Feb 102013
Fideo: A Spin through Mexican Culinary History Takes Us to the Ultimate Comfort Food

The Mexican dish “Fideo” first came to my attention several years ago, when my grandmother spoke of it while reminiscing about the dishes her mother used to make for her as a child. I’d never had it, but recently my grandma reported that she’d tried making it for herself and her youngest grandchild, and that it had been a hit with both of them. I filed it away in the “things to cook one of these days” section of my brain. (It’s right behind the amygdala.)   I’m not sure what brought fideo back to the forefront of my consciousness […]

Jan 272013
Making a Vinaigrette is Just This Easy

If you’ve been suffering the unbalanced flavors of most store-bought vinaigrette– frequently too sweet, with suspicious ingredient lists, a viscous mouth feel, and way too heavy a hand with the celery seed, (I’m looking at you, red wine vinaigrette from a certain quirky alt-grocery chain), keep reading. A vinaigrette is incredibly easy to make, and is based on a simple ratio of acid to oil that you can memorize. (Yes, that’s right– you’ll be able to whip up a vinaigrette any time and anywhere. No salad will go undressed in your presence.) And once you have the basics down, you can […]

Oct 042012
Formulating a Salsa Recipe; Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salsa

  Salsa is my go-to project whenever tomatoes are so abundant I’m not sure what to do with them all. (Which isn’t to say you must be navigating an overabundance of tomatoes in order to make it– it’s delicious even when not strictly necessary.) I’ve made Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salsa twice recently, due to a profusion of tomatoes on offer from our landlords/neighbors’ beautiful and extensive vegetable garden. This morning my inbox held a last-minute request from friends in Portland looking for a good salsa recipe. (Always a happy occurrence.) The friend that wrote said her husband needs to whip […]

Jun 252012
Summer Breakfast Bread: The Quick Bread, Reconsidered.

  Quick breads are a category of baked goods which walk a line between bread and cake; they’re called “quick” because the use of chemical leaveners (baking powder, baking soda) negates any need to add yeast, or undergo the kneading, rising, and waiting that go along with it. Holiday favorites such as pumpkin bread and zucchini bread are quick breads. Squash, native to the Americas, has been a common component in American baking since colonial times. Quick breads date back to the 1800’s, when leaveners became commercially available. I studied some classic zucchini bread recipes and then took the concepts for a new spin […]

Dec 202011
Zimsterne (Star-shaped Cinnamon Cookies from Alsace)

I first tried Zimsterne on Christmas Eve morning in 2009, having purchased a bag of the appealing little star-shaped cookies the day before from a bakery off the cathedral square in Colmar, a canal-filled city in the Alsace region of France. I had no idea what they would taste like, but found their chewy cinnamon qualities an immediate delight.  It may be true that I ate the whole bag, it being Christmas Eve– an excellent excuse for such an indulgence. I returned to the States from that holiday determined to recreate the little star-shaped cookies I’d tried.  It took a […]

Dec 112011
"The Peach Pit" - A Cookie with an Amusing Backstory

My good friend works for the Soap Network, part of ABC/Disney.  She is possibly the most hilarious person you’ll ever meet.  For the second year in a row, she’s asked for my help with her entry into the ABC employee holiday bake-off.  Now the thing about my friend is, there’s one part of her that earnestly wants to do well in this contest.  The other part of her, (the part that will lead to her HBO stand-up special at some point down the line– mark my words), means that she can’t resist, say, covering an elegant rum cake with globs […]

Jun 062011
Pickled Tea Leaves

[swfobj src=”http://indieculinary.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/pickled_tea_leaves1.swf” width=”500″ height=”400″ align=”center”]   Since I’m feeling like a bit of a pickled tea leaf evangelist these days, I thought I’d cover this topic in an early post.  Start with the quiz if you like, or read the rest of this post first and then loop back to take it. If you haven’t tried pickled or fermented tea leaves– to eat, that is, not to drink– then do yourself a favor and learn a bit about them.  By the end of this post I hope you’ll be able to discuss the cuisine which popularly uses tea leaves, identify […]

Jun 022011
Recipe Conversions

[swfobj src=”http://indieculinary.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/recipe_conversion_quiz.swf” width=”500″ height=”400″ align=”center” allowfullscreen=”false”]Recipe Conversion Quiz[/swfobj]   A Facebook friend dropped me a line recently; he told me he’d doubled a chicken recipe and ended up with so much extra liquid he was forced to both strain and reduce.  What, he asked, had gone wrong?  He was curious if I had any tips on doubling recipes effectively. As a matter of fact, I do.  Let’s talk about recipe conversion formulas, (really, there’s just one main formula, and it’s not that bad), as well as some hints and tips for multiplying or reducing recipes effectively.  I hope that after […]