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Archive for the ‘Entertaining’ Category

 

Strange but delicious

Strange but delicious.... Blood orange gelato in a pool of extra-virgin olive oil with mint.

 

 

I am not a huge fan of fusion… or, rather, I think it has its limits. For those masochistic souls who, like me, have read the inimitable American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis, you will recall the intentional absurdities of the characters’ dinner menus. An integral attraction in the mad carnival that Ellis creates is the nightly $300 supper of increasingly absurd food pairings, culminating in my favorite, the Cilantro Cheesecake. For those of us foodies with a wicked sense of humor, the cache of these unappetizing meals lent a bit of levity to an otherwise grizzly novel.

 

But, as usual, I digress… the point is that it didn’t take the macabre humor of American Psycho to turn me off of fusion. I’m just a bit too traditional for all of the new-fangled stuff that kids these days are coming out with.

 

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Cheesecake

 

It is a little known fact that one of my favorite movies is Gone in Sixty Seconds. I’m about as feminine as they come, but there’s something about Angelina Jolie & Nick Cage driving stick-shift, muscle cars that gets me… well… distracted.

 

Not only is the movie hot to watch, but I completely empathize with Nick Cage’s character, Memphis, when he speaks wistfully of ‘Eleanor’, a 1967 Shelby GT500 that he has never been able to successfully steal. He loves this car, craves this car, all the while it has caused him the most frustration and heartache.

 

This may be a sad excuse for an analogy, but I feel the same way about cheesecake. Making a perfect cheesecake that never cracks is a long-standing and frustrating goal of mine. The problem is the instability and delicacy of the ingredients of a truly noteworthy cheesecake. Most commercial cheesecakes are made with some sort of binder, usually flour, that gives it a bit more stability in the baking process. My cheesecake, and the ones that you probably remember as being the creamiest and dreamiest, are only made with dairy, eggs, vanilla, and sugar.

 

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Sherry Olive Oil Cake, one of the almost-casualties of my faulty planning.

Sherry Olive Oil Cake, one of the almost-casualties of my faulty planning.

 

I’ve always pictured food writers deftly administering to their culinary tasks with ease and calm, knowing exactly where everything is, never forgetting an ingredient at the store, and having a profusion of measuring cups and nesting bowls to dirty without needing to wash them. While I do believe in mise en place and do try to stay organized, this is not always the case, and I’m going to own that I make mistakes in the kitchen, some small, some enormous, and some hysterical.

The most recent near-disaster was this past Saturday. I had invited a few close friends over for dinner. PT and I had decided to spend the day shopping in Wrentham, planned to be back in Boston by 5 and home with the groceries by 5:30 – more than enough time to prep for an 8:00 meal. Well, as they say, I stayed a bit too long at the fair… I don’t want to bore you with details, but Kate Spade was having an unbelievable-we-have-a-major-recession-on-our-hands-and-have-to-get-rid-of-inventory kind of sale, and, well, it was hard to pull myself away.

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humboldt-fog

I am an unabashed cheese-lover. It makes me happy in a way that few inanimate objects can. The moment that I feel the creamy texture on my tongue and the penetrating flavors swirl in my mouth, I am transported; my worries wash away, I feel pampered, sated, and, of course, besotted. I really love cheese.

 

So when I saw a sign in my neighborhood Whole Foods market that they had lowered cheese prices, I nearly fell over in ecstasy; while I couldn’t care less about the affects on my bikini-body, at $25/pound and a notoriously short shelf-life, indulging has to be well-planned.

 

I am a huge proponent of incorporating a cheese plate into a dinner menu. It fits perfectly into the “Buy, Arrange, Cook Trinity” and is generally a crowd pleaser. But now, thanks to lower fuel and commodity prices, as well as the dollar’s more favorable position against the euro, cheese lovers can guiltlessly spring for the more majestic cheeses.

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This used to be me.... but never again.

This used to be me.... but never again.

“There are no atheists in foxholes…. or among hostesses 60 minutes prior to guests’ arrival.” It’s a slight, but accurate tweak to this controversial statement.

However pious or atheistic she may be, in the 60 minute count down before a hostess’s guests arrive, there are any number of religious outcries, Hail Marys, pleadings and deals brokered with God, if he or she will just see fit to let this ill-advised decision – to have friends and family to her home for a meal – not result in her being labelled a failure as cook and hostess. (more…)

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