spring is here!

Roasted a lamb leg tonight, with all the trimmings: mint sauce (New Zealand style, made only of mint, cider vinegar, sugar, water and salt), yukon golds roasted in goose fat, asparagus, and rhubarb frozen yogurt cake. And champagne cosmopolitan cocktails, left over from littlelee’s family easter dinner. (Tasty, as were the pear-nectar and champagne cocktails.)
Firstly, GOOSE FAT. Damn. Makes those taters perfectly brown and very crunchy. Do it the british way. I got my can o’ fatty goodness in London, and I must find a source here.
Lamb was excellent, nice flavor, very moist, and littlelee & spleen are turned on to the NZ mint sauce. And the rhubarb frozen yogurt is what finally pushed me over the edge and caused me to buy an ice cream maker. I couldn’t stand reading another amazing recipe that I couldn’t make because I didn’t have the damn gizmo. Thirty bucks on Amazon for a refurbed Cuisinart machine, and I couldn’t be happier.
It was a nice simple dinner, absolutely delicious, and oozing spring from start to finish. Thank god winter’s over.


This is from our friend littlelee:

“I am a tad strapped for cash so I made a dinner last night largely based on what was aready in my fridge. I had pork chops marinating in curry ketchup (no joke! I figured it would be like BBQ sauce and had to use it b/c it’s about to expire), a snack box of dried apricots left over from Amy’s wedding in October, chicken broth (one can of which has been blocking the mouse hole under the sink), ghee that I made for Indian food early last September, a half-used onion and lentils. I bought pine nuts, raisins, onions and bulgur. It all turned into a bulgur pilaf worthy of Lala Rokh, sans the shitty service!”

take that!

The bake sale netted $2283. Not bad for a few people clustered around some folding tables on the sidewalk. Baked goods kept materializing all day from random contributors, cars pulling up on the street, etc., and most of it disappeared within an hour of arriving. It was so cool. People brought rice crispy treats, pecan pies, an amazing walnut/cinnamon/caramel tart, chocolate cakes, brownies of all sorts, cookies up the wazoo, banana and pumpkin breads, two hot apple pies (i wanted one of those but didn’t act fast enough), a coconut cake, some apple crisps…

fish sauce and excellent houseguest

this weekend, our friend K came to stay with us, and she cooked us a swell vietnamese dinner. She had gotten her mitts on a few bottles of Phu Quoc fish sauce, widely reputed to be the best there is — and it really is nice stuff. Much fishier than others, in the best possible way, and sort of nutty and rounded in flavor. (K agreed with our previous intelligence that Three Crabs brand is the best available in the States.)
Since K lived in Vietnam for 4+ years, she has a few recipes up her sleeve. One she got straight from the cooking queen of Phu Quoc island, involving squid, chilies, garlic, shallots, turmeric, fish sauce, and a truckload of chowdered-up lemongrass. Yum. She also made cashew chicken which was a far cry from most restaurant versions, a simple saute of collard greens, cabbage salad, and tom yum goong, the spicy lemongrass shrimp soup. All dreamy. Black sticky rice with coconut milk for dessert. Sigh.

Victoria Organic pasta sauce

Found this stuff at CostCo, and I figured anything organic and on discount was worth a shot. And turns out it rules. It’s delicious in that thin, old-skool red sauce way, hovering somewhere in a hazy area between what an Italian mama makes in Somerville and what you get at the Chateau. Comes in marinara and tomato basil flavors.
I had some Muir Glen sauce around the same time, and I figured that their canned tomatoes are so superior, their sauce would be good too. And it is, but merely good. It was very useful in a veggie lasagne, but I don’t think I’d dig it just over pasta.

and the kitchen’s not even trashed

ok, so I ran out of butter and eggs. I guess that’s a sign I should stop baking. ;-P The final tally:
cranberry upside down cake
chocolate afghans
pumpkin cranberry nut bread
espresso hazelnut brownies
banana bread
no-pudge chocolate chip brownies
and one substandard loaf of beer bread, which i’m eating myself b/c it’s a little weird and overdone.
The tallasiandude will be psyched at how good I was at cleaning up after myself given the rampaging nature of this baking bender.

eat pastry for democracy

I’m not much of an activist — lazy, self-conscious, distracted — but I can bake. And if I can help kick George Bush out of office by baking, then by god I’ll do it. MoveOn.com’s nationwide bake sale is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time. So tonight I made beer bread, chocolate afghans, pumpkin cranberry nut bread, and no-pudge brownies (from a mix, *gasp*). Have a look here for more info: http://action.moveonpac.org/bakesale/
Those damn brownies are awfully tasty for no fat. They’re goopy-fudgy inside, which is rather nice. I made mine with plain yogurt rather than vanilla as instructed, and to make up for the lower sweetness I chucked in some semisweet chocolate chips. Hoo, baby! I never suspected they’d actually be good, but they are.
And chocolate afghans… mmm… sigh. Pride of New Zealand, the cookie found in every tea shop and truck stop in the land. Crunchy chocolate cookie with thick fudgy icing on top, with a walnut to crown its glory. Thought those crunchies were coconut for the longest time, but they’re really crushed-up Weetabix. Americans lacking Weetabix (which is delicious itself as a cereal) can use corn flakes smashed to smithereens instead, but I find Weetabix has a crisper, lighter texture. I also suspect that these would be better if I used unsalted butter. Normally, I can’t be bothered to buy unsalted butter, and frankly I won’t use anything but salted butter on bread, trendy NYC bistros be damned. But I think these cookies end up with a slightly funny undertaste with salted butter. Not that I won’t snarf down any and all within range.
And pumpkin cranberry nut bread has gotten rave reviews at parties, especially with a schmear of cream cheese.
Tomorrow we’ll assay the espresso hazelnut brownies, frangelico truffles, and cranberry upside down cake. Heh — take that, George!
(ps Weetabix available at Porter Square Star Market!)

about foodnerd

Just a little bit of background information: Foodnerd (the person) is based in the Boston area and works in software, which provides sufficient income to eat and cook really delicious things both at home and abroad. I like talking about food almost as much as cooking it or eating it. Foodnerd! (the blog) was a present to me from my sweetie-pie, the tallasiandude, who is no slouch himself in the food appreciation and creation department.
We, and our assorted food-obsessive friends, will post items about stuff we like, stuff we hate, places we ate, things we cooked or grew, and as many photos of same as we can manage. Also, I’d like to note that I don’t consider myself a “foodie,” which to me carries a whiff of haute cuisine, though it is the most common descriptor for people like us. I’m more of a foodslut: I love it all, high-end, low-end, out of a can or from The French Laundry… as long as it’s delicious.
I originally undertook to occasionally write up a few self-indulgent mutterings about food, but it seems that people are actually reading this sometimes, and I’ve started reading other people’s really excellent food blogs, so I’m trying to actually provide useful details in the posts these days. I hope you find something entertaining here, something useful for your own cooking, and for sure something delicious!
(Update in 2005/2006: I have moved to Chicago for a new job, and am eating my way through the sausages and Mexican markets and Korean bbq. Chicago has relatively few food bloggers, as far as I can tell, considering what a good eating city this is. If you’re out there, Chicago, let me know! We’ve already lost one to the Bay Area…)
(Update in 2007: I have moved back to Boston to get married to the tallasiandude. Awwww. I still visit Chicago occasionally for work, so there will continue to be Chicago-eatin’ posts, but for the most part it will be back to Boston-centric stuff. It’s been a completely insane year between work and moving — from my Chicago apartment and from tallasiandude’s house into the house we’ve bought together — and planning a wedding, so there’s not been many posts in late 2006 and early 2007. But things are looking calmer these days, so we should be getting back to normal quite soon.)