Make like an apple and be saucy!

As an upstate New York native, I’m accustomed to having four distinct seasons and unlike here in Washington, DC, summers up north don’t wear out their welcome.  Fall has long been my favorite time of year, and I can barely wait to see the landscape explode into a riot of colors.  The days are shorter, the nights are cooler, and the urge to cook and nest takes hold.

When I think back to the autumns of my youth, I remember the excitement of heading back to school; rooting for our home team, the Purple Eagles, at Friday night football games; hiking  at Letchworth State Park (aka “Grand Canyon of the East”) and collecting colorful leaves for pressing between sheets of waxed paper; gathering glossy brown chestnuts in big paper bags from the huge tree down the block from my grandparent’s house; and eating lots and lots of apples.

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Artistry on the Plate

Avec Eric is Chef Eric Ripert’s award-winning cooking show on PBS.  I find myself continually impressed and inspired by his commitment to craft, as he constantly seeks new sources of inspiration and knows the value of stepping outside the kitchen walls to learn and grow as a chef.  It’s also heartening to see someone so excited about food and well, just naturally exuberant. He always looks like a kid in a candy store, especially when he’s meeting and learning from other chefs, winemakers, fishermen, growers and food artisans. And I love getting a glimpse of the creative process in Le Bernardin’s kitchen, as he leads his team of cooks through tasting exercises, while they try to develop dishes based on new flavors or ingredients that he’s discovered in his travels.

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Kiss my…grits (that’s gree-yuhts to you).

Growing up, I recall lots of lazy Sunday mornings, with plenty of time for sleeping in, watching cartoons, and doing pretty much anything that didn’t involve homework.  My parents would be drinking coffee in their bathrobes, while my father lorded over the newspaper, doling out sections as he saw fit.  Every now and then, he’d abandon the paper and make his way into the kitchen to cook up a super-sized brunch-for-one (although sometimes he could be convinced to make extra) that always had one essential component: grits.

You see, he was a southern boy, trapped in my mother’s yankee hometown in upstate NY.  Back in those days, my mom did nearly all the cooking, grilled beast notwithstanding, so anything that managed to draw my father into the kitchen surely must have been the holy grail of breakfasts. Perhaps these meals were his way of reclaiming those southern roots; but I bet it was also simply a matter of knowing how well his belly would be rewarded for the time he put in at the stove.

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Mushrooms on the barbie

This was one of my favorite, go-to dishes all summer long, but it’s got potential year-round.  Thank you Mark Bittman for yet another simple and tasty recipe.

Recipe: Vietnamese-Style Portobello Mushrooms – NYTimes.com.

A few tips and tweaks:

  • Pan: apartment dweller that I am, I don’t have a grill, so I use a hot grill pan on the stove.
  • Herbs: I tend to have cilantro around more often than mint, so that’s what I use.
  • Oil: I use canola instead of peanut.
  • Marinade:  more time in the marinade means more flavor, so I let the mushrooms soak it up in the fridge for at least an hour, sometimes up to three.
  • Serving: I serve the mushrooms over rice (usually white, but jasmine is probably better), and more importantly, save the marinade and pour it over the rice before serving. LOTS of extra flavor that way.

Good morning, sexy.


Relationships, jobs, and fortunes may come and go, but you, Mr. Bialetti man, you’ll always be by my side.  I never get tired of waking up to you.

Fluffy White Cake Soaked with Coconut Milk, Sweetened Condensed Milk and Coconut Rum with Coconut Rum Infused Whipped Cream

this is my kind of food porn. must make this.

Poutine, schmoutine.

I was a poutine virgin when this plate was offered up to me at the Food Cart Festival in Portland, OR.   I wondered about poutine in the same kind of mildly curious and slightly incredulous do-they-really-eat-that way that I once wondered about “chicken-fried steak.”

As with my brief foray into Texas-style gluttony, two bites and I knew all I ever needed to know about poutine.

Sorry, Canada.