Monday, December 27, 2010

Liptauer: The Cheese of Champions ... and We Have a Winner!

While I don't believe that liptauer cheese is widely recognized as a cheese of champions, I thought it was a fitting moniker here, as I have chosen this recipe to accompany the announcement of my pumpkin seed oil giveaway winner, which I'll announce at the end of this post. (Even if you don't read the whole thing, I have to at least compel you to scroll through the entire post to find out the winner,  now don't I?)

This also happens to be a  dish that I served at Poppa Trix's birthday dinner  alongside the gnocchi baked in pumpkin cream.  The dinner, as you may recall,  was intended as a recreation of our heuriger meals in Vienna. Truth be told, Poppa and I had never even heard of liptauer until we tasted it, not at the upscale Weinhof Wieninger, but at the rather more homey Kierlinger heuriger, where it was reputed to be something of a specialty.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Viennese Gnocchi Baked in Pumpkin Cream, Plus my Very First Giveaway (and it's a good one!)

Regular readers of this blog may recall that last year I promised to share the recipe for the luscious Viennese gnocchi baked in pumpkin cream that I got from Chef Mike of Weinhof Wieninger, an upscale heuriger located in Stammersdorf.  I also promised to share with you his secret to a perfectly pillow-y potato gnochhi. And so, prompted by Poppa Trix's birthday, for which I cooked up a recreation of our heuriger feast, I am now finally making good on my promise.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cheese & Bacon Dog Treats for the International Incident Colors Party

I briefly considered skipping this month's International Incident Party, hosted as always by our lovely foundress, the effervescent Penny aka Jeroxie. The theme, colors for the festive season, (whatever holiday you happen to celebrate) was simply not resonating with me, to say the least.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Glühwein mit Schuss: Mulled Wine with a Shot of Apple Brandy (and a Big Thank You)

 Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man, without his Vices. This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery if inscribed over human ashes, is but a just tribute to the Memory of Boatswain, a Dog.  - George Gordon, Lord Byron

Since Pete died on November 28, I haven't felt much like blogging. Or cooking ... or cleaning ... or working .. or getting out of bed much. You understand. In my life I have lost both friends and family, and so I know too well that losing someone - in this case your best friend - changes you and leaves a hole in your heart that nothing ever fills. You just have to figure out how to be the new you, and still be a good you. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Of Grief & Hollandaise

Pete. 199? - 2010
On Sunday my beautiful dog, Pete, died.  On Monday I made Hollandaise sauce. I did this with swollen eyes, shaking hands, throbbing head, nauseous stomach, and empty heart.  I clarified butter, I whisked egg yolks,  I squeezed a lemon, I seasoned my sauce with salt and cayenne pepper. It came out well enough; I suppose it was good.

I didn't do it because I'm going to be tested on it tomorrow in my culinary final. I didn't do it because I was hungry. I suppose I did it because of the amount of precision and concentration required. While in the past I have always cooked to be fully in the moment, this time I cooked to be out of it. I cooked to escape into the cooking, and out of the grief. Just for a minute.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Homemade Pretzels with Black Lava Salt: International Incident Salt Party

International Incident Salt Party

Pretty mustards all in a row: Zwiebel (onion), horseradish, & Dijon
 Wars have been fought over it. People have been killed for it. In the wrong hands it can be underused, overused, or  downright abused. It is the single most important seasoning in the culinary world. Of course I'm talking about salt - the theme for this month's International Incident Party, hosted as always by our incomparable founder and host, Penny aka Jeroxie.

This salt theme has happily given me the push I (apparently) needed to fulfill a promise I made to Penny many months ago when I won The Salt Book in a giveaway she had. She asked that the winners make a dish from the book and share it with everyone. "Oh yes!" I said. "Definitely!"

Well, that was back in April ... 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moroccan Chicken, Preserved Lemon, & Olive Tagine with Dried Cherry & Almond Couscous

If you've followed this blog at all, you may be a bit surprised - or even, if you're vegetarian, disappointed - to see me writing about a chicken recipe. In fact, this is the first meat dish - other than fish - that I've ever featured here.

So, what has gotten into me? Let me explain ...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beans & Cornbread (had a fight ... but don't you worry, it worked out allright!)

Beans and Cornbread had a fight
Beans knocked Cornbread outta sight
Cornbread said,  "Now that’s alright, meet me on the corner tomorrow night"
I'll be ready, I'll be ready tomorrow night
I'll be ready, I'll be ready tomorrow night
I'll be ready, I'll be ready tomorrow night 
 --Louis Jordan, "Beans 'n Cornbread" 

In the famous Louis Jordan song I quote above, beans and cornbread start out fighting, but by the end of the song, they become best of friends and realize that they go together like "hot cakes and molasses," "strawberries and shortcake," and "sour cream and biscuits." Silly beans and cornbread! I knew it all along.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Za Vas! Eating and Drinking My Way Through the Russian Festival

Because why wouldn't you put a creepy big-eyed baby head on your bite-sized chocolate??
The gravity-defying moves of the Ukrainian Dance Troupe
Anyone who reads this blog knows just how much I love a good festival. I get ridiculously worked up about them, really. Latino, Korean, Greek - just put a fork in my hand and point me towards all that  food.   So you can only imagine how excited Poppa Trix and I were for the Russian Festival. Just think: Vareniki!  Babka! Blinis! Vodka.  And even though the festival took place in a relatively small space - under a tent and an  adjoining room, part of a Russian Orthodox church - there was no shortage of goodies and fun.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Lavender Honey Quickbread for the International Incident Lavender Party

International Incident Lavender Party

Hey lavender! Are you ready for the party?
Have I mentioned how grateful I am for these monthly International Incident Parties? So often these days, my life gets overwhelmingly busy and I find myself neglecting (and missing) both my blog and the many, many food blogs I love to read. But these parties give me an assignment (the theme) and a deadline (the party date). And I always make my deadlines! Best of all, they help me stay connected with many of my fellow food bloggers. So many thanks (as always) to our awesome hostess and founder Penny aka Jeroxie!

Truthfully, at first I was a bit at a loss when I found out that this month's theme was lavender. Ironically, I had just used culinary lavender for the first time in the recent Incident Scones Party, in my lavender, cardamom, and cracked black pepper drop scones. Eek! Just how many lavender dishes can one person come up with?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Sage, Roasted Garlic, & Gruyere

 Why do I always forget about spaghetti squash until someone or something reminds me of just how awesome it is? This time, my memory was jogged thanks to fruit and vegetable day in culinary class. As a demo, Chef whipped up a wickedly tasty dish of spaghetti squash and cheese and fresh herbs. (And I'm not singing the praises of Chef's cooking  just because he happens to know that I write this blog and may in fact read this post  ... That's like asking for extra credit points just for flattery. Which I would never, ever do. Ahem.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Korean American Fest: Colors, Music, and Fab, Fab Food

Yes, yes, I know this is a food blog, but the traditional costumes at the recent Korean American Festival - held in downtown Baltimore on a broiling hot September Sunday - were just too gorgeous, too colorful, and too darn pink for me to resist.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ei Candy: Viennese Eiersalat, Two Ways, for the International Incident Eggs Party

International Incident Party

Welcome to the September International Incident Party!  Because this is my birthday month, I'm thrilled to be co-hosting with the fabulous Penny aka Jeroxie. These little shindigs she started back in February just keep growing - not only is this the biggest party yet, but Epicurious just did a write up about the Incidents. Cool stuff.

In the past, party themes have included gnocchi, noodles, pizza, and tacos, but I don't think we've ever had a party with such a wide-open theme as this one: eggs. Eggs! The sheer number of possibilities made this one tough to nail down. I had so many ideas: a souffle? eggs en cocotte? a cake for my birthday? Too bad I already made Julia Child's gateau omni omelette!!

But then I remembered those tiny little sandwiches I fell in love with in Vienna.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

It's an Eggs Party, and You're Invited!

International Incident Party


Have you joined in on an International Incident Party yet? If not, now is the time! Who wouldn't want to come to an eggs party, after all? And September is my birthday month, and that means I get to co-host the shindig on September 26th with the awesome Penny aka Jeroxie, the founder of these monthly soirees.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Tortes: Brown Sugar Fig & Lemon Plum

plum torte
a slice of plum torte
fig torte
If you were to look over some of my recent posts - gooseberry tartlets, sour cherry compote, lavender drop scones - you might begin to doubt the truth of my past claims that I'm not generally the biggest fan of dessert.  While it remains true that I don't eat much of it, I have been on something of a sweets-making bender lately. I suppose it's because baking is so therapeutic - it forces you to slow down and only think about what you're doing, not about the million-and-one other tasks clamoring to be finished (or begun).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gourmet Grilling Tips for Labor Day, a Philadelphia Hoagie-Eating Marathon, the Best Fish on the Planet Earth ... and More

Veggie banh mi from Ba Le Bakery in Philly
Crab Ravioli at Brewers Art in Baltimore

The "Best Fish on Planet Earth" at the downtown Baltimore Farmers Market
Welcome to another recap all of the crazy things I've been eating, doing, and writing about as online food editor for the Urbanite.  Looking back at all the writing I've been doing over the past 5 weeks or so makes me wonder how I've even managed to find the time to post here once a week, which is my self-imposed absolute, guilt-inducing minimum. Really! I think it's time to stop beating myself up about being a bad blogger.  And did I mention that culinary classes started again? I love my class this semester - more on that in future posts - but whew, it's all a lot of work.

Speaking of work ... people, eating as much food as I've been shoveling into my face, all in the name of doing my job, is not for amateurs or the faint of heart.  It really takes a lot of stamina, dedication, and sheer will power to maintain this level of gluttony. Thank goodness for my discount treadmill.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Farmers Market Salad: Fresh Field Peas & Corn with Basil, Scallions and a Garlic Tarragon Aioli

Little bowl, big flavor
Believe it or not, until recently I had never  tasted a fresh field pea. Can you imagine? It's enough to make my Southern great grandma roll over in her grave.  But thanks to my local farmers market, that sad state of affairs has ended and I am now acquainted - and madly in love - with all things fresh pea. I could never choose between the earthy crowder pea and the nutty black eyed pea, so for this salad I used both.  You could use canned or dried peas, but if you can get your hands on fresh ones, by all means use them.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lavender, Cardamom & Cracked Black Pepper Drop Scones: International Incident Scones Party

International Scones Incident Party

When the theme for this month's International Incident Party was announced  - hosted as ever by the lovely Penny aka Jeroxie, along with August birthday babies Anh of  A food’s lover's journey and  Cherrie of Sweet Cherrie Pie - I must admit that at first I wasn't terribly inspired. Scones. What to do? Unlike many of my fellow party goers,  scones are not a cultural reference point for me. I didn't grow up enjoying scones at tea time.  I don't even know when "tea time" actually is.  I take coffee breaks and eat bagels.  Of course I wanted to make fun and creative scones, but I had no idea where to begin.

But then one day I was flipping channels on the TV, and I caught the end of a cooking show - I don't remember which one - about something called "drop scones." Hmmm. They looked like little pancakes. Ah, pancakes! Now that I can work with. Indeed,  a bit of research taught me that drop scones are also called Scottish pancakes. They differ from typical American breakfast pancakes in that they're smaller and not necessarily sweet, which I found appealing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Knives Down, Hands Up: I Judge an Iron Chef-Style Competition at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in D.C.

Secret Ingredients ...

Lightning fast prep work ...

Judging hijinks ... (from left: Josh Gibson, me, and Oren Molovinsky)
Anyone who has ever fantasized about trading places with Padma Lakshmi (guilty) or Tom Colicchio will understand how excited I was when I was invited to be a judge at a live chef-to-chef competition at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian's Living Earth Festival.  My excitement, I must confess, was tempered with a touch of tummy rumbling nervousness, as speaking in front of people is far from my favorite thing to do.  You see, just a couple of weeks prior to the Smithsonian competition,  I  sat in as a judge for another food competition in Baltimore for an Urbanite article, and I was a bit unnerved to have to speak into a microphone and make pronouncements about the dishes - right in front of the chefs.  Gulp.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Creamy Zucchini, Garlic & Chive Soup - or Zucchinicremesuppe - Austrian Style

Before I visited Vienna, the last thing I would have associated with the schnitzel-loving city was,  of all things, excellent  vegetable soups.  But in restaurant after restaurant, I had some of the best cream soups of my life, from karotten (carrot) to knoblauch (garlic) to brokkoli to zucchini.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Culinary Cocktails, Navajo Tacos, Macarons, and More: A Wrap Up of My First Four Urbanite Food & Drink Issues!

The Queen Bee Cocktail: Belvedere vodka, yuzu, elderflower syrup, and honey water .. mmmm
It's been a month since my weekly Web zine for the Urbanite launched, so I thought I'd do a little wrap up and show you why I have been so frazzled lately!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Boozy Sour Cherry Compote

Are sour cherries even in season anymore? I made this so long ago, I have no idea.  Things have been so hectic lately that I have fallen behind with blogging, cooking, and life in general, I'm afraid.

If you can find  sour cherries, I highly recommend that you make this immediately. If not, well ... bookmark it for next year, I guess. Apologies! I will be a better blogger.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Spicy Korean Tacos, L.A. Taco Truck Style, for the International Incident Taco Party

International Tacos Incident Party

I have never been to Los Angeles (*gasp*) but if I ever do find myself there, I know the very first thing I want to eat. Hmmm ... will I race to Mr. Chow's? Run to Mario Batali's Mozza? Skip to Matsuhisa?  No, no and no: What I really and truly long to do is taste one of Chef Roy Choi's Korean/Mexican fusion tacos. I envy the Angelenos who get to enjoy the amazing creations that come out of his Kogi Korean BBQ  taco truck. How could these things not be amazing?