Friday, June 18, 2010

Tasty Side: Potato, Bacon and Garlic Scape Hash

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Tuesday, I wrote to you about Monkfish Wrapped in Bacon and today I want to share my new favorite starchy side dish, which I rediscovered on Monkfish day: hash. On weekends when my mom was out and Dad was in charge, he'd fry up a can of corned beef hash and eggs. It was one of my favorite things to eat. My brother and I would fight over the crunchy bits that Dad did his best to scrape up from the bottom, salty chitling type bites that, like the bottom of a paella, is the absolute best part.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Easy Dinner: Bacon Wrapped Monkfish Fillets

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As I've written before (Panko Flounder anyone?), I didn't come easy to fish, but nowadays I try to eat it at least twice a week. Most often I buy flounder or scallops or clams or porgies from the fish stand or a bit of salmon from the grocer. In the cooking of fish, I've found it hard to branch out beyond the pan fry. However, last Friday I saw a headline in the most recent issue of Saveur magazine: Bluefish Wrapped in Bacon. Of course we all know bacon makes everything better so I decided that's what we'd have for dinner that night. I didn't read the recipe. I just knew bacon and bluefish would be involved and I'd take it from there.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tasty Treat: Rhubarb Scones

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I am obsessed with afternoon tea. I love the sandwiches, the tea, the scones and devonshire cream, which I could eat straight with a spoon! Afternoon tea is supposed to be a leisurely event intended for relaxing and recharging, kind of like a siesta, but with food. Most afternoons, tea time includes a warm mug of earl grey and a homemade scone if I'm lucky or even just toast with butter and jam. By myself, I stare off into space and meditate on my life while the steam gently massages my face. Other days, I sit down with a friend to chat and giggle because tea, when taken in the company of others, inevitably generates the giggles.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Classic Meals: Korean Bulgogi

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Until recently, I didn't have the guts to experiment with Asian cuisine. Big ingredient lists, unique spices, and alternative cooking techniques all seemed too complicated for my limited time in the kitchen. But then I tried Steamy Kitchen's Beef Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup. It was flavorful and, despite the seeming long ingredient list, not too involved. Bolstered by my success, I made Pork Potstickers. Um, they were so very good, a little time consuming, but, happily they are meant to be made in big batches and frozen for future lazy dinner days. I've still got some in the freezer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Roasted Pork Butt with Rhubarb Compote

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In high school there was a group of us, four of us. We did everything together and oftentimes everything meant breaking the rules. Of course, I went to convent school where the rules were so strict and pretty silly that breaking them, though highly offensive to the administration, was mostly innocent. There's the time I ripped my coat in half while scaling the walls to escape. For a split second or two I just hung there with my coat still attached on one side of the fence and my body on the other. My alma mater, Georgetown Visitation is connected to Georgetown University so the older, cooler students just walked by and poked fun of the poor little Catholic school escapee. Other hijinks include but are not limited to the weekly skirt exchanges where the dean called us to her office, ripped off our short skirts that we'd fringed and decorated in studio art and gave us new to-our-knees version, the day I smuggled my best friend out of school in the trunk my car because I had a note to leave early and she didn't, and the time a couple of us, after months of hiding out in the parking lot to avoid chapel were finally found out by a nine months pregnant dean who gave birth the next day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Breakfast: Poached Eggs over Polenta

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Until ohhh six months ago I thought poaching an egg was the most difficult thing in the world. Every time I'd tried, the egg always burst apart and was an inedible mess. Turns out, poaching a delicate egg on a rapid boil isn't a good idea. Too bad it took me twenty years to figure out that a gentle simmer will yield perfectly poached eggs time and time and time again. Seriously, it's now my go-to method for eggs - easier than scrambling, I sah-wear!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Easy Dinner: Panko Flounder

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I didn't grow up eating fish. My mother had been traumatized by my grandmother's cod cakes which were forced upon her each and every Friday 'cause that's what us Catholics had to do until Vatican 2. My father, on the other hand, loved it and always grilled a swordfish steak when my mother was out. Dad would offer my brother and I a taste, but remembering my mother's severe hatred of it, we'd refuse. Such a shame it took me until I was 14 to finally try it and realize it was pretty good. That first taste lead to deep experimentation with all sorts of fish and the many many ways to cook them. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tasty Side: Asparagus with Chives and Lemon Zest

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We had a few weeks of summery weather and now the tides have changed. I'm wrapped in a blanket shivering at my computer and sipping hot tea because, understandably, our building turned off the heat in April. So I will do my best to evoke the essence of Spring even though I'm feeling like winter today.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tasty Side: Avocado & Artichoke Salad

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I always thought artichokes were best left to the pros what with their prickly leaves and intimidating choke. However, I was recently at the grocery store and spied a pile of baby artichokes from California and thought I'd better give it a go. While California isn't really local, artichokes are in peak season there and they don't grow well on the East Coast. So, like lemons and oranges, some times you just have to get as close as you can and Cali is it for artichokes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Classic Meals: Pastitsio

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When baby girl was born, I was lonely. None of my local friends were pregnant so while everyone wanted to meet baby girl and play with her occassionally, no one was interested in the nitty gritty of being with a baby all day long... and I was with her all day long. Did I mention that for her first six weeks baby girl screamed her head off day and night unless she was nursing or being walked?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Easy Dinner: Gnocchi with Creme Fraiche and Lemon Zest

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Wondering what to cook tonight? So was I the other day when I decided to take everything out of my fridge and see what's what. Turns out, I had the fixin's for a delicious meal. On friday, I'd bought fish for dinner, but then the hubby called up and said he had to work late. I hate putting a lot of effort into dinner for me and baby girl largely because she doesn't eat with the incredible gusto she use to. She's still good, but much of the time, she'll eat a few bites and then start desperately crying out, I wanna get down!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Snack Time: Labne with Za'atar and Olive Oil

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Hmm, this post is what my mother would call a cheatsie. As a child before TV, she and her sister spent hours playing card games. Double Solitaire was a favorite and, from time to time, when the cards weren't agreeing, my mother and aunt allowed one, two or even three cheatsies - depending on the day - where they could peer at hidden cards or reshuffle those in their hands. While I'm an admitted TV addict, I love getting away with my family where we play cards together constantly and laugh and get mad and tease and allow little cheatsies from time to time.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Easy Dinner: Flounder with Pea Shoots and Olives

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While spring has officially sprung, I haven't seen any evidence of it at the Farmer's Market. No asparagus or rhubarb or strawberries. It's murder walking through on a warm sunny day only to see the same old root veggies of winter.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tasty Treat: Raspberry Shortbread Bars

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Five years ago, I was an unhappy cog in the machine that is Citigroup. Five years ago, I decided to stop being a cog and be happy and do things that make me happy and hopefully make me money. Five years ago I discovered Food & Wine magazine and, in the very first issue I bought, I discovered Raspberry Shortbread Bars. They are exactly what they sound like: a chewy, sweet and delicate cookie with a layer of raspberry jam in the middle.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sunday Dinner: Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary

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My husband's biggest fear when baby girl was baptized Catholic (he's Jewish by birth and atheist in practice) was that she would be talking all the time about Jesus and how much she loved him. I laughed hysterically at his fears since I don't remember being completely obsessed with Jesus as a child and I was basically raised by nuns and priests. Not only is my mother very religious, but she put me through Catholic school all the way through college. Seriously, I was a convent school girl. Well, funnily enough, baby girl on her recent trips to church has begun creating songs about baby Jesus and how he's coming and how she loves him so much. I have no idea where these songs came from since Catholic church is more about singing of being blind and sinning.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Almost Slowfood!

On this day 32 years ago, I was born. And then last year, on this same day, I mustered up enough courage to finally start a blog. Over the last year, I've shared stories, recipes and my ideas on local food and how easy and affordable it can be to eat well while supporting the environment. While I've tried not to preach, I hope you've found some recipes and some fun along the way.

I thank you all for reading, trying out recipes and telling your own stories. I'm excited for another year of cooking and eating well and sharing it all with you!


PS - if there's anything you'd like me to try or if you have any suggestions on how to make this blog better, I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tasty Treat: Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Einstein's theory of relativity changed the course of science; so too will my Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies change the course of, well, my baking at least. It's been years and years of off again on again experimentation and finally, finally, finally I've discovered the most amazing chocolate chip cookies. Crispy, chewy edges with soft chewy innards, my dream cookie, are now a reality.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Boston Baked Beans (my way)

My grandmother, while not from Boston, makes incredible baked beans. Every Christmas Eve, she hosts a buffet dinner and alongside the honey ham, parker house rolls, petit fours, Jelly Cake, potato salad and deviled eggs are her baked beans set on an old cast iron trivet in the antique clay pot she's been making them in since the 40's. Her beans are soft, a little sweet with an almost syrupy sauce. They go down easy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Classic Meals: Esther's Fried Chicken

I've been sitting here trying to put words together for two hours and thinking how I use to complain about writer's block all the time. It was my ultimate excuse. Writer's block meant I didn't have to query work on my assignments or my fiction. I could go out for a walk or get a pedicure or clean the bathtub. Nowadays, ever since baby girl was born to be exact, I just don't have time for writer's block and I've found the a** in chair approach really is best (except for when the Internet and email beckons.) But really, now that I have a babysitter to come while I'm working, I feel like she's babysitting me too and ensures I work!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Easy Dinner: Sausages with Polenta and Swiss Chard

I'm spending the week in Virginia with my mother and grandmother and brothers and cousins and aunts and uncles. Everyone but me lives in Old Town, Alexandria and I do adore being overwhelmed with family. It's how I grew up: my grandmother up the street and my aunt and cousins round the corner and various and sundry other relatives sprinkled throughout the area. While Alexandria is a huge city outside an even huger city - Washington DC - for me and my family there's something very small-town about it. We've been here since the 1800's, since Robert E Lee lived here and since Northern Virginia was considered the South. Heck, to me and mine, we are Southern and we have a sad Confederate statue to prove it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tasty Treat: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

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You know you're in Bourjaily-land when you peer into a tin of brownies and see all of the edges have been removed. We are an outside-in kind of family. My mother, father and older brother each got an entire long, narrow edge of brownie to munch on. While my younger brother and I had to be satisfied with the warm gooey innards. Tough life, I know. It wasn't until I started baking brownies that I finally even got to see what the big edge deal was and boy was it fabulous. Chewy and soft and chocolatey and sweet. I really shouldn't write a post like this unless I'm armed with a fresh pan of brownies... or chocolate chip cookie bars.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Easy Dinner: Red Wine Spaghetti

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"Where have you been!" wrote several of you last week when it became apparent I wasn't posting. Well, my other life as a freelance writer became stressful what with deadlines and contract negotiations. I apologize. Next time I have a deadline looming, I'll be sure to have something ready to go!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tasty Side: Warm Potato Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

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If Mayonnaise addiction were recognized as a sickness, then my mother would be in Mayo Anonymous. She'll eat mayonnaise in staggering amounts (Hellmann's of course) on everything from the normal - chicken sandwiches, potato salad, deviled eggs - to the severely abnormal - green salad, steak. Steak? Yes, in fact she'll eat mayo with any kind of meat if sour cream isn't available.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Roast Chicken with Lemon and Oregano

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I've been trying so many new things in the kitchen lately: Steak Frites with Lavender Hollandaise, Pork Potstickers and Rack of Lamb with Goat Cheese come to mind. However, this week, after celebrating Chinese New Year in Chinatown on Sunday and stuffing myself silly with Peking Duck, I decided to go back to basics and roast a chicken.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tasty Treat: Lavender Lemon Poundcake

It was Sunday, Valentine's Day, around 2PM. Baby Girl was asleep in her crib and the hubby was asleep on the couch. I was sitting in an armchair sipping earl grey tea and thumbing through Claudia Fleming's The Last Course. Specifically, I wanted to make the Warm Chocolate Ganache Cakes, which are like molten chocolate cakes but even more intensely chocolate. My mother and I use to gobble them down at Gramercy Tavern where Fleming was the pastry chef years ago.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Classic Meals: Steak Frites

When lavender comes to mind, I think relaxation, sachets and hand soap. However, I also think earl grey tea, madeleine cookies and now... Steak Frites! Yes, bizarre I know, but I read years ago about an old school restaurant in LA that used to smother steaks in lavender blossoms. I tried it and let's just say nubby strong smelling blossoms were everywhere and muscled the steak into whimpering submission.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tasty Treat: Fudgy Brownies

I had the very best intentions to share with you my Horsey Grandma's recipe for brownies. Hers are a bit fluffier and cakier and, while I prefer a chewy brownie, I grew up on these and they're darn good. You might be wondering why I call my dear grandmother Horsey. In an effort to differentiate between our grandparents and because my father's parents lived on a farm, adding the Horsey prefix was only natural. Of course, the other explanation is my father had a penchant for nicknames and his sense of humor always leaned towards sadism. My nickname was Poo Bear as in poo poo not Winnie. He only knew baby girl for nine months, but she was swiftly dubbed Grumpenella due to her colic. I really do miss his way with words.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Freezer Favorite: Pork Potstickers

I get cravings. It starts as a thought, over time becomes a strong desire and finally ends up as an all consuming urge to fulfill. Brownies. Brick Chicken. Linguine alle Vongole. These are all examples of foods that, once they have a hold of me, you'll find me in the kitchen or on my way to a restaurant no matter what time of day it is. Strangely, I can't recall one craving from my pregnancy, but that's probably because I freely indulged every urge the minute I felt it. Last week, while I was salivating over anything dairy, I also started thinking about Chinese food, specifically Pork Potstickers and Peking Duck. While I'm pretty sure Peking Duck is above my paygrade, Pork Potstickers are doable.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tasty Treat: Meyer Lemon Meringues

As I mentioned a couple days ago, I can't eat any dairy until Sunday. However, my body wants it. Baby girl's milk is so alluring. The butter on her toast in the morning makes me want to scream. Yes, I'm dramatic. Always have been. And, I certainly understand that if lactose intolerance is all I have to worry about, then I'm golden. That being said, I really really want a cookie... and a glass of milk.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Entertaining: Rack of Lamb with Herbed Goat Cheese

I've had a pain in my side for the last five years. It isn't a bad or a constant pain. However, it comes and it goes often enough that I went to the doctor (yes, after 5 years!) to get it checked out. Luckily, he said It would've killed you by now if it was anything terrible. He suspects dairy is the culprit and lactose intolerance the condition. As of today I am halfway through a ten day abstinence program where I can't touch a lick of dairy...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tasty Treat: Best Ever Chocolate Pudding

So many bloggers and food writers have written about pudding and pointed out that it's just as easy to make from scratch as from a packet. No lie, it's just as easy, it's tastier and it's better for you. However, I have yet to find a recipe that doesn't include cornstarch. Cornstarch drives me crazy because, in my humble opinion, it zaps flavor and can add a grittiness!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

One Pot Meals: Simple Beef Stew

Now that we're well into Winter and Spring is months away, you might wonder how much of what I cook is local. Percentage-wise, around 65%. I'm still able to cook two to three almost entirely local meals a week. How is that possible? Well, I have to give kudos to my amazing farmers who sell their wares at the market every week no matter the weather. Even now, I can still buy meat, cheese, dairy and a few fruits and vegetables. Miraculously, there are even a couple stands that sell fresh lettuce! Granted, it's at a murderously high price right now, but still it's nice to see.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tasty Treat: St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake

On Tuesday I wrote to you about friendship and corn bread and the amazing Southern dinner party we attended. Today is all about the dessert I made. Among my friends, I am the dessert maker and I take this honorable role very seriously. I love dessert and I love baking and I especially love a crowd since baking extravagant desserts solely for the hubby and me is a recipe for obesity. Since the dinner was branded a Southern feast, I finally had an excuse to try the St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake Melissa Clark wrote about a few months back in the New York Times food section.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tasty Sides: Southern Skillet Corn Bread

In college, one of my closest friends was always talking about these aunts and uncles that weren't actually related. I was totally confused since I grew up in a town where every relative lived within a five mile radius. There were so many of us, I didn't even know all of them and was often introduced to new cousins in random places such as the local Safeway or the country club.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Classic Meals: Coq au Vin

In every town in America there is probably a French bistro type restaurant. During my childhood, we frequented several of them throughout the DC area, which wasn't known for its food until well after I left. Le Refuge, Le Fanion, Bistrot Francais and Chez Andre all come to mind and they all had their high points. In particular was Chez Andre's filet mignon with bernaise sauce. However, at none of them was I ever tempted to try the classic but pervasive French dish, Coq au Vin. In fact, to me, Coq au Vin always seemed to me like some sort of dingy, dry and boring stewed junk for people without taste buds.

Healthy Meals: Salmon with Pickled Cucumbers

About a year before I became pregnant with baby girl, I discovered this amazing recipe for Salmon with Pickled Cucumbers. It was in Food & Wine magazine and it was such a simple recipe involving lots of ginger, lime juice and fish sauce, yum! It became the meal we ate whenever I was feeling like I'd eaten too much sugar or meat or butter, which was at least once a week. I also loved eating the cucumbers with brown rice for lunch. Somehow I felt lighter and springier and so much more productive.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tasty Treat: Molasses Cookies

Like everyone else who lives in New York knows, the City Bakery makes the best cookies. While their chocolate chips are perhaps most beloved, I happen to think their molasses cookies are even better. Soft and chewy with a nice spicy, ginger-molasses bite, they are everything I want in a cookie. Unfortunately Maury Rubin hasn't revealed his cookie secrets so I have to try every other recipe in the world and tinker with them until one day maybe I'll hit pay-dirt.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's Official!

So I just committed and bought the domain name for Almost Slowfood! You can now just type in rather than remembering all that nonsense.

Want an even easier option? CLICK HERE! to subscribe to Almost Slowfood and get it delivered to your inbox.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tasty Sides: Sweet Potato Latkes

I didn't celebrate Hanukkah until I met the hubby and even then it was more of a hey! Let's go eat some latkes sort of affair. Of course, as a convent school girl from Virginia, I hadn't eaten latkes before and let me tell you, it's a crying shame it took me 22 years to try them. Of course, my sister in law is Belarussian and she use to make potato pancakes, which are incredible, but they aren't latkes. They're in their own category and I plan on begging for the recipe soon.


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