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bread, bourbon & bleu cheese

my daily musings on the foods i surround myself with and those i wish i could be around more often.

"i have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk // whether we’re talking about unpasteurized stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates’ // food, for me, has always been an adventure"
- anthony bourdain

just watched the chopped champions finale. i get so into this show. i can only imagine how hard it is to work with some of that weird shit. nonetheless, probably the best cooking show out their right now as far as I’m concerned. i should research some of those ingredients now that I’m thinking about it….im in a creative mood…

when I’m sick, i need soup. specifically, i need vietnamese pho.

need.

now, i am a complete medicine advocate. i am definitely not one of those people that tries to wait out the sickness and cure myself naturally. i have no time for that. i work too much. and, realistically, who likes to “wait out” a cold? its gross.

so, while i take my normal remedies of echinacea and robitussin, i get myself some takeout vietnamese and i “burn it out.” typical northern vietnamese pho is a beef-broth-based with rice noodles and either rare sliced beef or meatballs. my favorite part about this soup is the do-it-yourself component. when you order pho at any restaurant, you get the soup as plain as the meat and noodles, but then there is an accompanying plate of additives like thai basil, bean sprouts, chili peppers, onion, and cilantro. you can also add a variety of sauces into the mix like hoisin and samba oelek chili paste.

when I’m sick, i make my broth red with spice. I’m talking nose-running, mouth burning hot. i crave it. and afterwards i always feel incredibly better. i will say though, i have tried to do this curing technique while sitting at the restaurant. in public. my suggestion…don’t. explanation unnecessary. 

while i haven’t tried to make this soup at home yet, i really should. i think I’m just afraid that i won’t do it justice. but here is a simple recipe i have considered trying. if you happen to get to it before me, let me know how it turns out!

or a couple of fancier (more expensive but authentic) versions i would loooove to try…

now I’m hungry again…

since tuesday, i have eaten nothing but latkes.

to be honest, i can blame no one but myself. this year, like every other, i get very excited about chanukah. the main draw is always the latkes that me and my mom make. who does´t like a good fried potato? if i had it my way, they would make up a food group all on they’re own - my favorite one.

since i have been living in richmond, though, i have spent most of my chanukahs without my family. i have instead started my own tradition of making the latkes in mass quantities to give to my friends as a cheap, delicious holiday gift. this year i went a little over board…

if anyone knows anything about making these potato pancakes, you don’t need many potatoes to feed a group of people. i live in a family of five, and frankly about four potatoes would do the trick. this year i made about 15lbs. worth. shoot me.

the wonderful thing is the recipe is very simple and easy to remember - mainly because there isn’t one. like many families, we have always used the tried-and-true mothers science of eyeballing. for me, there are some russet potatoes, maybe half that amount in diced sweet onions and eggs, whole wheat flour to hold it together, some kosher salt and pepper to taste and, my most recent and favorite addition, a little bit of garlic. its all about the consistency.

the basics are generally always the same. however many people use slight variations. this week in my first massive batch of latkes, i had some friends over to help me. one girl who made her own version of the pancakes used matzo meal instead of flour, very finely diced onions and no garlic. even these slight differences you can taste.

when i went home for batch number two, my mom used already grated potatoes from the store (to save time) and shallots. but more importantly, being the adult that can afford these things, bought peanut oil instead of my usual canola oil. this is the best part honestly. peanut oil, while significantly more expensive, burns much cleaner and more quickly. this gave my latkes a lot more crunch to the edges, something everyone can appreciate out of a good potato.

while this year was delicious as always, i don’t even want to look at another potato pancake until next year. too make it through the piles, i have been much more experimental in my toppings. i have now eaten them with the traditional sour cream and applesauce, with a little sriracha, with homemade granny smith applesauce (thanks to shana!), and with a runny egg for breakfast (yummm…replace the english muffin in a benedict and you’re in heaven).

however, next year i think i want to get even CRAZIER. the importance behind latkes for chanukah in the first place really has nothing to do with the potatoes and everything to do with the oil. it symbolizes the oil that burned for eight days in the Temple. therefore, next year I’m just gonna be frying everything i can get my hands on - zucchini fritters, oyster, okra, some indian samosas or paneer, doughnuts…

i. can’t. wait.

my name is robin and i really love to talk about, think about, consume, and create wonderful food. since graduating from journalism school last year, i find little else that satisfies me in quite the same way. working in restaurants for the past eight years hasn’t really helped distract me much either…

as a new alternative to annoying all of my friends with my endless obsession, this will now be an outlet for my constant thoughts, questions and late-night online recipe hunts. enjoy!

"when you wake up in the morning, pooh, said piglet at last, what’s the first thing you say to yourself? // what’s for breakfast? said pooh. what do you say, piglet? // i say, i wonder what’s going to happen exciting today? said piglet. // pooh nodded thoughtfully // it’s the same thing, he said."
- A. A. Milne