Tag Archives: Summer

Right in Your Own Backyard

Living in New York City, the closest most of us come to growing our own food is a box on our fire escape with some basil or tomatoes. However, if you’re like me and you’re luckier than a leprechaun riding a unicorn through a field of four leaf clovers, you have a neighbor and friend who has a fig tree AND a peach tree in her backyard. It’s like Eden over there.

On the menu:
Grilled chicken over corn puree with fig relish
Serves 2

Fig Relish:

1 cup fresh figs*, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 shallot, minced
1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
2 tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine vinegar, shallot, and rosemary in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Add figs and honey to vinegar mixture, fold in, set aside.

Corn puree:

1/2 cup corn (thawed frozen corn works, but nothing beats fresh summer corn cut off of the cob)
1 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, add garlic and sautee until garlic is browned. Add corn and sautee for 4-5 minutes. Add heavy cream and increase heat. Stir and cook until the liquid has reduced and the cream coats the corn. Let this mixture cool, and then blend until smooth in a food processor.

Pound 2 chicken breasts flat, season with salt and pepper, and then grill, either on an actual grill or in a frying pan for 6-7 minutes on either side. To plate, pour the corn puree onto a plate, place chicken breast on the corn, and top with the fig relish.

*Note: it is not quite fig season yet (usually end of summer, early fall) but dates would also work in this dish, or red plums. You could use dried figs but you’ll get a very different texture and flavor. Still delicious but… different.

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

I Love ’em All

Pancakes, that is. I. Love. Pancakes. Is it a simple batter? Can it be flipped using a spatula and a griddle? Is it flat and round? I will eat it, sir.

To celebrate the early acquisition of a highly coveted new cookbook, I picked a pancake recipe and hopped to. Amanda Hesser’s upcoming The Essential New York Times Cookbook is everything you could ever want from food in the New York Times. She has pulled recipes from literally every decade of the Times’ recipe section’s existence, tried the recipes out, and offered up her suggestions for making them delicious in the present day. I freaking love this cookbook. And I ESPECIALLY love the hilarious but still tempting recipes from the 1970s and 80s, most of which involve pickling and weird methods of serving eggs. This is the stuff, people. This. Is. The. Stuff.

On the menu:
Fresh corn griddle cakes with parmesan and chives
Serves 4-6
Adapted from Amanda Hesser’s version of Jack Bishop’s “If Corn’s Off the Cob, Use Your Imagination” from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, published by W. W. Norton, available in October 2010

4 medium ears corn, shucked
1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp chives, snipped
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Working over a large bowl, grate the corn on the large holes of a box grater until the cobs are clean; discard the cobs. Add the egg, flour, cheese, chives, salt, and pepper to the corn. Stir until the batter is smooth. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper as needed.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Scoop up 1/4 cup of the thick batter and scrape it into the skillet, smoothing the mound to a flat pancake for cooking. Cook each pancake for 6 minutes on each side for best results (you want each cake crispy on the outside and cooked all the way through, unlike a traditional pancake that is more delicate).

Et voila! Crispy corn cakes that you can serve with virtually any meal. They would be lovely in a bread basket on the table at dinner with roast chicken and mashed potatoes, or warmed in the toaster with a pat of butter and maybe a little mango salsa over top. I was also thinking these would be phenomenal in place of an English muffin in Eggs Benedict. But then again… I am literally always thinking of Eggs Benedict.

Please don’t judge me.

Bon weekend!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Beet It

I know, I know… I am SO punny. No one has ever made this joke before. Anyway.

Photo c/o BlogHer.com

Beets! They are beautiful in color and phenomenal in texture. If you’ve ever had a bad borsht experience, maybe you’re scared of them. As a kid I vividly remember frozen Tupperware full of hot pink soup and I never, EVER wanted to taste that terrifying liquid. But I have moved on. Grown up. You know.

Most beets are boiled, broiled, sauteed, or roasted and while they are delicious cooked up, they are also phenomenal raw. Just be aware: your hands will turn a lovely shade of magenta if you work with them bare-skinned.

On the menu:
Raw beet salad (Adapted from Mark Bittman’s Raw Beet Salad)

1 pound beets
1/2 pound carrots
1 tsp spicy whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel beets and carrots, and then use a potato peeler to shave them into long strips. Mince the shallot and add to beets and carrots. Toss with mustard, olive oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Chill before serving.

*Please note: due to technical difficulties (seriously, the story of my life this week) the picture above is not of the crispy, tangy salad I myself created and enjoyed. Using my recipe above, your salad will be “earthier” looking than the one in the picture. Go with it, friends.

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes

A Fish of a Different Color

Lately I’ve been feeling a little… chunky. Not like sophomore year of college where I literally had to buy a new pair of pants whilst working at the mall because the pair I was wearing was cutting off my circulation, but… chunky. It’s bathing suit season, you know? Time to lay off the extra mayo and pancake appetizers at brunch. Forget I just indulged in all-you-can-eat gnocchi. It never happened.

It is in the spirit of lighter options that I experimented with tuna and planned a weekday lunch for myself that won’t lead to high cholesterol at the young age of twenty-COUGH.

On the menu:
Mediterranean tuna salad
Serves 2

1 can of albacore tuna in water (or 1/2 cup tuna steak, roughly chopped)
2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked according to directions on box (I used elbow macaroni, but you can use any little chunky pasta)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THESE DIRECTIONS THEY ARE VERY VERY COMPLICATED: Toss pasta with olive oil. Add tuna. Add fruit. Add cheese. Add zest. Add salt and pepper. Toss. Eat. Feel healthy. Be happy.

I like this in a bowl with a fork, but you could easily put this on some toasted Italian bread, or melted between two pieces of flat bread with the chunks of mozzarella binding it together. But, as I mentioned, I’m trying to fit into last year’s summer wardrobe and extraneous bread ain’t gonna help me there.

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Sun(ny)day Sun(ny)day Sun(ny)day!

Thank god the season of cheesy pasta is over. Seriously, my waistline couldn’t handle it anymore. Now that the sun is shining and the temperatures have warmed up, I feel like eating lighter. And nothing says summer to me like potato salad.

This very basic potato salad is easy to make, and even easier to eat a pound of. It’s light with a little kick from the celery seed. My friend Joe talks about this potato salad to this day, and he hasn’t eaten it since my mom made it for him in 2001. “My mom sends kisses!” I told him once. His reply: “Screw the kisses! Send the potato salad!”

On the menu:
Potato salad
Serves 4 as a side dish

4 medium sized potatoes (I used red potatoes, but you can use Idaho if you prefer)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp salt

Boil the potatoes whole for around 25 minutes, until you can stick a fork in them and it pulls out easily. Let the potatoes cool for around 15 minutes. Slice into chunks and mix in a bowl with mayo and ranch dressing. Add the celery seed and salt, and mix until incorporated. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Why go out for a hamburger when you’ve got steak at home?

This past weekend, I found myself completely caught up in the summer heat with an intense craving for some red meat. I wanted a freshly grilled burger or a sizzling steak or even a Zweigle’s hot dog with that delicious crispy skin you can only get from a charcoal grill. Nothing says summer to me like the smell of grilled meat. Well… maybe grilled meat followed by some ice cream.

On the menu:
Ribeye steak
Steamed broccoli with goat cheese and walnuts
Baked potato

While there is nothing very complicated about this meal, it’s a classic, it’s sure to please any meat eater, and it can be created in a quick thirty minutes.

Steak

Heat an oven-proof skillet to high heat with 1 Tbsp of canola oil
Season the ribeye with salt and pepper, and sear the meat for around 2 minutes on each side
Put the entire skillet in a 450 degree oven for around 6 minutes (if you’re making a thinner piece of meat, take the steak out after 4 or 5 minutes)
Let the meat rest for fifteen minutes after it comes out of the oven

*A few notes on steak:

  • In order for the steak to really hold in all the juices, the outside layer needs to sear. When you place your steak in the skillet, don’t move it around at all aside from the single flip.
  • Never cut your steak open immediately after it’s removed from the heat (or taken out of the oven). Meat contracts when it’s heated and all the juices run to the center. It needs at least 15 minutes after it’s been removed from heat (longer if it’s a big honking piece of meat) to relax and release and let the juices redistribute. If you cut a piece of steak straight off the heat, all the juices will run out onto your plate. And that ain’t cool.

Broccoli

Trim stalks off of the broccoli and cut into bite-sized pieces. Throw the pieces into a pan with an inch of water at the bottom. Turn the heat to medium and let the broccoli cook until the water is 99% gone. Plate broccoli and break up goat cheese over the top while it’s still hot enough to slightly melt the cheese. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.

And for dessert? Ice cream. And when your local grocer, has a sale on Ben & Jerry’s… well, it’s like fate made that decision for you, now didn’t it?

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking, Recipes

Brooklyn is Burning

In most areas of the country, brunch is the meal between typical breakfast and lunch hours. In New York City, brunch is an all-out weekend booze fest during which you are encouraged to eat breakfast food between the hours of 6AM and 5PM and drink “breakfast cocktails” to excess. Needless to say, it is my favorite meal of the week.

This weekend was the first ridiculously beautiful, sunny weekend in New York and I soaked it up to the fullest by traveling to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn where brunch is like a religion.

Cafe LULUc Located on Smith Street between Baltic Street and Butler Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. I can’t speak for Cafe LULUc in the winter, but in the warm spring and summer months, the front doors are completely open and the back patio is open, creating a sparkling sunny garden terrace vibe. Warm breeze and Latin music drifted through the cafe, the back tables on the patio surrounded a huge tree that sporadically and poetically dropped purple flowers from its branches, and the clientele is a mix of cool Brooklyn hipsters and gorgeous young families. I didn’t even mind all the babies in the vicinity of my table, and trust me… that’s saying something.

On the menu:
Eggs benedict, with french fries and a green salad
Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, with french fries and a green salad
Mimosas

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon

Verdict: Delightful. Eggs benedict is my go-to brunch dish and this did not disappoint. 9 out of 10 times when I order eggs benedict, the poached egg is borderline hard-cooked but these eggs were done PERFECTLY. The Hollandaise sauce was creamy and subtle, the accompanying french fries were thin and crispy, and the small side salad had a dreamy basil vinaigrette dressing that lightened everything up. The mimosas were $7 a piece, which seemed a little steep to me, but every meal on the menu was a bargain at under $10 so it all evened out. And after two “light on the orange juice” glasses of my most favorite breakfast cocktail combined with the steamy summer heat and a belly full of food, who cares how much they cost anyway? Not this girl. Not even a little.

I am also a fan of brunch because it’s technically lunch and after lunch you’re allowed to have dessert. So… I did.

Pistachio ice cream with bumblebee sprinkles

Sweet Melissa Cremerie, 276 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY. You know how sometimes when it’s hot out you eat your ice cream so fast (to keep it from melting, of course) that you can barely even taste it? No? Yeah, me neither. Anyway… this was delicious.

3 Comments

Filed under New York Restaurants