Tag Archives: Summer

Classy Ladies

That is one giant shaker of Old Bay, but we're not complaining

In addition to my incredible birthday lunch, I was treated to an equally delicious birthday dinner. I got an e-mail a few weeks ago about a special deal at Choptank in Manhattan from Tasting Table (on a side note, if you live in New York and you don’t get these e-mails, you are SERIOUSLY missing out). For $36 you get half a dozen crabs and a growler of beer. I said, a GROWLER of beer. That’s a half gallon, people. One half gallon of beer.

Please don’t judge me.

Anyway, I knew this was what I wanted for my birthday. When the waitress laid out the newspaper, handed us little wooden hammers, and set down a roll of paper towels, I knew I made the right choice.

They pour those crabs out on the table in front of you from a paper bag! Love it.

Choptank 308 Bleecker Street between Grove Street and Barrow Street, New York, NY. Choptank is named after the Choptank River in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay. The food is mid-Atlantic inspired and seafood-centric, and just down-home enough to make me want to go back again and again.

On the menu:
Homemade potato chips with Old Bay, served with crab dip (a free starter!)
Middleneck Clams with garlic Butter, herbs, and country toast
Tasting Table special: 6 crabs plus a growler of Lionshead Deluxe Pilsner, served with red potatoes and fresh corn
Thousand layer cake with fudge frosting
Hamburger cookies with frosting and vanilla ice cream

Thousand layer cake

Verdict: The clams! The clams! Oh lord, the clams! The crabs were a lot of work (a LOT of work) and not really worth the effort, but oh man, the clams. I could’ve eaten three dozen. They were served in a steam pot full of melted butter with just a pinch of red pepper flakes and a hint of garlic. Becca and I both agreed we’d like to pour that sauce on everything from steak to cardboard. It was that good. Choptank gets its seafood from a New York fish market, but their baked goods are imported: the cake from a local bakery, and the cookies are delivered straight from Maryland where hamburger cookies are a local specialty.

Hamburger cookies - essentially black and white cookies but amaaaaazing

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It’s Greek to Me

The heat has been making headlines all over the place here in New York City, and as I mentioned before, it makes me want to stay far out of the kitchen (i.e. the only room in the apartment without a fan or AC unit). But I’m hungry, people. And I miss cooking. I miss it a lot.

So tonight I recreated one of my favorite, most basic dishes from Aladdin’s Natural Eatery in lovely Rochester, NY with very minimal prep and stove time. It’s a twist on traditional souvlaki but it was delicious and gave me enough leftovers for two extra meals. TAKE THAT OPPRESSIVE HEAT! I’m still eating. Can’t nobody hold me down.

On the menu:
Steak souvlaki salad
Serves 3

1 lb flank steak
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp canola oil
4 oz feta cheese
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp dry white wine
4 cups mixed greens (I used a bag of ready-made salad)

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over high heat, until you can see slight heat ripples in the oil. Season steak liberally on each side with plenty of salt and pepper. Don’t be shy now! Seriously. Coat it. Sear steak for 2 minutes on each side. Lower heat to medium and cook steak for 5 minutes on each side. Remove from heat. Let rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing into bite size pieces.

In the same skillet you cooked the steak in, add the wine and turn heat to low/medium. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the brown bits. Add onions and coat in the wine sauce. Let cook for around 6-8 minutes, or until onions have softened and the wine has cooked down.

Plate salad, place steak on top of lettuce, and crumble feta cheese over top. Lay onions on top. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and pour on top of the salad. Serve immediately.

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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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Filed under Miscellaneous

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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Filed under Cooking, Heritage, Recipes

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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Filed under Cooking, Recipes

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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Filed under Cooking, Recipes

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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Filed under Miscellaneous