15 December 2010

guilty pleasure

reality cooking shows. i can't help it. i love them. i love watching the fineness with which these chefs cook. fine! i love the drama. i love the high stakes. i love the pressure. when a chef can keep their cool under such high pressure...AND...make an awesome dish. come. on. come on, people! when i'm alone, i could watch hours, marathon upon marathon of cooking shows. seriously. i just finished watching 2 episodes of top (knife) chef ALL STARS, now, i'm catching up on the next iron chef.

the traveling you can do with your palette....its incredible. you can go to a country with your tongue. (nasty thinker, you!) really though. i could learn how to cook italian, mexican, hungarian, thai, japanese, scotch, spanish, brazillian, whatever and its almost as if you've been there because i think the best part of traveling is the eating. it colors your trip. don't get me wrong - i think food served in its native country and food you learn how to cook from wherever your grandmother is from is the best. but if you don't have that luxury or grandma didnt cook...cook and explore.

my brains was just thinking thoughts. so i shared. 

whats been cookin' in my new kitchen. a lot of things. i'm getting used to the apartment and my new kitchen. i don't fully feel like its mine yet. i mean, i know it is, but its still settling in. thats pretty much how i feel about this move on a whole right now. i'm settling in. i'm getting used to the noises the house makes at night. i'm getting used to sleeping in my bed alone when my bf travels. i'm getting used to the sounds my downstairs neighbor makes. the way the cabinets won't close. where all our stuff is put. the coyotes. guys. there are a lot of coyotes in LA and they like ganging up on littler creatures and yelping while they eat. its really no fun. i dont like it one bit. i wake up to the most awful noises and slowly fall back in to a trouble sleep only to dream i carry a bebee gun and dub myself the "coyot' killin' bandit." and i know somewhere thats bad karma or something...its just, ugh. i don't want to think about it. 

i do like it. i'm just in my adjusting period. my getting used to. my next phase. so, here's to it. 

what do you do to make yourself feel more at home in a new place? how do you settle in? do you have one thing that you take to a new place that dubs your new home home? 


17 November 2010

o m god. pictures too!?

its been long and coming, but i am back. being back does come with some sadness. i no longer live in new york city, which is sad on many accounts and exciting on many as well. i've been 'preparing' for this for what seems like forever and, here i am. i am currently homeless and unemployed. which feels weird and amazing...i mean, i am on vacation buuut i'm bored and can't seem to enjoy it. however, this is not the point of my post, that's the point of an email i would write. the point of this post is: soup. 

soup. i haven't made soup in... a year. it was a nice re-introduction to my parents kitchen, well, quite frankly any kitchen that i could monopolize and use to my advantage. its nice to have a pantry full of food stuffs to play with, its nice to have a car to skip out and pick up an ingredient i may have missed, its nice to cook. its nice to be in the drivers seat in the kitchen. i know i've said it before but the kitchen is my place of solace. its the place that i go to to think. to process life and everything that being handed to me, pinch by pinch, cup by cup. its also lovely that in my parents kitchen they also have a table to sit at and read and relax and surf the net. it makes it more of a comfortable place. its something that draws me to the kitchen. the comfort of it, the community of it, the family of it. my family spends a lot of time, when we're all together in the kitchen. when i go to parties - and i know this is not phenomenon i'm just discovering - its the place people tend to end up hanging out. i love the kitchen. i hope that i am able to make my new kitchen perfect. well, not perfect, but mine. jordan's space.

i have decided that i would like to embark on meatless mondays. albeit when i decided this it was tuesday afternoon and i decided that for dinner, to be healthy and start on this new project i would make a veggie only meal. this soup, guys,...is so easy. and so tasty. i wish i had had this soup in my arsenal when we had our CSA in brooklyn. we were getting pounds and pounds of veggies by the week that we couldnt keep up with and i think this soup is perfect for that, if you find yourself with an excess of veggies or if you bought a lot for other dishes and just didnt end up using them - this is you meal ticket. 

fine, i'll shut up now. :)

Maggie's Vegetable Potage
adapted from Patricia Wells' at home in PROVENCE

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, white part only, trimmed, scrubbed, and chopped
sea salt to taste
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 small golden beets*, peeled and chopped
2 zucchinis, peeled and chopped
2 rutabaga*, peeled and chopped
1/2 head of lettuce (such as Cos), washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
a handful of finely chopped cabbage
1 3/4 pints (28 oz) homemade chicken stock - or 2 cans low sodium chicken stock
one 2 oz chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. put a tea kettle on low when you start the cooking process. in a large heavy-duty stock pot, combine the oil, leek and a teaspoon salt, and pepper to your liking and cook until lightly browned, about 4 - 5 minutes. add the carrots, beets, zucchinis, and rutabaga in small batches, cooking each several minutes before adding the next. (this was probably the most fun part of this recipe...watching all the veggies change...i bet it would have been more fun if i used red beets and i bet the color would have been so much more vibrant at the end!) 
once all the veggies are lightly browned, add the lettuce and cabbage and stir vigorously until wilted. there should be no liquid left by this point. add hot water just to cover veggies and simmer, covered, until the carrots, beet and rutabaga are soft, about 25 minutes. taste for seasoning. add the stick and simmer, covered, gently for 30 minutes more. taste for seasoning.
2. while the soup simmers, prepare the cheese. using the vegetable peeler, shave the cheese into long thick strips into a bowl. if the chunk of cheese becomes too small to shave, grate the remaining cheese and add it to the bowl. set aside.
3. remove the stock pot from the heat. using a hand blender or immersion mixer, puree the soup directly in the stock pot. alternatively, pass the soup through the coarse blade of a food mill or batch it in a food processor, return to stock pot. taste for seasoning.
4. to serve, ladle hot soup into warmed bowls and place the cheese shavings on top of the soup. serve immediately.

Cooks Note(s): what's so great about this is you can let it cook longer or probably shorter than it calls for...this is a feel-out soup. which can handle and probably benefit from more time on the heat.  whats also great is that you probably should add garlic, i will do that next time AND you can use whatever veggies you want to really. also, the cheese while awesome i might play around with using plain yogurt/sour cream or another type of cheese. *they called for turnips and potatoes, respectively*

10 November 2010

08 October 2010

sometimes life gets in the way

overwhelmed. this is what i've been feeling on a regular basis for the last 2 months. o-ver-whelmed. sheesh. its all this moving across the country and saving money and not sleeping in my bed and not being comfortable in someone elses house to cook. i DESPERATELY miss cooking. i miss the access to the kitchen, the ability to walk to the grocery store to whip something up. however, with this comes an over-eagerness. for example...tonight, i'm at home and have to do laundry and i want to cook and bake EVERYthing. i want to make braised pork chops. i want to make a tenderloin. i want to make chili. i want to make burritos. i want to make couscous w. greens. i want to bake a tart tartine. i want to make pumpkin bread. i want to make homemade yogurt. i want to make pizza - from scratch. i want to eat everything and make everything. 

i knew, but i guess i didn't really know how important 'my' kitchen was to me. cooking really is cathartic for me. its my quiet creative time. its where i feel like i excel and where i have the time to breakdown whats been on my mind for x many days. cooking has become another extension of my creative self. along with acting (and drawing and sometimes writing) its where i feel the most myself. where i feel the most involved. i like working with my hands. i like details. maybe its not weird that cooking is relaxing. its just nice and i like it a lot. and when i don't have it in my life...somethings missing. i cannot wait to move to los angeles and start making my home. start making my kitchen really mine....

(not that you care) but i can't guarantee that i am going to be any better at this for the next month and a half while i prep for the move and move. but i will try to be. b.c, along with the cooking...this space is nice for me. i enjoy it.

do you do anything to help ease tension? any tips to calm being overwhelmed that aren't really time consuming and expensive?

19 September 2010

some protein please.

friday. i decided i wanted to pan-sear some meat. so i went to whole foods and asked the butcher to cut me something i could braise. i got some brussle sprouts and a small loaf of bread. expecting to be home by myself, i was pleased to be able to hang out with lexi all night - she wasn't working. we hung out, i pan-seared my meat (its so, so so so so easy.) my meat was a little over done. however, all you do is season w. salt and pepper, get your pan really hot (i saw somewhere that it said till the oil smokes...i didnt do that) and then sear each side then put it in the oven (300 degrees) for about 5/7 minutes. i think i left it in the oven too long. however, still very good. 

we watched 'master chef.' the gordon ramsey show on hulu right now. its a reality show, but its fun. in watching it i've realized that i'd be gone even before they took their initial 25. i have a lot to learn in the kitchen. lots of things to let myself try and play around with...i'll get there. maybe. regardless, i have a lot i want to learn and am very willing. 

then saturday. i went to an epa (equity principal audition) all day. got there at 8:30am, signed up didn't know if they would see me and thankfully i was seen at 3:30...however...the audition felt rough. the auditor felt uninterested. maybe she'd seen too much shakespeare or maybe she was hungry or maybe she couldnt hire any non-eq. people. whatever...i was still seen. then i walked around and decided to go home and make some pasta. i was going to text lexi but i figured she would be at work. i cant tell you how excited i was when i got home and she was there. so, we cooked dinner. had a bottle of rose and enjoyed each others company. lex made a skirt steak (hence the title) with a red wine reduction sauce and i made goat cheese stuffed peppers and an easy arugula salad with some lemon and olive oil. for dessert i grilled some slices of zucchini bread i had made on friday and covered them with sauteed bananas with brown sugar. it was SO good.

all in all. a lovely weekend. restful. company filled. and nice. how was your weekend?


09 September 2010


(i'm laying in a hammock in my apartment. jealous?)

but that's not the point the point is i read ree drummond's blog today (the pioneer woman) and she was talking about what it takes to be a good blogger. she points our that you have to write and write often. you have to push through 'blogger' blocks and just produce and, don't talk about the same thing twice! most importantly, make sure you have a perspective, a point of view, a personality...what's you voice? i think i do this. i hope i do. i hope it's not too boring on here. 

okay. real point! last night i made my own homemade hot sauce. there was a great post on food 52 about homemade sriracha and there were so many great comments about how easy it was and how good it was. and...lucky me, i just happened to have almost a 1/2 pound of red and green jalapenos. so. task accepted. and its quite simple and pretty good. i didn't follow the recipe fully, which might be better than mine, so if you want it it's here.

jordan's okay hot sauce
adapted from the year of eating consciously
almost a 1/2 pound of jalapenos
1/2 cup cooking white wine
1/2 cup apple cider
4 cloves of garlic (i didn't have garlic and sort of wish i had)
teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (the recipe calls for palm sugar, clearly, i didn't have it...)
a few pinches of brown sugar

first, you roughly chop the jalapenos. (don't touch your face, eyes, mouth, better yet, wear gloves?) put them in a jar. roughly chop the garlic, add to said jar. pour the liquid over the peppers and garlic. add the salt. cover the jar, this should sit overnight. sort of like a brine. 

after those 24 hours have passed the fun begins. place the mixture and the sugar into a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce and let simmer for 5 minutes. this is the part in the process that stinks, literally. it smells bad and it burns your eyes and throat so i suggest keeping the top on the pot. once 5 minutes has passed, let the mixture come to room temperature.

once cooled put the mixture in a blender and puree for about 5 minutes or until basically all liquid. then push the mixture through a strainer to get as much of the liquid out as possible into a jar that you can seal tightly and refrigerate.

i took the leftover mush (seeds and bits of peppers) put them in a jar and added a little salt and olive oil. chili paste-ish. had it on the eggs this morning. awesome.

do you like hot sauce enough to make your own?

08 September 2010

what a weekend!

i've had a fabulous 4 day weekend. rory was in town all week which was super. i went to a bunch of comedy shows, hung out with the boyfriend and friends and had some really great quality time w. the man i love. 

the weekend started on Thursday night when kyle, rory and i went to blue ribbon bakery. um. INCREDIBLE. kyle and i both had the special skirt steak in a red wine sauce w. fingerling potatoes and roasted carrots...buttery deliciousness. that place is pricey but its great. my favorite part about the restaurant is the downstairs. its all brick and thick dark wooden beams. there's another dining room, the kitchen is open for us to see and there's even a wine cellar room equipped with a table for 8. the bathroom has a trough style sink made of granite (i think) and its awesome. i would like my bathroom sink to be like that. 

friday i had the day off so, we went to the east village in search of brunch and thrift stores. we ate at 7 & a, they serve breakfast all day which is great. we wanted to go to westville but they weren't serving brunch and we both were in the mood for breakfast foods. then to the thrift stores! if you live in nyc and like shopping in thrift stores, there's a great one on 1st ave between 12th and 13th st on the east side. its super and priced well.
rory left early saturday. we went to a breakfast joint on 22d and 3rd ave. then he was off to do his tour and make a documentary. saturday night i stayed in and made pasta! again!  this time, i took note of the kneading for at least 15 minutes. note to self: don't go to the gym and work your arms in the weight room if you plan on making pasta, bread, anything that has dough of any sorts that you have to knead...i was SO sore. still, the pasta was good.  although, i dont know how they did it back in the day (even now)...i cannot for the life of me roll the dough out to be thin enough so i wind up with think and chewy pasta. its still good, its just too dense. i threw in a bunch of arugula, some cherry tomatoes from the green market and feta and a lemon. mixed it all together, finito! 

pasta dough
its a one to one ratio, so 1 egg to 1 cup of flour per person. put all of your four in a bowl, make a well, crack the eggs into that well, beat eggs. slowly start to incorporate the egg into the flour with your fingers (you're going to get dirty). and mix and mix and mix. i had to add about a quarter cup of warm water to help make the dough. then knead, you have to knead for at least 15 min so that you release the gluten. then when its done you'll be sore as heck, so, ball the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for 20 min.  in this time maybe you can get your honey to give your arms and shoulders a rub down.  then take it out, let it get back to room temp. flour your rolling surface and roll the dough out. i cut it in two parts. if you have a pasta maker a) lucky! b) seriously, i am jealous c) follow the instructions it came with. you should roll the dough out until its thin thin thin. almost like paper. maybe a little thicker than that. when its rolled out this is when you can cut. i always just cut any which way. makes my pasta feel more homemade.

the beach! i went to the beach on sunday with some friends and decided to bring along snacks to feed an army. i made hummus and pico de gallo. brought peanutbutter & jelly (STRAWBERRY) sandwiches, water, wine, plums, carrots and celery. everything except the pb & j's were from the farmers market. it was awesome. we had an incredible day at the beach and then we went to a local watering hole and met a very charismatic regular named Jon. He was cra-cra guys but at least we all had a good laugh. 

monday. last day of my weekend. i decided to make curry. just googled and found a simple enough recipe. although...i'm not going to post b.c it wasn't what i wanted it to be. i wanted something creamier and more saucy. i'm setting out to find the best curry go-to recipe...this coming from a girl who loves to cook for other people whos boyfriend doesnt eat curry...WHAT am i thinking?

hope you enjoyed! xo

06 September 2010

back at it

here i am. i had a draft of a post for like 2 weeks. sorry. way past due.

so, when i got back to the kitchen all i was making was poached eggs and greens. more poached eggs and toast. an avocado toast with a poached egg. then, it was roommate night and i made dinner for lexi, her friend megan and myself. we ate dinner, drank wine and played scrabble. i lost guys. pretty bad. i'm really good at 3/4 letter words but then...well...lets just say my vocabulary lacks. 

i hadnt been eating a lot of meat but wanted something easy, quick and delicious. so, i roasted a chicken. it was so simple.  i got the recipe from shannalee's blog.  i love her website food loves writing. she always has insightful posts and oftentimes they are inspiring. i am a fan. the chicken was the most moist (i know people hat this word, sorry!) chicken i've ever made. it was perfect. i was going to keep the carcass to make stock or something, but i knew i wouldn't. chris wanted me to keep the carcass for the animals to chew on the bones, but thats bad for dogs - right? i also made a twist on the quinoa salad i've made here before. very easy - quinoa, cooked. a lemon, feta, cherry tomatoes, blanched aspargus...mix it all together, salt & pepper to taste...then you're done. its so satisfying. it is a meal in-and-of itself. 

have you ever roasted a chicken? any suggestions?

Easiest Roast Chicken Ever
Adapted from food loves writing, who adapted from Romanlily, who adapted it from Thomas Keller
One 4-pound chicken (approximately), preferably farm-raised
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 Tablespoons dried tarragon (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Rinse the chicken and pat it as dry as you can, inside and out, with paper towels. Salt and pepper the inside cavity, and then truss the bird.
(you should google trussing if you don't know what that is or don't know how...i should take my own advice b.c i don't know how to do it and just wing (no pun) it.
Sprinkle salt and pepper generously over the bird, like you’re “raining” it on there, enough that you will be able to see the salt on the chicken after it’s cooked. Bake, on roasting pan in preheated oven, for 40 minutes. Then turn temperature down to 375 and bake for another 20 minutes. It’s done when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Remove it from the oven. sprinkle the tarragon all over the chicken. b.c. i don't have a baster, i spooned the chicken juices all over the chicken and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.


17 August 2010

can't wait to get back

to cooking dinner. crazy to some, but in an effort to eat more healthy and to save more money (remember, the impending move to LA), i want to cook at home more. and i've been so busy its been near impossible. i might end up being the type of person who cooks big on the weekend and freezes for throughout the week. we'll see. its something i am really looking forward to. i also cant wait to dive into moving prep and yes, i will do this 2+ months in advance, b.c thats the type of person i am. crazy. i mean, organized. crazy organized.

11 August 2010

lets get rich...

not much food lately. i've been living away from home for the last few weeks. the ol' bf was in town and is allergic to cats, so we couldn't stay in my home...but, come saturday...greenmarket, here i freaking come. 

also, just heard this on pandora. ingrid michaelson, you and i. its beautiful, see:

Don't you worry there my honey | We might not have any money | But we've got our love to pay the bills

Maybe I think you're cute and funny | Maybe I wanna do what bunnies do with you if you know what I mean

Oh lets get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France | Lets get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance | Lets get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants | From way up there, you and I, you and I

Well you might be a bit confused | And you might be a little bit bruised | But baby how we spoon like no one else | So I will help you read those books | If you will soothe my worried looks | And we will put the lonesome on the shelf

Lets get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France | Lets get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance | Lets get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants | From way up there, you and I, you and I

Lets get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France | Lets get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance | Lets get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants | From way up there, you and I, you and I

02 August 2010

everyone i love loves italian food. this makes me happy.

this includes me. (right? cause i gotta show myself some love.) i'm not joking...when i have a choice of what i want to eat out, i choose italian. when i have to plan a meal, i always seem to lean towards italian. when my boyfriend and i want to spend a special evening out by ourselves, we go italian. i read books that focus on italian food. (ps. do yourself a favor and read HEAT by bill buford. ... its great) when i watch a cooking show, i love watching people make italian food. whats something i want to perfect making at home? pasta. and a ragu. man.

...friday night we (rory, his sisters, bro-in-law and a friend) went here: luzzo's. its a great little brick oven pizza place in the east village. its so good. then saturday i threw an amazing surprise party for rory...it was AWESOME. he had no idea and Mike Meyers was at the bar...i love dive bars in NYC. then on Sun, we went to the Meatball Shop in the LES. Also wonderful. I had spicy pork meatballs on risotto - yums. and then, tonight, i have a date with the love of my life and we're going to Barolo for restaurant week...sigh. i could die in italian food.

24 July 2010

i dont make pretty desserts, i make yummy ones.

but first: 
i can't help it. i love eggs. for awhile i was careful not to eat them all the time b.c there were the reports that you shouldn't eat too many eggs for fear of high cholesterol. then i was told that that could be ignored...i'm still careful, i don't eat them every meal or everyday for that matter, but there's at least 3 meals a week that use eggs as a center piece. thursday i went to the store and wanted greens, black beans and poached eggs. so i got turnip greens, cut out the stems and chopped them. threw some oil and garlic into a pan. once hot, i threw in the turnip greens. after the greens wilted i threw in a can of black beans and a few shakes of cayenne pepper. i let it all meld together then poached two eggs, threw the beans and greens into bowl, put the eggs on top and salted and peppered it. yum. turnip greens are bitter people. bitter. they need lots of salt. probs more than i put on them....

now...the the main attraction of this post...a spanish custard berry tart. we had a cast dinner party/line thru (we have a show tonight and we didnt have rehearsal all week so we needed to make sure we remembered our lines!) and we decided to have a spanish themed dinner. we had home made paella and i made a tart. man was it good but man was it ugly. i dont think i let the puff pastry thaw enough and i, for sure, should have pulled the pastry up and over the edge of the spring form. had i done that i would have been able to attach the lattice puff pastry pieces to the other pastry. what happened was the lattice pieces fell into the berry topping and sort of sank into the tart.  i also took the tart out maybe 10 min early - it could have cooked a little longer to make the pastry a little more puffy...make sense?  it was really good, you should try it. (ps. it weighs like 5 pounds...cra-zy)

Berry Topping
(recipe adapted from about.com)
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 1/2 pint blackberries
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
rinse fruit and remove stems. put fruit in a medium saucepan and pour sugar over.  heat to medium-high and stir to mix the sugar in with the fruit.  let berries release their juices (oh the sweet nectar found inside a piece of fruit...) stir often so that the mix doesnt burn.  reduce heat and simmer until the juice thickens and fruit cooks.  this took maybe 15/20 min. you can really use whatever berries you want, just make sure you have at least 2 - 3 cups.)

spanish custard and berry filled tart
(again adapted from about.com)
  • 2 cups berry filling (recipe above is proper amount)
  • butter to coat the pan
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (1 pkg 17 oz puff pastry)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch (i really wanted to substitute this...but i didnt)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 egg whites
prepare the berry filling - set aside to let cool to room temp before adding it to the tart.

remove the puff pastry and allow to thaw (10/15 min). using your hands (i love getting messy when i bake/cook) coat 8-in spring form with the butter. i bet you could just use a tall pie dish too - it just has to be at least 2 inches deep. line the cake with the puff pastry, trimming the edges to fit the pan and pressing the pastry into the corners and prick the bottom w. a fork. (this is where i urge u to make sure that the pastry reaches up and over the edges of the pan).

set pan aside and second sheet of pastry until ready to cut. you are going to make a lattice top bu cutting strips 1/1 1/2 inches thick. later of course.
measure and sift flour and cornstarch to use later.
heat over to 360F (160C)
while the oven was heating, prepare the custard. pour all but 1/4 cup of the milk into a medium-size heavy bottom pan and add the cinnamon stick. bring milk just to the boiling point then remove from heat and set aside.
in a large mixing bow, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns light yellow and has a smooth texture. add flour  and corn starch to the eggs and beat with a hand mixer on medium/high. add the 1/4 cup o f milk and continue to mix until smooth and creamy. 
remove the cinnamon stick from the milk. while stirring constantly, pour about one third of the warm milk into the egg mixture. once milk has mixed throughly with the eggs, slowly pour in the rest of the milk, while stirring constantly.  transfer the mixture into a large sauce pan and heat on medium, stirring continuously. bring to a boil and allow to boil for just 30 seconds, then remove from the heat immediately and pour into the spring form pan with the puff pastry crust.

NOTE: if lumps begin to form in the custard while heating, us a hand mixer on a low speed to break up the lumps. (i had to do this almost immediately but it makes it hard to realize the boiling, so pay attention!)

pour the berry topping over the custard filling and spread evenly. cut the other pastry sheet into strips about 1 inch thick and as wide as the springform and lay them across the top in a lattice pattern - or whatever you think that looks like. beat the egg whites in a small bowl. brush them over the crust.
place in hot oven in the middle rack. bake for 30 - 35 min. remove and allow to cool for at least 20 min before serving. if tart will not be eaten w. in 2 hours, refrigerate. bring to room temp. before serving.
it was fun to make this tart - it take a bit or time and focus...and if your tart turns out looking like mine (man i wish i could show it to you - it was u-g-l-y and had NO alibi) just say to yourself: i don't make pretty desserts, i make yummy ones. at the end of the day, its the taste that matters.


10 July 2010

opening night cookies!!

cookies. what better than chocolate chip cookies on opening night. everyone gets their own little bunch. i havent started baking yet and the current brain debate is: make them a 'normal' cookie shape OR make like chocolate chip cookie bars. sounds sort of incredible...i decided to try this out with molasses instead of granulated sugar (mainly cause i have a lot of molasses that is just sitting in the pantry but also, b.c it reduces the sweetness factor).  with a little research on that handy-dandy-world-wide-web, i learned that you a) should not replace more than half the sugar content in a recipe w. molasses, b) you have to add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for every cup of molasses you add to the recipe, c) you use 1 1/3 cup molasses for every cup of sugar (*note: i replaced the granulated sugar b.c thats the more processed of the two sugars - brown and granulated) and d) reduce the liquid in the recipe by 5 tablespoons. (there's no liquid in the recipe so...i'm ignoring that step.) Ali (from Gimme Some Oven) suggests cooling the dough for 20/30 min to make sure your cookies dont go flat. on it!

i also have an affinity to dark chocolate and when you're making gifts for people...why not splurge a little. at whole foods i found sirius chocolate. its pure icelandic chocolate. i purchased 14.1 oz of their 70% extra bitter (damn...) i also borrowed this picture from someones website b.c i couldn't make sense of the actual companies website. doesnt this look amazing? Found here.
the packaging is even awesome.

so...i am taking my first batch out and they fell and look like chocolate on chocolate cookies...verdict will be the taste - i guess. verdict: they taste like molasses cookies w. a hint (slight) of chocolate. SO - if you dont like molasses cookies, don't make them my way. :)

Dad’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. butter, slightly softened
  • 1 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips (mini, regular, or chocolate chunks!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chips.  Drop by large spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until they look cakey.

07 July 2010


tonight (today, yesterday, this week) was one of those hot, sticky, gross new york nights. we're talking really, really hot and sweaty. i had rehearsal at the old stone house in a very hot, humid room...regardless it was a fun rehearsal and we had two audience members who stuck through the heat. 

what was great about tonight, not counting the cab we had to take because the subway shut down unexpectedly (im not being insincere) was the way everyone on my walk home was reacting to the heat. sure, fire hydrants gushing water is such a waste but when there are adults and teenagers running through it b.c thats the only way they can get cool. or there's a couple who while riding their bikes took a turn they weren't expecting and were now soaked and giggling. or every window is open and people are leaning out with fans in their hands hoping to catch a cool breeze from anywhere. there's something magical about that. there's something about it that says, only in new york. 

thanks heat. i hear you're back for another doozie tomorrow.

02 July 2010

book of liz opens next weekend!

Yay! my show opens next weekend - if you are around....or in the 'hood....you should come!

by The Talent Family, Amy Sedaris  & David Sedaris
Directed by David A. Miller
Stage Managed by Nicholas Chacon
John P. McEneny, Artistic Director

Saturday, July 10 at 8:30 pm
Sunday, July 11 at 8:30 pm
Saturday, July 17 at 8:30 pm
Sunday, July 18 at 8:30 pm
Saturday, July 24 at 8:30 pm
Sunday, July 25 at 8:30 pm

All performances are free and OUTDOORS at

Subway: F/G/R to 4th Ave & 9th St or R to Union

30 June 2010

sweet treats

whats with the time away?! i have been so busy. and when i'm not sleeping, i'm rehearsing and when i'm not doing that i'm either working or going back to my script to work some more on the text. needless to say, i've opted-out of late night meals (i ain't no Julie Powel cooking my way through Mastering The Art of French Cooking with a death wish and a desire to gain 20 lbs), so i'm really only snacking on raw veggies and a piece of bread w. peanut butter here and there...there's been no time to cook. sadly. i wish i could...give me a week or so and i'll be back on point. i'm excited to play around with summer dishes. i read this article in the NYTimes a few weeks ago about making meals that keep you out of a hot kitchen (ie. doing a lot of prep - a lot is an exaggeration - before you start cooking) which is totally calling my name. so much so, that i actually bought a tin of sardines the other day whilst at the grocery store! i cannot wait.

i've not talked about it before - but i love honey. i like to use it as a sweetener in my coffee and i wish i made myself bake with it more. i could eat raw honey, the kind that is thick and pasty, by the spoonful.  one of my friends from college owns a farm with her husband and sister-in-law in williamsport, ohio called Honeyrun Farm

its pretty amazing. its awesome, rather. its so inspiring to know that jayne, becky and issac are doing something they love. they are working the land and providing wholesome food for themselves and those in their area. so very inspiring. i mean...it really is awesome. i go to the farmers market maybe every-other-weekend and whenever i go, i just want to be behind one of those farm stands and talking to everyone about the produce, herbs, flowers, bread, whatever was made by this farm.

well, jayne was nice enough to send me some of their black locust honey...its awesome. its really light and smooth and it so clear. i think its clearer than most honey i've had in the past. its this light golden color, it reminds me of a toe-headed little child on a warm august day. the flavor is really clean and simple and floral. they grow their own flowers and i can only imagine they bees adore them all! their bees probably say things like, "the barnes' flowers are to die for, Herb, you really should try them the next time you go on a pollen run."

what i'm really trying to say is a) go to Honeyrun, and if you're in the area, literally...go there. b) support your local farmers. they're the ones who know how to do things right. we're a civilization that is living off the land in all the wrong ways. we're wasting and consuming far too much and not understanding how to properly use the little land that we have left. the farmers - they know what and how to do. we should learn from them. we should all figure out how to be more self-sustaining. for those of you in the NYC area, here is a map and schedule of all the green markets throughout the city. do this. i promise you'll love it.

i almost forgot! i made crockpot veggie chili...i haven't tasted it yet, but i have it for lunch today, so i will give a full review. here's what i did though - so freakin' easy.

1 large (i think ours was too large) white onion

1/2 green bell pepper
6 garlic scapes

chop these puppies up, toss them in the crock pot (i used - i think - a 4Q crockpot, i wanted more room, so perhaps don't think as large as i did). next, take a can of pinto beans, a can of kidney beans, a can of black beans (we used this black bean/bacon/soup stuff), a can of fava beans, a can of corn, a whole can of tomato paste, a 28oz can of chopped tomatoes (we used whole peeled roma and chopped them ourselves, you can also use crushed...it all depends on what you like, i like a lot of texture in my chili hence the whole peeled), 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper, a little salt, a little pepper and a cup of water. mix it all together, put the lid on and let it sit (med/high) for 8ish hours.  ours stewed for probably 12 hours. it was so easy. it made A LOT of chili. i will let you know what i thought after lunch.


19 June 2010

home-made pasta, garlic scapes and the green market

today was a good day. (i have so much to do, but first i have to blog)

woke up later than i expected - no big deal. got ready and headed to manhattan for brunch with my roommate at friend of a farmer. brunch was fabulous. i had a spanish omelet and lexi had the boomer special. this special, ya'll, (scrambled eggs, your choice of french toast, buttermilk or pumpkin pancakes & your choice of bacon, ham or sausage) we thought that this was going to include pancakes AND french toast. needless to say we were sad, i think we both really wanted french toast pretty bad. next time.....

then, we went to the green market. it was wonderful. there were so many people at the market, so many stands and so much fresh food. if i could i would show you the most beautiful peonies we got. they were $10 for a bunch, and $18 for two. the florist/farmer who helped lexi and i gave us three for the price of two because he felt bad that they weren't as nice as they should be. they're white and light pink and a deep magenta and there's a few that are speckled pink, white and darker pink. most of them are still tight and in their balls that peonies create before they fully bloom. there's a handful of mini-bulbs that will hopefully bloom over the next few days. they are so fragrant. i think peonies would be great in a brides bouquet but they have to be perfect for that and it has to be at the peak of their season. they are spring. the smell. the color. the texture even. tip for you if ever you buy peonies.....they love really cold water and a fresh cut stems. 

we bought: peonies, garlic scapes (we bought 5 pounds, so that lexi could take some to her chef at work. FIVE POUNDS of garlic scapes. CRAZY), spinach, purslane, thyme, huge radishes, beautifully orange carrots, some sheeps milk cheese, romaine, raspberries, blueberries and fresh strawberries. i LOVE the green market. i said, more than once this afternoon, i would love to work at a stand there. it was so great. we also began talking to strangers. or rather, shouting out whether we liked a dress or a shirt or a barrette in a girls hair. i dont think anyone actually paid attention to us nor did they want to. it was merely for our giggling pleasure.

lexi went to work with her four pounds of garlic scapes, half of the purslane and the thyme for chef and her restaurant. and i did laundry. and i got hungry. and i started thinking about what i could make from our freshly purchased fresh produce. i have been thinking about home-made pasta for over a week. so...i made pasta. i made pasta tonight. my other roommate, chris, was home so i embarked on a pasta making adventure. here's how it went...3 cups of flour, and a few twists of salt (approx. 1/4 of a teaspoon) put it on the counter or in a bowl. i opted in the beginning for a bowl. in another bowl i mixed 3 eggs with a tablespoon of cream and a teaspoon of olive oil. i made a hole in the middle of the flour, a well really, and dumped the egg mixture into this well. i began mixing, with my hands. (i'm starting to use my hands in my mixing A LOT these days...i like it. its a very intimate experience with my food. with the process of cooking. and i feel like it puts me into my making...) it was clumpy. i was concerned. i poured some water in, it started forming a ball. i put some flour on the counter top and began kneading. i kneaded probably less than what i should have, all the recipes called for 3-4 minutes, i probably kneaded for 2.5/3 minutes. then i put it in a bag (supposed to wrap it tight in plastic wrap) and put it in the fridge for a little under 30 minutes. someone on allrecipes.com said that the key was to making good home-made pasta was to let it rest. LET IT REST. so i let it rest. while it rested...i cut some scapes and sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed them. i also cut up a radish, 2 carrots and ripped some romaine. also, while the pasta rested, mixed 3 eggs, Parmesan cheese, pepper and red pepper flakes. i let that rest. 

this is where the fun part came in. i kneaded the pasta once or twice. i put the pasta ball on the counter. and began rolling. i rolled and rolled. i couldn't make a dent in the rolling out of the pasta. i couldnt make it get thinner. so, chris took over. he rolled. and rolled. and rolled. the pasta ball got thinner and thinner. finally, we had a big, thin, flat chunk of pasta. and i began cutting. i had no idea what i was doing. i cut this way and that way. i cut thicker pieces and thinner pieces. some pieces i cut in half and others i left long. it took ages. but it was great. then i threw all of it into a pot of salted boiling water. i let it sit. i let the pasta sit in the water for, maybe, 6/7 minutes...this may have been too long, but it was still good. 

i drained the pasta, put it back in the pot, mixed in the scapes and the sun dried tomatoes, then i poured the egg mixture over this hot, home-made pasta mix and stirred. i stirred and stirred and stirred.

it was great. salad and home-made pasta with a carbonara-type sauce with fresh garlic scapes and sun dried tomatoes. both chris and i were very pleased with dinner. i was very pleased with dinner. i'm glad i tried to make pasta. i think i will do it more and more. i think, and i could be wrong but i think, you're supposed to have 1 cup of flour to 1 egg per person when eating/making. i will knead more. i will do some research and i will figure out how to make pasta amazing. 

i will. guys. i will make awesome home-made pasta some day. and, if you come over for dinner...maybe i will have just gotten home from the green market with unbelievably fresh produce (seasonal) and make you home-made pasta. and a salad, mixed with my hands and maybe some berries for dessert. 



16 June 2010

new kitchen, lots of eggs

alright. for now...its just writing. my bowl-full of white rice did not suck all the moisture out of the camera, if it did...to no avail. i'm still hanging on tot he fact that i may be able to charge the battery.

some long overdue posts (which were waiting for images...here's to using my adjectives!)

so i've been in my new kitchen for a week to the day. i love it. there's so much natural light and the room is so spacious. i've tried to make dinner every night and a lot of those dinners have included, yup, poached eggs and greens. (i've eaten 6 eggs, at least) i even made myself brunch on saturday (before spending the day laying in a park in long island city reading my script). it was so good...

i had asparagus and my boss had mentioned that she had shaved white asparagus because thats what you do. (they are much tougher than normal.) and consuming raw asparagus has been mentioned a lot in the last week, so i thought, maybe i can make a salad of shaved regular asparagus. and that was all i did, shaved it with a carrot peeler and placed it on the plate. i think they may have been better if they were colder and fresher or maybe even blanched and really cold (but then its not raw).  i just drizzled olive oil and balsamic and some salt + pepper and that was that.  i poached 2 eggs.. and then. i. made. magic. guys...i've never really be very good at making hash browns or breakfast potatoes or they take too long, whatever, its just not been good. but i cut 1/2 a russet potato into small squares, chopped a few cloves of garlic and threw some olive oil into a pan (that had a glass top). this i think was the key. i sauteed the potatoes and garlic for a bit and then, i turned the heat down and put the top on the pan. that did it. that steamed them a little to aide their cooking. i know its not revolutionary and i know it makes sense - i just had never thought of it before. i threw in the bit of asparagus near the end and put it all on the plate and added a few cherries. it was brilliant. 

my roommate and i also made dinner last night...yum. we had pan seared chilean sea bass, trader joe's harvest blend of cous cous/lentils/quinoa and a salad of watercress, pears, and orange pieces w. a citrus vinaigrette. i made the vinaigrette and i was disappointed.  no pictures, sadly. lexi and i were wondering what was missing...and i think we needed salt. plain and simple. we just needed to give it a little more flavor. 

that was my first week.

14 June 2010


i had all these posts drafted to put up as soon as i uploaded my pictures from my camera, after i went to storage and got the charger, etc. sadly....really it is so sad and i'm totally kicking myself for somehow letting a thing like this happen...but...i did laundry this weekend and as i was taking the dark cycle out of the wash, i found my camera.  

i'm in the process of trying to dry it out. must admit though, i am doubtful that it will resurface alive.
so. blogging. you'll have to wait until i figure out how to get a new camera, fix this camera or somehow invent a solution that magically makes my life better at this moment. 


03 June 2010

camera battery!

moving can be grueling. and you misplace (lose) things in the process. i can't find my camera to computer cord OR my camera battery. how'my'gon'a'hav'a'food blog if i dont have a camera cord OR battery?!

i will amend this situation. stat. 


27 May 2010

a long way to a point

i'm amazed by so much in life. so much. the little things make me happy, they confuse me, they excite me, they challenge me, they inspire me, they amaze me. 

my junior year in college i took a course called "Chinese and Japanese Religious Traditions" with Dr. Oldstone-Moore, it was eye opening. i had already started down the path of simplicity, or at least what i thought at the time was simplicity. i had also always been really in-tune w. nature, i was into healthy food and my sister had introduced me to yoga principals and practices. but this class. this class blew my mind. i wasn't expecting much as this was my "required" R class for graduation and sure, i wasn't the only one thinking this class would be an easily filled requirement. much to my dismay, i fell in love. i have to be honest, i don't remember much of what we studied in this class, i just know it was taking me down a path.

then my senior year, when i had filled all of my requirements and didnt want to be a pud and not take ANY classes, i decided to sign up for another Oldstone-Moore class...this time around i tried "Buddhist Thoughts and Scriptures" the Wittenberg website states that this course is:
       Seminar studying the teachings and practices of schools of the Buddhist tradition through pivotal scriptures.  Sutras and other texts from Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism will be considered in their historical and cultural contexts, and within the framework of central themes of Buddhism.  Requirements include class discussion and presentations, two exams, one short paper, and a term paper.  Writing intensive. Every third year.
well, sure, thats what we did. i remember devouring the texts, relishing in writing my papers, but the most fulfilling part of this class was the monastic project. 

whats that you ask? it was when we became practicing monks for three weeks. we altered our diets (no meat, no coffee, no processed sugars, no white flour/rice...ALL VEGGIES/ALL ORGANIC), we had group meditation, individual meditation and a yoga practice, we journal-ed everyday, we didn't speak unless spoken to all three Monday's and when we ate we practiced eating meditation. where we weren't supposed to do anything but talk during our meals. no books, no tv, no music, just chewing and talking if anyone else was there. we also had to put our forks down after every bite and really chew and engage with our food. (i lived with three of my best friends my senior year and we had weekly family meals.  
[this picture is from sarah's wedding] we'd all cook together and eat together, it was one of the best things about my senior year and i was lucky that they all were patient with me during this monastic project and even, when we all ate, played along.) this project was awesome. it was really rooting and humbling. its established some of the ideas with which i live my life. its one of those experiences that i think back on all the time.  its the little things from the project that i hold onto and try to practice now and then.

it even helped me, subconsciously (i think), come up with my tattoo.
its in Sanskrit and says 'Chinne mūle maivashakhā na patram' (no branches, no leaves in the absence of the roots.) this is a vedic medical expression that i discovered. and the tree is a bodhi tree, the tree that Buddha was enlightened under. the idea of a tree came to me in a rough/transitional patch. you have to be grounded, rooted to solid ground personally and professionally. you have to have a strong body physically and mentally. finally there is a constant reach towards something, be it a goal, a dream, whatever. and there's also the idea of a cycle, with the leaves, it begins all over again...

where was i going...amazement. i think this foundation (i'd call it that, i guess) in buddhism and breaking down to the simplest form of anything is what led me to this whole cooking endeavor. this wanting to touch what i eat and know where it came from. this sharing of a process and eating at a community table with everyone i know... i wanted to share with you, if you haven't found it already, something that i adore. i can easily say - i effing LOVE this site: food. curated. (www.foodcurated.com) liza basically interviews local foodies, chefs, farmers, fisherman, bee keepers, etc. its pretty amazing. i want you to know about it because this is the sort of thing thats fueling me and inspiring me right now. i love love love it. and there are some really good and innovative ideas. theres all this talk about rooftop farms and backyard farms, its awesome. i think i sense something i may be looking into doing in LA...here we go new chapter.

what gets you going right now? is there someone, some place you go on a regular basis to infuse your life?

25 May 2010

essential tools for any kitchen

i really have to thank bon appetit for posting this from their cookbook. this is the original post about what is essential for a college graduates kitchen, i think it applies to any kitchen really. there are 73+ items on this list, seems like a lot... its not. its a superb list. i have...34 of these 73+ items about half. i think thats a good ratio, i'd love to say i have 100% but thats a long shot and will have to wait until i have a new kitchen in los angeles. 

wait, what? 

that's right folks...i'm moving to LA in the fall. (more later!)

enjoy this list, and do yourself a favor, have at least a quarter of these items in your kitchen. it will make your cooking life much much better. i'm 100% positive.

12 May 2010

things and stuff and things

so. this post is a shameless plug for none other than...ME! as you know, i act (duh). and as you also know, i'm part of the bushwick shakespeare repertory, which is an all-female collaborative focusing on giving women the opportunity to play roles from the Classics not traditionally given to women. which, as i can attest to, if awesome. and as you probably know too, cause i talk about it all the time, this past year of plays has been: romeo & juliet (the nurse) to as you like it (touchstone) to the cherry orchard (anya) to julius caesar (cassius and then some). needless to say it was a lot of classical theatre and lots of shakespeare. nobody blamed me for needing a break from shakespeare and boy was i desperate for something contemporary...

well, folks out there in blog world. i did it! i just got cast in a wonderfully silly production of the book of liz.  i am very excited about this show, mainly because its written by david and amy sedaris but also because it will be a good challenge. then, come to find out, i'm shooting this weekend with RADAR and a very cool guerrilla artist and i am doing background work on Rescue Me next week (will keep you posted on the airing). 

must say, i am pleasantly surprised and quite giddily happy.


01 May 2010


i must first begin with the facts that a) my birthday was a month ago and b) my celebration began on friday when my boss took myslef and my co-worker out to lunch and then called it a day!  we got to the restaurant (the standard grill) and ordered pimms...i had never had a pimm anything before and lemme tell you...this drink was delicious! we had H.M.S. PIMM’S, which consisted of pimm's cup no. 1, cointreau, lime juice, prosecco, winter berries, cucumber and mint. yum. and simple...you can probably make them at home. who am i kidding, probably? you can. period.
so good! i had mussels for lunch, with fries? bien sur. then for dessert we had a pecan pie that we all split and the waitress brought us all a glass of champagne...it was a really kickin' friday afternoon.
i'm 29!
whats nice (and not nice) about having a birthday so close to easter is you get to celebrate with family. the downside of that is going to an easter egg hunt with at least 50 children who range from 2 - 11 and having conversations about basement flooding and what company you should use for the repairs. it was all sorts of hilarious. it was nice because i love my sister and brother-in-law and i really enjoy spending time with my niece and nephew, but it was also very suburban.

i even got to make my own birthday cake with macy (my niece)! we used a basic white cake recipe from epicurious. [my birthday was now a long time ago...but the food and post are worth sharing] i will share the recipe but i gotta admit...not sure i am a fan of white cake. its sort of dry - or at least thats how ours ended up and the description said it would be moist...was not. it might be because there's no yolk, how do you have a cake without yolk?  you dont. you have white cake. 
i wanted to make something really simple and maybe a little messy (at least looking) for my cake. i didnt want a lot of sweet stuff, so i just whipped up some heavy cream and tossed some berries with a pinch of sugar then layered.

Classic White Cake
adapted from here

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg whites

3/4 cup milk
1. make sure you have 2 9-inch round cake pans, buttered (really well)
2. set your oven to 350 degrees and make sure your rack is in the middle of the oven
3. combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, mix well.
4. place butter and sugar in a bowl, beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until very soft and light. beat in the vanilla. 
5. whisk together the egg whites and milk by hand in another bowl until just combined.
6. reduce mixer speed to low and beat in 1/4 flour mix, then 1/3 milk mixture, stopping and scraping down the bowl and beater after each addition. (this may have been where macy and i messed up the cake) do this in this ratio until all combined.

7.scrape bowl well w. a rubber spatula, pour batter into the prepared pans and smooth tops. (i always tap my pans on the counter top, i think i say someone on the food network do this once to "get rid of air bubbles." its now part of my baking regime.)
8. bake layers for about 30 - 35 minutes, until they are well risen and firm and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean (also, where we may have messed up - i didnt check both, make sure you check both...also, our cake didnt really rise). cool the layers in the pan on racks for 5 min (seriously - no more, i think also may be where we messed up!), then unmold onto racks to finish cooling right side up.
see! she was happy with the final outcome, but cooking with a child under 10 is tough, she got bored very quickly. maybe there's a way to make baking/mixing/stirring into a game and that way she'd be all about it?

on to dinner. yes, i got to choose and make dinner on my birthday. you may laugh/gawk/shock, but hey, i love cooking, remember? (not to mention the salmon was cooked by my bro-in-law and my sister and i kept swapping positions) so, i chose mushroom risotto, asparagus and salmon. my big sister is sort of hilarious. we keep switching back and forth with the risotto...she got sooo bored of stirring. like mother like daughter? nah, my sister has a better attention span than a 7 year old. for the most part. all we did with the asparagus was boil them a little with salt water and then with the salmon, we baked it with olive oil and salt and pepper.

mushroom risotto
adapted from here

1 oz dried porcini (1 cup)
3 3/4 cup hot water

5 1/4 cup reduced(low) sodium chicken broth (42 fl oz)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 fresh cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 lb Arborio rice (2 1/3 cup)
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup finely grated parm-reggiano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. soak the porcini in 1/2 cup hot water in a bowl until softened, about 20 minutes. lift them out, squeezing liquid back into the bowl. rinse off any grit that may remain and coarsely chop. pour soaking liquid through a sieve line with a coffee filter or a dampened paper towel into a 3 to 4 quart saucepan, then add broth, soy sauce, and remaining water and bring to a simmer.
2. meanwhile, heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4 to 5 quart heavy potover moderately high head until foam subsides, then saute onion, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. add garlic and fresh mushrooms and saute, stirring, until mushrooms are browned and any liquid they give off is evaporated, about 8 minutes. stir in porcini and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then add rice and cook, stirring,, 1 minute. add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute. (MAN...that is a lot of stirring.)
3. stir 1 cup simmering broth into rice and cook, stirring constantly (serious?) and keeping at a strong simmer, until absorbed. continue cooking and adding broth, about a cup at a time, stirring frequently (come on!) and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until ice is tender and creamy looking but still al dente, 18 to 20 minutes. thin with some of the remaining broth if necessary. 
4. remove from heat. stir in cheese, salt, pepper, and remianing 5 tablespoons of butter until butter is melted.
5. if reserving some risotto to make risotto cake tomorrow, set aside 3 cups and cool to room temp, then chill covered with plastic wrap.
6. stir parsley into remaining risotto and serve immediately.
all in all. it was really lovely. just my sister, brother-in-law and me having dinner and drinking nice wine. we of course had cake, but the first pieces went to my niece and nephew, duh...you can't go to bed without dessert people, we all know this! too cute. 
i know its way way way past my birthday, but thanks for bearing with me.