The Most Serious and Sloppy Things

Those who know me know a few, irrefutable things about me. I think that pickles are important. I measure picky eaters with the concerned eye of a teacher whose student says they hate reading. I am passionate about the skin on chocolate pudding. I'm not prone to long bouts of serious conversation. And I take green chile very, very seriously.


La Preparación

As my Sidekick and I begin to consider our upcoming honeymoon in the Basque country, I've careened deeper and deeper down into the rabbit hole of my obsession with all things Spanish and edible.

Getaria. I want to go to there.

This morning, while I adoringly perused this week's editions of Ruth Reichl's gift guide, I discovered a veritable mail-order wonderland: La Tienda. Holy mother, where have you been all my life?


I'm Afraid I'm Starting to Like Matt Lauer

In the clip below, Matt Lauer helps tackle very important tandem issues of commercial food marketing strategies and, er... package size. Important question: Is Matt the next Brian Williams?

Thanks to Eatocracy for making me chuckle at work. Like usual.


How to Pretend Gourmet Still Exists

If, like for me, losing Gourmet magazine really stung you in all the meanest places, I'm here to help.

And so is this fantastic broad.


Leekfest 2010

Oh, you guys. Don't get sick. Just don't. It screws everything up. Including writing about insane cooking projects you endeavor upon with your friends.

Leekfest 2010 was one of those endeavors. It began innocently enough, when my friend mentioned she was confounded by leeks.


Camemberry White

Oh my god, you guys. I can't stop laughing. Someone, please, give me something to bite down on so I don't swallow my tongue. I can't breathe.


Seriously, just go visit Cheese People. You won't regret it. I can only hope there will be more than four pages-worth soon.

Pimento Cheeseburger

Some things that I love:

1. My Sidekick

2. Pimento cheese

3. Hamburgers


Conversations with My Husband About Dinner: The "DUDE, there's still three weeks till Thanksgiving" Edition

12:24 PM me: I'm thinking about Thanksgiving.
 Sean: HA!
 me: I know.
 Sean: Ok.
12:26 PM What are you thinking about Thanksgiving?
  I mean, it's not shocking that you are.
 me: So, Ashleigh and Mo and her mom will be here.
12:28 PM I know that our place is not totally conducive to entertaining a ton of people, but I thought maybe a small group of us would be pretty cozy. Do we have any other orphans?
 Sean: Not sure.
12:29 PM me: Is that crazy?
  I was thinking really low-key, sit on the floor casual.
 Sean: And yeah, when people are over when we're cooking, it gets a little nuts.
  After we've cooked, it's fine. But before and during...
  Too small.
 me: Right, we'd have to have a lot of it done beforehand.
  Which is good for Thanksgiving anyway.
12:30 PM 
  Here's (obvy) the impetus for this line of thinking at all:
12:31 PM I'm going to start experimenting with making my own green bean casserole from scratch.
  So, just prepare yourself to eat a lot of leftover mushroom soup and failed fried crispy onions.
12:36 PM Sean: HA HA HA!
  I think sitting on the floor and eating is good.
12:40 PM me: And, I was also thinking of maybe saying fuck you to roasting a whole turkey and doing braised legs and maybe roasting a goose or something instead.
12:42 PM Sean: Hell yes!!!
  Turkey sucks!
  It's my least fave part of it all, to be totally honest.
 me: I love turkey, but I ALWAYS want dark meat.
12:43 PM Sean: Fair.
 me: Which is why I was thinking of legs only.
 Sean: Perf.
 me: One for each person, like cavemen!
12:45 PM Sean: HA!
12:46 PM Yes!
  Brussels sprouts.
  Mashers with red chile.
  Or green.
  The bean thing.
  And people can bring the rest.
 me: That's what I'm thinking. Stuffing will be involved.
 Sean: And I'll be drinking whiskey all day.
 Sean: Ah, yes.
12:47 PM The leek bread pudding? (Dear reader - in a forthcoming entry: LEEKFEST 2010)
 me: Red chile mash is all I want to eat.
 Sean: HA!
 me: OOOOH.
  Maybe a little less eggy, but YES.


"Dude, People Like Pictures" - Sidekick

At his urging, some food porn for you.

Dear pepperoncini ranch, I love you. xoxo: Rebecca
First, long-overdue run-down on our Brooklynmoon trip to Roberta's. Guys, I've been kind of a bitch about Bushwick. The above chicken nuggets (dark meat only, thank you) with pepperoncini ranch have really changed my tone.

There was also guanciale and egg pizza. Look, I'll eat guanciale on anything. It's face bacon. What on earth could be bad about that? Also, their tomato sauce is bright, sweet and tastes like... well, tomatoes, which isn't always the case. But here's what's really special, that egg yolk? The beautiful yellow one with the charred crispy top? Was STILL RUNNY on the inside. I don't know how this was accomplished, but I want to eat it again.


Happiness is Your First Salad Spinner

I know it sounds silly. But, I'd never had one before. And now that I do, my life is forever changed.

Spin Class (caption and photo via Sidekick)
Here's the thing. I have always loved to eat vegetables. Always. When I was a kid I routinely chose apples and berries over cake and cookies and I will always choose pickles over - well, most things. So when I say to you that I really like to eat salad, please do not gawk. Or balk. Or... ruffle. I like to eat salad as a counterpoint to something deviously rich and luscious. Like a bowl of cream-rich bisque, or a cheeseburger with pimento cheese on top, or a piece of mushroom and green chile pizza, slicked with a thin layer of orange grease that drips down your wrist while you eat it.


Oh, Good Morning - You Should Read This

Here are some things I really like:

1. Food
2. Dramaturgs Who Make Fun of Themselves
3. The Awl
4. Farmer's Markets
5. Grapes

via The Awl
This article, by Jaime Green, includes all five of those things delightfully and I think you should read it.


Excellent News

via NY Food Museum

Great news via the NY Food Museum's Twitter:
10th Annual Pickle Day Sun 10/17/2010 - pkg lot at Broome/Ludlow - NYC Lower East Side. FUN. FREE. FASHIONABLE, sort of. Filling, anyway.

The beautiful Jordi Gailard with a Pickle-on-a-Stick, wedding style.
Last year's Annual Pickle Day was where I had the good fortune to meet the guys from Horman's Best, who just so happened to have supplied all the pickles for our wedding. These guys, aside from being incredibly friendly, make a spicy-sour pickle that will knock your brains loose in your head. That is to say, they're delicious.

You can find Horman's at the DUMBO farmer's market on Sundays, up in the Hamptons on occasion (not my department) and also just outside the West 4th street stop in Manhattan on Carmine street & 6th ave.

See you at Pickle Day? You know I'll be there.

Greatest. Wedding. Marker. Ever.


Conversations with My Husband About Dinner: Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Edition

3:33 PMme: I actually have a bunch of work to do. Whatever, it will make this already crazy fast day even faster. Then it's you, a chicken and our cast iron skillet.
3:34 PM Sean: Indeed.
  Do you need anything else from the store, or is it just the chicken?
  We have broccoli and some tomatoes.
3:35 PM me: Nope, just chicken. I may have already formulated a plan for other things.
 Sean: Awesome!
 me: i.e., cheddar garlic grits and butter-braised cabbage and broccoli.
 Sean: Cause I want more snickerdoodle ice cream, which I might just cash in on.
 me: Yeah.
 Sean: WHOA_OA_OA.
 me: Ha ha ha.
 Sean: Fuck me and call me Sally.
3:36 PM me: Now you're just hamming it up for the blog.

The end.


When Being Called a Jerk is a Really Good Thing

After my Sidekick and I tied the knot, we returned back to Brooklyn for a few-day decompression period before heading back to work. We lovingly titled this time Brooklynmoon.

Our brief but excellent Brooklynmoon was great for lots of reasons, but one of them is that we got to spend a few weekday afternoons doing whatever the hell we wanted. For my Sidekick and I, this meant mostly eating and drinking. On the list was a long awaited visit to the Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain on Henry Street.

Little known fact: My Sidekick is CRAZY for egg creams. CRAZY. And Brooklyn Farmacy's egg cream, with U-Bet syrup and clocking in at $2.50 made him VERY happy.

For those of us less inclined to drink fizzy milk, I can attest to their cherry lime rickey being very delicious. The cherry syrup has to be made with sour cherries as it is tart, juicy and smacks of homemade-ness. The Sidekick and I split a slice of plum and nectarine pie, too.

We were prepared to get the check and call it a day, until our soda jerk chatted us up. "Did you see the daily special? It's grape soda." I don't know how to spell the noise of the turntable needle getting knocked off the record, but if I did, that's what I'd use here. I LOVE grape soda. Needless to say, we split one of those too.

The co-owner came by to chat with us for a bit. We mentioned to her that we'd poked our heads into the space while her brother (the other owner) was still renovating and wasn't really sure what to do with it. The space was mostly abandoned by its previous owner, leaving a kind of time-capsule to old-timey pharmacies behind. She told us the amazing story of opening, chronicled (totally by happenstance) by a Discovery Channel show called Construction Intervention. Turns out the building had some serious structural issues and that it was kind of a miracle they'd been able to open at all.

We ended our trip to the Farmacy by loading up on sundries. Coffee, pickled fiddleheads and a bottle of Brooklyn-made ginger syrup that my Sidekick has been looking everywhere for.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Farmacy. We know it wasn't easy, and we're really glad to have you.

Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
513 Henry street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 522-6260


Conversations with My Husband About Dinner: The 10:32am Edition

10:32 AM me: Okay. I have a confession.
I'm already thinking about dinner.
Sean: HA!
What of it?
10:33 AM me: How do you feel about this (http://www.thewednesdaychef.com/the_wednesday_chef/2010/07/toast-and-a-summer-break.html) with an egg on top and ditalini mac and cheese? It should be clear this means we don't have to buy anything.
10:34 AM Although it also requires turning the oven on, so maybe I'm turning on it.
Sean: Ha ha ha ha!
Nothing to buy?
Not even an avocado?
Or more cheese?
me: We have a half in the fridge, which I feel like might be enough if we're also putting a fried egg on top.
10:35 AM Maybe we need more cheese. You might be right.
Sean: Yeah.
And 12 limes.
me: Oh, I see.
Sean: And I'll be getting a bottle of white rum.
And I will make Falernum.

And, scene.


On How to Like Things

There are very few things in this world that I don't like to eat. I hate rice pudding. I think the combination of strawberry and banana should be stricken from existence forever. If I never tasted or smelled Bailey's Irish Creme again, it would be too soon. I've had to wrack my brain for these.

Mostly, I was born this way. I ate whatever my parents ate and my parents ate VERY well. But, it's also taken a lot of work. When I identify something I don't really like, I do my best to try it a variety of different ways - multiple times - and usually I come around. I can now say that I happily eat cumin (within reason), I now have an occasional craving for a tuna fish sandwich and I can say without reserve that I am fully ready to try sea urchin again.

Which brings me to fiddlehead ferns. I didn't think I liked them. In fact, I really didn't care about them at all. Fiddlehead ferns pop up in our markets and kitchens every early spring, along with the other spring harbingers everyone is always talking about, morels, peas and ramps. If you've never tasted one, it's sort of like a slightly bitter, wild-tasting asparagus. My trouble with them has been that because of their adorable, tightly curled spiral shape, they're almost never cleaned properly, usually undercooked for my taste and I find myself guiltily pushing them around on my plate every spring. Especially since I refuse to like something just because I SHOULD.

I know what you're thinking. "Uh, dude, it's September. We're kind of past fiddlehead season, aren't we?" Yes. We are. Or so I thought.

Yeah. That's what you think it is. A jar of sour pickled fiddlehead ferns, procured from the new and amazing Brooklyn Farmacy, which I can't wait to tell you about later. These guys hail from VoterVale Farm in Avon, Maine and I just don't know how to thank them enough.

I know that I'm so predictable, but it turns out that pickling these suckers is the secret for me. The vinegar bath and processing tenderize them just right and give them a slightly fermented, caper-ish, almost white-wine-like flavor that I absolutely can't get enough of.

The other great thing about them? See all those mustard seeds swimming around in there with them? The shape of the ferns sort of acts like a natural scoop for those guys, trapping them in their inner coils and transporting them directly to your mouth.

In addition to eating them greedily, straight out of the jar, I've also been using them anywhere I'd use capers or olives, like the fiddlehead pesto crudo I drizzled on top of a risotto cake and a sunny-side-up egg last weekend.

Pickled Fiddlehead Pesto Crudo

2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated Parmesean
10 - 12 pickled fiddleheads, finely chopped
3 cups packed basil leaves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil

Grate garlic cloves on a fine micro-plane into a small bowl. Add fiddleheads, basil leaves, salt and pepper. Bash with cocktail muddler until the basil is just bruised and releasing some oil. Stir in the Parmesean and olive oil and let sit while you prepare whatever you will drizzle this over to make more delicious.


And Then Sometimes It's Fall

Well, not really. Not yet anyway, but it kind of feels like it, doesn't it? Now, please don't get me wrong. I'm a summer person. I always want to feel the sun on my skin. I always want berries and tomatoes to be in the market. And I usually want to drink watermelon aguas frescas.

Sorry to get carried away. Back to the season it currently feels like.

It's around this time each year that I usually start craving the cooking techniques of Fall. I want to braise meats and greens. I want to make soups and stews and polentas and risottos. I want to gratin potatoes and roast chickens and begin my annual ritual of swearing to myself that I will actually make latkes this winter. And then sometimes, I get a strange itch and decide I really want to bake.

I made a promise, not just to you guys - dear readers, but also to my Sidekick, that as soon as I could stand to turn the oven back on, I would bake Smitten Kitchen's plum cake.

And that I did.

It didn't turn out quite as beautifully as Smitten Kitchen's drool-inducing images, but you guys, it tasted REALLY good.

I made a few McPickles-esque changes. By that I mean, I used the wrong-sized pan because I do not bake, added extra spices (including cayenne pepper, which my Sidekick will not stop laughing about - "You add pepper to EVERYTHING!") and used regular sugar instead of brown because that's what I had on hand. I can tell you that this recipe is very difficult to screw up and has proportions that I can ALMOST remember by heart. It is buttery, crumbly, comforting, tart from the plums and has been my Sidekick's breakfast every day since.

That said, here are the changes I made that you should ignore: if you have the correct-sized pan, use it. I think this cake will taste best when it has room to spread out and get really sticky. Also, I think using brown sugar will really help to make this even more buttery and caramely. You and I should both just buy some so we have it and don't have to learn these things the hard way. Happy baking!

Dimply Plum Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it, barely, from Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper (I KNOW.)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup olive oil (you can use canola or something with less flavor, if you like)
Grated zest of 1 orange, lemon or lime
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 purple or red plums halved and pitted (I used Italian prune plums since they were at my market, but this is also great with nectarines, blackberries, your imagination is the limit)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and put the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cayenne and cinnamon together.

Working with a mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until it’s soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes, then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for a minute after each egg goes in. Still working on medium speed, beat in the oil, zest and vanilla; the batter will look smooth and creamy, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter–without over-crowding, you want your cake to have room to spread out–jiggling the plums a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes (check early and often), or until the top is just brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 15 minutes during which time the plums juices will seep back into the cake then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Thanks, Smitten!


Triumphant Return of a Married Eater

Hi everyone! So, I'm someone's wife now, which is pretty cool.

Here is something else that is cool. Our wedding cake:

Yeah. It's all cake. ALL of it. This was made by our dear friend, the magnificent Alex Bliss. Who also, as it happens, made me a pretty effing spectacular bridal shower cake as well.

I'm serious, you guys. Having talented friends is one of the best things in the universe. Both of these cakes succeeded in tasting even better than they looked, which is no small feat.

Coming up: a run-down of the rest of the wedding delicacies, including an original cocktail by my Sidekick (ahem, HUSBAND), more pickles than anyone knew what to do with and - as promised - the weather cooled down and I actually baked a cake.

Happy to be back!


Pre-Wedding Food Porn

I'll be out of pocket for the next week or so, getting effing hitched! In the meantime, wanted to leave you with the gist of what will be going into our stomachs. Enjoy!

I know! I'm sorry if you haven't eaten lunch yet. ACTUAL wedding food porn to commence after I giddily make my Sidekick my HUSBAND.


And Then Sometimes You Eat Baklava for Breakfast

The problem with living above one of the best Arabic restaurants in Brooklyn is that there are often lots of leftovers.

And then sometimes you eat baklava for breakfast.

So, in case you're wondering, baklava and iced Stumptown are a really good combination.


Gosh, William Carlos Williams, I Know

This Is Just To Say
by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Coming as soon as I can turn the oven on again.


A Lovely Surprise

Garlic. Flowers.

How is it possible that I've never seen these before? Aside from the fact that I instantly wished they could be my wedding bouquet (they'll be out of season by the end of August), finding these at our farmer's market this weekend was such a lovely surprise.

I have no idea what to do with them. Anyone have any bright ideas? The farmer said she doesn't even bother chopping them, just crumbles them up with her fingers and uses them like fresh garlic. Needless to say, it's on. I'll let you know how it goes.

Until then, these lovelies will be right here on my counter. I wish all flowers smelled this good.