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Archive for October, 2009

Settling In

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I recently moved into a new apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. My bedroom is small, missing some key furniture items, and currently in a state of disarray. Unlike my bedroom, the kitchen is enormous, houses my new (old) KitchenAid standing mixer (!), and is generally pretty spick and span. So naturally, that’s where I’ve been liking to spend my time. And what better reason to spend time in the kitchen than having to a) play with your new KitchenAid, b) bake sweet treats for new friends and old friends and housewarmings, and c) eat baked goodies for dessert (and breakfast…)

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The first recipe I wanted to introduce to Mr. KitchenAid was my standard chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, since he and they will likely be spending lots of time together. I am happy to announce that they got along perfectly and my arms were more than happy to not have to cream butter and sugar and incorporate oats into the sticky dough, which can end up being quite a work out. Mr. KitchenAid simply sat there, mixing away, humming a bit and within minutes I had perfectly mixed and consistent cookie dough. LIfe changing, really.

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A few days later I made my first autumn 2009 batch of pumpkin bread. Mr. KA impressed me yet again. The pumpkin bread was moist and filled with spices, and oh-so fally. Wrapped in a plastic bag and paired with a stack of cookies, it made a perfect housewarming gift for Cuddleganners Emily and Jona.

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And yesterday another important addition was brought into my new home: Baking Illustrated, the baking cookbook of all baking cookbooks, written by the authors of Cooks’ Illustrated magazine. I paged through the book when I got home and was soon whipping up a batch of brownies that ended up being as perfect as the book claimed: dense and gooey with a flaky top layer, requiring a glass of milk to finish them off. I had two for breakfast this morning.

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My Oh My, Mimi’s Hummus

I had read a New York Magazine article in early august about a small restaurant that had recently opened in Ditmas Park. The authors claimed that “you couldn’t go wrong” with Mimi’s ever-changing menu of Israeli and Moroccan-inspired dishes. Not long after reading the article, I found out that Natalie (of red velvet birthday cake fame) not only lived in Mimi’s neighborhood but knew Mimi — WOW! Visiting Nat’s hood, meeting Pita (her pup, and what an appropriate name), and dining at Mimi’s was immediately pushed towards the top of my to-do list and things finally fell into place last Saturday around brunch time. I made the trek to Ditmas Park on the Q train and was greeted by a bicycle-riding Natalie. Pita was living it up in the bike’s basket, letting the wind blow through her wispy ear hair. We were soon sitting in the front window seat at Mimi’s, with Pita looking longing at us from the other side of the glass, menus and wine in hand (it’s BYO for free!)

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The specials were read to us and literally everything was over-the-top mouth watering. We ended up ordering two entrees off of the brunch specials, the names of which I unfortunately can’t remember. The first dish was a flat, pancake-like omelette with potatoes and onions, topped with a spreadable spoonful of labneh and served with small dish of Tabouleh. The second dish consisted of a small, cast-iron skillet filled with sauteed swiss chard and onions, topped with two sunny-side-up eggs, a generous sprinkling of parsley, sheep’s cheese (I think it they were Austrian sheep? Or Hungarian?) and served with a little cucumber salad. Add two warm whole wheat pitas to the situation and you’ve got yourself a feast, not to mention a food coma.

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Ron met us at Mimi’s, helped us finish up some last bites, and Natalie ordered a plate of three paczkis (pronounced punch-keys, they are apparently Polish?): chilled chocolate cake batter-esque balls rolled in coconut. Words cannot begin to describe how delicious these were; they were unreal.

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The incredible meal was followed up by Oktoberfest beers at Sycamore, a bar with a backyard a few blocks away, where the three of us caught up on work and life gossip (specifically men with beards gossip) and hung with Pita, an adorably sassy little girl named Vivian, and two of Nat’s friends. All in all, a perfect fall day in Brooklyn, and one that made me realize good food and good company is always worth the trek.

bubbles

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Saucy Embraces Fall

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Last weekend in the country was a Cuddlegan Kick-Off to Fall and Saucy kept the momentum going this weekend with a trip to way-out-there-Pennsylvania for some autumnal activities. Momma D acted as both chauffeur (we both sat in the back and paged through a vintage Martha Weddings book…) and soup connoisseur (three types of soup in tow — mushroom, onion, and butternut squash!) We arrived at Christina’s aunt and uncle’s house and sat down to a lunch of warm soup and chilled apple cider before heading out for a walk around the farm to gather some hydrangeas.

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With a full basket of flowers in hand, we piled back into the car to drive around town. First stop was a small antique shop. Although very cute, the miniature ponies down the road caught our attention and we opted for befriending the little guys rather than browsing.

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We stopped for ice cream (mint chocolate chip of course) and then hit up a few farmer’s markets in search of a slew of white pumpkins and gourds for sister Dittmann’s engagement (!!) party. So while Mrs. Dittmann hunted, we posed for photo opps with pumpkins and gourd necklaces. We browsed the final farmer’s market for some goodies for ourselves–I ended up with the most perfect mini pumpkin I’ve ever seen, intertwined gourds, a small bouquet of dried flowers, and an acorn squash that was lucky enough to be eaten for dinner that night…

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I had seen a recipe on 101 Cookbooks last week for roasted corn pudding baked inside an acorn squash — genius! Corn was one of Saucy’s summer loves and squash is our go-to fall and winter veggie so what better way to transition from summer to fall than with a combination of our favorites? And since a meal is not a meal without a carb (aka we just love carbs) we put together a quick onion and parmesan flatbread. The pudding had a great light texture and the excess (which we baked in a large ceramic dish) was a good addition to Monday night’s dinner in the Veraldi house.

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Roasted Corn Pudding in Acorn Squash (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

1 acorn squash, halved and seeded (*there will be excess corn pudding, so use another squash if desired*)
1 1/2 cup corn kernels (4 ears of corn)
2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
1 cup milk
a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
6 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375F. Rub the inside of the squash with butter or olive oil, place on a baking sheet and cover with foil. The squash needs to sit flat on the baking sheet so that the pudding does not spill out, this may require you to shave off some of the squash’s underside to make a flat surface. Roast squash for about 40-50 minutes, or until slightly tender. Meanwhile, combine corn, eggs, milk, nutmeg, half of the scallions, and salt and pepper. Pour mixture into cared out squash and fill about 3/4 of the way. The excess can be poured into buttered ramekins or a larger baking dish. Carefully slide the baking sheet back into the oven and bake for another 40-50 minutes, or until pudding is set. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese and remaining scallions. Place back in the oven just until the cheese has melted and begun to brown.

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