Thursday, May 29, 2008
Local Farming is an industry where the more we consume, the more the market grows! This is a renewable resource we should be proud of and support.
New York and the Tri-State Area produces great fruits, vegetables and meats and if it's good enough for the top chefs of many of the top restaurants in NYC ( and in the country) it's got to be great for you and me!
Please visit: http://www.cenyc.org/ to learn more about the Greenmarkets in your area. Many of them are open YEAR LONG but all of them open by June!
Here are the vegetables/fruits that are IN SEASON (not from Farmer's storage) that you should take advantage for the remaining week of May and all of June (according to www.cenyc.org/greenmarket/whatsavailable:
MAY & JUNE VEGGIES & FRUIT IN SEASON
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
It was loosely inspired by a Brunch Salad I used to get, back in the old Astoria hood, at Fatty's Cafe. I don't know what was in Fatty's special House Dressing (it was delicious) but I thought I remembered it with some tahini. So I substituted (gasp! store bought!) Lemon Tahini Dressing and it worked just fine.
SUMMER SALAD with SHRIMP & AVOCADO
*this makes 4 servings
1 packet of Mixed Greens
Cucumbers, Sliced (optional)
Grape Tomatoes (optional--I don't like these, but a lot of people do!)
2 Ripe Avocados
Salad Dressing (Recommended: Lemon Tahini Dressing from Whole Foods)
1 lb. of Peeled & Deveined Shrimp
Few Tablespoons of Peanut Oil
Salt & Pepper to Season Shrimp
A few pinches of Cayenne Pepper
2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
- To prepare Salad: Toss Mixed Greens with a couple Tablespoons of Dressing per Serving.
- Toss in Shredded Carrots, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, & both Avocados--which you have halved, removed pits, scored (create a checkerboard with your knife in the flesh while in the skin) and scoop out the cut flesh with a spoon so it falls in pieces.
- Set Salad in Fridge while you prepare the Shrimp.
- In a Bowl toss Shrimp with Peanut Oil, Juice from 1 Lemon, Salt & Pepper to Season, Minced Garlic and about 1/8 tsp of Cayenne--or in other words, just a few sprinklings/pinches.
- Toss to coat the Shrimp.
- In a Saute Pan set to Medium-High heat. Introduce the Shrimp with all the juice when the pan is hot.
- Saute (technically there is a lot of liquid here so you are sort of poaching the shrimp and sauteing) the shrimp until they are cooked all the way through--i.e. the tails are bright pink (with spots) and the shrimps have curled in on themselves very tightly.
- Allow the shrimp to cool a bit and then evenly distribute the shrimp per salad and enjoy!
This is a Sangria recipe from a couple of friends with, Pat & Carissa, who make an amazing Sangria--and lucky for us--their secret weapon was bona fide moonshine. But, not to fret, if one can not get a hold of this "illegal liqour" you can alwasy substitute with vodka, rum or brandy (just not all three). Our friend Laura re-created the recipe for her Memorial Day BBQ and, along with her (famous) Deviled Eggs (see post: You Can Devil My Eggs (That's What She Said)) created a BBQ spread to die for. As she said that night, this Sangria is just the right thing to start the night off right.
Note: Since you soak the fruit overnight in the liqour, the fruit will absorb alcohol--and it mainly absorbs the added liqour of choice--so this fruit is potent! This is not a fruit salad for the teatottler.
PAT & CARISSA'S SANGRIA
2 Liter Pitcher
2 Bottles of Wine (Grapey is Best: Purple Moon Shiraz from Trader Joe's is great, $3.99/bottle)
Fruit: Strawberries, Blueberries, Granny Smith Apple, Peach or Whatever but stay away from acidic or citrus fruits such as Oranges or Lemons
8 Shots of Liqour: Vodka, Rum or Brandy (Moonshine if you can get it!)
1 Tablespoon of Ground Cinnamon
3 Large Tablespoons of Honey
Ginger Ale, for Serving
- Cut fruit into small chunks and put in pitcher
- Add wine & liqour
- Take 1 cup of the mixture (sans fruit) and heat over low heat
- Heat the mixture of wine/liqour while adding all Cinnamon and Honey but do not boil!
- Stir over low to medium heat until Honey and Cinnamon both dissolve
- Slowly add the heated solution back to the rest of the wine/liqour
- Allow the wine/liqour & fruit soak overnight
- Serving Time: Spoon Fruit & Ice into serving glass. Pour Sangria to fill glass 1/2 to 3/4 full, then top remaining 1/2 to 1/4 of glass with Ginger Ale. Stir, Drink & Enjoy!
The other Deviled Egg was made by our friend, Laura, for her raging Memorial Day BBQ this past weekend. They were delicous! I asked her for the recipe and she gladly supplied it--so enjoy!
LAURA'S DEVILED EGGS
12-16 Hard Boiled Eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup Mayo
1/4 to 1/2 cup Dijon Mustard
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder (optional, but come on!)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Paprika for Garnish
- Halve boiled eggs (once they have thoroughly cooled) and carefully remove yolks.
- To make 24 deviled eggs, use the whites of 12 eggs and the yolks from 14 to 16 eggs--using more yolks than whites will allow you to relaly load the shells up with the good stuff)
- Choose a mayonnaise/mustard ration within the 1:1--2:1 depending on how spicy you are feeling. Laura made them mustard heavy and they were delish!
- Whip together yolks, a total of 1 cup mayonnaise/mustard mix, salt and pepper, cayenne and garlic powder.
- When the yolk filling is light and fluffy transfer it to an icing bag with a wide tip and pipe filling into individual egg white shells.
- Sprinkle with paprika to garnish (cayenne can also be used as a spicy garnish).
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
'Tis the season for Grilled Meats and Deviled Eggs. And here's the dish that I love to bring to any BBQ and it is ALWAYS a hit, no matter the demographic!
It all started with my friend's Mom's Taco Dip. She used to make it all the time for us, and then my friend started to make it and I had to get the recipe! I have since taken this to at least a handful of BBQs and it's always gone at the end.
*NOTE: Mama Havill's original Taco Dip was a bit different, I couldn't remember it exactly and compromised and made the recipe below. But she originally called for a can of green chillis to be mixed in with the beans (instead I mixed in Taco Sauce), then a thin layer of Taco Sauce, and also to sprinkle chopped tomoatoes on top (I am very picky about tomatoes).
This Memorial Day I made TWO lasagna-pan sized dishes full and they were both gone!
What's fabulous about this dip is that
1) it is served cold or at room temp (if you've just made it)
2) it's totally adaptable to your tastes (exchange tomatoes for olives for example) and
3) it does not require cooking
4) all you have to do is assemble the ingredients---I
actually bought all the ingredients in a grocery store in Boston and assembled both pans at our host's apartment using nothing more than 1 mixing bowl and 1 spoon!
*This recipe makes 2 13x9 inch pan's worth of tasty taco dip
2 Disposable 13x9ish Aluminum Pans (no mess clean up for your hosts)
2 cans of Refried Beans (I used Fat-Free, but any kind you like)
1 large can of Taco Sauce (I used Medium, but would have rather used Hot)
2 bags of Mexican Shredded Cheese or Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 large container + 1 small container of Sour Cream
1 Head of Iceburg Lettuce, Shredded
1 Large Bottle of Pickled Jalapenos
1 Medium to Large Bottle/Can of Slice, Pitted Black Olives
2 bags of Chips of your Choice for Dipping
- Prepare the Refried Beans: Mix 1 can of beans to 1/2 bottle of Taco Sauce. You might want to microwave the beans/sauce together for about 1 minute just to make it softer to mix. Do this 2x as you have 2 pans to fill!
- Evenly spread out the bean mixture on the bottom of the pans.
- Layer an equal amount of Sour Cream into both pans, on top of the beans. The 2 mixtures might mix a little, but do your best to maintain the 2 levels.
- Shred the Iceberg Lettuce and evenly distribute on top of sour cream & refried beans.
- Then distribute sprinkle the black olives over the lettuce, as much as desired.
- Then distribute the cheese, evenly (1 packet to 1 pan) over everything.
- Last but not least, place the pickled Jalapeno slices all over the top.
- Serve with Chips. Place the 2nd one in the fridge--guarantee they will both be gone!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I am not going to list the obvious like, spoons, plates, etc.
The first items below, in my opinion, are essential time-savers, money-savers, and gastronomical boosters. Things you would need to try any random recipe you find on the internet or on this blog! The 2nd set of items are things that are super convenient and very nice luxuries for cooks with bigger budgets and more counter-space than the average NYC apartment...also things that I wish I had and/or are saving up to buy!
THINGS YOU NEED
- A Set of Tupperware-like Storage Containers: these babies are essential to any new cook or person who wants to spend more time in the kitchen. More often than not, recipes make more than a meal's worth and you don't want that all that food and love going to waste. Get a variety of sizes, I wish I had 2 to 3 "casserole" size dishes, perhaps 2 medium sized ones, and at least 4 "one-portion-sized" containers so that you can bring your leftovers to work with you!
- Metal Kitchen Tongs w/ Comfy Grip: Consider these your kitchen hands! You can handle anything, from sauteeing veggies to removing hot pasta from the boiling pot to taste-test. These tongs make the cooking process easy and mess-free.
- Zester Grater: This is a specific Grater with a very fine cut that is used specfically for Lemon/Lime Zest, Parmesan Cheese & Cocunut. Now, this may sound like a luxury, but I can't tell you how many times I use this one! It was given as a gift and it is such an invaluable tool. I would be sad without it. And, you know, the secret to great fresh Basil Pesto is to add some Lemon Zest...
- Food Processor: Speaking of Basil Pesto--another kitchen must-have is a Food Processor. You don't need a huge one but a good size to make these everyday favorites--for cheap! Pesto, Olive Tapenade, Hummus. It's as easy as combining the ingredients and pressing the button. Literally. This is a no-brainer.
- Stand-Up Cheese Grater: Speaking of saving money--grocery stores jack up prices of pre-shredded cheese for the convenience saved--but why not just shred your own? It really doesn't require much energy and will save you up to $2 per cheese unit you buy. Get the Stand-Up kind, so that the cheese collects on the inside, the flat ones tend to be messier.
- Nice Wine-Opener: This is definately a must, not just because you may like to drink wine but because wine is a key ingredient is flavorful cooking from all regions of the world. You don't need that fancy rabbit-stuff either (very expensive), just a conventional Opener that has a good grip, I have a Good-Grips model and it's smooth like butter.
- 2 Saucepans: When it comes to the stove-top you'll find yourself using about 3 things all the time. 2 of the 3 are Saucepans or just pans. You need a big one for boiling full bags of pasta and making large soups but also a medium-sized when cooking sauces or cooking for one. You can get a tiny one--but I've seriously never used one. There may be some fancy French sauce that requires such a tiny pan, but I haven't run across that yet. Although, I confess, I do have a set of 4 Copper-Bottom Pans, but I swear I only use 2 of them!
- Non-Stick Frying Pan: You need one of these babies to do everything from stir-fry to cooking eggs in the morning. Now, I say non-stick because, it's easy to clean! The only time you'd need a non-stick, metal (hard to clean) Frying Pan is when you are searing meats and want the brown bits to stick down on the pan so that you can de-glaze them with wine later to make a sauce or jus. I mean, in reality, non-stick large Frying Pan is the way to go. But if you want to have an extra, smaller version that is non-stick, go ahead!
- Grill Pan: Especially for those living in the city--invest in this! You can grill shrimp with a little EVOO & Lemon or make grilled Asparagus and Peppers or grill up some Skirt Steak. And burgers! Such a great addition to any kitchen, although can be a bit expensive. I have the Le Crueset Small Red one and it works great!
- Chef's Knife: Can you believe the fact that you really only need ONE knife. YES 1 KNIFE!!! I mean, they say you can always use a Paring Knife, but more on that later. Please invest in a good German or Japanese Chef's Knife. So worth it. And please buy a guard for it (or a wooden block if you have the counterspace). You can send them to the company for free sharpening (at least Shun knifes). Test them out before you purchase. Wait for a sale. These puppies are about $160, but I got mine for about $100.
- Bread Knife: Oops, I lied. I forgot you need a bread knife, that is long and serrated to cut fresh loafs--these are not expensive however, just great to have around.
- Slow Cooker: Now your tupperware will come in handy! You'll be freezing up a storm! There are 2 quart, 4 quart and 6 quart Slow Cookers. I reasoned with myself to buy the 4 quart so that it would be easy to cook and have lots of left-overs to freeze for a rainy day--remember making a meal is costly but making a lot of one meal and then saving is cost-efficient absolutely. Slow Cookers are also money-savers b/c the slow method of cooking is best on tougher cuts of meat that are always less expensive! No filets here. Lots of pork shoulder and Beef Brisket--these babies turn the meats into succulent, melt in your mouth morsels, all while you're at work! Plus you can find them for like $20. You only need one that has a low & high setting.
- 2 Cutting Boards: You need 2 cutting boards. 1 plastic one for meats (and smelly things like onion & garlic) and 1 wooden one for breads and veggies. Try not to mix the two--NEVER PUT MEAT ON THE WOOD. gross! And--use Lemon Halfs (after they've been juiced) to rub on the boards whenever you have them to really get down into the cracks and clean them naturally.
- Strainer: Buy a sturdy metal (fun-colored ones are popular, mine is teal) stainer. Pasta, veggies, greens. Etc. Also make sure the holes are tiny enough! Nothing's worse than dropping fresh cooked pasta into a dirty sink! Yuck.
- Wooden Spoons: Buy a sturdy set of wooden spoons. Treat them right. No dishwashers & don't leave them soaking with other dirty dishes! I basically only use wooden utensils to cook, they're light and just feel right. Also, it's sort of like Mascara I hear, you have to replace them every few months.
- Soup Ladle: Makes serving your dinner-guests (and yourself) easier.
- Whisk: Not just a cheap one, but a nice one. There are cool ones that are weighted, it might be a little bit of luxury but it's something you'll use all the time so why not make sure it's ergonomic.
- Spice Rack: I am still missing one of these! And let me tell you, it is SO annoying to dig through all your spices to find the right one as you're cooking. Get one that goes across your wall so that you can see what you've got at once. So helpful. And pretty.
- Sturdy Mixing Bowl: Make sure you have one (or two) of these babies. The ones with the rubber bottoms are great for not moving on you. Plus you can use them to serve popcorn.
- Juicer/Reamer: I think these are called Reamers...but you know, something to help you juice those citrus fruits. I have a pretty ceramic one that is a bowl so the juice is immediately collected, very helpful. There are also hand-held metal/plastic versions.
- Electric Tea Kettle/French Press Coffe-Pot: Now, coffee and tea are very personal things--I like tea so my Electric Tea Kettle is invaluable. But it also comes in handy with some recipes that require boiling water (like cous cous). Now my boyfriend drinks coffee, so I've been thinking of buying French Press to go along with the Tea Kettle and take up less coutner space. But your preferences may be different. Just make sure your kitchen is suited to your caffienated beverage needs.
THINGS I WISH I HAD
- Meat Thermometer: I usually grill or saute my meats so I'm not a big roaster (or oven-user really) but I suppose I'd like to have a Meat Thermometer to get my Roasted Turkey juuuuuust right.
- Salad Spinner: These things were info-mercial fads but they have turned out to be invalubable for someone who loves to make Basil Pesto! Water is the enemy of pesto, but basil leaves are also very, very dirty. So you have to cleanse them thoroughly but also get them as dry as you can. Paper towels only go so far. This thing would help me out, but I can't justify the buy for just that use!
- Rice Cooker: I happen to cook rice frequently and have not really had that much of a problem with it (the secret is to keep it covered on the lowest possible heat as you can to prevent sticking) but a lot of people swear by their rice-makers. If you have the space, why the hell not?
- Paring Knife: Now when you buy the Chef's Knife people swear it's the only knife you'll need--EXCEPT for the bread knife and a paring knife--if you are a person who envisions yourself cutting roses out of radishes, this is your guy. I have a smaller, cheaper knife that I use for any of those occassions.
- Blender: For food purposes, the Food Processor will pretty much cut it, but if you're a fan of margaritas and pina coladas, this might be a good investment too.
- Coffe Grinder: True coffee-snobs grind their own beans.
- Roasting Pan: Something I probably should have but don't. Instead, I bought a slow-cooker...
- Decorative Cutting Board/Plate: We got a small bamboo cutting board as an Xmas present but we didn't really need it--BUT I find it extremely useful in laying out a nice appetizer/antipasto spread when guests come over! A few have commented on it!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
As I am neither Italian nor do I have a Grandmother who made Meatballs, I realized I had to get cracking to start my own tradition! I perused a few recipes and brought together ingredients for what I thought would make a great Sauce & Meatballs. This was my first experiment and it went pretty well!
I will continue to tweak and listen for little secrets to make a better Meatball and Sauce (do YOU have any?)--but if you're like me and want to try this for fun, this is a great way to start. I used ready-made Tomato Sauce (whatever I had in the cupboard) and whatever pasta I had lying around (Spinach Linguine).
**Since a heat debacle involving too much Cayenne Pepper recently, I did go a little light on the Red Pepper flakes--I think next time I will definately use more.
***I used the 3-meat Triangle for these meatballs. I forgot where I heard this but Pork, Beef & Veal are the standard in meat-ball making. But everyone has their own thing--if you don't like mixing meats or don't like one of the 3, leave it out and substitute whatever else you'd prefer. Before this point, I had made/eaten home-made Meatballs that were only beef.
K'S MEATBALLS & SAUCE
1/2 lb of ground Veal
1/2 lb of ground Pork
1/2 lb of ground Beef (90% lean is what I used, a lot of Fat in this recipe from elsewhere!)
1/2 cup of Grated Parmesan-Reggiano
1/2 cup of Italian Breadcrumbs
Palmful of Italian Seasoning
1 and 1/2 beaten Egg
Teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes
Grab of Fresh Italian Parsley
3 cloves Fresh Garlic
1 jar of Store-bought Sauce
1 cup of Full-bodied Red Wine (I used Cabernet from Chile, normally a Chianti would work but the San Giovese Grapes are too acidic for my stomach!)
2 cloves Garlic
Small palmful of Red Pepper Flakes
A little Garlic Powder
A little Italian Seasoning
1/4 cup of Grated Parmesan-Reggiano
- To get things started, first make your pasta. Make sure to make it according to the package directions, al dente (no mushy pasta here). When done cooking, make sure to rinse with cold water to prevent the pasta from cooking further. Set aside.
- While your pasta is boiling, get your meatball ingredients in order in a large bowl, everything but the meat itself. So add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan & 1/2 cup of Breadcrumbs. Add beaten Eggs. Add Italian Seasoning & Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, & chopped Garlic & Fine Chopped Parsley.
- Make sure your pasta is done and set aside before you introduce the meat into the bowl with the ingredients.
- Combine all meat and ingredients in the bowl--get your hands dirty. Make sure to combine the 3 meats well with ingredients. Mush it all together.
- Make 1 inch meatballs. I made about 26!
- Set meatballs in fridge to sit while you prepare to start cooking them. Wash your hands! Raw Meat protocol. I also wash the dishes at this point to make room for the cooking.
- In a large, non-stick frying pan, introduce a couple swirls of EVOO and turn the stove to Medium-High Heat.
- In bathes (I did two b/c I have a rather large pan) introduce the Meatballs a few at a time to the pan when it is heated. You should hear some noise, this is good, you want the pan to be hot in order to sear the sides of the meatballs. Ideally you want them to be crispy on the outside & browned. Keep doing this until you have about half or 1/3 of them in your pan.
- Let them sit on one side for about a minute to sear. Then you have to CAREFULLY turn them around to sear on all sides. Let them sit for a couple minutes on each side.
- Once they've cooked through, set those meatballs on a plate and continue the process until all meatballs are cooked.
- With your last batch of meatballs, keep them in the pan. Introduce the set aside meatballs back to the pan. This is when you can quickly chop up a few cloves of garlic and throw them in along with some more Red Chilli Pepper. Let that sit for about a minute, TURN HEAT DOWN TO MEDIUM--do not burn the garlic!
- Then put 1 cup of wine into the pan. This will deglaze everything and stir the meatballs around in the wine...mmmm. Turn the heat a little higher to help burn off some of the alcohol. Let them sit like this for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Then add your jarred Sauce. Carefully stir everything together. Bring to a low boil/simmer.
- While simmering, add some Garlic powder, Italian Seasoning, Grated Parmesan & whatever else you think will taste good!
- Let them cook together for at least 30 minutes.
- Then serve on pasta and enjoy! MMMMMMMM.
Friday, May 2, 2008
- Cook the Quinoa. Please prepare 1/4 cup according to directions on packet. I actually made 1/2 cup and reserved the other 1/4 in the fridge to make a 2nd batch later on in the week! You might want to do the same. It is similar to preparing rice. 2 parts water to 1 part Quinoa.
- Cook the Cous Cous. I suggest Israeli Cous Cous and if the packet suggests you toast the Cous Cous, please do--it brings a nuttier, earthier taste out of the tiny grain pastas. I found that 1 cup of Cous Cous requires about 1 and 1/3 cup water.
- Set the prepared Grains aside. Let the excess water evaporate and the grains cool as you prepare the other ingredients.
- In a dish add 1/2 can of Chickpeas.
- Chop a Handful of Pitted Kalamata Olives and add in.
- Chop a Handful of Sundried Tomatoes/Marinated Sundried Tomatoes & add in.
- CHIFFONADE the Spinach leaves. So this is a fancy way of saying, take some leaves (any leaves) lay them on top of each other like a stack of papers, roll them up so that the leaves remain long and then slice through them very thinly! Then you've got long strips of Spinach to add to the dish and it looks beautiful.
- Now that the grains have dried/cooled down, add them to the dish and toss.
- Dress the grains with Juice from 1 Lemon, Drizzle of EVOO (not too much), Tablespoon of Red Wine Vinegar & Minced Small Clove of Garlic. Dash of Salt & Pepper.
- Enjoy immediately or save in the fridge and eat within the next 2 days.
Take that Dean & Deluca!