Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I dare to bake!

Hooray! It's here! Finally! I have been waiting nearly two weeks for this day. I AM A DARING BAKER!!!! Mwahahahaha.....

See, for months, I've been salivating over my sister's lovely baked goods. She's been bugging me to join the Daring Bakers, but these people are so darn skilled! And I do not bake much. I cook. I love to cook. But baking... well... I'm not so artistic. And when I got this month's recipe, I panicked. I mean, I nearly cried. It looked so hard! But I did it. And I did it well, if I do say so myself. See:

The recipe this month was a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream, from Great Cakes, by Carol Walters. The recipe can be found at Mele Cotte. I made mine a little bit different because I didn't use filberts. I used almonds. And I used a raspberry glaze instead of an apricot glaze. I used dark rum wherever the recipe called for alcohol. And when I finally sliced it and had a piece, it was delicious! It was so yummy that I wanted to run down the street with it, handing people pieces of cake and then saying, "I MADE THIS MYSELF!!!!" But I didn't do that, because then my beautiful cake would be all gone much too fast.

This cake took a long time to make, but it came out beautifully, and it was fun. Thanks, Chris, for picking such a wonderful first challenge for me. And I have to send out a big thank you to my sister Mary who took all of my many many phone calls over the course of the day that I made this. Without her, I would not have dared to bake, and I'm so glad I did. Check out her cake, and the other daring bakers.

Monday, July 28, 2008


So it's been a very busy week! My step-son, Medium-Dude, is in town. He visits every summer for about a month and hangs out in the big city with us. He lives the rest of the year in the midwest with his mom. He's ten, and he's a great kid with lots of energy.

Since the Tummy's at work all day, and I have the summer off, Medium and I hang out during the day. Last week, we went to Brooklyn Museum and saw the mummies. (There's even a cat mummy!) We went to the Prospect Park Zoo and the Lefferts House and then wandered around Prospect Park all day. We went to Coney Island and swam and rode the Cyclone. And, my favorite trip so far, we went to the NY Hall of Science in Queens.

Now, I am a self-professed math geek, but it's rare that my geekiness really comes out like it does at that museum. They have such cool stuff! And I just have to share something. Archimedes is just the coolest guy ever. I mean, wow. They have, in the math section in the Hall of Science, a model that Archimedes thought up. He didn't build it (I don't think). But he thought of it and realized that it could be built. It's a balance with a cylinder on one side and a cone and sphere on the other side. The cone and the sphere are each the same height as the cylinder. And the diameter of the cylinder, base of the cone and the sphere are all the same. And it balances. Of course it does, because a cylinder has a volume of pi*r*r*h and a cone has a volume of one-third*pi*r*r*h and a sphere has a volume of four-thirds*pi*r*r*r which, since 2r = h, is two-thirds*pi*r*r*h. (I'd use better math symbols, but it won't let me post them.)

So, I can understand it using algebra and some formulae I already know, but how did Archimedes do it in his head???? Without the algebra, because it wasn't around at the time. In fact, he's the one who came up with the formula for the volume of a sphere, because the volumes of a cylinder and cone were already known. It just blew my mind.

One last thing before we go get stuff to make cookies to take on our picnic in Bryant
Park tonight. I received an award! From my sister, the amazing Mary at Shazam in the Kitchen. It was so sweet of her to think of my little ole blog. And I love her too! (because she's the only one who read and understood my whole Archimedes thing.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Del Posto

It's been a very eventful few weeks, but I did want to take a few minutes to update and give the Tummy credit for taking me out to an incredible anniversary dinner. We celebrated our third anniversary on July 9th, and I wasn't expecting that we'd do anything particularly special. So I was pretty floored when he told me he'd made reservations at Del Posto. I'd heard of it. Of course, I heard of it. I'm a foodie! It was mentioned in Mario Batali's Chefography. As the day grew near, we were both excited. We looked through the menu online and talked about what we were going to order.

The day of our actual anniversary, however, I was not in a great mood. In fact, I was in a terrible mood. And the Tummy was late getting out of work and that didn't help. Once we got there, though, I relaxed almost immediately. The restaurant was beautiful and HUGE by NYC standards. We were shown immediately to a nice table and brought drinks and menus. While we were deciding, they brought us a plate of hors d'oeuvres. There were small cups of honey-wheat soup and some kind of pate and these really amazing little risotto balls that has a crispy rice crust and then were dusted with gold leaf. Then, we both ordered their five course special and the real eating began....

For the antipasti, I had this amazing lobster salad with a horse radish panna cotta, and the Tummy had the salmoln special of the day. Then, we had two small pasta courses. The first was spaghetti with crab and jalapeno, and the second was orecchiette with lamb sausage. Both were just perfect. And then things got really wonderful. For our secondi, the Tummy got pork loin and I had grilled squab. If you've never eaten squab, you should. Immediately. It turns out that pigeons are not actually rats with wings. They are actually wonderful little succulent meals. I can't look at them the same way again. And then dessert.... The Tummy got himself a chocolate souffle and a scoop of hazelnut gelato while I got a chocolate and ricotta tortino with a pistachio crust and a scoop of gelato. And they brought us a little tray of tiny cookies which were also amazing.

Overall, it was an unbelievable experience. The staff was friendly and helpful and knowledgable and the food was delicious. We both left full, and we're big people with hearty appetites. (He's not nicknamed the Tummy for nothing.) And they handed us a small box of truffles and thanked us as we left. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Yummmmmmmmy!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

To get good food...

I love living in Brooklyn. I love all the different kinds of people, all the activities, all the different stuff going on. I love the public transportation, not having to own a car, and being around all these people. However, for a midwestern girl, there are certain aspects of city life that can be tricky to negotiate. Case in point: GROCERY SHOPPING.

Ick! I hate grocery stores. I always forget stuff or can't find it. I end up planning my meals for the week, looking at all the recipes, making a list, re-writing the list in the order that you would find the items in the store, and then going shopping. And I'm a ball of anxiety the whole time I'm in the store. I break everything down to its unit price per ounce so that I get the best deal. I can't help it! (Yeah... I know it's obsessive-cumpulsive.) And then, you have to figure out how to get the groceries home on the subway (or pay for a cab). You need to carry all the stuff up the four flights of stairs to your apartment and then put it away. Blech. Trust me; anyone who drives to the grocery store, you don't know know how lucky you are until you've schlepped a gallon of milk and a bag of potatoes home on public transportation.

But now these are all problems of the past!!! Now, grocery day is my favorite day of the week! All thanks to a fantastic little service called Fresh Direct. Now, I do all of my shopping online, send in the order, and the happy Fresh Direct guys drop it off at my apartment during a two-hour window that I select. And their produce is beautiful, the meat is lovely, and the prices are competitive. Ahhhh.... New York City.... a foodie paradise.....

A caveat: there are some who feel that Fresh Direct is not eco-friendly enough. They use a lot of packaging materials. This is true. Personally, I'm enough of a foodie that (since the groceries are so fantastic) I make sure I re-use or recycle any materials I can and then I don't sweat the rest of it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Ah.... vacation.

I'm really not very good at being on vacation. I don't know quite what to do with myself. I can't sleep past 8:00 (especially because the Tummy is incapable of leaving for work without waking me to talk to me). I've been reading some, and I've been cleaning. Really, I've been digging out my apartment. Layers of clutter. Gross.

Mostly, though, I've been cooking. I love to cook. And not just because I love to eat. I also happen to love to eat, but I'm just calmer while chopping and mixing and sauteeing. So I've been trying one recipe after another and tonight, I made a casserole.

I have mixed feelings on casseroles. They're like that little girl in the nursery rhyme: when they're good, they're very good, but when they're bad, they're horrid. The word casserole all by itself makes me cringe internally at the thought of a particular awful recurring casserole of my youth. Mary knows which one.

But this casserole is good! Really good! And the Tummy loves it! And it's not that bad for you either. Happy happy happy!

The only downside is that squeezing chicken sausage out of its casing turned my stomach a bit. I'm sure that all of my pioneer-women ancestors are mocking my squeemishness from beyond the grave.

Zucchini, Sausage and Feta Casserole

Lia Huber , Cooking Light, JULY 2007


2 1/2 cups uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta)
8 ounces chicken sausage
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
5 cups thinly sliced zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 cups vertically sliced onion (about 1)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook pasta in boiling water 5 minutes, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Remove casings from sausage. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; cook until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan. Heat oil in pan. Add zucchini, onion, salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and zucchini begins to brown, stirring occasionally.

Combine broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan; cook 1 minute. Combine zucchini mixture, pasta, sausage, and feta cheese in a large bowl; toss well. Spoon pasta mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.


6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 284(27% from fat); FAT 8.6g (sat 4.6g,mono 1.9g,poly 0.6g); IRON 2mg; CHOLESTEROL 35mg; CALCIUM 160mg; CARBOHYDRATE 35.3g; SODIUM 433mg; PROTEIN 16.9g; FIBER 2.6g