Eat Me. Drink Me.

Why We Eat. Why We Drink. Why We Write.

Month: June, 2012

Bread/Love/Bread

by lyzpfister

I’ve been in sandwich mode again. How could I have forgotten what a lovely lunch it is: curried chicken or ripe tomatoes and basil, crumbled feta or camembert, peppery arugula, spicy mustard, caramelized onions or chopped olives… All stuffed between two warm, toasted slices of bread.

Sandwiches are like edible hugs. Right arm, left arm; top bread, bottom. Only good things in the middle.

Caramelized Onion and Tomato Sandwich

Thinly slice 1 yellow onion into rings and do a quick caramelize: heat 1 tsp oil in a skillet, add onion and 1 tsp brown sugar plus a pinch of salt. Sauté on medium heat until onion is deep brown and looks melted. In the meantime, toast 1 cinnamon bagel (preferably one you’ve gotten for free from a tray of dumpster-dived baked goods after the bartender has spilled an entire beer on you and given you complimentary tequila shots. But a regular cinnamon bagel could be good too…) and prepare the rest of the ingredients: 3 sliced cherry tomatoes, a handful of fresh arugula (washed, bottom of the stem removed), and a few slices of feta. When the onions are done: assemble.

Curried Chicken and Raisins on Ciabatta

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet. Add about ¼ cup thinly sliced chicken breast, 1 tsp curry powder, and a healthy pinch of the following spices: turmeric, berbere, cumin. Add a handful of golden raisins to the skillet. When the chicken is cooked through, add ¼ cup tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes, pureed tomatoes, etc.) and simmer on low for five minutes. In the meantime, coarsely chop ½ red pepper and 1 tomato. Add juice of 1 lime, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Prepare other ingredients: a few rings of thinly sliced red onion, 4 leaves of lettuce. Toast a split ciabatta roll. Assemble.

Egg, Cheese, and Pesto Sandwich

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a skillet. Crack 1 egg into the skillet – cook it over-easy so that the yolk is still deliciously runny. Prepare other ingredients: sliced white cheese (I used Allgäuer Bergkäse, similar to an Emmenthaler), chopped parsley, pre-made pesto. Toast 2 slices of bread (this one is carrot-studded). Assemble.

Bobo Baking

by lyzpfister

It’s a rainy Saturday in Berlin. Ben and I are lounged on the couch. We’ve both got our laptops open. I’m reading articles online, he’s playing a computer game. Sometimes we talk, but for both of us, it seems that what we say hovers for a while, then dissipates, unanswered.

I spent a luxurious morning in bed, listening to the downpour through the open window. At first I hadn’t even heard the rain. It was just a hush, a solid sound that belonged to the space.

I haven’t made it far from bed. I’ve migrated from that horizontal to the horizontal of the couch, though there was an interim with huevos rancheros and coffee. Much good that did for getting the day started.

I don’t usually spend my days draped over a sofa, wearing a mumu and a baggy sweater, last night’s mascara still smashed under my eyes. Even when I’m not working, I’m out of bed by 8:30. I French press some coffee, make toast with butter and cheese, and some arugula if I’m feeling fancy. I do some yoga, I do some writing.

I’m justifying this slothing to myself. I know.

Ben is playing music from Swan Lake. Then he plays 50 Cent. I want to bake.

There’s only a handful of butter and the oven is kind of broken, but this is what I want to do. So I do it.

Though I don’t really know how to bake, I know what cookie dough looks like. This is enough, I think. The last knob of butter, equal parts sugar (it’s the secret reserve sugar, probably left over from the DDR) and brown sugar (imported from America), the last bit of sour cream from the fridge, an egg, flour, some old chopped-up caramel chocolates. Dropped on a pan, stuck in the oven. They come out looking like little biscuits with moles.

But they’re good – not as sweet as I’d anticipated, and with an unexpected chewy shot of caramel. Perfect with a glass of milk. I’m like a ten year old in pajamas.

Cookies like today. Haphazard, but sweet – a bit unfocused, but so necessary.

The Not All At Once Approach

by lyzpfister

I’m not good at change. Anyone who’s ever asked me to make a decision quickly knows this.

It takes me time to think things through. Not necessarily to weigh the pros and cons of a new course of action – but just to get used to the idea of something different.

As a human, I am a huge proponent of the not all at once approach.

Tell me something new, but don’t tell me all at once.

This is also the way I cook. I believe ingredients need time to understand themselves as they melt into a hot skillet – an onion doesn’t want an eggplant until it’s ready. And when they meet, they need time to get to know each other. To feel comfortable as a unit before tomato comes along.

Cooking like this takes longer. But it makes sense to me. One at a time, piece by piece until the composition of the pan has changed. Until it is a full pan, not an empty one.

Pasta with Tomatoes and Arugula

This recipe is about not rushing. It’s very easy and doesn’t take long to make – but it needs a gentle hand. Finely chop 1 yellow onion and sauté with 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp brown sugar in a skillet until onion is translucent. Add 1 finely chopped sweet red pepper (I prefer the mildness of a Hungarian pepper) and cook until softened. Add 3 chopped sundried tomatoes with a splash of the oil they were in (or more olive oil if you’re using dry tomatoes) and a healthy pinch of salt. Stir for a few minutes. Add 5 coarsely chopped cherry tomatoes and cook until softened. Add 1 finely chopped green onion and a chopped clove of garlic. Lastly, add a generous handful of arugula and a few leaves of chopped basil until the greens have wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In the meantime, have set a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook as much pasta as you (& others – though this recipe was ideal for 2) plan to eat. When the pasta has cooked, drain it, then add it to the skillet of vegetables with 1 tbsp butter and ¼ cup heavy whipping cream. Toss the pasta with the sauce and cream until coated and the cream has cooked up a bit. You can use any sort of pasta with this recipe – and add other vegetables as you see fit, but I like the simplicity of just tomatoes and greens.

You Say Tomato, I Say Potahto

by lyzpfister

When I think about things that go well with potatoes, the first thing that pops into my mind is tomatoes. There’s a great possibility that this is a vestige of some ingrained-in-my-childhood-brain Fox in Socks trickery, but there’s an equally great chance that this is simply because potatoes and tomatoes taste like magic together.

Let me be truthful – I haven’t cooked in a long time. For the last few days, I’ve been eating toasted slices of bread topped with a plethora of interesting things: garlic-ginger butter with aged gouda and arugula, mini peppers stuffed with goat cheese and marinated in oil, mettwurst with raw onion and cracked pepper, pink roe paste with piquant goat’s milk cheese, or absolutely, absolutely sinful Biscoff cookie spread. And while all of these things are delicious, there is only so much toast you can eat before you never want to see a slice of bread again.

(As an aside, I really hate the word “plethora,” and I’m not really sure why I felt the need to use it here. I suppose that sometimes, words just want to be, whether we like them or not, just as sometimes, it’s not at all bad to be kind to people we don’t like.)

Part of the problem is that I haven’t really had time to cook – and the other part is that I haven’t really been home. I’ve been out having fun. Going to music festivals, entertaining visiting friends, sitting in cafés. Oh yes, I know, my life is hard.

But really, I’ve missed cooking. The quietness of it. The focus of it. The to-do-list-fading-away-ness of it.

So today, for lunch, I whipped myself up a little something something. Nothing fancy – just some simple roast potatoes married to a bacon and sweet Hungarian pepper tomato sauce. As I sat down to eat, I picked up the old issue of Harper’s my dad had just brought over from the states for me and began to read an article on the benefits of fasting.

Potato, potahto.

Roast Potatoes with Sweet Hungarian Pepper Sauce

Preheat the oven to 460°F (though my oven is quite weak – you might want to adjust the heat accordingly). Peel and slice about 5 medium-sized potatoes into wedges. Spread them across a baking sheet along with 1 yellow onion sliced into rings or half-rings and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt, cracked black pepper, paprika, and an Italian herbs blend (alternatively, you could just use oregano and parsley). Stick it in the oven and roast those beautiful potato wedges for about half an hour, giving them a little nudge around the baking sheet once halfway through.

Right after you do your nudging, start the tomato sauce. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is warm, add 1 finely chopped onion and 2 tbsp chopped bacon. Sautee until the onion is translucent. Add 2 chopped sweet Hungarian peppers (if you can’t find these, yellow peppers are probably the closest approximation) and cook until softened. Add ½ cup (or more if it still looks too thin) tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Add a pinch of red chili flakes and cumin, since tomatoes love cumin. It’s like date night every night. Put a lid on your pan and let the flavors come together. You want to give the sauce at least 10 minutes of melding.

When your potatoes are done, transfer them to a plate. Top with the sauce and garnish with shaved parmesan and basil.