midnight cowboy.

We're trying a new twist on things around here: I've turned over the kitchen to Mara for a while, and she's cooking from My Recipe Box (MRB from now on) on Epicurious.

If you're not a dork like myself, then you don't know that MRB is a place where you can save any Epicurious recipe so that you don't always have to sift through their 142 salmon recipes when you're looking for the two useful ones.

The slightly interesting thing about my own MRB (VDuck's) is that I started using it all the time pretty much the day Epicurious implemented it, which must be 12 or 13 years ago. I filled it with say 300 or 400 recipes, and then I stopped using it in around 2003 or so, probably around the time Mara recovered from her thyroid explosion thing and our cooking started to become what it is today.

So it's a snapshot of a specific window in my/our development as a food geek(s), as well as a reminder of pre-celebrity chef/foodblog food trends, which is revealing in terms of some of the wrongheaded messes produced by late 1990s fusion cooking in America.


I re-engaged with MRB over the 2010 holidays b/c it's invaluable for highlighting the promising candidates in each year's glut of Thanksgiving/Christmas/Kwanzaa/etc recipes. Frankly I couldn't believe they still had all my old recipes...who does that on the internet, keeps your personalized shit for 12 years? Hell, those fuckers at Hotmail used to delete your email account if you didn't sign in for a couple months.  Your EMAIL.

Anyway, I weeded out some shit I knew we'd never cook, and added some new things, and now Mara's using it as a source of inspiration. Tonight's score was 1-1. Above, the thoroughly repeatable Mango and Radicchio Caprese with Basil Vinaigrette from 2008.

A pretty genius winter salad, the mango is amazingly at home here, and so much better than a January tomato. Mara also threw arugula in there for some midrange bitterness, and I think it rounded everything out. Everyone should make this: a useful example of practical, understated fusion. Plus, it's pretty: you know that if a salad looks OK under our dining table lights and with my food styling/photography skills, in real life it must be gorgeous.

The unsuccessful recipe was 1995's Grilled Sirloin with Anise-Basil Butter, an example of ill-conceived fusion. I think the idea was maybe to bring in some of the flavors from Asian cooking (five spice + basil?). Although the anise-basil butter was really good, we wouldn't make the steak again as written. The butter plus the pepper-anise crust was a simply anise overload (snicker). And then they recommend you serve it with grilled fennel. Ah, the 1990s.


Looking towards the future. Peepin at the "highest-rated" recipes in my MRB, this selection could make a pretty stimulacious little winter dinner party menu itself, couldn't it. If we ignore my current dietary/budgetary requirements I mean.

Parsnip and Pear Latkes.
Ribeye Steaks with Arugula Oil w/Ricotta Whipped Potatoes (using a different recipe for the potatoes).
Rosemary and Brown Butter Applesauce.
Endive and Gorgonzola Salad.
Grand Marnier Souffles with Creme Anglaise.


Below: our new pets, plastic jellyfish.


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