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Megan Blocker

eG Foodblog: Megan Blocker - Trading Pumas for Uggs

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So, here's how our dinner went down! We hung out and talked for a while when we got back from downtown, then got down to the business of prepping dinner. First, we peeled and chopped the vegetables; we put the carrots, onions, brussels sprouts and parsnips into a roasting dish and tossed them with olive oil, salt and pepper.

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Once they were almost done, I pulled the veggies out, glazed them with a bit of balsamic, and tossed them back into the oven for a couple minutes. The result:

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Then, we made the gratin. Sliced up some La Ratte potatoes and put them in saucepan. Poured in enough milk and cream to almost cover, added a clove of garlic, some salt and pepper, and scalded the cream. Poured the whole lot into a gratin pan and grated some nutmeg and Parmesan down over the top...

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Finally, the chicken! I just rub mine all over with butter, shower with salt and pepper, and roast in a skillet. Really simple, really delicious.

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One serving, all ready to go:

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It was a great dinner...really warm and homey. It highlighted some local ingredients and let each of them shine through to their fullest. Nothing too fancy or innovative at all, but very satisfying and fun to cook together. That coming from someone who has trouble sharing her kitchen - I'm a little too independent sometimes.


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

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OK, dessert!

So, as mentioned above, a very sweet vendor sent me a fruit basket from Harry and David last week. I like fruit, but a dozen pears and a dozen apples is a lot for even me to handle, so I decided to use some of the pears in a pear tart tatin this weekend, once they'd ripened up a bit.

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Before we started dinner, I made a half-recipe of pate brise (I make mine with about 1 1/4 cups flour and one stick of butter) and put it in the fridge to rest.

Once we'd gotten the chicken in the oven, I peeled and halved the pears, then put them in a skillet full of butter and sugar and sprinkled them with a bit of cinnamon. Cooked those for about half an hour, over low heat, until the caramel had turned dark brown, then let everything cool down a bit.

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I rolled out the pastry and tucked it in over the pears in the skillet (kind of like putting little kids to bed, with all the folding under and securing of corners!) and put the skillet in the oven for about 30 minutes.

The result:

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Oh my goodness! So delicious! This is my first tart tatin of any kind (baking it, not eating it - I am an expert at the latter), and I was surprised by how easy it was. We needed a little teamwork to invert the tart onto the plate, but otherwise it was a breeze. And the upside-down element lets the pastry get so fluffy...excellent. And the pears were wonderful, sweet and juicy. Yum.


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

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What are you going to do with your chicken carcass? Did you truss it yourself?

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Megan, you will always be to me (see your last blog) "The Girl Who Bought a Quarter Pound of Bacon."  Never heard of such a thing!

I'd forgotten about that. I have four DIFFERENT kinds of bacon in my fridge or freezer at any given time. I'll detour 100 miles for a new kind of bacon. Megan, we must know about your bacon habits.

Aw, man. I had no idea people would think that was so funny. I totally would have lied about it. :wink: I do love bacon, but I don't eat a lot of it as a primary ingredient (I use it mostly in pasta or stews)...probably because I eat so few lunches and breakfasts at home.

And, interesting about the desserts. The last two blogs have been devoid (or almost devoid) of desserts. When you cook for yourself, do you regularly fix a dessert (be it eating out of a carton of ice cream or more intentional)?

Interesting question...mostly, no. If I do have dessert when I'm eating alone, it's either because I bought something at a bakery on the way home (an impulse buy like a cupcake), or it's a piece of fruit or some yogurt with brown sugar swirled in. In the summer, I eat a lot of berries; in the winter, it's mostly oranges.

That said, I always make dessert when I have people over, even if it's just my little brother on a Tuesday; I find it makes the most mundane meal into an event.

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What are you going to do with your chicken carcass?  Did you truss it yourself?

It's in the freezer, waiting to be made into stock! I actually have another one in there, too...I'm not using my last batch fast enough, I guess!

I did truss it myself, while talking on the phone. Lots of intrafamily phone calls tonight... :smile:

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Oh, for the wine folks, I should mention that dinner was consumed with a bottle of pinot blanc from the North Shore of Long Island...very light and soft, and went well with the chicken.

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Hey Megan, I was beginning to wonder where you were. It's great to see you here. I love Manhattan and I love to see it through your eyes. Your dinner tonight looks fabulous. The veggies look hearty and the chicken is gorgeously golden, and the potatoes, well, yum. But where is the new copper gratin pan?

As for the dessert, it's amazing. My kind of dessert. Must try that next time.

Show us some shots of the streets of the city - skaters, food vendors, ice skaters.... I don't think I'll get there this Spring and I really miss it!

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Megan, that is one sure easy way to make tart tartin. I'm going to make those next week. Thanks for the recipe and tips!

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<whimper> Dang, that looks good! Cinnamon, caramelized sugar, fruit - sounds like my kind of dessert (mentally adds tarte Tatin to my ever-growing list of things to make one of these days).

How has your life has changed since you last blogged? Have you been cooking from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table? Enquiring minds wanto to know. :smile:

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Megan is the toast of the town and the queen of Diet Coke. Should be another enjoyable trip with her. Megan, i have switched to Coke Zero.  I hope you don't hate me for that.

Well, not yet, but I've deducted points from your overall score. :wink:

Hey, I gotta back Mike up here, and not just because he is a fellow Pennsylvanian.

I love Coke Zero and only tolerate Diet Coke.

What I'd like to see in your second blog, Megan, is if you can find any trans fats in the course of your meals and snacks out. :wink:

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I finally made it over to the kitchen around 11:00.  We have a Flavia machine on all the floors...it's not terrible but it's not great, either.  No, that's not my CoffeeMate - ick!

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You can find a local angle for just about anything these days.

Here's the local angle for these devices.

You will note from the story that the home version is sold through the Tupperware-party model.

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What are you going to do with your chicken carcass?  Did you truss it yourself?

It's in the freezer, waiting to be made into stock! I actually have another one in there, too...I'm not using my last batch fast enough, I guess!

I did truss it myself, while talking on the phone. Lots of intrafamily phone calls tonight... :smile:

Forgot to tell you all about where I bought the chicken. I went to Schaller and Weber, the German market/butcher, whose New York store is a block north of my apartment. We ran in and grabbed some milk and a Murrey's chicken!

Schaller and Weber has the best windows in the neighborhood. Exhibit A: their stein collection.

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Trans fat detective on the beat, eh? How do I figure out if trans fats have made an appearance, other than asking? I am relishing the idea of sneaking into various kitchens and checking their cupboards for contraband Crisco... :wink:

Today's schedule is pretty open...I'll be doing laundry (why does this always seem to happen during my blog weeks?) and visiting Jeremy and Miriam over on the Upper West Side. I'll be bringing them the leftover tart tatin, and probably a bottle of champagne, so we'll have to go pick one out. Which I know is going to be fun!

I have to do some work tonight, but hopefully I'll be able to bribe myself with some good food to keep the energy up.

So stay tuned!

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How has your life has changed since you last blogged? Have you been cooking from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table? Enquiring minds wanto to know.

Hey, Bruce! My life hasn't changed too much...I'm hosting more dinner parties these days, and staying at work longer. Which has meant less cooking on weeknights and many more dinners in the office. :sad: Hence my neglectful behavior toward the Dinner! topic. Hopefully, though, things will even out a bit over the next few months.

I have been cooking from POVT, and I'd like to do more Vietnamese cooking, particularly since I have a HUGE bottle of fish sauce in the pantry. :wink:

Back to the story of my day...

I walked up to the laundromat and threw in two loads; while they dried, I walked over to Midnight Express, a diner on the corner of 89th and 2nd. I used to live in that block, so I've ordered many a hangover-cure burger from them, though now I mostly stop in when I'm hungry and doing laundry at the same time.

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I settled into a little booth near the front, ordered coffee and the Four Seasons egg white omelet (broccoli, spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms), and opened up my current reading material, a biography of Queen Isabella of England.

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The omelet arrived a few minutes later, piping hot and accompanied by french fries and wheat toast. It was good, nice and moist, and the veggies - the spinach and broccoli in particular - were very fresh and tasty.

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On my way back to the laundromat, I passed Cafe d'Alsace, where I had dinner on Friday night...here's a shot of its exterior:

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I just saw that Dracula is on Masterpiece Theatre tonight...what's a good meal to go along with that?!?

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Megan:

So glad to see you blogging. This has been fun already, and I look forward to the rest of the week.

Will you be meeting up with any of the other New York board "usual suspects" on your cocktail runs to Death & Co. or Pegu? Any chance you'll be doing any spirits shopping at LeNell's in Brooklyn? Do tell...

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Megan that meal sounds awesome!! I'm missing roast chicken with our oven still TU :sad:

Gee, what's a La Ratte potato?  I hate it that we get so few varieties of potato here in the States, and now I see that you can get some I've never seen.  I always love that in Europe, all the different potatoes. in the markets. 

Abra we get La Ratte taters- our CSA farmer just delivered a cute net bag full of them to me last week. Check the farmers markets!

Megan, when we were in town we tried to go to L'Etais Uni but they were closed- if you go I'd love to see some pictures!

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ohh, ohhh

nice omlet but off topic - great book about isabella and i love weir's writing and she has her first faction(fact/fiction) book coming out this month about lady jane grey. she started it about 20 years ago and her publisher basically said "make up your mind - either you are an historian or you are a novelist" she shelved it and with the resurgence of historical fiction (phillipa gregory, robin maxwell, etc) she brought it out, reworked it and voila - i think a best seller.

damn - i wish we had farmers markets more - june - oct just doesn't do it for me

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megan small world- I was just reading Seattle Magazine and those Phat Beets were in it!

Oh my goodness! It really is a tiny little world. The pickles are quite delicious - I highly recommend them.

So, I went to visit my brother and his new fiancee this afternoon. They were very kind and fed me a honeybun purchased on their weekend jaunt to Connecticut. It came from the Silvermine Tavern in Norwalk and was, as my mother would say, too-licious. Sticky and not overly sweet.

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I got home around 7:45 and decided to make a quick dinner using some of the leftovers from last night. I have about half a chicken's worth of meat, and I also had a decent amount of leftover roasted veggies. Taking insomniac's advice, I decided to add some garlic to the mix, and yesterday's bacon conversation meant its appearance was a foregone conclusion.

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I rendered the fat from some lardons, then added a touch of olive oil and the garlic to the pan. Once that had gone golden, I added the chopped leftover veggies (mainly brussels sprouts) and the chicken, and sauteed until warmed through. Added the bacon back in, some chopped parsley, and lots of black pepper. Then I tossed it all with some spaghetti and a bit of pasta cooking water, letting everything come together in the skillet.

Topped off in the bowl with some aged balsamic, more parsley, and grated Parmesan.

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After the pasta, I had a salad (of course!) - tomatoes with sweet onion (Maya in this case) and toasted pine nuts. topped with a teeny bit of olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

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My throat's feeling a bit scratchy, so I think I'll have a cup of tea with some leftover tarte tatin for dessert...


Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

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I walked up to the laundromat and threw in two loads; while they dried, I walked over to Midnight Express, a diner on the corner of 89th and 2nd.

When you mentioned Schaller and Weber upthread, I was going to ask whether you lived in Yorkville.

This post answers that question.

I had a friend of German descent who lived at 151 East 83d; I've fallen out of touch with him. He did take me to a German restaurant on 86th Street one evening back around 1980 whose name I've long since forgotten. Perhaps you could rattle off a few names on the off chance that one of them might trigger a reaction?

New York rents and rent control being what they are, I suspect he may still be living at 151 East 83d. Maybe I should see if I can track him down.

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Megan, I was in your hood today. I played a morning rehearsal at the 92 St. Y and then felt impelled to walk to Two Little Red Hens. I got a butterscotch brownie, a lemon square, and a coconut-lime square (the "squares" were actually rectangular :wink:). I love the place.

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asted veggies.  Taking insomniac's advice, I decided to add some garlic to the mix, and yesterday's bacon conversation meant its appearance was a foregone conclusion.

Please tell me you tasted a lardon after the fat was rendered...cook's treat, in my book.

And, were the brussels sprouts from the Green Market?

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asted veggies.  Taking insomniac's advice, I decided to add some garlic to the mix, and yesterday's bacon conversation meant its appearance was a foregone conclusion.

Please tell me you tasted a lardon after the fat was rendered...cook's treat, in my book.

And, were the brussels sprouts from the Green Market?

I did! I threw them back into the pasta...not to worry, not a morsel was wasted. :wink:

The Greenmarket, sadly, turned up no brussels sprouts. :sad: However, I just happened to have some in the fridge. My new addiction has its uses!

Pan, I LOVE that place...just had a carrot cupcake from there last week...

I_Call_the_Duck, I'm not sure about Miriam's affiliation...will have to find out. She is a recovering vegetarian (sorry, veggies :wink:), but that doesn't preclude a love for Al's Pancake House, does it?

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