Rene and I had just spent a gorgeous day at the beach - complete with fried calamari and ice cream at our favorite ocean-view shack - and were driving back to the campground to start prepping a communal dinner with 20 or so of his closest Polish family friends. We stopped at a little farm-stand on the road to pick up some produce. I wasn't sure what I wanted to contribute to the meal, but seeing as it's been bright hot all day, we were in the mood for a salad. On the shelves, I saw some plump orange tomatoes, ripe peaches and fresh corn, side by side. I . . .
My childhood home was 10 minutes away from the beach by foot. From late spring up until September 1st - the first day of the Ukrainian school year - my mom would take my sister and I to the beach every single day. To clarify, she took us as well as a handful of other neighborhood kids; other times, we'd be taken by someone else's mom. Most days we'd get there by 8 a.m. to claim the coveted spot as close to the water as possible. The beach in Odessa is unlike any other I've been to since. The sand is fine and soft, the Black Sea warm, gentle and shallow. We'd hang . . .
If there is one edible indulgence I feel completely lukewarm about, it is frosted cake. Chewing through a mouthful of buttery frosting is just such an unpleasant sensation to me. Instead, true to my eastern European roots, I prefer bready, dense, plain cakes. In fact, this year for my birthday Rene baked me a pound cake as a surprise. When I asked where he got the recipe, he said "Plain dry cake dot com." Of course he was joking, but it did prove how well he knows me and I was very touched. (The site doesn't actually exist but I vouch for its creation!) Along with . . .
Phoebe Lapine is someone I've admired for a long time. With her blog, Feed Me Phoebe, she manages to strike a balance between personal stories filled with self-deprecating humor, and seriously creative yet good-for-you recipes that make you go, "Hmm, why didn't I think of that?" When I finally got to meet her in person - when we co-taught a course on food blogging at NGI - I was thrilled to learn she was just as cool in 3D as she is on the interwebs (always a relief, isn't it?). Aside from writing an award-winning blog, Phoebe is also a culinary instructor, . . .
There is a Russian potato salad called Olivye that is the single most commonly found food on any Russian celebration table. I am willing to bet there is not one living person of Russian or Ukrainian origin that can't name all the ingredients that go into this salad. They are: boiled potatoes and carrots, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, canned peas, and sometimes kielbasa or poached chicken. Everything is finely chopped into about quarter-inch cubes and dressed generously with mayo - the Russian answer to basically any kitchen conundrum. Salat Olivye (the . . .
Bunches of fresh asparagus eagerly standing upright at the farmers market are a telltale sign that winter is over. Home cooks and restaurants go HAM for asparagus this time of year, but I typically couldn't be bothered - its bitterness and faintly sulfuric taste have always turned me off. However, I recently tried it raw, thinly sliced in a fresh salad - and this, I liked. Rather than being like, bam, here’s a whole lot of asparagus in your face, the salad was just a touch asparagus-y. It tasted fresh and green and wonderfully spring-like, and it got my brain thinking . . .
Whenever someone suggests bringing store-bought salsa to a party, my inner self shouts out a big “Noooo!” That’s because jarred salsa freaks me out. Why is it that something that’s supposed to be made from fresh vegetables can just sit there in a jar on a store shelf for months? How can those limp tomatoes and odd bits of tomato skin be remotely appetizing? And why does store-bought salsa always taste surprisingly sweet? A part of me wants to apologize for sounding like a snob, but I am not even sorry. And don’t get me started on packaged guacamole… *full body . . .