noraleah:

As I mentioned, Saturday night dinner quickly ballooned from two to eleven (my kind of party). I had planned to simply make a ratatouille and fresh mozzarella pizza for me and M. but with more guests comes more responsibility, so we added a second pizza: roasted CSA broccoli, goat gouda, fresh spinach, and the stash of boudin that we’ve had in the freezer since our last visit to Cochon Butcher. It was weird and pretty wonderful.

About that boudin: I didn’t bother to tell our guests that it’s blood sausage. I mean, it wasn’t like I was keeping the information from them — no one asked. They were too busy eating … pig’s blood (cue evil cackle)…

Nora, you’re welcome to trick me anytime. That meal, including the blood sausage, was damn tasty.

Frozen sangria, cheese empanada, and La Fresh arepa at Caracas. (Not pictured: our second lunch of fish tacos.)

Frozen sangria, cheese empanada, and La Fresh arepa at Caracas. (Not pictured: our second lunch of fish tacos.)

Last night’s busy kitchen for this week’s lunches; lots of dicing, chopping, and mixing with WNYC streaming. From top left: Greek salad, white bean salad, pico de gallo, chickpea parmiggiano salad.

Last night’s busy kitchen for this week’s lunches; lots of dicing, chopping, and mixing with WNYC streaming. From top left: Greek salad, white bean salad, pico de gallo, chickpea parmiggiano salad.

Saturday’s fish tacos at the Rockaways, followed by frozen sangria on the boardwalk.

Saturday’s fish tacos at the Rockaways, followed by frozen sangria on the boardwalk.

I don’t care about the "problem" with ramps: if I spot ‘em on a menu, I know what I’m ordering. Last week it was asparagus with ramp aoli at Berlyn, yesterday carrot & ramp risotto at The Meatball Shop (West Village). If they’re still stocked at the co-op this weekend, I’m making this fancy grilled cheese.

Saturday’s early brunch at Saxon + Parole with Leah before we saw Carnage (which I’d give a B+) at the Angelika. Nora’s right: brunch here is a great choice. Everything was delicious, especially the creamed spinach. Instead of the expected dairy they make a roux with just enough garlic, and it’s pretty amazing. Order a side if your dish doesn’t come with it.

On Monday my cheesecake truffles (right) took the prize in our office’s February baking contest. (The chocolate cake with white chocolate, seen on the left, came in a respectable 5 out of 12.)

It’s endearing how Top Chef has transformed standard potlucks into requisite competitions. I can’t say I mind the glory, and as the winner I determined that we’re donating the $135 dollars raised this time to City Harvest.

Next month: breakfast food. I’m aiming to create a bite that includes bread and bacon.

The Homesick Texan is my favorite new cookbook. This weekend I had friends over for a Tex-Mex dinner party, and that book effectively sponsored the event. As enjoyed on Christmas Eve, I made chorizo stuffed jalapenos, cheese enchiladas with chili con carne, and Mexican Chocolate Chewies. The expanded menu included homemade salsa (Ms. Fain’s Uncle Richard’s Hot Sauce) and queso cookies. (The blog is a great resource, but you need the cookbook to try any of the above.) The guacamole and avocado tacos came from my kitchen, and fellow Texan Nancy represented with Mexican layered dip (so good!). We had so much food, the chili con queso got shelved for a future hangout.
The night was the best kind spent with friends: we drank Mexican Martinis, beer, and bubbly until 1 in the morning, and I was giddy while cleaning up and watching the snow fall overnight.

The Homesick Texan is my favorite new cookbook. This weekend I had friends over for a Tex-Mex dinner party, and that book effectively sponsored the event. As enjoyed on Christmas Eve, I made chorizo stuffed jalapenos, cheese enchiladas with chili con carne, and Mexican Chocolate Chewies. The expanded menu included homemade salsa (Ms. Fain’s Uncle Richard’s Hot Sauce) and queso cookies. (The blog is a great resource, but you need the cookbook to try any of the above.) The guacamole and avocado tacos came from my kitchen, and fellow Texan Nancy represented with Mexican layered dip (so good!). We had so much food, the chili con queso got shelved for a future hangout.

The night was the best kind spent with friends: we drank Mexican Martinis, beer, and bubbly until 1 in the morning, and I was giddy while cleaning up and watching the snow fall overnight.

Queso cookies are a revelation. A savory bite made of butter, cheese, and flour, they crumble and melt at the same time and prove dangerously addictive. After making the original, which uses cheddar, jalapenos, and cayenne for flavor, I started to experiment with my own combinations. Leaning towards Italian cooking, I made asiago & oregano cookies and then pecorino & rosemary, and both came out beautifully. Recipes for each follow, and unlike biscuits, they’re a snap to make.

Italian Cheese Cookies, adapted from The Homesick Texan’s Queso Cookies

1 c unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 c grated asiago (8 oz)
2 c all-purpose flour (Pilsbury’s is the fluffiest)
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

(For the percorino/rosemary version, substitute pecornio for asiago, 2 tbsp of fresh rosemary for the oregano, and remove the salt.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix the butter and cheese together with a fork. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter and cheese, and use your hands to combine until the dough forms a round ball. Take a pinch of the dough at a time, shaping it into marble size and place it on the sheet. Press with a fork.

Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a baking rack and then serve. Cookies will last for a week in an airtight container.

andybaker:

Made this massive load of pizza dough back a few weeks ago and have been thawing out blobs of it every couple days, and usually making them for breakfast. I have a system for this crust too, and it’s coming out awesome if I might say so myself. This one is caramelized onion, garlic, tomato, smoked mozzarella, and of course three eggs just kinda cracked on top. I make it in a cast iron fry pan, starting on the stove top and finishing it up in the oven.

Yum. I’ve been an evangelist for breakfast pizza ever since having the dish at Simon in Las Vegas. Andy’s looks perfect, and cast iron is the way to go. I made focaccia bread (essentially pizza dough that rises twice) at the New Year’s house in a cast iron, and it turned out beautifully.