Friday, February 26, 2010


OK. Enough already. I'm done with this white stuff.

I've baked enough oatmeal cookies to lower the cholesterol of every fat, lazy, self-important legislator in New Jersey AND Pennsylvania. I've made ednough soup and chili to float and fart myself into oblivion. Really. I'm still not tired of making pizza with my kids, or reading to them all morning and afternoon, snuggled under blankets on the couch in the den, as we like to do.

But c'mon now. Enough is enough. I give in , Mother/Father/Uncle/Cousin/Crotchety Old Neighbor Nature. You win. Now gimme back my driveway.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pizza Dreaming,,The Downside of Surfing the Web

On so many cabin-fever-inspired days in February, the mind tends to wander. With the pouring rain and sleet half-melting the ugly mounds of snow in and around Lawrenceville, I reluctantly started to surf the web (I was actually babysitting two repairmen in my kitchen who were resurfacing my Corian countertops). I tend to obsess about pizza, and lately, making lots of it at home, I'm looking for inspiration and nuggets of knowledge.

Woe is me. I stumbled upon a website about pizza from Naples.. But not just pizza from Naples. but a listing of the 10 Best Pizzerias in Naples (and therefore the 10 Best in The World). Join me now for a few sighs and read about Vera PIzza Napoletana.

Ok, I'm starting up my Cuisinart stand mixer.....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Holey Shamoley Chili Posole!

Winter day. Slow cooker. Recipe in the Wednesday NY Times Dining section that contains ingredients that I already had in my kitchen and fridge and pantry---amazing! Didn't have to buy a thing! Even had the chipotles in adobo!

So I had to do it. And it was beyond delicious.

The recipe:
Turkey and Hominy Chili With Smoky Chipotle

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 pounds ground turkey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 large Spanish onions, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, to taste, seeded and chopped
1 28-ounce can tomato purée
2 15-ounce cans white hominy, drained
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
3 large carrots, peeled and diced (my tweak)
1 12-ounce bottle beer
2 to 3 chipotles in adobo sauce, to taste, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Sour cream, for serving
5 scallions, white and light green parts, sliced, for serving (optional)
1 bunch chopped cilantro, for serving (optional)
Lime wedges, for serving.(optional)

1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil. Brown half the ground turkey with 3/4 teaspoon salt and
1/4 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in half the garlic and half the chili powder and sauté for another 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer turkey to a bowl. Brown remaining turkey in same manner, transferring it to bowl with rest of turkey.
2. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pot and sauté onions, bell peppers and jalapeño peppers with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.
3. Return ground turkey and any liquid in bowl to pot and add tomato purée, hominy, beans, beer, chipotles, oregano and bay leaves with 3 cups water. Simmer chili, partly covered, until it is thick enough for your taste, about 1 hour. Serve hot, garnished with sour cream, scallions, cilantro and lime wedges.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
After Step 2, I put everything into the slow cooker, brought things to a boil and simmered it for just over 4 hours. Use more chipotles if you like a smokier taste (I used just two). Easy to make, and this recipe makes a ton of it. Even the kids liked it!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Took the kids out for some sledding on Thursday.

The sky was amazingly clear and blue, the winds were sporadic but strong when they blew, and the hill we chose, less than a block away from the house, and next to Lawrence High School's football field, was a pristine steep slope of white. It was tricky, a little treacherous and pretty exhausting, especially after the driveway and sidewalks were shoveled out. But damn, it was fun to discover how crazy and reckless my kids really are. Ben is the speed freak, while Sophie is the serious optimist, hurtling down a steep slope and hoping for the best.

I just tried to stay out of the way while I shot some photos with my Blackjack.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beneath The Snow

With a blizzard like this one, there's really not much to say, and plenty to watch, in awe.

This is a photo of my front yard, and the cherry tree at its center. Beautiful, majestic and frightening all at once. The wonder and irony of Mother Nature.

The kids and I are baking oatmeal cookies. Chicken soup is simmering on the stove. Plenty of bread, milk and eggs in the house. Radio programs from all over the country streaming over the laptop in the kitchen.

Not a bad day, actually.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Call


The wings have been marinating for two days. The celery and carrots are cut. The wing sauce is ready. A path to the monster grill has been shoveled. And I've made a batch of MY pizza dough. Lots of options for Super Bowl XLIV dinner today.

The Call: Saints 34 Colts 31, in a nail-biter, field-goal-winner of a game.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Takoyaki, The New Crack

Chef Ryo Igarashi and his wife, Nicole have established a location and they will hook you if you let them. Again, you have been warned. I barely escaped their persuasive culinary talents on Saturday, using what appeared to be a developing blizzard as my excuse to leave.
Otherwise, I might still be at MARU GLOBAL, eating away in a trance..
Oh yes, it was that good.

I had been seemingly, innocently invited to lunch at Maru Global for a "focus group" survey of some of its menu items. When I arrived at their small storefront location (255 S. 10th St., 267-273-0567), it appeared to be a bare-bones operation, still without signage, a sleek white 20-seat, open kitchen kind of place. Black tables and chairs, white floors and walls, minimalist lighting, a Philly laboratory for Japanese street food. I grabbed a can of green tea from the refrigerator case, perused the menu and was handed a "Focus Group Questionnaire," which asked me to rate my forthcoming food on taste, appearance and creativity.
I was then quickly served a "Japanese Caesar salad", simple romaine lettuce dotted with flecks of anchovies and whole toasted walnuts, lightly dressed with an emulsion of olive oil, sesame paste, lemon, soy and parmesan, with additional feathery shavings of cheese floating on top. A nice, tart-nutty wake-up for the tastebuds. This was just one of eight salads on the ambitious menu; others included a tofu and tomato salad; a "Japanese potato salad"; chilled edamame dusted with Kosher salt; octopus salad; wild seaweed in a sweet dressing; and a whole grain salad of black and brown rices, quinoa, millet, vegatables and a basil coulis.
But about the takoyaki. Taken literally, it means "pan-fried octopus," and it is a popular street food in Japan, a fried dumpling studded (usually) with red pickled ginger, scallion and bits of baby octopus. At Maru Global, the bite-size crepe balls, sans octopus, are cooked in an authentic takoyaki pan, which looks like a cast iron egg carton, and they form the base medium for a broad spectrum of variations, from octopus and shrimp to chicken, sirloin, spicy shrimp, even BBQ, cheesesteak and cornbread versions. Chef Ryo served up a small cardboard boat of "original" dumplings stuffed with shrimp to start. They were delicate, greaseless balls, dusted with bright green dried seaweed, drizzled with a sweet ponzu sauce, and topped with small ribbons of dried bonito, a bit of a jumble to look at. Eaten with a toothpick, the airy orbs exploded in my mouth: ginger, onion, shrimp and steam, a sensational, sensual experience. I swooned, and was served a couple more. The salty seaweed, the smoky, bacony bonito, the sweet-spicy ponzu, what a riot of flavors, almost too much to process. I can't say that I've ever tried anything like this in any food setting. What a strangely seductive snack.

Craving more, I was then offered a small bowl of Gomoku Gohan--Five Things Rice--seasoned rice swirled with steamed seasonal veggies. Carrot, onion, zucchini, peppers and diakon were tucked into my rice bowl, and it proved to calm my dazzled palate, but just for a little while. I wanted more takoyaki.

But the snow was flying into Philly at a furious pace, and I had my reason to escape, but I knew that I did not want to. I ordered a dozen balls to go, and told myself that I could make it home and share them with some friends that would be visiting later. It was the toughest drive back to Lawrenceville I've ever made.

Maru Global is open for business now, and I would gently urge you to get there as soon as possible, before the place is overrun with crazy-eyed foodies clawing their way to the counter, scooping up every morsel, licking fingers and moaning for more.

This IS the new crack, and you have been warned.