Friday, January 30, 2009

Pretty for winter

I've talked before about my new love for celery root. But I've been making a lot of céleri rémoulade lately. I love it, but one celery root makes a lot of the stuff -- too much for one sitting.

So, I've been putting the leftovers on top of a bed of arugula, and then I add other vegetables cut into the same matchstick shape. The mayonnaise/mustard dressing from the céleri rémoulade is enough to dress the salad, with maybe a little splash of olive olive to freshen everything up. For this one, I added julienned carrots and rashishes. Isn't is pretty for a winter salad?

It's crunchy and delicious. A perfect lunch.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Grace in small things: 2

1. Oatmeal. Well, I'm trying to like oatmeal. I have certified gluten-free oats at home, and this morning I ate it with blueberries, syrup, and cinnamon, and vanilla sugar. It wasn't terrible. I'm hoping it will grow on me. Breakfast is the most challenging meal for me when I'm trying to be careful about eating allergy-free.

2. Giant boxes of clemintines. I eat at least two of these ever single day.

Photo courtesy of ms. Tea

3. Fun dinner reservations in the Berkshires on Saturday night. We'll go here. Or here. Maybe here.

4. Soup for lunch. I made carrot and parsnip soup last night with a little curry powder, salt, and pepper. So good!

5. Trader Joe's lemon sorbet. Peter thinks he doesn't like lemon desserts, but I'm slowly getting him to warm up to them with this stuff. Does that sound selfish? I know, right? I've been working for years to get him to like all the things I like. I've already gotten him over the I-don't-like-nuts-in-dessert hurtle. I was very proud of that one.

*I'm playing grace in small things!


We have a little Greek restaurant not half a block away from our house in Park Slope. We've talked about going before, but we were a little scared because it's always empty.

Well, last night when I was making a carrot and parsnip soup for our lunches and spilled curry powder all over the stove and floor, the emptiness of Helios seemed a little less daunting and a lot more appealing.

It's a very cute place, with lots of white twinkle lights all over. But, as we suspected, it was totally deserted. Even though we were the only people there, it still took our waiter a good five minutes to come up and bring us menus and water. To be fair, he seemed to be busy with their fairly robust amount of take out orders.

As an aside, take out generally doesn't make much sense to me. For me, a huge part of the fun of eating food from a restaurant is actually being out of my house at that restaurant. If I wanted to eat yummy food at home, I would make it!

Anyways. Peter had read that they had good burgers, so we both got that (allergies be darned!). I had a blue cheese burger with crispy fried onions, and Peter had a traditional burger. They came with really yummy, crispy fries covered in oregano. I've never had this before, but I want to add it to the fries at home now. Delicious.

Peter is always ordering rare meat at restaurants, and it rarely (ha!) gets served that way. Well, Helios definitely knows how to make a rare burger. I was worried it was a little too pink, but he seems to be fine.

Though it was a little strange to be the only people there, I'm so glad we went. They make a great burger, delicious fries, and the location can't be beat for us. A great addition to our rotation, even if it took me spilling curry powder all over the kitchen to make me want to try it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lemon risotto with kale

Risotto is one of my favorite ways to feel like I'm eating pasta without eating pasta (since it's rice, and is therefore gluten free!). And it's also one of my favorite weeknight meals. Peter used to be our resident risotto-maker because I was a bit scared of it, what with all the stirring, stirring, stirring. But it's really a very forgiving dish, and it's made mostly with pantry staples, like rice, garlic, onion, and wine.

This one has the same super-comforting elements that all risotto dishes have, but the lemon and greens made it feel just a little bit more springy to me. And I'm desperate for spring any place I can get it these days.

Lemon risotto with kale

You will need:
2 cups of vegetable broth or chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1 strip of bacon, cut when raw into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
One cup of kale, stemmed and sliced in ribbons
1 cup short-grain rice (like Arborio)
Splash of dry white wine
Grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest the lemon and set it aside. I find it hard to zest a lemon once the juice has been squeezed out!
Combine the broth or stock with the lemon juice in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer.

In a dutch oven or other large pot, cook the bacon pieces until nice and crispy. Add a splash of olive oil or a little butter to the bacon, and also the onion and garlic to the pot. Don't remove that delicious bacon fat!

Cook until onions and garlic are lightly brown and tender, but be careful not to burn them. Add the rice and stir until coated with the butter and crackling a little bit -- about 2 minutes. Add a splash of wine and stir until the wine is absorbed.

Begin adding the hot broth mixture one ladleful at a time, stirring when the liquid is added. Add another ladleful after the liquid is absorbed. Do not let the rice get dry, but make sure it's not soupy at all before adding the next ladleful of broth mixture.

When half the broth has been added, stir in the chopped kale. Continue adding the broth until the rice is soft, but still has a little bit of a bite in the center. Add the lemon zest, Parmesan cheese and another nob of butter. Stir to combine. Serve immediately.

*There are an endless number of variations to this dish. I love adding roasted beets, squash, Swiss chard, cauliflower, peas, asparagus, tomatoes and corn. It's really hard to go wrong!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


On Sunday night, I went to the grocery store. As Peter helped me unpack the bags and he said, "I think you bought one of every vegetable at the store."

It's true. I've been buyings TONS of vegetables lately. When I have a fridge full of things I can eat, it makes the elimination diet a little less sad to me. I basically let myself buy any piece of produce I can eat.

This week I came home with acorn squash, arugula, avocado, baby portabella mushrooms, butternut squash, broccoli, broccoli rabe, a giant cucumber, a green bell pepper, kale, carrots, celery root, radishes, frozen broccoli (I went a little overboard with the broc.), pears, and radishes. I could have also bought bok choy, swiss chard, more lettuce, beets, and a handful of other things. But I decided to show some restraint (ha).

So far this week, Peter made a yummy polenta and we put sauteed broccoli rabe, swiss chard stalks left over from last week, and cubes of roasted acorn squash on top. Last night, Peter made a yummy chicken dish with soy sauce, ginger, honey, and garlic (not entirely allergy free, but it seemed to be fine) that we had over rice with roasted broccoli. And tonight, I think I'm going to make some version of this soup for dinner with the kale I came home with.

I keep asking Peter if he's full enough after these meals, because I notice that I'm losing a little bit of weight myself. He says he fine, but I try to give him extra snacks during the day and sausages to go with some of the meals so he doesn't fade away.

It's getting better.  It's getting easier. 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Grace in small things: 1

1. A yummy Thai dinner with a lovely friend. And her mom. And your boyfriend.

2. Spring cherry tea on these freezing cold brr days. Or rather, anything with the word "spring" on these freezing cold brr days.

Photo from Design Sponge

3. Mailing hershey kisses to a friend who could really use some hershey kisses.

4. Gin & tonic -- an elimation diet's best friend.

5. Making lunch for Peter and me this morning with braised fennel, mushrooms, and penne. (I know it's odd to make this in the morning. I know. But when the thought of eating another dressing-less salad makes you want to throw your knife across the kitchen, it seems a little less odd.)

*I'm going to play Grace in Small Things!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More than that

Such an adorable new website: I love you more than blank. Here are a few of the cute food-ish hearts.

So fun for Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I love this article by the incredible Bittman about what to keep, what to ditch, and what to buy more of for your pantry. Many of his suggestions are things I already have. Tubes of tomato paste, frozen peas, and fresh parsley are all things I always like to have around. But I want to get in the habit of making more vegetable stock at home (so easy, so delicious), experimenting with bags of beans as opposed to cans, and making homemade pie crusts.

Sometimes the little things can feel like the biggest culinary successes.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Celery root

Everyone has been writing about celery root lately! I'd never heard of it or eaten it until about a week ago when Peter and I were having a fun New Years Eve dinner at The Farm. The entire tasting menu we had was delicious, with a roasted vegetable salad, duck breast, and an amazing chocolate peanut butter mouse. But the celery root soup I had for the very first course was really something. Very creamy and rich with a drizzle of truffle oil and a walnut or two floating around.

I liked it so much, I had a few days later in a prix fixe menu at The Old Inn on the Green in the Berkshires (another completely wonderful meal we had with my family to celebrate my Dad's birthday). I became a bit fixated yesterday afternoon, and stopped at the market on my way home to pick up a few.

Photo by ianqui

I made a super simple soup (you know, trying not cause any reactions...), and mine didn't come out as smooth and creamy as the ones I had last week. But it was still delicious. An excellent (allergy free) weeknight meal.

Super simple celery root soup

You will need:

1 large and 1 small celery root
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Water or stock
A little salt and pepper*

Add chopped onion and garlic to a dutch oven or soup pot with a big pad of butter or a swirl of olive oil. Peel the celery root as best you can, and then use a pearing knife to cut off roots, dirt, and other offending materials. Cut it in half with a big knife, and then cube it into one inch chunks. Add to the onions and garlic, and add enough water or stock to cover. Bring to boil, then reduce heat slightly. Cook until celery root are tender when pierced with a fork (mine took about 35 minutes). Use an immersion blender or regular blender to smooth it out. Adjust your salt and pepper.

*For Peter's, I added some curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a touch of whole milk to jazz it up a little after it was blended smooth.

Monday, January 5, 2009


Cooking has become a bit less fun lately. Let me explain.

For a few years now, eczema on my face and body has been getting worse. In these last few months, it's become down right unbearable. Crying in my sleep, scratching until I'm covered in open cuts and scabs -- I could go on, but I won't. Let's be honest -- skin rashes are pretty disgusting. I'm sorry to have grossed you out already.

I've had lots of tests -- blood tests, patch tests, skin-prick tests -- but nothing came up. I decided to keep a food diary after I noticed red blotches on my face after I was eating. Sometimes my skin would get hot and my eyes would swell up.

I've been keeping a diary for about about a month now, and I've noticed a few things. I'm trying to stay on a version of an elimination diet, which cuts out wine, beer, and cheese, among other delicious things. It seems to working, at least somewhat, so I'm going to keep writing in the diary, trying to track what causes reactions.

I've been hesitant to write it down here because, honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing and it's sort of a boring/strange subject, unless you're going through the exact same thing. But I started to think about all the things I searched for online these last few months, and how I would have liked to read about someone who had to give up things they loved to eat to try to feel better.

I'm doing this without the help of a doctor and I have no background in nutrition. I'm just feeling around in the dark. I certainly won't pretend to know all the answers, but I'll try to share some about the food I'm eating, the things that seem to cause a reaction, and recipes that don't seem to trigger any kind of reaction.

Here's to finding a solution in 2009!
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