Friday, February 29, 2008

Expect Improvements, Weight Loss

I've received some very helpful tips from our branch office in Rome on the art of food photography. Expect significant improvements in the quality of the photography around here, apparently in inverse proportion to our household's actual enjoyment of said food, given that the instructions are lengthy, convoluted, and require a level of technical complexity far outside our current abilities. We are rapidly falling into the "looking" rather than "eating" camp here. But seriously, soon - gorgeous pictures of dead-cold food.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This blog is rapidly becoming self-referential, but to my earlier post about cooking at times feeling like eating, I read the following this morning:

"The great trouble in human life is that looking and eating are two different operations. Only beyond the sky, in the country inhabited by God, are they one and the same operation. ... It may be that vice, depravity and crime are nearly always ... in their essence, attempts to eat beauty, to eat what we should only look at."

It might strike you that the author is only metaphorically referencing "eating" here, but I'd argue that food is a perfectly valid site for this sort of struggle around proper or correct desire. Particularly given that the author of the above is Simone Weil.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Romanescu Chair

Jill made an obscure reference in a previous post to our Romanescu cauliflower evoking memories of a chair. Well, I have acquired a picture of said chair, designed by our wonderful friends at Fisterra Studio.

Oscar Party

Thanks to M.I.S.T.Y. for that excellent guest post. I'm hopeful there will be more guest posts from our Portland, ME branch office in the near future (rabbit cassoulet, anyone?). I will add a comment that the key ingredient in the lemon chicken sauce is EXTREMELY liberal amounts of creme fraiche, rather than butter. Additional pictures from their farewell dinner are here.

Hey, its not all scallops, or steak, with a side of buttered soul of the proletariat around here. In the interim since my last post, we've eaten steamed kale on toast with poached egg, frozen cheese pizza topped with salami and spinach, and various other fast, stupid-simple meals. For the most part, I've been trying to cook meals based around the contents of our CSA box. The variety is obviously pretty thin in the winter - radishes, greens, cilantro, cabbage, radishes, greens, radishes, radishes, cabbage - you get the idea.

Tonight we're watching the Oscars on DVR (largely fast-forwarding to the John Stewart monologues). I've been enjoying Mark Bittman's, aka The Minimalist, NY Times blog, Bitten. This is a slight modification of one of his recent "Last Night's Dinner," posts: cabbage & fish poached in stock (Tilapia in chicken stock, this iteration), Jerusalem Artichokes on the side. Mark Bittman rhapsodized about the Jerusalem Artichokes; I decided to cross-reference Deborah Madison, who comments in her "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone," that they can be "difficult to digest, so proceed with caution." I wasn't sure what to make of that, but at $4.99/lb. for what I essentially believe to be a weed - Sunflower roots, "Jerusalem" is apparently a bastardization of "girasole" - I was determined to cook the things. Excellent, very easy, meal. As you can see from the picture, a little lacking in color on the plate, save for the parsley. The Jerusalem Artichoke preparation was nothing more than a quick saute in olive oil and garlic while the stock in the main dish was cooking down.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

IronSteph Cooks Ze Lemon Chicken

An IronSteph fan here, guest posting to share the goodbye meal made by this blog's eponymous chef upon our move to another state.

Frankly, the perfectly tender chicken breast covered with a lemon-butter sauce, cracked pepper, and sliced lemon zest - or do you call it rind? or lemon julienne? - was enough to make anyone reconsider moving 2300 miles away from friends who will treat you to that kind of goodbye dinner.

Our only hope is that IronSteph and ChaoticFish will visit us in the Land o' Seafood and come prepared to cook lobster, clams, mussels, oysters, scallops (per the Perfect Bite below), crab, fish fillets of all kinds...stay tuned, dear readers.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day

This is my first post to this blog that Jill so kindly set up for us. For Valentine's Day, we decided to avoid the crowds, and cook at home. So - sirloin steak over fresh arugula in a mushroom, shallot & red wine reduction (with a not-inconsiderable amount of butter and pan drippings to finish), crab cake, steamed asparagus. We drank our standard, $9 bottle of Malbec with this. I think it turned out pretty well.

I'm not clever enough to have come up with the observation that cooking is at times like eating - I probably read it in either MFK Fisher or Anthony Bourdain (an odd pair, but the only two food writers I've read in any depth) - but its true. This truth increases exponentially relative to the richness of the meal. I cooked this, plated it, sat down, and just kind of looked at it sideways. It was good, it was what I wanted for dinner, but cooking it somehow satisfied most of my sensory desires re: that particular plate of food, or combination of ingredients. This was fine. We sat at the table with flowers, drank our wine, ate our meal, and I'm sure we both felt quite happy with the moment.

Tonight - Friday - we are dining out at Lambert's. I'll post a quick review later this evening.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

He gets in on this too...

Tucker would like you to know that his newest carnivorous adventures were *delicious*...he loves that guy at Central Market.

Next step? Dirt marinade...

Another gem

Sunday night Steph cooked scallops for the first time, inspired by my recent experience in Baltimore. These little guys were tossed in a chili concoction and cooked to perfection--tender and light, like the consistancy of the tenderest fish. Accompanying it were delicious wilted fresh spinach (my first venture in wilting anything besides myself)

The romanesque cauliflower from the box--such a strange thing...I can't help but think of chairs when eating it.

And our quest for the perfect bite continues....

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Oh, you'll see

It's true...Steph cooks, and cooks well...just wait and you'll see....