Thursday, July 19, 2012

Top Chef Seattle? (part 2)

This morning the van below was parked very close to where I work:

I'm fairly certain it was the hair and make-up van for Top Chef.  I'm aware this sounds delusional and stalker-esque, but for the sake of argument, here's the evidence:

  • When my co-worker and I passed the van, people were getting their hair and make-up done.
  • Various film crews were seen in a 3 block radius. One of these crews was using a van that was both distinctive and identical to a van my friend and I saw two weeks ago outside a wine bar in our neighborhood.  This wine bar was rumored to be filming for TC, but it seemed particularly far-fetched at the time.
  • A "commercial" was filming a block away at one of my favorite coffee shops.  We all know what that means. 
  • There was at least one otherwise empty storefront nearby in which the windows were (within the last day or so) covered with paper.  Despite efforts to obscure the contents, stoves and other kitchen equipment were clearly visible.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Top Chef Seattle?

Photo Credit: Kerry McHugh

Top Chef is supposedly filming in Seattle and there were rumors that it was going to be filming at a roller girls bout tonight.  Mariana -- do you watch Top Chef?  My friends and I have been trying to catch a glimpse of them since the news that they were going to be filming here -- this is the closest I've potentially come to spotting the new season.  What do you think -- could it be the next cast?

P.S. What this photo doesn't capture is the camera crew following them around.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Any ideas?

 Hey Mariana -- It's been a while.  I hope your summer has been lovely.  Have you made anything really great lately?  Are you cooking at all?  I wasn't cooking much for a long, long time, but I've started again.

I'm getting a CSA box this summer and need some help figuring out what to make with some of the stuff.  This guy on the right (according to the CSA box he's a 'super red cabbage') is what's really throwing me for a loop:   

I don't know if I've ever made anything with cabbage.  Do you have any favorite recipes?  The purple basil on the left has already been turned into pesto.

Any ideas for these peaches?  They're hard as a rock right now:

 Or these plum/apricot hybrids?

(Confidentially, the apriums have been driving me nuts -- this is the third week in a row my box has been stocked with them and to be honest...they're not my favorites.)

The radishes are going on butter sandwiches:

  And the cherries are for eating:

A bag of lettuce went un-photographed -- maybe because lettuce is kinda boring?  But please, let me know if you have any ideas!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You can't beet this (!)

ADM*, can you believe I made a pun in the title? I couldn't get it out of my head and it was like when I'm dancing: the beet grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go, but then I a girl came by and pulled my hair—totally ruining my groove, right?—and I looked at my crew and said, "Let's go beet her up." And now maybe you're reading this, thinking: Mariana, if you were surprised that you made one pun, why go and make three? But things come in threes, Katie! It's out of my hands!

Now that that's out of my system, let's go back and remember how much I like beets: a lot. Remember I once made you a chocolate cake that had beets in it? And that was even before I knew how much I like them by themselves. Since then, I've posted a few times about beets and my love for them. We are now in prime beet season and I am all over it.

Want to know what else inspired me? This new city of mine, Pittsburgh, you know what it's full of? Chock full of? White people!—all different kinds, many of which have cuisines that also love beets. I'm not quite to the point where I want to eat borscht (mostly because I've never had it and kind of want to try some extremely good borscht before going down that path myself—so if anyone out there has borscht recommendations in the Iron City, let me know) but I'm tired of eating roasted beets. I had some goat cheese in my fridge, but didn't feel like making a salad. Then I thought that what I really wanted to do was eat some beets in a mushy form, but not really a pure beet puree (seems a lot like baby food) so I decided: why not make some mashed potatoes that are mostly beets and then put in some goat cheese?

And then it turned out the idea was good. So good, in fact, that I think I'm going to make this for Thanksgiving. Really, if the end product weren't so ridiculously and beautifully red, you might be hard-pressed to realize it's made with beets at all: it's rich and chunky like mashed potatoes, a little creamy, but with that nice earthy sweetness that beets provide, but not in an assertive way.

Mashed beets

10-12 small beets, or the equivalent of that with larger beets
2 medium baking potatoes
1/4-1/2 c. goat cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
salt & pepper

Steam or pressure cook the beets until they are very soft, maybe 30 minutes (longer if you're not pressure cooking). While that happens, boil the potatoes until they, too, are soft.

Once cool enough to handle, peel the beets. Cut the potatoes into chunks. Mash these things up together.

Stir in the goat cheese and sour cream until it's the sort of texture and taste you want. Also add the salt and pepper.

*¡Ay dios mio!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Hey, my friend, it has been a long time! I have missed you and things have changed! #1: I no longer live in Tucson! #2: You should address all things to me as Mariana, Esquire! #3: I live in Pittsburgh, PA! This is all a lot to get used to.

First, here are my new cooking digs:

I haven't been cooking very much...but your zombie post reminded me that this is something I like to do. So let me set this post up for you: before I left Tucson I spent a lot of time worrying about how much I was going to miss it—or, really, how much I would miss my life there. It turns out that I spent so much time worrying about how much I was going to miss it that I wore myself out and haven't missed it too bad at all. But, I still had enough worry in me to worry about missing arguably the best and most Tucson day of the year: the All Souls' Procession. People painted like skeletons, walking down the street, remembering people who have passed away, enjoying being alive, and in nice weather. This is generally what Pittsburgh looks like:

Luckily, through mutual friends, I've found some Tucson people here and, to stave off our sadness, nostalgia, and impending winter, we had ourselves a nice dinner of green chile stew and bolillo rolls. It kind of worked at making me feel better. You know what's more helpful than stew and rolls, though? The fact that Pittsburgh's rad!

Bolillo rolls

2 c. water
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1 package yeast
5 1/2-6 c. white flour

Make those 2 cups of water warm, then dissolve in the sugar, salt, and butter. Let the water cool to under 110º, then dissolve in the yeast. Let it sit a minute or two, sniff it and make sure it smells yeasty so that you know your yeast is alive.

Stir the yeasty water into 5 cups of flour until the dough is stiff. On a floured surface, knead the dough 5-8 minutes, until it stops being sticky and, when you poke it with your finger, the hole doesn't immediately disappear. Put the kneaded dough into a bowl, coat it with a little bit of oil on top, cover with a cloth or plastic wrap in a warmish place, and let it rise 1 1/2-2 hours.

At the end of the first rise, punch it! Now form as many rolls as you want/can, in a sort of oblong shape.

Let the rolls rise until doubled in size, about 35 minutes.

Heat your oven to 375º. Cut a slit in those rolls and maybe brush them with some melted butter.

Bake 25-40 minutes, depending on the size of the roll. Eat some spicy soup and think of home!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Zombie Blog + Happy Halloween

Mariana, unfortunately we totally have a zombie blog on our hands.  A lifeless shell of what it once was, our blog haunts me with regret, feelings of guilt and obligations unfulfilled.  I loved our blog, I loved keeping in touch with you, and I loved the food we made.  But somehow I just haven't posted.  But I don't want to kill it completely.

Fall is officially in full swing and I feel renewed excitement about cooking, making me hopeful (but skeptical) that returning to the blog will happen naturally.  I'm home in Tucson for the weekend and this morning I made my mom and Oliver some pear cardamom coffee cake (pictured at left).  Sadly, while edible, it was nothing to write home (let alone a blog entry) about.  So instead of including a recipe I decided to post a list of recipes that I want to try adapting to the awesome combo of pear and cardamom:
Mariana -- have you been making anything lately?

P.S. I loved your Halloween pictures on facebook.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fish Cake

It turns out: writing a thesis and preparing to leave a city and friends you love for a job that could be most accurately be described as "dream job" is a really great way to neglect a blog.

But, this past weekend, blogging and partying collided in a very good way. Guess what this is:

A fish cake. I made it. No lie. With a nod to BonAppetempt, here's the Martha Stewart version (left) and mine (right):

Eat it, Martha—my cake totally looks better than yours.

To make it, I used Smitten Kitchen's Best Birthday Cake recipe. I made a recipe and a half, and this made three thin layers of cake, baked in a cookie sheet with a rim. Then I cut them into a fish shape (the fins are made out of parts that were left over), put vanilla pudding on the bottom layer and cut-up strawberries in between the middle and top layers.

Then I made a recipe and a half of the 9"-layer cake version of the Swiss Buttercream, tinted it sea foam green, frosted on the crumb coat, waited a bit, re-frosted and put on the scales. Six rolls of Necco wafers worth of scales.

Here's the cake on fire, because it was a birthday cake:

And it was delicious!

Just so you don't think that cake was the highlight of the party, let me show you what else we did:

That's my thumb wrestling cage. For the 4th Annual Mexican Cage Thumb Wrestling Tournament.

And here's our Communist Party FunAppetempt:

And, after all that: the best guitarty* ever. Behold:


*Friends with guitars + friends with voices + party = guitarty.