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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    Monday, March 29, 2010

    Springy Little Ode

    May I recommend this springy little ode to ramps, one of the first crops / harbingers of spring? It is lovely, I assure you. I finished with an urgent desire to run down to the farmers' market when ramps appear (next week, I think) & buy them, as this author says, by the garbage bag load.

    (From Gourmet: gone but not forgotten).

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    What were they thinking?

    Sometimes computers are smart (see, beating the smartest humans at chess), other times...well, they just aren't a good substitute for discretion & good sense.

    Those of you who read regularly know I'm a fan of home-cooked food, local ingredients, eating healthfully, supporting small business, DIY, etc etc.

    What possessed the google ad algorithm to place a Domino's pizza ad between my posts about (1) how you can make a fresh, farmers' market meal of a homemade burger & vegetable sides for nearly the same $/time cost as fast food and (2) a locally homemade foodie treat? Really? DOMINO'S PIZZA? I don't even merit, say, Papa John's? I love pizza (see, about three posts down. SWOON!) but Domino's? When you could eat Motorino, or Grimaldi's, or Keste, or even homemade?
    Oh my. Ad Fail.

    Now I'm going to have to do a post on homemade pizza.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Big Mac vs. Farmers' Market

    Another great link, this one from the Sustainable Food Center. You think a home cooked farmers' market meal is more expensive and slower than drive-through fast food? Maybe. Or maybe not.

    So what's lacking? Know-how? Desire? Access?

    Bacony Goodness by Mistake

    Bacon Marmalade.

    Yeah, you heard me. I'm not saying more, other than: yum. The video, by fellow Brooklyn foodie Liza de Guia (@SkeeterNYC), speaks for itself.
    Watch the bacon marmalade video here.

    I, for one, am excited to get my hands on some of this & make some bacon marmalade-grilled cheese sandwiches.

    (Liza has a host of fine videos at Food Curated. Check it out!)

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    With a little help from my friends

    Muffins with a margin of error

    Taste & See: I am not a good baker. I am good at making sauces, I am good at making decent meals out of barely-salvageable bits found in the back of the fridge, I am good at making people feel happy and well-fed when they visit me. But a baker, I am not.

    I have not learned to accept this.  I occasionally forget I am a bad baker and embark on a baking project and wind up with too-hard biscotti I nonetheless crunch through, nearly ending up with broken teeth and dental bills for my trouble. Bread billed as "hearty" becomes dense and gummy.  Cookie bottoms are burned as I forget, yet again, to set a timer.

    Sure, there are some things I can bake--I've fooled people with a certain pumpkin bread dozens of times, and I've successfully pulled out regular loaves of no-knead bread since learning how earlier this winter. I can even pull my act together when it is really, really necessary and make a dynamo 3 layer chocolate cake for a friend's birthday.  

    But casual, "just mix up some muffins for Saturday brunch" baking? Ugh. I am totally prone to throwing in extra flour on accident, compensated by extra liquid. Or forgetting a step. Or more likely, ignoring a step. And then my Saturday morning feast becomes a lesson in forcing myself to eat my mishap, in hopes I'll learn from my mistakes.

    Why am I shooting myself down, you ask? Merely to build up the beauty of this muffin recipe borrowed from Apriosa blog, written by a friend of mine. I've made these successfully twice; that means the first time wasn't a fluke. I didn't follow the directions with any more precision than I usually do; while I used measuring cups, kinda, and more or less added all the required ingredients, I took some liberties. 

    Normally my family just calls my topless muffins "tea cakes," politely pretending I wasn't aiming high. And yet, these came out beautifully, crispy crust, soft inside, nice and tall.  These muffins must have a built-in margin of error: just my kind of muffin.

    It also helped that I used homemade butter. Not farmers' market butter, which is darn good (I like love am fanatical about Ronnybrook's maple butter). HOMEMADE. Like, I made it.  Like, the kind that, in grade school, came about after shaking a jar full of cream for an hour on the pre-Thanksgiving pilgrim day at school, in which we made bread, butter and jam. That was my favorite day of the year.

    Only, thanks to a twitter friend, I didn't use a jar. Sure, if you want nicely toned muscles or want to don your best prairie-petticoat and capture that pre-electricity romantic feel, a jar is great. But I had muffins to make; I poured my mixture into my Kitchen aid. By the time the muffins were in the oven, the butter had separated. By the time the muffins were baked, I had butter, buttermilk, & an unrelated big mug of coffee. Not bad for a bad baker! 

    Do It Yourself:

    With a little help from my friends, even a bad baker can make good muffins, and the butter is just the plum-easy cherry on top. Have a good breakfast!

    Apricosa's Soda Muffins, ala The Faux Gourmet
    Makes 8


    • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3 Tbs. sugar
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • ½ tsp. baking soda
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • ½ tsp. cinnamon
    • 2 Tbs. butter, room temperature
    • 1 cup dried fruit (I like apricots; she suggests raisins)
    • *1¼ cups buttermilk or substitute
    • 1 egg
    *While making homemade butter produces buttermilk that could, in theory, be used here, I didn't make mine in time and my grocery store didn't open early enough to dash over to get some. What's a girl to do? You've got a couple options, courtesy Life123 & my own experience. They may lack the "rich tang" of real buttermilk, but in a pinch they still make for baked goods of which you can be proud:
    • Add Acid:
      Add approximately 1 Tbsp acid (ie, vinegar, or if you haven't got that, lemon juice) to a cup of milk.
    • Yogurt:
      Use the same amount of plain yogurt that you would need of buttermilk.  This is my preferred method, though I substitute about 2 Tbsp per cup with water, because I use very thick yogurt. Do not use flavored yogurt or yogurt with fruit!
    • "Half & Half":
      Mix half plain yogurt and half whole milk; you may want to add one half teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to this mixture as well.
    • Milk:
      That’s right, plain milk. Buttermilk is just the liquid that is removed in the butter making process, see below, and is actually low in fat.  To thicken the milk and make it slightly sour, add one and three fourths teaspoons of cream of tartar to an eight-ounce cup of regular milk.
    • Preheat oven to 400°F.  
    • While oven heats, whisk first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.
    • Blend butter into flour until incorporated, then stir in dried fruit and coat well with flour mixture.
    • Whisk buttermilk or substitute and egg together, then add to dry ingredients and stir to blend. 
    • Divide batter among 8 large muffin cups lined with muffin papers.  Apricosa suggests using an ice cream scoop; a spoon worked fine for me.  
    • Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Remove muffins from pan.
    Cool slightly on rack before removing muffin paper or it will stick. Store any leftover muffins in an airtight container.  

    Apricosa offers this most helpful hint:  To get leftover muffins back to fresh-baked glory, remove the muffin paper and toast the entire muffin in a toaster oven.  You'll end up with that delicious, crunchy crust again.  Enjoy!

    Homemade butter

    Makes approximately 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup butter

    This recipe is hardly a recipe; making butter is just a matter of shaking cream til the fats (solids) separate out from the liquid. But if you've never done it, it may be helpful to read my account of what to expect during the shaking process so you don't worry you've done something wrong when it takes awhile.


    • Mix pint of cream with 1/4 cup of live, plain yogurt and let it sit, refrigerated, at least overnight. (I left mine for two nights and it was fine). 
    • Mix with a kitchenaid mixer on slow-medium using the whip attachment until the liquids and solids separate. 
    It takes about 15 minutes and goes through several stages. At first it will look like nothing is happening; after 5-10 minutes it will look like whipped cream.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, the liquids and fats will separate and it will look kind of gross and chunky. Keep going just a tiny bit longer, turning down the speed so as not to splatter the liquids all over your kitchen.  The butter is done when it the solids are in a few big lumps, relatively hard.
    • Set a colander over a bowl and pour the solids into the colander, catching the liquids in the bowl--there's your buttermilk. 
    • Rinse the butter under cold water, remove all traces of buttermilk, which makes butter go rancid. 
    • Squeeze butter dry in a cheesecloth or several layers of paper towels and shape into a rectangular log or serving bowl. 
    Variations:  Make like Ronnybrook and flavor your cream/yogurt mix.  I haven't yet gone down this path but I'm looking forward to doing so, dreaming about rosemary butter and brown sugar butter and ancho chile butter. Will keep you posted! 

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    An Angeleño Eats in Brooklyn, vol 2: Carb Fest

    The NYC Carb Trifecta

    Treasures untold await.  Until you read this.  Then they'll be told treasures. But still go eat them!
    Taste & See: There are a few foods associated with NYC that every visitor should try to eat, and, perhaps no coincidence, many of them are carbs. 

    A prime example is bagels.  The best of these is generally agreed to be H&H, at W. 80th & Broadway, on the Upper West Side.  During his 93 plates project, The Wandering Foodie wrote about his expedition to H&H, and really said all that needs to be said.  I won't be redundant, except to agree wholeheartedly: just order whatever's most freshly baked & tear into it like a lover.  The Angeleño concurs.

    Next on the list is probably pizza. Sure, we quibble with other cities around the US that make good pizza, but NYC's overall quality-per-slice average is pretty phenomenal. Even the bad pizza is good.  It is possible I've had better pizza at random locations around the US than the best pizza I've had here:

    Mushroom & Prosciutto and Pear Pizzas, Wine O'Clock, Prosser, WA
    BBQ Chicken & Meat Combo Pizza, Pizza A Fetta, Cannon Beach, OR (the Thai chicken is superb but alas, I haven't got a photo of that).

    But I'll never really know, unless these rival pizza makers set up shop right across from each other, fire the pies, and immediately feed me.  So far I have been unable to create such a gathering and thus rely on the charity of others who have taken on the terribly wonderful task of consuming pizza from Franny's to Keste in the quest for the best.

    I took the Angeleño to Keste, on Bleeker between 6th & 7th in the Village, widely regarded as "best," whatever that can possibly mean in a city with such great choices.  I'm a huge fan, and my huge pizza fed me twice, which was handy, given that it cost about $25. The waiter neglected to note the price when he described the special in glowing terms.  I mean, I could have asked, but why spoil tales of rucola & prosciutto with a price tag? The Angeleño & I were a little sticker shocked at the total bill but he was more than persuaded: NYC makes good pizza.

    *It should be noted, of course, that Keste, like many of the other great NYC pizza joints, doesn't make New York style pizza. It makes la vera pizza napoletana, "true" pizza, of the style of Naples.  But if borrowing someone else's culture and blending it in to what's already there isn't what it means to be American, I don't know what is. I'll gladly claim Keste as ours.

    Finally, the NYC carb trifecta wouldn't be complete without the cookie.

    What, you didn't know we are famous for cookies?  Oh, man. Someone swindled you good if you came all the way to NYC and didn't taste our famous cookies.  I mean, I can understand wanting to hide the good stuff from our guests, but it is still not very nice.

    Tell you what.  I can't make you the famous cookie; none but the sacred cookie masters can do that, though many of tried. But I can give you a big fat photo, right up in your cookie-craving face. 

    Oh. That just added to the craving? Sorry.

    Levain Bakery
    , W 74th St, just off Amsterdam on the Upper West Side, is the cookie temple. I'd recommend trying them all, but that will cost you half a Keste special pizza, so you may want to pick one and savor it.  I love them all, but the oatmeal raisin is the sleeper favorite; you just don't see it coming.  The Angeleño was a fan of the double chocolate.  A Levain cookie, still warm, gooey with melting chocolate, savored on the steps of a nearby brownstone on a chilly day is about as close to perfect as you're going to find this side of heaven.  

    Levain's cookies are so big, a small man can fit inside! Amazing! The Angeleño eats on, nonplussed.
    Next time you're in town, forget the five star restaurants and get yourself a cookie. 

    Thursday, March 4, 2010


    I don't do this often but I want to plug an event happening this Saturday night that I'm helping put together. It features art from the talented lady responsible for my lovely new blog header, Sam Wedelich. If you like that, wait til you see what else she can do! There will also be live performances, an MC who writes for Jimmy Fallon, yummy snacks & cool people. Best of all it is free. :)

    My good friend at Over Stiff Drinks wrote up this description. I wholeheartedly agree & urge anyone in NYC to come out & join us!


    Introduction: Sam Wedelich

    There is a rad show opening this Friday in the flotsam/jetsam gallery I help run. There are talented artists participating; and I am not just saying that. There is a lot of crap out there to be seen, and I am unabashed in calling it out and avoiding seeing it; you will not see it this Saturday. There is also a (free) rad singery-songwritery show combined with the gallery opening.

    True Stories
    Sam Wedelich & Corey Hayes
    Show Specs:
    251 W 80 Street (Btwn B'way & West End; All Angels' Church), NY, NY 10024
    Opens March 6: 6-7:30 Opening, 7:30-9 Coffee House Concert, 9-10 Reception & Second Viewing

    Sam Wedelich (a.k.a. Dwell Deep)

    Sam is a full time artist/illustrator/poet. That's ballsy. Most of her material is autobiographical, but in that universal way, not a I-have-a-peanut-allergy-and-can-you-believe-they-put-peanuts-in-my-waffle! sort of autobiographical. Sam does a great job blogging and tweeting updated illustrations and notifications about new Etsy items, and when you're lucky, a poem or two. Also, she might rebuke me for mentioning it, but Sam and her husband, Russ, have also recently formed a band with another set of my favorite spousal musicians, the Paul-Shores. You WILL hear about it when they leak me more info.

    Here is an exhaustive list of Sam/DwellDeep's links.

    [AN ASIDE: Please follow, subscribe, and visit them all. In this social media driven culture, small businesses can grow based on viral media, but that requires foot traffic. Even of you never read what she posts or says or buy anything from Etsy, please consider adding the links to feeds, readers, etc. and just letting them sit there. What's one little placeholder? When it comes down to getting featured on art blogs and press, a lot writers will judge an artist's, crafter's, blogger's professionalism based on their popularity (subscribers and hit counts). It's not necessarily fair, but it is the way things work. Help out a small business, subscribe to their blogs, twitters, et. all.]

    Still to come:

    Corey Hayes
    Catherine Hanna and Simnia Singer-Sayada
    Melanie Penn
    Paul Johnson

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Airfield Estates Chef Corner

    I write a food column a few times a year for Airfield Estates, a family run winery in my hometown, Prosser, WA. It is a great company and makes absolutely fantastic wine. I'm lucky to partner with them.

    Hope you enjoy the new column, featuring corn cakes, braised kale, and spicy tomato sauce. Yum.

    See also past columns Lightning Braised Beef and Tagine (or, if you're not sure what tagine is, "Pot Roast with a twist.") I don't always write about such heavy food, I promise! The summer edition featured lovely fresh produce but isn't available on the Chef Corner website at the moment. You can find the "Make Summer Last" menu here, however.