Miss Ginsu: About/Bio

 

Two words

Two words that embody what's awesome about flying Air France:

"Champagne Apéritif"

Champagne Aperitif

Ahhhhhh. Chanoine Brut Grande Reserve. The fennel crackers weren't half bad, either.

Actually, I love flying Air France for a number of these little niceties. The texture of the blankets and pillowcases. The fact that (even in the standard economy-class seats) they give me a little travel packet with a moist towelette, earplugs, headphones and an eyeshade.

And I love the menus. Actually, I'll share the menu here. Isn't it lovable?

In-Flight Menu

Here are the offerings within:

Choice of Beverages: beer (Heineken), mineral water, juices, soft drinks, white wine (Vin de Pays d'Oc Chardonnay 2008 La Baume) or red wine (Vin de Pays d'Oc Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 La Baume)

* Surimi, carrot and zucchini salad with ratatouille bread

Choice of Main Course
* Chicken with spiced coconut sauce, basmati rice and fried onions
-or-
* Four-cheese tortellini with Neapolitan sauce and Italian cheese

* Butter, demi-baguettes, Camembert wedge, gingerbread-fig tart, fruit smoothie, coffee and tea

Don't forget the after-dinner brandy digestif and the pre-landing snack pack (mineral water, butter cookies, drinkable yogurt).

Nowadays, I usually pack my own picnics on flights. Boiled eggs, summer sausage, apples, grapes, cheese, carrot sticks, raw almonds, a bite or two of chocolate...

I realize cost-cutting is important and all, but flying used to be part of the fun of the travel adventure. I miss those days. Thankfully, Air France still manages to hold on to a few of the humanizing details that make a multi-hour flight bearable.

More from the adventures in Northern Italy and Southern France on the way. Meanwhile, I'd be happy to hear any in-flight food survival tactics, so if you've got one, throw it in the comments.

Cheers,
Miss Ginsu

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10.02.2009

Video Treat: Saxelby's Cheese Sandwich

This savory little treat is overdue, but tasty nevertheless... and since it's an ideal choice for New Year's Eve appetizers, I think now's the right time to unveil it.

Behold! Snazzy grilled cheese as done by Anne Saxelby, charming monger of the Essex Street Market.

This video was captured at this year's NYC International Pickle Festival, back when short sleeved shirts and light summer dresses were appropriate attire. (Oh, how I pine for the sun!)


Saxelby's Snazzy Grilled Cheese
Good sliced bread
Olive oil for drizzling
Puréed pickled peppers (Anne uses Rick's Picks Peppi Pep Peps)
Thin slices of feta cheese

1. Lay out two slices of bread and drizzle olive oil on one side of one of the slices.
2. Spread about a tablespoon of pureed pickled peppers on that same slice of bread.
3. Stack two thin slices of feta cheese atop the pickled pepper puree.
4. Top the stack with the other slice of bread and toast the sandwich in a hot panini grill for 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Slice into quarters and serve immediately.

You may ask yourself, why would this sandwich make a good New Year's Eve treat? Good question!

Salty, rich foods often go well with drier bubbly sips, so when you crack open the Champagne (or maybe try a Spanish Cava this year... it's just as festive and waaay cheaper), I'd urge you to consider serving up a few wedges of Anne's Grilled Cheese as a cheesy, cheery pairing partner. Delight ensured.

May the new year be healthy, happy and even more delicious than the last.

Cheers to auld lang syne, my dears!
Miss Ginsu

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12.30.2008

Day 4: Holiday Glühwein

This post marks Day 4 of Miss Ginsu's 2008 Advent Calendar. To find other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.

Ever open up a bottle of wine and then wish you hadn't bought it? It's not corked or anything. It's just... not your thing.

The Germans have a thrifty and practical solution for this in the form of glühwein, which you might also know as Norwegian glögg or simply mulled wine.

In fact, most wine-drinking cultures have some kind of mulled wine tradition, so I don't wonder whether this recipe started with the need to do something with unsatisfactory vino.

Gluhwein

If you don't have an unappealing bottle of wine to use up, you can simply use an inexpensive one. You'll be adding sweetener and so many other flavors, you shouldn't really notice the wine's flaws.

Though red wine is usually used, it's not out of line to spice white wine in the same way.

There's as many recipes as families, I'd imagine, but I like the following variation.
Holiday Glühwein (Serves 4-6)
1 cup water
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp grated lemon or orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
4 allspice berries
1 vanilla bean, split (optional)
1 750ml bottle red wine
Lemon or orange juice (optional, to taste)

1. Bring the water, honey, citrus zest, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and vanilla (if using) to a boil in a saucepan.
2. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep 30 minutes, before straining out the spices. Pour the bottle of wine into the spiced liquid and heat to a boil.
3. Reduce heat, adjust flavor with a little lemon or orange juice and a little extra honey (to taste). Serve hot in mugs.

In Nordic countries the local glögg is drunk during the Christmas season with sweets such as gingerbread that are served with blue cheese.

Num! I may very well try the same some bone-chilling afternoon this month.

A holiday toast to you and yours!
Miss Ginsu

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12.04.2008

Demystifying Mussels

Here's a mystery: Mussels are cheap, tasty, plentiful, fast-cooking, low in mercury, a lean source of protein and a good way to get your omega-3 fatty acids. Early humans were big on 'em.

With all that to their credit, you might think they'd go like gangbusters. You'd think those little black shellfish would be flying out of fishmongers' shops, so to speak. But no. You'd be wrong. Home cooks tend to shy away from cooking mussels.

And I should know... I'm one of those shy cooks. I know how fast and easy and good mussels are (especially with a solid Belgian beer), and yet I very rarely make them.

Mussels with White Wine and Tomatoes

Why not? Maybe it's something about dealing with the shells. Maybe it's the fact that they're living and need to be cooked right away — Mussels really aren't keen on hanging around the fridge.

Then again, maybe it's just habit. It's just so easy to whip up a salad or to sear a steak. It's a cinch to throw on a pot of soup and have something comforting to eat for several days.

But mussels have so much going for them, I really feel like efforts should be made to work them into the routine.

Here's a super-fast, super-easy mussel method. My best tip for success? Make sure they're all closed (or ready and willing to close) before you cook 'em. If their shells are a little open, give 'em a squeeze and see if they make an attempt to shut. Mussels that don't close should be tossed.

Mussels in White Wine & Tomatoes (Serves about 4 people)
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed or minced
2 shallots, sliced thin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 lb fresh mussels
1 cup dry white wine
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. In cool running water, scrub the mussels clean and pull off the little bit of seaweed-like "beard" along the edges.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or heavy-bottomed pan. Add the garlic, shallots and red pepper flakes (if using). Sautée for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the mussels to the pan and stir them about, coating them in the oil. Add in the drained tomatoes and the white wine. Cover the pan and cook until the mussels begin to open, about 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Spoon out the cooked mussels and sauce into serving dishes and sprinkle with the parsley. Be sure to offer separate bowls to collect the shells.

Serve with a sliced baguette — you and your fellow diners can soak up some of the savory sauce.

Obviously, this dish is going to go well with the rest of the bottle of wine you used for cooking, so be sure you're cooking with a wine you enjoy (and that's just good advice for just about any dish).

Bon Appetit!
Miss Ginsu

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9.17.2008

FoodLink Roundup: 07.21.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
As surmised, last week Cupcake was visiting the handsome polar bear at the Musée d'Orsay. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Be the envy of your friends and the bane of your enemies by posting a guess in the comments.

Vertical Farms for Urban Areas
Critics question zucchini-in-the-sky visions: “Would a tomato in lower Manhattan be able to outbid an investment banker for space in a high-rise?”

Cutest. Spaghetti film. Ever.
I love this short so much. PES, you rock.

The Food-Truck Revolution
NY Mag offers up a handy map of NYC's most mobile meals... with recommendations, of course.

Red Hook vendors in the red
I know they mean well, but I kind of hate the health department.

felt egg cosy
I can't say I've ever had need for an egg cozy, but... OMG SO CUTE!

Is Eco-Wine Better?
An exploration of the "green" wine spin factor.

Parker's Wine Vintage Chart
A good "print out and take along" reference for the next time you're out wine shopping.

Fun with Toxins
MUG sends out a call to New Yorkers... Help keep consumer labeling on your milk!

Good Fish, Bad Fish: A Consumer Guide
Think wild Alaskan (sablefish, salmon) or think small: mussels, oysters, anchovies, sardines

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7.21.2008

Food Quote Friday: William Butler Yeats

Vino at Baron Rouge

A Drinking Song

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

William Butler Yeats

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7.11.2008

FoodLink Roundup: 06.16.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Happy Bloomsday! Last week, Cupcake was located in Chinatown, NYC, just south of Canal on Mott Street. (Another win for Mr. Hazard.) Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post a guess in the comments.

US Tomato Industry in "Complete Collapse"
Gosh, wouldn't it be great if we had accurate paper trails on our produce crops? Of course, I couldn't help notice the x-treme price-jump effect this news produced in the grape tomatoes at my local market... see here for the evidence at Flickr.

Triple whammy
As with many things mythical and natural, it seems that three is a magic number in the kitchen.

Tasting the Grape, Among Other Things
A conference to taste those wines that "you would not, of your own volition, spend an entire weekend drinking"

Japan, Seeking Trim Waists, Measures Millions
Can you imagine the uproar this would cause in the US?

10 paths to painless pizza-making
Smitten Kitchen does up a very liberating guide to the art of making pizza at home.

Peak-Season Produce Map
An excellent use of the internet. Thanks, Epicurious!

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6.16.2008

FoodLink Roundup: 06.09.08

Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was at the Columbus Circle corner of Central Park, as guessed by Mr. Hazard. Where's that wily cupcake now? This week is anyone's guess. Think you know? Post in the comments.

Real Thought for Food for Long Workouts
"neither researcher regularly uses energy drinks or energy bars. They just drink water, and eat real food." Hallelujah.

Promising Red Wine/Longevity Research
Great news for the hedonists: research indicates you might be able to say "to hell with calorie-restricted diets" and just drink a bottle of wine every day.

How to Butcher a Chicken
Hey... you never know.

NYC Food Film Fest 2008
Harry's Water Taxi Beach + food + films about food. Ahhh. Bliss.

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6.09.2008

FoodLink Roundup: 05.12.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was located at the Red Hook Ballparks in Brooklyn (Fine guesswork by the Cold, Cruel Beast!) Where in the world is Cupcake this week? A hint: He hasn't gone too far afield, but he's north of Brooklyn. Post your guess in the comments.

Google's Garden
in ur grdin... eetin ur vegeez.

What Motivates the Wine Shopper?
"the average oenophile can rejoice: 100 wines under $15 consistently outperformed their upscale cousins"

bio.display » and we can paint
Beneficial bacteria. Not just for breakfast anymore. A Hungarian friend experiments with luminescent lifeforms as a painting medium.

Lekváros fuckup (with marmalade)
Fun with translations!

All of Inflation’s Little Parts
Everybody loves an infographic. Note that we spend about as much on sodas as fresh veggies. No wonder we're obese.

xkcd on sporks
There's a secret in the mouseover...

Help the Honey Bees
More "virtue marketing"... Haagen Dazs encourages you to save the bees.

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5.12.2008

Foodlink Roundup: 04.14.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was, as surmised, in Bryant Park, Manhattan. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post a guess in the comments.

Cookie Monster: Is Me Really Monster?
McSweeney's takes a peek inside the mind of an addict.

Pacific Coast Salmon Fishing Shut Down
This year's low fish stocks mean bad news for salmon lovers.

This Is Just To Say
So long, and thanks for all the fish. One of my favorite food poems, re-imagined.

Ever Had a Nice Bottle of Greenpoint?
Garage bands, underground art scenes... and now, warehouse wine. (via WineHazard)

pintprice.com: the price of beer anywhere
A handy tool for comparing the true cost of living.

Carl Warner: Photographer
Click the orange box for the fantasy food photos. (Via MUG)

FoodFilmFest.com
Who knew there were enough films and docs on food justice to fill up an annual fest?

Aqua Ban at NY Hot Spots
Bottled water, is like, sooo last year...

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4.14.2008

FoodLink Roundup: 03.31.08

Link Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was dining at the Minnesota State Fair. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Think you know? Post it in the comments.

What Was Lost
A long-lost French grape is rediscovered 150 years later in a far-away land under an assumed name. Danger! Intrigue! (via WineHazard.com)

Italy roiled by a cheese scare
Not the cheese, Gromit!

Diet pill’s icky side effects keep users honest
So it's come to this...

TeaMap: Tea Room Directory
Looking for tea while you roam? Look no further!

Skipping Breakfast and Packing on Pounds
More research news that really should come as no surprise: brekkie is the most important meal of the day.

Ten Tastiest Food Photography Tips
This piece presents really silly copy, but the tips are good advice whether you're a full-on food blogger or just a food fanatic.

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3.31.2008

FoodLink Roundup: 03.10.08

Cupcake Roundup
Last week, Cupcake was romping through Sabino Canyon near Tucson, Arizona. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post in the comments if you think you know...

The Psychology Of Commerce
A quick lesson in commodity exchange... demonstrated with the aid of vegetables and chickens.

Free the Grapes!
Wine lovers unite to do battle against the evil forces of distribution blue laws (via WineHazard)

A Brief History of Chocolate
"Who would have thought, looking at this, that you can eat it?"

Self-control consumes real energy
Why your deprivation dieting plans fail every time...

Thomas Heatherwick East Beach Cafe
The most expensive chippy you've ever seen. Hope those chips are tasty.

Coffee Prices Skyrocket
Horrors! Time to stockpile those vacuum packs.

Chinese Food: America's National Cuisine
Exploring the march of the ubiquitous "Chinese" restaurant across America.

Make Coca-Cola at home
DIY Coke... A great skill to have after the apocalypse.

Honibe Honey Drop
Solid honey drops. A nifty innovation for tea-drinking travelers. (via
The Food Section)

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3.10.2008

Bottle and brew for the bird (and you)

If you're reading this in the US, you're very likely celebrating Thanksgiving with a turkey. If you've heard this tune before, you may have noticed by now that the turkey can be a tricky dance partner.

When the breast meat is done, the legs are overcooked. When the legs are perfect, the breast is raw.*

A whole turkey takes up most of the oven for most of the day, leaving little room for side dishes or desserts.

And how are you going to raise a toast when the light meat is clearly calling out for something crisp and light and the dark meat demands something big and juicy?

I might not be able to help you out much with a crowded oven (though you could consider making the pie the day before and doing the sides on the stovetop), I will add my voice to the masses recommending beverage pairings for your feast.

turkey

Some people just split the light/dark difference by bringing a juicy Beaujolais Nouveau to the feast, but why not pick up a nice rosé or cava for the light bits and a berry-filled red for the dark? The flavonoids provide good antioxidant effects, right?

Here's a few tasty bottles (in a wide price range) I've recently sampled. Everything's drinkable with or without food, the reds are bold with berries, and the bubbly is slightly sweet and simply fun to drink.

Cave d'Ige Bourgogne Rouge $15
Flying Fish Merlot 2005 $12
Villadoro Montepulciano $9
Fattoria di Lucignano Chianti $15
Bodegas Muga Rioja Reserve $27
Oriel "Hugo" Russian River Valley Zinfandel $32
Goyette Cabernet $24
Invictus Cabernet $40

Beer makes a good choice for those who can't take the sulfites (and for brewheads, naturally). Personally, I'm wild for a bunch of the food-friendly Belgian brews, and both Goose Island and Brewery Ommegang domestically craft some very fine beers that would complement bird.

Those crazy folks at Beer Advocate also suggest recipes for actually cooking the whole Thanksgiving feast with beer. Ambitious.

However you choose to kick up your heels your Thursday, I bid you bountiful good cheer and a boisterous bon appétit from over here at Chez Ginsu.

*Some people try to solve this issue by chilling the breast meat with ice packs before cooking it or keeping the breasts covered with foil during baking. I think just butterflying (splitting across the front and cooking flat) the bird solves the breast/thigh issue pretty neatly.

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11.20.2007

Food Quote Friday: Nikos Kazantzakis

Tapas at La Bodegueta in Barcelona
Tapas at La Bodegueta in Barcelona from MissGinsu @ Flickr

"How simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness, is a simple heart."

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) from Zorba the Greek

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2.23.2007

A sweet moment in airport security

Okay... raise your tiny fist if you've had something taken from you at the airport gate.

Yeah, me too. My water bottles, tweezers and little red Swiss Army Knives have all made it into the TSA refuse pile.

Fellow foodies returning from far-flung feasts (the recent AAA estimate put this year's holiday travel number at 37.2 million Americans traveling 50 or more miles from home) should appreciate this delicious moment relayed from the rim of the shiny silver TSA arch.

Forwarded-From: Ted
Subject: Sweet moment in airport security

Last week I went through security at Newark. I had just put my carry-on, pocket stuff, laptop and shoes on the belt and was standing in stocking feet waiting to go through the metal detection arch. A dozen people were in line for the arch ahead of me.

I looked down. There was a bin full of discarded bottles. Most, but not all, were plastic.

I espied a long, thin bottle of dark fluid. "Tawny Port," it said, "20 years old." Unopened.

I picked it up. Nobody cared.

I opened the plastic. Nobody cared.

I uncorked it. Nobody cared.

I took a fine, heady draught of very very nice port.

Other passengers were curious but declined to share it with me.

Regretfully I put it back in the bin and strode through the arch, feeling for once that I had not been violated, but elevated, by the Security Experience.

Cheers, T

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11.26.2006

Food Quote Friday: Homer

"Then all day long until sunset we sat dining on a bounty of meat and fine wine, and then we went to sleep on the beach."

-Homer (circa 8th Century BC) in the Odyssey

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10.13.2006