On blogging lapses, bread & cheese, and other news
But before we hit the whole-month-without-a-post mark (gasp!), I might as well fill you in on the lack of culinary tidbits being published by yours truly. Truth is that I’ve been doing no shortage of cooking lately-‐I’ve started working at a restaurant here in NYC, and between that and school, I’m on my feet chopping, mixing and sautéing six nights a week. It’s not at all that I’m burnt out on cooking-‐I’d be thrilled by the chance to clock a few leisurely hours in my apartment kitchen, developing some tasty recipes, crafting my favorite confections or baking a big ol’ batch of oatmeal cookies. But between homework, trips to the laundromat, and squeezing in some shut-eye here and there, I’ve had little time to hit the grocery store, let alone take on any serious cooking projects. At lunch, one of the few meals that I reliably eat at home, I’m usually cobbling together some variation on bread and cheese or scrounging around in the freezer for leftovers that have managed to evade us until now.
But truth be told, I’m really pretty happy with bread and cheese. I’m my book, this is one of the world’s most infallible food combinations and when I’m home alone, there are few things I’d rather eat. Grilled cheese! Toasted cheese! Even an English muffin ‘pizza’ (a definite relic of my childhood) will do the trick when the fridge inventory is dwindling. Paired with a few fresh greens, maybe some apple slices or good chutney or jam, cheese sandwiches are pinnacle of simple food.
Although our stove is largely collecting dust these days, I did fire it up a few days ago to whip up a simple cheese-friendly condiment-‐born out of a nearly empty refrigerator, the catalyst for this chutney was a half empty jar of fig preserves. Quincy and I had purchased it a few weeks back to accompany a wheel of brie, and frankly, it was pretty unremarkable. In an effort to jazz it up, I melded the remainder with some caramelized onions, a little cider vinegar and a handful of dried fruits and in a short time, had a sweet-savory accoutrement for any sandwich in need of a little jazz.
Quick Fig Chutney
This recipe is quite informal and as I mentioned, came from an almost empty fridge-‐if you have a half onion kicking around in the crisper, or the dregs of a bottle of $3 buck chuck, or maybe some apple or apricot preserves, those could be good stand-ins for the following ingredients.
neutral oil for sauteing
1 small onion, very thinly sliced
2-3 tbsp. cider vinegar or dry white wine
1/4 cup dried cranberries/golden raisins
6 oz. fig jam
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a medium-sized skillet and film generously with the neutral oil. Add the onions and saute for about 10-15 minutes, or until they begin to caramelize. Remove the pan from the heat, add the vinegar/wine and use a wooden spoon to begin to loosen the brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan (a.k.a. deglazing). Depending on the size of your pan/the quantity of onions you sautéed, you may need to add more/less liquid. Return the pan to the heat, add the dried fruit and continue cooking briefly until most of excess liquid has evaporated. Add the jam and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes to begin melding the flavors. Season well, transfer to a container and store in the fridge.