O’er the Fruited Plains…

Happy Independence Day, America! This post is totally un-food realted but I am currently stuffing my face with burgers and summer corn right now if it’s any consolation to you.

And please listen to this. It brings tears to my eyes every time.

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Butter Face

The title of this post was born out of this thought process: Dandelion greens, dandelions in my front yard, rubbing a dandelion on my chin, looking like I rubbed butter on my chin, butter face. A peek into my psyche, ladies and gentlemen. I know. Terrifying.

Anyway… I mentioned a few posts ago that my boss gave me a boat load of greens, including the now identified rainbow chard and dandelion greens. Should you come across dandelion greens at your local farmers’ market, do not let those little yellow petals deter you! This is a spicy, strong-tasting green and it is delicious. Below, a few suggestions on how to eat them:

With over-easy eggs on toast, with TONS of parmesan cheese and plenty of salt and pepper. [This is my take on Serious Pie’s Guanciale, Soft egg, and Arugula pizza: I swear it had dandelion greens in place of arugula when I ate it in January]

To liven up ANY sandwich. My boring ham and swiss on white bread was enlivened today with some crispy leaves of dandelion greens and a smear of spicy mustard.

In a salad with crisped up chunks of bacon (lardons, if you’re fancy… and I am) and vinaigrette.

Sauteed in a pan with a little garlic and some spicy sausage, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

The key to dandelion greens is that they have a very strong, sometimes acrid, flavor and they need additionally strong (but contrasting) flavors to make them work, i.e. ham and swiss, garlic, spicy sausage, etc.

Bon chance, mes petits choux!

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Malaysian Chicken Over Rice

Please note, this is the least appetizing picture I could've possibly taken of this dish - it was INCREDIBLE and I couldn't wait to stuff it in my face.

It’s always a good-eats weekend when Giuseppe is in town. He is such an incredible cook, and when you ask him for the recipe he almost can’t tell you because it’s all in his brain. I have oodles and oodles of respect for cooks that can just smell and taste when something is right. And oh man… was this right.

*Please note that this is a dish you HAVE to watch over, taste and smell. It takes some intuition! Just trust yourself.

On the menu:
Malaysian chicken over rice

6 chicken breasts
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup green onion (scallion or Asian), just the green part
2 cups broccoli, frozen or fresh
1/4 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp tamarind sauce
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Sriracha
1 cup light coconut milk
1/2 cup snow peas
1/2 cup carrots
2 Tbsp Asian basil
2 Tbsp lemon grass
Salt to taste
3 cups roasted basmati rice [you can buy this already roasted, or roast it yourself in the oven]

Cut raw chicken into strips and pat dry. In a very large pot (you’ll be making everything but the rice in one big pot) heat the sesame oil over medium/high heat and add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is very lightly browned. Lower the heat to medium. Add onions and cook for another 2 minutes. Add broccoli and cook until the broccoli has just turned bright green, around 2 – 3 minutes. Add peanut butter, tamarind sauce, ginger, and garlic and cook until incorporated with other ingredients, around 2 minutes. Add coconut milk. When the chicken is cooked through (test a piece to check for pink inside), add the snow peas, carrots, basil, and lemongrass. Stir well and let simmer until the basil and lemongrass are fragrant.

The rice will take about 45 minutes, so best to start it at the beginning of prep.

Serve the stew over the rice and watch the faces around your table light up with glee.

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My Italian Grandmother

My mother always tells me, “You had the only Italian grandmother who couldn’t cook.” Grandma Mel may have made more imitation-crab salads than meaty lasagnas, but she made one dish that I will never forget. And in this CONSTANT heat and humidity, my craving for it hit me like a Mack truck.

On the menu:
Rosa Marina Pasta Salad

1 lb of Rosa Marina or Orzo (I had to use Orzo because my local grocer doesn’t carry Rosa Marina)
1 small bag of shredded coconut
1 9 oz container of Cool Whip
2 eggs, beaten
2 large cans of crushed pineapple packed in 100% pineapple juice (no syrup!)
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup cherries, chopped (this recipe typically calls for maraschino cherries, but I had just bought fresh so I used them)
1 large can of mandarin oranges*
3/4 cup of sugar*

*I’m not sure if once again this was my local grocery or a trend in canned fruit, but I could only find mandarin oranges packed in light syrup instead of real fruit juice, which I HATE. Because I could only find the sugared oranges, I only added 1/2 cup of sugar. You really don’t need all that extra anyway.

Cook noodles according to package. Drain pineapple and oranges, but save juice.  In juice, cook eggs, sugar and flour until the mixture comes to a boil.  Let cool for 5 minutes and then pour over noodles. Cover and refrigerate over night. Next day, loosen mixture with spatula. Fold in chopped cherries, pineapple, oranges, coconut and Cool Whip. Mix well and chill. Eat in front of a fan with a glass of lemon water with a little Buona Fortuna by The Four Sicilians playing in the background…

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The Incredible, Edible…

You get it. Once again, this weekend was a scorcher. It’s forcing the cook in me to be creative and devise recipes and meals that don’t require my oven but are also innovative and appetizing enough to keep me from calling up Delivery.com. You know the feeling.

I dined on some INCREDIBLE Malaysian stew Sunday night for dinner, and will have that recipe for you tomorrow. In an effort to start your weekend off right (and drooling) this is a quick meal I whipped up sans oven and in two lovely little pans. It’s incredibly basic, and you’ll notice my fridge staples in there: tomatoes, goat cheese, and walnuts. If I have them on hand, I never go hungry.

On the menu:
Scrambled eggs with tomatoes, goat cheese, and walnuts over fried potatoes

There is no magic recipe here, folks. One tip I will share with you is my recipe for the PERFECT scrambled eggs. You start with a clean non-stick frying pan, and spray a little cooking spray in the pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs with a little milk and about 2 Tbsp cheddar cheese. Pour the egg mixture in the frying pan, and turn heat to LOW. This is important. Keep the heat at low the entire time, constantly moving the eggs in the pan with a spatula. Once the eggs start to firm up (when almost all the liquid is gone) turn off the heat. NOTE: eggs continue to cook even after you remove them from the heat, so if you want them delicious and creamy, kill the heat just before they’re done.

Et voila! I fried up some potatoes in an adjacent frying pan, plated them, poured the scrambled eggs over top, and added my toppings. It’s attractive, satisfying, and it took me literally 15 minutes to make.

Tomorrow: Malaysian stew! Get ready. It’s gonna be good.

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The Sweet Stuff

This is a strange post. I will warn you straight off the bat. But I am so intrigued and impressed with what I managed to do with this unknown green, that I can’t help but post it ASAP. My boss, who participates in CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and receives more greens than she knows what to do with, brought me a bag of what she said were dandelion greens. I was all set to make a beautiful salad with the dandelion greens, but when I got the bag home and opened it up… I realized something. Those were absolutely not dandelion greens. It was a broad, dark green leaf with a yellow stem that looked and tasted like celery.

WTF, mate?! Does anyone know what this is? I’ve exhausted Google and I can not figure it out. I sampled the leaf, though, and created something beautiful (I am soooo humble, I know) that you should definitely try the next time you’re fed up with gross store-bought salad dressing.

On the menu:
Mystery greens salad with sweet onion dressing and goat cheese

4 cups “mystery greens” (are you totally annoyed with my lack of info on my own recipe? any bitter greens will work with this: arugula, dandelion greens, etc.)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 oz. goat cheese (or less… you guys know how I feel about cheese)

Roughly chop lettuce into bite sized pieces.

Heat olive oil over low heat. Add garlic and onion and cook for around 6-7 minutes, until they are fragrant and the liquid in the pan is a light purple color. Add honey and salt and mix well. Remove from heat. Whisk in balsamic vinegar. Plate the greens, pour warm dressing over greens, and crumble goat cheese over the dressing.

My plea to you, dear readers, is to find me the name of this lettuce! It is not dandelion greens. This much I know.

UPDATE: rainbow kale! Thank you to Joelle for filling me in. She also let me know that rainbow kale is not only lovely, but delicious thrown in a hot pan with a little cheese. Cheese, you say? Alright now.

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Everybody’s Screaming!

Today was hot. VERY hot. I drank some ice water, I ate a popsicle, I took a cold shower. And guess what? I am STILL. SO. FREAKING. HOT. And you know what is on my mind? I think you can guess.

Ice cream. There is no better cold weather treat. I thought, in lieu of cooking or eating or even moving from the whisper of a breeze that blows through my apartment window every hour, I would do an ice cream roundup. Yum.

Time Out New York did a roundup of what they think are the eight best ice cream sandwiches in the city. I have yet to taste any on their list, but I highly suggest you pick up a copy of the magazine, if only just to drool while you melt into a puddle in your air-conditionless apartment. No? Just me?

Did you know the month of July is National Ice Cream Month? Who cares if it’s true! It’s an excuse to eat ice cream like it’s going out of style. And for the month of July, chefs at Kimpton Hotels across the country are offering special ice cream dishes like vanilla bean gelato with caramelized popcorn and caramel sauce (New York, NY) and Pennsylvania sweet corn ice cream with elephant heart plum and ginger gelato (Philadelphia, PA). For more info on your local Kimpton Hotel and their cheapo ice cream deal check their website.

If you live in New York City, you will literally trip over the endless ice cream options offered in and around New York. Two of my favorites include the Donut Ice Cream Sandwich at Peter Pan Bakery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (vanilla ice cream sandwiched between a split red velvet donut, or cookies and cream ice cream sandwiched between a plain cake donut) and the pistachio ice cream at Sweet Melissa in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Ice cream! Way better than the Mr. Tasty blaring his abominable song on your street corner, and way more legal than taking a dip in the Lincoln Center fountain.

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