Today I’m going to ask you to use your imagination. Have a glass of wine, close your eyes, turn on some Simon and Garfunkel, and imagine you’re entertaining your nearest and dearest. Imagine you’re tasked with cooking a fabulous dinner for your terribly handsome beau on his 50th birthday. And imagine that last minute rush before dinner is served—the rush to get dinner on the table and make sure that hot food stays hot and salad stays fresh.
Can you imagine that? Good. Now imagine that the beautiful ingredients below came together in a perfectly composed salad that I didn’t have a chance to photograph on that lovely night before serving it!
Sorry, folks. By the time dinner was served, the sun had gone down and I couldn’t justify whipping out my lighting set-up to photograph the finished salad. So just imagine a bed of velvety greens tossed in sweet and sour pear vinaigrette, topped with creamy, pungent Cambozola, toasted walnuts, crispy apples, and my mad scientist experiment, hibiscus pearls. Imagine that!
A word about those hibiscus pearls: this was my first foray into molecular gastronomy. It was a success, and much simpler than I imagined. I steeped a cup of hibiscus tea and spiked it with hibiscus extract from l.c. finn. I boiled that with agar agar, and used a regular eyedropper to squeeze the mixture into a tall glass of cold oil to form the pearls. That’s the extent of the special ingredients and equipment. The flavor of the pearls was distinct but not overwhelming; a little tart, like pomegranate juice. The texture was smooth and gelatinous—sort of like biting into a creamy drop of tea. For instructions on making agar agar pearls, visit http://molecule-r.com/en/content/67-pearls-training. You can purchase the extract here.
My incredibly generous manfriend, Handsome Greg, treated me and Mom to an epic shopping spree at Kitchen Window for Christmas. My loot included 3/4 of the ingredients of a complex, delicious bread dipping oil: a fruity extra virgin olive oil, pink peppercorns, and smoked sea salt. I added a few leaves of fresh thyme, and served it for Greg’s birthday dinner.
The surprisingly fruity bite of the peppercorns was carried gently down to earth by the tender thyme leaves and robust, earthy smoked sea salt flakes. We sopped up the oil with chewy, warm ciabatta bread, alongside Greg’s favorite pepperoni-stuffed chicken breasts, angel hair pasta scampi, a killer salad with cambozola and hibiscus pearls, and classic molten chocolate cakes.
Well, this is awkward. I suppose it’s a little late to give a heads up that posting will be sparse until my show opens in August…? Also, the dog ate my homework, and the check is in the mail.
I’m sure you will forgive me for failing to post a new recipe for (gasp!) an entire month, when you try this righteous salad. It’s bright and fresh, yet satisfying, with a perfect balance of salty, sweet, and sour. It’s so delicious that with one bite, you’ll forget entirely what a lazy slacker I am. The recipe is from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Do you have this book? You need this book.
The day I prepared this salad is pretty much a blur—I was so rushed making dinner for Mom and Handsome Greg that I barely had a chance to take photos of the meal. So I’m sorry to say that my sad pics don’t begin to do this recipe justice. Just another reason to pick up The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook; the photos are so beautiful you’ll have to resist the urge to devour the actual pages. The only change I made from the original recipe was to omit the tablespoon of fresh, minced ginger, because, as I mentioned before, I’m deathly allergic. If ginger doesn’t send you to the ER, then I suppose you ought to add it to the dressing as Deb suggests. She knows what she’s talking about.
Continue reading for the Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Miso Dressing recipe
Every once in a long while, when my hair is lacking in shine and my fingernails are especially raggedy and I’m feeling a little insecure, I can’t help but wonder if my sharing recipes here at Galley Kitchen is little more than a desperate plea for the validation of strangers. I mean, why else would I bother with stats on page hits and click-thrus?
And why, other than the steaming pot of self-doubt simmering on the stove, would I feel the need to bring up my recipe for pepperoni-stuffed chicken breasts, my most popular recipe of 2012? Sure, I served today’s simple pasta scampi alongside the “famous” chicken parmesan variation for Handsome Greg’s birthday dinner, but that’s a pretty slim excuse to draw a big, fat arrow pointing to my number one recipe.
I hope you’ll forgive my blatant exploitation of the chicken, and take a look at the simple dish I served with it. The tender pasta is coated in butter with a little acidity from white wine, a lot of freshness from Italian parsley, and a punch of heat from red pepper flakes.
And ultimately, it doesn’t matter that this simple pasta is wearing a modest house dress. It’s going to the homecoming dance with the most popular poultry in school.
Continue reading for the Pasta Scampi recipe.
This is the perfect side dish for summer picnics and barbec—what? It’s past Labor Day? And I missed Barbecue Season™?
I’m a day late, but I just can’t keep this recipe to myself until Memorial Day 2013, when picnics are once again permissible. Also? I’m wearing white pants. Yeah, I’m a rebel.
When I first served this recipe at a work potluck, my adorable friend Karl told me that my baked beans were the best baked beans he’d had. I was more than a little concerned that of all my recipes, the one that earned the greatest compliment was made of store-bought, canned baked beans and all the condiments in the door of my refrigerator. Fortunately I got over it.
Continue reading for the Dressed Up Baked Beans recipe
INT. BAKE UP, LITTLE SUZY’S APARTMENT – NIGHT
BAKE UP, LITTLE SUZY and HANDSOME GREG sit cross-legged on a red checkered table cloth on the living room floor, sharing potato chips and onion dip. The phone rings. SUZY answers the phone.
BAKE UP, LITTLE SUZY
Hello? Oh, hi.
Who’s on the phone?
BAKE UP, LITTLE SUZY
It’s the sixties. They want their onion dip made from Lipton soup mix and sour cream back.
Continue reading for the Caramelized Onion Dip recipe
Last night I dreamed about a barbecue. I dreamed of hungry friends lining up alongside a red gingham-swathed picnic table filled with alfresco favorites as far as the eye could see. Bowl after CorningWare bowl of potato salad, deviled eggs, fresh watermelon, baked beans, pasta salad, coleslaw, mac and cheese…and nary a saucy rib nor chicken breast in sight.
Even in my dreams, I don’t know how to grill meat. I don’t have the tools and I don’t have the experience. Gas or charcoal? Direct or indirect heat? Lid up or lid down? The only thing I know how to grill is a cheese sandwich. One day I’ll conquer my fear and learn to grill meat, but in the meantime, I’m sharing summer side dishes, starting with my favorite garlic and herb corn.
This simple side (it comes together in minutes) is packed with flavor—it’s sweet, buttery, herbaceous, and garlicky. This is loud corn. This is corn on the mob.
Continue reading for the Garlic and Herb Corn recipe