i'm a pepper.

for the last 17 years, guns n' roses have been working on their album, "chinese democracy." no one thought they would ever finish it, especially not dr pepper. it seems as though the band took so long to make the album that, in march, dr pepper announced it would give a free dr pepper to EVERYONE IN AMERICA if they finished and released the album this year.

and they did it.
and dr pepper is making good on their promise. today only.

go to the dr pepper website, and fill out the form. they will send you a coupon and you get a free bottle of soda (though i think it is better in a can). unfortunately, it seems as though many people are doing it, because my page has been trying to complete the form for hours. yes, i have tried more than once. and tried the hotline.

but, it's worth a shot, even if it is made with high fructose corn syrup. it's so good. i am hoping for one with imperial sugar when i am in texas next week.

chipotle, for dominic.

chipotle is not my favorite place. growing up in texas, i was used to having tasty, cheap mexican food at my disposal. that is, until i moved to new york. there are seemingly many, many mexican joints, but i have yet to find one i really like. they just lacking, in everything.

and new yorkers love burritos. maybe it's all of america, but i am unsure. real mexican food is not so burrito-heavy, but, well, you take what you can get.

we used to have burritoville, which was my favorite of the chain burrito places, but it closed down, of course. (i would eat one during the faculty meeting at school every friday, and my fridays are not the same without it.) it was spicy and lovely, and nothing came from a can. my kind of place.

there is a chipotle near my office, and my co-workers love it. i rarely want to go. it just doesn't do it for me. and there are some reasons.
1. it was owned by mcdonalds. i learned of its ownership many years ago, and used to boycott it just on principle. mcdonalds is known for using less-than-ideal products and advertising gimmicks, and i just did not want to support the operation. a nugget is not a part of a chicken, and those fries are not vegetarian.
2. the 1000-calorie burrito. we are supposed to eat approximately 2000 calories per day. probably less, really. there is no reason for one item to have so many calories. it's hard to burn. i realize that mexican food items are often pretty fatty, but this takes the cake (or the burrito). this is no lie. in new york, chains are required to post calorie-content on the menus and i've seen it with my very own eyes.
3. i just don't think these burritos are all that.

my friend, dominic, was dreaming of burritos one night at spuyten duyvil when i started to rant about chipotle. he was surprised to learn i was not a fan of the chain. i was suprised to learn, as he whipped out his fancy iphone and proved to me, that chipotle is not really like mcdonalds at all. or tries not to be.

From Newsweek:
"In 2000, Chipotle has been serving sour cream and cheese free of the hormone rBGH, organic beans, and naturally raised pork, chicken and meat. Last month it announced it would buy locally grown produce whenever possible. Up next: dairy products from pasture-raised cows.

Chipotle uses few USDA-certified organic products and instead follows its own, sometimes less stringent, protocol. Pigs destined for a Chipotle Carnitas burrito receive no antibiotics, eat a vegetarian diet and must have access to either open pasture or deeply bedded pens. Unlike organically raised animals, their feed does not have to be organic and pesticide-free. Both protocols allow pigs to spend their lives indoors in crowded conditions, though farmers like Kremer shun that practice."

ok, ok.
now, i can criticize the taste of their products, but not their practices. it seems that they have seen the light. they are trying, at least. those are horomone-free calories. and from animals that might have seen grass. maybe. but that's a rant for another time.


have i mentioned cooking light? my favorite cooking magazine? it comes out monthly, and the november/thanksgiving issue is always incredible. it's how i learned to cook a turkey last year, no small feat for a person who has been vegetarian for more than half her life.

so, i decided i was going to make a variety of dishes from the magazine last tuesday, as we had an abundance of what seemed like every vegetable under the sun.

first, i made cauliflower gratin, using this recipe, and a mix of broccoli and a fancy, beautiful varietal of cauliflower. (because these recipes are available, i am just going to link to them.) i used a pie pan instead of a baking dish and soy milk instead of cow, but, i followed the recipe pretty closely.

i then made brussels spouts, using this recipe, with raisins instead of currants.

photo one: sauteing the pine nuts.
photo two: everything is prepped. (there is vegetable broth in the jam jar.)
photos three and four: the entire dinner, with a salad of arugula and tomato. and brown jasmine rice.
you, too, can make this meal.

palmiers, palmiers.

in france, there are two pastries that i love, and both are full of butter and sugar: brioches and palmiers. the french don't screw around with their treats. each one is as lovely as the next.

liz and kim and i had a pre-thanksgiving dinner party last night, mostly because liz wanted to make and eat stuffing. in addition to all the savory foods, i made the baby apple cakes (yes, again, but for a different audience) and miniature palmiers.

the barefoot contessa helped with this recipe. and it's so easy. and awesome.
1. mix 1/2 cup sugar with a pinch of salt. spread half of it onto your workstation (i did it on a wooden cutting board).
2. unfold one piece of puff pastry over the sugar, evenly distribute the rest of the sugar over it, and roll it until it becomes approximately a 13-inch square. yes, sugar all over it.
3. fold in each side halfway, and then fold the whole thing in half. it will have six layers.
4. slice it into 1/2 slices (the same way you do when you buy the frozen rolls of cookie dough).
5. lay them onto pieces of parchment paper; they will look like teeny pretzels.
6. cook for 5 minutes at 350 and then flip them with a spatula and cook for 4-5 more.

yep. on the cake plate with cranberry-chocolate-oatmeal squares. looks like the plate of goodies after synagogue, the oneg shabbat.

ready or not.

sometimes i just don't want to sit down and write about the food. i photograph it all the time, with the intention of writing with regularity, but it gets late and then, well, i am asleep. and then i have weeks of food pictures and it is overwhelming to write about a variety of dishes at the same time.

but i am going to be better. starting today.


afraid of risotto.

i recently used a sweet potato risotto recipe from real simple. we had an enormous butternut squash, so i used that instead of sweet potato. it looks very pretty, especially next to a colorful salad of arugula, carrot, and fresh-roasted pumpkin seeds.

i had recently listened to a podcast on npr: food about risotto, about how americans are afraid of risotto, about how easy it is to make. i was never afraid of it; i mean, it's just arborio rice. what is there to be afraid of?

but, it wasn't so exciting, that risotto. i am unsure why; there were fresh spices, a good dry white wine, and even a bit of red bell pepper. it was just lacking. no idea why, really. it's maddening.

baby cakes.

i don't want to reveal this recipe. it's my mother's apple cake, but, in this case, miniature. i loved to eat this cake growing up, and i initially did not even want to learn to make it. i loved the idea that my mother would just bake one for me when i visited. it's super sugary, and full of real apples, but i was always allowed to eat it for breakfast.

i made the small ones for my students, for the afternoon they decorated the school for halloween. it was already weeks ago, but i am still thinking about the cakes.

they were lovely.
maybe, one day, i will give you the recipe. maybe.

quick, and to the point.

it's that time of year. when the weather changes all of a sudden, and there's rain, and you are not feeling so hot. after work today, i went immediately home to rest, missing a friend's party for her bar. after a shower and a cup of tea comprised of peppermint, chamomile, cinnamon, and maybe echinacea, i decided to make dinner.

liz has a new system, which includes making a list of the vegetables in the refrigerator. she posts it on the door, and puts a star next to the items that are the oldest, reminding us to use them first. we've had way too many greens for at least a month, and i feel a terrible pressure to use them. i don't like to be wasteful. the current bag of greens is a combination of arugula and spinach.

the dinner. so simple.
i cooked some organic pasta, and shredded some white cheddar. after i drained the pasta, i mixed in the cheddar, as well as some chopped greens. i topped it off with some sliced tomato.

really, it was very good.


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