Friday, August 26, 2011

last days of New York

 What with the impending hurricane-pocalypse (just not as ringing as snowpocalypse, please suggest alternatives), I figured it was time for another roll of photos from my last days in the big city. Which ended about a month ago, actually, but I have not yet actually moved on to the next place, so I figure it is still valid. So anyway, here's what I did in New York City in June.

 Flowers, obviously.

Now that Schnitzel and Things has a stationary restaurant, this is the only truck I bother chasing around the city. The kimchi is actually a little on the bland side, but the dishes are interesting and edible on the go, and the concept is very cool.

 The dress that saved my life by being the only thing I could stand to put on when the temperature topped 90ºF. Which it did, regularly, for weeks.

 I also ate basically nothing but thawed edamame with sweet chili sauce, because it is the best summer food that isn't watermelon or a granita.

 The view from a friend's fancy-pants roof deck. Far superior to the view of loitering teenagers and nannies pushing strollers from my apartment.

 Kosher angel food cake. Not as good as the regular kind, but the top did look nice.

 Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki covered in bonito flakes from Otafuku. They only serve those two things and yakisoba, but it's pretty much the best food ever to come out of a ten-foot-wide hole in a Manhattan wall.

 Shoe pictures are as predictable as flower pictures around here.
 My outfit for Sleep No More, which was the most wonderful piece of staged art I've ever seen. I'm sorry I couldn't get photos of the actual show, or just melt into it. It was Twin Peaks crossed with Macbeth crossed with a Howard Hawks noir.

These only lasted about two days, but they were beautiful.

I have really strong opinions on how to properly make a cucumber sandwich. Weirdly, I did not form them while living in England.

I miss my pretty cherry floors.

A bad photo of Ai Weiwei's Zodiac Heads, which opened while the artist was detained in his native China. Happily, he has since been released, but other Chinese artists continue to be arrested for their political views. I fell in love with his work after reading about this exhibit at the Tate Modern (my favorite museum in the world).

Stonewall Place during this year's Pride Parade, just days after gay marriage was legalized in New York. One of the happiest places I have ever been.

Staten Island Ferry. Another extremely happy place. The actual impetus for this ride was the realization that I'd been to four of five boroughs in one weekend, and needed to complete the set.

Then, as a bonus trip, I went to the beach. Coney Island Beach, in fact. It was weird, but mostly because I don't usually voluntarily go to beaches on hot, sunny days.

And then I went home to Cleveland.

Want to know what I did there? The July edition launches tomorrow!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

la bicyclette

Here is your mid-evening cocktail update, courtesy of Wells, the Mixologist iPhone app, and my directionless liquor shopping.

La Bicyclette

2 oz gin
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz elderflower liquer
2 dashes blood orange bitters*

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

*original recipe calls for peach bitters, but we improvised.

Delicious. Make one now.

rain/sun, old shoes/new purse

rain/sun, old shoes/new purse

rain/sun, old shoes/new purse by whiskeyinyrshoes featuring a floral tea dress

Today I got soaked, and then sunburned, all within three hours. And then I unwisely went to "browse" in a couple of shops, and ended up with a lovely new purse.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

apple-stuffed pork chops with maple syrup and pancakes

I've been wanting to make stuffed pork chops since I saw Giada make these on her show. I still want to try those out, but for my first attempt I decided to use apples and dried cranberries as the stuffing, because I adore apples and pork together and also that's what I had on hand. I worked basically from this recipe, but changed things up based on what was handy, since I'm borrowing someone else's kitchen at the moment. I don't know why I decided to serve these over pancakes, but I suspect it had to do with falling asleep watching the Food Network last night. The pancakes I grew up on were Hungarian palacsinta, which are thin crepes, so I've never been attached to any one recipe for the American-style kind. The one I used today is Nigella's, because she's the kind of lady who knows how to make a pancake, regardless of nationality. They were lovely, very light and fluffy. This meal serves two people, but is easy to increase.

Apple-stuffed Pork Chops

2 fairly thick, center-cut, boneless pork chops
1 crisp, semi-sweet apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 large shallot
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the apple and onion for about five minutes, then add the vinegar and cranberries and cook for another few minutes, or until the apples and onions are soft. Season with a little pepper and stick in the fridge to chill for an hour or so.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut pockets into the pork chops, getting as deep as you can without poking through sides of the meat. Spoon in the apple mixture, packing it as tightly as you can. Stick two toothpicks through the edges of the pork, forming an X shape, to hold the pockets closed. Season each side with salt (I used kosher salt) and pepper. 

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil on medium-high (you can use the same pan as before), and brown the pork chops for about three minutes on each side. Transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the pork is no longer pink inside.


 3/4 cup flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
more butter for frying the pancakes
maple syrup to serve

Sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and melted butter. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk until more or less smooth. Butter a skillet and heat on medium-high. Drop large spoonfuls of batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles rise through the batter, then flip and cook for another minute or so on the other side. Serve with maple syrup and stuffed pork.

Okay, I guess the rationale behind stuffed-pork-and-pancakes is that the cooked fruit inside the pork reminds me of the pear compote my grandmother used to serve along with the palacsinta on Sundays, and maple syrup is one of the best things in the world. It's so good on bacon, how could it be bad on pork chops? And it wasn't bad at all, it was yummy as all hell. And the pork chops are really good on their own, so make them with or without the pancakes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

milk cake with strawberries

The recipe for this cake came from a book called Farms and Foods of Ohio. I made it for what was meant to be a party to celebrate bottling her homemade wine... but turned into more of a bonfire night celebrating drinking the wine (which was awesome, by the way). The cake got a bit forgotten while we were down at the beach, but it made a fantastic breakfast for everyone over the next couple of days. It's a slightly sweet bread-cake, lighter than pound cake but denser and less chewy than angel food. Extremely easy to make and perfect for matching with fresh or cooked-up fruit. The book calls for roasted strawberries, but these were so perfect I couldn't bear to do anything to them.

10 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups whole milk
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour a loaf pan or a large shallow baking dish.*

Heat the butter and milk on medium-low until all the butter has melted. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs on high speed until they thicken (about five minutes). Gradually add the two cups of sugar, continuing to beat on medium speed for two more minutes.

Whisk together the flour and baking soda and add to the egg mixture. Beat on medium until smooth, about two minutes. Add the milk and butter mixture and the vanilla, and beat for another two minutes. Pour into the baking dish and bake for 35-60 minutes, depending on the depth of the dish. When a thin-bladed knife slides in and out cleanly, the cake is done. Let rest for ten minutes before turning out of the pan, and cool completely before slicing.

* The original recipe called for a loaf pan, and I am very fond of loaf-shaped cakes, but it took much longer to bake through than the recipe suggested, and burned a little on the bottom. Look how nice the top looked, though:

Overall, nice little cake. It lasted a whole four days, lazily wrapped in foil and left on the counter. Just as tasty the last day as it was on the first. You should also appreciate my lovely plate of wine-tasting snacks, because I rarely bother with/succeed at making something this nice-looking.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Go Sailor

Go Sailor

Go Sailor by whiskeyinyrshoes featuring wool scarves

I don't know why, but this outfit has been making me think of Rose Melberg all day. They're pretty happy thoughts.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Hey look, I'm still alive! Unfortunately I haven't been near a reliable internet connection for much of the past couple of weeks. Nor have I been cooking much, as my mother usually whisks something amazing off the grill before I even have time to ask what's for dinner. Tonight, however, we managed the intricate process of cooking a meal together without crashing into each other other with knives or hot pans, and made gumbo. (Hopefully there's a better photo coming when I have some leftovers.)

I had a cup of very nice gumbo yesterday at the fantastic Salmon Dave's in River, but it's not really a dish best served in a small cup. Additionally, they add their rice on top instead of underneath the soup and don't chop up their meats and vegetables very thoroughly, so it's more like eating a stir-fry in a mildly spicy sauce. I prefer my mother's version, which has a more homogenous texture and a lot more spice. I should add that the salmon and risotto with peanut sauce that I had for my entrée was delicious and you should go eat there pronto.

Anyway, here's the recipe. No idea where it came from originally, our version is one my mom copied down from some cooking magazine she couldn't tear the page out of. It's somewhere between a Cajun and a Creole gumbo... not as dark as the former, but not as simple as the latter. We made a rather enormous amount, because it's going to feed us for a couple of days as well as my brother's prodigious appetite over the weekend. This recipe makes a more reasonable amount, but probably still enough for four or five people as a main course.

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
1 lb spicy sausage (andouille or other)
1 1/2 cups onion
1/2 cup red pepper
1 cup celery
3 tbsp butter + 1 more for the chicken
14.5 oz canned diced tomatoes
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed pepper
2-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp creole seasoning
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp thyme
2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups chicken
white rice and water to cook it in

Dice the vegetables and put into a large pan with the butter. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot and stir in the flour, whisking constantly for 4-5 minutes to make a roux (this site tells you how to make a proper Creole-style roux... which is not what I've just done here).

Turn the heat up to medium on the vegetable pan and stir occasionally until the butter is melted. Meanwhile, squeeze the sausage out of its casings. Add to the pan and saute for 10 to 15 minutes, breaking up the sausage into the smallest pieces you can (Trying to stir the vegetables evenly through it, watching out for stubborn clumps, will accomplish this. I also recommend using a smallish wooden spoon, though my mother swears by a big spatula). 

When the sausage is browned and the vegetables are softened, (carefully) transfer them to the big pot with the roux. Add the tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and spices and simmer for about ten minutes. Slowly stir in the chicken broth and let it simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. At some point during this time, put some rice on to cook, about 1/2 a cup for each person who is eating. More if they're going to need it to cut the spice of the gumbo.

Chop up the chicken and sear it for a few minutes in the last tablespoon of butter, until the outsides of the pieces are white. Add to the gumbo for the last fifteen minutes of cooking. Serve over the rice. Lasts five or six days in the fridge, and freezes quite well.

There are plenty of ways to change this up based on your preferences. I'd really like to make a version of this with shrimp, either instead of or in addition to the chicken. Unfortunately not everyone on the homestead likes seafood as much as I do, so it'll have to wait until I get a chance to make it in Ann Arbor. I once had gumbo with a fried egg on top at a Cajun brunch, and it was pretty much the best thing ever. Will definitely try that again. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, substitute margarine and vegetable broth and whatever meat substitute you're into (maybe seitan or tempeh? something that holds up). You might have to add a little extra margarine to the saute pan to make up for the juices from the sausage. If you avoid carbs or unhealthy things like butter, double the vegetables and increase the meat as much as you like for a thicker stew. Or pour it over a healthy grain like quinoa.