Thursday, December 27, 2007

South by West

Happy day-after-Boxing Day! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas time, as the song goes. Used a nifty Zipcar to go up the PQM's house, where my aunts and uncle were gathered for the usual family hilarity. I went toting 2 kinds of biscotti (the zuni cafe cookbook's cornmeal-and-almond jobs, made sans anise and avec orange and lemon zest, and some quite fabulous double-chocolate-and-pistachio ones from last December's issue of Food & Wine, the one where I modeled for Julie Powell's holiday-party story but ended up figuring only as a headless torso holding a plate of pork and salad) and multiple jars of strawberry jam, apple butter, and green-tomato relish from the farm jam kitchen. And came back with about 2 dozen pairs of socks, a plate of christmas cookies (summarily dispatched with K. to spread the cheer among the soldiers in her Nat'l Guard unit), and lots of yummy Clarins face creams to make me smell French and expensive.

Spent Christmas Eve with B. and his new wife and her family,eating wine-soaked cassoulet and playing scrabble. A new invention, though, for the non-meat eaters: pomegranate squash. A butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed, roasted with olive oil and salt, then tossed with carmelized onion, some good glugs of pomegranate molasses, and a handful of fresh pomegranate seeds. Can be served warm or room temp, quite delicious all around and very festive looking.

Then, post-xmas, much lying around on the couch in my new flannel pjs, printed with crossword puzzles! no actual clues, alas, but plenty of the familiar black-and-white squares. Park Slope being as cozy and bougie as it is, these are the best selling item at our local lingerie boutique.

But soon, we'll be departing from NYC--first for a week in sunny 70-degree Florida, then back to California! While K. goes for more training, I'll be returning to the BEST coast, to live in Bernal just a stone's throw from the Liberty Cafe (home of the best chicken-pot-pie and apple turnovers in the city), ready to bask in the meyer-lemon-ness of it all. Yippee!

Until then, come say hi to moi, your sauerkraut girl, at the Hawthorne Valley Farm stand on Saturdays at the Union Square Greenmarket from 8am to 6pm.

Double Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

2 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
4 tablespoons soft butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 TB strong coffee
3 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pistachio nuts

Whisk flour, cocoa, soda, and salt together (sift if cocoa seems very lumpy). Set aside. Cream brown sugar and butter together in a large bowl. Beat in extracts and coffee. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in cocoa mixture. Stir in chips and nuts. Form into 2 long, flattish logs on a nonstick or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 min at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven and let cool. Slice into thin cookies on the diagonal and place cut sides down on the baking sheet. Bake slowly at 250 degrees F for 20 minutes or so, until firm and crunchy. Let cool, then store in a tightly covered container.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Union Square Hello

Brrr! Baby, it's cold outside. Thank heaven for the long, lovely clawfoot tub in our temporary digs in Park Slope...And speaking of chilly, I'm working the all-day shift at the Hawthorne Valley Farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket tomorrow, Saturday. Stop by and say hello!

We'll have loads of organic breads, cookies, rolls, and sweet treats, plus pasture-raised beef and pork, organic cheeses, and fabulous lacto-fermented sauerkrauts, including my favorite, ginger-carrot. And biodynamic mache and celeraic, too.

We're on the left side, near the far northwest corner of the park, more or less kitty-corner from Coffee Shop. The farm itself, a complex comprising a livestock operation, dairy, vegetable farm, and bakery, is located about 130 miles north of the city, in Columbia County. The whole place is both certified organic and biodynamic. More about the farm here-- they also have groovy-sounding internships, school programs, and farm-camp programs.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stop the Insanity!

Step...away...from...the icing....(Poor Mr. Bill and his candy cane, stuck to the wall with lightning bolts of icing excitement.)

Book Nerd had a birthday brunch/holiday decorating party. Blame the champagne mojitos at Park Slope Frenchy bistro Moutarde (on Fifth Ave and Carroll), but a small posse of bookish types ended up in the BN kitchen, making bourbon balls and Christmas/Chanukkah cookies, and assembling and decorating this little gingerbread house. OK, let's be honest: I contributed nothing useful to the bourbon ball/cookie endeavor, except for licking the chocolate bowl and cutting out a few dreidel shapes.

But the gingerbread house--oh, the joy! What soul can't be satisfied by a plastic pastry bag oozing royal icing and a bottle of glitter sprinkles? Left to my own devices, I would have buried in the whole house in a snowy avalanche of icing swags. More icing! More!! Luckily, though, BN eventually wrestled the bag away from me, a good thing.

This was a bit of a cheater's house, because the gingerbread pieces came already pre-baked and pre-cut, so all we had to do was stick them together and then get onto the fun part. Theinstructions on the kit said ridiculous things, like that you have to wait 4 hours between sticking on the roof and decorating the house. Made from meringue powder, water and tons of confectioners' sugar, the icing set nearly immediately into impenetrable cement, so we got on with the peppermint and gumdrop action ASAP.

You can also roll the icing into little balls and create a turban-wearing Sikh snowman, if you're so inclined. Next year, a satellite dish on the roof!

Truly, though, fun (and hot buttered rum) was had by all.

Music for Gingerbreading:

"Back Door Santa," Clarence Carter
"Do the Funky Penguin," Rufus Thomas
"Baby It's Cold Outside," Ann Margret
"Santa Baby," Eartha Kitt
"Santa's Back in Town," Elvis Presley

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Winter wonderland

Snow! Number #7 on the Good Things for the Holidays list arrived this morning. As I was standing around in the kitchen, filling the coffee pot and wondering why it was so cold in there, I glanced out the (partially open) kitchen window to see...SNOW! on the fire escape, frosting the trees, sifting down over the backyards outside. It's grey and quiet out there, and December has officially begun.

More later on Bakerina's lovely surprise party, Julie's smashing walnut torte, a long walk through the city with K., and working at the Hawthorne Valley farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket...all that and more, soon. Why not now? Because half my head is still throbbing with the migraine that will not retreat, now in day #2. but soon, hopefully, I'll be back, with much to report, in snowboots!