Thursday, February 19, 2009


Hello dear food-loving friends. My apologies for the lack of editorials to my blog this month. My computer is in sad shape and needs help. After many months of my ignoring the little problems, it is now completely unusable, and I have discovered that the model has been recalled. The journey it now faces is unknown; all I can do is hope for a speedy return so I may freely access the web and continue my passion of writing about the joys of food and bed.

At this moment I am at work, totally breaking the rules of my work-computer-usage (oh Tech-slash-HR team, if you're intercepting this right now, please don't fire me, it was a food blogger emergency).

I hope to return soon.
Thanks for understanding.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Winter Blues? Try Some Winter Greens

It wasn't until a recent outing to Harlem in search of some soul food that I discovered I really (really) like greens. Next time you find yourself in the produce isle at the store with winter greens-a-plenty, save your routine veggie for next time and reach for the green stuff. Place a big leafy bunch in your grocery cart and strut towards the checkout, practicing your vocals for amateur night at The Apollo.

At home I tried some swiss chard instead of collard greens, and the quick and simple sauté made a nice side dish.

Recipe for Swiss Chard Sautéed with Garlic:
  • One big bunch of swiss chard, washed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, cut in half
  • One small squeeze of lemon juice (or more specifically, about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First, prepare your greens. Wash thoroughly and cut off the base of the stem. You want to have some stem, but not the very bottom. That part is too stringy. If you are cutting through the base and it's stringy, keep moving your knife up until it goes through easily. That's the part of the stem you want to keep and eat. To separate the stem from the leafy part, fold it in half and slice out the stem from top to bottom. Coarsely chop both, keeping them separate. Meanwhile, place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil and garlic. Push around once or twice - you don't want the garlic to burn. Cook for a few minutes. Next, add the stems and cook for 3-5 minutes, pushing around a few times. Finally, add the leaves and cook for about 2 minutes until soft (again, pushing around a little bit for even cooking). Finish with a small squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper, and serve!

Monday, February 2, 2009

If You Can Bake it Here...

When I first moved to Manhattan, my impression of its inhabitants was comprised mostly of awe. These are New Yorkers! If they can make it here, they can make it anywhere. There must be some of the greatest minds in the world here. There must be some of the greatest chefs in the world here!

Recently, however, I started working at a cooking school assisting chef instructors when I met a new kind of New Yorker - a kind of hybrid human that I had never encountered before. The New Yorker that has literally never cooked a day in their life. I've met people that hate cooking, and don't know much about it, but they at least they've attempted to use their kitchens to prepare food. I suppose New York, a place where you can have anything delivered at any hour, is the only place you can actually get away with never using your kitchen for anything but shoe storage (which would explain some of the kitchens I confronted while apartment hunting).

A middle-aged man and an elderly woman that were paired together to make a cake looked at me with bewilderment when I explained the logic of greasing the whole pan. They had just splattered some oil across the bottom Pollock-style and called it a day. Another woman placed a pot of soup on the unlit stove top and asked, "Is it simmering?" I said, "Not yet; we need to turn on the heat, and when you see little bubbles around the edge, then it's simmering." She replied, with defiance, "No, bubbles would mean it's boiling."

At that point I was at a loss for words, which I suppose is why I don't actually teach the classes. I realized that sometimes I use terms in recipes such as sweating, simmering, sautéing, braising... and I just assume everyone knows what they mean. But, when pressured to define, I draw a bit of a blank. I'll need to come to the next class prepared, so here's my best shot at a few common cooking terms:

Sweating: Cooking something, usually veggies/onion, in a small amount of fat over very low heat. The idea is to soften and release the flavors without browning. This is common when preparing soup.

Sautéing: Cooking something quickly over the direct heat of the stove top.

Searing: Cooking meat quickly over high heat either on the stove top or under the broiler. Objective is to brown the outside of the meat.

Simmering: Without getting into the exact temperature needed, let's just say keep an eye out for tiny bubbles to break the surface.

Boiling: When your liquid gets up to 212 degrees F, it will be boiling. Look for big bubbles to break the surface, that won't disappear by stirring.

Baking: Cooking food in the dry heat of an oven.

Roasting: Cooking at a higher heat than baking, in some oil or other fat, uncovered, and with a desire to brown the exterior of the food.

Broiling: Cooking food directly under or above the heat source. Can produce similar (indoor) results to grilling.

Braising: A cooking method that uses low heat over a long period of time to tenderize meats and vegetables. If you have a crock pot, you are familiar with the idea of braising. To get the most flavor, brown (see "sear") your meat first. Then cover the meat with veggies and a little bit of liquid, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook over (or in the oven) low heat for a couple of hours.