Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm hungry now

I'm not in Mexico anymore. I'm back in New York, wearing my coat and scarf and gloves. My hair is all smushed down by my hat and my toes are always cold. But there are some good things about being in New York and watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations reminded me of some of them.

If you've been reading this blog for awhile (or if you just know me), you may know that I love Anthony Bourdain. He's crotchety, foul mouthed and knows a ton about food. I've read all his books (you must have heard of Kitchen Confidential at least?) and his show is one of my favorite channel surfing pleasures.

Anyways, he did an episode this week about "disappearing Manhattan," all the old time-y places like Katz's Delicatessen and Russ & Daughters. You can get the complete list of places here. It made me sad. And hungry. You can see a little preview here while I go get a snack.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I love candy

When I was growing up, one of my favorite things was See's Candies. There was a little shop on Lakeshore Ave (the main street in walking distance from my house). My mom and I would stop in there for free samples pretty much every time we passed. We all have our favorite flavors - my mom likes marzipan, my sister likes blueberry truffles and I like raspberry cream and bourdeux (coffee cream...yum). The store closed a few years ago, but there are other locations all over the West Coast. However, there are no See's Candies stores on the East Coast. It is a huge tragedy.

But! While I was walking through LAX on my zillion hour layover with my dad and his lawyer friends, we passed a See's Candies outpost. "Oh, I wish I had some See's Candies," I said. My dad kept on walking. His friend Vanessa stopped. "David," she said, "Buy your daughter some candy." "No, it's okay," I demurred. "Nonsense," Vanessa said, "David, buy her the candy." And so he did. Thanks, dad!

I got the silver box...

And the little pops! Teeny tiny lollipops. Love it.

I'm trying to make them last....we'll see how well that goes. I suppose I could always order more online....

Monday, February 23, 2009


When it's cold in New York and you grew up in California, all you really want to do is get the hell out of the city and go somewhere warm. Sometimes, like when your dad goes on a conference in Mexico and invites you to come along and freeload for a week, it works out.

I didn't have high hopes for the food at the resort in Baja California (see how I'm bringing it back to food? Way to stay on topic, Moy-Borgen). I mean, it was a really pretty resort. See?

But you know, resort food, it's all about trying to make people feel like they're at home in the Midwest and not actually in whatever country they're visiting. After three days of chicken fingers and club sandwiches (I was hanging out with four kids under age seven), we ventured out into Cabo San Lucas (Mexico's greatest Spring Break town - the perfect place to hang out with your dad and small children).

We took a water taxi out to see the famous sights.

Water taxis are a great way to travel. I think I'll have one installed on my street. They drove us around to the famous arch. It was quite the sophisticated sight for a town that has a bar called "The Giggling Marlin" that hangs you by your ankles and pours margaritas down your throat.

They dropped us on "lover's beach" for a while. You could walk to "divorce beach" from there. I mostly stayed on the water's edge with my favorite seven year old.

But onto the food! All week, I just wanted to eat Mexican food. That didn't seem like too much to ask. You know, while I was in Mexico. We wandered around until we spotted somewhere that looked like it didn't cater to the drunken spring break crowd.

It may not have seemed promising to everyone, but it was right up my alley.

Finally, bring on the enchiladas!

I liked them. The sauce was nice and spicy. They were the best enchiladas I've had for some time, but my dad was unimpressed. He's spoiled though, since he has the best Mexican food ever right down the street from him. Still, I enjoyed it! Mexico! I wish I was still there.


So, I was going to write a little post saying, hey guys, I'm going to Mexico, don't expect any blogging. But then I was late for my plane and running like crazy and I figured, oh well, I'll update when I get there and then the internet didn't really work.

So, whoops. Please don't abandon my blog because I forgot to post for a week. If I survive the time change (I'm in the middle of a six hour layover in LAX and am due in NY at 810am - blech), I'll post more today with pictures and food news and reviews. If not, the next day for sure!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Belated Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is all about togetherness. It's important to be with the one you love. Usually, Zack and I go to a restaurant, but this year, what with the massive recession and lack of job-having, I decided to cook us a nice meal at home.

Our first course was Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese.

It was really nice. The cheese and nuts went very well with the fruit. It was a good first course.

Next we had Angel Hair with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese.

Before you tell me how '80's sun dried tomatoes are, Zack likes them. And Valentine's day is all about doing things that your girlfriend/boyfriend likes.

Our main course was Baked Cod with Green Beans. There's bacon on it too.

We got a nice bottle of Savigoun Blanc in Napa over Christmas, so I wanted to make something that would go well with white wine. I was supposed to use cod steaks instead of fillets, but I got confused at the fish store. Oh well. It was still good.

We finished off with Chocolate Pots.

I used whiskey instead of brandy. In fact, whenever a recipe called for liquor, I used whiskey (not in place of wine, obviously, just hard liquor). All I have in my house is whiskey and I wasn't about to buy port or brandy or anything else when I already had half a bottle of Maker's Mark.

Don't you wish I was your girlfriend so that you could eat all this food? You totally do.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's showtime, folks

I haven't been doing much lately. Zack has though. He is so busy all the time. He works and works and works and then instead of taking a break, he signs up for more work. I get lonely by myself. You should probably come hang out with me.

But you could also go to see the show that Zack designed. Here's a picture.

And here's some info:

Written and directed by Tina Satter


An infectiously strange and ecstatic musical spectacle about dislocation, heartbeats and trying to communicate.

Half Straddle stages shows that might have been inscribed in the margins of a teenage back-up singer's spiral-bound notebook or improvised in the van after ballet class – girly, enigmatic and utterly hot pink.

Music & Sound Design: CHRIS GIARMO
Lights & Design: ZACK TINKELMAN
Stage Management: WAYNE PETRO

HERE Arts Center
145 6th Avenue
(between Spring and Broome)
New York, NY 10013-1548
Entrance on Dominick Street

Fri, Feb 13, Sat, Feb 14 & Fri, Feb 20 at 10:30 p.m.
Sat, Feb 21 at 7 p.m.

Tickets: $15 or call (212) 352-3101

Subway: C/E to Spring St.; 1/9 to Houston St.; N/R to Prince St.

This production is being presented through HERE's Supported Artist Program, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical and administrative support.

You may recall I've written about this show before, both here and here. It's still good! Go see it. And then tell Zack to stop working so hard and to hang out with me more.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I like cakes

One of the things about being sick is that it makes me not want to cook. All I want to do when I'm sick is sit on the couch and watch Desperate Housewives reruns on Lifetime. It's pathetic. I know it.

But I was feeling a little bit better yesterday, so I decided to try baking something. I had some leftover dates from my trip to Jackson Heights and some assorted nuts in the fridge. I flipped through my Moosewood cookbook (it really is the best cookbook) and happened upon the recipe for Date-Nut Cake. Perfect.

As I started making it, I realized that the recipe called for separating eggs and folding egg whites into batter! Ack! If you may notice (I'm sure you didn't notice this - only crazy people would notice this), I never try recipes where that happens because every time I try it, I fail. Massively. Like, throw out the cake, burn the pan, hide in shame fail. This has happened more than once. But today, I figured, I have grown. I have confidence. I can do it!

Date-Nut Cake (from the Moosewood Cookbook)

butter and flour for the pan (I'm out of butter, I used oil)
3 eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup very finely chopped nuts (I used almonds - walnuts or pecans would be good too)
1 cup chopped dates

I chopped my dates and nuts in the food processor - I truly love my food processor. Here they are:

topping -
1/2 pint heavy cream or 1 cup ricotta (I used cream because it's cheaper and I'm poor)
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 to 3 Tbs powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 inch cake pan. I only had an 8 inch pan. I was certain that this would spell my doom. But I soldiered on.

2. Separate the eggs. As soon as started cracking and separating the eggs, I felt better. Cold, schmold. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixture until stiff but not dry. I don't really know what that means. But I guessed it meant this.

3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla for several minutes until smooth and thick. Several minutes seemed excessive to me. I think I did maybe one or two.

4. Stir the flour, salt, nuts and dates into the yolks and blend well. This seemed really thick to me.

5. Here comes the scary part - "gently fold in the beaten egg whites." First I rewhipped the egg whites for a few minutes because they seemed a little runny. Then I started mixing them in. Gently. I tried to be confident. Egg whites can smell your fear.

I did it! It looked pretty good to me....but who knows.

6. Pour the batter in the pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Here it comes.....what does it look like?

Woo! My cake looks like cake! Score one for me. I had to eat some right then to prove that I did it. It tastes like cake too! Then I let the cake cool.

You're supposed to let it cool and flip it out onto a serving platter.

Now whip your cream with the vanilla and sugar, and spread it on top of the cake. Then serve it cold.

Honestly, I liked it better hot without the cream. But it was pretty good with the cream as well. I mean, whipped cream is good.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I don't want to

Sometimes, I don't want to cook. But I still want good food. And I can't afford to order in or go out. So, what to do?

I eat my "lazy bastard" food. This is food that is readily available in my house, takes little assembly and tastes good. On Sunday, this was a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato salad.

I wanted tomato soup, but was too lazy to make it. I had a few leftover rinds of Gruyere and Parmesan that I grated and put between some of Zack's sub par sandwich bread with a few grinds of pepper. I heated it in a frying pan with a little olive oil and burned it a bit, but it still tasted good.

Today, my lazy bastard food was arugula salad with a sourdough roll. I had some arugula from a bag from Trader Joe's, shaved a tiny bit of Parmesan over it, a little salt, a little pepper, and some amazing oil and vinegar from Zack's mom. It's really good. If I always had oil and vinegar this good, I would eat salad every single day.

What's your lazy bastard food?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not the story of my life

Last week, a new musical started previews on Broadway. What? You haven't heard of it? Yeah, I'm not surprised. You're probably better off staying in the dark.

My friend Jamie scored us some free seats to The Story of My Life. I was looking forward to it - a new show, starring Will Chase and Malcom Gets, two actors that I've always liked. Unfortunately, my faith in the American musical proved unfounded.

The basic story is this: A guy is trying to write his best friend's eulogy - in an undisclosed place - maybe it's "God's library," maybe it's the inside of Will Chase's head - who really knows? - when his best friend comes back (from the dead? inside his mind? again, who knows?) to talk with him about the eulogy. And that's pretty much it.

On the plus side, the actors are very talented. They are both excellent singers and actors. They are trapped with some unfortunate material. I wish them the best of luck in their next projects....and that may be all I can come up with. This kind of bums me out.

On the slightly more negative side, the show is too small to be a musical. This is not because there are only two actors. It's that the story itself is too quaint and just not very musical. Musicals work best when they are full of big ideas - the collapse of a way of life (Fiddler, Rent, etc), a revolution (Les Mis), etc or larger than life characters (The Producers, Hairspray). This musical is a collection of tiny stories - a butterfly flapping its wings (seriously), two kids making snow angels. They're nice stories. They may work well in book form, but they're not that theatrical.

Here's the thing: this show is clearly meant to be a kind of "every man" story, the kind we all can relate to. You know, everyone has a best friend, a first grade teacher, etc. And sure, we do all have those things. However, the overall tone of the show is so quaint, so old fashioned, that it becomes unrelatable. The show is ladled with far too many references to Frank Capra and Mark Twain. I'd be hard pressed to find a couple of average men that make constant references to It's a Wonderful Life, all the time, throughout their entire lives. Mix that with old fashioned costumes (do a lot of men wear three piece suits?), a setting called "Angel Falls" (Bedford Falls, anyone?), and constant mentions of God make this show feel like it takes place 50 years ago. In a small town. That never existed. Except in Frank Capra's most boring thoughts.

On top of all that, the story arc as a whole is so unsatisfying. No real conclusions are ever really come to - there are no big revelations and there aren't supposed to be. But all I could think was, that's it? I sat through 90 minutes for this? In the final song, one of the characters is talking about the lack of answers that the show comes to. "Isn't it refreshing?" All I could think was "no."

A few last minute thoughts and observations:

This show has huge well of untapped homoeroticism. I kept waiting for the two characters to make out or declare their love for each other. That never happened.

Jamie fell asleep about five minutes into the show. This is a girl who stayed awake through In My Life. I'm just saying.....

Friday, February 6, 2009

Duck and cabbage reminds me of "love and marriage"

On Top Chef, they're always saying how duck and cabbage go well together (at least Stefan is, and he's so European). So when I bought duck legs, I decided to get some cabbage as well. I used to make this recipe all the time while I had my CSA (stupid winter months), but now I have to use supermarket cabbage. Luckily, it still tastes good.

Braised Cabbage (from Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food)

1 large head cabbage
1 carrot, peeled and diced small
1 onion, peeled and diced small
1 celery stalk (I omitted this because I didn't have one)
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 chicken broth (or water if you're a vegetarian. Or out of chicken broth)

1. Cut your cabbage in half, and then quarters. Cut out the core of the cabbage and cut the quarters into thick slices. Season with salt and pepper.

2. In a heavy pan, heat 2 Tbs of olive oil. Add the carrot and onion (and celery if you have it). Cook until soft (about 7 minutes) over medium heat.

3. Add the bay leaf, thyme, garlic and more salt. Cook for another minute and add the cabbage. Add the wine now too (I used Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck. It was perfectly good).

4. Cover and cook until the wine is mostly gone, about 8 minutes.

5. Add the broth or water. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover again and good for about 15 minutes, or until the cabbage is tender. If you want, you could add things to this dish - Alice suggests sausages or potatoes - I added some boiled potatoes at the last minute - I just boiled them until they were soft, sliced them into big chunks and threw them in the pan for the last few minutes.

6. Serve with duck and eat it by yourself while you watch Top Chef reruns because your boyfriend works until midnight every night. What? Just me?

It's a really good dish. There's lots of flavor and if you add potatoes, it's a great way to have a starch/vegetable dish all in one.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The skin is the best part

Last week, I was on the Upper West Side, wandering around and I decided to brave the crowds at Fairway. The Fairway has an amazing meat department, so I decided to see what looked good. I found some reasonably priced duck legs and figured, why not?

I picked the simplest method I could fine - the slow roast. All I did was preheat the oven to 300 degrees, put the duck legs in a pan, put salt and pepper on them and bake for 90 minutes, or until the skin turns brown and crispy.

I had two duck legs, but I ate one already by the time I took this picture. See all the fat at the bottom of the pan? You can't? Here it is again.

Yeah, that's a lot of fat. I'm saving it for more cooking later. Duck goes really well with cabbage, so I made some braised cabbage to go with it.

But that's a post for another day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Grown Up Cookies

I usually think of cookies as being for kids. I made them when I was a kid, I ate them as a kid - kids, milk and cookies, you get where I'm going with this. I've noticed that kids don't often like nuts in their cookies (some grownups don't either - to which I say, don't be such a baby).

These cookies also have oatmeal and bittersweet chocolate - both of which seem like grownup ingredients to me (I'm saying grownup and not adult, because to call things adult makes me think of porn).

Lena's Grown Up Cookies

1 cup butter (or shortening)
1 cup brown sugar (you can add a little white sugar if you want as well)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 cups oats (not instant)
10 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
chopped walnuts, to taste (maybe about 3/4 cup?)

1. Cream the butter and sugar. If you're a lazy bastard like me, melt the butter in the microwave first.

2. Mix in the eggs and vanilla.

3. Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the oats, stir until combined and stir in the chocolate and walnuts too.

4. Using a spoon (or your hand), put little balls of dough on cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

They're yummy cookies. They were a big hit at the Superbowl party I went to. You should make them too.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Not today

I haven't been cooking much lately. Zack has been working a lot and it's cold out - two things that just make me want to sit on my couch and not move. Or if I do have to move, it's just to eat salad out of a bag and Annie's Microwavable Mac and Cheese. When one has a blog devoted to cooking and watching theatre, this makes for some empty posting. But, never fear, this week I have tickets to a show and food in my refrigerator. In the meantime, here are some singing vegetables.