We live in a neighborhood with a stretch of very busy nightlife. On weekend nights, there are lines of people snaking all up and down the street.
And there's an established post-bar ritual. After the kids (yes, we're calling them kids) leave the bars, they queue up for Jumbo Slice Pizza.
What, pray tell, is Jumbo Slice Pizza? It is, by most accounts, the biggest piece of pizza you will ever be served for five dollars. It's huge, greasy, and when you've overindulged, it is phenomenal. (Word of advice: never, ever eat the Jumbo Slice in daytime hours. It is not up to sober food standards. Believe us, we have tried.)
Our Jumbo Slice days are behind us. Mostly.
On a much classier note, Food & Wine's May issue has a beautiful, dark spread about late-night chef food. The chef is question is Paul Qui, the nicest-seeming Top Chef winner ever. The magazine features Paul and his fiancee cooking late-night dinners after they get home from his restaurant in Austin.
Needless to say, Paul's not returning home to fire up the oven and make a Jumbo Slice. Instead, he makes thingd like this Baby Kale and Steak Salad.
Well, wait, let's back up. Of course we originally wanted to like this dish, which is why we selected it from the most recent Food & Wine. The first time we oil-poached fish had yielded mixed results, so we wanted to try it a second time. Plus, the fennel and orange sounded like a delicious complement to the tuna.
But once we got into the prep, we quickly fell out of love.
Mad Men is back! Though we're sad to say that you're breaking our hearts, Don Draper....
Our garden is starting to show signs of life. Little bits of green are peeking up through the dirt. Let's hope they're not weeds. More on that next week.
The Cherry Blossoms hit their peak in our nation's capital this week. Yesterday, before work, we biked down to see them. We're so fortunate to live in such a beautiful city.
Yes, spring is here, and we couldn't be happer about it.
But here's something we don't like quite as much: We've both been incredibly busy at work as of late. And work, she takes up a lot of time. Between that and our thirst for more time outside, it means less time in the kitchen.
We're still cooking dinner at home most nights of the week. But during the work week, we need meals that we can throw together in a short amount of time, with little thinking required.
We need meals like this Broccoli Rabe with Sausage.
When we went to China a year and a half ago, we were a little obsessed with green beans.
We ate them as side dishes at several different meals. Sometimes, they were cooked with Sichuan peppercorns, imparting the beans with a lemony, oddly pleasant mouth-numbing effect. Other times, they were prepared more simply, with plenty of black pepper.
These Chinese Long Beans with Cracked Black Pepper from Food & Wine are the latter -- no mouth-numbing here. Just a straight-up green bean dish that, as F&W puts it, uses pantry staples to amp up a simple vegetable dish.
Sometimes, you absolutely can judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, a recipe by its name.
"Fish in Crazy Water"? How could we resist making something with such an intriguing name? And it turns out, it tastes just as awesome as its name.
This Fish in Crazy Water has actually made a couple appearances in Food & Wine now. Why? Because it's Food & Wine's birthday -- Happy birthday!
The magazine is celebrating its 35th anniversary this month by doing a bit of looking back into the archive. There's the "20 Best-Ever Recipes" and a second feature, "The Legends," that features recipes from culinary icons that were orginally featured in the magazine.
There's Julia Child, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jacques Pepin, Paula Wolfbert and Marcella Hazan.
It's Marcella who contributed a recipe this Fish in Crazy Water back in 1997.
When we mentioned offhand that we "sort of don't believe in" bay leaves as part of the note down within a recipe late last year, we were surprised by how many comments we received coming to the bay leaf's defense. Many of you wanted to know how the herb had done us wrong.
Here's how we fell out of love with bay leaves, and how we did a test this week to determine if we're just flat-out wrong.
When we try out a new recipe, we are, for the most part, dutiful recipe followers. If a recipe calls for an obscure ingredient, we will hunt it down, even if that means multiple grocery store stops and lots of phone calls. And, because many recipes over the years have called for bay leaves, we've always purchased them, always fresh, never dried.
Here's how it always seems to go with bay leaves: We buy a pack and use one or two bay leaves in a recipe. We're never sure what contribution the leaf is making. We can barely smell it on its own, much less detect it in a soup, stew or broth. Nonetheless, we toss it in, per the recipe. The rest of the pack sits unused in the fridge until the leaves become brittle. We trash the old dead leaves. Next time there's a recipe that calls for bay leaves? Wash, rinse, repeat.
But the notes we got from you guys -- how you love bay leafs and consider them essential -- got us thinking. Are we wrong about bay leaves? Have we been "meh" on them for naught?
We decided to find out the best way we knew how. We made chicken stock.
And in between we cooked and shared a lot of dishes that we just really loved. It was hard work narrowing it down to only 10 dishes. (If you want more, there's always the Recipe Index, which is fully updated as of today.) But narrow it down we did. Here are our 10 Favorite Food Magazine Recipes of 2012, followed by a bit about each recipe -- plus two bonus dishes, 'cause like we said, narrowing is hard..
[click images to visit the original posts and get the recipes]
Black Eyed Pea Salad from Saveur -- If you didn't get your black eyed peas for good luck yesterday, atone by making this spicy fresh salad.
There's something about a bracing winter salad that can be so satisfying for the holidays. It's like a clean knife cutting through all the heavy, rich, sweet flavors that dominate the menu this time of year.