31.1.10

homestretch.























I really like RadioLab.

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Heading off to Groningen tomorrow for 4 days, final rehearsals and a performance. And a couple of nice dinners, which you might hear about.

In the tussentijd, I'm cleaning up my Desktop, and I found this thing that I've been keeping around "for future reference". It's the vegetarian Xmas menu from De Witte Uyl, and I have been keeping it around because, as you may know, we're always looking for good vegetarian ideas. So here it is, tweaked by me into slightly more standard English (I'm not being mean):

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1st course
Carpaccio of three kinds of beetroot with a dressing of walnut, soy, and orange served with a cake of warm parsnip and aged Gouda

2nd course
A salad of wok-fried Jerusalem artichoke, Dupuy lentils, leek, and chervil with a poached egg and carrot crisps

3rd course
Tarte tatin of rutabaga, sweet chestnuts and home-smoked celeriac topped with mozzarella

4th course
Ravioli of forest mushrooms, pumpkin, kale and ricotta with a bouillon and foam of cepes

5th course
Goat cheese soufflé served with carrot and sage ice cream

6th course
Orange, jasmine and yuzu ice cream topped with meringue a la minute

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24.1.10

black, gold.













Above: New Year's Eve. There may have been drinking involved.

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Prepare for controversy: I like that the British don't have any problem inventing unappetizing names for their food. I mean, I know we're separated by a common language and everything, but it's almost like they derive a perverse pleasure from it.

Case in point: last night Mara made a totally delicious traditional English dessert that is basically like a hot muffin with sweet gooey syrup on top, great stuff. What is it called? Treacle sponge, something with which you might scrub your baseboards.













I don't have time to offer a comprehensive list, but: toad in the hole, spotted dick, scotch egg, clotted cream, mushy peas, etc. I'd be interested in hearing any more you've got.














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Even though we're officially on a tragic, tragic pork vacation, this looks like a perfect, possible-in-Europe pulled pork recipe.

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And meanwhile, while other people are pulling their pork, making treacle sponges and having other sorts of unbridled fun, I'm holed up in an office down the hall with this ugly-ass guitar, unshowered, unshaven, uncontactlensed, uneverything.

23.1.10

paneer jalfrezi.























Indian food is not easy. In fact, I can't think of a cuisine whose dishes are consistently more time-intensive and just generally difficult to reproduce accurately in one's home kitchen when cooking from scratch. At least in this home kitchen, with these cooks.

We just made paneer jalfrezi with raita, cardamom/clove basmati, and faux-peshwari naan, and though it really only took 90 minutes or so, it felt like a considerable effort, maybe because we were really insecure about the results until we took the first everything-combined bite. Which was pretty much tasting gorgeous like the real thing.

Thus: we try to document. Recipe in progress.

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paneer jalfrezi.

2 medium onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green Holland chiles, chopped
2 cans plum tomatoes
1 cup water
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp cumin seed
2 tsp turmeric
5 tbsp ghee

300 grams paneer, sliced (recipe to come)
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 tbsp garam masala, or another masala...we used a Surinamese masala that worked really well
1 male adult big toe-sized knob ginger, peeled
salt to taste (very important, as always)
freshly ground black pepper to taste ( a couple of grinds at least)

In a food processor, chop onions, garlic, green chile. Saute over low heat in 1 tbsp of ghee until browned, 10 minutes or so. Add 1/2 cup water and simmer for 10 minutes.

Elsewhere, zhoom up the tomatoes until smooth. Heat another pan, gently fry the coriander, cumin, and turmeric in a splash of oil for about a minute, then add the pureed tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes or so. Add onion mixture from Step One and get that good and goin'. You might need to add the rest of the water here. Simmer for 20 minutes or so.

This is the part of the recipe I'm unsure of. It seems like the ginger should be added with the garlic. But here's what we did. Zhoom up the red bell pepper and the ginger, and add to the pan along with the remaining ghee and the masala. Simmer for 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Then, eventually, you shallow-fry the paneer in yet another skillet, with coriander and cumin and salt and ghee, ingredients which are probably not in the ingredient list yet, and then add the finished sauce from above. Garnish with fresh coriander and sliced green chiles (if you like heat), serve with raita and cardamom/clove-scented basmati rice, recipe to come.

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raita.

1 cup yoghurt
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp kalonji/nigella seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
shredded carrot
1/4 cup grated cucumber
salt

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It's a pretty gross picture, but:

20.1.10

no doubt.

Hi there! Just a brief note to let y'all know that there will not be much going on here for the next week or three, for two reasons: one, and two. And: my camera finally died. I guess the amount of sand inside it finally outweighed the amount of technology inside it.

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18.1.10

recidivism.

















Above: one of the MoopCam's last transmissions from her current adventure, fish and chips in the Shetland Isles. Let's wish her a safe and relatively speedy return.

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I bought a duck today. Not a live one. It was an impulse buy, only 7.95. Roasting tomorrow morning during coffee and suitcase-packing so I have something to pick at over the next few days...

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17.1.10

brown butter victory.













Taking a quick break from slaving over a hot sampler to tie up some loose ends...

-There's a lot I didn't know about Dirk van den Broek.

-Had another meal at Lab 111 last night (and will probably have a few more since we're working in the building for the next two weeks), a great scallop and beet appetizer and an pleasant-enough snoekbaars with pappardelle. Hilly's entree was dorade with gnocchi, also fine but a bit boring. Their starters have always been better than their entrees...

-Don't have time to write properly, but thought I would follow up on the Corn-Off from Thursday.

I learned a few things: 1) I am not a baker. My performance in kitchen was a masterpiece of slapstick comedy, I wish the cameras had been rolling. By the time I got the first pan in the oven, I had dirtied approximately 40 pieces of kitchen equipment and would have set off the smoke alarm if we had one.

2) Cornbread smells great. My next project is to make a pillow out of it.

3) Both recipes were tasty, but I must say, the Best Ever Cornbread recipe from Herbivoracious might just be the best Best Ever Cornbread recipe ever. It was really really good. But: the next time I make it I'll be using a much higher ratio of cornmeal to flour to achieve something less cakey and more corny. Cause I'm a Southern Man.

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15.1.10

don't stop believing.



I've written a few versions of a post about this video, but apparently these kids are already way too famous, so I'll refrain (yis). Still...the great Neil Finn said about this group something like, "There is not a more hopeful sound in the world", and he might not be too wrong.

I've never heard the original version of this next one, and will hopefully never hear it (unless it's at the gym or the airport or the Dirk or something), but yes, how could you not like this. And check out the awesome guitar strap.



Ack! One more:



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14.1.10

close the door behind you.


















Elsewise you wake up with a yard full o' sheep. This is another MoopCam update.


head to head corn-off.




















Above image from United Loneliness in Berlin, used without permission (but with the best intentions, does that help?).

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The Berlin contingent arrives today (hopefully), and because I feel like it, I am making not one but two (albeit pretty dissimilar) not-for-purists cornbreads today, one very savory (below), and then the sweeter, brown-butter version from Herbivoracious discussed previously.

The below recipe hasn't been tested yet, but it's based on Leland Atkinson's tamale tart recipe and some comments from Bitten's cornbread post. Did I emphasize the not-for-purists part? I ain't lookin' to hear no "that ain't proper cornbread" foolishness.

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south(west)ern cornbread.

1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt, or a little more
1 beaten egg
1 and 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 poblano chile, roasted (canned would do, but make sure it's drained well), diced
1/2 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary, depending on your rosemary...mine was very harsh so i was afraid to use too much
1 tsp bottled BBQ sauce...this could maybe be 2 tsp

4 tbsp corn or other neutral oil
2 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 220°C. Mix first 4 ingredients, then add egg, buttermilk, chile, rosemary, and BBQ sauce. Heat oil over high heat in skillet until oil starts to smoke, then add hot oil to cornbread mix while stirring briskly, and immediately pour entire mix into pre-warmed and buttered baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

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13.1.10

back up.



















Above: current view from the MoopCam. And a slightly morbid one at that.

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I can't log in. On account of there's somethin' wrong with my Google cookies. Google's insides are a rocky place where my seed can find no purchase etc. etc. etc.

I mean, I can log in, eventually, but I have to type my password about 6 times, and as I've mentioned, my S key is stuck. Not that there are any S-es in my password, 'cause there ain't!!!

It could be Google's problem. Or it could be tiny_a continuing to foment a tiny rebellion. Or I could have devolved into one of those "end-users" who thinks their CD drive is a cupholder, and I just can't operate my own machinery anymore.

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What's all this tech talk about, Johnny? Well I just managed to dig up some old email from 12 years ago or so, lots of it, like 5000 messages (roughly 4300 of which are Amazon.com purchases...ah, money, how I miss you so). And the process of getting them from my one old-ass proprietary email client into my current, slightly-less old-ass proprietary email client, both clients released by the same slightly-incompetent very large company, was way way way too hard.

My point? Spend some time away from your computer. C'mon, let's all do it.

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11.1.10

belly of the beast.






















Thank the lerd above that I do not have a job where I actually have to type anything but short grunts and barks. My S key is stuck, and apparently it's quite a popular letter.

Is this weather getting to anyone else? Too much of a good thing maybe? I'm feeling a bit, meh...frowny, I guess, and I just got shampoo in my eyes, that's no help. Plus my S key as I mentioned. Also, my number 1 monkey is far away and I miss her terribly all of the sudden. Boo. Here she is, shakin' it on the Scottish tundra.

















To console myself, I've got some cooking coming up tomorrow and Thursday. Nothing crazily exciting-sounding, but dammit there's a reason that vegetarian chili is such a tired old cliché: it's cheap, perfect for an informal group hang, and it can be awesomely satisfying with the right garnishes. Sometimes it's just the right thing to do.

And right now is being one of those times! Look at that fucking enthusiasm! In the interest of making chili-cooking ever-so-slightly more stimulating, I'm looking forward to trying previously-untested recipes from Herbivoracious:
vegetarian chiliand brown butter cornbread.

UPDATE: What am I talking about? No one's chili recipe is better than mine. I started trying to do Herbivoracious's but then started doing little tweaks until I was basically just making mine (no disrespeck intended, yo). I'll be having that cornbread, though.

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10.1.10

odyssiose.

















Miss Mara endured a truly legendary travel adventure this week: it took her 40 hours to get to the Shetlands from Amsterdam. A nine-hour bus ride was involved, unexpectedly. I shall elaborate soon, but for now here she is pictured above trying to make her way out of baggage claim. Below: Mara's new naaaaaaybor. Ge(i)t it?

Really though, how many weak-ass bilingual/parenthetical puns do you see anymore? I think we've found our niche.


8.1.10

toddler recovering after chopstick pierces brain.

This is an actual MSNBC headline today. I'm not even going to read the article, it can't possibly live up to my expectations.

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5.1.10

casunziei, brown butter, poppy seeds, chives.























Felt old just now, when I didn't know what slash fiction was.

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After many fits and starts, we did make Venetian casu(m/n)ziei tonight after all. In fact, I made two different filling recipes because there were so many slight variations out there, most of them boiling down to ricotta or no ricotta.

They were both beautiful to look at, with and without. In the end, I think we preferred the ricotta-beet-potato-Parmesan-nutmeg version, but the plainer beet-potato-breadcrumb-nutmeg was more distinctive and ultimately not bad at all, unless you were in the mood for cheese. Sauce was brown butter, Parmesan, a teeny bit of cinnamon, and chives, all essential, and poppy seeds, essentiality undetermined.

After some ravioli we spent some time examining the mechanics of making ugly faces, and after that, Andy regaled us with hilarious English things Valentina has said, a list of which he keeps on his phone. She added one tonight using the words "prehensible" and "vagina". I love that "prehensible" was not even the word she really meant, she meant "prehensile", two great English words....but I leave the rest to your imaginations.



4.1.10

flickering lights.













Not much happening up in this bitch other than Mars (not a typo) coughing, snorting, and spitting constantly and me occasionally trying to caretake without contracting The Illness.

Illness or no, today boredom got the best of us. We ended up leaving our little neighborhood for the first time in 2010, heading down to Albert Cuyp for a little necessity shopping: winter hats, band-aids, etc. We were done by noon. And then the question arose: how to reward such practical industry (can you even use "industry" like this? Look it up and let me know)?

The answer involved stopping at a brand-new Maoz Falafel for lunch and: it was almost as good as I remember it.

I'm not actually complaining. Because on this subject I can sound like the kind of whiny, nitpicky criticus I would want to silence FOREVER. But I swear in this case my uncontainable criticism is all in the name of love.

Between 2001 and 2004 we ate a lot of Maoz. As in definitely more than 20 visits but less than 100, something like that. So when I tell you that they're not cutting their carrots and beets as irregularly small as they used to (I think they're not doing it by hand anymore), and that this prevents one from building the kind of densely spectacular falafels we used to excel at...it's only b/c I know what's possible when you have a variety of vegetable shapes at your disposal.













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3.1.10

casumziei.

We should make some today, shouldn't we?

Vetoed by our Pasta Department. C'mon. With beurre noisette?

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1.1.10

welkom in 2010.