Tuesday, April 12, 2011

matzo brei with pear, ricotta and dried cherries

matzo brei with pears, ricotta and dried cherries

Not many of my friends actually look forward to Passover. Most of them, in fact, regard it with disdain – it’s just another reminder of even more things they can’t eat for over a week. Even my tref-eating friends feel the need to adhere to as much of the discipline as possible. “If not this holiday,” said a friend last year, “then when?”


He has a point. A week of avoiding bread and pasta (which is the least of Passover dietary complications) – might work wonders for the waistline, but someone like me always ruins a low-carb proposition. “But you can have potatoes,” I exclaim to heavy eye-rolling. So much for that spring cleanse.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

apple and fennel salad

Fennel Apple Salad

I’m convinced that smoke detectors cause more injuries than prevent them. I was making dinner last night – nothing crazy – just a simple weeknight affair: some roasted fish, some cabbage with hot sauce, some sautéed spinach that needed rescuing. Everything in this dinner cooked pretty quickly, and there was little prep work – it was simple, unfussy, satisfying fare. Andrew was minutes away from home. We were going to eat and finish dinner before 9 pm, which, on weeknights when he isn’t working from home, is an accomplishment. The world was mine for the taking.

Or so I thought. But the universe had slightly different plans for me. The smoke detector decided it was too smoky. I happen to disagree – I could see as clear as day (though Andrew might claim it was a tad smoky in the kitchen). But all was fine and good – nothing was burning, nothing was even close to burning. But a few seconds after I set a hot baked fish on the counter, the alarm went off, and because I flail when I startle (and that detector has been known to raise the dead), I accidentally, in my flailing, happen to touch the edge of the baking tray the fish was on. For a few seconds, which was all that was needed to do the damage. All the while the smoke detector was blaring and a neutral female voice was calmly informing me that there was a fire. There wasn’t. I know because I was there. American smoke detectors are such drama queens.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

homemade chicken stock

Pantry Basics - Chicken Stock

There’s no one single way to make chicken stock. Sometimes I do it with odds and ends from a chicken: wings, neck, gizzards, other random bits. But most often, and by far my favorite way to make stock – is to use 2 carcasses of roasted chickens. You roast a chicken and then you wind up with the carcass. Instead of throwing it away, you make that chicken work for you in double time. You can freeze it until you get another chicken carcass, which you then throw together with water and aromatics and cook it for a few hours. There’s very little hands-on time needed – just your presence around the house to keep an eye on the stock. The result – rich and flavorful stock you can’t get from a carton. Plus I get a kick knowing I can use one chicken for two separate purposes.

This is a great way to stretch that chicken further than just one meal. I add little salt here because I want my stock to be as much of a pure distillation of the chicken flavor as possible. Later, when I use stock to make soup, I will add as much salt as the recipe calls for, but this way I get the flexibility on how much seasoning the future soup will need.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

salad olivier

salad olivier

This is the salad of my childhood, the salad present at every family gathering I can recall, the salad appearing at every Russian banquet table I’ve ever been to in America, the salad regularly lurking in many Russians’ refrigerators.

In my family, we’ve always referred to this salad as Olivier or Zimniy (“of winter”), but in America, sometimes I see this salad referred to as the Russian salad. And though Russians eat a lot of different salads, perhaps this one wins in the popularity contest department.

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