Saturday, December 18, 2010

what i wore: making paprikas



Hard-to-stain clothes, embroidered apron, bag for endless grocery store-hopping, hex for making nokedli, hot paprika, wine. I made so much food today.

Monday, December 13, 2010

what I wore: still finals time

Actually, still working on the same paper. Hence the panicked procrastination that leads me inevitably to Polyvore.






The note for this one reads "sometimes I go and spoil perfectly nice dresses by wearing them with sneakers, because at heart I'm still fifteen." Also pretend the "slip dress" is just a slip, because apparently not enough computer-savvy ladies wear slips for there to be any on Polyvore and I couldn't find a good picture elsewhere.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

what I wore: finals time



I'm writing a paper today, and we all know Polyvore is the best form of procrastination. I only wish my mood were as calm and soothing as the colors I'm wearing. A man asked to take my picture for an art project at the New York Public Library, and then got to listen to me talk about Samuel Johnson and James Boswell and their unbelievable memories for about five minutes as I waited for the elevator. He was either unexpectedly interested or trying to hit on me, I'm not certain. I do know that I need to find my green scarf, though.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

what I wore: visiting Cleveland



The cozy feeling I get from going home is always enhanced by wearing lots of soft layers. Back in New York, wearing this dress again today isn't getting my paper written, but it's making me happy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

what I wore: jewel tones



Sometimes all it takes to remind me that I like colors is a pair of purple velvet sneakers and fabulous new glasses.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

salad


I'm terribly bored and waiting in a very long line, so here's a post about the really pretty salad I made last night. Yes, my pre-chopped salad was so pretty I took a photo. It's completely normal, right? This salad was composed of romaine lettuce and baby pea shoots with a Fuji apple, sunflower seeds, honey sesame sticks, dried cranberries, and cashews. I ate it with sesame soy ginger dressing from Trader Joe's. Actually I'm pretty sure every single thing in this salad except the sunflower seeds came from TJ's, as I've shopped basically nowhere else since the latest one opened up just five blocks south of my apartment. It's a magical place.

Monday, October 11, 2010

butternut squash soup



Butternut Squash Soup with Soda Bread

The last few days have been full of nasty surprises and torrents of rotten luck, so the obvious thing to do was to make some soup, soup being both the ultimate comfort food and a nice thing to share with other people in order to make myself feel more happy and less miserable. A friend of mine recently posted a recipe for a Portugese butternut squash soup that sounded delicious and less sweet than the ones that soup places in New York (of which there are many great ones) tend to make. I am also delving into the enthralling writing of José Saramago for the first time, so a Portugese soup seems appropriate. I followed her recipe (which came from a monastery cookbook!) pretty closely but changed the spices a bit according to what I had on hand. I also increased the recipe a little just to avoid being left with a stray cup of broth and two odd ounces of squash. Also: buying pre-cut, pre-cleaned squash is awesome and totally not cheating.

Ingredients
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 giant onions, chopped (I used red ones)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded and cut into chunks
1 potato, peeled and cubed
7 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon ginger
1 tablespoon sweet paprika (or to taste--I used quite a lot)
1 heaping tablespoon rosemary (I used dried, but fresh is probably better)
salt and pepper to taste
1 random dash of cinnamon added at the end, because it always gets used with the ginger and it looked lonely

Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes, reduce the heat, cover the pot, and let them sweat for 10-15 minutes. Remove the lid and add the squash, potato, and rosemary.

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, put the lid back on and simmer for about 45 minutes. Add the spices and cook for a few minutes, stirring them through.

Blend the soup until it's smooth and thick. Serve with bread or crackers.

Do yourself a favor and get an immersion blender, as using a normal one will likely lead to the splattering of very hot soup. This will result in you having to wipe the kitchen floor and clean off the toaster while whimpering from the pain of two burned arms. Trust me on that. Or, you know, let the soup cool a little and don't over-fill the blender. I still ended up with eight or nine portions, despite losing a whole bunch to the floor and my arms. Planning on freezing a couple for the next time I can't be bothered to cook. Maybe I'll even take a nicely lit and staged picture instead of an indifferent I-just-wanna-eat-it-but-I-have-to-be-a-good-blogger phone camera one.

Halfway through making this soup I decided that in honor of Cookbook's original post I needed to bake some bread to go with the soup. I am also planning on giving some of it to a friend tomorrow, and it seems weird to give someone a jar of soup alone, or with store-bought bread. I put together a second round of the soda bread I made for St. Patrick's Day. Ten minutes in, I realized I needed milk. It immediately started pouring buckets outside. Nevertheless, milk was purchased and bread was made, and damn if this bread doesn't match the soup perfectly. Kelly and I ate half the loaf and a third of the soup in about twenty minutes. It was a delightfully healthy gluttonous experience, too (except for my lavish application of butter), so I don't feel at all bad about the number of alcohol calories I'm going to consume now to make the burns on my my arms stop hurting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

accidental punch




After deciding that cheap white zinfandel was too vile to drink on its own, I ended up tossing all the leftover liquids from Friday's black bean burger party into a pitcher and accidentally ended up with this yummy punch. Not sure I could replicate it, but here's the recipe in case you'd like to try. All measurements are approximate and were dictated by the relative emptiness of the bottles I was combining. Three glasses in, I've decided it could use a stronger citrus flavor and some more liquor, but I am out of lemons. And liquor. And have school tomorrow.

1 bottle cheap white zinfandel
6 ounces vodka
6 ounces triple sec
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 1/2  cups regular seltzer
1 cup raspberry seltzer
two splashes grenadine

Mix. Imbibe. Congratulate yourself on using up "leftovers", even though they would've been drunk anyway.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

cozy feet

cozy feet
cozy feet by whiskeyinyrshoes on Polyvore.com

The ones in the top left are what I imagine Virginia Woolf's Orlando would have worn. If they didn't have high heels I'd own them already. Might end up with the black suede ones, which also come in cognac, though sadly not in my size.

black bean burgers



My mother found this recipe years ago, shortly after I went vegetarian, and we've made it dozens of times since. The original called for jalapeños, which I don't really like, but I've played with a handful of other add-ins over the years. I think this version is my favorite so far, although I made some memorable ones with excessive amounts of hot chili oil. This recipe fed six people, with enough left over for Kelly and me to have a snack when we got home from a night out.

3 cans black beans, drained
3 medium-sized eggs
1 1/2-2 cup panko (or other bread crumbs)
4-5 green onions, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
spices as desired (I use rosemary, crushed pepper, and garlic powder)
buns, cheese, and toppings

In a large mixing bowl, mash up the black beans (I use the bottom of a ladle, but hands work too) until they clump together. Crack the eggs and stir them through the beans with a fork. Mix in the panko, then add the onions and cloves. Throw in your spices (I added hot paprika... big surprise). If the mixture is dry and crumbling, add another egg. If it's too sticky, add more panko.

Refrigerate for half an hour or so (not essential but it makes the stuff stick together better), then form patties and cook on medium-high in a lightly oiled pan for about five minutes on each side, until the burgers start to get brown patches. You can melt the cheese over the burgers in the pan if you like.

I've usually eaten these on pita bread, but I came across challah rolls at Trader Joe's while shopping for this dinner. They were perfect. I may never eat any kind of burger on anything else. You can embellish the burgers with traditional toppings like lettuce, onions, french fries and ketchup, or think up something different. I served them with a platter of cheeses (sharp cheddar and havarti), condiments (spicy mayo, sweet mustard, barbecue sauce), crispy bacon (because it's just too funny to put it on a veggie burger, and none of my guests were actually vegetarians), and baby pea or clover sprouts, with carrot slaw and garlic mashed potatoes on the side.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

eat your vegetables


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I had a glorious day today, wearing a pretty outfit and attending the Brooklyn Book Festival in a friendly drizzle. I even had some pork dumplings from one of my favorite food trucks for lunch. And then I had a pretzel and a hot dog from Auntie Anne's for dinner, because I happened to be passing through Penn Station and they smelled really good. Not one single speck of vegetable (or fruit) in either meal, save for the half dozen slivers of green onion floating in the dipping sauce for the dumplings. Of which I probably actually ingested two.

I came home to read and promptly fell asleep for an hour, during which I dreamed I was being sternly lectured by the vegetable garden my mother raised for a few years when I was in grade school. And I woke up and poured myself a bowl of the Trader Joe's shelled edamame sitting in my fridge. The untouched bag of spinach in the crisper is still scowling at me, but the moral of this story is to eat your vegetables or they will come after you in your sleep.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Magyar florals



To follow the strands of cultural sharing and engaged heritage from the Irish short film I posted the other day, and in keeping with the (technical) style theme of this blog, here are some photographs of the gorgeous embroidery that covers the other half of my ancestry. I grew up much more Hungarian than Irish, as my mother was born in that country, and the attitudes, aesthetics, and (most importantly) food of Hungarians permeated my early life. The ability to identify with a culture and country beyond America has always been valuable to me--particularly during a handful of pessimistic teenage years--and I love that my home, like my mother's much larger and lovelier one, is full of bits of Hungarian art, and my dinner menus burgeon with with the flavors and dishes I learned to cook from my mother and grandmother. I make no apologies for getting half the people I've ever known addicted to my grandmother's cheese sticks.

For your continued Magyar-based pleasure, here are some examples of the glorious traditional embroidery that Hungarian women have covered their clothes and homes with for centuries. You can also find some examples of Hungarian writing and Hungarian cooking on this blog.

Hungarians are innately expert mixers of patterns.



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More geometric cross-stitch patterns are also widely used, especially on large spaces like tablecloths and bed-spreads.
 



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One of my favorite things about these patterns is the frequent inclusion of peppers among the flowers. Everything Hungarians eat is flavored with some variety of paprika, and ropes of the dried peppers (along with ropes of garlic, another prominent flavor) are often used to decorate kitchens and porches.

There you are. Don't you just want to drape yourself in it? I'd show you some examples of my own embroidery prowess, but they were embarrassed by these much more glorious pieces and hid under the bed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

yu ming is ainm dom



In honor of the new school year, which has caused a resurgence of my wild love for Irish literature (among other facets of the culture that gave me my ability to sunburn so spectacularly), here is the best short film I've ever seen. Or at least the most charming. It's better than any cute animal video I've ever seen. The story follows a young Chinese man who decides to move to Ireland. It is in Mandarin (I assume, I can't recognize Chinese dialects), Irish Gaelic (which I desperately want to learn, if I ever have the time), and English, and it will make your day gorgeous. I meant to post it last year, after we watched it in my first Irish lit class, but you're better off seeing it late than never.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Song of the Lioness

Every book in Tamora Pierce's first two quartets is falling apart on my shelf. They're even more tattered than my Harry Potters, and I intend to keep rereading them until they've fallen to dust. If you are too old for them, read them anyway. If you know someone who's just the right age, give them as a gift.

I learned a great deal about relationships--both romances and friendships--from these novels, and I also learned a great deal about swords, animal behavior, human facial expressions, and how to decide when to be honest and when to be silent. Rereading them this past week (and dozens of times in the last thirteen or so years), I smile every time I come across a bit of syntax or a word that I remember learning from these books, and recognize (as an adult) how very smart Ms. Pierce made her heroines--they have complex emotional lives, they practice safe sex, they laugh at themselves the few times they drink to excess, they are fiercely self-reliant but accept love when it's offered. In each book I find at least one 'lesson' that I now consider an integral part of my worldview.

I found The Immortals first, because there was a horse on the cover of the first book. Within a week, I'd read every Tamora Pierce book in print, and spent the next few years gleefully anticipating each further release. I lost interest in her new stories a few quartets later, but the early two are as familiar to me as my siblings and my teddy bear (and considerably more portable). And yesterday I realized how much Alanna (heroine of Song of the Lioness), looks like Christina Hendricks on the covers of her books (at least the editions I have, which I think are the best). You learn something new every day. [Photo]

Garlic Knots


I love garlic knots. Lots of pizza places sell five for a dollar, and I find myself buying them as a post-work snack every couple weeks. Over the summer, craving their knotty goodness but lacking the excuse of a commute, I decided to make some for myself. And today, out of sheer craving, I made them again. And they were delicious. Very simple and unimpressive recipe, but scrumptious.



Garlic Knots

1 can refrigerated breadstick dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons garlic powder*
3 cloves garlic, pressed or diced
1 heaping teaspoon dried basil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375F and place a piece of foil on a cookie sheet (it's worth doing this, these things crisp on the bottom and make the sheet itself a horrible pain to clean). Crack open the can of dough and separate the breadsticks. Mix olive oil and 1 teaspoon garlic powder in a small dish, and brush onto one side of each piece of dough. Fold into loose knots and place on the foil. Bake for five or six minutes, until puffed but not yet browned.

While baking, melt butter in the same dish as the leftover olive oil. Stir in garlic, basil, and remaining garlic powder, mixing well. When the knots are puffed up, take them out of the oven. Create a depression in the top of each and spoon in a bit of the butter mixture. Top with a sprinkling of parmesan and put back into the oven for a further five or so minutes, until the knots and cheese are a bit browned.

* I probably used at least another teaspoon on top of this, but I'm deep in the clutches of a serious garlic addiction.

If you want smaller knots, cut the dough pieces in half and stretch out to knot. Reheat like they do in pizza places, wrapped in foil in the oven. Microwaving makes them mushy. Perfect party food, undoubtedly excellent drunk food as well, and ready in about fifteen minutes. What more could you ask?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

from "The Book of Hrabal" by Peter Esterházy



'Why do you drink, Aunt Georgina?'

'I told you, my pet. Just call me Georgie. Don't be so formal, like that mother of yours. Who, as you know, couldn't stand the sight of me. But take my word for it, I never made a pass at your father. Though not because of your mother, either. And I don't just drink, I drink to excess... I've been drinking pitchers of beer for thirty-five years now, but not for the sake of drinking, no, I detest drunks, I drink because it helps me think, so I can get to the bottom of the text better, because I don't read for entertainment, merely to pass the time, or to help me fall asleep, I who live in a country where fifteen generation learned to read and write, I drink so that I should never again be able to fall asleep from reading, to make the act of reading send shivers up and down my spine, because I happen to share Hegel's view that a valuable person is rarely noble, and that a sinner is seldom a murderer. If only I could write, I would write a book about the great, great unhappiness of humankind, and it's great happiness...'

On page fifty-eight, the truest of the true. All typographical errors preserved from the original text. Grandeur comes from an accompanying scent of old library book and thoroughly-enjoyed cigarettes. I suspect I must now go drink a glass of wine. Appreciate Mr. Esterházy's glorious cloud of hair and the fact that Haydn composed music in the (gorgeous) palace built by his family. [image]

Friday, July 16, 2010

summer cheer



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Summer is killing me, guys. Working sporadically as a tutor means a lot of trekking back and forth through sweaty subway stations during the hottest hours of the day, spending most of my small income on sunscreen, showering every four hours, and not having the energy to do much of anything. Including seeing any of my friends. Oh, and drinking iced coffee to kill my appetite because every time I eat something I feel ill. Really healthy, I know. This is not my season. All I want to do is sit in front of the fan and read books that take place in very cold regions, like deep space and St. Petersburg.

But most people love summer, right? So please, you summer-lovers, tell me some good things about summer, or send me fun things to read or play with on the internet while I stew in my apartment. Just don't tell me "no school" is a good thing, because you hopefully know me better than that by now.

The most cheerful thing I've found today is this beautifully-designed quiz that tells you what font best represents your personality. Like the lovely Sarah Von, on whose blog I found this delight, my result was Archer Hairline.

Quinoa and Edamame Summer Salad



First recipe in ages! This salad, along with a (shamefully box-made) angel food cake were my contributions to a Fourth of July picnic, where we cursed the heatwave and oohed and aaahhed at the lovely fire boats (and later, stuffed with quinoa, the fireworks) on the Hudson. Besides being ridiculously healthy, this salad is perfect for a heatwave because it requires minimal cooking and tastes excellent cold. After staring into my pantry and freezer for a bit on July 3rd, I googled "quinoa and edamame" and found this recipe, which I modified just a bit to make my salad.

Quinoa and Edamame Salad

1 1/2 cups dry quinoa (rinse it well!)
3 cups water

1 lb (one large bag) thawed, shelled edamame
1 large carrot, grated
1/2 c. chives, finely chopped

1/4 cup sesame oil*
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp sesame seeds (toasted, if you want)

*I used a combination of spicy sesame oil, peanut oil, and canola oil, because I was running out of everything that day. I definitely recommend some sort of spicy element.

Cook the quinoa in a rice cooker (best for hot days) or according to the directions on the box. Let it cool for ten or twenty minutes, then mix in the vegetables.

Whisk together the oil, rice vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and ginger to make the dressing. Drizzle onto the salad and mix through well. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least an hour to let the dressing soak in.

Obviously this is one of those recipes to which you can add virtually whatever strikes your fancy/is in your fridge. The original poster used cherries in hers, but I'm not a huge fan so I left them out. It might be good with some red apple slices, though.

This might be my new favorite picnic food, because I'm addicted to edamame and it's much cheaper to make than the feta-and-pine-nut-filled cous cous salad I usually do for picnics. I might not use black sesame seeds next time, though, because at one point I thought ants had gotten into it! Do ants even live in New York? I don't think I've seen one the whole time I've been here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Paris Couture Autumn/Winter 2010-11

Sometimes it's not a bad thing to spend some time just looking at pictures of pretty clothes. Here are some of my favorites from the Paris Couture Week that just passed. Photos borrowed from Fashion Gone Rogue.



I didn't love the Chanel collection, which was weirdly proportioned and a bit too full of scattered laces and embroideries and other embellishments even for me (which takes quite a bit of scattering), but I did really like this wine color that popped up several times, and the coat is beautiful. I like the hoof-tipped boots, which remind me of these. I'm also thinking this lion-head dress is one of the best uses of sparkles on clothing I've ever seen. [more]



I cannot stop looking at this Dior collection. I don't think anybody can, actually. The models are literally walking flowers. There are some amazing, fairy tale-worthy ballgowns, but my favorites are these slightly less dramatic dresses with amazing and petal-like construction and beautiful colors emerging from the black body. [more]


Probably the most wearable of all these clothes, the Armani Privé collection makes me want to go live in Italy in the winter. And only wear neutral colors, and possibly become a blonde. I often forget how much I like Armani (because I see too much Armani Exchange stuff), but then they do a collection like this and the perfect structured-unstructured lines make me want to run away into the world Armani ladies live in. [more]


Along with my favorite long sleeves-and-short skirt look, this Valentino collection has some proportions that are even stranger than the Chanel ones, but here they look playful and interesting instead of awkward. A very quiet, classic palette and really touchable fabrics make me want all these things. [more]


I just read an excellent book called The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer. Jean Paul Gaultier's latest collection could be costumes for the film of that book. Particularly if the film were otherwise made by everyone who worked on Blade Runner, because I'm sure you can see how well that aesthetic works with JPG's outfits. I love the wing-like shoulders (very angellic) and am strangely drawn to the mesh dress with fishnets. [more]


This Elie Saab collection might have taken 'draping' to a new level. It also has an interesting palette (lots of super-neutrals plus intense reds and minty green) and my favorite bride of the season.  She is obviously a fairy princess. [more]









Givenchy's models look like biker chicks running away from their wedding nights, or fourteen-year-old girls who haven't decided between Debbie Harry and Ophelia. I don't love the collection overall, but I like a lot of the things that went into it. Except for the lace  bellbottoms. Those I do not like. [more]


There were more shows, but I can't find borrow-able photos of them and I have to return this laptop to the library in a few minutes. Stephane Rolland also did beautiful things with draping and petals. Worth made costumes for really scary Elizabethan ballerinas. Maison Martin Margiela made whole outfits out of cowboy boots. Couture seasons are nice because there aren't thousands and thousands of photos to sift through. Before you go, here are some more mind-blowing flower dresses for you to look at:






 The blue and pink one reminds me of a giant display I saw at the Cleveland Flower Show when I was five. Amazing.

Friday, July 9, 2010

inspiration for my walls

The hyper-patterned quilts sort of dominate this image from Antropologie's July catalogue, but the thing that really caught my eye was the chalked-on picture frames on the wall. I am going to do this in my next apartment, which I will hopefully be staying in long enough to warrant painting the walls. I might choose a different shade of chalkboard paint, though. Even when I was seventeen I didn't really want black bedroom walls (I chose cerise pink instead). Martha Stewart explains how to make your own in any color. I will also one day own an awesomely frail-looking canopy bed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Yorkshire Pudding

Just a quick recipe for the Yorkshire Pudding I threw together to go with dinner tonight. This is definitely a solid bread-substitute, nice and spongy and just a little greasy. Doesn't really need a topping, but at Thanksgiving we usually use it to mop up gravy and the brown sugar sauce from yams. Recipe is from Epicurious.


Yorkshire Pudding

ingredients

5 ounces flour (or 1 heaping cup)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1-2 ounces melted fat (I used bacon grease)
preparation

In a bowl combine flour, salt, and milk until well blended. Incorporate both eggs and blend together until you have a smooth liquid batter. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat oven at 450°F. Place a 9x13 dish in oven and heat for 10 minutes. Place the fat into the dish and continue heating for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the prepared batter into the dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, lowering the heat to 350°F after 15 minutes, until the tops of the bubbles are golden brown. Serve immediately.

I quartered the recipe (since I'm home alone and was running out of flour anyway), but used a whole egg, which made the whole thing a bit lighter than it would usually be. I might use an extra egg when making the full batch. I used bacon fat for the grease and made my pudding in a little 4x6 Pyrex baking dish. It took about 17 minutes to bake and it was delicious.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What I Wore (Not on Wednesday)

Was bored, went to play on Polyvore. Wore the first one to grab lunch, and later hookah and drinks, with one of my best friends when she came to town last weekend. The second one is today's outfit.



That lace, cropped motorcycle jacket was the most expensive thing I've ever bought at H&M (besides my Lagerfeld dress and tweed coat, which my mother paid for...), but it was totally worth it. Gorgeous, no? The dress is my new favorite summer piece, so comfy and such a pretty blue. My "Union Johnson" bag is actually black and shaped kind of differently, but this one gives you the general aesthetic. I haven't carried it in ages but dragged it out in honor of Saira's visit. Earrings, cuff, and scarf are approximations of some of my staples, spectator shoes are still in my top five after a couple months of wearing them. Mine are not so white, though, so they don't clash with the cream jacket and bag the way they do in the pictures.



Second-favorite new summer dress, in another unusual and gorgeous color! I have the sash tied bandeau-style over my chest, though, because there's too much fabric in the bust of the dress and it makes me look odd. Dithered over returning the dress for two weeks until I hit upon this solution. I really do have those cute sunglasses and that darling bag, but the rest of the accessories are approximations: my shoes are that shape but darker and cheaper, my earrings are bigger, and my scarf is monochrome brocade. I am also wearing cropped floral leggings, which make a big difference in the oufit, but I can't find any on Polyvore or anywhere else that don't make the whole set look awful, despite how nice the oufit looks. Here are some colors:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Simple Butter Cookies

Third and final post of the evening! I made these because I smelled butter and started thinking about Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies. These are not that much like Chessmen, but they made me pretty happy. Perfect for dipping in tea, softer and more delicate than your average sugar cookie. Basic recipe from here. I used a bit less flour and mixed everything with my electric mixer, mostly on its lowest speed.


Butter Cookies


Ingredients
1 cup butter (unsalted)
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Procedure
- Cream the butter and sugar together until it's a bit fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
- Mix the salt into the flour and stir them into the butter mixture. Beat until the dough is thick enough to gather into one lump, roll into a loaf.
- Wrap the loaf in cling wrap and refrigerate for about one hour. Slice 1/8"-thick rounds and place on parchment paper-covered or sprayed cookie sheet.
- Bake at 400F for 7-10 minutes, or until the edges are crispy and brown. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with granulated sugar, and allow to cool.

I only made nine cookies, and stuck the rest of the loaf in the freezer. It looks like it will make at least three more batches if I behave and stick to nine at a time. The thinner you cut your slices, the crisper the cookies will get. The ones I made stayed pleasantly soft (though not doughy) in the middle and crisp at the edges after overnighting in a ziploc bag. They were equally delicious fresh with raspberry tea and the next day with a smoothie. You can probably think of lots of interesting ways to flavor these as well as decorate them. I'm going to try mixing in the contents of lemon verbena tea packets next time, which is an idea I got from a blog that I can no longer find.

I also made an incredibly yummy Hungarian dish called rakott krumpli this week, but I'm waiting to go home and perfect my recipe before posting it, as it didn't turn out quite as amazing as the version my mother's boyfriend's mother made last time I was home.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Liberty of London Prints: Martha Grace in Pink

Can't sleep, playing on Polyvore. Quite addicted. This is an actual outfit that I wore, featuring my lovely Liberty of London for Target dress in the pink version of the Martha Grace print.



The bowl in the background is to show you how awesome the print actually is, and how it is not actually as orangey as the dress looks there. And why the pink Chucks went perfectly with it, even though mine are not even half that bright any more. That's not really what my orange Longchamp purse (which is the light of my life and the object of certain friends' most burning envy) looks like, but it's an orange Longchamp purse in about the same shade, so it'll do. The burgundy kitten heels are also not nearly as pretty as the ones I actually put on to go to dinner that night, but the color and 'spirit' of the shoes come close. I was ridiculously happy the whole day I was wearing this.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Potato Paprikás


Paprikás krumpli
(Potato Paprikash)

This is the food I grew up on. It's technically a form of gulyás (goulash), and usually made with chicken. This potato version is the 'poor man's paprikás' and my grandmother glares and asks me if I think we're low-class every time I mention it, but I was a vegetarian for years and years and, in truth, this version is better than the slightly greasy chicken one. Paprikás has been a Hungarian staple for generations, originally cooked in big pots over fires by herdsmen on the puszta (the Hungarian version of the prairie). The nokedli (like German spätzle) is a bit fussy, but you can buy pre-made spätzle or kluski (Polish egg noodles) at the store and serve it over those if you don't have the time (or apparatus) to make nokedli. This recipe makes enough to feed a family of four for about three days, so you might want to cut it down if you're not cooking for so many. It does keep well in the fridge, though. Serve with a dollop of sour cream to mix through for the light-colored creamy version (pictured above), or leave it out for the traditional bright red one.

Paprikás krumpli

Ingredients
1 large red onion
96 ounces of vegetable broth*
3 tablespoons butter or lard
4 heaping tablespoons of paprika**
1 tomato (de-stemmed)
5-6 potatoes (I usually use Yukon Gold)
2-12 hot peppers, depending on your taste***
1 heaping teaspoon of salt

* My mom usually uses chicken broth, even when leaving out the actual chicken. It's really good this way too.
** It's very important to use good paprika and not just some random plastic jar that's been in the back of the pantry for years. The best ones we've found that are not brought directly from Hungary by our relatives are the Pride of Szeged (their hot paprika is particularly good, and the tin is so cute I keep it and refill it from the stuff my family brings), which is in most decent grocery stores, and Tone's Spanish Paprika, which you can usually find at Costco. I usually use three tablespoons of sweet paprika and one of hot, but I've made it with all of one or the other as well. By the way, when I say 'heaping,' I mean 'about to topple off onto the floor.' Heaping!
*** You can use any kind of hot pepper, but I tend to steer towards longish red ones. Jalapeños give this a weird flavor. You should wash the peppers, but leave the stems on. One or two will inevitably burst during cooking, the rest are for the individual bowls of heat-craving dinner guests.

Instructions
- In the bottom of a big, heavy stock pot (remember, you're using three quarts of broth), roast the onions in the butter/lard over medium-high heat until they're soft, stirring constantly.
- Take the pot off the heat and add one quart of broth. Mix in the paprika, and add the rest of the broth. Peel and cut up the potatoes, add with the whole tomato* and the small peppers.
- Bring the whole thing to a boil (this can take a while, I recommend putting the lid most of the way on) and add the salt. Cook uncovered on medium-low for about 55 minutes.
- Serve hot over nokedli, spätzle, or kluski. For spicy paprikás, pull the stem out of one of the peppers and squeeze the seeds and juice into your bowl.


When the paprikás (and our first round of stuffing ourselves on it) is finished, we usually turn off the heat, put on the lid, and let it sit on the stove overnight. It's even better the next day.

* The tomato flavors the stew, but isn't really meant to be eaten. I've actually decided to start cooking it in a cheesecloth bag or something similar, because often the skin comes off during cooking and I end up with weird, chewy tomato-skin pieces in among my onions. The only person I've ever seen actually consume it is my friend Laura, who swears it's tasty. Up to you.

Nokedli

These dumplings are made with a hex, which is a weird, hard-to-clean kitchen implement that you probably can't use for much else. Wells suggested putting the batter in a pastry bag (or corner-cut plastic bag) and snipping off bits as they fall out.

Ingredients
12 eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
water

Instructions
- Fill a big, heavy pot 3/4 of the way up with water and set on the stove to boil.
- Whisk the eggs lightly in a bit mixing bowl. Add the flour and salt and mix well. Add water, a little at a time, until the batter is about the consistency of sour cream.
- When the water is at a rolling boil, spoon a big dollop of batter into the hex and slide the cup back and forth until all the batter has fallen through the holes into the water. When the nokedli float to the surface (which takes about five seconds), move them to a strainer and rinse for a few seconds under cool water. Shake to drain and transfer to the serving bowl. Repeat until all the batter has been used up, making sure to keep the water at a boil. It's best to do this with two people, one taking care of the hex and the other doing the rinsing.
- Rinse the pot and scrape off the batter that collects on the edges, it's horrible to clean off once it hardens.