Wednesday, September 28, 2011

L'shana tova

Happy 5772!  May it bring adventure, love, and happiness.

A preview from my new dance-inspired portrait series.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

So You Wish You Could Dance Sundays

I've been sort of obsessed with Adele lately.  And Adele + Kyle Hanagami (one of my favorite hiphop choreographers) is perfection.


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Monday, September 19, 2011

So You Wish You Could Dance Sunday: Puttin' On the Ritz Edition

When Broadway meets hip hop . . . .

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Grown-up Party Tricks: Keeping the Food Warm and the Kitchen Clean

We love entertaining, but one of the biggest headaches about throwing a dinner party is serving the food on time and while it's still hot.  This is an especially big challenge for me, because the Emma Pillsbury in me likes my kitchen to be relatively neat and clean by the time guests arrive.  Recently, a friend asked me for some suggestions on how to make a dinner party work.  I told her that I'd share some of my tricks and ask you to share yours.


Before our guests arrive, I prep as much as possible and always load all of the pots and pans and assorted dirty dishes into the dishwasher so that I can run it during the party.  I also set up my mise en place and lay out the serving dishes.  (In the photo above, you can see that I have the plastic chopping board and all of the ingredients out for my miso-glazed brussel sprouts; the wood cutting board out for the roast chicken; and the salad bowl and tongs at the ready.)


For foods that need reheating or finishing in the oven or stovetop, I like to put a post-it with the oven temperature and heating time on the dish itself.  This way I can put away all the recipe books ahead of time and have all of the important details at the ready.


For occasions like Passover and Chinese New Year, when a meal is going to last a looooong time, we use this relatively inexpensive chafing dish to keep the food warm.


As you can see, I also try to do much of the set-up in advance, so that all I have to do the day of is finish making the food and placing it on the appropriate serving vessel.


I'm afraid that these are all the tips I know.  What are your favorite techniques for keeping everything organized and delicious for a dinner party? Please share!

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

So You Wish You Could Dance Sundays

Kate Jablonski might be one of my favorite contemporary choreographers.  She has an amazing capacity to choreograph for every sound.


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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Maple Soy Roast Chicken

Let's say one had an overenthusiastic husband who bought a GALLON of maple syrup in Vermont.  And said gallon of maple syrup sat on one's kitchen counter for a long time, leering and jeering as one went about one's usual kitchen activities.  What would one do?


Well, if one were me, then the answer is obvious: make chicken.  My mom makes a scrumptious Chinese-style roast chicken with a soy and sugar glaze that is just to die for.  I decided that I'd make my own iteration with maple syrup.  This ode-to-Vermont version has the same sticky, savory, sweet flavor combination that makes mom's chicken so good, but it also has an unexpected hint of smokiness from the maple syrup.  I made it on a summer night, but I can imagine it being especially fantastic when the weather is cold and maple flavors seem more in season.


Directions:

  1. Begin by making the glaze.  Mix 1/4 cup dark soy sauce (use a Chinese or Vietnamese brand if available; the Japanese will not be as intense) with 1/2 cup maple syrup (you can substitute in honey if you don't have the syrup).  Grade B maple syrup, which is more intensely flavored, is better for this recipe (and cooking in general) than Grade A, so use the cheap stuff.
  2. About half an hour before you start roasting the chicken, brush the glaze over the bird.  Don't worry if not all of the glaze "sticks" -- it'll be a lot easier to glaze once the chicken has started roasting.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 475 degrees (if you have a convection oven, use it for the first 30 minutes of cooking).
  3. Heat a saute pan just large enough to hold the chicken.  When the pan is hot, place the chicken breast-side up into the vessel.  You should hear a sizzling sound.  This step will help prevent your chicken from sticking to the pan.
  4. Roast chicken for 30 minutes, basting the top of it with the remaining soy-maple glaze every 15 minutes.  If the tips of the wings or drumsticks are burning from the sugar and heat, wrap a tiny bit of foil around them.  I actually quite like the smokiness of a slightly burnt glaze, but if you don't you can also postpone the basting until after you flip the chicken (next step).
  5. After the 30 minutes are up, flip the chicken over, baste it again, and roast for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Turn the chicken breast side up again, baste it again, and then return it to the oven for 10 minutes to recrisp the skin.
  7. Once the chicken is done, remove from oven, set the chicken on a cutting board, and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Taste the pan drippings.  It should be very savory and sweet, though you can add 1/4 cup of water to it if it's too flavorful.  Pour out as much of the fat as you can from the pan, then boil the pan juices until they reduce to a syrupy consistency.
  9. Cut the chicken into pieces, place over rice or cous cous, then spoon the gorgeous soy-maple reduction over it.  The rice or cous cous will absorb all of the chicken, soy, and maple flavors and become super delicious. 


Enjoy!  If you love this (seriously, you will), you can thank my mom for the inspiration.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Easy, Elegant Strawberries

Here in Boston it's a dreary, rainy day . . . with nothing but dreary, rainy days ahead this week.  The weather reminds me that summer is just about -- if not already -- over, and that I'd better enjoy its bounty before the fall sweeps in and there's nothing fresh, ripe, and delicious to be found.  To that end, I present to you my new favorite breakfast: strawberries with brown sugar and sour cream.  When you swirl the brown sugar into the sour cream, the mixture takes on a luscious caramel texture and taste that's unbelievably good with strawberries.


I learned this recipe from the innkeepers at Inn Victoria, where we stayed during our recent trip to Vermont.  They, in turn, learned the recipe from Paul Bremer -- yes, that Paul Bremer, who took a break from Iraq to become an artist in Chester, Vt.  Random, no?

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

So You Wish You Could Dance: Mia's Sage Advice Edition

Some beautiful footage and motivational words from Mia, recorded at WGI.



I was in Winterguard in high school, but never got to do anything as amazing as this.  It makes me want to go dance with a flag RIGHT NOW.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Flats that are anything but

Now that I'm taking the T to work and doing lots of walking, I need a pair of super comfortable flats for my commute.  My go-to Tory Burch flats are pretty dead, so I took my friend R's advice (and Oprah's 20% discount) and got myself a pair of Tieks.


They arrived the other day in the cutest packaging, complete with a darling little flower and a handwritten note.  The box was so small I thought it was a mistake: maybe they sent me dwarf-sized Tieks?  It turns out the shoes fold up really, really small.  The nerdy origami-loving girl inside of me did a little dance of joy and wonder upon unpacking the box.


The brilliant thing about Tieks is that they have a split sole, like my favorite Capezio ballet slippers.  So they fold up right in the middle and fit compactly in a small carrying pouch.  Once folded up, they are no more than 3.5 or 4 inches long!  They could probably even fit in a small evening clutch that way.  Also included with the shoes is a fold-out bag I can use to carry the stilletos I'm not wearing for my commute, as well as pant clips that have already come in super handy.


Of course, all of this ingeniousness with the packaging would mean nothing if the shoes themselves were awful.  Fortunately, they are gloriously comfortable.  I love that the soles (in a signature turquoise color) are padded and non-skid.  And the split sole design makes the flats almost as flexible as my real ballet slippers.

Retailing at between $145 to $265 (depending on the color and style), the flats are not exactly cheap.  And I think Oprah's discount is over.  But I hear that occasionally Tieks will announce promotions on their facebook page.

Have you tried Tieks?  What are your favorite flats?  In addition to the Tory Burches, I have a pair of Bloch flats that I love too . . . .

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