At least a year ago, maybe two, I was sitting in a park and I imagined a “pop-up picnic” vendor that would roll up with a cargo bike and sell full picnics complete with a blanket and a bottle of wine. In my fantasy, picnickers would get a tote bag filled with tasty food, plus all the things they’d need to enjoy them, like glasses and cutlery. I realized though that in reality you’d have better luck, financially, if the picnics were pre-ordered, the way one reserves and pre-pays for a supper club. Continue reading “A fully catered picnic”
I’ve finally built up the pantry and experience to throw together a Chinese-inspired light meal with little to no planning or need to consult a recipe.
Dish #39: Chili oil
Having a great tasting chili oil around is key. A great chili oil can make almost any vegetable into a cold salad, or make any noodles a meal. Throw cilantro on there and boom: you’ve got a meal.
I decided to do a pantry update with just one dish, so I could write down all the details of a highly successful experiment. Although I was working without a recipe, I was following tips from the colleague who recommend the brand of fish curry masala, and cross-pollinated those tips with the instructions from the side of the box of masala. I was very happy with the result: a flavourful sauce and perfectly cooked fish.
I decided to attempt another tricky European cookie this Christmas: this time Norwegian sandbakelse (also “sandbakkels” or “sandkaker”). They are a crisp almond-flavored sugar cookie baked in special aluminum tart molds. I have probably only had them once or twice, over 30 years ago, and as far as I know, no one in my family makes them anymore. Although they are very tasty, they’re kind of a pain. I haven’t quite decided if they’re worth it yet. But when I took the first bite, I did think: “Oh yeah, I have definitely had these before.”
I’ve always hesitated to write about Christmas cookies because, honestly, they’re kind of boring to read about unless you’re specifically looking for a recipe. And everyone already has their favorites anyway. But I figured Springerle are different because they’re so pretty and old fashioned. I know Springerle as a Southern German cookie, but Wikipedia says they’re eaten in Switzerland, Alsace, parts of Austria and Hungary too. Although they basically taste like an anise-flavored sugar cookie, the process for making them is different than a standard sugar cookie. And not just because of the beautiful molds used to shape them.
When brainstorming dinner plans (as we drank our breakfast coffees) I said I was thinking of perhaps roasting vegetables. Fronx said he would rather have something crunchy, like a Greek salad. Vegetables and low effort was the main motivation for me suggesting roasted vegetables, so I agreed that Greek salad was also good.
But thinking about romaine lettuce reminded me of the fantastic grilled meal we’d had over at Ole’s in the summer …
The only thing I wanted to eat when I was in NYC was Chinese food that I can’t get in Berlin. I succeeded.
In addition to a lunch stop at Congee Village, I ended up having what is my new all time favourite Chinese dish, Biángbiáng noodles, from the Shaanxi province, brought to New York by Xi’an Famous Foods in 2005. I have since learned, from this great post on Lady and Pups, that “Xi’an famous foods” is a known phrase in Chinese referring to a collection of dishes from Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province. The chain has been so successful and influential that is even has its own Wikipedia entry.
Upon my return – actually, no, it was when I was still at Newark waiting for the plane home – I looked up how to get these amazingly sloppy, slippery wide noodles in Berlin. And the only way was to make them myself. Using the Lady and Pups recipes as my guide, I made a vegetarian version using a trio of mushrooms instead of lamb.