Archive for October, 2008


Bread and Chocolate

   Posted by: Livia N    in experiments, Food, hot chocolate, restaurant, Review

For breakfast this morning, I had spelt bread from Metropolitan Bakery. I had expected it to suck, but it didn’t.

Question A: If you thought it would suck, why did you buy it?
Answer Q: Because they were sold out of the one bread I know I like – pumpernickel – and that one was oddly tempting. It’s a grain Romans might have used, you see, so it’s like academic curiosity. Plus there was a cute guy behind the counter who was lobbying for me to try that one (after I flat out turned down the raisin walnut bread). And it was the only one that came nested in a cute wooden cradle probably made the the same people as my friend bought for the favors at her wedding. So irresistible, really.

Question 2: Why did you think it would suck?
Answer: Well, it just sounded a bit like lead. And possibly dry. And unbearably healthy. The kind of thing that would leave my colon scoured clean – and knowing it. And so Metropolitan Bakery isn’t reliable about providing satisfying bread. Their semolina bread (one of my favorite breads elsewhere) is a bit dense and dry and healthy tasting, and does not have the special semolina flavor that, say, Di Bruno Brothers’ does.

I should not have doubted. Because, apparently, the one thing Metropolitan Bakery does really well with their bread is make dense, healthy breads. But it was also a soft, squishy, and rich bread. It was nutty and delicious on its own, but it was even better topped with honey butter (softened butter that I thoroughly mixed with Buckwheat honey [scroll down on that page to get to the entry on Stagecoach Apiary]).


After I finished that tasty breakfast, I did laundry – and figured that since it had all fit in one load, instead of two, I’d pop over to the new coffee shop next door and check it out.

Hot Chocolate: Ghirardelli intense dark chocolate syrup, steamed milk, topped with whipped cream, and swirled with more syrup.

This guy understands fancipants hot chocolate.

And he was all sweet about me only having $2.50 instead of the $2.75 for the small (since I just had what I didn’t need to convert to quarters for laundry – I’d just been planning on looking).

Aside from several exciting coffees, they also have Cuban Tapas – which means they’ll heat you up an empanada, but they looked like very good empanadas.

And then as I was leaving, the name of the coffee shop registered – Cafe ClavĂ©.

Hey, wait a minute, back when I first moved into my apartment, this location was called Cafe ClavĂ©. It was run by the son (Gooch) of the owner of the building. So I went back and asked if it really were the same place and if he were the same guy – and it is! and he is! This’ll be awesome!

It will be especially awesome since I have missed the occasional drum circle they’d have outside the coffee house that I’d be able to hear from my apartment (Not everyone likes that kind of thing, but I thought it was wonderful and kept hoping the Green Line would attract some of the same drummers).

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food list

   Posted by: Livia N    in Food, lists, Recipe, salad

food I have
5oz package of lettuce
brussel sprouts
2 small/medium zucchini
4 limes
1 lemon
1 red and 1 orange aging bell peppers
fennel (fronds and half a roasted bulb)
hot peppers galore
4 chinese eggplant
1/2 pound snowpeas
chinese broccoli
coconut milk
6 Seckel pears
red and green tomatoes
1 onion
2 apples
2 butternut squash – still maturing

3 ounces chicken, cooked in green curry paste and coconut milk
jam jar of condensed chicken stock

cooked brown rice
loaf of spelt bread

so what am I going to do with that?
Wednesday, October 29
Salad. Because a) I had 2 croissants today, so I’ll want something filling that’s not too high on calories; and b) While the lettuce looks good on the outside still, it’s already old enough that the center is a mess of badness. I am only expecting to salvage 1 salad worth of greens. So what else? I should use the fennel… so that should go with fruit, I think. So pears. And fennel. And Almonds. And some slices of raw zucchini. Why not? Maybe the dressing should have lemon zest and/or juice… and pomegranate molasses… and that’ll be pretty tart, so honey and red wine, both. And then a vinegar… white wine balsamic. Any spices? little bit of nutmeg, probably a clove would be too strong… nor 5 spice because that already has a licorice flavor. Ummm… Cheese! It needs a gorgonzola. I only have cheddar in the house right now. So between now and when I go home, I’ll need to decide if it needs a cheese enough to stop at a store and buy some special. With spelt bread on the side.

ETA: So the salad turned out delightful, so I thought I’d revise with that I actually did. No fennel. No zucchini. No pomegranate molasses. No gorgonzola. So a little different from what I planned. On the other hand, the salad greens are in pristine condition, so I foresee another salad in my future.


Main body of the salad
spring mix (and I hate to admit it, but I’m liking the lettuce I get in the spring mix packs from my local supermarket more than I like the mix in the packs carried by whole foods – yay, canada)
snow peas (so crisp – I was walking by the produce vendors in chinatown and had to stop when I saw the pretty peas. It’s good to know that they actually are as good as they looked from a distance)
2 pears, cut into quarters, the core cut out, and then halved across
thin slices of my garlic and chive cheddar
toasted almond slivers
and slices of a red jalepeno pepper (no seeds)

1 tsp red wine (Manischewitz, as always)
juice of half a lime
2-3 tsp white balsamic vinegar
…and then I didn’t want to use honey. It just didn’t feel right.
So I made a simple syrup from the lime-and-grapefruit-zest-infused sugar I had lying around the house. And I added that until the dressing tasted right – about 4-5 teaspoons

And the pears I don’t use, I could just trust that I’ll eat them all up – not a hardship. Or, I could try to pickle them out of curiosity.

Thursday, October 30 – I’m working 9-5 this day!
If I wake up early enough, there should be breakfast – stone ground oatmeal with brown sugar, apples, dates, and a splash of cream. I’ve been wanting it for about 4 days now, and I finally have the pot clean and the apples ready. In fact, all of the ingredients are already laid out together on my counter just waiting.

Dinner – Since I have pilates 5:45-6:45 and belly dancing 7:30-9pm, I think I’ll try to get out during the break and grab one of the famed vegetarian hoagies at Fu Wah.

Friday, October 31 – wear a costume to work?
8:30am pilates
do laundry!
breakfast – sweet sticky coconut rice (try making it with saffron!)

dinner – If the bell peppers are still good, they’ll need to be used up next. And I have snow peas. And eggplant. Maybe half of the snow peas and 2 of the eggplants… with thai green curry and coconut milk. Top with slices of red jalepeno.

Saturday, November 1
breakfast – bacon, onions, and brussel sprouts – seasoned with mustard, fennel, and nutmeg. Give it a taste, maybe add a tomato and/or poach an egg on top. And serve on slices of spelt toast.

Make stock.

dinner – using up the rest of the eggplant and the zucchini. Oh, and probably snow peas as well. I’d usually go asian with that… but I how about italian? Something primavera-ish? Huh – I might still have some homemade pesto in the freezer. OOooo! I know I have some ice cubes of cilantro. How about putting it on soba noodles and making it, still asian inspired, but not what I usually cook. I can think about this for a bit.

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New York People

   Posted by: Livia N    in travel

It looks like my aunt’s apartment might be full on the weekend of November 9th, and I’ll need somewhere to sleep.

The reason I’m not staying with my grandmother is that I have a lot planned that weekend, and she’ll end up worrying about me getting home late.

Plus, I am hoping to stay somewhere closer to the 92nd street Y than Battery Park. This would be especially helpful Sunday night (and then I can leave bright and early Monday morning).

my schedule for that weekend

  • morning – Chocolate Show – starts 10am – 711 12th Avenue and 55th Street
  • evening – The Seagull – starts 8pm – Walter Kerr Theatre, 219 West 48th Street


  • morning – spending time with ex. Had planned to go to the Met because it’s close to my aunt’s, but that can change – open hours – 9:30am-5:30pm
  • evening – Neil Gaiman – 20th Anniversary of Sandman – 7:30pm – 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue
  • – (note: this event does not seem to be sold out!)

And, yeah, I have no idea whether the Neil Gaiman thing will be a 2 hour event or a 4 hour one, so that’s why I’m not sanguine on hopping on a bus right after – or trekking way far downtown.

If you can’t help, do you know anyone who can?


More miscellany – betrayed by greens

   Posted by: Livia N    in dubious, Food, non-vegetarian, Recipe

What happens when broccoli rabe goes off
Broccoli rabe, rapini, whatever you want to call it – it’s pretty tasty. And I picked up a bunch the last time I was at the farmers’ market.

So I’ve had broccoli rabe go off once before, and you could tell because the stems got hollow and squishy.

Well, this one was pushing its lifespan, so I checked that and it was fine… possibly because these had been well trimmed by the woman selling them. I also smelled them because I remembered that there had been a cleaning solution kind of smell to the leaves, and I did not detect anything off.

So I went ahead with preparing a delicious meal.

First, I browned a slice of bacon until is was very crispy.

In a pot of water, I boiled a link of turkey sausage I pulled out of the freezer.

When the sausage was cooked through, I pulled it out of the water and pulled off the casing as soon as it was cool enough to handle. Then I sliced the sausage into 1/2″ thick rounds, and put it in the bacon fat to brown.

I also added an onion (cut in half and then sliced), some sliced garlic, and two jalepeno peppers (cut off the seeds and then sliced). Oh, and some sliced bell pepper, too.

Then into the pot of water, I dumped 2 ounces of rotini pasta and brought it back to a boil.

About 3 minutes before the pasta would be ready, I added the stems from the roughly cut up broccoli rabe.

About 1 minute before the pasta would be ready, I added the leaves and buds.

Splash some of the pasta water over the leaves to help them wilt and to add a little more liquid to the dish.

Drain the pasta and then dump the noodles in with the sausage and veggies.

I cut up and added some fresh herbs: fennel sprig and basil (and there might have been a leaf of sage or two)

I put up one portion for freezing, and I poured the rest into a bowl and sprinkled with cheddar from the farmers’ market.

And then two bites in, I got this overwhelming taste of ammonia. URGH!

This would have been a great dish, if the broccoli rabe hadn’t gone off.

Let this be a lesson: eat your greens, and eat them promptly!

I least I had already nibbled on the bacon while making the dish.


So there’s pretty much 1 recipe for green tomatoes (fried, fried with cheese and tomato sauce, fried in pie, totally fried), but there are a ton of recipes for tomatillos. And, to me, they taste pretty similar.

Can you think of any reason why I shouldn’t try tomatillo recipes with my green tomatoes?

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Assorted Miscellany

   Posted by: Livia N    in Recipe, soup

Have satisfied my lingering craving for fish.

Someday I’ll have to figure out a good place to buy fish on a day when I’ll be headed straight home after I hit the place – and then I’ll just have to suck it up and start cooking it enough to get comfortable with the process. At least I like fish in a wide range of donenesses.

There was all you can eat sushi last week and then salmon when I went to see my grandmother over the weekend. The visit went well. Sadly, we weren’t able to schedule a bridge game.


Chinatown bus went smoothly this time. On the way back, I even had a pair of seats all to myself. I have discovered that a pomegranate, despite being weird, is the best buss food ever… well, if you’re me: because of the way the sectioning works, you can pop off a chunk at a time and put the rest in a container; it’s a filling food that takes a while to eat, so it can fill the entire chunk of time between boarding and getting on the Turnpike without filling you up; picking apart a pomegranate satisfies all of those obsessive urges like wiggling a loose tooth and figuring out just the right angle for slow pressure that will pop the section off cleanly while crushing the fewest peripheral seeds – almost as good as a video game; and it’s all kinds of feminine mythological, so there.


I am still trying to finish the worst book on Roman food I have ever read. I skipped half a dozen chapters in the middle because I just can’t stand the writing, but I want to finish it so I can write up a proper review… and you never know that he won’t same something fascinating as soon as I stop looking.


So when I was getting dressed yesterday, I decided I wanted to check and see whether or not my professional-wear would still fit, so I tried on one of my newest acquisitions – a black/white checked skirt. It was too long, but still wearable (should be hemmed 6-8″ so that it hits mid-calf)… and just barely small enough to still fit. I’m not sure whether I should have it tailored or donate it. But I wore it to see how much the size affected wear, and I paired it with a bright red sweater/shell-type thing. I had not thought about the consequences of wearing bright red during the world series. Apparently, the consequences are that you have to have several cheerful conversations with random strangers on the street.


It was raining and cold when I went home, so I made myself some soup.

Warmed some of the stock I had condensed.

Added 1 tsp soy sauce (because it’s homemade stock, and so it has no salt) and 1 tsp fish sauce.

dumped in about 2 ounces of buckwheat (soba) noodles.

And then I had picked up some chinese broccoli on my way back through chinatown, so I rinsed a few bundles, cut them into coarse (1″) slices, and added them to the soup.

And then here’s the awesome part – in a separate pan, I heated 1 teaspoon sesame oil. And then I sliced 3 cloves of garlic and toasted them in the oil. I also sliced thinly (no seeds) a red jalepeno pepper and tossed that in once the first side of the garlic slices had browned.

This topped the soup.


Bought a basket on Etsy. Sort of accidentally… I asked if it was possible to modify the shape of another one to make it a size for storing onions, and then she up and made it right away. But it’s gorgeous and fits in my cabinet perfectly. Now I need to find a scrap of cloth and line it because the whole reason I was looking for an onion basket was so that I’d have fewer onion peel crumbs filling up the bottom of the cabinet. Oh, and I need to buy more onions, too, as I’m down to just one.


Speaking of buying produce, I think I’ll skip my local farmers’ market this weekend so that I can try out a new (to me) one on Sunday that a few of the food blogs talk about (one because she sometimes vends there).


Argh. And I need to spend more money this weekend. The walk to work this morning (42F raining) proved that I need to hurry up with the acquiring of everyday footwear that is not sandals.

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Mmmmm full tummy – Ajia

   Posted by: Livia N    in restaurant, Review

Suddenly realizing that it was 4:30pm and all I’d eaten so far was a cup of hot chocolate… I figured my little frozen lunch really wasn’t going to cut it. This called for All U Can Eat Sushi!

But, people, especially philly people, let me tell you an amazing thing: I had good service at Ajia!

At this place, you expect long waits, desultory service, and only sort of getting your full order. But this time? Not only did the waitress take my sheet quickly and the sushi chef made my sushi while checking my order regularly, but the service was so good that I had my water refilled frequently. I wanted for nothing. I got back to work before my student worker’s shift was over – even within the scheduled hour for lunch.

“Yes, but how was the food,” you ask. Well, it was pretty standard. Their sushi isn’t the spiffiest around, but it’s $22 for all you can eat. And aside from one dubious bite of squid, it was decent and tasty. And thanks to [redacted]’s suggestion, I had the tasty tempura sweet potato roll.

But I had service which momentously did not suck.


Restaurant Review – Distrito

   Posted by: Livia N    in restaurant, Review

It took a while for me to notice that there was a new store underneath the ugliest of the new condo buildings in West Philly up back behind the Aveda school.

And it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I stopped in to collect a paper menu so I’d know what sort of food they had and what their hours would be. If I had been smart, I’d have had lunch right then – because the guy handing me the menu was the owner/chef. But I didn’t know that at the time, because who knows what people look like?

However, after I got the menus and started thinking it looked like a fun, if pricey, place to try some upscale mexican food, I started seeing articles about and interviews with Jose Garces, the chef. Apparently, this is the same guy who started Amada and Tinto, two classy center city tapas restaurants I absolutely adore. So my expectations went up, and this restaurant went on the short list of places to try.

So there I was this weekend, and I found myself wanting to try a new (to me) fancy farmers’ market and wanting a place to hang out (not my apartment) and read on Saturday. I rationalized to myself that I could only afford one of those, and if I went out Saturday night then I could spend Sunday exercising instead of buying more food (especially since I have plenty of perishables at the moment). To I set out to walk to center city in search of a coffee shop… and then I remember Distrito.

So I went in, and there was a decent crowd of people dining and chatting, but I was still able to be seated without a wait (Saturday night circa 7:30pm)… apparently that’s because this place is huge! There are two floors and plenty of tables. But while both Tinto and Amada are decorated in dark colors with muted palettes, the decor here is bright pinks with greens of aquas. I was seated on a wicker swing. The stairs are lined with mexican wrester masks. Here – have some pictures. But that’s fine. There’s also fairly loud music. And a guy with a guitar singing something completely different at the same time. And a movie being projected (though luckily that one was muted with subtitles). Aight, fine, so they are going for something more lively for the college crowd.

But what is really disappointing in comparison to the other restaurants is the service. At the other places you have a (okay, fine, very attractive) wait staff that is sophisticated and very knowledgeable about the food. They are also very efficient and welcoming (even to people who take the last seating in the middle of restaurant week and still linger over their food). Distrito, however, seems to have been less selective in its hiring practices. These were very average waiters who seemed to have very little interest in either the food or the patrons. In fact, the only interest my waiter seemed to show was toward encouraging me to purchase alcohol to boost my ticket, but it was another waiter entirely who stopped by (after I’d had a long period of reading uninterrupted) to offer me dessert.

You know what? That wasn’t the only thing disappointing. The food wasn’t as awesome, either. It was good, but it wasn’t, “Oh my god, I have to tell you about this amazing food,” levels of awesome that I’m used to from this guy. I started off with something cheap – Tuetano: bone marrow with bacon marmalade, onion, jalepeno, and cilantro ($8). So I got two marrow bones, and there was a toasty crust on top and lots of hot squishy marrow inside. For those of you who haven’t tried it, marrow is almost pure fatty goodness with a dark rich taste. So I scooped some into my 4″ corn tortilla, added some bacon marmalade (really the reason why I ordered this dish. Bacon marmalade! Best I can figure, it’s bacon with a thick balsamic reduction, and maybe a gelling agent, but I couldn’t figure any other flavors), and sprinklings of the other toppings. The marrow melted down and dripped just a little in a good way, and it generally rather tasty. But, oddly, the tortillas did not taste homemade to me… and I would kind of expect that to be a minimum. And then I didn’t run into any other trouble until I finished my 4 tortillas and had to pile on the marrow just to finish the first of the two marrow bones. And then I had to wait and let the marrow cool down while I waited for supplementary tortillas and condiments. Honestly, by the time I was finished my first tapa, I was pretty full. So it’s not that it wasn’t good, but it didn’t have the same sense of balance as I’d expect. Really, this restaurant would be a lot better, if I weren’t comparing it to the others.

But anyway, since I’m not planning to come back for dinner any time too soon, I ordered a second dish – Esquites: sweet corn, queso fresco, chipotle, lime ($5). It come out as a rather soupy corn dish in a glass. And it was tasty. I didn’t taste much chipotle, but the lime was just the right note without being too strong.

Guy came to offer me dessert, and I just ordered a mexican hot chocolate. Mmmmm. This was fairly weak on the chocolate, but I am finding that I tend to prefer that (weird, I know, but hey), and it was all frothy milk from top to bottom.

What else? Oh, I tried the house margarita (Jimador silver reposado, orange, lime – not frozen, with salt – $9), and it was good, but it still wasn’t better than my favorite margarita (embarrassingly enough, my favorite is Chili’s Presidente margarita).

ETA: Foodzings has pictures of the food I ate. And here is another food blogger’s visit. Both these people said nicer things than I did.

So Distrito is a solid Meh, Whatever. Too fancy to go there casually, but too casual to go there for fancy.


Events for Local People

   Posted by: Livia N    in Events/Promotions, Food, invitation

Shape Pink for Pilates (you caught me, this is a national event)
but my pilates teacher is running two classes where all of the proceeds will go toward breast cancer research, and she is worried because there has been an ebb in attendance lately and she doesn’t want to have to send in a check for just $40 or something.
So come – meet my awesome teacher. Really, she’s great at smoothly and (mostly) painlessly explaining technique and with modifying the workouts for various skill levels.

Tuesday, October 21, 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 25, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
just $10/class

Taste of Philly
And, sure, this one also benefits charity – in this case it’s a local dance group – but that’s not the important part. The important part is that it’s a whole bunch of swanky restaurants showing off their food. And it’s while I’m at work, so you have to go and tell me about it so I can figure out whether or not to take vacation time to go to it next year.

Wednesday, October 22, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Leslie Klinger
who wrote an Annotated Sherlock Holmes that my mother loved, is doing a book tour for an Annotated Dracula. Is anyone free to get a signed book for my mother?

Rosenback Museum
2008 Delancey St.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
6:00pm – 7:30pm

I love cream cheese. If I were poetically inclined, I would write odes to cream cheese.

It makes almost everything, sweet or savory, taste better.

But most especially – bagels!

And if you’ve been buying your fancy cream cheese spreads from the store, you’ve been missing out.

Cream cheese and scallions – I think stores must try to put them through a food processor or something to universally come up with bland, stringy (but I’ll still eat it!) scallion cheese. Let me tell you how to make this one better.

Take 1 bunch of scallions. Cut off the root bits and then peel them down until you have firm, clean skin left. (If you keep a bag of onion skins in your freezer for stock, wash off these scraps and put them into the bag, too) Then line up three or four of them, and slice the thinnest rounds you can (if anything is thicker than a millimeter, slow down and try it again). And keep slicing all the way into the green parts (pulling out any that are too wilty, and then slicing up the rest until you have just the tips left… and then those can go into the stock bits bag, too).

Dump the sliced scallions into a bowl. Dump an 8oz block of cream cheese into the bowl.

Ask yourself whether you want to be creative. If yes, also add some garlic (either minced from a jar or roasted cloves, but not fresh because that ends up just a little too potent) and maybe some chipotle. See what odds and ends are hanging around your fridge looking exciting. A dollop of heavy cream makes it a very sexy dip for company. A blob of mayonnaise makes it more spreadable. A drop of worcestershire sauce may sound like a good idea to me, but it just ends up making it taste a bit off, so don’t do that.

Mix it all up. It will be the best scallion cream cheese you have ever had, and people will ask for your secret. You will end up looking at those people like they are crazy, since it’s just scallions and cream cheese – why is it so hard?

roasted red pepper and cream cheese – okay, so it took me a while to make a better one than my bagel place, but I blame that on being a relative newcomer to the wonders of roasted red peppers. One warning though, since cream cheese mold often shows up first as orange dots and this is a fairly strong flavor so it’s basic nature will mask early signs of spoilage, you do want to be careful how long this sits in your fridge – this has never been a problem for me, though.

Roast red peppers. Remove skins. Have them hanging around your fridge looking lonesome.

Lay out a kitchen towel. On top of that, put a paper towel. (or you can have lots of paper towels… or 2 kitchen towels, if you are doing laundry tomorrow, otherwise the little scraps of red pepper will get ingrained in the fabric for a while.)

Cover half of the paper towel with roasted red pepper strips (you can strip some of the moisture with your fingers while you’re still dangling them over the container… and possibly with the container resting in the sink). Fold the other half of the paper towel and kitchen towel over top of the peppers, and then just plop your cutting board on top and maybe a pitcher of water. Read some food blogs. Come back. Set aside the pitcher of water, move the cutting board, and flip over the pepper/towel sandwich. Replace cutting board and pitcher. Oh, wait, have you checked your email? Better do that again.

Okay, so you’re bored and eager to eat breakfast now. Fine. Go open up your towels. Peel the red pepper off of the paper towel, tear it into smaller strips (and inch wide or so is plenty fine) and pile them onto your cutting board. So when you were tearing them, you noticed that peppers have a grain direction, right? It runs from stem to seat. Slice the peppers into thin strips opposite the grain direction.

Dump the strips into a bowl. Add one 8 oz. package of cream cheese. And then there’s just no question on this one, go ahead and add several cloves of roasted garlic. Mush it all up.

And try not to eat it all in the first day.

Chives, fennel, garlic, and cream cheese – or you can just be creative.

I lopped off a hunk of chives from the herbs on my patio, and then used scissors to cut them into wee tiny slices.

Pulled off some fennel fronds from the bulb [redacted] gave me (note: I have done this before with bronze fennel, and it doesn’t look nearly as appetizing as with green), sliced them up into tiny pieces as best I could.

And then tossed in the rest of the cloves from head of roasted garlic.

And a stick of cream cheese.

It was delicious! And all gone.


So I was hungry this morning, but I kind of didn’t want to make a new batch of sexy cream cheese because they haven’t been lasting well in my fridge (and the box of triscuits is getting low, too…). And I thought about making oatmeal, but I have a craving for cranberries to put in them, and I haven’t made it to Trader Joe’s, which I think will be my best bet. I considered making it with dates and apples, and while that sounds good, but it wasn’t what I really wanted and I only have sexy oatmeal that requires standing for half an hour. And Kundalini yoga kicked my ass on Sunday.

So I went for squash blossom quesadillas.

My neighbor has a butternut squash plant that is planning to take over the world, so we had already talked about how it wouldn’t be any problem for me to relieve her of a few blossoms.

Only my default for quesadillas is using them to get rid of any small leftovers I have, so it ended up including: half an onion, half a bell pepper, a jalepeno pepper, the last 2 of the tiny yellow summer squash, some mushrooms – and 8 squash blossoms. Seasoned with Penzey’s fajita mix. With plain old store brand sharp cheddar cheese from the grocery (which I usually wait to buy at $2/lb, but they haven’t had that price in a while and this is my last stick. Should I keep waiting, or buy a couple at 2 for $5 to tide me over).

It ended up being full of deliciousness, but I couldn’t have told you where the flavor of squash blossoms added a damn thing. But delicious. In my mouth.

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New ingredient – delicata squash

   Posted by: Livia N    in Recipe, vegetarian

Some kind person (I’ve completely forgotten who) randomly gave me a delicata.

And, since it’s a winter squash, it sat about on my counter for a while as I perused the internet for tasty recipes.

Finally, after much research, I decided on Delicata squash with spiced pecans and dried cranberries. Yum.

So I set about acquiring dried cranberries – which really should not be that hard. I couldn’t find them at the grocery across the street. I kept forgetting to check the indian grocer. The fancy grocery three blocks away had some tiny bags that had extra sugar added (which they all might, for all I know, but they weren’t very pleasant about giving me directions to the dried fruit area), so I didn’t buy theirs. Today, I tried the spice lady at the farmers’ market, and while I cleaned her out of dried tomatoes and passed by her dried peaches, there was not a single cranberry to be found.

Secretly, however, I had already started forming other plans a few days before the farmers’ market. And I had gone and acquired mushrooms.

And so I call my dish

Autumnal Delicata

Slice the squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Slice each half in half, and then into 1/2″ slices. Because the internet says you can eat the skin.

Chuck the slices into a plastic bag. Add 1tsp olive oil and some salt and pepper. Twist the bag closed, and then shake the squash around so it is evenly coated. Dump the squash onto a roasting pan, and stick it in a 350F oven.

Take a container of baby portabella mushrooms; peel the caps, wipe off the stems, and cut the pieces into large chunks (roughly 1″ square). Dump the pieces into the same plastic bag. Add 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, and some salt and pepper. Shake about.

When the squash is stirred/turned over (approximately 20 minutes, but I wasn’t timing it), dump the mushrooms on top and let them join in the cooking.

In a large skillet, heat up 2 tsps olive oil. Add some fresh rosemary (I find that if you get the right balance of frying the rosemary, without burning it, you get delicious crunchy pieces, instead of chewy ones, with minimal prep effort). After the oil had had a chance to bubble around the rosemary, add 1 tsp red wine and 2 tsp balsamic vinegar.

Let the wine and vinegar reduce a little, but as soon as it starts looking thick, add 1 diced onion. I also had a leek to use up, so I added it (white and green parts, sliced and cleaned) at this time, too.

Once the onions are looking all glisteny and brown from the vinegar, add some (2+ cloves) garlic.

Only once your alliums are looking seriously intimidated, pull out the pan from the oven and dump the squash and mushrooms into the skillet. (note: if you leave time for the squash to cool, it would be easy to slip off the peels at this point)

Stir, stir, stir.

I had ready some stock to add if things started to look dry, but I ended up not using any.

And then I finished off with a handful of fresh sage and fennel (leaves only, minced) and over a tablespoon (the rest of what was left in my jar) of apricot jelly.

And then I dumped it in a bowl and ate it all up.

Other things I could add: pasta/risotto, a little bit of ground clove/nutmeg, red pepper, sexy sharp cheese.

Final impression: I didn’t like the skin on the squash, so I ended up picking the squash pieces out first so I could deal with separating the skins. Just because a thing can be done, that does not necessarily mean it should be done. But other than that, the flavors came together very well and it was tres sexy. While the mushrooms where the genius that led me to this approach, the apricot jelly was the cleverest part of this scheme.

Notes for modifications to try in a future attempt: I have read on the internet that you can peel delicata raw with a vegetable peeler, but I don’t believe them. So if you want the squash peeled, you might want to be sure you time it earlier (or have teflon fingers)… and then if you time it earlier, you might want to start the mushrooms with the onions instead of with the squash. That sort of thing. But I trust you to figure out the details so that they’ll work for you.

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