Thursday, September 3, 2015

woodbury kitchen: a review.

Up until last week, it had been two years since I had last visited Baltimore.  The last time I was there, I ate a lot of pretty (ok really) good bar food (the kind of stuff you should be eating on Football Sunday).  It was satisfying food - the classics done right, but it wasn't something you would necessarily go out of your way for.   

It appears, a lot can change in two years because Baltimore has turned into a bit of a destination.  The food scene is changing.  Restaurants focused on local, seasonal, regional cooking are beginning to pop-up and the restaurant that seems to be spearheading these changes is Woodbury Kitchen.  I first read about them in a post that popped up in my Instagram feed about a year ago.  They were making the kind of food I love (seasonally focused small plates) and for that reason it was added to my ever-growing list of places to visit.  

I took myself to dinner there last Monday, and for a Monday evening, in the middle of August, during a torrential summer rain, this restaurant was packed.  They hype and fervor around the restaurant is worth it.  They are doing some pretty incredible things - looking at the history of food native to the area (Crab! Rice!) and making it modern.  

But, there was one dish that below me away - their eggplant caponata.  A whole baby eggplant was roasted until tender and topped with tomatoes and roasted garlic.  It didn't mess with the classic too much - instead it elevated it and made it something new and incredibly memorable.  It made me wonder what else the kitchen is capable of.  

I will be back because I need to eat more of the menu (which is why Tyler will be coming) and really dive into what they are doing, but what I saw, I liked a lot.   Baltimore, I have a feeling we will be seeing more of each other.   

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

industrial chic.

Industrial chic gets me every time.  

I love the idea of an armoire in the kitchen.  It's the perfect unconventional pantry (especially if painted black and paired with open shelves).   

Love this kitchen. Laure joliet | VSCO Grid.: Love this kitchen. Laure joliet | VSCO Grid.

Image via Pinterest.  

Monday, August 31, 2015

green chile corn pudding.

I'm in a bit of a food blog rut.  Or maybe it's just that I need a vacation.  I'm not sure which it is to be honest.  It's not that I haven't been cooking, I have been, a lot, but sometimes I don't see the point of photographing everything and finding new ways to say how utterly amazing a dish is.  Sometimes I make something incredibly satisfying but it's too dark out to get a picture or the pictures are bad or I just don't know what to say beyond "THIS IS REALLY GOOD" and I ask myself if it's even worth blogging about it.  I look at other food blogs that feel like actually works of art and I wonder how the hell these people have time to produce such stunning images and write detailed accounts of a life that sounds far more perfect then mine.

Having a blog is exhausting.  You give so much of yourself and you wonder what it is that you are getting back in return.   When I started this I never had a clear end goal.  It was just supposed to be a creative outlet.   A place to document everything.  But if it no longer brings joy is it worth it? Yesterday I gave up an 30 minutes of sitting outside in the sun drinking a beer to go inside to photograph food.  I'm not sure if that's a good use of my time.

Tyler and I leave on Friday evening for a Pacific Northwest roadtrip and I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am.  I think a change of scenery, exploring some new cities, walking around with no formal destination, and trying new restaurants will be restorative.  It will hopefully reignite my passion for cooking (vacations and trying new things tend to do that).

But until I jet off across the US, let's talk about corn pudding.  Specifically this Tex-Mex version or corn pudding which is like the summer version of mac and cheese.  Mac and cheese, as much as I love it, is not something I enjoy eating on 90 degree August days.  But corn nestled in a cornmeal custard base with chopped poblanos and just enough cheese to make it feel indulgent?  That I can get behind.  The leftovers are utterly amazing for breakfast the next day - especially if you put an egg (and some avocado) on it.  

Green Chile Corn Pudding
Recipe adapted (barely) from the Homesick Texan

3 Hatch, Anaheim, or Poblano chiles
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 ears of corn, kernels removed or 2 cups fresh corn kernels
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnishing
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack or pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup half and half

Roast the Hatch, Anaheim, or Poblano chiles under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place the chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tight and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes. After the chiles have steamed, remove from the bag and rub off the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and dice.

When the chiles are ready, preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large ovenproof skillet, preferably a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, on low heat melt the butter. (If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet, lightly grease a 9-inch square-baking dish for the pudding, and melt the butter in a saucepan.) Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat and swirl the butter around the base of the skillet and the sides to lightly grease it.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the diced chiles, corn, garlic, cilantro, salt, cumin, cayenne, melted butter, and 1/2 cup of the Monterey Jack cheese. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in the cornmeal and baking powder. Whisk together the eggs and half and half, and then pour them over the corn. Stir until everything is well combined.

Pour the corn mixture back into the skillet (or a baking dish if using that instead) and sprinkle evenly over the top the rest of the cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the custard is set. (The color may be a little lighter in the center, but that’s okay.) Allow the pudding to rest int the skillet for 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro before serving. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

peach crumble slab pie.

I feel really bad that I don't have a picture of the final product but it's been one of those weeks.  The best I can offer you is this picture which you will hopefully find just as enticing as a photo of the end result.   (UPDATE - I was able to get a picture of the last slice!  See below.)

I've developed somewhat of a love affair with slab pie.  I like that it's portable and capable of feeding a crowd.  It just begs to be consumed on a blanket in the middle of the park.  And a peach pie slab pie? Well that just says August.  

This one is absurdly good.  6 POUNDS OF PEACHES get nestled in a buttery crust and topped with a spiced crumble.  It's an epic pie perfectly capable of feeding the masses and an incredible way to close out the summer.  

Peach Crumble Slab Pie
Recipe from the NYTimes

So!  I halved the recipe (it halves brilliantly).  In the original recipe it stated it serves 12-16 (for a 9x13 pan).  I think I would serve closer to 18 - 24.  I guess I like dainty pie slices?    

For the Crust

2 ½ cups/300 grams all-purpose flour, more as needed
¾ teaspoon/4 grams fine sea salt
2 ½ sticks/10 ounces/285 grams cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water, as needed

For the Filling

6 pounds ripe peaches, nectarines or a mix, pitted and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 ¼ cups/135 grams packed light brown sugar, more to taste
⅓ cup/50 grams instant tapioca
Zest of 3 lemons
3 tablespoons/45 milliliters fresh lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons/5 grams finely grated nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon/5 milliliters vanilla extract
1 teaspoon/6 grams fine sea salt

For the Crumble Topping

1 ½ cups/180 grams all-purpose flour
1 cup/200 grams packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons/10 grams ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons/3 grams ground ginger
½ teaspoon/3 grams fine sea salt
1 ½ sticks/6 ounces/170 grams unsalted butter, cubed

In a food processor, briefly pulse together flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (6 to 8 1-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until mixture is just moist enough to hold together. Form dough into a large ball. Wrap with plastic and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Using a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll out dough to an 11-x-15-inch rectangle, dusting with flour if dough is sticking. Fold dough in half and transfer to a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Carefully press crust into the bottom of the pan and completely up the edges so it’s flush with the top of the pan (you don’t need to crimp the dough). Return crust to refrigerator while you prepare the filling and crumble topping.

For the Filling: In a large bowl, toss together peaches, sugar, tapioca, lemon zest and juice, nutmeg, vanilla and salt. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and add a little more sugar if needed.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 425 degrees. Place a large rimmed baking sheet on the oven floor to preheat. Arrange one oven rack on the lowest position and a second rack in the center position.

For the Crumble Topping: Whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Mix in butter with your fingertips until mixture is uniformly moist and comes together in large clumps.

Spoon filling into crust and top with crumble. Move baking sheet to the lowest rack and place pie on baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Move baking sheet with pie to the center rack. Continue baking until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Note: Measurements for dry ingredients are given by metric weight for greater accuracy. The equivalent measurements by volume are approximate.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

latest obsessions.

1 - This plate (or should I say set of plates) which may be the greatest antique find of my life.  When Tyler took my to Hudson, NY for my Birthday earlier this summer we visited the Rhinebeck Antique center on our way back home.  As a child I hated antique shopping but as an adult I'm happy my parents instilled in me a love for old things.  These plates were spotted in one of the booths and they are everything I love.  Gold and black marble? Can I get a hell yes?  

2 - Superiority Burger.  This post says it all.   

3 - I've developed an absurd obsession with Podcasts.  Most conversations with Tyler now start with "So I was listening to a podcast and...".  Current favorites include Slate's Working which is all about people's jobs and what their day to day looks like and Start-Up which gives an insider look at starting a company.  

4 - These JCrew tank tops which are the best tank tops I've come across in a long time.  Thicker cotton, breathable, and versatile.  What more could you want?   

5 - Tyler and I started the latest HBO miniseries Show Me A Hero and so far we love it.  It's by the same director as the Wire (BEST SHOW EVER) and is all about the building of low income housing in Yonkers in the Eighties. Incredibly interesting and very well-done.  

6 -  My favorite look as of late is a sparkly over the top earring with jeans and a tee-shirt.  If you are looking to copy the look, might I suggest these

7 - The Bon Appetit list of top 50 restaurants.  My food list for Portland and Seatle was long before, it's even longer now (must walk 10 miles a day).  Super excited to see a couple from Maine as well (Tandem Bakery is one of my personal favorites as evidenced by the fact that I made my in-laws go there to buy me more of there amazing banana bread and chocolate chip cookies).  

Monday, August 17, 2015

kale and peach salad.

Besides a pool, the thing I long for most come summertime is central air.  Central air spoiled me because IT IS THE GREATEST THING EVER.  Window air-conditioners just don't satisfy the way air pouring out of a vent from a wall does.  And unless you are one of the lucky ones to have access to such a luxury, you don't turn on the oven during that summer stretch of awful sticky and humid 90-degree days.  Trust me.  There is nothing worse.  

For that reason dinner becomes a series of meals centered around raw and refrigerated food.  It forces you to get creative.  Salad creative that is.  I can't even begin to tell you how many ingredients I have tried throwing into a pile of lettuce.  There have been some misses, but for the most part salads are pretty forgiving. The real fun is when you hit upon a combo that just works.  The salad itself becomes satisfying and you find yourself eating the entire platter.

There is no formal recipe for my new favorite but the beauty of a salad is it shouldn't require you to be precise. This one takes full advantage of the August farmers market bounty and is a nice way to incorporate those crazy good peaches in a savory way.   

Kale and Peach Salad

I'm one of those people who likes a lot of add-ins (this is why I always have a high proportion of toppings to actual Fro-Yo).  Feel free to use the lesser amounts of pistachios and blue cheese if you are not as topping happy as me.  

Serves 2 as a meal  

One small bunch of Dinosaur kale, center ribs removed and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 peach, washed, halved, pitted and thinly sliced
1/3 - 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (the best is Jasper Hill's Bayley Hazen Blue)
1/4 - 1/3 cup pistachios
1 tablespoon pepitas 
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar + additional for drizzling at the end
2 tablespoons olive oil + additional for drizzling at then end

Place the kale in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Toss with the olive oil and sherry vinegar. Let sit for a couple of minutes and then spread on a platter.  Top with the sliced peach, blue cheese, pistachios, and pepitas.  Season with additional salt and pepper and drizzle some extra olive oil and sherry vinegar over the top.  Eat.