Friday, August 27, 2010

Bistro 27

Have you been to Bistro 27 for lunch?
Don't let the elegant space with its high ceilings, beautiful linens and attractive and interesting waitstaff fool you. You may look at this place and think it's a bit hoity-toity for a nonprofit arts organization employee to have lunch. Oh crap, am I spelling hoity-toity correctly? Probably not.
Anyway, you can buy a lunch here that is approximately the same price as a lunch at a greasy spoon. But you get so much more in return. You get an experience that feels very upscale with fresh, delicious and beautifully presented food.
This particular dessert in the picture is called a "Bomba." It is passion fruit and mango sorbet encased in a thin layer of white chocolate drizzled with dark chocolate, embellished with fresh strawberries and blackberries. It's so pretty that I had my friend Brian take a picture of me kissing and worshipping it.
Bistro 27 is just kitty corner from Theatre IV on Broad St. Next time you take in a show, I encourage you--no--I demand that you treat yourself to a meal at Bistro 27.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Radio Rehab!

My fauxsband, Clever Clogs Cleveland, had this great sounding little radio that was originally black and missing all its little feet. Today he completely revived it by peeling off the shopworn black laminate and covering it in this pretty maple veneer. We found rubber plug things at Lowe's and made feet out of them.

Doesn't it look fabulous now?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cheater Cheater Pizza Eater

I am the first to admit that I am a total snob when it comes to prepared foods. There is a lady named Sandra (?) on the Food Network who has a cooking show called Semi Homemade or something like that. I am not a fan of her half store bought/half homemade approach. Or her store bought big boobs that don't match the rest of her body. Okay, that was ugly, I am guilty. Moving on..

One night Andy brought home some pre-made pizza crust in a magic tube, and I have to admit, it was really tasty. Thin and crispy, just the way I like it. And it's easy. I didn't have time for crust from scratch, so I trotted down to The Worst Food Lion Ever and bought me one of them pre-made crusts.

But I swear, this was the only thing I cheated on!

I picked little roma tomatoes and basil from my own yard. I slow roasted the romas, and made a little batch of fresh pesto, and cut up some buffalo mozzarella.

What a feast for my eyes--the roasted red tomatoes (whose flavors had concentrated beautifully) and the soft white mozzarella on a field of fresh pesto! It looked even prettier when it was cooked.

So I hope I have not completely besmirched my good name with this one little dalliance with convenience crust. I wish I could say I've gotten it out of my system, but that might not be quite true!

Bag Pic and Book Plug!

Here are some pics of the bag I am making for myself. I am showing a before and after to illustrate the transformation. I haven't finished the handles yet.
I just happen to be reading Irene Ziegler's new book, Ashes to Water, which I highly recommend to everybody! Here I use it for scale.
The bag is draped over the Yellow Pages to help it keep its shape when it dries. And you thought nobody had any use for the Yellow Pages anymore! Think again.



Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Peach of a Cake

Oh. My. My. MY. There are no words to accurately describe how much I love a ripe, juicy summer peach.

Okay that's a bit much, but honestly, I would rather eat a peach than a piece of chocolate. They are in the height of their perfection right now, and I aim to eat them every which way I can.

This is my first upside down cake, but it will be the first of many, because it has all the qualities of a successful recipe--it is easy, it looks beautiful, and tastes divine.

Very ripe peaches with soft flesh and lots of juice work well for this cake. I peeled and sliced 3 of them.

I cheated (gasp, swoon) with a yellow box cake mix, and I don't care who knows it.

I melted a half stick of butter in the cake pan, used a pastry brush to brush some of that butter up the sides, and sprinkled the melted butter on the bottom liberally with dark brown sugar.

Layered the peaches like in the picture, then poured the cake batter until it covered the peaches. The pan was about 2/3 filled, maybe a teeny bit more. 35 to 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven, and it was done. I waited about 5 minutes, inverted it on a plate and gave it a few very firm knocks. Then I waited another five or so before I lifted the cake plate off.

I was thrilled to see that it all held together beautifully and the brown sugar, fruit juice and butter made a gorgeous glossy golden brown glaze.

Butter + brown sugar + ripe peaches + batter = Heaven.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Suvir's Sweet Pepper Biriyani

I have mentioned again and again how much I love chef Suvir Saran, author of my most used and heavily stained cookbook, Indian Home Cooking.

Today for Sunday dinner I made his Sweet Pepper Biriyani with Cumin and Fennel Seeds. This is a wonderfully light, aromatic dish that is well spiced and relatively low on guilt.

It is basically made from alternating layers of basmati rice, fresh cilantro, and a gorgeous fragrant medley of sweet bell peppers, onions, a spice blend, fresh tomatoes, Andy's homemade tomato chutney (I am so very spoiled) and --this was my addition--raisins and slivered almonds.

The spice blend is coriander, cumin, black mustard and fennel seeds and dried red chile, all ground into a powder. The smell of grinding your own spices is intoxicating.

The veggies are sauteed with the spice blend until everything is really tender. The rice is cooked to near-doneness. Then Everything is stacked up in a covered casserole in layers and baked in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Let it sit for 10 minutes if you are able. The aroma is so tempting that it will be hard to do this unless you have a glass of wine at the ready. Scatter some more cilantro on top and feed to your sweetie with a kiss!