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cruciferous comfort

By on Sep 22, 2011 in dinner, for one, love | 0 comments

A dark cold mood swirls in the air. Warm, soft, creamy polenta pools warmly on the plate. A charming bit of cippolini onion, thinly wedged and cooked until it goes weak as its sugars swoon outwards, joins thick, meaty slices of mushrooms made bright with a hit of lemon juice and nestle into the soft yellow mass. Brussel sprouts turned a brilliant crisp green tumble over the top of the earthily fragrant pile. As the fork spears the bright cruciferous gems, the dark cold mood begins to slip out the door. By the time the polenta makes it to the tongue, the mood has managed to skulk down the alley and pester a squirrel. Mood-dissipating Polenta (serves 1, with a lot of leftover polenta)   The polenta (this is a method from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers, which is divine for nights you don’t want to stand over a pot stirring, but as a forewarning, it will take over an...

the slightly sullied fig

By on Sep 17, 2011 in dessert, for one | 0 comments

The fig. So many vegetables have insinuatingly seductive associations, but I dare say the fig tops them all out. The fig leaf is traditionally used to cover the immodest parts of classical Western art, but you never see the tempting fruit. It is a flirtatious mistress for those living far from the warm climes in which it can grow. As our growing season ends, plump and delicately curvaceous Mission figs arrive from California. Who could avoid such succulent temptation? The delicate flesh slices easily, the complex and enticing rosy innards revealed. A small dab of butter is melted and mixed with honey, then slowly drizzled over the awaiting fig. A quick round in a hot oven and soon the butter and honey, before a pale yellow, emerges blushing from intertwining with the juices of the cooking fig. And so the feast begins, with simple flavors twirling in a complex round of textures. The...

savory billowy heights

By on Jul 24, 2011 in baking, for one | 0 comments

There is wonder in magic in the simplest of cooking chemistry. Some, unfortunately, is generally relegated to the fancy dinner parties of yore, or for the patient cooks of today with many to feed, who impress with a towering souffle. For those lone diners out there, however, there is a way to capture some of the  elegant magic of that chemistry with the simplest of mixtures. A single egg, a bit of flour, a generous splash of milk, a pinch of salt, two buttered ramekins and a hot oven, and voila! An airy concoction that explodes out of a scant bit of batter that had previously been lying limp in its ceramic recliner. It towers above the rim, only to collapse on itself upon leaving the hot oven, but the impatient cook willing to sacrifice a few nerve endings can jimmy it forth and tear it open, releasing a cloud of fresh steam, and marvel and the large crevices of air that have carved a...

mac and cheese… for one

By on Jun 23, 2011 in dinner, for one | 0 comments

Summer keeps yearning to break through the grey cool weather, and manages in fits and starts, one day bursting forth with thick humid air that demands slow movement and ice cold gin drinks, the next demanding jackets and hot cocoa. On one of the cool nights, a craving for mac and cheese arises, twining warmly around the crinkles in your brain, softly whispering promises of creamy saltiness. But this is one night, and the weather the next day might shift, leaving the leftovers to solidify into a semi-gelatinous curdling cold mass in the fridge. So make only one. One generous serving that stays hot and creamy, bread crumbs maintaining a crisp and staid counterpoint through the whole delectable experience. Begin with the simplest of all things. A pot of salted boiling water. Dry noodles slide smoothly into the bubbling depths. Another small pat of butter melts in the bottom of another...

greens ‘n’ beans (and a little polenta)

By on Apr 9, 2011 in dinner, experimenting, for one | 0 comments

The polenta was lonely, so it went swimming with the spinach in the soupy white beans. At least, this is how a tired and addled brain views dinner, viewed through the haze of intended recipes that only promise more and more pots to wash. Cooking planned days in advance gets waylaid, ingredients pile in the fridge, gorgonzola cheese quietly threatens to become the inedible type of mold,  greens tremble, wary of a rotting end, their final tomb being a flimsy plastic bin. And so one day… is all just comes together. Gorgonzola-laced Polenta topped with White Beans and Spinach – Initially for One, With a Bunch of Leftovers At some point in advance… an imprecise boiling of dry beans 1 cup dried small white beans large amount of water table salt More water 1 bay leaf 1/2 large white onion, quartered Soak the beans overnight in a solution of about 1 qt. water to 3 tsp. salt....

spring steak salad

By on Mar 26, 2011 in for one, love | 0 comments

After weeks of long hours and take out, the body cries out for actual vegetables. Giant piles you could ski down, and yet still have some substantial warm hit to take the edge off the unusually cold weather. Greens tumble into a bowl, smelling like a fresh lawn on a hot August afternoon, a long ago memory on a cold March day. Steak is quickly seared and thinly sliced, a quick vinaigrette made in the hot pan, a few pickly capers thrown in for good measure. Salt. Pepper. The dressing dances over the greens, embracing the smooth dandelion and softly prickly endive. Steak nestles in, bathing in what bits of dressing it encounters. Here’s hoping this is a cure for what ails the chef, desperate for actual spring. Spring Steak Salad 5-6 big leaves of endive 5-6 dandelion greens 1/4 lb. strip steak 1 Tbsp olive oil Juice from 1/2 a lime (optional) 1 tsp. butter 3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar...