Too Good to Pass Up

Today marks the beginning of one of my favorite times in my city – Restaurant Week. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, allow me to explain the following rules:

  1. Posh, elitist, and just plain delicious restaurants around the city throw open their shutters to let the groundlings in for two weeks.
  2. These restaurants offer a prix fixe menu of three or more courses, from which you select what you want.
  3. And it’s only $35. Even the lowly graduate student can afford that.
Too much fun, right?
As a rule, the Wednesday Night Dinner crew tries to go out during Restaurant Week to give us weary teachers, education workers and part-time foodies a break from our kitchens. Of course, we’ve only been able to make this work once. You see, Restaurant Week has a habit of falling during tough times for teachers or during seasons of difficult weather. We did make it to one restaurant (a sadly forgettable experience – food not people – but I’ll save a real review for another time), and now we’re all anxious to try somewhere new. I’ll fill you in on where we ended up and how it went later. Promise.
In the meantime, I was delighted to find that the lovely coordinators, in collaboration with chefs at the various restaurants, have put together a cookbook in honor of Restaurant Week. I’m currently enjoying the digital format, but look forward to when I can download it and find it a home among the cookbooks’ over-crowded tenement bookcase.
Here’s a smattering of what I’ve found so far:
  • Lolita’s Chile Pumpkin Soup – I am in love with this restaurant. A friend and I had a Thanksgiving dinner there once (one of the few places not serving a traditional meal, which was a welcome change), and have been aching to go back among their North African-Southern Italian cuisine. (Odd, I know, but trust me on this!) While the ingredient list on this recipe is…daunting, the seeming ease of its execution makes me anxious to try it out.
  • Mushroom Tourte from Caribou Cafe – I’ve tried any number of mushroom tortes, and have a few recipes that I love, but this looks particularly yummy, veggie friendly and, again, easy.
  • Apple or Pear Upside Down Gingerbread from Davio’s – This recipe sounds like crazy talk, but I occasionally enjoy crazy talk recipes. One I’ll hang onto for now.
Happy eating, all!


Welcome all!

So, yes. We all know that I like food. Well, really, I would like alot of food, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

As I begin this educational journey to improve, well, education, I also wanted a place where I didn’t have to worry about the state of our youth all the time. Welcome to my new hobby.

So, there will be three types of posts:

Type One: Helen Cooks! Full disclosure: this will be a full disclosure blog. If a recipe fails spectacularly, I’ll let you know and record all the gory details. Understand, then, that when I say something is a home run, I’m not exaggerating. I’ll try to post recipes, so long as I don’t run into problems with these guys. For inspiration, I don’t think it will come as any surprise that I’ll be relying heavily on Julia, James, DebIrma and the place I hope to work someday when I’m done fixing education in America.

Type Two: Helen Eats Out! So, I’ve been reading one of my secret heroes lately, and it’s made me want to do undercover restaurant reviews. So, really, that’s what this type will be. Granted, most places I won’t have the chance to dine at more than once or twice, so we’ll all have to keep an open mind. This may also be less consistent, considering the very grad student nature of my budget.

Type Three: Helen Writes About Food! Ok, so this last one still needs some work, but this is what I’m thinking. Periodically I’ll run across an ingredient, a cooking tool, or other piece of culinary mystery, and I take it upon myself to figure out what it is, and then (more importantly) how to eat it or use it to eat something.

That’s the run-down! Happy reading!