Friday, May 30, 2008

Towards a cure

Hangovers are practically unavoidable at weddings. The free-flowing champagne, the festive atmosphere, the occasional lack of enough substantial food all lead to wild dancing and merry-making the night of and headaches the morning after.

This topic was fresh on the lips of many of the party-goers this weekend because of a very entertaining article on a hangovers and their cures (or lack thereof) in the May 26th issue of The New Yorker. Joan Acocella makes the point that in the 21st century, with all our technological and medical advances, shouldn't we have a cure for this oh-so-common condition?

My husband, who never met a malady he couldn't cure with an over-the-counter medication, be it balm, salve or liquid decided what we needed was electrolytes! I've taken electrolyte pills with success before, but we had none and I didn't want to drink 1000 calories of gatorade. So after walking the 10 sweltering blocks to downtown Dallas' (only?) CVS he declared the answer to our prayers: Pedialyte! I was dubious, but game.

Pedialyte is of course, for kids, who are dehydrated for reasons other than drinking. We hope. Its website reads, "To help your child rehydrate and feel better quickly, choose Pedialyte®" Tips on ingesting Pedialyte as an adult: 1) Drink it on the rocks. Lukewarm pedialyte is like drinking corn syrup without the corny-sweet taste. 2) Better yet, drink it while holding your nose and wash it down with a water chaser.

All that said. I'm a believer. It did its job of rehydrating us post-rehearsal dinner, pre-wedding.

As a public service, please share in comments any hangover treatments/cures you have found successful, no matter how wacky!

TX Redux

Dallas was like a sauna. Or rather a steam room. A large metropolitan city-sized steam room. Other than that, the weekend was lovely.

I would definitely recommend Fearing's. Though I didn't order as well as my husband or his cousin, there were some definite hits and I suspect that the dinner menu showcases the chef's southwestern tinged creativity even more freely. Though if you go, try to avoid the waiter who resembles a hobbit. His speech was incomprehensible, he seemed fully unprepared to make suggestions and was perhaps unaware of the drink/bar menu completely. Very surprised to find such service at a Ritz.

Favors at the wedding were delicious pickled jalepenos from Too Hot Mamas. I've already used them in a recipe I will post shortly. Spicy goodness!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Big D

We're heading to Dallas this weekend for the wedding of one of my dearest friends. I am looking forward to celebrating this momentous occasion, of course, but I am particularly looking forward to the following things culinary.

1. Wedding Cake.
I've been no-carbing it for two weeks to look good in my new dress and shall reward myself with as gigantic a slice of cakey, sugary goodness as I can find.

2. Champagne
Because I always look forward to champagne.

3. Sunday Brunch at Fearing's
Fearings is the restaurant at the Dallas Ritz Carlton that Frank Bruni named the 5th best restaurant in America (outside of New York). When I saw we'd be staying within walking distance, (no, we are not quite ritzy enough to stay at the Ritz) I immediately made a reservation. I've already been searching the menu online and torturing my tastebuds!

Fearing's online
Bruni review:

Stay tuned for dispatches from big D little a double l - a -s!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Top 20 continued...Dessert!

I made this recipe for a Valentine's Day Dinner with my now husband a few months before he proposed. Not saying this is what did it, but.....hey, it can't hurt. A decadent, chocolaty and easy make ahead dessert courtesy of Gourmet. This tart is extremely rich. I like to skip dusting with cocoa and serve it with a bit of freshly whipped cream.

Chocolate Truffle Tart Gourmet | February 2007

For crust
28 chocolate wafers such as Nabisco Famous, finely ground in a food processor (1 1/2 cups)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled completely

For filling
1/2 lb fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), coarsely chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Special equipment: an 8-inch (20-cm) round springform pan
Garnish: unsweetened cocoa powder for sprinkling

Make crust:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap a sheet of foil over bottom of springform pan (in case of leaks). Lightly butter side of pan.

Stir together ground wafers and butter in a bowl until combined, then pat mixture evenly onto bottom of pan and 1 1/2 inches up side. Bake until crust is slightly puffed, about 10 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack, about 15 minutes. Leave oven on.
Make filling while crust cools:
Melt chocolate and butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth, then remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

Whisk together eggs, cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a bowl. Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined well.

Assemble and bake tart:
Pour filling into cooled crust and rap pan once on counter to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake until filling 1 inch from edge is set and slightly puffed but center trembles slightly when pan is gently shaken, 20 to 25 minutes. (Center will continue to set as it cools.)

Cool tart completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. Chill, uncovered, until center is firm, about 4 hours. Remove side of pan and sprinkle with cocoa to serve.

Cooks' notes:
• Tart can be chilled up to 3 days. Cover loosely after tart is completely chilled (covering before may cause condensation).
• Crust, without filling, can be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Where the locals go!

Ezra Klein points out something amusingly awry in the NY Times review of Chicago's Frontera Grill.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Green Green Salad

I'm always on the look out for a crave-able salad, one I'll actually look forward to eating. This one is crunchy, spicy with different textures and lots of different springy green colors. Also, bonus, it's deliciously low-carb, for those of us who may be restricting our intake.

Green Green Salad

4 oz. baby Arugula
1 cucumber
1 small fennel bulb
1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper

Yield: 4 side salads

A fun thing to do with this salad is to cut each vegetable into different shapes. Peel and slice cucumber (I chopped the cuc into little rectangles). Cut fennel bulb into semi-circle slices. Slice and scoop out avocado. Throw all veggies (and some of the fennel top greens if you like) into a bowl. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss with salad. Serve.

Yield: 4 sides salads

Sunday, May 11, 2008

No leftovers. Easy barbecue edition

I have barbecue on the brain. Maybe I think by cooking summery food I can will summer to finally arrive? Regardless, we had some sandwich rolls about to go stale so I decided to make barbecue for Saturday night dinner. I assured my husband there'd be leftovers for Sunday lunch...I was wrong. This recipe, from Cooking Light (with a few changes) was a huge hit: easy, and involving lots of already-in-the-pantry items. It's not smoked tender, but it is the best fast 'cue sandwich I've had. Warning: keep lots of napkins and a beer nearby.

Flank Steak BBQ Sandwiches
Cooking spray
1 (1-pound) organic flank steak, trimmed
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (less if you don't like it too spicy)
4 buns, split
bread and butter pickle slices

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Season steak liberally with salt and pepper. Cook 6 minutes on each side (should give you medium rare, cook longer for more doneness). Remove steak from pan, let stand 10 minutes. Add onion to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; cool.

While steak stands, combine ketchup and next 4 ingredients (through chipotle chile powder) in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring well. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Optional: chop the steak if you'd like a more pulled-pork texture. Add steak and onions to ketchup mixture; toss to coat. Divide steak mixture evenly among bottom halves of rolls; top each serving with one onion slice and 3-4 pickles. Place top half of roll on each sandwich.

Serves: 2 hungry newlyweds

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Casey Kasum Time

I may not have a culinary top 40, but I certainly have a top....20? You know, those dishes that I can rely on to be hits at the dinner table or a dinner party. The ones people ask me to make, or ask for the recipes. Some are original, some are adaptations and some are absolutely cribbed. So, in the next few weeks, look out for, in no particular order, some of my all time favorite recipes.

First because a friend emailed me yesterday asking for the recipe and hence inspired this series is based on Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding from Cooking Light October '04.

There is no more perfect brunch dish than a strata, or savory bread pudding since it can be prepared the night before and simply popped in the oven the morning of. It incorporates all kinds of brunchy goodness -eggs, bread, milk. This recipe is a great bet if any vegetarians are on your guest list. You can always have bacon or sausage on the side for the pork-avores!

Mushroom, Roasted Red Pepper, and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding


1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (about 6 ounces)
3 cups sliced button mushrooms (about 6 ounces)
2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 4 ounces)
1 cup thinly sliced leek
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 (12-ounce) bottle roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 cup egg substitute
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) crumbled goat cheese, divided (crumbled feta will also do)
8 ounces (1-inch) cubed day-old sourdough bread (about 9 cups)
Cooking spray


Combine parsley, thyme, rosemary, and garlic. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, leek, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; sauté 10 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mushrooms are lightly browned. Add half of parsley mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in bell peppers. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, remaining parsley mixture, milk, egg substitute, and 3/4 cup cheese in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in mushroom mixture. Add bread; stir gently to combine. Let stand 10 minutes. Spoon into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Cover and let sit in refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 350° Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until pudding is set and lightly browned.


6 (large) servings

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 273(29% from fat); FAT 8.9g (sat 4.4g,mono 2.9g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 17.3g; CHOLESTEROL 13mg; CALCIUM 174mg; SODIUM 766mg; FIBER 2.9g; IRON 3.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 31.9g

There is no spoon! The (ko) Matrix

Amusing Matrix at Savory Tidbits comparing various critics' responses to dishes at foodie hotspot Momofuku Ko.

We scored a resy our first time trying and enjoyed a very fun meal there in its second week. I'll add my quick two cents saying that David Chang's frozen log of foie gras dish is the absolute best I've ever tasted (silver goes to the pineapple foie at Eleven Madison Park, and bronze to the grilled foie with cherries at Craft)

Thoughts? The best foie gras dish you've ever tasted?

Barbecue in the Burbs!

We don't go to a lot of barbecues. Mostly because none of our city-dweller friends has a grill. They're hard to come by in NYC and are prohibited from use on most apartment balconies. Our grill pan suffices for burgers, steaks, etc but there's a whole culinary world of smoky, steamy, juicy barbecue that we miss out on. I was reminded of all the fatty, tender home-grilled meat that is missing from my life when we drove up to Evanston from Chicago on Sunday for a true backyard barbecue. There were the traditional accouterments: potato salad, cole slaw, beer, but the bbq star was Beer Can Chicken. A specialty of my brother's friend, and of my brother now too, it involves an easy rub and only a moderately long cooking time. Best of all, the bird sits upright on the grill with an open beer can stuffed in its, uh....hind quarters. A truly funny sight. The cooked meat is moist and delicious with a crispy, spicy skin. Tasty!

The recipe is very loosey goosey. More guidelines than a recipe, in fact. Enjoy!

The rub needs equal parts salt, pepper, and paprika, then you can add whatever you want. I put some garlic powder, curry powder, and chili powder in the mix on Sunday. Before you rub the chicken, you should trim the excess skin/fat around the opening between the legs. Then rub the chicken and open the cans, leaving it about 1/3 full of beer and sprinkle some of the rub in the can and around the cavity. Insert the can between the legs, then stand it on the grill at a medium/low heat. Drizzle the bird with olive oil, which gives it that crispy coating, and then let it cook for about 1.5 hours. Periodically check the grill to make sure that the drippings/oil has not caused any flare-ups (which will burn the bird if left unchecked). After 1.5 hours pull them off the grill, let sit for a few minutes to cool. Use tongs to pull can out of cavity. Carve. Eat!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Weekend Update

I had a wonderful time in Chicago this weekend, hanging out with friends and doing some quality eating and drinking. Stay tuned for more details on derby drinks and a barbecue in the 'burbs. Meanwhile, enjoy the gaffe that Papa John's made against my hometown team. And speaking of Papa John's....what is really in their garlic-butter sauce? I'm guessing bottled umami....and crack.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Go to the Astoria Beer Garden from the comfort of your couch

I used to live in Astoria and have a great fondness for the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden. I'm so glad the folks at Rockstar Games have chosen to put a version of it in Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty (New York) City! Check Ed Levine's chronicle of New York's doppleganger eateries in the new (and amazing looking) video game.

A Note about the Rhubarb Brunch Cake

Well, two notes, really. One, the first step really should be to pre-heat your oven, so, do that first. Also, I have no idea why it calls for food coloring (and also doesn't specify which color.) Bad recipe! I didn't use food coloring. The rhubarb is pink and pretty enough on its own.

Rhubarb again?

I have a love affair with Rhubarb. I don't know quite why. It's pink and tart (this it has in common with my autumnal obsession, the cranberry) and if one doesn't prepare it properly, it could be deadly....that would entail serving its poisonous leaves which don't even look tasty, but still. It's weird and neglected. The runt of the litter. It's my favorite. However, my husband isn't quite a convert. He's enjoyed some of the rhubarb recipes I've prepared: rhubarb chutney, rhubarb ginger ale, but tires of it MUCH more quickly than I. Leaving me to finish an entire batch of stewed rhubarb last spring. When he saw me printing out a recipe for a rhubarb brunch cake he said "Rhubarb? Is it that time of year, again?" and then "How long does the season last?" steeling himself for it. But when he tasted the cake, he declared it delicious. I'm declaring it and unequivocal rhubarby success. Thanks to my Mom for sending the recipe along. I'm taking a guess that it's from Bon Appetit, but that could be wrong. The rhubarb celebration is far from over. I just got my May copy of Cooking Light in the mail and it has devoted and entire section to my favorite rhizome. Stay tuned for more adventures in rhubarb...