Monday, November 19, 2007

Fall Weather Flavors: Butternut Squash Pasta

Butternut Squash Pasta with Speck and Shallots
Apple crisp, roasted squash, long-braised pork. All of these dishes taste better with a chill in the air and colored leaves on the ground. In Los Angeles, fall and winter dishes usually required suspension of disbelief--yes, I really need that heavy braised lamb to help me face the 80 degree November day. No, there's nothing weird about baking Christmas cookies when it's 70 and sunny. And of course it makes sense that the Pasadena Gap sells hats and mittens--wouldn't want to get frostbite from the 2 second walk from the car to the house when it's an oh-so-cold 50.

No suspension needed here in New York. To say I've enjoyed my first proper fall in over 5 years is an understatement. From the first day I had to wear a scarf, to the hot apple cider from the farmers' market, to the wet, sloppy snowflakes that fell this morning, I've loved every minute.

When I've made it into my "kitchen" (i.e. the back wall of my "living room"), I've greedily exploited fall's signature foods. My favorite dish was one I threw together hastily last week--cubed and oven-roasted butternut squash, sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper, tossed with caramelized shallots and ribbons of speck. Ladled over fresh penne, showered with fresh parmesan. Make sure you let your squash roast long enough to develop crispy corners so you have little cubes of sweet crunchy goodness. Can't wait for December!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Lunch, with Highlighter

Salad, again
Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. I should pack my own lunch for school. But instead I eat salads from Subsconcious all the damn time. Salad bars abound in New York and I love them--you give the guy behind the counter the container of greens you've selected, he dumps it into a big metal bowl, and you proceed to point to all the goodies you want, which he adds, tosses, and returns to you. This is a new phenomenon for me, and damn if I'm not giddy with all the choices (non-local and imbued with pesticides, I'm sure).

The best goodie selection near Columbia is at Westside Market--they have all sorts of berries, apples, pears, candied walnuts and more. Plus they charge you by the pound, not the item. Subsconcious is much closer to school though, so I rely on a mix of cherry tomatoes, corn, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. Yesterday I branched out into beets, grilled chicken, cranberries and walnuts. I know this thrilling look into my lunch life is what keeps you coming back to Erin's Kitchen, but right now, it's what I got. Any recommendations for my next salad?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pizza Worth the Walk-Grimaldi's

Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza at Grimaldi's, Brooklyn
Last weekend, the family was in town, and we took a stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge. Though the day was a bit drizzly and gray, we gawked at the Statue of Liberty, picked out the Empire State Building through the fog, and experienced the Bernoulli effect. Our willingness to endure a few sprinkles was rewarded with a short line at famed Brooklyn pizza joint Grimaldi's, our final destination, nearly smack dab under the bridge.

Home to a coal-fired brick pizza oven, Grimaldi's churns out the bubbling pizzas like clockwork--they need just a few minutes in the toasty oven to bake. The pizzas are all topped with fresh mozzarella, which blisters a delightful brown in the heat. The smell of garlic and basil permeates the small dining room, and it's hard to wait your turn. Our party of six made short work of two larges, one with pepperoni and sausage, the other with peppers, mushrooms and extra garlic (which ensured family togetherness for the rest of the afternoon).

For an extra treat, I suggest a stop at the nearby Jacques Torres chocolate shop for dessert.

19 Old Fulton St. under the Brooklyn Bridge
cash only