Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Culinary Cavalcade

Hopefully I can remember what all these things were.

Thursday Dinner: Fancy Department Store Salad for a Dowager
I once ate lunch at Fred's at Barney's, the restaurant on the top floor of Barney's New York. All I really remember about it was that everyone, including me, was eating an enormous salad. That was sort of my inspiration for this salad that would easily satisfy one of the Ladies Who Lunch, as they are called.
Boston Lettuce, French Breakfast Radishes, shell peas, foccacia croutons, jowl bacon, tarragon, and blue cheese dressing(but I can't remember which blue)and of course a poached egg.

Saturday Dinner: Very Quick Ratatouille-Like Thing with Teenage Arugula, Sheepsmilk Yogurt and Spicy Semolina Chicken Cutlets
I love chicken cutlets. Friday I met some friends at Prospect Park to see Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys play a free show. We had a potluck picnic. My offerings were a jar of garlic dill cucumber pickles and a dozen small sandwiches on currant pistachio rolls. The rolls did not rise enough, but they tasted good. Most of the sandwiches were tiny chicken cutlets with boston lettuce and a blue cheese sauce. I also made a couple of vegetarian sammies with griddled zucchini, arugula and cured olives. The picnic was very nice. Two delicious salads(potato and fennel), a fruit salad(mostly berries) and some very strong lemonade. And the show was great. Ralph's voice has become really amazing in old age, and the difference between good and great bluegrass bands was very evident, and is huge(the opener was good, but no where near the headliner).
But anyway, I had some chicken cutlets left at home, so Saturday I threw together cocozelle zucchini, green bell pepper and green garlic in a very hot dry cast-iron pan. Once the vegetables started to brown I added a tablespoon of olive oil, and then a minute later added a little less than one quarter cup of white wine. I threw in a Prudence Purple tomato cut in wedges(plus the two grape tomatoes that were left), a half-handful of blue basil chiffonade, salt and pepper and covered the pan. Then topped it with the cutlets and a handful of raw arugula. I am a big fan of Ratatouille(and similar mixed-vegetable dishes) and ths was a nice, lighter, springier version.

Sunday Breakfast: Malted Semolina Bread French Toast with Almonds, Raisins, Strawberry Puree, and Sheepsmilk Yogurt
On Friday I also made another loaf of semolina bread, trying to reproduce last week's success. I failed to match or beat it, but the bread was still good, just not as springy and a little chewier. But it made good french toast. I put some barley malt syrup(which I purchased for an upcoming bagel-making experiment)and nutmeg into the egg-milk solution.
Man-o-man, it was good.

Monday Breakfast: Thumbelina Carrot Taginette with Currants and Olives, Spinach, Dill and a Crispy Egg.
In a dry pan, toast fennel seeds, ground cumin, ground mustard, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon. When fragrant, add a tablespoon in olive oil, a tablespoon of currants, and thumbelina(or another variety) carrots cut in long skinny sticks. Toss carrots to coat with spices, add around 1/2 cup of water, cover the pan and turn the burner down low. Keep covered until carrots start to soften. Uncover pan and add a few pitted black olives(cured olives are good, but you can use something milder) and let the liquid cook away.
Meanwhile wilt some spinach(I used red-stemmed spinach) with a little salt and sprinkle of water in a covered pan.
I've started making sunny-side up eggs in a cast-iron pan. It gets the bottoms really crispy, which I like. But you can do whatever you want.
When the liquid was completely cooked away from the carrots add a few dribbles of olive oil, a few sprigs of dill, and a squeeze of lemon juice(or a similar amount of rice vinegar). Put these things together in whatever order you want(after putting the carots on the bottom I realized that having the spinach on the bottom would have allowed the spinach to catch all of the spicy, carroty sauce that ended up in the bottom of the bowl. Oh well. I used my fingers to wipe it up. Pita would be nice too.

Monday Dinner: Sweet Pea Ravioli, Zucchini and Green Garlic Sauté, Crispy Garlic
What you are looking at is a puree of blanched sweet peas, heavy cream and pecorino romano. The camera did not do a very good job with the color, which was radioactive.
I put this puree between some eggless pasta dough(which I found in the freezer).The ravioli were probably 3 inches across.
Here's one.

When cutting the green garlic, I realized that I could cut long narrow spiralling strips of the outer layers around the stem. So I fried them in a little olive oil and made them crispy.
Then I charred a very small dice of cocozelle zucchini(the denser, lighter green variety) and green garlic in a cast-iron pan. Then I added some olive oil, white wine, salt, pepper and cayenne.
So it went like this:
1)zucchini-garlic saute on the bottom, 2)sweet pea ravioli, 3)crispy garlic things, 4)olive oil drizzle, 5)Pecorino Romano, 6) Hawaiian pink salt.
And it looked like this:

It was very good. Definitely a keeper.

And I baked this cherry-almond pie. The top looks like the logo of a hardcore band.

And this morning I had whole wheat-wheat germ-peanut-butter-barley malt silver dollar pancakes with raisins. I feel so healthy now. If only it weren't so hot.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pancakes, O Pancakes

Man, pancakes are truly one of life's great pleasures.
That might seem like a bit of an overstatement to you, but you haven't been eating any of the pancakes I have been making. I think I have finally mastered the art of the pancake.
Two days ago I made pancakes with strawberry puree and a tablespoon or so of almond butter in the batter. I apologize for the lack of a picture because they were a lovely shade of pink. If they had been sweeter I could see a 5-8 year-old girl really liking them. But despite the lack of sweetness there was that pronounced floral flavor that good strawberries have.
Today I made these:

Silver dollars with molasses, nutmeg and peanut butter in the batter, with pureed strawberries(with tiny bit of balsamic vinegar added) and cream on top. I have trouble making pancakes these days without peanut or almond butter in them. I think the added texture and richness is nice, and I suppose I'm getting more protein as well.
And that stuff on the side is some smoked jowl bacon.
But before we move on, here's a photo of molasses and milk:

Now more on the bacon.
Two nights ago I made an unreasonably complicated dinner, which is something I don't usually have anything against. But this one was too much.

A BLT. Smoked Jowl Bacon, Butter Lettuce, Caramelized Tomato Jam, Mayo, Tarragon and Dill on Toasted Semolina Bread. So more like a SJBLCTJTD. It was delicious. The tomato jam was very simple. I threw a handful of whole grape tomatoes into a pan with a tsp of olive oil and a tsp of chestnut honey. When the tomatoes started to brown and looked like they were going to explode, I took the pan off the heat and pureed the tomatoes with the immersion blender. Then I put it back on the heat, added a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, and cooked off the excess moisture. It was just enough for one sandwich. So maybe it wasn't so simple.
And I had this:

I will call it Failed Cauliflower Bloomsday Soufflé.
It needed more egg white for structure. But it tasted good. Cauliflower, sauteed shallots, some of the Bloomsday Anniversary cheese, and a pinch of cayenne.
I'll try it again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

a few good ones

Squid with Red Potatoes, Peas, and Tarragon/Almond Pesto.
I dusted the squid with roasted chickpea flour and shallow fried it in grapeseed oil for 50 seconds or so. The pesto was tarragon, roasted almonds, salt, pepper, and roasted walnut oil.
It all tasted pretty roasted.

Cornmeal-Peanut Butter-Currant pancakes with Pomegranate Molasses.

Cauliflower-Couscous Salad.
Cauliflower, fresh red onion, grape tomatoes fried with crushed red pepper, ground mustard, cumin. Tossed with couscous, black currants, pistachios, kirby cucumber and dill.

Queen Anne Cherry Ice Cream.
I made a crème anglais and poured it into my limping ice cream maker with pureed queen anne cherries(from Jersey!) and some heavy cream. As the photo shows, I was too impatient to let it set up enough in the freezer, but the texture and taste are very good. I put very little sugar in it so it is really only as sweet as the cherries are.

Strange Lamb and Crouton Breakfast Thing with a Poached Egg.
I don't know where this came from. Lamb(the last scraps) and shallots sauteed in a little butter, tossed with semolina bread croutons, kirby cucumber, tarragon, almonds and smoked paprika, sea salt, black pepper. Topped with poached egg.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Saturday Night Squid

Squid Panzanella
Grape Tomatoes, Fresh Red Onion, African Blue Basil, toasted Semolina Bread, lightly sauteed squid, olive oil and sherry vinegar.
Yum. Best tomatoes yet. Straightforward and refreshing.

Also, you can vote again AND double your own chances to win.

And don't forget to vote for my friend-blogs as well, Not Eating Out in NY and Butter & Oil.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

"A corpse is meat gone bad. Well and what's cheese? Corpse of milk."

A delicious(up to you) quote from Joyce starts the Bloomsday New Ingredients Rollcall(sorry I mostly forgot which farm-which produce):
queen anne cherries(Treelicious)
boston lettuce
fresh red onions
baby red bliss potatoes
grape tomatoes
kirby cucumbers(maxwell's)
squid(Blue Moon)
jowl bacon(Wilklow)
ground beef(Wilklow)
leaf lard)Flying Pigs)
creamline milk(Ronnybrook)
heavy cream(Ronnybrook)
apple cider


Cato Corner Anniversary(1-yr) Bloomsday,
which led to this:

Bloomsday Egg and Cheese.
fried egg and Anniversary Bloomsday cheese between two slices of yesterday's bread.
Beat that, Brunch!
Plus two strawberries(that got a little crushed on the way home) and two cherries.
Speaking of cherries, on my walk home from my Sahadi's Bulk Stockup yesterday(raisins! almonds! pastry flour!), I found a fruit-bearing cherry tree on Union St between 3rd and 4th Aves. Very good, very ripe, very bright cherries, and I don't think the resident of the closest building picks them as the only missing cherries were definitely bird-pi(e)cked.
May return in the middle of the night.


Yes, I said Fennelbration.


Filei Calabresi with lamb, young fennel, peas, pecorino romano and olive oil.
This was just about the end of the lamb. There are a few bits left that may be involved in a breakfast, but the shoulder has been picked pretty clean by now. It's now looking forward to its retirement to the stock materials bag in the freezer.
Really nice. The fennel is very young, so its much subtler, with a sweetness that the peas helped bring out. And filei is a really nice shape for stuff like this. It is a very loose twist, with some variations in thickness that add nice texture. I used La Bottega della Pasta brand from the good italian importer I have previously mentioned, which has all of those characteristics that good dry pasta is supposed to have, and seemed very fresh compared to anything from the supermarket. I hate the supermarket.


Fennel and almond tart; salad with mustard/anchovy dressing.
I had previously baked a peach pie with an almond flour crust(1 part almond flour to 1 part white whole wheat) and, thanks to a change of heart about a lattice topcrust, I another pie's worth of crust dough in the freezer. I was trying to think of something to do with the rest of the fennel all day that would not require shopping and would not be a fennel salad. So I cut off a little hunk of the frozen dough and decided to make a tart.
I cooked down 1.5 cups of chopped fennel stems and fronds and one large chopped shallot in olive oil, then pureed it with 1 Tbsp of pecorino romano, salt and black pepper. Then I sliced the fennel bulbs thinly and sauteed them lightly to wilt them a little.
In the meantime, I rolled out the tart crust and laid it in the bottom of a small metal baking pan. Using a 3.5" dia. stainless steel ring, I cut a circle of rolled dough(leaving the ring around the cut piece) and used the extra dough to build up the sides of the tart on the inside of the ring, making sure the joint between bottom and sides was sealed.
Into the bottom of this unbaked crust I spooned the fennel/shallot/cheese puree and smoothed it out so it was even. On top of the puree I layered the thin fennel bulb slices so it looked as pretty as I cared it to look and gave it a sprinkle of sea salt. Then I stuck it in a 370˚F oven and baked it until the crust was nicely browned.
The salad was simple: French Crisp lettuce and purslane leaves. A dressing made from walnut oil, an anchovy(also from the italian importer, very good quality), a few capers, a spoonful of mustard, a dribble of sherry vinegar, and another dribble of chestnut honey; all whizzed in the tiny processor attachment to my immersion blender.
A few currants on top of the salad, and some crushed roasted, unsalted almonds on the tart.
This was really good. I love savory tarts(but don't make them often enough) and this was a good one. Powerfully fennel-y, it played really well against the salad dressing. And the crust held together really well - I lucked out with the fennel puree being on the drier side.
I also baked a loaf of semolina bread, which has the best taste and texture of any bread I have made. But it got stuck on the peel and ended up kinda ugly. I tried to take a picture but it covered itself with a jacket. It will be in a panzanella tonight.

Oh yeah, and you can still vote for me to go to Napa if you want. And thanks to those who have already. Also vote for Not eating Out in NY and Butter & Oil, please.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Well, lamb week has moved along smoothly, and I even had a special guest(my brother, in town for work, came over for Part III).

Lamb tacos.
Leftover lamb, homemade corn tortillas, griddle-crisped spring garlic julienne, radishes, chili paste, lime. Plus a candy-cane beet salad with mint and mayonnaise.
It had been almost two years since I made corn tortillas, and as you can tell by the picture I was a bit rusty. The texture and taste were good, but only the last couple were pretty. Oh well. The tacos were still awesome, especially the little bits of lamb fat.


Red Flannel Lamb Hash.
Leftover lamb, German Butterball potatoes, the last candy-cane beet(sob), shallots, dill, lots of salt and pepper. Topped with a poached egg, with foccacia and chestnut honey on the side.
The hash was delicious, and this time I have my brother for a second opinion. Salty, sweet, rich from a little lamb fat. The dill added a nice springy brightness. A good start to the day.

Part IV coming later today.

How About You Vote For Me.

Want to send me to the COPIA school in Napa to take a grilling class? You probably don't, but you could possibly go too, so you might as well.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Breakfasts, and Lamb Week Begins

Sunday Breakfast: Pancakes with wheat germ and peanut butter, served with coconut jam and strawberries.
Monday Breakfast: Peanut Butter and Avocado Flower Honey on Sesame/Black Pepper Focaccia.

I had previously mentioned having a local lamb shoulder in the freezer. Well it has been thawed and is now being celebrated as LAMB WEEK '07, or as long as I have leftovers.
To begin, I marinated the shoulder for almost two days. The marinade was a no-holds-barred affair, comprised of wild garlic brine, spring garlic greens, dried apricots, nutmeg, black pepper, ground mustard, dried safflower blossoms, cumin, a dried hot pepper, and a little honey. After the marinating I dried the shoulder and rubbed it liberally with salt and pepper.
The cooking was straightforward. I made a large cast-iron pan very hot, and seared the outside of the shoulder, threw in a couple of roughly chopped shallots, then transferred the pan to a 500˚F oven. After 12 minutes or so, I turned it down to 350˚ and roasted it until medium rare.
After letting the lamb rest for 10 minutes or so, I made a sandwich. It looked like this:

Lamb, french crisp lettuce, thinly sliced radishes, dill, mustard, chestnut honey, and some of the shallots that got crisped in the lamb drippings, on the new focaccia. Really good. Would have been nice with some ricotta or thick yogurt. Maybe later.
But the lamb was like pastrami. The result of using the garlic brine in the marinade, I reckon. I am looking forward to dinner #2.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Lunch Lessons

WARNING: The following post contains some slightly graphic descriptions of food preparation that may offend some readers.

If you are feeling disconnected from your food, I strongly suggest making softshell crabs. Or maybe not.
In a purchase of passion I splurged on a pair of local softshell crabs from the lovely folks at PE & DD Seafood at the USQ Greenmarket today. I had gone strictly to visit my friend who is currently working on Keith Stewart's farm upstate and was down for her day of garlic-selling. I told myself repeatedly that I still had a large variety of ingredients at home, and tried to put blinders on. But I couldn't help it. The things that have come into availability this week were too tempting, so I got some baby fennel from Paffenroth Gardens($1/bunch), a tomato and a quart of milk. And I have been wanting to cook softshells, as I never had before, and after not cooking anything yesterday(besides the buffet dinner party I "catered" for a friend) I felt I owed it to myself. At least that is what I keep telling myself.
So I brought everything home and started cooking. I knew I wanted to fry the crabs, which is really the only way to cook them. So I made a salad to balance out the fried-ness. French Crisp lettuce, peas, and French Breakfast radishes, plus some crispy fried shallots. I made a double-function mayonnaise that would serve as a salad dressing and a condiment for the crabs - egg yolk, canola oil, walnut oil, lime juice, mustard, salt, pepper.
I readied the egg white/milk and cornmeal/flour coating components.
And then the test.
I've cleaned fish, dealt with headed poultry, deboned, removed offal, etc. But this was the most "in touch" I have ever been with a thing I was going to eat.
The crabs were sitting next to each other on the counter, motioning with their claws, looking around, breathing out bubbles. Alive. Watching me ready the platform, checking the noose, testing the gallows. I should have been wearing a hood.
I took out my heaviest knife...

A BRIEF RESPITE: On my walk home yesterday, I found pineapple grass(chamomile), lamb's quarter(AKA wild spinach), and purslane growing out of cracks in the sidewalk in just one block of McDonald Ave. Who knew?

I flipped the first crab onto its back and with the knife quickly removed the front section of its body(eyes? mouth? brain?). The legs got a little wild at this point. I stuck my fingers under the shell on both sides of the body and removed the gills(or lungs? I'll say gills) and then pulled a bit of toughish tissue from the underside of the tail. One done. At this point I am not sure how I feel about the whole thing. It is different to say you are ok with this sort of procedure when you aren't actually doing it. But now I am doing it.
I repeat the procedure on the second crab. I heat the oil in the pan. The crabs go in the egg/milk(to which I have added a bit of chili paste), then the cornmeal/flour, then the oil. The spatter like crazy. I duck and grab the spatter gaurd. They turn a beautiful golden brown. I plate them with the salad. It looks like this:

It is delicious. Transcendentally delicious. The best crab, softshell or otherwise, I have ever eaten. The shell and coating are perfectly crisp, the meat sweet and a little briny and moist and flakes into beautiful petals the way it should. The claws and legs are unbelievable. I would eat a bowl of them at the movies instead of popcorn. The mayonnaise works really well. A little dab is just enough, creamy with a bit of heat from the mustard. The salad is refreshing: crisp radishes, great lettuce(from Keith's), and peas that are intense little bursts of pure sweet spring. I'll admit that I ate it a little too fast. Not that it made my stomach hurt or anything, I just wish I had savored it a bit more.
But now I know what it takes. And as far as becoming more connected with what I eat, I just got a little more connected. Because if you are going to eat it, you have to know what it took to get to your plate.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Squid? Again?

Yes, friends. The rest of the squid.
Fried squid with a chickpea flour/sumac crust and smoked paprika-lime mayonnaise.
Chickpea and green garlic puree with green shiso and olive oil.
Candy-cane beet and purslane with mustard, honey, and homemade horseradish.

Squid was perfect. The chickpea flour coating was flavorful but did not overpower the clean flavor of the squid. And the mayonnaise was the best I've ever made or had, with a radioactively yellow-orange yolk from a Tello's egg. The added color from the paprika made it pretty intense, though it doesn't show so well in the photo. I guess I could have photoshopped it.
Chickpea puree was good, but could easily have been more garlic-y. I have some leftover and will probably make breakfast with it somehow. Would also be nice whipped with some labne or greek yogurt. But I don't have any at the moment.
Beets were cooked a little too soft. But the combination of the horseradish, mustard and avocado honey was nice, especially with the bright flavor of the purslane. And I still have two large-ish beets left. I will have to come up with something good.
TOMORROW: Don't really know, but it will contain peas and radishes, and I have two pieces of foccacia left for breakfast. Also, I am defrosting the lamb shoulder and probably marinating it tomorrow for Saturday.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Was the Pie Good?

The pie was good. Ate two pieces.

New Ingredients Day!

No breakfast. I jumped out of bed and ran to the USQ Greenmarket looking for inspiration. And I found it. Keith's Organics spring garlic and french crisp lettuce, peas, strawberries, shallots, candy cane beets, radishes, peruvian purple and german butterball potatoes, purslane, dill and some squid from Blue Moon.
And I had a taste of a cow and goat mixed-milk cheese from Sprout creek in Poughkeepsie that was really nice.


Purple potato gnocchi with squid, peas, shallots and dill. With sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and a little ground sumac. Really nice. Gnocchi came out well, light and with a good texture. The peas are fantastic, with a very concentrated flavor that is not often found in peas. And the squid was excellent. I cut very thin rings of one large body(I only got one squid's tentacles, and those are for tomorrow) and cooked them for probably 55 seconds tops. Fresh squid is pretty hard to beat, and I really like squid from this part of the Atlantic(and from Nantucket Bay, which I will be posting about in August if I have my way).


Peach Pie. I haven't eaten it yet. I'm still pretty satisfied from dinner, and am in the middle of drinking my first glass of my first attempt at a homemade root beer/cream soda. Foraged sassafrass, ginger root, licorice root, allspice, vanilla. It's pretty good but needs work. And more sassafrass.
But the pie looks like it will be pretty good, and I like the big "P." I had originally planned on doing a lattice top, but then decided to save the top to make another pie or tart. But I still had some dough left after rolling out the bottom, and after a few attempts at some leafy designs I settled on the "P." If I ever have a bakery that makes pies, I think I will label them this way.
It is a traditional peach pie(peaches, lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch) but the crust is half whole wheat/half almond flour. I will eat some and let you know if you should be sorry you can't join me.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Last Couple of Days


Whole wheat buttermilk pancakes with almond flour, almond butter, molasses, granola and raspberries, with a little butter and a little honey.
I am getting really good at making pancakes. And completely disregarding recipes, which never work very well for me.


Roasted asparagus with wheat berries, sweet onion, pecorino romano,duck chicharones, a fried pheasant egg and a mustard dressing. Really good. Some of the asparagus were very thin andgot a bit crispy. The flavors all balanced pretty well, good textural variety, and duck chicharones are awesome.

Breakfast was a bowl of the granola with strawberries.

A sandwich of spicy fennel sausage, spinach sauteed with garlic, and a fried egg on the homemade foccacia. I'm going to miss the foccacia when it's all gone.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Even I Am Impressed

What a day. Got some free fruit from my landlord's father(he is a produce supplier to restaurants), went on a bike ride(mainly to go to the GAP greenmarket for eggs and to drool over all of the stuff I want to buy), did some freelance work, and started a new book project.

And then I cooked this meal.
It is in the top five meals I have ever cooked for myself. Maybe top three. All very simple, but it was exactly what I wanted to eat. And here it is:
Faicco's hot fennel pork sausage, cooked in a dry pan, finished with onions, basil and sherry vinegar.

Wilted spinach and a poached pheasant egg with a lemon/anchovy/pickled wild garlic dressing

Boiled beets with roasted walnut oil, mint, black pepper, salt

Tomato with capers and olive oil

Plus the first foccacia I ever made, whole wheat with sea salt and black pepper.
Here's the spread:

It may look like a lot of food for one person(and yes I had to use a baking sheet as a platter), and it was. What a chore.
Followed by homemade organic cantaloupe sorbet(amazingly good cantaloupe courtesy of Tony). These are the kinds of meals that make it all worth it, whatever it all is.

Friday Night

So it's Friday night, I'm a moderately with-it(although I did just write "with-it" which probably disqualifies me) 26-year-0ld and I live in Brooklyn... What do I do?
Make granola, of course. I do not have a picture of said granola, but I have a good deal of it left so you will probably get to see it sometime soon. Pretty straightforward: oats, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, wheat germ, pepitas, cinnamon, molasses. It is good, or at least good in comparison to the crap they call granola in most grocery stores. It has a much cleaner taste in that you can actually taste that it contains oats. It is not just a vehicle for huge amounts of rice syrup.
Prior to making this granola I made dinner.
I have been in a cold noodle mood of late and figured I had some things laying around that could dress it up a bit. So here goes:

Cellophane noodles with small shrimp, asparagus, chives, tomato, sweet onion, fried shallots, and ground peanuts with a light dressing of peanut butter, lime juice, rice vinegar, tamarind concentrate, fish sauce. And probably something else I am forgetting.
Pretty good. Should have drained the noodles a little longer, as the remaining water made the dressing watery. But good flavors, and I love buying $2 of shrimp, because it is surprisingly a lot of shrimp.
My one meal of the day(it was too hot to eat earlier on) and a good one.
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