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Monday, April 22, 2013

Discovery Channel Nerd...a coming out story for Earth Day

Considering the fact that I used to say I wanted to be a Prong-Horned Antelope whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, it will come as no surprise that Earth Day has a special place in my heart.

Despite my mother's kind assertions that I really could be anything I wanted to be, I eventually grew out of the ungulate phase. That wasn't without spending countless hours glued to every Discovery Channel, National Geographic or Disney special having anything to do with the natural world. My mother could probably still produce the countless VHS tapes on which I insisted having everything recorded, in case I ever want to re-live the adventure of the Outback Brumby or the excitement of the Hyenas of Ngorongoro Crater. My toys were 100% wild animals (except for the Barbies) and I spent every warm summer day "helping" my mother in the garden by playing 'Amazon Rainforest' on her tomato plants. It goes without saying that every middle school science project surrounded some obscure bovine from the jungles of sub-saharan Africa. Thanks to a bout with homeschooling, my awkward stage was spent safely in the confines of the Dorling Kindersly Encyclopedia of the Animals. My parents nurtured this passion for planet earth in so many ways; constant family hikes, an in-home recycling center, and never laughing at my four-hooved career ambitions - for this I will forever be grateful. 

The natural world was (and still is) everything to me, awesome and inspirational. I lived to learn about every newly discovered species and mourned every new mention on the endangered list. As every Earth day came around at school, you had better believe I was decked out in the latest "Save Our Planet" 90's couture, forever proud to show my spirit for Mother Earth. 

I may have traded "Wings over the Serengeti" for the Real Housewives of Atlanta (equally primitive and tragic I must add), but I am a true Discovery Channel Nerd at heart. It has been and always will be a part of who I am. I will admit to correcting someone recently on the difference between Dromedary and Bactrian camels (don't ask me why it came up) and getting a little too excited when I spotted a manatee on a recent trip to Florida, but I wear the badge with honor and today is my day to celebrate

While social media seems to have diluted the meaning by allowing for an inundation of Earth Day proclamations, I still find it heartening that despite the demands of these times, so many people still find the time to share their love for the planet on which we live.

We decided to give our nod to Earth Day through our dinner tonight. Bon Appetit's Spring Vegetable Risotto with Poached Egg (Page 90, April 2013) is both a delicious expression of the earth's bounty and a gentle reminder of the humble beginning of every living thing. I'll let you digest the metaphor while we enjoy dinner.

A few notes:

  • Choose the seasonal vegetables you like. I chose english peas simply because they are P's absolute favorite. 
  • Try poaching the eggs ahead of time so you get the nerves out of the way

  • 2 cups shelled fresh (or frozen, thawed) english peas
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 4 large organic eggs (or as many as people you are feeding)
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used water tonight)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 pound crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, whites and pale greens only, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated Pecorino
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper


  • Eggs: Bring a large skillet of salted water to a bare simmer over medium-low heat. Add vinegar. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl, then slide into simmering water. Cook until whites are cooked but yolks are runny, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water. Repeat with remaining eggs.
  • Risotto: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large, wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with the peas.
  • Heat oil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same pot over medium heat. Add leeks, fennel, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat and rice begins to look translucent, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until evaporated, about 4 minutes. 
  • Add 1 cup broth/water. Cook on medium heat, stirring often (no need to stir constantly), until liquid is almost absorbed. Add remaining water/broth by cupfuls, allowing it to be absorbed before adding more, stirring often, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite and mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total. (this is the part where the cook finishes that bottle of white wine)
  • Add spinach, 1 cup grated Pecorino, and reserved peas and mushrooms to risotto. Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Season risotto with salt and more cheese
  • A few minutes before risotto is done, reheat poached eggs in a large skillet of simmering water, about 1 minute.
  • Divide risotto among bowls and top with eggs, more Pecorino, chives, black and crushed red pepper

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gay Fishing - In Pursuit of Umami - Bon Appetit April 2013 92-94

Before you even go there, no it’s not a “move” nor is it something we do on Saturday nights at last call, “Gay Fishing” is a thing, at least P and I think so, and we want everyone to try it.

Now, I don’t mean to offend with our take on this hallmark of masculinity and by no means is this an assault on what may be the holiest of holy hetero pastimes but honestly, it is time someone put a spin on the old bait and hook.

There are 4 Tenets of Gay Fishing:
  1. It is NOT about the sport - It is most certainly about the carefully selected seasonal recipe featuring locally sourced produce and an inspired wine selection that you intend to accompany your catch.
  2. No Experience Required - You absolutely do not need to know what you’re doing, really, the less the better, you’ll enjoy it more.
  3. Stay Hydrated - and by that we mean with cocktails or mini versions of your favorite brewed beverage.
  4. Always Bring the Drama - because otherwise it’s just fishing.

You may ask, how did we come up with the Tenets of Gay Fishing? Well let me tell you a story...

Now most fishing stories begin with a line about “the crack of dawn” or something ridiculous like that. I can tell you that in the summer, the closest I get to the “crack of dawn” is an 8am skinny dip in the Vineyard Sound. So, with the knowledge that our summer mornings usually revolve around a cup of hazelnut coffee and perhaps a run (if we’re feeling bloated), you have to know that an account of a fishing trip is going to come with it’s creature comforts.

Rather than “the crack of dawn” this story starts around 2pm on the shores of Lake Tashmoo on Martha’s Vineyard, our summertime haunt as often as we can make it. The bocce game had just ended but the sun was shining and the temperature was a perfect 80. Anyone who has spent time or money (on time) on the Cape or the Islands knows you don’t waste a day like this. We’d spent the last few days in the sun on the beach and just weren’t into wasting another day on sedentary indulgence (I can’t believe I just said that) so we decided to head out on a fishing trip. 

This is where the Gay Fishing starts. First tenant of Gay Fishing, it isn’t about the sport, it’s always about the recipe and the wine pairing. In our case, we lusted after the most divine fish tacos we’d ever had at the table of our good friend Whitney. Thoughts of sea bass, sautéed in fresh tomatoes, onions, and garlic, served with a fresh jalapeño, napa & red cabbage slaw and topped with greek yogurt chipotle pepper ‘sour cream’, nestled in a warm corn tortilla and washed down with a snappy Vernaccia were all we needed to gather the mini cooler and jump into the boat. 

We piled in the Lucky Lu around 3:00pm and headed out onto the Sound, 2-dozen coronitas in hand and fish tacos on the mind, armed with a fish finder and absolutely 0 relevant fishing experience under our belts. We made our way to some of the familiar spots, Lamberts Cove and Cedar Tree Neck. Using squid for bait (gross I know) we cast a few lines. As we drifted in the wind we managed to land a few Scup. And by we, I mean everyone else, I was clearly taking advantage of the reflection of the sun on the water to try to tan those hard to reach places. Further, why we were catching such a small and ugly fish was beyond me until, of course, I was informed by P’s brother’s girlfriend, as she reeled in her 5th catch like a seasoned back water pro, these Scup were to be used as baitfish. Lesson learned, and image of my fish tacos safe, I breathed a sigh of relief and found myself growing excited about the prospect of landing a sea monster (it probably had a lot to do with the beer and the sun, but that’s neither here nor there). I decided to put my new found fishing enthusiasm to work and began to strategize about where to look for the prize fish, the striper. I drew a blank.

Second tenet of Gay Fishing; no experience or knowledge required. Plenty of Scup on board, we all looked cluelessly at each other with no clear path to the prize fish.  We pondered the legendary successes of past summers, fishing in various locations, casting a few lines, but nothing, and I mean nothing. Harry was growing weary, I was too but at least I had the Coronitas to stave off the boredom that comes with fishing failures. 

Third tenant of Gay Fishing is to keep well hydrated, preferably with something low calorie and in an aesthetically pleasing and highly portable bottle. In my case, I like the way one can cram at least 2-dozen little Coronitas in a reasonably sized cooler and still have room for the Espresso Patron and maybe even a block of cheese. I mean if you aren’t catching anything then doing shots of this potent tequila hybrid is pretty much the only way to enjoy the long hours. 

As the hours went by, sun began to set, the Coronitas dwindled, and tempers began to flare, we finally turned our attention to the break. That line in the water where the direction of the current changes and the white kicks up into the air, it was calling our name. Realizing our visions of fish tacos were quickly becoming a fantasy, we cast into the white caps with abandon. Suddenly it happened, something took P’s Scup, something big. My heart started pounding as everyone leapt into action. P was handling it like a pro, shouting to ensure everyone else would calm down, he was a vision of proficiency. He filtered out the meaningless advice we hurled his way, it was chaos. Moments later it broke the surface, a flash of silver, larger than anything I had ever seen before (mind you my fishing is limited to catching carp in the local pond). Once the beast was sighted it was all a blur, what felt like seconds later, P, H, and R were throwing the thrashing monster onto the deck of the Lucky Lu. 

That’s when the real drama began (4th tenet if you’re counting). Harry had been a quiet observer the whole time, silently watching the horizon and occasionally peeking into the bait bucket. When the gargantuan striper (later determined to be be over 39”) hit the deck, he lost it. Harry let out a shriek like we had never heard before. Part 5th grade girl and part banshee, the high pitched and sustained scream could have curdled the coolest of vampire blood. We’d never heard a sound like that in our lives, and probably never will. Mouth wide open and eyes bulging out of his head, I grabbed the poor thing in an attempt to calm him but the shrieking continued as P’s father and brother did battle with the thrashing mass of silver and scales. It was probably no more than 30 seconds before the fish was in the hull, but it sounded like eternity. Harry was breathless, we were speechless. We burst into laughter, doubled over at the sound we had just heard from little Harry. The humanoid range and guttural bass were akin to the sound one might imagine hearing from a frightened drag queen who forgot to shave on show night, it had us hysterical. It didn’t matter that we’d been at it for hours, that we were effectively hungover, nor did it matter that we had no idea how to butcher this monster - Harry had brought the Drama and brought the house down. 

I recall the butchering process to be rather revolting and undoubtedly sloppy. The tacos were delicious, but the thing we all took away from the fishing trip was an incredible story to tell, and tell, and tell again, about "Harry’s Scream Heard 'Round the Sound".

I would love to convince you the re-telling of this fish tale was born out of a lazy evening in the garden, sipping something transcendent out of the Loire Valley and being transported to the seaside just outside of Nice, but it wasn’t...You see, the temperature passed 90F on April 10th in Baltimore, so in reality this post was born standing in the kitchen in not-so-white-anymore undershirts, sweating profusely, slugging our trademark Sonics and agonizing over how to cook dinner without adding to BGE’s (the energy company) bottom line.

It was on that oppressively hot April afternoon in Baltimore that we decided to re-live the excitement of that summer day and cook up some rock fish. In anticipation of the heat, I had picked up some local wild caught filets from Fleet Street Market. P and I had fallen in love with the image of the Tarragon Roasted Halibut with Hazelnut brown butter from page 92 of Bon Appetit but wanted make a full dinner of it. I love to cook with fresh herbs so the tarragon was a must, obviously the hazelnut brown butter wasn’t going anywhere. Instead, we simply substituted the Halibut for our cherished local fish and decided that lemon garlic sauteed haricot verts were the perfect textural and nutritional complement to the main dish. Instead of roasting in the oven, we used a grill basket, lined with foil half way up the sides, placed on a hot grill to simulate the roasting process. Calling this “Groasting” is weird, so we’ll say “Grill-Roasting” as cumbersome as that may be. The rock fish ended up cooked oh so perfectly and it picked up the aromatics of the tarragon in a way I had never imagined. When drizzled in the hazel brown butter and set atop the green beans, it was a vision and a taste like I had never had before. It almost made us want to go Gay Fishing...again.


Tarragon Grill-Roasted Rockfish with Hazelnut Brown Butter


  • 1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts (or just buy chopped hazelnuts)
  • 1 large bunch fresh tarragon
  • 1 1/2 pound skin on Rockfish fillett
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Lemon halves
  • 1/2 lbs haricot verts
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thin

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8-10 minutes. Coarsely chop; set aside. 
  • In a grill rack, lined with foil half way up the sides, scatter tarragon and place rockfish (skin down) on top, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, season with salt and pepper, and squeeze two lemon halves over top. 
  • Grill-Roast on high heat until rockfish is just opaque in the center, 20-30 minutes, depending on thickness of fish. (leave the lemon halves used to juice on the grill with the fish)
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns (don't let it burn), about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let brown butter cool slightly. Stir in lemon juice, hazelnuts, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
  • Once brown butter has foamed, being sautéing green beans with sliced garlic in evoo until bright green and just beginning to become tender
  • Serve fish atop green beans, with hazelnut brown butter sauce drizzled all over and garnish charred lemon halves.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Back to Our Roots - Bon Appetit Page 97 - Guten Appetit!

As I mentioned, I come from an Irish blood. Equally present in my bloodline, however, is my German heritage. Many who know me may tell you that my Teutonic tendencies are a rather defining characteristic. While not always manifested in the most charming of ways, I identify strongly with this culture of efficiency, determination and steadfast spirit. Perhaps for that reason I have a particular affinity for the food of Deutschland and moreover all the lands the former Holy Roman Empire (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic usw.).

My family hails from a small town in Bavaria in the district of Neumarkt, this is not going to come as a surprise to anyone who has ever seen pictures of the toe headed brood from which I come, one can almost see my siblings and I running through the Alpenvorland in mini-lederhosen singing at the top of our lungs, typical...

Traditional German food, despite the lively and buxom-blonde-haired-blue-eyed-drndled-clad-in-a-biergarten culture surrounding it, is typically quite basic, often referred to as peasant food. That might also be said for the cuisine of P’s people, he is of Czech decent, and while there are absolute differences, the food of these nations have come from similar countryside and experience.

Rutabaga soup might have defined an era of hardship for many Germans and Czechs during WWI & II, but the cuisine of the former HRE is not defined by nor limited to root vegetables and cooking for subsistence alone. I know what you’re saying, “everyone loves a good sausage, who doesn't? and who can resist schnitzel? and that’s really all there is”….but that’s just not true. Now, I have to mention here, the cuisine of 21st Germany is about as varied and ambiguous as the ethnicity itself. With a population that is a true melting pot (yum cheese) of natives, immigrants, and refugees from around the globe, contemporary German cuisine is driven by the countless imbissbuden (snack shops) that line the city streets and purvey dishes from Africa to Southeast Asia  – Currywurst or Döner Kabob are about as German as Bratwurst at this point. This could lead to a whole new conversation about what is it to be a “German” today- or really a “European” for that matter - but I’ll let you think about that and get back to the food.

One of the best meals of my life was enjoyed not in Paris nor Rome, but in Berlin. Schweinhaxe, roasted skin-on smoked ham hock that takes on the texture of butter, served in the basement of the house once own by Berthold Brecht, honestly changed my life (I tell P about it all the time - eye roll). This was the embodiment of what I love about this food, savory, warm, rich, tangy, and filling - almost carnal (I'm blushing).

The food of our Czech and German heritage is about the salty, crispy skin on a pig foot that makes one moan because we really shouldn't love it so much, it’s the spicy bite of mustard on Weiswurst making the eyes water and clearing the sinuses, it is the comfort one gets from devouring a whole savory Kohlrouladen (holubky), the sexy, slippery minerality of a beautiful Reisling, the delicate aromatics of Pfeffernüsse or anise of Vanillekipferl, and the decadent buttery mouthful of Stollen (Vanoka) mit Kaffe…I could go on and on.

This is a gastronomy born from the land and its development tempered by years of war and economic hardship, so getting back to our roots means enjoying food in an uncomplicated way. Without the constraints of strict and overbearing culinary tradition, cooking this way allows the senses to take over – it allows the salt content to be a little higher, the sweet to be roasted out just a little more - this is the way you want to eat.

I was inspired to turn to the cooking of our Vorfahren by the images on page 97 of Bon Appetit April 2013, the Mustard Crusted Pork with Farro and Carrot Salad looked insane! I picked up a pork loin the next day, and threw it in the freezer, knowing this recipe was sure to make it to the plate at some point this month.

When our friend Erin stopped over one day, and while perusing our magazines, declared her love for mustard, I knew the time had come. We planned a dinner date for the following week and I started salivating. 

This recipe offered the perfect way to enjoy the food and the culture we love without venturing into the realms of heavy, more wintry dishes. The farro is a low-shame way to get our starchy fix, with less gluten bulk than pasta or potatoes, it carries a nice nutty flavor and an appealing tooth. Earthy carrots, shaved thin into ribbons, and sautéed to bring out their sweetness, lend brightness to the palate and color to the plate. Then there is the pork, crispy and spicy mustard crust is the perfect way to cut through the rich and slightly fatty nature of the meat. This is pork done simply but raised to another level, it's one of my favorite meals this season.

A few tips:
  • Buy a meat thermometer!!! Especially useful when cooking something like pork which can be disastrous if over or under cooked.
  • You can make the farro ahead of time, toss with a little evoo, and chill in the fridge
  • This would be great with a rich Riesling or Grüner Veltliner if I were to attempt a pairing



  • 1 2lb pound boneless pork loin
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1/4 whole grain mustard
  • 2 tbsp mustard powder (or as much as your pantry can spare, I love the way it holds the more viscous mustard together)
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups farro
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 pound carrots (rainbow if available, yes we're food bougy), very thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline if you own one, if not, slice VERY carefully with a knife OR use a peeler and they will be more like ribbons
  • 1 Small red onion, very thinly sliced into rings, rings separated
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped


  • Place pork in a roasting pan, salt and pepper heavily
  • Whisk mustard, mustard powder, and 1/4 cup oil in a small bowl to blend. Rub over pork, cover, and chill in fridge until you're ready to star cooking in earnest
  • Preheat oven to 425°. Roast pork until beginning to brown, 25-30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and roast until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 145°, 25-35 minutes longer, depending on thickness of roast.
  • While pork is roasting, cook farro in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 30-35 minutes; drain as you would pasta, rinse with cold water, and then toss in colander with a little evoo.
  • Whisk vinegar, honey, and remaining 1/4 cup oil in a medium bowl; set vinaigrette aside.
  • Heat 2 tbps evoo in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots and cook, tossing often, until carrots soften, add farro and onions until farro is warmed through, about 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add parsley and vinaigrette to taste; season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.
  • Slice pork and serve over farro salad.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pad Thai According to Harry

Whether it’s your last minute take-out fall back or your hangover prevention tool (always eaten standing up in your kitchen at 3am), Pad Thai is the ubiquitously over-done and over-consumed staple of the 20-something proletariat set. More often than not it’s a subpar experience, about as authentic as Dominos. That said, we are not above a huge bowl of a Pad Thai, slathered in Siracha of course, in fact it’s one of our favorite things to cook together.

While there is obvious appeal to the tangy, savory, fishy, umami that is good Pad Thai, we really make it because it’s Harry’s favorite. You may ask, how does a dog have a favorite noodle dish, not to mention sway over his Daddys’ cooking choices? Well you haven’t met Harrison...

P found Harry while perusing in search of a rescue in the “Cairn” category. We had been searching for months for just the right fit, applied for several, and met with no success. It was just another night on the sofa - watching House Hunters and berating the potential home buyers for their particular version of the unrealistic real estate expectations of the suburban American public - when his face popped onto the screen. It was love at first sight! Note: The location of these rescues can be rather confusing as occasionally the rescue organization is located in one state, while the actual animal is being fostered in another, this is relevant, I promise. We thought it over for a full second, then sent an email to inquire/apply.

A few emails later, our credentials fully verified, we had him, on one condition, we drive to pick him up in person (I told you location would be relevant). Well as it turns out, his location was not within the prescribed 50 mile radius surrounding Baltimore, in fact, not even close. Bluefield, West Virginia is about as close to Baltimore as, well…Providence RI. But it didn’t matter, we had fallen deeper and deeper in love with his little face every day that passed, constantly refreshing petfinder just to see that mug. P will kill me for admitting this, but we are guilty of texting each other his petfinder profile picture several times a dat throughout the work week (whups).

Having mapped our route, and taken vacation days from work, we woke up at 4am one cold February morning, and headed on our way. We enjoyed the scenery (and a few snacks) as we passed through Virginia horse country around the Shenandoah National Park, babbling about what the little one would be like, and what we would name him, it was all a little much (per usual). Around Roanoke we arrived on the name Houston, after Whitney (obviously) who had just passed, thanks goodness we got over that….talk about a cliché, and honestly, who would answer to “Houghy!”….

It wasn’t until we got off 81, and in the pouring rain we entered the Jefferson National Forest that the reality began to set in….we were going to be doggie parents! P immediately projected his anxiety on Gruff, as he was known at the time, panicking about his temperament or even that he might be chubbier than his profile pic - "What if he's fat?!?" (through choked back tears) I, on the other hand, worried silently about our ability to manage his needs and the demands of our work lives. Before we knew it, we were in the parking lot of a Big-K off a frontage road (I know…) staring into each others eyes and realizing….we forgot a water bowl for the 6+ hour ride home.

With his arrival imminent, P ran into the Big-K to purchase a substitute (he's so brave). While he was in the store, a pick-up pulled up, out of which stepped two people who changed our lives forever, and in their arms, the face we fell in love with a few short weeks ago. In the driving rain, I took him in my arms and he clung to me like a child, actually hugging me with those little legs and paws. I looked up and locked eyes with P as he emerged from the sliding doors and I saw his heart melt over the fox-like little nugget in my arms. We held him together for a short time, then chatted briefly with the fosters about vet logistics, before being forced into the car by the deluge. We lingered a while, hearts pounding as Gruff snuggled between us, we were speechless. He was perfect, small, affectionate (almost to a human extent) and spirited as terriers are. All our fears vanished as soon as we held him, and we started our journey home with our expanded family. I don’t recall if it was before or after the stop at 5 Guys but we glanced at the map and instantly knew his name. As we passed Harrisonburg, VA, Gruff became Harry, forever a reminder of the long journey to bring him into our lives.

Until you’ve met him, and you have looked into his sparkling eyes, seen the way he prances around the house, heard him sigh from under the sheets, or throw a sideways glance as misbehaving dogs and children often do, you really just don’t know the power he can have over a person. Harry is the light of our lives, he gives us something to look forward to after a long day of work, and provides the emotional common ground that many young couples need from time to time. He is everything to us, ask anyone who knows us (or just look at my instagram) and you will know just how much power he has over our lives.

So... I know I’ve been waxing poetically over Harrison, nearly 1000 words at this point, but this is only to provide some insight into why we call Pad Thai Night Harry’s favorite and is consistently one of our favorite things to make.

Harry is a picky eater, the sound of kibble in his bowl doesn’t even wake him in the morning. One day, frustrated by the lack of interest he was showing in his dinner, I threw him a carrot. He went nuts! Running in circles, wolfing it down, and jumping up and begging for more. Since then we’ve learned that nearly every fresh vegetable sends him into a euphoric frenzy. Acrobatics for cauliflower and singing for broccoli, Harry lives for veggies, and we can’t help but to indulge him.

So, with the carrots, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, and other veggies that abound (and fly off the cutting board) in our ever changing recipe, Pad Thai Night is a veritable smorgasbord for the little guy. While I chop and cook the veggies, P indulges Harry with his favorite morsels, eliciting barks, yelps and occasionally I swear I see a back flip. It is a cacophonous cooking experience, but we love it!

In reality, this post is not an ode to Pad Thai, but really a thinly veiled and shameless way to introduce you to Harry.

The following recipe varies greatly depending on the produce we find available, and I admit we use a pre-made sauce, but preparing Pad Thai is one of the truest pleasures in our lives and one of our favorite meals that we would be remiss not to share.

Pad Thai According to Harry
(this recipe is a loose framework from which to start)

-          1 box Annie Chun’s brown rice noodles
-          1-2 jars Thai Kitchen Pad Thai Sauce
-          2 table spoons hot chili oil
-          Fish, oyster, or soy sauce to taste (sometimes we like to add some ginger sauce too)
-          3 chicken breasts chopped
-          3 eggs beaten
-          2 garlic cloves chopped
-          3 oz extra firm tofu (we often skip this but worth trying if you feel like it)
-          1 bag bean sprouts (keep in the fridge as the cold garnish adds a fresh bite)
-          Some crushed peanuts when available in your pantry
-          1 lime to squeeze once finished
-          Veggies – All chopped to about the same size – makes cooking time easier to manage – you might also want to use the lid as steaming can move cooking along a bit
o       Broccoli
o       Scallions (greens reserved for garnish)
o       Bell peppers (use red, yellow, or orange for color)
o       Purple cabbage
o       Napa cabbage
o       Peas
o       Carrots
o       Jalapeños
o       Baby bok choy (quartered)
o       Cauliflower
o       Shiitake mushrooms

-          Heat chili oil and garlic in large wok. Once hot, add denser veggies first, stir frying until they begin to tender. Once all veggies have been cooked to just about done, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
-          Drop chicken in remaining oil in the wok and stir fry. When just about cooked through, whisk in eggs with a fork.
-          While preparing the veggies and chicken boil water and cook rice noodles for about 8 mins, drain and return to pot tossed in some pad thai sauce. (you can sear the tofu in this step if you have it on hand)
-          Once chicken is done, turn heat to low, pour noodles in wok add a little more pad thai sauce, top with veggies and work it all together. Add in the remaining pad thai sauce and any other sauces to taste and consistency you like.
      -         Serve in large colorful bowl, top with peanuts, scallions, lime juice and chilled bean sprouts.
-          Cover in Siracha and enjoy

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Anything for a Carbonara… BA April '13 Page 18

As if we really needed any reason to make pasta….Our latest episode of carb loading took place last night after I stumbled upon a readers' favorite recipe for "Fettuccine with Pork, Greens, and Beans" on page 16. While I disagree with nearly everything about it, not least of which is the complete cultural ambiguity from which it comes, the mere mention of the word fettuccine sent my mind racing toward Carbonara (naturally) and dinner.

As I am apt to do, I instantly set my mind on an idea for the the dish and became obsessed. Throwing logic to the wind, I decided Porcini infused fettuccini with the normal carbonara accoutrements was the only way to satisfy my urge, never mind that porcinis are the most expensive and hard to find mushrooms around and we have no real way to infuse anything in our small townhouse kitchen….details details….

I effectively overwhelmed, inspired, and enraged P via text with my urgent need for porcinis in the middle of the workday, but I must have been convincing as by 2pm he was dispatched for Ceriello’s at Belvedere Square in pursuit of the elusive fungus, $30 later the mushrooms were confirmed in hand.

Having procured the key ingredient to my neurotic pasta endeavor, I now had to grapple  with the reality of turning the desiccated morsels into something “infusible”. Having recently sent my Magic Bullet to the appliance graveyard, I spent the better part of the afternoon brain storming the contraptions I might be able to pull together at home to grind up the porcinis. I got as far as using a muddler, stoneware bowl, and plastic wrap as a makeshift mortar and pestle when I remembered that we aren’t the only ones who fell for the Magic Bullet infomercial appeal. I inter-office messaged our neighbor confirming his possession of such an item and problem solved!

I picked up pancetta, peas, and some parmigiano reggiano after work and headed home beaming with pride in my problem solving prowess.

Perhaps it was karma for my prideful strut home, but the process of making porcini fettuccini taught me a lesson, and more forearms are still sore from it.

Lesson Learned – Dried mushrooms take on a LOT of water when they rehydrate, and I mean a LOT, and when you powder you are increasing the absorption surface area exponentially so its even MORE water – what that means is that having added the dry mushroom powder to the pasta flour, I spent twice as long kneading the dough, added much more water than I expected, and am 1000 milligrams of ibuprofen deep as I am writing this post due to the arm workout and the extra boxed wine I had to consume in the process.

All things considered, the dish was extremely successful. We fall deeper in love with the Imperia hand crank pasta maker we got for $50 at Home Goods every time we use it, I recommend this to everyone who enjoys gluten-bombing occasionally.

We served the Carbonara in the gorgeous sage green pasta bowls P recently picked out at Fishs Eddy in NY, and enjoyed two great reds in the process –  Tuscany: ’09 Fattoria di Lucignao Chianti Colli Fiorentini & Umbria: ’10 Azienda Agricola Barberani “Polago”

The true pleasure in this dish comes from the way that the rich, cheesy, silky sauce holds fast to the fettucini to deliver both the deep earth of the mushrooms and the savory smoke of the pancetta all in one bite! 

Make this and you’ll agree it’s not so crazy to do anything for Carbonara

Porcini Carbonara At Any Cost


  • 3 large eggs + 1 large egg
  • 1 cup parmigiano reggiano (shaved or grated)
  • Pecorino Romano to taste (grate)
  • 2 cups ‘00”’ or all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • Sea Salt to taste
  • 2 oz Dried porcini mushrooms (ground into a powder)
  • 6 oz Pancetta (chopped or sliced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 ½ cups fresh peas (shelled)
  • 1 ½ cups or about ½ lbs fresh crimini mushrooms (quartered)


  • Pasta:
    • In a large bowl, combine flour and porcini powder, mound mixture forming a well in the center (looks like a volcano).
    • Put eggs, evoo, and salt into the well. Using a fork, incorporate the flour into the well, move to using your hands until all the liquid is absorbed and you have a cohesive dough ball.
    • Add water as needed and knead for 10+ minutes until dough is smooth (the flecks of Porcinis should be visible).
    • Take breaks for wine.
    • Once smooth, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for about 30mins – Then run through pasta maker to desired thickness and width.
    • Cook in salted, boiling water until al dente, about 5 mins
  • Carbonara Fixins:
    • render pancetta and garlic in a large non stick pan for 10 mins while pasta dough is resting.
    • Add mushrooms once there is a good base of fat in the pan. Add peas once mushrooms have browned.
    • Add EVOO, Salt and Pepper as needed to taste to “lubricate” the mixture.
    • IMPORTANT – try to time the completion of the fixins to coincide with the cooking of the pasta, the pasta must be strained and hot when you add the eggs, cheese, and fixins in the next step in order to get the saucy texture right
  • Putting it together:
    • As soon as pasta is strained, pour back into pot, immediately add the single egg and parm cheese, stirring quickly to create a sauce (do not let the egg scramble).
    • Once evenly coated, add the carbonara fixins and incorporate.
  • Serve with fresh ground pepper and a little pecorino romano to taste.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rough Landing - Bon Appetit April 2013 - Page 38

As the genesis of this whole monthly magazine blogging/cooking idea came to us over Bon Appetit’s April issue, it seems only fitting that is where we start this journey.

We landed in Baltimore around 8:30pm, already well past our bed time, having spent the weekend exploring what turned out to be somewhat of a culinary gem, Columbus Ohio.

The pangs of hunger already strong fueled by a stiff cocktail, we turned our attention to the BA Kitchen “Fast, Easy, Fresh” Steak and Sobe recipe on page 38.

Not only do we have a penchant for carbs, but anything having to do with Asian noodles is really a weakness for us…this seemed perfect.

By the time we collected our bags, suffered through the daily garage lines and bus trip, and finally found Stella (our car, yes it’s a cliché) we were well into a hypoglycemic rage.

P calls this condition “Carmela”  - more to come on the naming origins at some later date but this state is characterized by extremes of emotion, tending toward reactionary rage – I think you’ve all been there at some point.
Capacities compromised from the beginning, I made the first wrong turn right out of the parking garage and proceeded to circle the terminal, Carmela fuming in the passenger seat the whole time.

Prospects for Steak & Soba to come to life began to dim when I made the second wrong turn and got on the interstate that essentially bypassed any grocery store where we coul grab those ingredients we were missing….namely the steak.

Some quick thinking and daring turns later, I was back on track, Carmela on the other hand was ready to throw in the towel and order Thai.

We managed to make it to Whole foods by 9:30, and we were out of there steak and bok chok in hand by 9:35. The parking gods must have been watching out for us b/c we were parked and in the door by 9:45. I sent P immediately to the grill to get things started, as we went with a sirloin purely out of convenience at WF, which is naturally thicker than the flank steak the recipe suggests.

Like that, we were underway….Carmela now under control, we were touch down to table in just about 90mins….

“90 Min Steak and Soba”


  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 8 ounces soba (Japanese-style noodles)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or hot chili oil
  • 12 ounces sirloin steak
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 scallions, chopped whites and greens
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 heads baby bok choy, quartered
  • 1 medium carrot, shaved into ribbons with peeler
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 16 oz beef stock or broth (plus more to taste)
  • Siracha to taste (obviously)


  • Noodles - Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain; rinse to cool and set aside.
  • Meat - Heat grill to medium high. Season steak with salt and pepper and cook until well marked, about 8 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes (or as long as you can while you finish everything else) Thinly slice against the grain.
  • Veggies - While steak rests, in a large wok; add scallions, garlic, and ginger, almonds, and hot chili oil . Stir on high heat until softened and almonds begin to char, about 1 minute. Lower to medium heat and add bok choy, edamame, and carrot ribbons. Cook,tossing or covering to steam occasionally, until crisp-tender (basically until it looks like you want it to), about 4 minutes.
  • Whisk oyster sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and 1 cup beef stock in a small bowl. Add to vegetables; bring to a simmer. Add noodles once cooked, add more beef stock depending on how “brothy” you like it. Serve in large bowls with steak fanned out over top.