This Angel Hair is Actually the Hair of an Angel

I'll be the first to admit this is not my best photo of pasta, but I was hungry, I made pasta, it tasted like savory milk and hair of the gods, so I took a photo in the dark kitchen. You work with what you've got.

This pasta, this delicious pile of gluten changed my perception of my own cooking. I always thought I was a good cook, but not a great cook. I can bake a cake or a pie and it will taste great, but everyone loves dessert. I can cook a vegetarian meal that will make you forget there's no meat (gasp!) on your plate. I know my spices, herbs, and ingredients, and that knowledge is the real recipe for an amazing dish, but somehow I skipped a few levels in the course of a week. I went from better-than-average home cook to restaurant quality cook in just one dish. I'm sure having the flu and a few out-of-commission senses (taste, smell) have something to do with this holy experience, but I do remember the difference between good and great: this pasta was great.

I'll admit, I have a few new rules I like to follow:
-More salt, more butter, more cheese. More cream.
-Everything in moderation, but not every day.
-Don't use diet alternatives, your body doesn't know what to do with them: Butter>Margarine.
-You can crush up those cashews all you want, but they're not Parmesan and they never will be. 
-Don't suffer through your meals. You only have one life so make it tasty. Maybe it's not always the healthiest choice, but that's why we have gyms and running shoes.

Here's how to make a game-changer angel hair pasta:

Ingredients
Angel Hair Pasta
Tomato Paste
Handful of Cherry Tomatoes
Heavy Cream
Truffle Oil
Parmesan
Thyme
Salt 
Pepper

-Bring water to boil
-While waiting for the water to boil combine two spoonfuls of tomato paste, approximately one teaspoon of truffle oil, 2-3 tablespoons of heavy cream, and a dash of thyme, and about 1/4 c water in a saucepan
-Mix until smooth, add salt
-Add more salt
-Add roughly chopped tomatoes, let simmer 
-Take a serving of pasta (measure by touching pointer finger to thumb - the loop equals your body's serving size) and add pasta to boiling water
-Strain cooked pasta and run under cold water to wash and prevent further cooking
-Toss the pasta and sauce together in a bowl, top with parmesan, and eat
-Slow down.

Homemade Replica - Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar Drink

I don't know if anyone else jumped on this apple cider vinegar train, but these drinks are kind of addicting. I tried one after coming out of a hot yoga class when nearly anything liquid is appealing, so I grabbed one of these Bragg's apple cider vinegar drinks and sure enough I was buying a few more at the grocery store near my apartment when I got home.

The ingredients are simple: apple cider vinegar, water, and stevia. I don't personally like the taste of stevia, and apple cider and water are easy enough to combine, so why not make my own? Here's the first batch I made (warning: I like it strong, so you might want to cut out half a lemon and 1/4 a cup of apple cider vinegar):

Ingredients:
3/4 c Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 c Apple Cider
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp Agave Nectar
Water

-Mix all the ingredients (excluding water) in a large mason jar (the approximate size of a jar of pasta sauce)
-Add water to fill to the top of the jar
-Mix ingredients thoroughly again
-Drink!

Photo courtesy of Serious Eats

Maine

The dude and I finally got away for a real vacation, you know, the kind that takes planning as opposed to a spontaneous weekend getaway to a friend's couch. Where to? Maine.

We stayed in a little cottage complete with a claw foot tub, a waterfront view, and a complete lack of internet just outside of Boothbay, Maine. You can check it out here. It's a perfect getaway if you daydream of building your own cabin someday and want to do some homework.

Our days were spent exploring outside and nights were spent making popcorn and watching dvds on the very small TV in the cabin. It sunk to 40º every night, so it was perfect for cuddling up and staying warm.

The highlight however, was that I cooked lobster for the first time. Kind of. I was there for the cooking of lobster, but I just don't have the heart to cook a lobster. I felt terrible that I took no preventative action, but I have no room for a pet lobster in my apartment. Despite their sea-bug appearance I began to sympathize with the little guys. They somehow reminded me of sad puppy dogs whose limbs just dangle as you hold them in the air. I had to fight to keep myself from coming up with names for them. That's when it gets personal, so in the spirit of a Maine vacation, I (sort of) cooked a lobster. 

Patternmaking


I've been struck with the impulse to finally make my own patterns. I've been stubborn for the past years and years and years but I started easing my way into the land of calculations and step-by-step directions last year by duplicating clothes I already own. Turns out it's not so hard to work with patterns after all.

I don't have a lot of free time, but every free moment I'll hunker down with my Sewing Patterns book and chart of measurements. Digging through all my fabric I found a gaudy brick red/gold/changes color with the light cheetah/zebra print fabric. Initially I thought I would come up with a design that would distract from the ostentatious print but then I thought, why fight it?

Now I'm working on plans to make a simple long sleeve maxi dress. The pattern drafts are done, now it's time to test them out on some cheap muslin or cotton, then it will be go time. The fabric is stretchy so even with a few mistakes here and there it's flexible enough to give and take minor errors... let's hope!

Home Scenes

Home scenes are some of my favorite scenes to try and capture, particularly those involving food. The lighting is the kind that can only be found indoors when the sun bounces from wall to wall, through curtains, and softly hits the half-eaten apple sitting on your desk, your cramped yoga mat setup, or a summer pie.

Vermont Daydreaming

Vermont and New York are not similar. I have never heard a convincing comparison, but over the past week or so the weather in Brooklyn has been cooling down and the 4p.m. light is strikingly similar to quiet, late afternoons in the hills of Vermont where the closest thing to "loud" is the symphony of chirping crickets.

I've been buying Woodchuck Cider and dreaming about cider donuts or something, anything with maple syrup, and I've been hallucinating the changing of leaves on the few trees emerging from the concrete in my neighborhood.

Red Hook is unique. Unlike the fashion-drenched Manhattan and Williamsburg, Red Hook is filled with studios, woodshops, and furniture designers which means I see more dirty shirts and loose fitting, worn-out jeans or carharts than I see fashionably tight pants, heels, and chic haricuts.Vermont? Yeah, a little.

During the day you don't hear cars passing by blasting bass like you would other Brooklyn neighborhoods. Plenty of trucks drive along the road below, creaking and bouncing as they hit bumps in the road, but the most you'll hear is the soft "shhhhh" of the wheels and an occasional car alarm. The silence between the cars sounds like Vermont. The 68º breeze feels like Vermont. But just as my surroundings have temporarily tricked my mind into thinking I'm in a more serene, natural setting, someone has parked below my apartment blasting Maroon 5. Time for a fall vacation.

European Daydreams in Bushwick

This is what I would like to imagine it looks like when I go out do dinner, but it's only half true. As much as I would like to wear dresses more, I don't. I love pants. Black pants, denim pants, ripped pants, patterned pants, all pants. Oh, and there's usually food on the table. That's the most important part

This drawing did come from real life though. It was inspired by a dinner at Moto (Oh, and I did wear a dress, actually) on Broadway and Division-the last place you would expect to find a bluesy french getaway from the putrid Bushwick streets. Sorry guys, not a huge fan of Bushwick here. You've got a west coast soul here, something that doesn't mix well with industrial concrete and skies blocked by train tracks. Step into Moto and the sound of those trains become steam engine trains, and maybe over the course of your dinner  those unbelievably fashionable pants will magically turn into a scandalous flapper dress. But if, for some reason, those dreams don't come true, I can guarantee you'll have some food on the table. Try the date cake... I'll leave it at that.

One day I'll live on the water again.

When To Be a Flexitarian

When you find yourself at an Anthony Bourdain approved sake bar buried under the streets of Times Square and there's a steaming bowl of pork belly ramen sitting in front of you, sometimes you have to leave your qualms about meat behind and respect the dish. It is, after all, the chef's work of art. There's a reason ingredients are used in dishes - usually because of tradition or because the chef believes in the flavor pairings. If you ask for pork belly ramen without the pork, you'll end up with something resembling a pile of cooked, bland noodles. Everything from the chewy noodles to the rich broth is a result of the pork belly, its flavor, and the pork saturated broth.

I had always been one to ask for alterations of menu items to fit my vegetarian/pescetarian needs, but it took going out to dinner with vegans (no disrespect to vegans, you guys are doing a great thing!) to realize how frankly annoying and disrespectful it is when you walk into a restaurant and ask to change everything the chef put so much work into perfecting. Don't worry, I'm guilty of doing it too, but if you want to completely customize a dish you're better off staying at home and cooking it on your own. If you have an extreme allergy, by all means ask for alterations to prevent an epi-pen epidemic. If it's a matter of moral issues or taste preference, just make it easier for everyone and try for a restaurant that has at least a couple dishes that cater to your dietary needs.

Seeing both sides, it's hard to find a stance to take. Do you stand your ground and avoid meat completely for political or emotional reasons or do you avoid being offensive? One one hand you don't want to support the meat industry or find it completely feasible to sustain a healthy life without animal products. On the other hand, sometimes you just have to look at food from another emotional and artistic perspective: someone put their heart and soul into that chicken soup, so you better suck it up.

Espresso Basics You Need To Know

Here is a post I've been meaning to transfer from a photography and illustration focused tumblr site I started a ways back. Although I am no longer a barista, I still work in coffee and am constantly learning more and more nerdy details:

The first time I ordered an espresso was… memorable. Kids in their early teens generally have no reason to spend time in a coffee shop aside from having nowhere else to go; that’s why they always order steamers. Before the popular age of soy and almond milk I was (and still am) a lactose intolerant nerd; Coffee was my only choice.

The coffee in the café where my best friend got a job and where I spent too much time was not good but it provided caffeine, something I did not need, and it made me feel cool the way cigarettes made other kids feel cool. Because of my dad, a nerdy mechanical and forensic engineer who calculated the amount of time in my mom’s life that she “wastes” preparing her coffee with cream and sugar, I was always taught “learn to drink your coffee black”, so I did. That made me feel extra badass.

One particularly adventurous day I decided to explore beyond black coffee by ordering espresso because it seemed exotic. I spent hours listening to the slamming, grinding, and whirring sounds permeating the shop but had no idea what was really happening behind the mysterious Cimbali monster. The barista handed me a cup smaller than an egg filled with dark brown mud. I stared at it for a few seconds, stared at the barista who stared back at me blankly, and took the feeble looking drink to my table. My friends dumbly asked me “what is that?” to which I responded, “Apparently it’s an espresso” (because everyone’s favorite word in high school is “apparently"). I didn’t know epsresso is basically coffee concentrate, but more interestingly I don’t know what I expected it to be because somehow I was completely shocked when I gulped down the potent sludge, instinctually contracted every muscle in my face, and choked for a millisecond or two.

Now, as a barista, I have encounters with my former self from time to time. Here are your espresso bar basics to help you avoid looking like a nerd when you’re especially trying to not look like nerd:


Summer is Pie Season

It took three weeks to make this pie. Not because the prep and baking takes so long, but because I had to find a time to bake a pie between a full time and a part time job, trying to keep up with creative projects, and mustering the energy to go to hot yoga at least once a week in the midst of a humid 90º summer. I craved pie for three weeks, and I finally got it.

When I started working two jobs the dishwasher at the cafe where I was working part-time asked "you got a kid?"
No, I don't got a kid. I originally kept working part-time because it was fun, I liked the people, and it was easy to keep the job and make a little extra money on top of a regular job. Then I realized how worn-out I felt and how life was escaping me. Then I craved pie... and it took three weeks to make. I knew it was time for a change.

Now I'm working an almost-normal schedule, so I have plenty of time to sleep, explore, and bake blueberry and peach pie. 'Tis the season, so eat pie while you can.


Blueberry & Peach Pie
Crust: 
1 1/4 c flour
1 stick cold butter
1 tsp salt
Milk

Filling:
1 carton of blueberries (approx 1 1/2 c)
2 peaches, peeled and sliced
Sugar
Flour

To make the crust:
-Mix all the dry ingredients
-Cut the butter into small cubes and mix into the dry ingredients
-With your hands, rub the butter and flour together to make a crumbly texture
-Once the crust mixture is uniform, add a splash of milk and begin mixing with a fork until it forms a dough
-Refrigerate the dough in plastic wrap for 30min -1hour

To make the filling:
-Mix the blueberries and peaches in a bowl with a sprinkle of sugar and flour (approximately 1-2 tbsp of each)

Preheat the oven to 400º F

-Roll out the dough and press into a pie pan or cast-iron skillet (I don't have a pie pan... yikes!)
-Save any leftover dough for a lattice crust
-Poke the crust with a fork and bake for 8-10 minutes
-Spoon the filling into the crust, add lattice on top (optional), and bake for 30-45 minutes or until the crust begins to brown and the fruit begins to bubble

Scenes

My housemate making coffee cupping style. This is mostly because we don't have any non-espresso coffee making devices in our apartment but also because it's a simple, no frills way to make a damn good cup of coffee.

Cheese.

Wine and cheese.

Apple Chunk Muffins


Apple pie in a muffin.

Holiday Gingerbread Biscotti

Never have I looked at a log of biscotti and thought "Yeah, I wanna put that in my face."

Then sometime last week a switch took place in my craving motherboard and all my childhood dreams of eating cookies for breakfast came true.

  © Blogger template Brooklyn by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP