Tag Archives: Gourmet magazine

Variation on a Theme.

Any journalism-school veteran would be happy to tell you that there are two types of stories: those with evergreen subject matter, and those of a more timely, newsy nature. We don’t do much in the way of breaking ground here at Itinerant Foodies, so that leaves us with the basics. And now that we’ve been around for while, I’m coming up against a problem that bothers magazine editors and grocery-store marketers alike: How do you put a fresh spin on standard content? For example: Autumn signals a shift from lighter, less-handled food to more substantial, slow-simmered pots of belly-warming fare. All well and good, but you’ve heard it before, no?

So, what to say about yet another version of lentil soup?

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Tailgate Tale.

It’s now mid-August. As of last week, I’d cooked for one barbecue, one baby shower and one or two dinners since June, and that’s about it. No meals of fresh summer produce, no regular trips to the farmers market or co-op, no picnics, no regular use of the grill, nada. It’s not that I haven’t want to take advantage of the season; I’ve just been more inclined toward event cooking than everyday cooking. It suited my mood perfectly, then, when I found myself in possession of tickets to last week’s USA vs. Brazil friendly at the Meadowlands.

The guys we were meeting could pretty much be professional tailgaters, so I knew I had to come with something good—tough crowd, that. Everything had to be easy to make and easy to transport; an inexpensive menu wouldn’t hurt, either. With those parameters in mind, I cracked open my Evernote clippings and dug up a few recipes I’d been meaning to try.

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Meet Your Dinner.

On Saturday afternoon, the Carnivore and his daughter came back from our food co-op, lugging bags and boxes of goodies. “You’d better cook all of this,” she said, “after I carried it!” (She turned seven in January, and, man, is she bossy.) She loves to help in the kitchen—cracking eggs, measuring and pouring spices, whisking pancake batter, licking the beaters. There’s something fascinating about having a seven-year-old as your sous chef: You see how primal cooking really is, really should be, watching a child touch and taste everything. She’s normally a fussy eater, but when she helps with the meal, her hands are constantly in every dish; if you don’t want something going in her mouth before its time, you have to keep a sharp eye on her.

Now, this is a child who has never met a type of junk food she didn’t like, so it came as no surprise that she instantly perked up when I mentioned chicken for dinner—KFC is a personal favorite. It was different story entirely, though, when I pulled a whole, raw chicken from my shopping bag.

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Resolution Recipe.

I’ve been attempting to rein in my holiday-style eating habits, as so many of us do this time of year; if you cooked the kind of food I did in December, you’d make a good-faith effort, too. (Intrigued? I’ll share soon enough.)

This weekend, as I flipped through my bookmarks and photos in search of inspiration, I came across this hearty, healthy, easily customizable stew that I made last winter. Yes, I’m completely derelict in my food-blogger duties: I concocted this last winter, and I’m just getting around to sharing it with y’all now.

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Gold Star.

I’m not great at New Year’s resolutions. Making them, yes—I love a good list as much as the next control freak—but keeping them? Not my strong suit. I’m aware that this isn’t exactly an unusual problem, but here it is, the first week of 2010 and I’m already disregarding the promises I made to myself.

After spending the past few months bemoaning the demise of one of the best food publications of our time, I swore I’d try to move on; I know I’ve sounded like a bit of a broken record lately, but I hoped that time, and space, would help me get over my loss. Instead, something better happened.

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Master Plan.

I tried, you guys. Really, I did.

But Saveur‘s recipes only served to enlarge the Gourmet-size hole in my heart, so when I decided to throw a dinner party a few weeks ago, I pulled out back copies from the months of October and November, dating back to 2006, for my menu. I won’t pretend it wasn’t bittersweet, but in doing so, I realized just how little I’ve actually cooked from the magazine—there was enough material in each issue to keep me in meals for awhile yet, which lessens the blow of its demise ever so slightly. For this particular gathering, I chose an amalgam of dishes, unrelated except for a faint autumnal thread.

My favorite item, the one I was most excited to make and happiest to eat, was from the most recent/final issue: beet-pickled deviled eggs.

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Berry Swap.

One of the side effects of my most recent farmers market binge (yes, that one) was an extra container of fresh blueberries. I’m talking perfect end-of-summer blueberries, too, the blueberriest of blueberries, with such flavor that the year-round supermarket variety pales in comparison. I refuse to do anything with the tart-and-firm ones other than eat them straight, which leaves plenty of the soft-and-sweet for other uses.

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I woke up on Sunday morning in a baking mood; I had everything necessary for this recipe but the raspberries and buttermilk. Swapping in my recently acquired blueberries was an easy fix, and after a quick search turned up a make-your-own substitute for buttermilk, I was in business.

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How I Spent My Holiday Weekend.

Some people spend a three-day weekend being productive, catching up on chores, housework, errands. Some travel (*sob*), some explore their environs, some just chill out.

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The less-sane among us decide, spur of the moment, that the backyard has been underused this summer and cook a boatload of food for a few friends. A seasonal Last Hurrah, if you will.

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Excess.

I cooked way too much food for a Monday night.

I’d had my eye on the beautiful Korean banchan spread from Gourmet‘s March issue since the magazine arrived in my mailbox months ago. I’m a sucker for pickles, and this menu included several—a cucumber-apple number, and, the one that really sold me, salty-spicy soy-pickled jalapeños. Plus quick kimchi, and sesame-soaked quail eggs, and sautéed oyster mushrooms, and grapefruit soju cocktails. There was a mouth-watering photo of warm tofu with garlic sauce and delectable-sounding shrimp and scallion pancakes.

What, oh what, to make?

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All of the dishes sounded so appetizing, I couldn’t narrow down the list any further. I’ve always had this problem: I’m the annoying one at the table who makes everyone else order first, because I just can’t make up my mind about what I want. A familiar dilemma calls for a familiar solution: I chose to try everything. Sure, you could call that overkill, but if nothing else, I figured we’d have enough leftovers to last us a few days.

I made the romaine salad, the cucumber-apple pickles and the jalapeños on Sunday, figuring it’d be a breeze to whip up the last few items when I got home from work the next evening. Ha. Famous last words.

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