Monthly Archives: May 2011

STRAWBERRIES, PT III

Working on another story right now, and it’s so awesome. Can you guess what it’s about?

The fever continues

PASTA LUNCH

When Adam was in Italy, he frequently ate a pasta dish that he fell in love with: tiny, tender pillows of ricotta gnocchi the size of chiclets or your pinkie fingernail, dyed a verdant green hue from the stinging nettles that were gently worked into the dough. We tried to recreate the dish when he got home, using nettles and ricotta from the market, and adding diminutive cubes of boiled potatoes and white asparagus into the final plating. We weren’t happy with the shade of green — we didn’t want the pasta to be flecked so much as doused in the color green — and any advice on making vividly colored pasta would be super welcome. But man, was it tasty.

VEGETABLE CHAT

Has anyone seen the documentary Forks Over Knives yet? Terrible movie title aside, I thought the film was good-intentioned but mostly bogus Whole Foods-related propaganda. I recently reviewed it for the film section of the Montreal Mirror — have a read if you like and let me know what you think.

TURNING OFF THE OVEN

I think it’s finally getting too warm for me to be that excited about roast chicken anymore, so expect this to be the last roasted bird until it starts getting chilly  this fall. The usual sides: purple kale with guanciale, garlic, and lemon, and roasted new potatoes with rosemary and drizzled with truffle oil. Something new, too: Belgian white asparagus. My first time. A treat.

HOLIDAY LIVING

No matter where I’m living, every year I throw a big Cinco de Mayo party. When I was living in Ithaca, I invited a hundred people over to my friend’s big house by the lake and we ate grilled chicken thighs and corn on the cob slathered with lime butter and queso fresco. We drank Coronas spiked with hot sauce and danced to Juanes until 3am.We decorated the house with dollar store decorations that made my friend’s backyard look like a used car sales lot, and we even bought a pinata and stuffed it with candy. There was beer pong, a raging grill, a live reggae band, and blankets scattered all over the hillside. All of the girls wore pretty, embroidered cotton dresses, and the boys brought guitars and played music in the grass.

But this year, I called up the AEB crew, Mark, and Bartek, and cooked up a simple Mexican-inspired supper.

After a rad field trip to Supermarché Andes, I made crema from scratch. (It’s so simple, just bring heavy cream to a warmish-room temperature in a small pot, then stir in sour cream and let sit in a warm area with the jar lid loosened. After 12 hours, the mixture will have considerably thickened to a luscious cream, and is great straight out of the jar, if you have no restraint, like me.) I also made two salsas — one roasted tomato with chipotles in adobo, the other a fresh spicy tomatillo salsa. There was a quick red onion pickle relish, which marinated in freshly squeezed orange juice, apple cider vinegar, sugar and peppercorns for a day before eating. There were fresh radishes, limes, and poblano peppers. I made a fennel and carrot escabeche with savory granola, adapted from the irresistible recipe on Lottie + Doof. (And then snacked on the escabeche and granola for the rest of the week). I turned on the barbecue and grilled pork tenderloin in adobo. There was also Mexican chorizo and flank steak marinated in pureed onions, garlic, lime, and cumin. That all went on the grill, too. All of this was tucked into warm corn tortillas, with refried black beans, queso fresco, Mexican rice, and crispy fingerling potatoes to round things out. There was so much food, it was probably a good thing that I didn’t make those sopaipillas that I had my eye on.

STRAWBERRIES, PT II

My intense strawberry cravings began last week, thanks to Luxirare, and continued unabated. Then I kept seeing this cake all over the internet — first at Saveur, then at Lottie + Doof, and finally Bon Appetempt — and no longer could I deny its garish, neon pink hue. I had to have it. So I made it for the Dep, added a box of fresh strawberries, and its happy rosy exterior did not disappoint.

SUMMER DESCENDS

Scenes of recent life. It’s almost time for the sacred season of converting-all-my-jeans-into-cutoffs, the season of endless-caprese-salad, the season of high-volume-dance-parties. The season of fresh piles of fruit and vegetables, which disappear as quickly as I buy them. We’re currently obsessed with Alphonso mangoes, which you peel like an orange but eat like an apple. They are indescribably delicious. Man, I need to cut my hair, too.

STRAWBERRY TIME

So I read this incredible post on Luxirare and knew immediately that I had to have it, or, at least, something pretty close. So we picked up a baguette, slathered on some salted Vermont Amish butter, and briefly cooked down some incandescent baby strawberries in a bit of orange zest and white granulated sugar. We debated even cooking the strawberries at all, because in their raw, fully-formed state, they already taste like little bombs of syrupy jam. They’re expensive, but so worth it — and nothing like their distant Dole cousins, which are outlandishly big, have the texture of sawdust, and taste like air.

ROOFTOP FUN

Barbecue: What summer is all about. It is what I look forward to the most, when I am huddled up in blankets in the dark of winter. I don’t fantasize about warm beaches, or denim cutoffs, or chilly cocktails. No, I dream about the grillmarks that stripe a piece of steak, the smoky air that tangles in my hair, and fresh rosemary thrown on the coals. Here, a simple grilled meal, done in almost total darkness, so admittedly was mostly guesswork: a side of trout, cooked until tender, oily, delicate, and flaky. Two gigantic shrimp, slightly butterflied and brushed with spicy olive oil and squirts of lemon. Slender spears of local asparagus, charred until nutty and sweet. And a creamy, lemony sorrel sauce, perfect for spooning over hefty forkfuls of fish. Oh, summer. So happy you’re here.

[Also, please read this great piece in the Paris Review, on a pair of actors discussing food. A nice bit: "The one really great thing I ate was at Kiplin Hall, in Yorkshire, this forced rhurbarb dessert. It’s grown in the dark, so it’s very pink—it’s kind of the veal of vegetables. If you can have vegetable cruelty, this is it. But it was so good. I ate three of those, and I want to go back for more. I think of it at night, when I’m lonely.”]

A FORAGING ADVENTURE

Now that my story is published, I can share the rest of my foraging photos with you! Although I was out there primarily to hunt for ramps, we gathered lots of other treats, like fiddleheads, wild ginger, dandelion greens, and crinkle root. (We made use of everything: the fiddleheads sauteed with bacon and folded into pasta; the wild ginger was great steeped in hot water, like tea; and I adored the dandelion greens salad, dressed simply with a lemon-mustard vinaigrette). After such a long and cold winter, it felt really spectacular to be out in the damp forest, discovering new life in every corner. It was insanely fun.

And it really is true what they say — once you know what to look for, you start seeing wild vegetables everywhere. Once I saw my first fiddlehead, I couldn’t stop seeing them!