau's vegetarian years, and (b) some of these are not very good.

In Week 1 I cooked from The Vegetarian Epicure, which is a classic, in part due to its very 70s entertaining advice about how nice it is to cook an extra post-dessert course "if grass is smoked socially in your home." I made the Blonde Lentil Soup, which is a little unusual for lentil soup, in that it is flavored with lemon and basil. I think it would be nice in early spring, but it needs some tarting up to be more flavorful.

In Week 2, I was faced with a horror -- the Meatless Gourmet Low-Fat Vegetarian Cookbook. Even finding an appealing recipe was difficult, as much of it was recipes like "Easy Mexican Cheesy Bean Bake" and so forth. I finally tried a strawberry jam-oatmeal cereal bar recipe, which looked OK in concept (and looked nice in the pan) but which tasted like overly sweet clumps of newspaper. I plan to give this book the old heave-ho.

Because I was so dispirited about the whole thing, I decided to make another recipe from The Vegetarian Epicure. I picked a curried lentil salad that was strange but oddly appealing -- the lentils are tossed with a spice mixture (cumin seed, mustard seed, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, salt) cooked in butter, and then mixed with cubed pineapple and tomato, and the whole thing tossed in a mustard-garlic-white wine vinaigrette. You're supposed to serve it in a hollowed-out pineapple shell, but the hell with that. It's got a really nice and unusual tangy-spicy-sweet blend of flavors, and I think it would be nice over greens as an entree salad. I picture this as the kind of thing a French lady would make for a picnic.

Oh, and for dinner I also made that lemony red lentil soup I posted about before. I'm on the verge of a root canal, and soup is pretty much the only thing I'm comfortable eating right now. Pray for me.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sunshiny goodness

Tonight I decided to let it all go to hell, so I made myself a big bowlful of lemon linguine a la Nigella Lawson. The recipe isn't on her official website, but it can be found all over the Internet, including on the site linked to above. The recipe was demonstrated on "Nigella Bites" and it's been a happy comfort food of mine ever since I first encountered.

Basically, it's a carbonara, only instead of pancetta you flavor it with lemon juice and lemon zest. That, with the egg yolk, makes it a pretty, cheerful yellow, and the flavor is sharp and creamy and just perfect.

And your cardiologist will love you and get to buy a lovely summer house, because in addition to the egg yolk and pasta it contains heavy cream, butter, and parmesan cheese!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Game on!

It's the Super Bowl, dammit, and that calls for the anti-gourmet, as far as I am concerned. I'm not much of a football person (or even much of a sports person) but I do enjoy championship games of whatever sport, and this one should be extra fun, what with the Patriots' winning streak and the fact that it's the home team playing them. And, you know, the commercials.

So here is the menu. It's just us, no party going on or anything:

  • Sweet & Sour Meatballs in the Crock Pot (the kind that uses a whole bottle of chili sauce, a whole jar of grape jelly, and I've used frozen Aidell's meatballs that YMG refused to eat)
  • Spinach dip with pita chips
  • Guacamole with plain and lime tortilla chips
  • Caesar salad, if anyone gets a craving for a vegetable
  • Various puff-pastry eclairs and cream puffs left over from the frozen hors d'oeuvre tasting
  • Beer
UPDATE: Our very, very fine next door neighbors, who have two excellent teenage daughters of the babysitting variety and YMG's best friend, are coming over with a pot of potato-dill soup and various other edibles and we're joining forces (and planning to make the big kids watch the younger ones). A good time, and adult imbibing, will be had by all.