Thursday, June 28, 2007

where has faycat been?

Faycat has been too hot to move. Actually, right now I'm in my office and it's frickin freezing in here. There is a breeze across my desk. The papers tacked up on the wall next to me are flapping. And my mom is always wondering why I get frequent colds lately.

Alas, the heat discourages me from cooking anything. So I just run around seeking out other people to cook for me. Last night my mommy cooked for me. Tonight a certain favorite television chef of mine is cooking for me. Tomorrow night my bro is cooking for me. Anyone want to volunteer for Saturday night?

Continue Reading "where has faycat been?"

Friday, June 22, 2007

dear landlords

Please just give me a decent kitchen!!



J-Cat and I are starting to ramp up the apartment search now and my frustration grows as I see more and more craptacular kitchens. What is up with that?! Even in a really nice apartment you'll see a really bad kitchen. Do New Yorkers really just not cook at all? I don't need any fancy bells and whistles. All I need is well-maintained, full-sized appliances, some decent counter space, and some decent storage space. It doesn't have to be brand new, I don't really care what the cabinets are made of, I don't care if the set-up doesn't evoke the holy cooking work triangle, it just has to be there. None of these falling apart 24-inch ranges that can't even hold more than one pot at a time. Those are soup stoves. All you can do on those stoves is heat up a can of soup in a little 1-quart saucepan. It's not like these apartments are little teeny studios that don't have space to spare, like my little shoebox studio in the East Village where I could sit on the foot of my bed and cook on the stove. These are bigger places, there is room for 30-inch stove! Why why why?!

Yesterday J-Cat and I went to an Open House for a gorgeous 2 bdrm garden apartment in Park Slope. The landlord shows us the whole place, we freaking love everything (except the kitchen, which kinda sucked but was marginally workable, proving my point above), and after all of this tells us, oh by the way, someone already put a deposit down so it's no longer available. WTF?! Why the hell did he just show us this place, let us fall in love with it, only to shoot down our hopes? God I hate apartment hunting...

Continue Reading "dear landlords"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

sunday supper: it's not the figs fault

No really, everything I've read about E. Coli and most other types of food poisoning say that it is probably caused by something you ate 24-72 hours before the onset of the illness. So even though I must admit that the sight of these pictures from Sunday night's dinner makes my stomach turn slightly, I really don't think any of it is the culprit. Poor figs. I wonder if I'll never look at them the same way again.

I guess they are kind of weird looking anyway. But oh how I love fresh figs. Sweet, with the teeniest crunch of the seeds. It's a fruit that I was admittedly not very familiar with until just a couple of years ago. To me, a fig was usually found dried and meant for old constipated people or for stuffing into a Newton. Fresh figs were not on every supermarket shelf. But now I guess they are much more popular, considering that I found these in our local ghetto Key Food supermarket. This concoction is a Fresh Fig Cake, easy, delicious, and surprisingly light, it gets most of it's sweetness from the fruit.

It can't get much easier than whipping up some cake batter, slicing up the figs and simply laying them on top of the batter.

When it bakes, the cake puffs up around the figs, like a fluffy pillow cushioning the jewels of fruit. Recipe after the jump:

[adapted from Country Living, July 1998]

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup nonfat or lowfat vanilla yogurt
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
grated zest of a small lemon (optional)
about 12 black mission figs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round springform cake pan and set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. Add the yogurt and eggs and beat until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Fold in the lemon zest if using. Pour the batter into the cake pan and level.

Remove the stem end of each fig and slice in half lengthwise. Lay the fig halves on top of the cake batter, beginning with the outside edge and alternating cut side up with cut side down. Continue until the cake is covered.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for a short time, serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Continue Reading "sunday supper: it's not the figs fault"

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

sunday supper: e coli edition

I did actually make dinner on Sunday evening, but I haven't posted anything about it yet because the night culminated in the worst case of food poisoning that I have ever experienced. I just want to make it clear, however, that J-Cat also ate everything that I cooked and did not get sick. So I'm sticking with the knowledge that some food poisoning can take 24-72 hours to make you sick, and it was something I ate the day before and did not cook. Actually, Dr. Mom came to take care of me yesterday when I was in constant agony, and agreed that my symptoms and the course of the illness sounded more like E Coli than anything else, and apparently E Coli can take days to affect you. I don't want to know what it was doing while waiting those few days. I guess I'm just glad that it waited until I was at home and "Entourage" was over.

So in the last 36 hours, I have eaten only some plain soupy rice, a slice of bread, about 2 spoonfuls of chicken soup, and three bites of a ham and cheese sandwich that my stomach obviously did not like. Oh, and three triscuits. Those three triscuits are going to get me through the day. I have never been so afraid of food, but on the upside, I'm down 4 pounds in time for swimsuit season. I also discovered that Pedialyte is narsty and I can only drink it when it's watered down. Seriously, it's like syrup, this is really okay to give kids? How is it possible that it has less sugar than Gatorade?

Continue Reading "sunday supper: e coli edition"

Thursday, June 14, 2007

a rat in the restaurant

A great article in The New York Times about Pixar's upcoming animated film "Ratatouille", about a rat in a French restaurant. But he's not an ordinary restaurant rat, he was trained by Thomas Keller. I can't wait!


Continue Reading "a rat in the restaurant"

pasta week . . . week two

I'm still making pasta. It's just fast and easy and the most I can do on hot summer days. Well, yesterday wasn't hot. Okay, I'm just addicted to pasta.

Last night, the choice of pasta was influenced by a bunch of pancetta that I needed to use up. I decided on a favorite of mine, Penne with Chickpeas and Broccoli Rabe. In the past I've made this with bacon, prosciutto, or pancetta, depending on what I had around. Unlike bacon or prosciutto, pancetta is not smoked, so the flavor is a bit more subtle against the bitter rabe, but sometimes I'm just not in the mood for smokiness, so I'm fine with that. The best thing about this dish is that it really takes less than 10 minutes. Recipe after the jump:


1 lb penne or other tubular pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp pepperoncino (dried red pepper flakes), or to taste
4 garlic cloves, sliced very thin
6 ounces pancetta, chopped in small cubes(or thick-cut prosciutto or bacon)
1 lb cooked chickpeas (can use 1 15.5 oz can)
2 lbs broccoli rabe, chopped in 1-inch pieces
kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
grated parmiggiano-reggiano

While water for pasta is boiling, prep all of the ingredients that need to be chopped or sliced. Once you drop the pasta into the water, start the sauce. Heat the oil in a large saute pan, reserving about 3 tbsp for finishing. When hot, add the pepper flakes and let them toast in the oil for about 1/2 minute. Add the garlic and pancetta and stir for 2-3 minutes, until the pancetta is crisp and the fat has rendered. Add the chickpeas and ladle about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water into the pan. Bring to a boil.

(Be honest with yourself about how much you'd like to eat it just like that.)
Lay the broccoli rabe over the top of the chickpeas, cover, and lower the heat to steam and wilt the greens for a couple of minutes. Uncover, add the reserved olive oil, and stir the greens into the mixture. Let the sauce simmer at a low heat until the pasta is a minute or two away from al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce. Toss and continue to simmer for a minute until the pasta has fully cooked. Add the chopped parsley off the heat. Serve with grated cheese.

Continue Reading "pasta week . . . week two"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the cat stole the show

The controversial ending of the series finale of The Sopranos has certainly caused a huge stir. But despite finding a lot of the debates about what it really meant interesting, I haven't had any problem coming to my own conclusion about it. Because I think it's totally obvious, the answer is in the cat!

So everyone should just stop obsessing and concentrate on getting that Journey song out of your head.

Continue Reading "the cat stole the show"

Thursday, June 07, 2007

pasta week part III: grasping onto spring

So it looks like we got two days of spring this year. I guess it's better than nothing. Pretty soon, everything green will get parched and brown. Last night's pasta was an attempt at bringing a bit of spring to my tummy before it's too late.

I combined my need to use up the ricotta cheese that I had in the fridge with my continued cravings for fresh peas. (I had been thinking of fresh peas ever since that dinner at Locanda Vini & Olii.)

I've had pasta with ricotta and lemon, and I've had peas with mint, so I thought a good jumble of those two things would make the perfect no-cook pasta. It was a resounding success, and another superfast, superfresh dish was born. It tasted like spring.

A note on fresh peas: I think in a recipe like this, taking the little bit of extra time and effort to shell and blanch fresh peas makes a huge difference. You just can't get the same bite and flavor from a frozen or canned pea. With my method, you blanch the peas in the same pot as the pasta, so the only added effort is the shelling, and there's just something so simple and satisfying about shelling your own peas. I guess it's some sense of being connected to the old way of doing things, which when it comes to food, is often the best way of doing things. Recipe if you click:


1 lb penne rigate
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta
1 cup fresh shelled peas
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon zest
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint (or more to taste)
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Grated parmesan cheese, to taste

The only things that require cooking in this recipe are the pasta and the peas, and they can be cooked in the same pot. Bring 4-6 quarts of salted water to boil and add the penne. While you're waiting for the water to boil and during the first few minutes after you add the pasta, shell the peas.

[Note: If you are like me and both have a cat and are clumsy, you may want to give yourself extra time to shell the peas as you will be chasing your cat around your apartment trying to retrieve fallen peas before they are batted by a furry paw into the black hole under the fridge. This is also a good reason to buy more peas than you will actually end up needing.]

About 4 minutes before your pasta will be done, add the peas to the same pot to blanch. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. When the pasta and peas are done, drain and add to the mixing bowl along with the ricotta cheese and mint. Toss to coat the pasta well and adjust seasoning. Serve with grated parmiggiano-reggiano.

Continue Reading "pasta week part III: grasping onto spring"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

pasta week continues

Today's installment: clogging the arteries.

It's pretty much the simplest, quickest pasta sauce in existence, but it might be a little bit difficult to get past the fact that you start it by putting an entire stick of butter into your pan.

But if you figure that a stick of butter is eight tablespoons, and it's for an entire pound of pasta, you're only getting maybe two tablespoons of butter for a pretty big portion. That's not so bad, right? Just figure it's worth it for how easy and good it is. You start by melting that stick of butter over medium heat.

Then drop in 6 or 7 fresh sage leaves and let them sizzle for a minute.

Then drop in a cup of chopped walnuts (unsalted raw). Let those toast in the butter for a couple of minutes. Ladle about 1 cup of pasta water into the sauce and let it simmer and thicken for about 3 minutes. Add the cooked pasta, top with 1 cup of grated parmiggiano-reggiano, toss, and serve.

And hey, if you're still feeling guilty about all that butter after you've eaten it, consider the fact that the walnuts are a source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are a really good for your cholesterol levels. At the least, they've got to counteract all the saturated fat from the butter, right?

PS. Okay, admittedly, this dish is a little greasy. I think you could easily get away with using only 3/4 stick of butter and it would still work fine for a pound of pasta. Perhaps a purist out there would think I suck for saying that, but this is not the first pasta dish that I found too greasy. So there, not even as unhealthy as you thought.

Continue Reading "pasta week continues"

Monday, June 04, 2007

sunday supper: leeks & leaks

And it shall be the week of pasta. It's just too hot to cook anything that a) takes longer than 10 minutes, b) requires the oven, or c) has a lot of heavy meat in it. When it gets really hot out, the idea of raw meat in my general vicinity sort of icks me out. I guess I can just anticipate what the garbage is going to smell like. After all, I have to walk by that supermarket on the way to the subway every morning, and on a hot day, you have to hold your nose and run.

Last night's pasta was a campanelle with aged goat cheese, leeks, pancetta, and black pepper. I was worried that the goat cheese and pancetta would be overwhelming flavors, but to my delight the aged cheese was far more subtle that you might imagine, and the pancetta was used sparingly, mostly for the rendered fat to sautee the leeks in. The leeks were the true star of the show, and boy do I love leeks. Unfortunately, the air conditioner had it's own leak, and that was more of a nuisance...

The recipe is from Sally Schneider's A New Way To Cook, via Her recipe was only for 8 ounces of pasta, so I adjusted it a bit. I mean come on, only 1/2 pound of pasta? Who is she cooking for? I also didn't really follow some of her cooking methods, which seemed to be more trouble than necessary.

The accompaniment to the pasta was a delicious zucchini and arugula salad, which I found on Smitten Kitchen. Fresh and delicious, and worked perfectly even if my faux-mandoline doesn't really slice paper thin. I was surprised at how effective the salt was at making the raw zucchini really tender but still crisp.

Recipe for the pasta after the jump:

Adapted from "A New Way To Cook" via

3 pounds leeks
3 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 2/3 cup)*
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 lb campanelle pasta (any small shaped pasta would work, like orecchiette or tagliatelle)
3 ounces aged goat cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Using only the white and pale green parts of the leeks, cut rounds about 1/4-inch thick. Soak slices in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes, to allow dirt to settle at the bottom of the bowl. Rinse well and pat dry. In the meantime, boil the water for the pasta.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sautee pancetta until it has rendered its fat and is crisp but not burnt. Remove pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving as much of the fat in the pan as possible. Add leeks to the pan and sautee until soft, about 8-10 minutes. If the leeks are done before the pasta is ready, you can set the pan aside off the heat until ready. When the pasta is ready, put the leeks back on the heat, add back the pancetta, and add the drained pasta, reserving about 3/4 cup of pasta water for the sauce. Add the goat cheese and toss to melt cheese and thoroughly coat the pasta, adding pasta water if needed. Pepper liberally, then toss in the chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

*You can easily adjust this recipe to be completely vegetarian by substituting 2 tbsp olive oil for the pancetta.

Continue Reading "sunday supper: leeks & leaks"

Friday, June 01, 2007

my favorite holiday

We should get a day off for it. It's NATIONAL DOUGHNUT DAY!!! And Krispy Kreme is giving away free doughnuts to celebrate.

The Brits have an entire National Doughnut Week. Because they really know how to properly celebrate a fried food.

Continue Reading "my favorite holiday"

oops! we did it again. and again

The eating out is getting out of control. On Wednesday night we just had to go to Wombat for DUB pies night. DUB Pies is a Brooklyn bakery specializing in Australian meat pies. Drool. The price mark-up at Wombat is a little ridiculous, but I guess it's still worth it to get a steak and onion pie one block away from home. Last night we went over to my mom's, and since it was so hot out, she didn't want to cook either. So we got piles of Middle Eastern food. Piles. Kefta Kebab, Kibbeh, Chicken Shawarma, Hummus, Tabouleh, Babaganoush, Yogurt sauce. On and on. It was awesome. My mom isn't so familiar with too many ethnic foods, but she seemed to really enjoy it. It's good to get her trying new stuff, there's a great variety in her neighborhood. This was followed up by an obscene amount of Baklava.

Maybe tonight I should cook something. I have a bunch of fresh sage that I really need to use soon or it will go bad. My first thought was some pasta with a butter, sage, and walnut sauce. It's literally what it says it is. Butter - a stick of it, sage - a few leaves, and walnuts - about a cup. About as simple as it gets. But I was also intrigued by this Sage-walnut Pesto recipe that I stumbled across. Not sure I have enough sage, but it definitely sounds like something worth trying. Here's another variation that calls for less sage. Or this one that also calls for parsley (which I pretty much always have). Hmmm, which to do, which to do?

Continue Reading "oops! we did it again. and again"