Sunday, April 29, 2007

Coffee Bourbon Barbeque Sauce (Page 898)

  • Date: Friday, April 20, 2007 -- 7pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matty's Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B-


I picked this barbeque sauce to make a couple weekends ago because it didn't require a trip to the grocery store. My plan had been to make a baked, basted chicken barbeque dish with this sauce. However, my plan was foiled by the fact that this sauce was ridiculously thin. I don't think this can rightfully be called a barbeque sauce since there is no way that it would adhere to anything nearly enough to be useful while barbequeing. I kept waiting for the sauce to thicken in my baked barbeque dish, but instead I ended up with overcooked chicken sitting in a thin pool of watery sauce. In an attempt to salvage the dish, I stir-fried some vegetables, added some of this sauce as a stir-fry sauce, and added the cut-up chicken. It wasn't bad... The flavor of this sauce was pretty good. The coffee and soy sauce in the recipe complemented each other nicely. It made a nice sauce for the stir-fry, but it definitely should not be advertised as a barbeque sauce.

I am so exhausted... I went to the shelter this morning, as is my usual Sunday routine. I went straight from there out to Framingham to visit with Michael and Chris. I multi-tasked a bit by hanging out with Chris while grocery shopping for dinner. Then I drove back into the city and made dinner for one of my close friends and his parents (who are visiting for the weekend), and a cake for Matty's birthday tomorrow. Now I am exhausted. I would just go to sleep, but that would involve getting up to brush my teeth, and I can't even motivate to do that!

Despite being a little too busy, my weekend was nice. Yesterday I got a lot of work done, had a fun dinner out, and watched a strange movie about a dingo eating a baby... (true story apparently).

Ok, I am too tired to type any more -- time for bed!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Warm Tapioca Pudding with Rhubarb (Page 826)

  • Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 -- 10pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chefs: Peter, Matty, and Vero
  • Dining Companions: Ricky, Matt, and Philippe
  • Recipe Rating: A-


I picked this dessert to go with Wednesday dinner a couple weeks ago because Ana wasn't going to be there, and she never wants to make the pudding recipes. This tapioca pudding was quite good. Initially I wasn't completely sure about it, but ever since we ate it I have been craving it. The only major problem with the dish was the ratio of rhubarb topping to the tapioca pudding -- there was too much rhubarb per serving of tapioca. This was due more to user error than recipe error though. The tapioca balls were cooking while we were eating dinner and I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been. When I came back to check on them a whole layer of tapioca balls had adhered and burnt to the bottom of the pan. It looked really cool, but those tapioca pearls were inedible. When I drained the rest of them, I was amazingly able to rinse off all the burnt taste, so the end dish tasted totally fine, but we had less tapioca pudding than we otherwise would have. Whoops! This was a good recipe though, and one I plan to make again in the future. Indeed it would be good with or without the rhubarb topping, so if you are looking for a simple tapioca pudding recipe, this is one to try.

I am sitting in the Z-center, after a very depressing workout. I am back on my every-other-day lifting schedule, but it is disheartening how much strength I lost in the 2 months that I didn't lift at all. In February I was pretty close to making my pull-up dreams a reality, but now... not so much. I have a little more than 6 weeks left to build up the strength to do it. I am not completely sure it's realistic, but I am going to at least keep trying! Maybe I will have to extend my personal deadline to the end of the summer rather than at graduation. We shall see... Matt still maintains that I can pull it off.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sauteed Swordfish with Nicoise Vinaigrette (Page 293)

  • Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chefs: Peter and Matt
  • Dining Companions: Ricky, Matty, Vero, and Philippe
  • Recipe Rating: A-


I had intended to have lamb chops as the main course of this meal, but Whole Foods didn't have the cut we needed, so we ended up doing this recipe instead (which, embarassingly, I had the ingredient list for in my wallet). This dish was quite good. The swordfish steaks were fresh and meaty, and the preparation was simple, but delicious. The Nicoise vinaigrette was pungent, but its strong briny flavor complemented the mild flavor of the swordfish very well. A few notes: one, the swordfish took much longer to cook than indicated in the recipe. Granted the swordfish steaks we had were HUGE, but they took at least twice as long as the recipe suggested to cook through. Second, making the vinaigrette required a huge amount of mincing (which Peter did without complaint!). Vero noted that she and Philippe made this recipe again at home though and just threw all the vinaigrette ingredients into a food processor, and it still came out nicely, and took much less time! Something to keep in mind... Overall this was a nice, simple, clean dish that I would recommend.

It's my birthday today, and I am having a really lovely day! I slept late, got some work done, and ate a leisurely lunch. Plus, the weather couldn't be more perfect! After seminar some of my math friends are going to get together and eat pizza and play frisbee in the courtyard. I am also trying to convince them to come bowling with me tonight, but I am being met with some resistance on that count! How can people not like to bowl?!? Bowling is so fun! Plus, it's hard to bowl in Boston, because almost all the places only have candlepin bowling instead of ten-pin and candlepin is no fun at all! But the only ten-pin place I know has open bowling tonight, and I'm excited!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sesame Black Rice (Page 260)

  • Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matt, Matty, Vero, Philippe, Peter, and Ricky
  • Recipe Rating: B


I chose this recipe because I had some black rice in the pantry that I had been meaning to use. I liked this recipe, but no one else seemed to share that view. It wasn't that people disliked the rice so much as they were just offended by the idea that making rice and stirring in some oil is a "recipe" in a "cookbook." To get a feel for the ridicule that this recipe (and I) endured, you can read the various comments left on the previous posts, or check out Vero's blog. All that aside, the rice tasted good. It had the deep nutty flavor of black rice, with a touch of sesame. There wasn't anything particularly exciting about this rendition of rice, but it made a perfectly good side dish.

It is finally spring in Boston! Today the weather was beautiful. And I woke up this morning feeling better after my battle with the flu this week, so I was able to enjoy the wonderful sunshine! I strolled Newbury Street this afternoon with a friend, people-watching and doing a little shopping. It was extremely pleasant. This is my favorite time of year: when the weather is just starting to get warm, but the summer heat isn't upon us yet. In Boston this period of time is notoriously short, so it is important to enjoy it while you can!

Tomorrow after the shelter I am headed out to Framingham to visit with Chris and Michael and cook dinner for the whole crew! I am looking forward to it. I get to visit with Michael every week, but I don't see Chris as often. And it has been months and months since Chris and I have cooked together. On the bill for tomorrow night: dinner for 9, as gluten-free and dairy-free as possible! One thing The Book is not ideal for is cooking for people with dietary restrictions. We'll figure it out though I'm sure!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Crisp Sauteed Cabbage with Caraway (Page 527)

  • Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 --9pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Matt, Vero, Philippe, Peter, and Ricky
  • Recipe Rating: C-


This recipe came off the list generated by the random number generator. It was not delicious. I have complained before about the cabbage and caraway combination and I will complain again: it's not good. In my opinion (and the opinions of most of my dining companions) the two flavors just do not go well together. Further, as much as I love butter, this cabbage was just too buttery. This is a dish that should at least taste healthy, if not yummy, but instead it was greasy and heavy. This recipe got a big thumbs down from the whole Wednesday dinner crew.

This is the 400th recipe completed in my project! A few thank-yous to the many of you out there who have helped me get this far:

First off, a huge thank-you to the people who have eaten/cooked more than 50 recipes: Matty, Ana, Chris, Alex, Mike, Vigleik, Marco, and Matt. You guys are amazing! A special shout-out to Matty, who has eaten more than 120 of these 400 recipes with me, and who maintains an unflinchingly wonderful attitude about the project, even when the food is bad!

Thanks to all of you who have generously offered the use of your kitchen for the project: Matty, Chris, Alex, Gunther, Viglelk, Shihchi, Ana, Mom, Dad, Emilee, Brian, Peter, Paul, Ronen, Richard, and Anita.

Finally, a big thank-you to everyone who has eaten with me in the last 16 months. This project wouldn't be nearly as gratifying without all my favorite cooking and dining companions!

A few statistics: I have now made at least one-fifth of the recipes from every one of the 21 sections of The Book! One section is over 50% complete (Fruit Desserts). The 5 sections that I am the most behind on: "Hors D'Oevres and First Courses," "Fish and Shellfish," "Sauces and Salsas," "Puddings, Custards, Mousses, and Souffles," and "Relishes, Chutneys, Pickles, and Preserves." The 5 sections I have made the highest percentage of recipes from: "Fruit Desserts," "Cakes," "Pies, Tarts, and Pastries," "Grains and Beans," and "Salads."

400 down, less than 900 to go!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hummus with Toasted Pine Nuts, Cumin Seeds, and Parsley Oil (Page 14)

  • Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chefs: Matt and Ricky
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Vero, Philippe, and Peter
  • Recipe Rating: A-


This recipe came from the list generated by the random number generator. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from this recipe. Most hummus recipes taste the same, and approximately the same as the high-end stuff from the store. This one surprised me though. The many adornments really added to and improved the hummus. The hummus itself was smooth, flavorful, and light. Philippe described it as "accessible." Toasted pine nuts are invariably delicious, and their nuttiness complemented the hummus well. The parsley oil added both flavor and color to a dish that can be visually not-so-appealing. Everyone in the crowd had a positive reaction to this dish. I would recommend it.

I'm back from Bloomington. I came down with some strain of flu a couple days ago, so traveling back yesterday was completely miserable. But now I am at home, sitting in sweatpants and a big sweatshirt, feeling much better than I have been.

Aside from the flu, the end of my trip went well. I got the apartment I wanted (yay!). I am really excited about it. It is beautiful, with a huge kitchen and plenty of space for guests (hint, hint!). It is also above a storefront in downtown Bloomington, which is exactly where I wanted to live. I'm very happy.

My trip to the math department also went well. I gave a talk on Monday. I wasn't feeling great, but I think it went ok. Most importantly, I had a really good time meeting the people there. Everyone was tremendously welcoming and friendly. The picture on the right is one I took outside the math department. As you can see, IU is beautiful! It doesn't look too much like MIT, does it?!?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cranberry Fool (Page 803)

  • Date: Saturday, April 7, 2007 -- 9pm
  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Kitchen: Alex and Gunther's Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Alex and Gunther
  • Recipe Rating: B-

There are a couple recipes for fool in The Book, and I hadn't made either of them yet, so I figured it was time to give this one a try. A fool is essentially whipped cream folded in to pureed fruit -- in this case, cooked cranberries with a bit of sugar and Grand Marnier added. This dessert wasn't bad, but it was nothing special. I found that it was just too much cream. I ate about half of mine and then left the rest. The flavor was nice though. The cranberry flavor was strong, but not too bitter, and the Grand Marnier gave it a bit of a boozy kick. It would make a nice component of a more intricate dessert, but as a stand alone, it was a bit boring after the first few bites. None of us hated it, but no one was excited about it either.

Hello again from Bloomington. I do love the Midwest! Last night my traveling companion and I went out to dinner, with beer, at a sit-down restaurant. The total bill for the two of us: $15.35. It was amazing.

It's been a good trip so far. I found an apartment I really like, but it's not totally clear yet that I will get it. That's a little stressful, but I am pretty optimistic. I have a back-up place that is also really nice, so if my first choice falls through, hopefully things will still work out!

I spent much of the afternoon today wandering around the downtown area, and campus. It's really beautiful here, and although I admit that the size of the town makes me a little nervous, it reminds me a lot of Madison, and I loved living there! After a long walk I got in the car and drove around for an hour or so through the country, enjoying the cornfields, and cows, and llamas, and little farm houses... it was nice. It definitely brought back memories of growing up in Wisconsin. It's really nice to be back in the middle of the country. I think I am going to like it here.

On the schedule for tomorrow: my first visit to the math department, and hopefully, signing a lease!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Grilled Pizza Margherita (Page 195)

  • Date: Saturday, April 7, 2007 -- 8pm
  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Kitchen: Alex and Gunther's Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Alex
  • Dining Companion: Gunther
  • Recipe Rating: A-



Alex and I chose this pizza last weekend because we were looking for a yummy grilled recipe that we hadn't made yet. This pizza was quite good. The crust was delicious (see post below), the sauce was minimal but nice, and one can never complain about cheese and basil! The pizza did come out a bit too oily I though. For some reason the recipe has you mix some oil in with the cheese before topping the pizza with it. I had never done that before when making pizza and it's not clear to me what the benefit was. I would recommend omitting the oil at that stage and also reducing the amount of oil that goes in to the pizza sauce. This recipe it a keeper though. It was simple, fresh, and flavorful.

I am in sunny (ok, honestly: rainy) Bloomington, Indiana! I am here for the weekend, looking for an apartment. It's my first time in Bloomington, and since I am going to be living here for the next three years I was anxious to see if I would like it. Fortunately for me, it's really nice here! After driving from Chicago this morning, I saw some apartments, ate a late lunch at a nice little sandwich place, and (of course!) checked out one of the local cooking stores. The town is indeed small, but the downtown area is really nice, and there seem to be a lot of options for eating, etc... I am looking at apartments in the downtown area. I figured that would ease the transition between city life and small town life. Plus, I have always wanted to live above a storefront!

Wish me luck on my apartment hunt!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Basic Pizza Dough (Page 199)

  • Date: Saturday, April 7, 2007 -- 8pm
  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Kitchen: Alex and Gunther's Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Alex
  • Dining Companion: Gunther
  • Recipe Rating: A-


Since Alex has a grill and I do not, it is tradition to grill when we cook at his place. We are slowly running out of grilled recipes in The Book, but we had yet to make the grilled pizza. This dough recipe was a component of the pizza (which will be my next post). Not surprisingly, I forgot to take a picture of the dough alone, so you are getting a picture of the finished product. This dough was quite good. It had a lot of flavor to it, and a nice, chewy texture. We made two pizzas, and the first was cooked more than the second. Gunther pointed out that the crust was nice both ways: the more charred pizza had a crispy crust, which was blackened and tasted deliciously of the grill, while the less charred pizza (pictured above) had a chewier crust with more of the dough flavor shining through. Either way it was excellent. So this recipe is not only tasty, but versatile! I am anxious to see how this dough comes out in the oven rather than on the grill, but I have confidence that it won't disappoint.

True pizza confession: I used to work at Pizza Hut. When I was 18, I was a cook in the Pizza Hut kitchen. Many of my high school friends had part-time jobs in the pizza-making industry at that time. Come to think of it, some still do (hint, hint... Mel)! My friend Steve worked at Pizza Hut and he encouraged me to join the crew the summer before I left for Stanford. I loved that job. I was the only girl in the kitchen, and consequently got mercilessly teased. One of my coworkers would play the Beastie Boys song "Girls" over and over throughout my shift. In case you're unfamiliar, a snippet: "Girls - to do the dishes, Girls - to clean up my room, Girls - to do the laundry..." Despite the teasing, the guys were really nice to me. The other cooks would stuff my stuffed-crusts for me (a skill I never mastered myself -- mine would always burst in the oven). And the drivers would take me along on drive-alongs when they wanted advice on their problems with girls.

Mainly I loved the job because I love being in the kitchen. On nights when it got really busy, it was exhilarating to get in the rhythm of turning out pizza after pizza. My favorite shifts were always those when we were slightly under-staffed. That job was very different than any job I had before that, or any job I have had since. Whenever I make pizza, I think about those Pizza Hut days and remember them very fondly...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Creamed Peas and Cucumber with Dill (Page 555)

  • Date: Saturday, April 7, 2007 -- 8pm
  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Kitchen: Alex and Gunther's Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Alex
  • Dining Companion: Gunther
  • Recipe Rating: B+


I suggested this dish to go with dinner last night because I was deeply curious about the cooked cucumbers. I can't recall ever having eaten cooked cucumbers before. From reading the recipe, I wasn't too optimistic about this dish. It pleasantly surprised me though. The peas and cucumbers were nicely cooked, and the dill gave them a rich, round flavor. Alex pointed out that the cucumber were reminiscent of the pearl onions you would often find in a dish like this, but without the strong onion flavor. Indeed, they provided a nice textural contrast to the starchy peas. I liked the addition of the heavy cream to this dish, but it made the recipe much too liquidy. The end result was a bunch of peas and cucumbers, sitting in a sea of creamy liquid. It tasted good, but it was visually very unappealing. I was hoping the cream would thicken up the sauce, but it didn't. If I were to make this again I would cook off all the other liquid before adding the cream, and then add about half as much. Note: we couldn't find fresh dill, so we substituted dried, which worked very well, but consequently I can't comment on the amount of dill that the recipe called for. I just added dried dill to taste.

Yesterday I had an actual week-end day! I slept late, and leisurely cleaned my apartment once I woke up. Then I had a long cup of coffee with my friend Jon, who moved to Princeton this year, so I hadn't seen him in ages! After catching up with him, I continued my mission to get back in shape by going for a run. In the evening I went to Alex and Gunther's to hang out and make a big dinner with them, and drink margaritas. It was an extremely relaxing day!

Today I am headed to the homeless shelter, for our annual Easter celebration. Happy Easter! Easter at the shelter is always fun -- there is a ton of good food, a DJ and dancing, and lots of small children all dressed up for Easter!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Tiny Chocolate Chip Cookies (Page 662)

  • Date: Friday, April 6, 2007 -- 10pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Matt, Ana, Vero, and Jessie
  • Recipe Rating: A-


I picked this recipe because I had all the ingredients for these cookies in the pantry. As I was making these, I spent most of the time thinking, "I can't believe I am doing this!" Imagine making an entire batch of cookies, dropping the dough on the cookie sheets in 1/2 teaspoons at a time. It was easily the most labor-intensive batch of chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. From the picture I don't think you can appreciate how small these cookies are -- they are really tiny! The recipe, which makes less dough than the standard chocolate chip cookie recipe on the bag of chocolate chips, makes 12 dozen of these cookies. What I am saying is this: they were a pain in the ass to make. But, when it comes to food (and baby clothes), things that are small are cute! So, these cookies were a pain, but they are adorable. And they make delicious little bites -- crispy around the edges but still soft in the center. The ratio of ingredients was also right on. The cookies came out buttery, chocolatey, and delicious. And although making teeny tiny cookies seemed a little silly at the time, they are indeed, as The Book claims, the most refined chocolate chip cookies I have ever seen.

Jacob's incessant fat jokes, although in jest (I hope!), have gotten to me enough that I decided it was time to go back to the gym. When I walked in to the weight room yesterday, I had the feeling that I hadn't been there in a couple weeks. Looking at my work-out sheet, however, revealed that my last trip to the gym was on March 1st. Oh dear!

It never ceases to seem strange to me that when you are going to the gym ever day, or every other day, it is so easy to motivate to go. But if you happen to stop for a few days, it's so hard to motivate to go back... I am, however, going to get back on my every other day schedule, because I have a mere 2 months to learn to do a pull-up. And although my pull-up progress didn't actually suffer as much as I feared it had, I am still a ways away.

I have the feeling that these first few weeks back in the gym are going to be a struggle though. My run yesterday was pitiful, and today I am quite sore.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Veal Scallops with Lemon and Capers (Page 456)

  • Date: Tuesday, April 3, 2007 -- 7:30pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matt's Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B-


I picked this recipe for dinner yesterday because I wanted something celebratory and decadent, and veal fit the bill! This recipe wasn't great though. Veal is delicious, so the meat tasted delicious. But the preparation resulted in really slimy meat. For the life of me I can't figure out why. Perhaps I dredged the cutlets too heavily (although I don't think so -- I was careful to shake off the excess)? Or there was too much fat in the pan? Or I didn't pat the veal dry carefully enough? I don't know. But the veal cutlets were each coated with a nasty layer of slimy stuff (NOTE: flour + water = paste). It was a shame because the meat was tender and delicious, and the pan sauce was pretty good (a little overpowered by the lemon, but still tasty). The sliminess was hard to tolerate though, so I ended up eating only a small amount of meat. Instead I sopped up the pan juice with some baguette and ate that!

An anecdote:

"How Mike Hill's guilt trips are (secretly) responsible for me becoming an algebraic topologist:"

When people in college would ask me what kind of math I wanted to study I would often jokingly answer, “Not topology.” Many things made sense to me in math, but topology was not one of them. Elementary topology required visualization skills. You needed to be able to think about shapes and imagine what would happen if you were to bend, stretch, and move these shapes around in space. I cannot visualize such things. I took an algebraic topology course at Stanford and despite loving the professor, it regularly made me want to cry. When I came to MIT I was completely ready to leave my topology days behind.

“What are you going to take this semester?” It was a few days before classes started my first semester and Mike and I were trying to fill out our sample registration forms.

“I don’t know. I was thinking commutative algebra, algebraic geometry, and maybe lie groups, or geometry of manifolds” I responded. “You?”

“Wait. What about algebraic topology?” Mike held his hand over his heart and gave me his most convincing fake-hurt look. Mike had already decided to study algebraic topology. Indeed he came to MIT because it is widely reputed to be one of the best place in the world to study the field.

“You know Mike, the thing is... I don’t like topology.”

“WHAT!?!” Mike put on his most guilt-inducing shocked face.

“I know, I know, it’s hard to hear,” I joked, “but it’s really not about you Mike. It’s me. I’m sorry.”

After lengthy negotiations though, Mike convinced me that algebraic topology is important foundational material. Well, and he threatened to pout all semester if I didn't take the class! I figured he was probably right: taking one semester of algebraic topology would likely be good for me. Only days later, my first semester at MIT began. And the rest, as they say, is history...

I still wonder if he somehow knew that I would love it if I gave the subject another chance... How would he know that though?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Broiled Eggplant with Cilantro Vinaigrette (Page 537)

  • Date: Tuesday, April 3, 2007 --7:30pm
  • Location: Somerville, MA
  • Kitchen: Matt's Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C


I am slowly running out of recipe in the "Vegetables" section that are quick and sound delicious. This one was at least quick, so I thought I would make it to go with dinner tonight. It wasn't good. On the one hand, since I am not a huge eggplant fan, I am hesitant to bash the recipe too much since it might just have been a matter of personal preference. On the other hand, Matt likes eggplant, and hates to waste food, yet he threw all the leftovers away. So I think it just wasn't good. The vinaigrette itself was actually pretty tasty -- a little too dominated by the lemon juice, but otherwise good. It just didn't go at all with the eggplant. The dish tasted like roasted eggplant with a bunch of very strong salad dressing dumped on top. Does it sound appetizing? It wasn't. Definitely not a recipe to be repeated.

Today I wrote emails. I took a shower and a bath. I did not one, but two crosswords. I cooked dinner. I did the dishes. I watched an hour of television. I went for a walk.

Today I slept until 9:30am. I looked online at apartments in Bloomington. I went to seminar. I ate cookies with my friends. I bought veal at Whole Foods. I turned in the forms signed by my committee saying that I successfully defended my thesis.

Today, for the first day in a long, long time, I did not touch my thesis. I didn't even open the file. I still have plenty of changes to make, and formatting to adjust. But today, I just relaxed. And it was wonderful!

Today I felt happy, and relieved, and loved, and proud. Today I felt like myself again.

What a good day.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cheese Straws (Page 32)

  • Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2007 --7pm
  • Location: North Conway, NH
  • Kitchen: The Talbot House
  • Fellow Chef: Andrew
  • Dining Companions: Mike, Big Mike, Vero, Jnkf, Ricky, Matt, Andre, Chris, Jacob, Vigleik, and a bunch of other mathematicians!
  • Recipe Rating: A-


I chose these cheese straws to make for Talbot because they were simple to make, and I am very behind on the "Hors d'oeuvres and first courses" section of The Book. They were quite nice. The puff pastry was flaky and delicious and the cheddar cheese added a nice strong flavor to them. I somehow forgot to salt more than half the batches of them. They were still tasty, but the ones that had been salted were much better. Also, at least one batch sat out near the stove for too long before it was baked, so the butter in the puff pastry melted a bit and consequently they didn't puff very well when it was baked. The recipe was quite good though, and since it calls for frozen store-bought puff pastry, it was very simple to make. Definitely a keeper.

Today I successfully defended my thesis! After all my worrying, it actually went extremely smoothly. And now I feel tremendously relieved!

I was really touched today by all the support shown by my friends. I got supportive phone calls and emails from people all over, plus a whole slew of lovely gifts: flowers, candy, cheesecake, cupcakes, cards, cake, etc... Alex even made me a cheesecake in the shape of a graduation cap!

After my defense we all drank champagne and ate dessert in the common room, followed by dinner at Rendang. It was a nice evening. I am so exhausted now! I feel exhausted in a really peaceful way though. This is the most peaceful that I have felt in months... What a nice feeling.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb (Page 501)

  • Date: Monday, March 26, 2007 -- 7pm
  • Location: North Conway, NH
  • Kitchen: The Talbot House
  • Fellow Chef: Vero
  • Dining Companions: Andre, Chris, Matt, Vigleik, Ricky, Big Mike, Andrew, Jnkf, and a bunch of other mathematicians!
  • Recipe Rating: A-

I picked this recipe to make for Talbot because it could easily be made in huge quantities, and I figured lamb cooked for 5 hours couldn't be bad! Indeed, it was pretty good. The spice marinade and citrus-honey basting liquid gave the lamb a lovely flavor. Plus, the meat was tender and falling off the bone after the slow roast. I roasted this 2 days in advance, and once we arrived at Talbot Vero took all the meat off the bone and heated it with the pan juices. It was very nice that way. We served this in the same meal as falafel pitas and roasted cauliflower. I thought that it all went quite well together.

I'm defending tomorrow.

Last night I stayed in Southboro, at Richard and Anita's house. Being out there, in the suburbs, surrounded by woods and water, I always feel calm. Anita made dinner, and after organizing dinner for 25 people all week, being served by someone else was about the best thing I could imagine!

Tonight I am back in Somerville, feeling decidedly less calm. I am sitting under a big down blanket though, listening to the same Garth Brooks album that I have been listening to for weeks, and I feel mildly comforted.

I am trying to remind myself that I have done lots of things in my life that I didn't think I could do. This is just another one... Plus, so many people that I care about will be there to support me, which is awesome! Wish me luck...