Category Archives: we made this, and it's AWESOME! – random food creations

Grow your own veggies!

Er – maybe not like this. They are pretty, though! Maybe you want to:

1. Grow your own sprouts(Sprouted chickpeas are great for hummus)

2. Grow random crap from your pantry and fridge! (Special shout-out to potato sprouter extraordinaire Judith Ternes – you inspire us)

3. Check out Carolyn Cope‘s advice for edible windowbox gardens!

4. Find out who among your friends and family are undercover garden wizards! They’re everywhere, and they’ll definitely give you advice, probably bring you their extras, and maybe even deliver you some transplants.

Don’t forget to have fun and not worry too much! This spring, I tried to let go of my desire to read and read and read about gardening, and just gardened. It’s been great. Maybe (read: probably) I’ve made some serious technical errors, but I’m too ignorant to know the difference! And as long as I’m not perpetuating pests, I figure my amateurish behavior is acceptable. And the herbs are hard to kill. And it feels good to eat food you’ve grown. And it feels almost as good if not better to not pay $3 for a pathetically small bunch of “fresh” herbs.

Max and I threw a bunch of stuff in the ground this spring. Click on for some photos of our -likely-unimpressive-to-you-but-totally-life-changing-for-me garden! I’m practicing for my hopefully long career as a slightly senile but very proud grandmother who has impressively but inconveniently learned to use snapfish.

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Sunshine Daises, Butter Mellow

Turn my kitchen color palette yellow!

(If you’re not a Harry Potter geek just ignore me.)

Learn to make pasta.

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Sunday Farmers Market Trips and an Easy Cheesy Recipe

Since I moved to West London about a month ago, I’ve been trying to make it to my local farmers market at Queen’s Park almost every weekend.  It’s a different style of market for me  – my favorite markets back east were all about discovering and eating the incredible prepared food, from eating extravaganzas and grilled cheese happiness at Borough Market to wild mushroom risotto and salted caramel cupcakes at Broadway Market just behind my old flat.  In contrast, my new local market has some good snacks, but here it’s more about the grocery shopping  – you can buy everything from excellent free-range meat to fresh eggs to heritage cheeses to lots of local produce all grown within 100 miles of the M25.  I’ve been trying to maximize farmers market shopping and minimize supermarket shopping as much as possible, so each Sunday has been a big shopping spree to buy as much as we can for the week.

We’ve been obsessively experimenting with happy chickens – here you can see Old Hall Farm and Fosse Meadows Farm stands, both of which offer a perfect bird for a Sunday night roast with market vegetables. And pretty bunting.

Perry’s Farm and Ted’s Veg are great for stocking up on produce – I’ve been trying all sorts of fun and colorful things like green and red kale, red cabbage, Isle of Wight tomatoes, sorrel, cress, local apple and pear varieties, rhubarb stalks, and purple sprouting broccoli.

It’s all excellent quality, grown by small farmers and producers, and a great way to get involved in supporting the local community. Plus, it’s delicious.  Showing up at the market and buying whatever looks exciting is a great way to try out new vegetables and play around with different recipes.

I love broccoli, especially when it’s pretty and purple. I think it’s delicious on its own, but let’s be honest…isn’t everything a little bit extra awesome when you add cheese into the mix?

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Real Bacon, Real Excitement, and a Really Delicious Caramelized Garlic Tart. Obviously, With Bacon.

If  you’ve ever met me, you know I have a thing for bacon.

I love bacon enough for my sister and I to make an all-bacon Thanksgiving feast with 8 dishes including bacon stuffing, bacon mashed potatoes, and bacon-wrapped turkey. I love bacon enough to go to a Bacon Camp and make bacon sushi and take random photos of beautiful bacon dishes. I love bacon enough to do a 4-course Iron Chef-style bacon smackdown that included bacon chocolate and bacon cookies and have been known to make bacon cupcakes and even bacon macaroni-and-cheese cat cakes. Don’t ask. I even love bacon enough to tattoo it on my face.

So you can probably comprehend my fat-kid-in-a-candy-shop-on-Christmas-morning level of excitement when this package arrived in the mail. I actually jumped up and down and squealed like a pig.  A delicious, dry-cured British pig.

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A Tart Very Full of Vegetables in a Month of Meatlessness

A moment to savor: I am less than one week away from the end of a Month of Meatlessness.  Cue the shock. The horror! Why?! Well, after eating a few great vegetarian meals recently, my steak-obsessed boyfriend was interested to continue the trend. Out of a sincere desire to experiment with minimized meat consumption (combined with high-reaching ambition and some serious self-delusions), he audaciously proposed an entire month of vegetarianism. Within about 9 painful days, he was found ravenously destroying a blue cheese- draped venison burger at Borough Market. I, however, despite my love for all things bacon, took it as a personal challenge to finish the month without letting a piece of animal flesh cross my lips. To be fair – it actually hasn’t been too much of a lifestyle change for me.  I cook almost exclusively vegetarian at home and can be completely satisfied with a veggie entree when eating out. I only found myself mourning my meat-freeness once or twice when an entire side of smoked salmon tried to seduce me from the fridge and when an entire table of Malaysian meat dishes taunted me from a communal table while I sobbed quietly from the corner.

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Eatin’ Outta Cups: eggplant bruschetta in toasted parmesan vessels

When we put together a 10-course menu for Tom and Elise’s housewarming party, we resolved to photograph at least one of them from start to finish:

white purple

smitten kitchen

It feels good to be on top.

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Pastravaganza, and other Portmanteaux: A recipe for basic pasta dough, and a non-recipe for the craziest ravioli you’ve ever had

In the midst of our insane winter solstice kitchenfest, we performed the questionable American tradition of watching TV as a family and tuned into the Food Network’s Iron Chef America: Super Chef Battle White House. A lot of great stuff happened on the show (Michelle Obama’s numerous references to sweet potatoes in combination with her sweet-potato colored dress, Alton Brown’s almost-excessive-but-sort-of-really-great dramatism, etc). The greatest thing for me, though, was the beautiful, orgasmic looking and sounding uova di raviolo – a raviolo with an egg inside -which Mario Batali stuffed with ricotta and spinach and characteristically covered with an absurd amount of shaved truffle.

You might argue that he does a lot of things that are absurd. Especially if you are his son, who is obviously responding to his own probably forcibly donned gem-studded crocs with a classic pose for the camera: palm to forehead accompanied with expression of serious psychic pain.

But I digress. There are few things that are not improved with a fried egg with an oozy, slightly runny, richly yellow yolk. I just never thought that thing would be pasta. It was an “I didn’t know you could do that!” sort of moment. Sort of like a lot of feminist theory. Too far? Okay. I digress again, obviously.

We didn’t have a pasta roller (we have since acquired one), but we did have a lot of bicep power between the three of us (Baniel, Captain Tinyfeet, and Beanpie), so with the guiding light of Mario Batali shining upon us and our almost embarrassingly low level of experience, we started to make pasta. We also turned to Alice Waters and Alton Brown for support, and learned that we were to use semolina flour (which comes from durum wheat and is higher in protein) for a better, yellower, more beautiful and pliable dough. Some people just use AP flour, and some use a mix, but we got semolina flour at Weggie World, so we decided to go for it. We didn’t have a recipe guiding us, so we played it by ear.

We experienced failure – heartbreaking, I-guess-we-just-won’t-eat-any-dinner-because-we-don’t-deserve-it failure. But we learned from our mistakes. And also Skyped with Amin, who had actually read Alice Waters’ guide to making pasta dough. And we did way better the next time.

Our improvised pasta dough recipe and a guide to uova di raviolo after the jump. You don’t need a roller, but if you need your arms the two days after, you might want one.

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The Easiest Recipe Ever, or, (Insert “In a Pickle” Pun Here)

Pickles are just one of those things. Salty, sweet, sting-y and sour, pickles can really transform an eating experience (or, if you’re like me, they can be an eating experience in and of themselves). So, when I learned how to make pickles, I was converted – I’ll never buy pickles again. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t either…

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Community Feasting and the Best Cupcake Frosting You May Ever Put In Your Mouth

I always wish I had access to a table large enough to seat 20 of my best friends around it for an epic dinner party. I still haven’t managed to acquire such a table or a room large enough to put it in, but I got a taste of what it might be like at a great event last night called the Hub Feast.  It’s a potluck and a dinner party,  a chance to meet great people and talk about all sorts of cool food things, and an opportunity to make an unnecessary amount of insanely indulgent peanut butter cream cheese-frosted cupcakes.  What more could you ask for?

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A Night of Moulin Rouge at the Rambling Restaurant

Welcome to the Moulin Rouge Ramble, a dimly lit den of cabaret, cake  & corsets that popped up on Great Windmill Street a few weeks ago.  Hosted by the amazing word-of-mouth agency 1000heads, decorated by the creative visionary Ali O’Malley, and captured on film by the fantastically talented Mark, it was quite the evening to remember…as long as you didn’t down too many absinthe cocktails.

Come check out Mark’s amazing photos of our ephemeral Parisian creation filled with candlelit erotic poetry, beef bourguignon,  fishnet stockings and freeflowing champagne…

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