Friday, November 20, 2009

Girl's Night In

While Bruce and I are pretty omnivorous, we each have our own strong preferences.  He loves curry, dosa, and all things Indian; I gravitate toward anything Italian, particularly the red-sauce Italian of my Brooklyn youth.  Thus, we have pasta once a week, and curry every moon or so, which I think is more than fair. Only occasionally do I get a chance to cook for myself alone, but I rarely take it.  Bread, cheese, and fruit on a paper plate is my usual fare.  However, this week it was a little too chilly in the apartment to think about a cold meal.  I wanted Italian, but I didn't feel like pasta.  Ordering a whole pizza for myself was out, as I might eat it.  All of it.
  I poked around in the closet and found a tube of prepared polenta.  Bingo.  Set the oven to 350, then cut three half inches slices of polenta, heated a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan, and tossed them in.  Five or six minutes on each side over medium-high heat, until they were golden on the outside and tender within. I used a paper towel to blot up any excess butter, so that I wouldn't get splattered when I added the sauce.  I wasn't about to thaw a quart of homemade sauce, so I doused them with a good jarred brand. (I'm partial to Michael's of Brooklyn, partly because I used to walk by the restaurant on my way home from St. Brendan's High School.)
  Topped them with shreds of mozzarella, dollops of ricotta, and a shower of parm.  Into the oven for ten minutes.  Dust with more parm. (Is there ever enough?  No.)  They were tender, crunchy, gooey, and oozy.  Perfect.
   Let cool slightly.  Open a bottle of wine, grab a glass, and race to the couch in time for the finale of America's Next Top Model. 
  Pass me the wine, would you?  I've still got an hour to kill before Top Chef.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sometimes a Pretzel Is Just...A Really Good Pretzel

Finally got to Sigmund's Pretzel Shop today, about two weeks later than planned, what with illness and the lack of appetite that dogged me for at least a week after I was officially better.  And a food blogger without an appetite is like a hipster without bacon: dazed and somewhat pathetic.
  Having grown up in Brooklyn, I'm quite familiar with a certain kind of soft pretzel: It was doughy, salty, soggy, and, on humid days, sported a viscous coating of melted salt.  Oh, and they were stone cold.  We couldn't get enough of them: Filling and cheap, they were ideally suited to teenaged appetites.
  Sigmund's pretzels are another story.  They remind you that pretzels are, after all, bread.  I got a plain salted, as I didn't want the distraction--at least this time-- of jalapeno cheddar or gruyere. versions.  These babies are pretzels at their best.  Light, yet not insubstantial, they are redolent of yeasty bread, the chew offering just enough resistance, the crust (for want of a better word) a chestnut brown with a toasty flavor.   If there is such a thing as an elegant pretzel, this is it.
  The pretzels are $3.00 each, and come with your choice of dip.  I got a zesty honey mustard, a flavor for which my weakness is well known.  I'm looking forward to trying the caraway pretzel, perhaps with a horseradish dip.  Soon.
  29 Avenue A, between 2nd and 3rd Streets.

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.