Tuesday, 26 June 2012 | 25 comments

The grand gesture

Potlucks are our “new” thing. I know that you probably already understand that they’re fantastic, so forgive me for making old news new again. It took me a very long time to throw a potluck dinner. Somehow, I find it difficult to cede most of the control over the meal to others when it happens in my own home. This is bizarre. I know. Now that we’ve crossed over to the potluck side of things, though, I’m pretty sure these suppers will be a mainstay. We have a good record going.There’s a little Bon App├ętit essay by the Canal House ladies, Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, from last fall. A friend asks them how they accomplish effortless entertaining, and the answer, they reply, is “simple: we go for the grand gesture.” One dish that doesn’t take too much attention while it’s cooking and serves many. It struck me that the grand gesture can be my answer to a potluck: serve a big main dish, and then rely on others for sides and salads. They might not be well-matched, exactly, but at least there’s an anchor point. » 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

Tuesday, 23 August 2011 | 6 comments

Mahogany rice salad

I had a nice little anecdote to go with this post, but then an earthquake hit (?!). Now, I think I can distill the message down to a few simple statements: Make this, don’t stick to the recipe too much if it stresses you out, and drink a glass of wine with it, because wine is a beautiful thing and, um, earthquake. I’m grateful the situation was mild enough that I can make light of it, but I would be lying if I said that it didn’t unnerve me just a little bit. I had never heard of mahogany rice until very recently. The little natural foods grocery near me is going through a remodeling which will downsize available space, and in saying hello to one of the managers last week, he looked at me, sighing, and said, “You’re not going to be very happy.” He was in the process of sticking angry yellow “Discontinued” stickers on each and every bin of bulk grains and spices. » Click to read more

Friday, 4 March 2011 | 2 comments

Pizza with red onions, spinach, & mushrooms

I’ve never been a huge pizza fan. I’m not really sure why–the main ingredients make up the majority of my diet: bread, veggies, and cheese. I think all of the greasy, gluey abominations out there—and living one memorable year in college with four boys who ate them often—ruined the idea of pizza for me. But in recent years, I’ve started to warm up to the idea of fresh, thinner-crust, neapolitan style pizza.

After reading Smitten Kitchen’s awesome post(s) about simple pizza in your own kitchen, I went home after work one day and made one for Ben and Chuck. It was good. Really good. But the crust wasn’t quite right. I resolved to try again, soon. And trying again became somewhat of an obsession, as the following night’s pizza was also really good…but what if I added lemon zest to the ricotta? and what if we used a honey & wine pizza dough recipe?

» Click to read more

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