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nomad.

@annamayb-blog / annamayb-blog.tumblr.com

20 something and enjoyably undecided about life.

fakin' it.

I would never purport to be a food expert. More like a food enthusiast. I have no formal training and learned almost everything I know about food from my parents and my grandparents (a lucky combination of Italian and German influences). There was a time when my parents expected my phone call around dinner time every night with some question about how long to cook the salmon or whether I could substitute a fresh herb with something dried.

The best way to perfect a skill is practice and experience and that's how I feel about cooking. Though I have slowed my nightly dinner calls, every time I make a dish it's a bit of an experiment and it's always a lesson learned. Food is constantly evolving and even if I make a perfect dish I always like to think about what I can do next with it. One dish equals thousands of possibilities and that's what keeps me enthusiastic.

I read cookbooks like novels and when I'm bored I scour the internet to compare recepies and decide what would be tastiest. Typically I start with someone else's recepie and then I work to make it my own. The more I learn from what others have done, the more I can learn to do things myself and come up with my dishes.

Italian food calls to me. I'm not sure if its the pasta or the decadent sauces but if I have my choice of a million different dishes, chances are I will choose something with an pasta, tomatoes and of course fresh cheese. In an effort to expand on my favorite flavors I decided to switch countries. I saw a little documentary about Spanish food and decided to give a Sofrito a try. I would in no way say that this is completely authentic but from doing a bit of research I decided there were a few essential flavors that I should incorporate to create a Span-ish sauce. Of course you can't just have the sauce and thankfully even the Spanish have a pasta dish (proof positive that it is the best food ever). It's called Fideua, and from what I can tell it is a bit of a play on paella except with pasta and you bake it in the oven.

Sofrito:

Igridents for about a quart of sauce:

1 can crushed or diced tomatoes (non seasoned)

1 Anaheim pepper

1 red pepper

1 yellow onion

2 cloves of garlic

1- 2 cups of chicken broth

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cumin

¼ teaspoon saffron

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

  Process:

Roughly chop the onion, both peppers and garlic

Add olive oil to a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the onions sweat until they are translucent but not browned

Add the peppers and sauté them until they are soft

Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant about 2 or 3 minutes (do not brown)

Add in cumin and cayenne pepper

Add in the can of tomatoes with the juices Bring everything to a boil and then turn down the heat to allow the sauce to cook with a low simmer and then add in the saffron

Continue to cook the sauce for about 45 minutes to reduce the sauce so that all the ingredients combine and the sauce has a thick consistency

Be sure to taste the sauce throughout and add salt and pepper as necessary

If the sauce becomes too thick too quickly, add in a bit of the chicken broth and continue to reduce

Once the sauce is done cooking, use a food processor and work in batches to combine the sauce until most of the large chunks are gone but there is still a good amount of texture remaining in the sauce (it should be like soup)

  Note: This makes a rather large amount of sauce. I have found that using an ice tray works great to freeze the portion of sauce I don’t use right away. That way, the next time I want to cook something I can unfreeze just the amount I need!

  Fideua for three:

  Ingredients:

1 ½ cups of the Sofrito sauce

¼ of a yellow onion

1/3 pound of crimini mushrooms

5 ounces chorizo sausage, cut into ½ inch thick rounds

¾ cup of dry white wine

1/3 of a pound angel hair pasta, broken into thirds or smaller if possible

¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Olive Oil

Process:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Coat the bottom of a medium sauce pan with olive oil and set to medium heat

Saute the onion until translucent and add the mushrooms and sauté until soft, about 4 or 5 minutes

Add 1 cup of white wine and stir to remove all stuck on bits from the bottom of the pan and cook for about 1 minute

Add sofrito sauce and chorizo and stir everything together

Bring mixture to a simmer and add the pasta

Cook until pasta is tender, about 6 or 7 minutes

Pour mixture into a baking dish and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until the top of the mixture is crispy

Sprinkle the parsley on top and serve!

summer seafood.

I tried a recipe i found on this blog: prohttp://sticksforksfingers.blogspot.com/2010/07/proscuitto-wrapped-sea-scallops-with.html

...and it turned out to be another fantastic summer dinner. In the summer months I can never get enough seafood. There is something so enticing about a summer evening meal with some bright, fresh seafood enjoyed along side a big glass of cold white wine (my current summer favorite is Muscadet). Of course now I'm getting hungry.

I made this lovely little dish when I went up to visit my parents in the country. I love scallops but I don't get too many opportunities to cook them because seafood in the city is rather pricey. So when I go up to visit my parents I always take it as a treat and try to make something that I wouldn't usually have cooked at my apartment. I followed the recipe almost exactly, except when searing the scallop/bacon bundles I added a splash of good syrupy balsamic. I found that this not only adds an extra crispy sear but also gives the dish added richness. The dish I  made was for four people so I would also recommend using two cans of beans instead of just one because it seems that they disapear a bit with just one can. However I can say that I loved the way the beans tasted (and smelled!) when cooked with a good bunch of rosemary.

Small towns that hardly get their name on a map are my favorite places to explore. This past weekend I had the joy of spending a few days in Noank, CT. It is unbelievably refreshing to see so much green and blue when you are spending summer in the concrete jungle. I don't even seem to mind the heat when it's mixed with the salty sea breeze.

i love street art, courtesy of some random van in williamsburg.

heat wave.

Attempting to enter my kitchen during the heat of summer is not a challenge for the meek or faint of heart. Considering I have the typical New York City kitchen which lacks in ventilation, windows and space, I find that my usual kitchen creativity a bit stymied when all I want to do is hide in a dark room with the AC on blast. If I do muster up the energy and endeavor to make anything more than a sandwich or a salad it requires intermittent trips to throw myself over my air conditioner so that I can avoid fainting over my stove.

  Mind you I am not being dramatic; last week the temps hit 100+ degrees and as anyone who has lived in Manhattan knows that means it was at least 150 degrees inside my apt. However it only takes a few nights of hummus, crackers and ice cream to drive me back into the kitchen. I've realized that it's all about strategy. I'm not about to roast half a pig in the middle of July (I have already tried that, though tasty, not a recommended activity unless you prepared for the scalding steam bath that awaits each time you open the oven), but I will myself to believe that I can find something delicious to make that won't result in heat exhaustion. 

  A few sacrifices are necessary. For example, no pan searing fish, since although I love food, I have no desire that its memory linger long after I have decided to move on to desert (there is really nothing quite like a lovely orange sorbet topped with the light hint of fried salmon). Then again, how many variations on salad can I make before I never want to eat any green leafy things again? It's quite the conundrum.

  And so I make a salad. Simple and delicious it includes some of my favorite summer flavors. I will find any excuse to use basil, chives, lemons, and big, fresh tomatoes (not to mention cheese, but that is more of a year-round, must add it to anything I make type of obsession). The colors are beautiful together and the taste is refreshing and hearty but not too heavy (thanks to the edemame). It made for a great lunch and it kept me full for the rest of the afternoon. I also managed to find a great combination of heirloom tomatoes which really added to the color and to be honest I think they just taste better as well.

  Ingredients for two servings:

The juice of half a lemon (about two tablespoons)

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Good size handful fresh chives, chopped

1 ½ cups Edemame

1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes

Shavings of a good nutty Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Process:

Chop the tomatoes into bite sized pieces so the juices come out

Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste

Toss together all the ingredients

sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top and chow down!

....on a side note I am also attempting to improve my food photography, we'll see how it goes.

The current contents of my fridge.  Beets, watermelon, alfalfa sprouts, beer, mozzarella, ice tea, and dirt.

I haven't quite decided what this blog should be about. It has not escaped me that there is some amount of egotism involved in making a blog since on some level you have to think you are interesting enough that people might actually take a moment to read what you have to say. On the other hand, I can whole heartedly say that I am not egotistical enough to think that anyone wants to hear about the minutia of my daily life as a law student and intern for the state (the latter of which is starting to make me want to believe the crazy conspiracy nuts out there and their theories on the evils of government, or at the very least I am fairly convinced that government employment is where you take your brain to die.) So I have thought a bit about what I do consider interesting about my life and decided that since I spend 95% of my time outside of my soul sucking office building fussing over what to eat, how to make it and what to make next, I should share my thoughts on food.

  I also love to travel. However apparently the government hasn't gotten my note about dolling out hundred dollar bills along with those pristine, gray and windowless offices they keep just for interns and my school loans are starting to feel more and more like a big ball and chain squeezing my ankle. Suffice to say I don't get out as much as I'd like. Then again I am not a recluse and when I am allowed out of the city, I think I'll brag about it here.

I can’t say if this will be interesting to everyone, but it will be interesting to me. And, well, there you have it; a bit of egotism comes with the territory.

appetite.

In describing myself, I don’t think anyone would argue when I say that I have a rather healthy appetite. This description is not limited to my urge to lick my plate after a delicious meal (thankfully a good dose of manners was instilled in me as a child and I tend to keep the plate licking to a minimum in public), but also to my appetite for experiencing everything the world has to offer.

When I was growing up, my grandfather on my mother's side used to get me a yearly subscription to National Graphic. Though I can't exactly remember why he choose this particular magazine, it recently occurred to me that I vividly remember the arrival of each and every magazine. Every month I would sit and sift through each new addition, admiring all those shiny colorful pictures of places I had never even heard, and in most cases could not pronounce. Those images and stories were better than any fairytale because they were real and that meant I could actually go there!

One magazine in particular has stuck with me since the moment I opened it. Oddly it's not even a very exotic locale nor is it in some far away country, but merely on the opposite coast. The pictures were of a sleepy coast line with cliff that look like they are just tumbling into the ocean, all surrounded by mountains of green, Big Sur, California. I have always been drawn to the ocean, something for which I can also thank my grandfather since he was the lead in promoting family trips to the outer banks when I was young and then the Delaware coastline when I was a bit older. I'm not sure why Big Sur has stuck with me this whole time or why I have managed to travel so much but I have never made it out there. I like to think that I'm saving it, that when I finally manage to sit still for a while it will be in a cottage on the edge of one of those cliffs so I can smell the sea breeze every morning.

For now, I haven't quite made it that far. This will be my third year living in New York City and I am feeling that familiar restlessness. The only problem is that I'm just not sure where to next, but the joy is in the process, no? (At least I'm trying to convince myself as much)

Most of my life I have always chalked up my desire to pack up and move on to my parents and an adolescence of moving around to different cities and countries. However, I am starting to think that I may have my grandfather to thank for inspiring this appetite.

Usually we find a short way by a long wandering. I am certainly still wandering, though I sometimes have the urge to find a place in the world to call my own, I haven't quite figured out how to get there yet. And so I continue on, making it up as it goes along.