Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Yes, please.

If anyone ever needs to get me a present...

(images from seejanework.com)

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

you're always alone in the kitchen!

In my short tenure as a good cook (a year or so) I have gathered a few sure-fire recipes into my arsenal (because cooking is like war, apparently). These few recipes always go over well and are always surprising to guests. Well, I am going to let the blogosphere in on my secrets by sharing these recipes. And thus begins the yumminess...

Tomato-Watermelon Salad with Feta and Toasted Almonds

This recipe never fails to baffle with its ridiculous combination of watermelon and tomatoes, and then the added surprise of feta and almonds. It's so good. Just try it. It will change your life.

8 cups 1 1/4-inch chunks seedless watermelon (about 6 pounds)
3 pounds ripe tomatoes (preferably heirloom) in assorted colors, cored, cut into 1 1/4-inch chunks (about 6 cups)
1 teaspoon (or more) fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as dill, basil, and mint)

6 cups fresh arugula leaves or small watercress sprigs (this is totally unnecessary. I've only added the arugula once and found it superfluous. skip this.)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 5 ounces)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Combine melon and tomatoes in large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon fleur de sel and toss to blend; let stand 15 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and herbs to melon mixture. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired.

(Be sure to drain the tomatoes and watermelon after this step. This salad sweats A LOT and can turn into soup, fast.)

(Again, this following part is unnecessary. Just toss the watermelon and tomato mixture with the feta and almonds and serve.)

Toss arugula in medium bowl with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Divide arugula among plates. Top with melon salad; sprinkle with feta cheese and toasted almonds and serve.

(recipe and photo from epicurious.com. originally appeared in Bon Appetit August 2006.)

Spinach, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Salad with Pecans

This salad is known in our house (that is, to me and my boyfriend) as the "bacon salad." It's a salad. It's green. It's leafy. And yet, it tastes like bacon. Why? Well, my friend, bacon grease in the salad dressing. Don't fight it. There's nothing you can do. Just love it.

  • 1/2 lb sliced bacon
  • 3/4 cup pecans (I prefer pinenuts. And you can buy them pre-toasted and skip the ridiculously complicated toasting step.)
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 (10-oz) bag baby spinach
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • (Also good with roasted tomatoes or dried cranberries. Especially the cranberries.)

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp, then transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat from skillet, discarding remainder. Crumble bacon.

Toast pecans in 2 teaspoons olive oil in skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until 1 shade darker, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Season nuts with salt and pepper and coarsely chop. (Again, this step totally overcomplicates things. Just buy pre-toasted nuts. They're just as good.)

Heat reserved fat in a saucepan over moderately low heat until just warm. (You can skip this step if you're using pre-toasted nuts. Just take the bacon from the pan and then pour the bacon fat into a measuring cup and mix up the dressing.) Remove pan from heat, then whisk in vinegar and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Toss bacon, spinach, cheese, and half of nuts with enough dressing to coat. (Also add those dried cranberries!) Sprinkle salad with remaining nuts.

Note: This salad is just as good the next day, unlike other salads. The bacon fat keeps it stiff, not wilted and goopy like normal salad. So good.

(recipe from epicurious.com. originally appeared in Epicurious September 2001.)

Lemon Gnocchi with Spinach and Peas

This dish is a combination of amazingly good things: gnocchi, cream, spicy red pepper flakes, lemons, and, if you do it right, bacon. Oh yeah, and the peas and spinach are tasty in this too, even though they're green things.

  • 1 cup frozen baby peas (not thawed)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach (3 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound dried gnocchi (preferably De Cecco [don't listen to them, get the potato gnocchi from Trader Joe's])
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (go light here or it'll get too alfredo-y)
  • (about 3 slices of bacon; cook it in the pan and then dump the fat and cook the sauce in the same pan)

Simmer peas with cream, red-pepper flakes, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet, covered, until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add spinach and cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, stirring, until wilted. (At this point, add the crumbled bacon to reheat it.) Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and juice.

Meanwhile, cook gnocchi in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain gnocchi. (I always forget to save the pasta water—make sure you do this, it's often necessary later!)

Add gnocchi to sauce with cheese and some of reserved cooking water and stir to coat. Thin with additional cooking water if necessary.

(recipe from epicurious.com. originally appeared in Gourmet December 2007.)

That's all for now. I'll do a part two soon. Now go eat!

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Friday, July 24, 2009

love is a wilderness

Welcome to A Wilderness, a blog mostly about things that I like! Hopefully you will like these things also!

For my first post, I wanted to share these pictures of Krysten Ritter's apartment that I found buried on theselby.com.

First of all, I love mid-century design, and bright colors set against neutrals, and I'm really into patterns right now. I also like big art.


I am so in love with her couch! It's patterned, it's got a low profile, it's bright blue, it curves!!!!

I also love her white bookcases paired with that large-scale photo print. Especially because it's a portrait. And was obviously taken in the '60s. Amazing.


photos from theselby.com

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