Friday, January 31, 2014

My New Kitchen (a la Dan-and-John)

I have a new kitchen!!!  My little Manhattan kitchen was miraculously transformed last month by the brilliant work of my friends Dan and John.  I’m totally over the moon.

I’d wanted to make improvements for years, having struggled with motivation to cook and create for this blog when I felt claustrophobic in my own kitchen, but I knew I couldn’t delay this project any longer after barely surviving the busiest CocoaRoar truffle season a year ago.  Frustrated to tears by the lack of functional counter/storage space, I honestly considered giving up my truffle business. Either I had to move to an apartment with a better kitchen, or I had to make serious changes to my existing space before the next December truffle season came around.


Enter Dan and John.  As they say on their website, “We believe space matters—and that a well-designed environment enhances well-being and promotes the enjoyment of daily life.”  


Any home improvements I’d made in the past were always very DIY.  I’d never experienced having a fully realized vision for a room and then executing it, but sometimes you need to turn to the pros.  I’d seen other beautiful design projects that Dan and John had done in the past, where they excelled at finding clever functional solutions that also looked incredibly cool.  I couldn’t have imagined how far they’d exceed my expectations for my kitchen project!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Roasted Acorn Squash With Chile-Lime Vinaigrette

The lower the temperature drops, the stronger my craving for starchy cheesy food grows.  I’m sure many of you can relate, and it is taking every bit of self-control I have not to make huge pans of lasagna or vats of buttery mashed potatoes during these major cold spells.  However, I’m counterbalancing my cravings for starchy white food by cooking from my arsenal of favorite roasted vegetables dishes. Roasted Acorn Squash With Chile-Lime Vinaigrette makes me especially happy, as this dish adds a welcome pop of bright color and a good nutritional punch on these cold wintry days.

It’s amazing how so many vegetables are transformed into satisfying comfort food when roasted at high heat with a good glug of olive oil and a liberal seasoning of salt and pepper.  This acorn squash is no exception to that rule, and it couldn’t be easier. 


All you do is cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and slice the squash into thin wedges.  You don’t even need to peel it.  In fact, the peel gets crispy and candied when roasted, and that crispy-skin is one of my favorite elements of this dish.

While the squash is in the oven, the dressing comes together in a snap.  I love the contrast between the earthy warmth of the roasted squash and this zingy vinaigrette.  Fragrant with lime zest and cilantro, then punched up with minced garlic and chilies, this dressing will wake up your palate and rev up your metabolism as well.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

60 Minutes To Prepare A Party

Well, here’s a bit of news: I’m going to be on “60 Minutes” again tonight!  Break out the bubbles!

Many of you know I was featured in an Emmy-nominated profile about a very small handful of people who possess a rare ability called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. "Endless Memory" aired on 12/19/2010, drawing the largest audience “60 Minutes” had in years, and a follow-up story was definitely in order.

We filmed this new piece this past November, though it was a major house of cards trying to coordinate everyone’s busy schedules.  I was away playing concerts with HCJ for most of the fall, but there was a brief window when the stars aligned and I left the tour for a whirlwind 24-hour trip to be interviewed by Lesley Stahl.  I had a delightful reunion with my fellow memory wizards, Marilu Henner and Bob Petrella, and we were particularly excited to meet 10-year-old Jake, the youngest person to be discovered with HSAM.  I know he’ll amaze you.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Chile-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

Happy New Year!  Well, technically it’s January 4th, so allow me to wish you a Happy 1/4/14!  I really like the symmetry of that number and I’ve been writing it all day in as many forms as I can. I’m happy to be home at Kitchen Fiddler again, as it’s been an extremely eventful three months since my last entry here, but that will be for another post. I’ve just come off an intense round of CocoaRoar truffles so you’d think I’d be sick of chocolate by now, but astonishingly, I’m not.  In fact, I’m here to talk about hot chocolate—Chile-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, to be exact.

The new year promptly started off with several inches of snow, and I was glad to hibernate at home those two days.  There is nothing more comforting than being safely tucked inside during a snowstorm, wrapped in a blanket while watching favorite movies and drinking huge mugs of steaming hot chocolate topped with floating islands of whipped cream.  When that hot chocolate has an extra kick from the spicy addition of chile powder and the whipped cream is flecked with cinnamon, so much the better.

I rarely find myself making regular B-flat hot chocolate.  I almost always doctor it up in some way, either by spiking it with various liqueurs or infusing the whipped cream with flavors beyond the norm.  Sometimes I transpose my favorite truffle flavors to hot chocolate form, as in my Cardamom Hot Chocolate with Rose-infused Whipped Cream.  Tonight’s chile-cinnamon hot chocolate is also a riff on my popular spicy truffle, one I haven’t made in a while but have been craving recently.