Presenting The Faux Gourmet!

The Faux Gourmet has been on hiatus for a while. I began this blog as a creative outlet during law school. After law school, I started other blogs on other topics and no longer needed this as a creative outlet, not to mention my diminishing free time.

But I kept cooking, kept taking food pictures and garden pictures, kept wanting to share the little tidbits of what I'd made. I occasionally did this on my personal blog (to which, I'm sure, people yawned and wondered when I'd post another cat picture). But I started to miss this space. Of all the blogs I have, this format, culled over several dedicated years and incorporating that adorable illustration by Sam Wedelich (see info the left) is by far my favorite.

So I'm back!

Expect short and sweet posts. Less food porn, more recipes and tips. If you want food porn you can look at any of the 5000 million existing food blogs. I don't have good lighting in my apartment and don't have time to style plates. I just want to make something yummy and eat it. If that sounds ok with you, stick around.

Looking forward to being back in touch!


The Faux Gourmet

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    Thursday, December 31, 2009

    Brown Butter-esque Sauce

    Rhymes with arabesque!

    Yeah, you could make a brown butter sauce. Sure. Easy. Melt some butter. Let it get kind of browned. Maybe even throw in some sage. Whoopee. Been there, done that.

    OR you could make some brown butter-esque sauce. First thing that grabs you is the sexy name (also rhymes with picturesque!). Then you taste it, and find yourself hooting "Yum!" like Rachael Ray, even if you think you're a cynical New Yorker. Then you serve it to your loved ones. "What is this yummy sauce?"they ask; it tastes like a brown butter sauce, but there's something *more,* something...mysterious. Something that will deep 'em on their toes. Something that will keep 'em coming back for more. And more. And more. Until you all enroll in Jenny Craig.

    But relax! 2010 and its resolutions doesn't start until tomorrow. Today you can indulge. So make like Julia Child, get out the butter, and get saucy.

    Apologies again for lack of photos. I could say I didn't have a camera but honestly, I think we just ate the sauce too quickly to be bothered...

    12 Tbsp butter
    2 Tbsp honey
    1/4 cup chicken broth
    1/4 cup white wine (I prefer something buttery, like an oaky Chardonnay, or slightly sweet, like a Riesling)
    1/4 cup half and half
    Fresh sage leaves
    Toasted pecans, crumbled

    Melt butter in saucepan over medium-heat; use light-bottomed pan if you have one to make it easier to see when butter is browned. Stir leisurely, tilting the pan back and forth as butter melts, foams, and gradually turns brownish and takes on a nutty aroma. Don't let it get dark brown!

    When it gets brown, briefly remove from heat and toss in crumbled sage leaves. Stir in honey til it dissolves, then return to low heat and begin whisking in chicken broth, then wine. Salt and pepper sauce to taste, then finish by whisking in half and half to thicken slightly.

    Serve over butternut squash or pumpkin ravioli; top with pecans.

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Pre Fab Cooking

    Return of the Faux Gourmet You Know & Love

    Taste & See: Real Simple always has these "recipes" that consist of pre-made food products assembled and combined in such a way that they create something new, and ostensibly, wonderful. I've never made one of those recipes. I like cooking, and I've always thought I was too proud to let Betty Crocker or Pillsbury do for me what I'm perfectly capable of doing for myself.

    Then again, it is also true that I don't always want to burn my eyes with the heat of a dozen smoking chilies.

    Let me explain. A few weeks ago I made the Best. Salsa. Ever. Want the recipe? Grill bell peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes and garlic, smoke some pasilla chilies, grill a half dozen other kinds (chipotle, jalepeno, anaheim, banana, ancho), give it a good coating of ground rock salt, and puree the whole mess. That simple.

    It was glorious. It also caused my eyes to sting and water, my face to burn, my throat to hack, my fire alarm to have spasms. In short, there was a price to pay for the glory.

    Sure it tasted incredible; it had a deep, smokey flavor that started off mild and slid into a surprising kick, not too spicy to overwhelm the layers of complexity. It was truly glorious. But then again, on a week night when I want to get my dinner together in time to watch Glee, maybe a jar of my fave supermarket salsa will do.

    Generally speaking, you'd be amazed at what a little clever doctoring can do to the most banal of base ingredients: leftover cream cheese from a bagle brunch, a can of tomato paste & a bit of bacon stashed in the fridge become a delightful tomato soup; leftover coconut milk and mustard create an oddly satisfying sauce to accompany pumpkin gnocchi. And my ridiculous salsa--or its supermarket substitute--tossed over a bunch of things I tend to have on hand anyway gives me a big pan of enchiladas to last all week.

    Do it Yourself: So do you want gourmet smokey salsa? Or do you want dinner? The recipes are easily adapted; make them either way to fit your needs.

    Chicken Enchilada Casserole

    4 chicken thighs, skin & bone on
    2 small onions, chopped
    About 5 cloves garlic
    Chicken broth:
    1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    Approximately 8 small tortillas
    Salsa or enchilada sauce:
    • Gourmet: 1-2 cups gourmet smokey salsa, described above.
    • Faux Gourmet: 1 jar of your favorite supermarket version (smooth, not chunky)
    • Gourmet: 1 cup Accidental Bean Soup, omitting 1 cup yogurt & substituting 3-4 tbsp chevre or cream cheese.
    • Faux Gourmet: 1 can black beans, straight up
    Simmer onions, garlic, chicken thighs and broth to cover in pan on low heat. When chicken is cooked all the way through it will be very soft, falling off bone easily. It will also be quite hot so be careful and use two forks to shred meat, removing bone and skin. Season with salt and pepper.

    Build enchiladas in pan, alternating with layers of tortillas, chicken/onion/broth mixture, salsa, black beans, and cheese. Plan for about three layers and divide ingredients accordingly for each layer. Top with final layer of tortillas and cover with cheese.

    Bake at 350 until cheese melts, approximately 30 minutes. (Check at 20.)

    Tomato (Paste) Soup
    Given that you *could* just buy canned tomato soup straight up, you may wonder why bother with making it yourself? Well, little cans of tomato paste, like the one you see in the photo below, generally cost between 69-99 cents and make approximately 3 servings. Really. Your soup will be healthier and full of things like FOOD instead of preservatives and chemicals. You can season it in dozens of interesting ways instead of getting a bland sweet and salty combination punch. And it is really, really easy...the perfect go-to food for a late night rally-snack or a rainy day when you've got nothing to eat. (Except for lots of canned tomato because you read my post, In Praise of Canned Goods, & promptly stocked up. Didn't you. You did, right?)

    C'mon lazy people. This is a LAZY recipe. You can do it. And you'll have tomato soup you can be proud of.

    Small can of tomato paste
    Something creamy:
    • Gourmet: About 1/4 cup chevre
    • Faux Gourmet: About 1/4 cup cream cheese OR milk
    Bacon, chopped, to taste
    *Tip: for convenience, slice bacon height-wise rather than width; it is very easy to separate & chop into small pieces this way. I use approximately 1 "inch" of bacon slices in soup for 3 people.
    • Gourmet: Fennel seeds, black pepper & garlic salt
    • Faux Gourmet: Omit fennel
    Optional additional seasoning:
    • Gourmet: Apple cider vinegar & sugar
    • Faux Gourmet: Omit apple cider vinegar
    For other variations try adding chopped roasted red pepper (from a jar or can!), chili flakes, basil and oregano, cumin, paprika, curry powder, ginger...just, not all at the same time.


    Add tomato paste and 2 cans water (or if omitting cream cheese/chevre, 1 can milk) to pan and stir to combine.
    Stir in cream cheese/chevre. Simmer over medium heat til hot then turn heat to low.

    Meanwhile, briefly fry bacon in skillet. For very decadent soup, add bacon & grease. For not so decadent soup, reserve grease and add bacon.

    Season with fennel seeds and garlic salt- approximately 1 tsp each. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You may also want to add a bit of sugar and/or apple cider vinegar to sweeten it up, especially if you're used to Campbells's.

    Serve with a grilled cheese sandwich: I recommend a sharp cheddar with a good, sweet mustard and prosciutto.

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Faux Gourmet in the Blogosphere!

    Oh readers, I miss you. I'm on hiatus again, as you may have guessed by my absence. (You noticed, right?!) I love sharing with you things I eat & cook, and love hearing from you that you love eating and cooking the things I share. It is a big circle of love.

    On that note it was extremely gratifying to read someone else blogging about...ME! Wow! The very funny Washington Wineman, aka @WAwineman, tried one of my recipes--remember Lettuce Entertain You? I know you tried to forget but the image of dancing heads of lettuce burned in your mind, you can't escape your longing for lettuce rolls. At least Washington Wineman couldn't. He gave them a try, paired with a Washington wine, naturally, & had this to say (click here for full post):

    Tonight's pairing was culled from that current phenomenom known as "social media", aka Twitter. I constantly scan my "followers" list and check their websites for entertainment value and I found one in @TheFauxGourmet, hosted by Jeannie Rose Field of New York. She is a recent graduate of the NYU School of Law and did an internship with the United Nations in Thailand. She is also lesser known for pairing viognier with kimchee soup. Yikes! Get to know her from her excellent essay on ethnicity! Btw, I think you are 100% ethnic American. But, I digress. Getting back to the food pairing, I was so entranced with the pictures from the November 10 blog that I went out and decided to try out the recipe. Got all my ingredients from a Korean market and added some fungibility to "Asian-ize" the recipe, as if it needed any more. If you've had lettuce wraps from PF Chang's, I can tell you her recipe is just as good, yet much more satisfying...because I made it! Oh, and yes, the wine was a wonderful addition with its bold citrus and stone fruit notes. Twitter does work and if you're not on it, I can only ask..."what's on your phonograph tonight, gramps?"

    Awwww. Nevermind that I DID NOT PAIR VIOGNIER AND KIMCHEE SOUP. That was a joke gone awry. (Is my wine cred really still in tact after that merciless slander?!) The point is, random stranger found my blog & made food dreamt up in my own little twisted mind & enjoyed it! And that, my friend, is what food blogs are for.

    On that note, there are plans in the works. First, word on the street is my long-broken digital camera will soon be replaced! Not by Santa, but by Mack Cam. They've been slow but I think it was Fuji's fault; the Mack Cam folks have been very helpful. Soon and very soon.

    Second, I plan to shoot for weekly posts in the new year. I will set aside some time on a weekly basis and make sure I get one out regularly; better than a string of quick entries you barely have time to read followed by a gaping silence that makes you wonder if the Faux Gourmet will ever cook again.

    Finally, I hope to transition this blog to wordpress soon...gasp...under a new name & new look. I don't want to say too much until the transition is made but hopefully it will be something that makes it a better food experience for all of us.

    In the mean time, Bon Appetite.