On Eating Alone

It was in New York, a city of over eight million people, that I learned to dine alone.

Initially I dined with others, meeting at their suggested restaurant and suffering through an abominable meal simply to reap the relief of a smaller check. Being in my early twenties, I quickly found that my acquaintances were none too keen on spending money on food when it did nothing but deplete funds and widen waistlines. I was forced to sideline the gastronomically disinclined in favor of those who fully enjoyed savoring a wedge of Garrotxa. This of course, left me with very few dining partners and, thusly, I became my best companion. Continue reading

porkbuns0902

Missing Momofuku

When I moved to New York to attend culinary school, I serendipitously found an apartment in the East Village, the current hotbed of destination restaurants. Prune, Graffiti, Hearth and Ippudo were enticing people to visit an area that, until recently, was best known for its vegetarian fare and hippie lifestyle. While each of these restaurants is contributing to the East Village culinary explosion, there is but one man at the epicenter: David Chang. Continue reading

kale0902

Crazy for Kale

Last year it was Manchego. This summer it was heirloom tomatoes. Now, I’m totally and completely obsessed with kale. While many people shy away from its gruff appearance, I can’t seem to get enough. You just have to get to know it a little; break down its coarse exterior to find a comforting and healthful disposition. Continue reading

Birthday Boy

Chris insisted that we keep is birthday low key. No parties, no fancy restaurant and no extravagant gifts. He was less than enthused by the idea of entering his late twenties. Said he was too old for such celebratory measures.

But I refuse to believe that birthdays are just for kids. If anything, surviving another year is all the more reason to celebrate. We’re older, we’re wiser and we still deserve a slice of cake speared with a candle. And last week, I didn’t care if Chris disagreed.

In keeping with his wishes, I forwent a birthday fete. But there was nothing in the rules to keep me from cooking a celebratory dinner for us instead. Chris conceded and requested that I make several of his favorite items from the past year. And what the Birthday Boy wants, the Birthday Boy gets…even if he is in his late twenties.

duck0902

Duck with Port-Cherry Sauce

From Bon Appétit, November 2000
Serves 4

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup Sherry
4 6-oz duck breast halves
12 frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed, halved
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup beef stock
½ cup Port
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tsp water
¼ cup butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

Whisk soy sauce and Sherry in medium bowl to blend. Using sharp knife, make diagonal cuts at 1/2-inch intervals in duck skin (not through meat). Place duck, skin side up, in glass baking dish. Pour marinade over. Cover duck with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours.

Bring cherries, chicken stock, beef stock, Port and thyme sprig to boil in heavy medium saucepan over high heat. Simmer until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat heavy large skillet over medium heat. Remove duck from marinade. Add duck breasts, skin side down, to skillet. Cook until skin is crispy, about 10 minutes. Turn duck over and continue cooking to desired doneness, about 5 minutes for medium. Transfer duck to work surface.

Add cornstarch mixture to Port-cherry sauce. Bring to simmer, whisking constantly. Add butter 1 piece at a time, whisking until butter is melted before adding next piece. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

* Farro is a great side for this duck. It’s an ancient grain with tons of nutty flavor and chewy texture.

ccake0902

Jean-Georges’s Warm Soft Chocolate Cakes

From Martha Stewart Living
Serves 4

8 tbs unsalted butter, plus more for molds
2 tsp flour, plus more for dusting molds
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
2 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar

Butter and lightly flour four 4-ouce molds, ramekins, or custard cups. Tap out excess flour; butter and flour them again and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler or heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine butter and chocolate; heat until chocolate has almost completely melted.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together eggs, yolks, and sugar until light and thick.

Add melted chocolate mixture, and beat to combine. Quickly beat in flour until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the molds.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place filled molds on a rimmed baking sheet and back until the sides have set but the centers remain soft, 6-7 minutes.

Invert each mold onto a plate, and let rest 10 seconds. Un-mold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Jean-Georges’s Warm Soft Chocolate Cakes

Jean-Georges’s Warm Soft Chocolate Cakes

From Martha Stewart Living
Serves 4

8 tbs unsalted butter, plus more for molds
2 tsp flour, plus more for dusting molds
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona
2 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar

Butter and lightly flour four 4-ouce molds, ramekins, or custard cups. Tap out excess flour; butter and flour them again and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler or heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine butter and chocolate; heat until chocolate has almost completely melted.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together eggs, yolks, and sugar until light and thick.

Add melted chocolate mixture, and beat to combine. Quickly beat in flour until just combined. Divide batter evenly among the molds.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place filled molds on a rimmed baking sheet and back until the sides have set but the centers remain soft, 6-7 minutes.

Invert each mold onto a plate, and let rest 10 seconds. Un-mold by lifting up one corner of the mold; the cake will fall out onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Obsessively interested in all things culinary