Sunday, July 13, 2014

the weekend and some bourbon

We experienced another reasonably quiet weekend in these parts. I had a work event Friday evening (karaoke was involved) and spent Saturday tidying up the apartment and hanging out with my family. In the evening, Daniel and I drove to Berkeley to meet his parents for a terrific dinner at Da Lian, which I must have walked by on an almost daily basis when I was in college but somehow never visited. 

Today we walked over to out to The Plough and the Stars to watch the World Cup (Steins was, unfortunately, full). After the game,  we took our time walking home, stopping in at the wonderful Green Apple Books (I scooped up very cheap copies of this and this) and Healthy Spirits. We had a lovely conversation with the proprietor, bought some bourbon*, and meandered home. In the evening, Daniel fixed us Manhattans and I made rack of lamb with an arugula and tomato salad and garlic toasts. All in all, a very nice weekend. 

*Daniel bought Old Weller Antique. The fellow working at Healthy Spirits spent a long time talking with us about the various merits of the bourbons on their shelves and recommended this based on our expressed desire to buy something that would be good for cocktails as well as sipping. We were very happy to take his advice and can confirm that Manhattans made with Old Weller are quite delicious. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

with each passing month

This weekend, we were pretty much homebodies. Daniel was slaving away at his computer most of the time and I was curled up on the couch reading novels (this and then this), avoiding the gray weather. We did take a few breaks though, mostly to walk around our neighborhood and stretch our legs. On Saturday, we made our way over to 34th and Balboa to check out the newly opened Marla Bakery, and ended up stopping in for xiao long bao and potstickers at Shanghai Dumpling King. This afternoon, we headed back to the same neck of the woods for lunch at Cassava (photo above is their Japanese Breakfast) followed by a quick visit to the Legion of Honor, where we stopped in to see the restored Salon Dore from the Hotel de la Tremoille. I love our neighborhood more with each passing month.

Anyway, I'm just starting to see the sun peek out from behind the thick layer of fog that has been enveloping us all day (all weekend?) so perhaps it's time for me to go enjoy the sunlight while it's here. Hope everyone had a lovely and relaxed weekend. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

happy fourth of july

Happy Fourth of July weekend, folks. Things are pretty quiet over here - Daniel is finishing his thesis (due in two days) so we ended up staying in town and made very last minute plans to have a quiet dinner with friends. I made an American flag cake because...well, why not?

I admit, it was borderline disgusting stirring all of that food coloring into the cake batter and I did end up spending the better part of my afternoon baking the six cakes needed to put the dessert together. But I've always kind of wanted to see if I could pull one of these surprise cakes off and it was fun to cut into after dinner, so I'd say it was worth it. 

If I were to do this over again, I'd be sure to freeze all the cakes ahead of time to make leveling and splitting them easier. The cake was very soft, which make the cutting and frosting somewhat of a challenge. I also don't own an offset spatula, so I wasn't able to do anything elaborate with the frosting. But it still turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. Oh, and in case you're curious, I used this recipe from Food52. 

Hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July and was able to enjoy some good food and fireworks. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

whatever works out

Happy Thursday! I'm about to head in for work but, like most people, I have the 4th off, so I'll be spending Friday-Sunday lazing about. Tonight we're meeting friends for a birthday dinner here and then possibly heading up to Napa on Friday or Saturday, depending on Daniel's schedule. I'm feeling pretty good about just having an extra day off this week, so I'm happy with whatever works out. 

The picture above is of our dinner last night and it was so simple, there's hardly a recipe to give you. A few fingerling potatoes roasted with herb salt, some sauteed summer squash with garlic, and a lovely piece of seared ahi. I love fish but we rarely eat it at home because it's so expensive - unless you buy it at Costco, where I went last weekend with my parents. Thank you, parents! Anyway, it was a very nice, simple meal; just right for a Wednesday. 

Ok, time for coffee. Have a great 4th of July weekend, everyone!

Monday, June 30, 2014

deborah madison's kale sesame salad

Not the most beautiful to photograph, but this dish is one of my new favorites - a kale salad with shaved brussels sprouts, green onions, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and cold soba noodles, dressed with garlic, vinegar, soy, and sesame oil.* I've made it twice in two weeks, served with broiled salmon, and will probably make it many more times before the summer is over; really, it's extremely versatile and very good. I imagine it'd be great to bring to a picnic. I've had such fun reading through Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy - it's like a textbook (and I mean that in a good way). The recipes are generally pretty simple but she's so creative when it comes to combining flavors and textures. Did anyone read this article in the New Yorker a few months back? That article - and a trip to Greens for lunch - convinced me that I needed to own Ms. Madison's latest book, and I'm so pleased to finally be cooking from it.

Hope everyone is looking forward to a good (and short!) week. Back soon.

*Version of the recipe found here

Monday, June 23, 2014

david lebovitz's salade lyonnaise

This is sort of a post about salade lyonnaise, but really, it's more of a post about working and cooking. 

For the past few weeks, I've been doing basically no cooking at all - things got busy and unpredictable and I just pushed cooking to the side. Which felt...wrong. I still wanted to eat well, I just had no patience for the process, which was not very nice. So though things are still busy, and likely to stay that way for a while, I've been trying to get into a new pattern that makes cooking easier for me. 

Basically, this means I have to force myself to sit down with a pile of cookbooks, my computer, and a notebook and pen to plan out my dinners for the week so that I can do all my grocery shopping on Sunday in one fell swoop. I tend to be naturally sort of flakey when it comes to this kind of planning, but it turns out that it's pretty much essential if I want to cook during the week.

None of this is particularly novel or revelatory but I've been thinking about it a lot because my schedule is very much in flux - I'm getting a small taste of what my hours will be like after I graduate and I'm realizing how important it is for me to build habits now that will make me able to manage the transition when it comes. There will always be nights where I revert to a plate of scrambled eggs or a box of Annie's macaroni and cheese, but I want those nights to be the exception, not the rule.

So, salade lyonnaise. This is the second recipe from My Paris Kitchen that I've tried out this week and it's another indisputable winner. I made the potatoes and hardboiled eggs in advance so that when I got home, all I had to do was make the croutons and salad dressing and fry some bacon with garlic. It was a very nice dinner and I think would also be a very good weekend lunch, served with a glass of rose and some crusty bread. I'm glad it's Monday, and that I made dinner.

Have a nice week, everyone.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

david lebovitz's poulet a la moutarde

A few months back, I went on a cookbook shopping spree. It was a limited spree - four new books I had had on my list for quite some time - but still. I bought these books, leafed through them, then put them on the bookshelf until this weekend.

I took finals at the start of June and then immediately started my summer job, which involves a bit of travel and a lot of social events in the evenings (poor me!), so I've been adjusting to a new routine. This weekend - my first at home since I started work - was lovely and just what I needed. I cleaned the apartment, started a new book, went grocery shopping for the first time in ages, watched the America-Portugal World Cup game, went running, ran a bunch of tedious errands, and, finally, cooked from David Lebovitz's lovely new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen.

Apparently I am in the habit of going straight for the recipe featured on the cover of the cookbook - in this case, poulet a la moutarde. I wanted something that would taste sumptuous without involving excessive effort (I've been very lazy in the kitchen lately) and this fit the bill perfectly. I ended up substituting bone-in chicken breasts for the thighs and legs called for in the recipe just because I felt like it and it turned out splendidly.* We ate it with an arugula salad and bread and I was very pleased. As we speak, I'm boiling a pot of water for hardboiled eggs and another for fingerling potatoes so I can make Monsieur Lebovitz's salade lyonnaise for dinner tomorrow night when I get home from work. This man really knows what he's doing. I can't wait to move on to the dessert section.

It feels really nice to be finding my way in a new routine and getting back in the kitchen. I'll try to stop by here again soon.

*I reduced the cooking time by about 5 minutes.
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