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December 2010

November 2010

Too Tired to Cook Dinner? Liven Up Pasta with a Quick Kale Salad Recipe

Kale_salad_better
Santa Maria may laugh (or cry) when she reads this, but I was more tired than usual last night. It’s not because I was operating on five hours of caffeine-addled sleep after staying up to 1 a.m. the day before, to catch up on work after the Thanksgiving weekend—that’s nothing out of the ordinary.

No, yesterday, I left work early today to pick up Nina from school. Santa Maria had an important work meeting and our fill-in babysitter was out of town. After Nina and her sister ran circles around the playground behind her classroom, I took them over to the Park Slope Food Coop for our weekly shop.

They were a great help, but as much as I love that place at times it can feel like the seventh circle of hell. It gets crowded, and the lines can be longer than the Great Wall of China. I escaped relatively unscathed (no old ladies cursed at me), but I was exhausted after carrying four huge bags of groceries up four flights of stairs.

The kids were hungry by this point, so I had to break down and do something I despise—serve the same thing for dinner that we had the night before. In this case, it was Bolognese sauce with pasta.

Nina, who was the hungriest of all, was on the verge of tears at this idea. God bless her, I thought, I’ve really raised her right. I told her that I hated to do it, but I was too tired to cook anything ambitious. I offered to switch from spaghetti to penne, and this mollified her.

Then she asked me to make “that dish with the green things and olives in it.” The only thing green I could think of was pesto, but that wasn’t it. A couple of guesses later, and thinking of capers, I blurted out “Puttanesca?” “Yes, that’s it,” she said. “Oh, I said, I can make that tonight,” I replied, knowing that I could whip it up in the time it takes to boil water for the pasta. Then I realized that I was out of peeled plum tomatoes—I had forgotten to put them on the shopping list. That was the end of that.

Speaking of green things, Santa Maria has recently developed an insatiable craving for green vegetables. I bought kale on my shopping trip and knew that if I worked fast enough I could make my new “Fly Sky High Kale Salad” for her before she got home.

It’s a simple dish really, one I first ate at Prune a few weeks ago. I was there catching up with an old friend and I wanted to balance a burger with something healthy. Their kale salad appetizer pairs a chiffonade of the vegetable with toasted pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. It was delicious, so much so that I had to try it at home.

I first made it a week or so ago, and at that time I didn’t have any pine nuts. I substituted cashews (toasted in a cast iron skillet), and that made for a slightly heartier version of the dish. Whether or not you use cashews or pine nuts is really up to you.

The first time I made it, Santa Maria liked it so much that she said after eating it, “I feel like I can fly.” My girls didn’t have the same reaction, but I was shocked that they ate more than two bites. It’s that good. Pinta even paired hers with a bit of the plain penne, which would turn this salad into a main dish. I never thought I’d get my kids to eat kale, but I did last night. No wonder I was exhausted.

 

Fly Sky High Kale Salad

 

  • 1 bunch Lacinato kale
  • 1 Tablespoon pine nuts, or more, to taste
  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  •  1 t. Olive Oil

 

Wash the kale and strip out the thick center rib.

Roll a few of the leaves tightly together, like a cigar, and cut it into little circles, which will unravel into a perfect chiffonade.

Sauté the strips of kale in a little olive oil, for just a few minutes, until they change to a brighter green and soften a bit.

Toast the pine nuts in a cast-iron frying pan until slightly brown.

Combine the kale, the pine nuts, and the cheese in a bowl.

Dress with lemon, being careful to taste as you go and not to make it too tart, and more olive oil if you wish.

 


Not On Bread Alone Department: Two Invitations to an Upcoming Art Show

Better Mouset Trap
When I married Santa Maria, I found out that I was in for a few surprises. These were not on the order of how often she likes to change her socks, or what habit she might have while brushing her teeth (don’t tell my mother-in-law’s friends, but we lived together before deciding to put a ring on it, as Beyoncé would say).

Most of the surprises were close to ineffable—joy, adventure, freedom (believe it or not)—but one is easy to share. I discovered that I loved to draw. I took classes at the Art Students League and I began to break out my sketchbook on the subway (I’ve since filled dozens and dozens of notebooks with jangly renderings of sleepy passengers). I started submitting cartoons to The New Yorker, and I’ve had five published there.

One of the images that didn’t get into the pages of the magazine is the above wine-and-cheese cartoon. It was accepted by the editors, then rejected after they realized that they had published a similar one that Charles Addams, the great New Yorker cartoonist, had created before I was born.

It is available starting tomorrow, however, at “Eat/Art,” a group show at the Atlantic Gallery in Chelsea. I have three drawings in the show, which features an amazing array of food-related art. All of the pieces for sale are small (none larger than 12”), framed, and ready to be taken home; the show’s holiday-friendly policy is that once you buy it, you can walk out of the gallery with it.

The best part of the show, from my hunger-obsessed perspective, is that 10% of every “Eat/Art” sale goes to Just Food, a local nonprofit organization that connects farms to inner-city residents and helps them grow their own food and otherwise increase their access to fresh ingredients.

Tomorrow night, from 6-8 p.m., there is an opening at the gallery, which is located at 135 W. 29th Street, and all are welcome. The show is up through Dec. 23.

Next Wednesday, December 8, also from 6-8 p.m. there is another gathering there, featuring New York State wines, local food, and a presentation by the folks from Just Food. I hope you can make one of the events. If you come, please say hello! 


Thanksgiving Postgame Show: The Spanish Wine Tasting

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Thanksgiving at my sisters went off without a hitch. The kids careened around her apartment in their stocking feet, enthralled with their older cousin, and no one slipped and fell or lost a tooth.

The food was delicious, too. There was turkey with a fennel and sausage stuffing. Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes—the whole nine yards. All the guests contributed a dish or two. My brother-in-law invited cousins from New Jersey, who brought a tofu marsala (which was so good Santa Maria asked for seconds).

The thing that was on my mind, besides being grateful for all our good fortune as Americans, was the Spanish wines. How would they taste? How would they go over?

A number of other bottles were opened during the evening. One was a 2007 Bordeaux, which proved to be much more popular around the table than the Rioja. I poured the wines. I know. Everyone asked for the French wine over the Spanish. Of course, I chose the Rioja, and I loved it. It was full bodied with hints of licorice. Nice.

The Temps de Flors, the white, was a resounding success. It was crisp and refreshing. My sister loved it, and said that it really tasted like flowers. Funny, I said because it is named for an annual festival that fills the streets of Girona, a city outside of Barcelona, with elaborate floral displays. Perfect.


What to Drink with Turkey: Spanish Wines for Thanksgiving

AnyJeroboam
Though my Thanksgiving duties are minimal, I have still been charged with a few important tasks. The biggest one was to get home in time on Wednesday to take over childcare duties so Santa Maria could make her apple pie.

My other responsibility is to bring two bottles of wine, a red and a white. Because the “What to Drink with Turkey” question can be as vexing as figuring out “What is Dark Matter,” I sought advice from various quarters.

Eric Asimov and the editors of the New York Times dining section had some suggestions. I liked their take on the task (“Stock up on great wine that doesn’t cost much”), but to my mind they overlooked a great source of high-quality, high-value wine: Spain.

Two of my favorite wines are Spanish varietals: Albariño, a crisp and fresh white, and Tempranillo, otherwise known as Spain’s “noble grape,” and the foundation for Riojas.

On my way back from the office yesterday, I risked not fulfilling my first responsibility, and detoured to Tinto Fino, a little shop in the East Village that specializes exclusively in Spanish wines. Kerin Auch, the owner, patiently walked me back and forth in the narrow store and helped me find two bottles that fit my budget and my tastes.

For the red, she steered me towards Muriel Rioja, which she said was one of her store's biggest sellers.

The white was a bit more complicated. As it turns out, the sub-twenty dollar Albariños had just sold out. She raved about the 2009 Pazo de Señorans, but at $28, it was more than I wanted to spend. Asking if I would try something other than an Albariño, she suggested the 2009 Temps de Flors, a mix of Muscat, Xarel.lo, and Gewürtztraminer.

"Xarel.lo?" I said.

"It's Catalan," she replied.

"If you compared it to a French wine, what would it taste like?" I asked.

"I wouldn't do that," she said. "It's more like an Alsatian Pinot Gris."

"Sold," I said.

This afternoon I'll open the bottles and report back on how they taste. If they're anything like the other wines I've had in recent years from Spain, I know I'll be thrilled.

 


An Armchair Guide to How to Cook a Turkey

Tom
As I mentioned before, I’m not cooking this Thanksgiving. Though I get the day off, that doesn’t mean I get to relax completely. In the last week I’ve made two new recipes—one a faithful rendition of Marcella Hazan’s Red Clam Sauce and the other a seat-of-the-pants attempt to recreate the kale, pine nut, and parmesan salad I had the other day at Prune.

The clam sauce brought up strange memories, and the kale salad inspired Santa Maria to such a degree that she declared she could fly. I’ll give full details on these dishes soon. In the meantime, though, I’ll try to answer the question everyone seems to be asking me: how do you cook a turkey?  

I have no practical knowledge of such matters, but a lack of experience has never deterred me in the past (I am a parent, after all), and I’ll provide three suggestions.

 

 

  • My favorite recent article about Thanksgiving turkeys ran a few days ago in the New York Times. Ariel Kaminer went to a Halal slaughterhouse in Queens and slit the throat of a Bourbon Red Turkey, which she then took home to cook. Hart Perry, the farmer who bred the bird, suggested doing nothing more than putting it in the oven with a bit of salt and pepper. “Against the advice of two chefs, I did as he said,” Kaminer wrote, “setting the oven to 350 degrees; it was the most flavorful turkey I had ever had.”

Holiday Apple Pie Recipe

Apple_pie1
I emailed my sister the other day to see what I could bring to her house for Thanksgiving, and she told me that, by some magical calculation on her part, I’m entitled to “get the day off.” Apparently, she’s roped Santa Maria into making an apple pie.

Santa Maria’s apple pies are somewhat legendary among my extended family (not, perhaps, as legendary as her chocolate sauce, a rich confection of chocolate, butter, and assorted spices as secret as they are delicious), but still mighty popular.

She plans on making a pie on Wednesday, but in case you are looking for something to bring (or serve) at your Thanksgiving, I sweet talked her into sharing the recipe today:

I like a tart pie, juicy and toothsome, with a flaky golden crust.  It’s true that lard or Crisco make for easier flakiness, but I prefer the concept of butter and stick to that.

Here are some things I don’t do, by the way.  I don’t sift the flour and salt for the crust; I don’t dot the fruit with more butter before putting on the top crust; I cut the sugar in half and increase the number of apples because I like a high fruit:crust ratio.  I do use twice as much cinnamon as other recipes.  I use tapioca instead of corn starch as a thickener (but you MUST let it stand 15 minutes before you bake if you use tapioca).

 

Santa Maria's Holiday Apple Pie

 

Crust:

  • 2 c flour (don’t use the healthier kind with germ – just regular all purpose is fine)
  • 1 t salt
  • 2/3 c butter
  • 4 T to 1/3 cup ice water

Mix flour and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or with your food processor until the butter is the size of peas. 

Sprinkle the mixture with 4 T ice water and blend with a fork. Keep adding more water until it holds together (sometimes I use nearly a 1/3 cup).  Gather it up into 2 balls using wax paper.  Chill in the fridge (or faster in the freezer) while you make the filling (below).  Makes a top and bottom crust for a 9” pie.

 

Filling:

 

  • 6 cups peeled and sliced apples (I like to combine Macoun, Mutsu, and Granny Smith – but you can use any combination.  I also prefer to slice them very thinly. If you want it sweeter, like the way my folks like it, use a few Yellow Delicious apples in the pie).
  • 2 T. tapioca
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 2 t cinnamon (I like it very cinnamon-y)
  • juice of ½ lemon

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients together.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with crust, fill with the fruit mixture, cover with top crust.  Seal and flute the edge.  Use a sharp (non- serrated) knife to slice a pattern of your choice in the top crust to let out the steam.  My kids are pleased when I make interlocking hearts.  Sprinkle with a bit of sugar on top.  Bake 45 minutes or until golden on top.

 

BONUS TWIRLS FOR YOU!!

 

Here’s something else I do: increase the crust recipe by half (i.e. use 3 cups of flour and an entire cup of butter [two sticks]) so that I have a ball of dough left over to make cinnamon twirls aka rugelach.  These are everyone’s favorite, actually much more popular than the pie itself.

Roll out the dough; slather with another 2 T softened butter; sprinkle with ½ c brown sugar and a LOT of cinnamon (I am cinnamon-crazy).  Roll it up like a log and pinch the seam shut.  You may need to cut it into two rectangles, approximately 4 inches wide, before you roll it up so that the rolls are not too large.  My goal is to have a twirl with a 1 inch diameter.  Bake in the oven until golden (much quicker than the pie – DON’T BURN THEM!! – sometimes not much more than 10-15 minutes.  Keep checking).  Enjoy with a big glass of cold milk.

My paternal grandma made these for me when I was little.  She had a little silky cocker spaniel named Dinah – I loved to pet her just like I loved to pet the cattails that grew on the edges of the lake. Fuelled by milk and goodies, we’d run for hours and hours around the grounds and finally collapse.

 


Win-Win Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe

No-gluten-pumpkin-pie1

The run-up to Thanksgiving is well underway. I see it in the newspaper, on my Twitter feed, and on cable television (I’m guessing, as I don’t have cable). Around the Stay at Stove Dad home, plans are being laid as well. My sister on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, who volunteered to host this year, is busy getting ready.

She maintains a gluten-free diet, and though she’s promised not to make a gluten-free dinner, she has been hard at work perfecting some treats she’ll be able to eat herself.

This past weekend she tried out a gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe. A few readers have asked me for a pie recipe, and Santa Maria’s agreed to share her mouthwatering apple-pie secrets. She’ll be baking one on Wednesday to bring to Thanksgiving. In the meantime, here’s what my sister has to say about making a gluten-free pie.

She worked from a recipe on Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, a wonderful resource for anyone looking to take gluten out of their diet without sacrificing flavor and adventure.

I always trust my sister when it comes to baking. Growing up, she’s the one who filled the house with lemon-meringue pies, snickerdoodles, and chocolate-chip cookies. I never developed much of a sweet tooth, but it was nice to know those treats existed (and I always marveled at the architectural beauty of a lemon meringue pie—all those peaks like little cathedrals).

A true multi-tasking contemporary mom, my sister made the pie while watching the USA national women's soccer team battle Italy. She used this recipe from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, and had the following comments.

Her recipe is a good one. I followed it exactly. Glad I did as it is not an easy dough to work with. It gets crumbly, and needs a lot of finesse. The only change I will make when I make another for Thanksgiving is to add a pinch of salt to the dough.

I followed her directions to use the recipe for the filling from the Libby can. I did. I have never done that. I have always used more elaborate recipes. But, the Libby recipe is perfect. I have to say I will never go back.

As for the final result: “It is terrific!!! I can't believe it. Wow. What a relief,” she said.

And, she added “The team USA women won in stoppage time in the second half. It was a brilliant goal and a devastating loss for Italy as they had held the USA to 0-0 through the whole game. They will play another game next Saturday in Chicago. If they tie that game, USA will still win the World Cup berth as away goals (today's goal) count twice!”

 


Quickest Indian Curry Dinner Imaginable

Sub

Santa Maria’s mother and father have returned safely to their own home, and I’m sure they are much more comfortable there than they were in our apartment. When we were crammed together, it felt as if we were stranded sailors on a Soviet-era Russian submarine that had been disabled and was running under emergency power.

After more than a week of sleeping on my daughters' floor (we gave Santa Maria's parents our bed; Santa Maria headed for the living-room couch, and I took the only room left), I was happy to be back in my own bed. Feeling somewhat better after some much needed rest, I was looking forward to trying out Marcella Hazan’s recipe for Clam Sauce with Tomatoes, but I didn’t get home in time yesterday to attempt it.

Instead, I turned to one of my super easy weeknight dinners built around a jar of Maya Kaimal's tamarind curry sauce (though I was too worn out to consider making the raita that makes this dinner whole lot better).

The clams, which I have on hand from an overly-optimistic foray to the Greenmarket this past Saturday, will have to wait (they’re patiently resting in the bottom of my refrigerator; nestled in a mesh strainer they should be okay for a few days).

Lightning Fast Indian Curry Dinner

  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 1 lb boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 jar of Maya Kaimal's tamarind curry sauce

Cook the rice by combining it with two cups of water in a small sauce pot with a good lid. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about fifteen minutes, or until the water is gone.

While the rice is cooking, pour the sauce into a second sauce pot, and set on the stove over a medium flame.

Chop the chicken and add it to the sauce.

Heat until the chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally. This should not take longer than the time it takes for the rice to cook.

 


Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, or How to Grill a Turkey

442px-Ganesha_Basohli_miniature_circa_1730_Dubost_p73

The other day, I told a friend at work that my eighty-six-year-old mother in-law had fallen in our apartment and shattered her shoulder. “Damn,” he said, presumably thinking of my year of broken real-estate deals and our seemingly endless housing search, “what did you do to bring all this on yourself?”

The only answer I have—that in a past life I was a medieval lord who took too great an advantage of droit de seigneur—isn’t very helpful. But the fates haven’t been completely unkind, and things are looking up.

My mother-in-law had a successful operation, and has recovered to the extent that I’ve been able to tease her about playing table tennis when I see her at Christmas and Santa Maria has been able to joke about it (“it is not humorous that she fractured her humerus!”). We’ve found an apartment we adore, and (after much drama) have a seemingly ironclad deal to move in a few months (more about that later, I’m sure). And a few weeks ago, GOOP picked up on this site, and brought it lots of new readers. Welcome if you are one of them!

Being featured on GOOP is very exciting, and I’m delighted and grateful to have been include in such fine company. I’ve previously mentioned some of the sites included in the GOOP roundup, and I’ve been enjoying the others, too: Orangette, David Lebovitz, What Katie Ate, Canelle et Vanille, Oh Joy Eats, and Tastespotting.

The GOOP mention has led to fun developments: my favorite is a French translation of my blog: Restez à papa Cuisinière, the title of which translates, according to a French-speaking friend of mine, as “an imperative: “Stay at Dad Stove”—as if there were such a thing as a “Dad Stove” and someone were being ordered to stay at it.”

I’ve also been spending much more time on the web, looking at food sites, and one my most recent finds, Dad Cooks Dinner, is run by a kindred spirit in Ohio, Mike Vrobel. A self-described geek, he is truly dedicated, cooking nine meals out of every ten, according to his count, and doing most of those over an open fire. His blog, subtitled “Weeknight, Grilling, and Rotisserie Recipes From a Dad who Cooks Dinner Every Night,” is full of great ideas and he clearly explains obscure techniques with neat little videos.

Next time I find myself in front of a grill, I’ll be sure to turn to him. In the meantime, he has an interesting approach to making the Thanksgiving turkey: on the grill, of course. Here’s his video on how to truss the bird for the Rotisserie:

 

 


Thoughts in Advance of Thanksgiving

I have never hosted a Thanksgiving gathering, but I hope to do so someday. I need to get a bit more settled, and have a home with the space (I have a big extended family), and until then I’m content to go to my mother's, my in-laws', or one of my siblings' houses, and bring a bottle of wine and a side dish.

I always look forward to the New York Times Dining section the week before the big day. The paper presents a platonic version of the holiday—many bright pictures and plenty of savory recipes, with no dishes to clean, or family arguments to regret.

Today’s edition includes a video about how to carve a turkey, Mark Bittman’s novel take on side dishes (think raw vegetables), Julia Moskin’s survey of innovative pie making, and Eric Asimov’s suggestions for hard cider.

And Harold McGee weighs in with a column that's of year-round interest: what cooking oil is best for frying, and why.  He concludes that it’s a matter of taste and spending habits, but one thing he mentions gave me pause. “Frequent exposure to frying fumes has been found to damage the airways of both restaurant and home cooks. Fresh oils, and in particular fresh olive oils, generate the fewest toxic aldehydes,” he writes. I believe I’ll stick with the olive oil I favor.

If you are a father and you have a story about cooking your first (or any) Thanksgiving dinner, I'd like to hear it. Please drop me a line.