Monthly Archives: April 2011

Strawberry Surprise

This afternoon I had left the Italian bakery and went next door to the fruit & vegetable stand with the intention of buying a tomato for a sandwich and the smell of sweet, ripe strawberries wafted up and smacked me right in the face.   The smell was so sweet and fragrant I couldn’t resist buying two big containers of them.

 

Strawberries aren’t exactly in season quite yet,   but these ruby beauties glistened in their plastic shell and beckoned me to take them home…  I was more than happy to oblige.

While the majority of these will be eaten just as they are, a few lucky berries will be swimming in a cloyingly sweet syrup drizzled over top of a strawberry shortcake.

There are two schools of thought where a shortcake is considered…  some prefer more of a “biscuit” type shortcake that isn’t sweet at all.   My insatiable sweet-tooth however, won’t stand for it.   The “shortcake” part of my dessert is a rich buttery cake that is sweet and good enough to eat on its own.

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A little (meat) ball of comfort

Is it just me or does it feel like spring has forgotten to “spring”?  I am desperate to shed my winter coat, fling open my windows and let in the warm breeze…  however it is still hovering around 40 degrees.  Rain is moving in and the temperature is falling. It was, dare I say it…  cloudy with a chance of meatballs.  Days like this need comfort food, the kind that takes time to make.   I have been craving turkey meatballs for about two weeks so today was the day.

There is something comforting about having a pan bubbling away on the stove, making the house smell so delicious.  It’s rather soothing to me to cook at a leisurely pace.  I enjoy the process so much more than when it is frenetic.  It allows me the time to really focus on the food.  The tactile sensations of it, rolling a meatball can be mundane but today it was sheer pleasure.  Perhaps because I’ve been wanting them for weeks,  these were ridiculously good and I enjoyed every single minute of it.  The smell that permeated my kitchen was mouth-watering and the meatballs were absolutely perfect.

There isn’t anything particularly spectacular about a turkey meatball, except they are damn good but the sauce is what really makes it.  In lieu of a traditional red sauce to have these with, I went a slightly different route… and today it was the road to happiness.

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Fuel to Ride

 
Those that know me know exactly how I feel about my bike.  I love it.  The very moment I’m in the saddle, the feeling of unabashed happiness floods over me.  It is without a doubt the thing that brings me the purest joy.  When I’m riding,  it’s all I think of.  My mind is completely clear of all the stresses life brings.  The wind on my face, the sound of my tires as they meet the pavement, the feel of the grips under my hands…  these are the things that make my soul sing.
 
Think back to your first bike… that first taste of freedom your bike allowed you.  For me, it was being able to go past the stop sign and all the way around the block.  Knowing that I was out of my mother’s line of sight was both thrilling and terrifying.  It wasn’t that I was up to anything that I shouldn’t have been, just that I was alone and free.
I’ll be doing my first big ride in a week and a half.  42 miles through the 5 boroughs of New York City.  The ride starts out in Manhattan winding our way through Central Park, past the Empire State Building and Radio City Music Hall before we head into the Bronx, down the FDR and over into Queens.   In Queens we will ride past Silvercup Studios and then head to Brooklyn (yay!).  Once we’re in Brooklyn,  we’ll ride along New York Harbor and over the Verrazano Bridge (thankfully NOT paying the $13 that it costs to use) and into Staten Island where the ride comes to an end.
 
view from the path

The French Connection

Macaron. (french spelling)  When I mention this most people immediately think of the coconut treat they are familiar with,  but one can’t even compare them to this french beauty.  A macaron for me is near perfection.  The crisp outer layer giving way to its luxuriously tender belly is sheer bliss.

I was lucky enough to be shown by a French baker how to make these delicate little sweets.

The task at first seemed rather daunting,  but once it’s broken down it really isn’t that bad.  Granted this is not something you would do when you’re pressed for time.  This is a special treat when you are feeling particularly capable.  The absolute most important thing that I can convey with this is to have everything prepped, ingredients measured out and ready to go.   The last thing you want to do is hunt for a piece of equipment when you have sugar bubbling away furiously on the stove.

I will apologize in advance for the fact that this is in metric measurements and before I get any scathing comments for putting something so complicated here,  it really isn’t that difficult.   You will need a good thermometer,  digital is best but if all you have is the conventional one, no worries.

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Is Dinner Ready Yet?

One of the things most of us feel we never have enough of (besides money) is time.  Being at work at an obscenely early hour and not returning home until 10 hours later, I rarely feel I can take a leisurely approach to dinner.

Most people say to me “I’m sure the last thing you feel like doing when you get home is cooking” and sometimes they’re right,  but a girl’s gotta eat…

A common misconception with people who may not have Chefs in their lives is that we come home and make seared foie gras.  Hardly…
Like teachers, fireman, etc. most chefs do it for the love of the job.  Being a chef isn’t always a lucrative gig.

One thing a chef learns quickly when creating a menu is food costs.  This translates well into our own kitchens, because like i just said, we aren’t all Tom Colicchio or Mario Batali with restaurant empires.

Dinner most nights needs to be quick, not terribly expensive, good for me and most of all NOT leave a mess of dishes to clean up.  If there is one chore I LOATHE it’s washing dishes.

Here’s one of my old favorites that fits the bill quite nicely:

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