Thursday, June 30, 2011

A few sandwiches short of a picnic

My move is tomorrow. I'm not quite done packing (read: that load of laundry I did today won't pack itself). So what do I do?

Make cookies, that's right. You see, someone in the NYU maintenance staff who shall not be named did me a favor that shall also not be named. I promised him homemade cookies. I delivered by borrowing some cooking equipment and half-assing together a recipe that turned out pretty well. Surprised? Me neither, not because I'm just that good (I'm not), but because it's butter, sugar, flour, and cocoa, and nothing can go wrong.

Hannah's Half-ass Cookies

Take a stick of butter that was hanging around forlornly in your fridge, waiting for you to abandon it when you move four blocks away. Melt it because you packed your beaters and there's no way in hell you're creaming together butter and sugar by hand. Add about 3/4 cup white sugar. Stir frenetically with the one wooden spoon you haven't yet packed. Add an egg and a slosh of vanilla. Stir slightly less frenetically. Add about 1 cup flour, 1/3 cup cocoa, about 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda because you don't know where the baking powder is, and you figure it's in the box of kitchen supplies that's already been taped up. Stir gently until it comes together in a sticky dough. Taste. Approve. Bake in heaping tablespoons that you threw on a borrowed cookie sheet while trying to calm your jangling nerves at 350 F for 13 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet. Place in sandwich bags to give to people who are helping you out more than you deserve.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I love perfect timing.

I'm desperately trying to empty my fridge--thus the eating about a quarter cup of crumbled Parmesan with a spoon that occurred earlier--and what do I run across but an egg salad recipe that uses every single thing I'm trying to get rid of and is pretty much the Platonic ideal of egg salad to boot. Three eggs (four, but who's counting). Three tablespoons mayo (yogurt, but who's counting). An onion (large, caramelized). Toasted minced garlic. Thyme, salt, pepper, hot sauce. I ate all of it in the form of lettuce wraps, and I wished I had more.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


In the interests of using up all my refrigerated products before The Big Move on Friday, I found myself staring a large number of radishes in the face, wondering if there was an alternative to just slicing them and gobbling them down raw as the world's most monotonous salad.

Still having trouble making these horizontal. Have to go through
a laborious Picasa Web Album process to make it so.
Yes, yes there is. I've never had cooked radish before (except for the boiled Asian radish served in udon soups and so on), and these slow-roasted radishes were a good introduction. After a very long time in the oven, tossed with olive oil and rosemary and an onion and some cloves of garlic, they get soft and almost buttery. Here's a cooking tip for you: as soon as you get home for your lunch break, throw the radishes into the unheated oven and turn it to 450. When you leave 30 minutes later to go back to lab, turn off the oven, leaving the radishes inside. Instaradishes. Of course, as soon as I had made dinner, I sat down at the computer to eat and almost immediately found this recipe. I am intrigued. More radishes are in order.

Oh, and here, white beans with spinach tossed in a yogurt, mint, and lemon sauce. Think this, but with no tagliatelle, and with spinach instead of peas. I considered making tagliatelle, but somehow, even though work is a 9-to-5 sort of thing (mostly) and I don't have studying to do (mostly), I find myself running around like a crazy person. Perhaps next week. I've still got all that semolina, after all...

Monday, June 27, 2011


Nothing too interesting today, but I figured I should make a post since I hadn't done that in a few days. Really, I haven't done anything productive in a few days. It's been fun in a questionably harmful, definitely unsustainable kind of way. New York's potential for endless entertainment is both a blessing and a curse.

Seriously, why the hell aren't these photos
uploading in the proper orientation? They're
horizontal everywhere but on the actual blog!
Hey, look, chickpeas and rice with turmeric, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, and those radish greens I'd mentioned. They're delicious, with a peppery bite similar to that of arugula but a texture more like cooked chard or spinach. I'd love to try them in a frittata or chop them up for a grilled cheese sandwich. Here's the thing: I sincerely doubt that any major grocery store (and probably few to none of the minor ones) sell radish greens on their own. I'm just going to have to get inventive about radish usage if I'm going to eat these again. Which would be nice, really.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Further kneading

This post title brought to you not only by yet another bread-making session, but also by Ferdydurke, which continues to be awesome. What to read next, The Man Died or An Unfortunate Woman?

The Amalgamated Quizbowl Practice Dessert of the Week is cinnamon sugar pretzel bites that do not have the greasy buttery mouthfeel of your mall-stand pretzel (or, to be fair, the same almost disturbing degree of buttery flavor) but do have that characteristic chew and crunchy, tooth-melting sugar coating.

Peter Reinhart's pretzel method is appealing for a few reasons: no poaching, no room-temperature rise that would require me to be home from work early in order to implement, no egg wash. But in every photo I saw of pretzels made according to the simple baking soda bath rather than one-minute poach, the pretzels had a bilious pallor rather than a rich brown color, and even though I wanted to coat them in cinnamon sugar, I also wanted there to be a polar bear-dark skin underneath. Furthermore, how to coat them with cinnamon sugar? I could toss them in butter and then in sugar post-baking, but I wasn't confident in the sticking ability of the butter, and plus, holy god how could you toss anything in butter and feed it to people and still be able to respect yourself in the morning as a future physician? Solution: poach the Reinhart-method dough, use a cornstarch-and-butter glaze so as not to waste an egg* or impart the greasiness of mass production to the pretzels, and liberally douse the pretzel bites in cinnamon sugar immediately after their hot baking soda water and buttery cornstarch spa treatments.

34 ounces of pretzel dough
One teeeeny pretzel!
What do you think of the results?

Yeah, me, neither. Still not dark enough... maybe I just didn't leave them in the oven for sufficient time?

*Seriously, this cornstarch thing is my new favorite baking glaze.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Fresh English peas: way too delicious for their own good.

You see, they're not in season very long, they only stay fresh for 24 to 48 hours, they're expensive (probably because of that freshness issue), and they require shelling.

Step 1: obtain peapod.
Step 2: unzip with thumb, ignoring disgusting blister
incurred while baking bread.
To test whether these are truly fresh, shake the pods; if you hear rattling, the peas have dried out and are past their prime. The day of purchase, shell them and boil them for three minutes, then immediately rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking. A third of a pound (purchased from a farmer's market stand whose proprietor thought my pea maraca moment was very amusing) yielded less than a cup of peas. I could probably eat at least five cups, so you see the danger.

A mere dollar bought me a massive bunch of radishes, and for another dollar I got some lovely carrots. Clearly yet another salad was in order! Bored with this blog yet?

I really wanted to make this horizontal, but for some reason the rotating function sucks.

Farmer Dude also told me that radish greens are edible, but that they're too "prickly" to eat raw, so these greens are probably going to be steamed and cooked up with leftover chickpeas and rice and an overripe tomato for dinner either tomorrow or Saturday.

Pretend this is horizontal, too!

Because I'm a fan of completely destroying the good work I try to do via healthful dinners, I also made a half-recipe of ginger chocolate chunk cookies that are tasty, but ugly, ate way too many of them, and gave the rest away before I did even more damage.

On the "probably not what you want to hear right after I talk about food" side of things: I spent an hour or so in the endoscopy suite of the VA and saw two colonoscopies, two upper GI endoscopies, a stricture dilation, and a lot of great GI-related banter. One guy had candida all up in his esophagus, which was simultaneously awesome and sort of awful to see, and one of the colonoscopies was performed on a guy with what the doctor I was trailing called a "seriously cavernous colon." The thing's diameter was large enough for it to qualify as prime Manhattan real estate, especially the cecum, which seemed to have two lumina as the result of an appendectomy the patient had years ago. I'm not thinking of actually going into GI, but our GI faculty seem to have fun doing what they do, despite the squishy sounds and general yuck factor. And there are squishy sounds, oh, yes indeed.

Yogurt mint salad dressing
1/4 cup plain yogurt, Greek or otherwise
1/4 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus the zest of one lemon
honey to taste
salt and pepper to taste
mint to taste (I used about a teaspoon dried)

Mix the ingredients. Dress your salad. Ain't life grand.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If you can't stand the heat...

Oh, summer. Season of late sunsets. Season of flaunting good lab practice and wearing shorts and sandals to work because your lab's AC is broken and it feels like a bikram yoga studio in there. Season of eating salads because the combination of walking around all day and said toasty, toasty lab makes you crave cold things.

This (sloppily plated) salad is actually more wintry in its flavor profile: lentils flavored with tarragon, blue cheese, apples, and thinly sliced raw onion, all with a dusting of black pepper mixed with a teeny bit of celery salt. I sort of wanted to make lettuce wraps out of the components, since I got this huge and gorgeous head of lettuce from the farmer's market today, but I got lazy at the last minute and just dumped everything on the greens.

Now, to chow down on the rest of the apple and attempt to complete the series of tasks that reared their ugly heads today. All at once. Why does this happen?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sometimes I realize what Tom Waits is actually singing about, and then I let out this forlorn "Oh."

The title of this post really has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that I just paid attention to the lyrics of "Pasties and a G String" for the first time since maybe fifth grade when I really had no idea what any of those phrases meant, and I let out a forlorn "Oh." In my head. Because I was walking down 3rd Avenue at the time. Okay, back to reality:

Patricia Wells and Jacques Collet have versions of this recipe for a Mediterranean semolina bread with fennel and saffron in it. I'm loving having semolina flour on hand; breads made from it have an incredible texture. Next time, I'm trying semolina pancakes! But perhaps without the fennel... I used half the amount dictated by the recipe, and it was still very, very assertive.

This loaf (even with the fennel dialed down somewhat) went very well with a kale salad with orange balsamic vinaigrette and olives, orange segments, a smattering of raw almonds, and kidney beans on top.

Oh, and Ferdydurke is pretty fantastic. It reminds me of Petersburg in some ways and The Trial in others and everything Beckett ever wrote in others, mixed with a lot of its own thoroughly unique character. I highly recommend picking it up... after I've returned it to the library, of course.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Short stack

I like how this "getting rid of ingredients before the big move" schtick is going so far.

What this lacks in diameter it makes up for in height: carrot chickpea burger (original recipe, for a change! Get pumped!) on a leftover pretzel roll (as seen yesterday, unoriginal recipe). It's pretty straightforward in terms of taste; I'm thinking some chopped olives or pickles might add a little zing, if that's what you're into.

I finished Point Counter Point today, as well as Beauty Salon (the latter is quite short). Point Counter Point was not what I expected, but it was pretty fantastic. The back cover informed me that DH Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, John Middleton Murry, and Huxley are "lightly disguised and readily distinguishable" as characters, but I don't know enough about... anything, really to readily distinguish them except according to their professions. They, along with other perhaps lightly disguised and readily distinguishable real-world figures, participate in sort of a textual give-and-take, ebbing and flowing that doubtless gives the book its title. Any more would spoil the plot (or plot-like apparatus), so I'll just say that you should absolutely pick this up. It's not exactly beach reading, however. And nor is Beauty Salon, despite its brevity. It's Julio Cortazar for the AIDS generation. It's weird and deeply disturbing and touching and... yeah, read this one, too.

Carrot chickpea burgers
1 1/4 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/3 cup chopped onion
two small carrots, peeled and steamed
juice and zest of one lime
1/2 tsp cumin
Sriracha and Tony Chachare's (read: salt, pepper, cayenne, and paprika) to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Chop 1/4 cup chickpeas and reserve, along with about 2 tablespoons brown rice and the onions. Food process the carrots and the remaining chickpeas and rice until almost textureless, then mix in the reserved rice and chickpeas, onions, lime juice and zest, and spices. Form into patties (it will make about six good-sized ones) about 1/4 inch thick and bake on parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet 20 to 25 minutes, or until the outside is dry and crispy.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I had all these ambitions to make delicious things today, but then I got home from the Bang on a Can marathon concert having eaten nothing all day but half a watermelon (seriously guys no judging please) and desperately wanted food as soon as possible. I was only there about three hours--I say only because it's a thirteen-hour concert, so attending less than a quarter of it ain't no thang--but I saw Michael Gordon, heard two pieces involving the very, very impressive Young People's Chorus of New York City, and had a tuba blown in my face by one of these guys. Oh, and stared forlornly through glass windows at this thing.

Read the article! It's quite good.
Okay, so while I didn't make the deliciousness that I'd planned, I did create these homemade pretzel rolls and topped them with defrosted walnut-mushroom pâté, veggies, and Dijon mustard.

It's probably a good thing that I halved the roll recipe; if I hadn't had to save the two remaining rolls for tomorrow's deliciousness deferred, more sandwich action would have occurred. This combination is a serious winner. I suggest pretzel rolls in general; the little bit of extra effort it takes to poach the rolls in baking soda solution is worth the chewiness and that slightly bitter crust that makes a pretzel such a joy.

Boy, I could get used to this summer thing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sir! I have a plan!

I have quite a few small containers of raw ingredients, including five types of bean, two types of pasta, one type of rice, two types of flour, and a large amount of frozen walnut-mushroom spread that really needs to go. In addition, I'm moving on July 3rd (granted, I'm moving four blocks up the road, but still). Consequently, the plan is to purchase only produce that can be used up within a few days and completely eschew the purchase of beans, flour, eggs, cheese, or other staples. This may result in a blog hiatus when I'm forced to do things like eat lima beans with brown rice and frozen spinach three days in a row. In the meantime, though:

Seared watermelon, fried pignoli and white beans (was going to make a fritter but got lazy, and this is yet another step to proving the hypothesis that Anything Can Be Fried and Taste Better For It), Parmesan kale chips, and basil-white wine gelée. All that I purchased was kale and watermelon, I got to use up the rest of the white wine that had been stagnating in my fridge, and the Parmesan and pignoli and white beans need to be used up as well, so I'm well on my way! Bonus: I got to feel fancy. And eat the watermelon I didn't sear. That was pretty great.

Mmm, basil leaves floating in basil gel.
I'm of two minds about seared watermelon. On the one hand,
it's ridiculously good. On the other, I love plain watermelon
more than almost anything else I can put in my mouth, so the
idea of improving on it is utterly incomprehensible to me, and
it can arrive at my mouth more quickly than this as well!

Kale chips really can't be improved upon. No way, no how.
My various projects o' the day included fetching books at NYU's largest undergrad library (I'm already well into Point Counter Point). Obtained: Beauty Salon (Bellatin), Celestial Harmonies (Esterhazy), and The Man Died (Soyinka). I was going to pick up Ferdydurke, since it came up at quizbowl yesterday and I'm trying to decrease my frequency of Modern Jackass moments, but the only translation to be had was a second-hand job that passed through French before coming to English, so I declined. Funnily enough, when I got home and idly got on Facebook, one of the first items on my newsfeed involved this, which I think is a little hard on Unbearable Lightness of Being but which seems to back up my instincts about that translation. In any case, the Mid-Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library has not one, but two copies of the modern translation with foreword by Susan Sontag. I'll be heading up there as soon as I've finished the three aforementioned library books.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ed Ruscha, eat your heart out.

This is how I feel right now:

When I finally got home after finishing first year, I back-flopped onto my back on my bed in a fashion that embodied OOF. And then promptly finished Geek Love, which I have to say was not really worth the time it took to read it. It's not that it was bad per se, but its premise only held my interest for a few chapters, after which point the ample grotesqueries contained therein were not substantive enough to be captivating. Characters developed predictably. Wackiness ensued predictably. Basically, from now on, If I'm going to read fluff, it's going to be one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books or some Star Wars novelization* rather than fluff that tries to mean something. I'm officially moving on to Point Counter Point.

I feel like I should have profound words for this last day of my first year of medical school. So much has happened since January. So much. "I learned a lot and made great friends" are both true statements, to be sure, but they're hackneyed enough to rival ipecac as an emetic. I will indulge in a mote of sentimentalism and say this: Never mind all the complaints I've made about NYU** or medical school in general, and all the stress I've vented about on this blog, and all the debt I'm accruing. I'm lucky to be where I am today***, on my way to a career I want more than anything, partnered with a person who understands that during my residency he probably won't see me while I'm conscious, with brownie-stuffed chocolate chip cookies in hand for tonight's mini quizbowl get-together...wait, what was that last one?

 That's right. Brownies inside cookies. And quizbowl. And no more histology until August. And Andy is moving in with me in less than a month. Cue the Bob Marley, because in this moment, it seems like every little thing's gonna be all right.

I used this brownie recipe and this cookie recipe, which didn't fare as well as it does when it doesn't have brownies stuffed inside it (seems to have gotten sort of dry), but there you go. The brownies on their own were amazing and worth the little bit of extra time it takes to fluff up the eggs.

Start with a ball of dough.

Make a pit in it.
Fill 'er up with some pre-baked brownie.

And cover it up again! Then bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
I can't decide whether to compare these to Eshu...
...or Lokai. They're cookies from one side and something
 thoroughly different from the other side, you see.
I now feel more like this:

*Stop judging. Kevin J. Anderson is my homeboy.
**Except for the complaints about the baffling miasm of awful that is the complete absence of organizational capabilities on the part of Housing Services. Mind that. Mind it all the way.
***Thank you, family, friends, and uncategorizables, for facilitating all this and for putting up with me while I'm being saccharine, snarly, or some combination of the above.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Better living through chemistry

I wasn't going to post today, The Exam to End All Exams (until August) being tomorrow and all, but the god-given gift that is 5-hour Energy* has convinced me otherwise.

This is cold soba with egg noodles (that is, noodles made of egg) sprinkled with sesame seeds and ginger powder, with a side dish of cucumber and mango marinated in lime, cilantro, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce. The soba I acquired comes in these neat little bundles, each of which is about twice as much soba as I should be eating (even for two meals). It sort of made me sad to have to cook half a bundle, because man, if I were actually cooking for two, that would be so damn convenient!

To make egg noodles, one simply
makes a thin egg crepe...

...and cuts it into strips (that break under
their own weight when dangled off
your hand, as I discovered here).
The dipping broth is the marinating liquid for the cucumber and mango plus a little miso broth.

N.b. While rinsing pasta will bring the collective ghost of Italian grandmothers down on your head Fruma-Sarah style, it is proper to rinse soba with cold water after it's boiled. If you don't rinse until that floury odor and texture are gone, the noodles will gum up and get this unpleasant mouthfeel, although the taste won't change.

*I refuse to believe it's just vitamin B and caffeine in those sinister little bottles. It's probably some Lewis Carroll-generated concoction that shows us how buzzed the rabbit can get.