Dinner, Fall, Recipe, Appetizer

Agrodolce Onions

Paté begs for a tart accompaniment, something pickled, something sour, something crisp. You must offset the rich fattiness of the livers, gizzards, or whatever other organ meats you’ve chosen to press into delicious service atop a piece of toast. A snap of pickled cucumber, a gentle purple curl of cured red onion, a swipe of grainy mustard, these all carry weighty significance in our minds as we polish off a ramekin of potentially artery clogging delights. The vegetables call out, “Another bite!” You obey, after all, it can’t be that unhealthy to finish the pot if you’re eating veggies. You can’t reasonably leave one slice of pickle on the charcuterie board, and if you’re going to nibble the pickle, you might as well use it to pick up that bit of paté waiting at the bottom of the ramekin. And while you’re at it, why not throw the fat covered vegetable on the last remaining crostini? A perfect final bite, crisp, tart, sweet, fatty, and peppery.


I’ve been reading David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris and reveling in his storytelling. His view on Parisian life through the eyes of a hungry transplant is both funny and astute. The narrative is spotted with recipes here and there, one of my favorites is Lebovitz’s adaptation/appropriation of Judy Witts Francini’s Agrodolce Onions. A jar of these onions provided the perfect accompaniment to my recent tryst with 3 pounds of chicken livers.

Find the book, laugh in public, cook tonight.

Dessert, Holiday, Recipe

Chocolate Sorbet

There are only two things that can lower my body temperature in NYC’s violent sweat season: seltzer and ice cream. With every empty bottle of the bubbling salvation I’m getting closer to buying a Soda Stream. I hate the waste of so much empty plastic, I just need to commit to the machine and find a space for it in my evolving kitchen.

But this post isn’t about seltzer. That would be boring.

It’s about David Lebovitz’s chocolate sorbet. Deemed a genius recipe by the fine folks at Food52, I’ve been dreaming of a batch since the weather lost its edge in March. Though I toured with an induction burner (albeit, briefly), an ice cream machine was out of the question. Traveling with Flashdance made me pare down my necessities in a way that we could all benefit from now and again. Now that I’m back in nesting mode, the ice cream machine that couldn’t explore the country with me is getting all the love it’s missed.

First up, this fine sorbet. Dairy free, gluten free, and quick, this is the dessert I’ll be making for myself until the Fall leaves come calling and I can turn on the oven again. It’s rich and deep, velvety and cold. It melts not into cream, but into rivers of iced chocolate.

I can’t claim any improvements or substitutions to the recipe, it’s perfect just as written. The recipe uses cocoa powder and melted chocolate to achieve the exquisite texture and while any cocoa powder will do, but the good stuff is worth finding. My favorite? This Black Onyx Cocoa Powder from Savory Spice Shop. They’re good folks, selling well-sourced spices and proprietary blends for anything you might want to cook.  Go forth! Churn tonight!

Video, Recipe

The Winner!

It is one thing to consider yourself a judgemental person, it is a completely different game to be considered  a judge by others. With great honor I took the role of judge in Rudi’s Gluten Free Recipe Contest a few months ago, and I must say it was more challenging that I imagined. Rudi’s sponsored a contest to create recipes using their products and the top three contestants were flown to Boulder, CO for an Iron Chef-style battle. Each contestant had a very personal connection to Celiac Disease, whether it was their own diagnosis or the careful preparation of food for a loved one, and these stories pulled on familiar heart-strings. This disease is still not readily diagnosed and I’m shocked that most doctors don’t think of Celiac out the outset of any treatment plan. Needless to say, the work the NFCA does to raise awareness is critical.

The cook-off was held at Restaurant 4580 in Boulder and Martin Hammer, the owner, was also a judge. Martin spoke at length about training his staff to not only smile and nod at requests for gluten free meals from patrons, but to actually engage customers. His approach is one I’d like to see all restaurants take: active, positive and scrumptious.

The winner of the competition, Annalyn Varalla Wills, is my special guest on this episode of Alternative Appetites. Annalyn spent the morning cooking with me and sharing her stories. I love a guest who’s ready to laugh with me on camera and Annalyn was just ripe for the occasion. Her winning recipe is easily adaptable to any season, something that earns high marks in my book. Make a tray now and throw it in the freezer, the next time you have guests over you’ll be thrilled to have a tantalizing dessert already prepared and ready to rock.


Recipe, Video

Caramelized Onions

We all have a secret weapon. Under ice in the freezer, in the back corner of the fridge, on the shelf in the pantry-a special ingredient you keep on hand at all times. Sriracha, homemade chicken stock, duck fat, preserved lemons, the weapon takes many forms but always serves the same purpose. Whether you’re pressed for time or creating an elaborate meal you pull out your weapon and attack the food. The weapon rarely takes center stage but always elevates the meal from mediocre to crave-inducing.

In that light I give you this:
Caramelized Onions

This is my all-time favorite secret weapon. Caramelizing onions can take some time, so it’s worth the wait to caramelize a metric sh@t-ton at once. I slice 3 or 4 giant yellow onions and throw them in a pot with some salt and a drizzle of olive oil. With the pan over medium-low heat I can bumble around the kitchen or take care of some writing without worrying over the onions burning. Bonus point? It makes the house smell glorious.

Why are caramelized onions my favorite secret weapon? They bring a savory sweetness to stews, blend up into a beautiful paste for dips and are a fantastic crostini spread for last minute guests. They freeze effortlessly and the onions coated in oil defrost without losing their flavor. Check out the video above, it’s a tutorial on caramelizing.

What’s your secret weapon?

Recipe, Snack, Appetizer

Lentils and Doctors

There is an eternal stack of hummus containers in my fridge.
The leaning tower of Sabra.


Lordy. I hate cleaning out the fridge. But, as the kitchen is mostly under my dictatorial rule, the lovely bits as well as the ugly tasks fall to me. I try to place similar items together in an attempt to alert the mates to their growing collections of…Shredded Cheese, Hummus, Jam, Peanut Butter, Coffee Creamer, etc. At this very moment there are at least three bags/jars/bottles of each of those items. All open. All half used.

And now that I’ve typed up their list of repetitive groceries I am compelled to issue a sigh. Those are sad ingredients. Evidence of lives devoted to the hospital, of fleeting glances at food and attention paid to patients and studies. It makes me realize how terribly different our lives are and I’m grateful to live with such impressive young doctors.

Back to the leaning tower of Sabra.

I’ve had some dry lentils sitting in my freezer for months (again, I keep many varied and inappropriate items in the freezer). After I made chicken booze I was left with glorious stewed vegetables-onions, carrots, garlic. I’m attempting to break my heroin-like dependence on hummus so I decided to make these foods into a dip.

‘Twas successful, if over zealous. I made almost four pints, but the good news is that this freezes well. What’s in your freezer? If you’ve got some dried beans or lentils sitting around why don’t you cook them up and blend them with whatever herbs and aromatics you have in your fridge? Dips don’t have to be planned, sometimes the best way to write a recipe is to clean out your fridge. Happy blending!