Tag Archives: Summer

Vegetarian Week: Peach, Tomato, and Corn Salad with Feta


Prepare yourselves: this salad is a hit. I know, you’re like, “Seriously? An exciting salad?” But in the dead of summer, when fruit is at its ripest and heat is at its hottest and your pits are at their sweatiest (no? just me?), you want something cool and refreshing even if you’re sittin’ pretty in Arctic/office air conditioning. This salad is it. When I served it to my parents my dad said, “What made you think this would all go together?” But truthfully, the geniuses over at WSJ thought this would go together. And I trust them.

On the menu:
Peach, tomato, and corn salad with feta
Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe from Wall Street Journal

3 ripe, sweet tomatoes
3 ripe (but still semi-firm) peaches
2 ears corn, shucked and boiled, kernels cut off
1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cut tomatoes and peaches into wedges of equal size. In a large bowl, add tomatoes, peaches, corn kernels, onion, and olive oil and toss until combined and coated. Plate salad. Crumble feta over the top. Serve any remaining feta on the side.

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Rainbow Cake

“I want a cake that looks like a watermelon and is rainbow colors on the inside.” If you’re part of my group of friends, this request doesn’t surprise you. I was happy to hear it and happy to make it. Friends, I give you… the rainbow watermelon cake. Happy Birthday, Becca!

On the menu:
Rainbow watermelon cake
Serves 12 – 14

Cake:
2 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
4 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
Red, yellow, and blue food coloring

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add in egg yolks one at a time. Add vanilla.

Sift together flour and baking powder. Mix into the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Add milk until mixture is blended.

In a small bowl, beat together your egg whites until light and fluffy and soft peaks form. Fold egg whites into the cake batter.

You can totally end the recipe here, fill 2 greased 8-in round cake pans, bake for 30 – 40 minutes, and have a beautiful white cake. OR… you can do what I did.

Separate batter, cup by cup, into six small bowls of equal size. Add food coloring as follows: 8 drops of red [red]; 8 drops of blue [blue]; 8 drops of yellow [yellow]; 4 drops of red and 4 drops of blue [violet]; 4 drops of red and 4 drops of yellow [orange]; 4 drops of blue and 4 drops of yellow [green]

Mix together each color with a separate spoon. Into a greased 8-in round baking pan, pour the first color. Tap the baking sheet until the batter has spread to an even height all the way around. Pour the second color on top of that and tap again until the batter spreads (you may have to coax it with a rubber spatula but VERY gently so you don’t mix the colors!). Pour the third color on top of that and tap again. In the second 8-in round baking pan, repeat the pouring steps with your last 3 colors.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until you press the cake and it springs back to shape. Allow the cakes to cool completely on a cooking rack before frosting.

Buttercream frosting:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips

Beat together the sugar and butter until blended. Add vanilla. Add milk bit by bit until you reach the desired consistency.

For watermelon decoration: split the frosting up into 3 bowls. Leave 3/4 cup white. 1/2 cup dyed red. Remaining frosting dyed green. Spread 1/2 of the white frosting on first cake layer and then top with second layer. Once your cakes are stacked, frost the outside with the green. Use your red frosting to make a frosting circle on the top layer, leaving 1/2 inch around the perimeter.

Using a pastry bag, create a green circle on the perimeter of the cake (like a little frosting fence). On the interior of the green, use a separate pastry bag and your remaining white frosting to make a white circle (this is the rind of the watermelon). Use the chocolate chips to make the “seeds.”

Seriously, if anyone just followed all those directions… props to you. Props. To. You. ENJOY!

*Note: this is not your standard fluffy boxed cake. It’s a bit on the dense side, but the flavor is unbeatable. It’s not overly sweet but hits the cake-craving spot, and is the perfect vehicle for super sweet buttercream frosting. Drool…

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Indonesian Food Bazaar

A vegetarian patty from the food bazaar in 2010

I have BIG news! Two years ago I went to an incredible Indonesian Food Bazaar in Astoria and ate myself silly off of some of the most delectable Indonesian food ever made, for a handful of singles. The mosque that hosts this bazaar is not really all that great about promoting the food bazaar so for two years I forgot to check back to their website to find out where the next one was. Well, today, by stroke of luck and maybe the phases of the moon, I remembered. Lo and behold… it is this Sunday.

So if you need something to do this Sunday June 17th from 10AM – 4PM head over to Masjid Al-Hikmah at 31st Avenue and 48th Street in Astoria, Queens for an endless treasure trove of delicious eats. And don’t forget that it’s Father’s Day, so if your dad is an adventurous eater, this might be the perfect gift.

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Vegan Summer Shop-Up!

Hi kids! I know, I’m posting on a Saturday. It’s bedlam.

If you’re a vegan you know how tough it can be to enjoy food like a regular ol’ meat eating human. While I don’t quite understand why anyone would give up juicy cheeseburgers, chicken soup, crispy sausage, succulent pork shoulder…

Ahem.

Sorry.

… I CAN understand the affinity for delicious vegan baked goods! I am telling you, these are some of the most delicious baked goods you will ever have. I can’t explain why they taste so perfect, but they do. This Sunday, June 10, The Vegan Summer Shop-Up opens in Bushwick, Brooklyn, featuring all vegan eats. My friend Tommy will be there with his incredible baked goods for sale. Don’t miss out!

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Mediterranean Chicken Salad

I love to cook (…duh) but sometimes weeknight meals feel like a chore to come up with. The BF and I do our weekly grocery shopping on Sundays and sometimes I just can’t think past Sunday night as far as meals go. “Are you sick of penne vodka?” I always ask, staring down at the shopping list with the same twenty items as last week and the week before.

If you’re like me, and you often run out of ideas, there’s a savior: Epicurious Weekday Meal Planner. It’s literally a meal for every night of the week. Not just an entree, not just a soup or a sandwich, a whole meal: salad, entree, and even a dessert suggestion. Epicurious even offers up suggestions on what to do with leftovers (for example, 2 cups of rice made on Monday could serve as the base for Tuesday’s soup). And the best part? Most meals are working-girl/guy friendly. You won’t find any four-hour-long roasting menus or Thanksgiving-sized turkey dinners. If you’re ever stuck for a meal idea, you gotta check it out.

The below meal comes straight from Epicurious’ Weekday Meal Planner and it exceeded my expectations. And I love that it makes enough leftovers for my lunch tomorrow and The BF’s dinner on Thursday.

On the menu:
Mediterranean chicken salad
Serves 5
Adapted from Epicurious.com 

4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked, diced chicken

1 cup orzo
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 6-oz. jar of artichoke hearts, drained
2 Tbsp capers, drained
3 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cucumbers, diced

In a small bowl combined oil, vinegar, tarragon, lemon juice, and mustard, and whisk together until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the chicken with 1/4 cup dressing until coated.

Cook orzo as directed and once drained, toss cooked orzo with the remainder of the dressing. Add chicken to the orzo, then add the cranberries, artichoke hearts, and capers.* Plate mixed greens and then chicken salad on top of the greens. Add tomatoes and cucumbers on the side (or on top if the mood strikes you).

*This salad is “supposed” to be served cold (I don’t really do a lot of things I’m supposed to when it comes to cooking) but I looooved the flavor of the balsamic vinegar when the chicken and orzo warmed it up, so feel free to serve it warm or at room temperature.

Note: I warmed up some naan and served it alongside the salad. It was the cherry on the sundae… and yes. Afterward I ate a sundae.

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The Great Googa Mooga: An Opinion Piece


Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention please. This is an opinion piece. It might offend some of you and you might take it as my bitterness, or my negativity, or my cynicism. But I think it’s my job as a food writer to give you honesty, and this piece is just one little bit of one person’s opinion. I’m giving you that warning in case you don’t want to read on. I’ll have a nice, safe, happy restaurant post later in the week to get you settled back into the rosy Food E. you have come to know and love. Stop laughing, mom.

I found out I’d be attending The Great Googa Mooga Festival on a two day press pass. I looked over the schedule and decided that since the food vendors were the same both days, and I already had plans to eat lobster rolls on Saturday night, I’d skip out on Saturday and attend the festival on Sunday only. I’m glad I did. I read endless Facebook and Twitter posts about how unbelievably crowded it was on Saturday, how long the lines were, and how most vendors ran out of food by 3pm (Eater has a great roundup of angry Tweets here). This boggles my mind, since although admission was free, you had to register for tickets in advance and the event sold out. If the event staff knew how many people would be attending, how is it possible that they didn’t have enough food? The world may never know.

I left my apartment in Astoria at 11am, preparing to arrive at the festival at noon to catch a press conference at 12:15. Cut to me at 12:30, wandering around Prospect Park trying to find the media check-in tent. A few signs scattered around the park pointing people to various check-in points would’ve been a God send, as I overheard more than one person asking uninformed security, “Where do I go if I’m a volunteer?”

By the time I checked in and got my wristband, I was starving and thirsty. I entered the festival expecting super long lines, but to my surprise, there were none. That’s right. No. Lines. I was right in front of a beer tent so obviously my first purchase was alcoholic. I paid $7 for a Blue Moon – a bit steep, even for New York prices, but compared to the $12 beers at baseball games in the city it wasn’t that heart stopping. Besides, I’m not one of those people who likes to get hammered in the middle of the day just for the sake of getting hammered; I wanted a cold beer to add to the enjoyment of the day, not eight beers so I could throw up in front of hoards of people like one girl did (I’m not kidding… I read about it. Thank God I didn’t have to see it).

A Blue Moon and an iced coffee from Third Rail

In deciding where to eat, I figured I needed a strategy. I ran through the list of food vendors on the Googa Mooga map and immediately ruled out a few – I didn’t want to eat anywhere I’d already been (via food cart, festival vendor, or actual brick and mortar restaurant); I didn’t want to eat somewhere just because the place or the dish was trendy (this ruled out M. Wells’ horse bologna grilled cheese, and Do or Dine’s foie gras donuts… that’s right… I turned down a donut); and I didn’t want to eat anything that seemed boring (this eliminated dishes like pulled pork sandwiches and fried cheesecake balls).

My first food purchase fit all the criteria: a wild boar sloppy joe from Georgia’s East Side BBQ. I’ve definitely never had wild boar in any form, and I had never even heard of Georgia’s. If that sandwich is any indication of what the food at their restaurant is like, I’ll be a regular in two months flat. There wasn’t a single person in line and the meat was piping hot and only $7 for a giant meal (I should note that most dishes at the festival fell in the $7 – $10 range). The sandwich had the spicy, sweet flavor you associate with sloppy joes but with an added crunch from chopped onions and a hearty, slightly gamey flavor from the wild boar (I should also note that this sandwich is not on their regular menu, and that won me over, too: a dish prepared specially for the event). As I sat in a grassy field watching the Air Guitar Champion pretend to be a heavy metal superstar on the stage in front of me, soaking up the sun, sipping my cold beer, noshing on a saucy sandwich… I had to admit that Googa Mooga had already won me over.

Wild Boar Sloppy Joe from Georgia’s

I ate the entire sandwich, loose bits of fallen meat included (don’t worry, I wore a patterned outfit so no one would see the food stains), and ventured on to another area of the park for my next bite. I stumbled across the Coffee Experience sponsored by Lexus (which meant that in true Brooklyn, hippie festival style you could… sit in a luxury car?) and got myself a freshly brewed iced coffee, brought to festival goers from Third Rail coffee in New York.

I took a lap around the food vendors to check out which dishes were being offered, and shortly thereafter got in line at Red Rooster Harlem. I knew of the restaurant as famous chef Marcus Samuelsson’s spot featuring soul food with an Ethiopian twist. The line was comparatively long (I waited for around 10 minutes, a good indication of how sparse the crowd was around 1pm), no doubt owing to the chef’s celebrity status.

Each booth at the festival had only one or two offerings, and Red Rooster Harlem’s signature dish was one of the most notable and generous: Berbere chicken with macaroni and greens and cornbread. You could get the “small” plate (2 pieces of chicken, ½ cup mac and greens, one piece of cornbread) for $7, or the large plate with bigger helpings of each for $11. The small was perfect for me because I’m not a huge eater (again… stop laughing, mom) but the food was so incredibly delicious, I almost forced myself to finish it. The chicken was juicy with a spicy, crispy skin coated in Berbere: an Ethiopian spice blend. The mac and greens were cheesy, a bit crunchy, and perfectly salted. The corn bread? A little Madeleine-shaped corn cake with Indian spices baked in. The dish was the standout of the festival, and it’s on the menu at the restaurant up in Harlem.

Berbere chicken, mac and greens, and cornbread from Red Rooster Harlem

At this point, I knew I was done with main dishes and I wanted something sweet. I saw a mention on Twitter of maple cotton candy, and the Adirondack girl in me begged for it. I found the cotton candy stand and forked over 5 bucks for the sweet treat… that’s right, $5. It was by far the most outrageously priced thing I paid for, but I have to admit, I’m glad I got it. It was delicious. And anyone who can make cotton candy feel gourmet is alright in my book. The dish was prepared by Liddabit Sweets.

Maple cotton candy with a pretzel rod from Liddabit Sweets

I had one more dish in me, and from the looks of the crowd, it was a good time to get going. As the clock neared 2:30PM the crowds were noticeably larger and the lines were visibly longer. My jaw dropped when I saw the nearly 100 people in line for Luke’s Lobster Rolls (side note, people: Luke’s Lobster Truck is everywhere and they even have a stand alone restaurant in Manhattan… you could’ve walked there and back in the time you waited in line). I kept seeing people with frosty ice cream covered in fruit and I was practically dying for it. Wooly’s ice was right next to Big Gay Ice Cream – I had to make a decision. I’d always wanted to try Big Gay Ice Cream but figured, they attend a lot of festivals, they have a truck, and a shop; there would be plenty of future opportunities for me to eat there. Wooly’s it was. I’m glad I picked Wooly’s because after 5 minutes of waiting in line, Big Gay Ice Cream announced they were out of… ice cream. That’s right, at 2:30PM, with five hours left to go in the festival, they were out of ice cream. All this on a day that wasn’t nearly as crowded as the day before.

Mango Tango shaved ice from Wooly’s

I got my cup of ice (which I realized was literally a cup of shaved ice with strawberry syrup and chunks of fruit) and happily exited the park as hoards of people were entering. I was lightly sunburned, pleasantly full, and ready for a nap.

Overall, the festival was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon, but I have to say: if you wanted to really soak up the experience (rubbing elbows with celebrity chefs, dancing at the Big Gay Ice Cream disco party, sitting even remotely close to the big music stage, and catching even a glimpse of Anthony Bourdain) you had to fork over $250 for the VIP Extra Mooga package. I understand that to a lot of people $250 is not a huge expense and for all the extras included it might be worth it. But to me, it added an exclusive element to a festival that felt otherwise very communal. Food lovers filled the park talking about the multitude of offerings, speaking intelligibly about chefs and ingredients, and yet there was a velvet rope cordoning off those chefs and keeping the full experience at arm’s length. We were forced to watch from the other side as the “big names” hung out in some kind of elitist gang while we waited in hour-long lines for just a taste of what those big names’ culinary genius had to offer. I wanted to eat at Red Rooster Harlem but I also hoped that Marcus Samuelsson might be slinging chicken for an hour or so with his staff. I was happy to see a sausage making demonstration at the Just Food tent but how cool and grass roots would it have been to have Anthony Bourdain cranking the meat grinder handle? The well-known chefs were the ones who conceived the event, and yet their company was only available to the big spenders. It was a festival in two tiers: the everyman and the elitist. And to me, that’s just not what food is about.

I’ll probably attend Googa Mooga again next year, but I’ll show up at 11AM and I’ll bring ripe tomatoes to chuck across that velvet rope.

Oh… and Coolio was there, promoting Cookin’ with Coolio and Soul Rolls. I don’t actually know what either of those are.

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Avocado Shrimp Salad

Did you ever have one of those days where you’re a food blogger and you make something really delicious and then you and your dinner guests devour it and you realize you forgot to take a picture of it? Don’t you just hate when that happens? I made this dish, and was so super proud of it, and as I was cleaning the plates off The BF said, “You forgot to take a picture… huh?” Rest assured, friends, this dish is beautiful and tastes just as good. You won’t regret making it. Pinky promise.

On the menu:
Avocado shrimp salad
Serves 4 

3 Tbsp red onion, diced
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned and tails removed, cooked and diced
2 avocados, ripened
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

Combine red onion, cilantro, shrimp, lime juice, and salt in a plastic bowl.

Cut avocados in half, careful to keep the skin intact. Remove pit. Scrape out the flesh, leaving a thin layer of flesh on the skin. Mix the avocado insides with the rest of the fillings, careful not to mash it too much [the salad is better if you leave the avocado a little chunky].

Divide the sprouts up between the 4 avocado shells and then fill each shell with 1/4 of the salad. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

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