French Onion Crostini

A friend told me he’d made French onion soup recently. I got jealous. That warm, salty broth topped with molten cheese sounded like the perfect remedy for a lazy night in the freezing cold. But I had a potluck to go to, and little time to whip up a batch of hearty beef stock. Plus, I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to bring twenty-some individual oven-safe bowls to the party, but I knew that my friends would love this … Read More

Sichuan Fish Stew (Shui Zhu Yu)

If you’re familiar with the dry-style stir-fries of Sichuan cuisine — Kung Pao chicken, or beef with cumin — this is its soupy antithesis. Translating literally to “water-cooked fish,” it’s fish slices gently poached in a not-so-gentle broth. No, it’s not just water in there. Infused with dried chilies, Sichuan peppercorns and chili bean sauce, it’s a tingly, vermilion bath loaded with slivered vegetables like cabbage and celery, flavors melding. And because of its stew-like consistency, it’s perfect for winter … Read More

Egg Curry with Butternut Squash

It occurs to me that this might as well be named Butternut Squash Curry with Eggs. But I was inspired by the notion of making egg curry, a staple peasant dish of India that can incorporate as many spice blends and vegetable additions as to envelop winter squash from a foreign terrain. It is a decidedly vegetarian main course in a distinctively vegetarian (and vegan)-friendly cuisine, and I first learned about egg curry from reading short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, … Read More

Cannellini Stewed with Tomatoes and Pancetta

It’s more filling than a mere tomato sauce, but just as easy to make. I like to make versatile dishes in the winter; things that can keep well in the fridge, and keep on playing new roles well, too, albeit of a similar character. It’s not the Meryl Streep of foods, I guess: this bean and pancetta-studded tomato sauce wouldn’t exactly make a drastic turn in, say, Vietnamese cuisine. But it does wear many hats quite deliciously keeping within a … Read More

Fennel, Apple & Onion Relish

I wasn’t sure what to call this condiment — it is a jarred, preserved sauce (so it could be called simply “preserves”). But it doesn’t have to be; it could also be used immediately, like any old sauce. It’s sweetened with sugar so it could be a jam, but it has enough savory complexity to qualify (I think) for a chutney. It also has a strong dose of vinegar so it might as well be an agrodolce — the tangy, … Read More

Mushroom Eggs Benedict with Not-Hollandaise

Here’s a breakfast that won’t put you right back to bed. I love Eggs Benedict, in all its drippy, sticky, bread sop-worthy mess. But I rarely bother to make Hollandaise sauce, which is poured liberally on top of the open-faced sandwich. For practical reasons, it’s fussy and complicated to make; and you’d have to make a bigger batch than suitable for just one serving, since it requires at least one egg yolk. And since I’m already having runny, poached eggs, … Read More

Spicy Korean Chicken Stew (Dak Dori Tang)

There’s a dish like this in every culture: chicken curries, coq au vin, chicken paprikas, tagine chicken, red-braised chicken, chicken mole. The list is endless. You braise some chicken with tasty stuff. Scoop it ’til the last drop. Feel better. Sleep better. Be a better person. You know the deal.

Spinach and Cheddar Cornbread

It’s all about balance. Sweet and savory; healthy and buttery; light and fluffy, and somewhat dense and gritty. That’s what good cornbread is all about. You could see it as a series of contradictions, of too many conflicting elements trying to work together at once. Or you could try to keep it all in check, to each his own place in this small casserole dish, a miniature world that’s really not that hard to govern over, when you think about … Read More

The Apple Pie Cake (and a few warnings on working with fondant)

posted in: Desserts, Recipes, Regrets | 1

Last weekend was Karol and Dave’s wedding. And Karol — as evidenced by numerous blog posts chronicling her bake-off victories — is a master of making apple pie. The perfect golden crusts, tall mounds of apple-y ooze, and her signature crimped, lattice-woven tops, were the delight of many parties she has treated myself and friends to throughout the years. I wanted to honor that at her wedding somehow. But a wedding must have cake.

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