Monday, April 1, 2013

Hi everyone - 

I'm pretty thrilled to tell you that I am blogging again. Thanks for waiting me out while I did some non-blogging writing. I needed the time. And I needed the time to freshen up, get inspired, re-connect to the reason I wanted to write here at all. Also, thanks for your emails and comments asking where the hell I went and what the hell was wrong with me. It was nice to be considered. 

So, please join me at It's more writing, less food, but it's where I am right now. 

xo Kim
Continue Reading...


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Charcutepalooza. Nearly The End.

When Cathy and I first talked about curing meat together, it was barely more than an idea for me, a sexy idea.

I envisioned myself hanging salamis and standing in the basement, cutting off hunks of the stuff for people to sample, with the jack knife I just happened to have in the back pocket of my jeans. I imagined myself talking about mold and humidity, as if it were second nature. I envisioned a passion for meat so deep, I would give it all up to make artisanal charcuterie, which I would sell out of the back of our jeep, under-ground style, to restaurants, chefs and Brooklyn hipsters.

That never happened. I love curing meat, but not so much I want to sell it on Flatbush Avenue. I also love brining, making bacon and even tangling with sausages. I like the feel of the meat in a way I never had before, probably because I never felt so much of it, so intimately. I learned just about every kind of cut of meat can be confited, which is both weird and amazing and makes you want to try it out on anything you have lying around. I am no longer afraid of opening Michael Ruhlman's book and doing something from it, anything. It’s not my calling, but it has changed my kitchen, changed me.

But more than meat and the kitchen swagger, what made this year great was you, or really all of us together - being a part of a school that wasn't a school, the bad sausage jokes, people bickering about pink salt, the moment we made something we were quite sure we couldn't make and it came out amazing, how we stared botulism in the face and confronted our fear that we might kill a family member with our home-cured meats, how we figured out that mold is sometimes something you can just scrape off and move on from, the idea we were all in it together, not doing this alone. That was the best.

That's why you should read every single one of the posts below, because these people made something bigger than meat. And that's what we had hoped Charcutepalooza would be. Thank you for that.

Final Challenge Reminder

Just to remind you all: December 6th is the due date for the final challenge. THAT IS TOMORROW! We must have it by midnight. Please send us:

•your name, blog URL and email address
•a profile photo (jpg format)
•50 words describing your Charcutepalooza experience (not your bio, just what you learned this year)
•links to the 12 Charcutepalooza monthly challenge posts on your blog
•links to TWO of the Charcutepalooza blog posts you want to nominate for the grand prize competition

Send all of it to CharcutepaloozaATgmailDOTCOM. We will be looking for an overall knowledge and creative undertaking of the challenge, your original or adapted recipes, good writing, good photography.

This is going to be so ridiculously hard for us. We have been blown away with all the posts lately. But we are so excited to see what you've done. Thank you for playing along this year. I can't even begin to describe how I'll miss the #Charcutepalooza hashtag on my Tweetdeck.

Best Posts

1. Bite Me New England
Spanish Chorizo as food…and jewelry

2. Hounds in the kitchen
Six year old Lilly makes lardo in what may be the best food video ever.

3. One Vanilla Bean
Home-made Chorizo with a recipe for Lentejas Estofadas con Chorizo

4. Taste Food Blog
Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette, Toasted Pinenuts and Cured Pork

5. In Scott’s Kitchen
Man on a meat-curing mission….salami, bresaola, soppressata, Noix de jambon, proscuitto

6. A Cook Blog
Salami & Cheddar sandwich…totally from scratch, top to bottom

7. Eat, Drink, man, Woman, Dogs, Cat
Duck Salami

8. Naomaly
Facing Fears: This is way bigger than Chorizo

9. Vivek's Epicurean Adventure
Turning Pepperoni failure into inspiration.

10. Belm Blog
Salami, Bresaeola, Lonzino in steps, or...being unwilling to "cop to the suckage."

EXTRA: A Cook Blog
Eight amazing Thanksgiving courses using charcuterie in EVERY COURSE.

Best Photos

1. Dabblings & Whimsey

2. Snappy Service café

3. Nic Cooks

4. Eat Live Travel Write

5. Butcher's Apprentice

Continue Reading...


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chicken Gallantine

This month's Charcutepalooza Challenge is stretching. That means we are taking a duck or chicken and making it feed as many people as we can, using all the bits and scraps, letting nothing go to waste.

I made a Chicken Gallantine - a precious rolled-meat concoction that requires you to flay the skin off the chicken - Spanish inquisition style - in one single piece, debone the whole chicken, make pate out of the forcemeat, fold the forcemeat over the partially-grilled breasts so they are a snug surprise in the middle of the roll, and force all of it back inside the skin - that you just took off the chicken - and poach it in broth.

It sounds epic, like a kid who takes a radio apart and then reassembles it in a totally different way, and it's a little like that. Making a Gallantine is part mischievous kid and part mad-scientist-with-a-boning-knife, but the exercise helps you really get to know the chicken. It forces you to see and feel everything. And it does take a smallish chicken that might feed four people and turns it into a lovely, flavorful dish that feeds eight easily.

Also, this was much easier than any of our casing challenges. Once you've stuffed your own sausages, made your own hot dogs, the Gallantine is child's play. Cathy got us in tip-top shape over the summer.

I used Ruhlman's recipe out of Charcuterie. I did a few things differently - I added sauteed spinach to boost the flavor, used more chicken liver, added some extra chicken fat I had in the freezer instead of the pork fat, and poached it in broth made from a smoked chicken - thanks Peter! - to give it a little kick. You can really play with this dish.

Here's one of the side dishes that worked well with the Gallantine. It is, I think, the very last hurrah of summer: Yellow Beans Braised in Cream & Thyme. It's rich and fatty along-side the dainty, elegant slices of Gallantine. Serve it with roasted root vegetables and a salad, and the meal blends together all the best of late summer and early Fall.

Yellow Beans Braised in Cream & Thyme

This recipe was one my mother made for me as a child when dad's garden beans came in. Actually she made the dish much differently, but this is how I eat it now. It is a marriage of an old food memory made better by reading Jennifer Perillo's Milk-Braised Zucchini recipe, something she made after we ate (and swooned over) the same dish at Prune. I used her technique for coating the beans in a roux, something my mother wouldn't have done, but makes a simple dish all the more decadent. That and the copious amounts of cream and butter - that was my touch.


4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon or so flour

1 lb. yellow beans, trimmed and cut into spoon size lengths

1 1/2 cups cream

1/2 cup milk


Salt and pepper to taste


Melt 1/2 the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir into the butter. Let it cook for about a minute. Add the beans, making sure they are well-coated by the four/butter mixture. Stir in the cream, milk, the remaining knob of butter, thyme, and salt and pepper. Turn heat to a simmer and let braise for 10-12 minutes. The cream will occasionally froth up, just give it a stir or bring your temperature down a little. Just make sure you don't over-cook your beans or they'll get soggy. You want them to have just a little bite.

Serve in a bowl with flecks of thyme.

Here are the best posts from September's Packing Challenge:

1. Foodie Lawyer
Pate de Campagne

2. Cookbook Archaeology
Pork & Prahok Terrine - Cambodian style

3.Lighter & Local
English Pork Pie

4. Butchers Apprentice
Gala Pie

5. Good for the Palate
Vietnamese Spiced Paté and Banh Mi

6. Naomaly
A very piggy birthday & Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Pork Pie

7. Do Love Walk
Pate & Fried Oysters

8. Bite Me New England
Pate en Croute (Duck Breast and Pork) - hilarious, beautiful & Goober makes an appearance

9. Saint Tigerlily
The Titus Andronicus Meat Pie

10. Biscuits of Today
Rustic Chicken Liver Mousse with Pistachios

And the best photos:

1. Tasting Notes from the Edge

2. Eat Drink RI

3. Leave Me The Oink

4. Nic Cooks

5. Dabblings & Whimsey

Continue Reading...


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicken Liver Pate

This month's Charcutepalooza challenge is packing - and that means pate.

I love pate of all kinds, so does David, but as we get further into the challenges, I struggle more and more with what I can make - dishes that work with the rules of Charcutepalooza and ones that my kids will eat. It never pays for me to make anything that only half the family will eat, which is why I never make headcheese, or stuffed trotters. We were great through sausages, and bacon, and we flew through brining, and somehow I managed to inspire them to eat a shrimp terrine last month, but loaves of compressed meat were going to be a hard sell even on a good day.

Could I make a pate that the whole family will eat?

I knew that doing something rustic would never work - too many weird obtrusive pieces sticking out here and there, and forget inlaying a little meat surprise in the middle of the pate. That's the kind of weird science that would have me banned from the kitchen.

I decided on a pate that was smooth, spreadable, could be served without turning it out of the pot into a loaf. It could be sold to the children as a fun spread, the way almond butter is a fun spread. I went with my favorite pate of all time - chicken liver. It might take a few go-arounds, but I figured I could sell this.

Chicken liver pate is not just simple, it is also inexpensive, even if you are buying the best livers, from the best chickens, at the happiest farms, and it barely requires a recipe. In fact, I'm not going to give you one.

I'm going to just tell you to buy chicken livers - you won't need many of them, a little over a half pound of livers makes three small pots full - take them home to your kitchen, gently saute them in copious amounts of butter, onions, garlic, add salt and pepper, and handfuls of fragrant herbs, whatever beautiful herbs you've picked up at the market, let it all cook together about 5-6 minutes until the livers are not red, but a lovely pink inside, and add your favorite booze. I added tequila, but you can go right ahead and improvise, bourbon, cognac, it's all good. Heavy-handedness is mandatory here.

Put the boozed up livers in a food processor, give them a whirl or two, or ten, until you have a nice thick consistency, no solids, just something like a thick, thick shake. Check for seasoning and add some salt if you think it needs it. Pour the mixture into pots. Cover the top with a few sprigs of herbs and pour a little clarified butter over the top. Put pots in the fridge for a few hours until they set.

Serve a cold pot with toasted rounds of baguette, quartered figs, a hunk of good manchego, some slices of duck sausage, cornichons and if my kids are around, a few slices of star fruit and raspberries.

As of tonight, I am working at 50%. Lucy loved pate, slathered on toasts with side helpings of cheese and fruit. Edie just ate the toasts. But I take my victories as I get them. I'll be making this again, and I'll take another crack at her. Someday, even if it kills me, she'll love it, just as I do.



Here are our best-of picks for the binding challenge:

1. Chow Eng Down
Tempura Head cheese

2. The Messy Epicure
Saffron and Seafood Terrine

3. Artful Wish
Chicken Liver Terrines with Shallots

4. Dabblings & Whimsey
Chicken Liver Terrine with Chipotle and Raisins

5. One Vanilla Bean
Chicken Liver Terrine & Home-made Ritz Crackers

6. Eat Live Travel Write
Insane head cheese

7. Inspired By Wolfe
Xiao long bao

8. Sensible Worlds
The Big Two-Headed Hog Dish

9. Good For The Palate
Toe Cheese (Trotters)

10. In Scott's Kitchen
Scallop & Crab Mousseline Ravioli in Leek Brown Butter

Best Pics:

1. Taste Food Blog
Kale Wrapped Salmon and Scallop Mousseline with Tomato Coulis

2. Bona Fide Farm
Parsleyed Ham in Aspic

3. A Cook Blog
French dip bánh mì

4. Hounds in the Kitchen
Almost All-Ohio Trout and Shrimp Mousseline

5. Naomaly
Tip to Toe Terrine

Continue Reading...


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Salad d'Imbécile

It takes great talent to mess up a Nicoise Salad. I mean, it can be served many ways but basically it has the same ingredients - tuna, potatoes, capers, a lush bed of buttery greens, red onions, a pile of cornichons, a tangy mustard-y vinaigrette, some quickly-blanched haricot verts, maybe a strip or two of anchovies from a tin. And of course, the olives. The briney little suckers that make the salad, that salad.

I was going to be tricky. I was going to sub-out the tuna and replace it with delicate terrines of seafood - the kind I was tasked with making for this Charcutepalooza "binding" challenge - and create a funky take on Salad Nicoise. I was quite sure you would never miss the tuna. I made the terrines the night before. Rock shrimp (Lucy's favorite) and crab (Edie's favorite). I got all my ingredients ready in the morning. I tasted the terrines. Beautiful, light, delicate, still tasting of the sea, and slightly reminiscent of the shrimp salad sandwiches my mother made for me as a child.

Then, that thing happens where you have this idea that you should ask your husband for advice about something. Like how to set up your photo. It seems like a good idea in the moment, I mean he is competent about so many things. So you do it, you ask him, and then 10 seconds later you realize asking your husband about food photography might be the biggest mistake ever, because pretty soon, he is arranging beans and peppers into an aerodynamic, architectural, 1980's era Nouvelle Cuisine-inspired tower and waxing poetic about food photography.

He produces theatre and concerts. He is not Penny De Los Santos. Still, he made me stop and shoot his plate.

Then, it was my turn. I called my version "rustic". I denounced his blatant use of a single nugget of lettuce. I called it un-real, ridiculous. He countered by telling me my rustic interpretation was "throwing lettuce on a plate". He talked about precision and design. I talked about homey-ness, comfort and practicality.

I mocked his perfectly-placed pickles. I asked him how many people he thought four pickles was going to feed. He accused me of using more ingredients to beef up my photos. He whined about unequal treatment and standards. He lectured me about how photography is art, not a literal plate that he would bring to the table. He mocked my deconstructed salad, calling it "silly". I countered with an oration about cooking, the ins and outs of actually producing food so that real people, not tiny mice, could eat it. He used this is an opportunity to remind me how mind-numbingly literal I can be.

We bickered. We bitched. We criticized. We blasted each others creations. We accused each other of secret sabotage. We were merciless, as only a husband and wife can be, safe on ground we created together, with rules we both understood.

It was absurdly fun. More than once, we caught each other smirking. It was all safely violent, all that sparring and squaring off.

And that is why, when I took my picture, and my head was full of theories and ideas and one-upsmanship, while driven to be right and make a better plate, a prettier plate than David, with my head in this game we created, I served a table full of guests at tea and promptly forgot the potatoes, the olives, the anchovies and the hard boiled eggs. Just left them in the fridge. Forgot they existed.

It was an Idiot's Salad. And I'm pretty sure that's all David's fault. But yours will be different. You will refrain from asking your spouse about food photography. Or what's happening in Congress. You'll stay on task, and make these adorable little terrines. They are very light, perfect for tea, easily adaptable with different herbs and seasonings, and if you remember all of the heartier ingredients you left in the fridge, perfect with a Nicoise Salad.


Shrimp & Crab Mini-Terrines with Cilantro & Chives

This is a simple take on Michael Ruhlman’s “Maryland Crab, Scallop, and Saffron Terrine”. The secret here is to keep it no frills, and use shrimp so fresh that they smell of the sea the minute you pop off the lid. When I made this dish with four curious six year olds - too nosey and curious not to join in - they passed the container around and “smelled the ocean”. That’s how fresh it should be – kids should think it smells great. I use backfin crab with the rock shrimp. It's sweeter than lump, has a stronger crab taste, and it’s more affordable.

One other note – since the kids made this terrine, the herbs are cut roughly, certainly more rough than I would’ve preferred, but their big chunks of herbs made for a much more visually appealing terrine once sliced. I might try it their way next time.


¾ cup cream
1 lb. rock shrimp, chopped
½ lb. crab, back fin, in chunks
2 large egg whites
Chives, a handful, chopped
Cilantro, a handful, chopped
Juice of a medium-sized lemon
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Chives for garnish


Put the blades and bowl of your food processor in the freezer and chill for 15 minutes or so. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line four small terrines with plastic wrap, so they are ready when you need them. You’ll want the wrap to hang out a bit so you can fold it over and cover the top of the terrine.

When the gear is cold, assemble processor and combine shrimp and egg whites in the processor and puree until smooth. While the machine is still running, add cream to the mixture and process a little longer, just until everything is mixed well. Turn off the machine, add chunks of crab to the mixture, and season with chives, cilantro, lemon, salt and pepper. Gently mix everything together.

Push spoonfuls of your shrimp mixture into the terrines so that it touches all edges and sides and fills the mold. Pack the shrimp mixture into the terrine with the back of your spoon, so it’s even on top and fills the terrine completely. Cover with the remaining overlap of the plastic wrap and place terrines in a roasting pan. Pour hot water, from the tap or boiled on the stove, into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the terrines. Bake for about a half hour. You’ll know it’s done when you feel it get slightly spongey like a cake.

Remove terrines from the water bath and cool them a bit before putting them in the fridge. I put stones from my kid’s rock collection on top of each one to weigh it down. Let it rest just like that overnight in the fridge.

When you’re ready to serve, remove the rocks, unwrap the plastic wrap from the top and turn over the terrine. The little shrimp cakes will pop right out. Garnish with freshly cut chives. Serve with crackers and a hearty salad where you remember all the ingredients. Perfect for an afternoon tea out on the deck.


Here are the best of the Charcutepalooza Posts for July. The challenge was Blending. Love the dogs!

1. Sir Foodalot
Hot Dog Emulsion is F*ugly.

2. Healthy Green Kitchen
I made Hot Dogs and that’s something I thought I’d never say…

3. Nic Cooks
The One I Didn’t Want to Do
A really great survey of hot dogs in various countries.

4. Eat Live Travel Write
How Hot Dogs can be Dangerous to Your health

5. Sir Food A lot
Second That Emulsion (Sir Food A lot Holds Nothing Back)

6. Inspired By Wolfe
Ode on a Mortadella Sausage (with apologies to Keats)

7. Do Love Walk
July 4th and Half Smokes

8. Dabblings and Whimsey
Muffaletta Salad

9. Locavore in the City
A Daughter Makes Dogs with her Dad

10. Bite Me New England
Janis kisses the bung. Literally.

Best Pictures!

1. Cookbook Archeology
Gorgeous step-by-step Mortadella-making pics

2. Lighter and Local
Chicago Hot Dog

3. Taste Food

4. Leave Me The Oink
Pigs Wrapped in Brioche Blankets

5. Belm Blog
Bung & Mortadella

Continue Reading...


Monday, July 11, 2011


Our tired, lazy, dirty, comfortable, sweltering, familiar, life in the grass.

xo YM

Continue Reading...


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Strawberries & Cream Bars. Kinda. Fingers Crossed.

Last weekend, I wanted to do a fun cooking project with the girls. Their friends, Nakamae and Kissa and their parents spent the weekend in the country with us, so there was lots of help.

I want to fess up right here and say that if you think I cook with my kids for lofty, ethical reasons, think again. I do it because playing Barbie sucks. The very idea of Edie being Malibu Barbie and me having to be crazy Ken with the bad hair, fake tan and no genitals, and having to make interesting conversation over the Malibu corvette, makes my eyes roll back in my head. Give me a messy kitchen, tiny hands and a bag full of sugar tipped over on the floor any day.

This time, I decided we should make Everyday Food's Strawberry Cream Bars. There was much fighting at first - I want this, give me that, I'm sitting here!- so I divided up the kids into two groups: Little Girls (Edie & Kissa) and Big Girls (Lucy & Nakamae). The Little Girls drew the strawberry part. The Big Girls drew the cream.

Edie and Kissa ate the strawberries. And put a few of them in the blender.

There was pouring.

And tandem tipping of the jar to get every single drop into the pan.

Then, we popped the strawberry mixture into the freezer, and I excused the Little Girls, and called the Big Girls to the kitchen.

The Big Girls were tasked with cracking seven eggs, which is like a dream job for six year olds.

And we learned that separating yolks from whites is easier with our fingers, than tossing it back and forth in the shell. And that picking yolk bits out of a puddle of whites is not fun or terribly easy.

Then the girls figured out that funny things happen when you turn the Kitchen Aid up to 10, while Mommy has her back turned.

Like you can spatter your best friend and your mom's kitchen with cream, and laugh, laugh, laugh your ass off.

I found cream on the ceiling.

There was the ritual eating of the cream with our fingers. Constant testing of the food is a given in my kitchen.

And then we folded the cream onto to the slushy strawberry and put it in the freezer to harden into a beautiful bar that Martha Stewart says should look like this:

But Martha doesn't really understand my kids. Because after a couple of hours in the freezer, our bars looked like this:

I started moaning under my breath about how we should've waited, and they don't look like bars, and how we ruined the bars with our insistence that they should be eaten too soon, and David, like a guru, said: If we waited for them to form into bars, we wouldn't be able to eat them now.

Which, I have to say, is a darned good point.

So we grabbed spoons and ate. And it was messy and formless and soupy and I have to say, luscious, creamy, fruity, and frosty. The perfect outdoor, sitting-on-the-deck-before-plunging-into-the-sprinkler, kind of treat.

Also, they were good enough that you might find your husband, alone in a dark corner of the house, with the last of the bowl, secretly polishing it off when he thinks no one is looking. Someone call the Paleo Police, my husband is eating sugar.

We will make these again, but we will never even try for the fussy bars, (which aren't fussy unless you are six and terribly impatient.) Instead, I plan on taking Lucy's advice and waiting until no one is looking and swirling the cream into the fruit and freezing it that way. Big, fat, white, careless swirls. For some things, children are smarter than Martha Stewart.

In case you don't get Everyday Food (which you should - it's practical, simple, straight-forward and the recipes are do-able for every level of home cook), here is the recipe. Make this instead of playing with freakin' Barbie. La la la, Ken you're such a superstar...I love your tan...Wanna climb in my pink corvette and go for a ride?

You'll thank me.

xo YM

Strawberries and Cream Bars
from Everyday Food

2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled, halved if large (6 cups)

1 1/2 cups sugar

coarse salt

7 large egg whites

2/3 cup cold heavy cream

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In a blender, combine the strawberries, 3/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt. Puree until smooth. Pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Transfer to freezer. Every 30 minutes, for 2 hours, scrape the fruit mixture with a fork until it’s thick and slushy. Smooth top with a rubber spatula.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high until foamy. With mixer on medium, gradually add 3/4 cup sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 3 minutes.

In another bowl, beat cream and vanilla on high until you stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into the egg white mixture. Pour over the fruit mixture and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours (or covered, up to 3 days), before cutting into 12 squares.

Serves: 12 (unless you're my family and it serves 6-8)

Continue Reading...


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I Like The Kind of Dinners...

Where I make egg rolls for an appetizer to a much bigger dinner...

And everyone decides they'd just rather have them for dinner and nothing else. And they want to eat their egg rolls while watching mindless TV, in this case Bullwinkle and Rocky, and read their books about how to build a deck, (obviously that's David) and disobey all the rules about how families should eat together at the table. How we should be having stimulating conversation and sitting up straight in our chairs.

Bah Humbug. I sometimes need a dinner like this.

Because the Fourth of July is over. We ate a lot of food together, and cooked together, and ran around playing with our friends in the grass and the woods, and demo'd some of the bigger parts of our country house, (picture me with a crowbar and matted hair) and had some seriously late sleepovers, where all the kids slept together in the same bed and that was fun, but didn't get any of us very much sleep...

And now we need to recover.

So, give us bad TV, home-made egg rolls and Daddy's lap. That is just the post-holiday therapy we need.

xo YM

PS: I use Steamy Kitchen's recipe for egg rolls. I adapt them pretty heavily these days, but this is a terrific egg roll recipe from her mom, with a great wrapping pictorial. Try them. They rock.
Continue Reading...