December 2010


It is long since past Chanukah, but I’m not even close to being over frying. Last night I fried some brussels sprouts with bacon, sriracha, and lime, a la David Chang. And before that, I subjected my poor book club–which barely survived the heavily spiked cider—to these enormous spiced buttermilk donut holes.

not so munchkin

They’re this huge because I was lazy and used a giant scoop rather than tediously hand-shaping more reasonably sized donuts. But I don’t think anyone minded. I certainly didn’t—I love donuts of all kinds, and these slightly tangy spiced ones are among the best I’ve had in ages. Until these, I’d only ever before made apple cider donuts, with Kitchenplay, but now I resolve to make more donuts in 2011.

Incidentally, why doesn’t DC have any decent donut joints? I miss the Doughnut Plant in New York terribly. Or maybe a donut truck? We have a lobster roll truck, a grilled cheese truck, a mac and cheese truck, an Ethiopian truck, and about seventeen cupcake trucks, but no donuts. This travesty must be remedied in 2011.

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For alcohol, I’m usually a wine-and-beer girl. This time of year, though, I want even my alcohol to be warm. And if there’s no mulled wine available*, my need for warmth usually means moving into hard alcohol territory. Life is hard.

Luckily, warm apple cider is wondrously amenable to spiking. I’ve recently been enjoying it in these two ways: (1) with a serious punch of bourbon (members of my book club asked if I was trying to kill them); and (2) with the gentler and subtler addition to Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, which is replacing St. Germain elderflower liqueur as my cocktail obsession. Either one is an excellent solution for a cold winter’s night.

*I’ve had mulled beer, too, and do not recommend it.

Hot buttered bourbon and cider
From Epicurious

2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
3/4 cup bourbon
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Ground nutmeg

Bring first 5 ingredients to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; cover and let steep 15 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons chilled butter to saucepan; bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in bourbon and lemon juice. Strain into large measuring cup. Divide hot cider among 4 mugs. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into 4 pieces. Add 1 piece to each mug. Sprinkle nutmeg over.

Serves 4.

Cider cocktail with ginger liqueur
From The Kitchn

2 ounces Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
a shot of dark rum or whiskey (optional, if gentle isn’t your thing)
2 ounces fresh apple cider
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
cinnamon stick for optional garnish

Simmer cider in a small saucepan on the stove (add a cinnamon stick if desired). Add fresh lemon juice and Domaine de Canton and continue to heat briefly. Pour into a small cup or mug.

Serves 1.

My obsession with strange desserts continues unabated. Who would have thought it possible to make cookies out of basically nothing but sugar, an egg, and sesame seeds?  It doesn’t make any sense. These cookies should not exist, and yet here they are, crackly, caramelly, and delicious. I am so confused.

You can see them, right?

I think I will have to make some more of these so that I can replicate my finding that these ingredients can actually result in a cookie. It’s not that I want to make more, of course—I am compelled by science.

 

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Tis the season for roasting vegetables to within an inch of their lives. In the event that you’re tired of plain old roasted vegetables—which I don’t think is actually possible, but still—I highly recommend drizzling them with this bright, amazing cilantro-mint chutney. The original recipe has it with chicken kebabs, and I can confirm that it is also plenty delicious on a spoon. I’m pretty sure this would taste good on absolutely anything, perhaps including, say, cereal or ice cream, although I don’t intend to test that theory.

Chut-tastic

I also recommend making this amazing cilantro-mint chutney if you have mint and cilantro languishing in your fridge. Not that that happened to me or anything.

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Did you, like Felony Kirsch, find yourself forced to purchase not just one but an entire bag of sweet potatoes to make Indian-spiced vegetable latkes? Oh, you didn’t? Crap.

Well, let’s pretend that you did. And then you’d have to find some way to use up those sweet potatoes—and shockingly, you need a brief hiatus from frying things. Plus you still have Indian spices on the brain. What to do??

This is what to do.

You slice the sweet potatoes thinly and then roast the living daylights out of them, that’s what. And then, if you’re still thinking about Indian spices, you sprinkle some curry powder and salt on them. Voila: best snack ever.

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It’s Chanukah, which for many years has been for me not so much about presents as the opportunity to FRY THINGS. It’s a religious obligation to submerge foods in hot oil, thereby making them even more delicious. This is a religious practice I can get behind!

Both toil and trouble.

I scoured my bookmarked recipes looking for new delicious things to fry. (In addition to all the old delicious things to fry.)  I looked at polenta fries, leek fritters, tempura green beans, eggplant fries, and innumerable variations on doughnuts. So many choices! But as much as I delight in frying things, I was having a bit of a dilemma this Chanukah: I wasn’t planning on having any kind of party or other occasion where people would help me eat the food that I fried, so either (a) I would eat all of the fried food immediately and make myself ill, or (b) some of it would go to waste. I moped.

Finally I hit on possibility (c)—make fried food that would reheat well and have enough nutrition content to qualify as a part of a Reasonable Lunch. Those two conditions eliminated everything except Smitten Kitchen‘s Indian-spiced vegetable latkes, which, in addition to reheating well and being chock full of vegetables, turned out to be absolutely superb. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for years, and now, having finally experienced the results, I’m horrified that it took me so long.

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I am on the record as liking wacky desserts. My tastes are far tamer, though, when it comes to leafy green salads. For the most part, when I want a salad, I just go down to Mixt Greens and order a predetermined salad right off the menu—I don’t even bother picking my own ingredients, since I figure they know what they’re doing. And I have no objection to ordering the same boring salad just about every time. When it comes to salads, I’m okay with boring. It’s various kinds of leaves and chopped vegetables. This is not exciting stuff.

But I have now met a very strange salad that might change all that. It starts with spinach and chickpeas and feta—nothing so odd there—but then it veers into bizarre territory with smoked paprika? quinoa? MINT?!?

WTF salad

It’s weird, to be sure, but it mostly* works.

I’m so charmed by it that I may turn into one of those people who create such bizarre concoctions at the salad bar that the staff thinks they’ve misheard you, because no sane person could want those things together. In other words, my taste in salads may be starting to mirror my taste in desserts.

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