Monday, 30 January 2012 | 23 comments

Charred carrots with griddled goat cheese

While Ben and I were browsing the most amazing bookstore I’ve ever seen in Buenos Aires, I stumbled upon an absolute gem of a cookbook. Siete Fuegos, written by famous Argentine chef Francis Mallman, draws on his upbringing in Patagonia, cooking over outdoor fires with gauchos. It’s fresh and authentic, and I loved it as soon as I flipped it open.I didn’t have room in my carry-on only luggage to buy the book and carry it home, but I jotted down a few ideas and vowed to look it up when I got back. It was beautifully photographed and I sighed a little, jealous of people whose lifestyles let them spend whole days, weekends even, cooking over outdoor fires. Back in the States, Ben’s emails started arriving, describing the Uruguayan vineyard in which he’s spending the harvest. Everything sounded a little familiar, and I realized that Ben is living the Uruguay version of Siete Fuegos.

We went for a swim after work, and then lounged around in the shade of the courtyard [...] At this point, they started getting the fire ready in the massive parilla (giant outdoor grill) and we soon enjoyed the smell of onions, eggplants, chorizo, morcella (blood sausage) and huge cuts of beef grilling slow and steady. By dusk, we all sat out in the courtyard at one long table and ate and drank for the next two hours.

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Friday, 16 December 2011 | 10 comments

Breaking rules

Do you make rules for yourself? I started to write this post, and then realized that I might sound a little crazy, talking about lists of rules I self-enforce. I don’t mean self-denial or masochism. They’re silly rules, but they’re useful. For instance, there is a growing list of publications I’m no longer allowed to read on the train home, because I am statistically more likely to stop at the grocery store and impulse-buy ingredients for recipes that I need to have if I read them. No looking at the Anthropologie catalogue, ever (for similar reasons). No drinking an entire bottle of red wine by myself on a Sunday. I’m joking about the last one. Sort of.Similarly, there is a list of states in which I should not allow myself to go to a farmer’s market. There was that time I was starved for color during a week of grey days and bought radishes just because they were so rosy. Or the time I got peach-drunk on the promise of summer and brought home a bushel of peaches. Then, when summer was waning, I became a bit obsessive about wringing the last drops out of the season, and bought every single forlorn, split tomato from a farmstand. I am a woman that needs a little structure, if nothing else, for the sake of my budget. » Click to read more

Monday, 17 October 2011 | 9 comments

Pushing the envelope: Autumn vegetables en papillote with sage brown butter

Right now is that golden time of year where we’re all completely excited about winter squash and root vegetables and other things that signal autumn. I’ve been cooking long enough to know that this will inevitably wear off when it’s actually cold, and we’ll all be a little sad and tired of things that turn taupe or brown or burnt orange when roasted or mashed. But despite that knowledge, I’m not immune to the guiles of autumn vegetables.In fact, this is my dining room table after coming back from the market recently. I am so not immune to rhapsodizing about squash that that big basket you see was actually full of other things, and I had to walk home with a sweet potato, a butternut squash, and two enormous turnips under one arm. Embarrassing. It’s a bit disconcerting, being revealed to the public as someone who cradles turnips on her way home. People stop you on the street (I am not making this up), asking what they are and if they taste like potatoes. If I were the kind of girl who carried, oh, I don’t know, a bouquet of sunflowers as I walked on Saturday morning, people would smile, perhaps, at the lovely picture I made in the early fall sunlight. But, no. I’ve always been more the grubby turnip-toting type. » Click to read more

Sunday, 2 October 2011 | 50 comments

Collard cobbler with cornmeal biscuits

As a gardener, this time of year is just plain nice. My autumn garden has barely been put into the ground, so there’s no real stress involved yet. But there are still fruits coming in; you just have to be alert enough to pick them—-a few errant cherry tomatoes, some dried bean pods lingering, and one stubborn yellow squash vine that is convinced it’s still July. The dark horse winner of my garden this year has been collard greens (the variety is “Champion”, so perhaps I should have expected that?).I’ve been eating these collards for awhile now, but they just keep on coming as I harvest them. There are only so many ways to eat greens, you know? » Click to read more

Thursday, 8 September 2011 | 19 comments

Sweet corn polenta with tomato-basil vinaigrette

It’s a pretty egregious omission on my part that we find ourselves in late summer and I have yet to feature sweet corn here. Luckily, I find myself in possession of some (Thanks, Del!), so we’ll remedy that quickly. As the granddaughter of a Midwestern farmer with an enormous family, my childhood summers are full of corn memories. In the summer, we’d be shooed out to the porch to shuck mountains of sweet corn. Picture five-gallon buckets full of corn shucks and silk and detritus. it was a lot of corn. And we weren’t the first generation to be corn-fed, either. We grew up on stories of our parents battling it out in corn-eating contests. We ate corn all year ’round, canned by my grandma in big quart-jars, and brought up from the cellar all winter. To this day, I still don’t like canned corn from the store, because nothing tastes like the kind of corn that was literally picked, sliced off the cob, and canned in the same day. » Click to read more

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