Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pesto is the Besto

In a week of late nights and uninspired meals the highlight may have been this ravioli from Nuovo.

The shrimp and Chardonnay ravioli were pretty tasty for the five minutes they took to prepare.

Today we spent the bulk of the day driving all over Connecticut and Westchester. Staying in the city and enjoying the fruits of community sponsored agriculture was just not enough to fill our yuppie quota for the weekend. Walking through the streets of various little towns in Connecticut rounded out our yuppie numbers quite nicely.

When we arrived home we had some farm veggies to use up. I made a tremendous amount of pesto with the remaining basil and garlic from the share that I used to coat and sear a nice piece of halibut. Along with that I cooked up the remaining farm onion, yellow, and green squash.

Maybe inspiration will return tomorrow. Tonight Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is on and that could kill anyone's inspiration to do anything. Perhaps by tomorrow night the dullness will have worn off.

Seeing all those fish-headed guys kinda makes me want to continue the seafood theme with a nice bouillabaisse.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Three Week Capotouille

The heat wave continues as the air conditioner blasts at 100% power to keep it at a breezy 83 degrees in our living room. It has rolled around to the tenth week of this year's farm share. Unfortunately the heat wave, immediately following the wettest summer on record, have not done wonders for our crops.

This week we got: Sungold tomatoes, regular tomatoes, Juliet tomatoes, cucumbers, white onions, lettuce (the lady before me got the last head), celery, potatoes (which were rotten and moldy so I opted to abstain), basil, squash, and peaches. Due to the lack of lettuce and potatoes we doubled up on celery and basil. I guess we can make pesto but I'm not too sure what we're going to do with all that celery.

I used the Sungolds and the Juliets along with some basil to make a simple tomato salad for a first course.

I had marinated this extremely inexpensive beef top round steak in salad dressing over night. I don't like marinating things in salad dressing as a rule as it is a little Sandra Lee-esque. That being said, there is a time and place for everything and tonight was about efficiency.

I also made a dish that I will call Three Week Capotouille. I used an eggplant from two weeks ago, a yellow squash from last week, and a zucchini from today to create this ratatouille/caponata hybrid. It's like the bastard child of the two dishes mixed with basil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, pine nuts, olive oil, and tomato.

It worked well as a vegetable accompaniment to the beef as well as a spread on slices of Italian bread.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to start thinking of non-disgusting ways I can use two enormous heads of celery.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hot Time, Summer Salad In The City

Today it was 135 degrees in New York City with 111 percent humidity. Since Mother Nature decided to store up all of the heat this summer and use it up in a four day span I decided to add as little auxiliary heat as possible in creating tonight's dinner. And, no, I did not make any raw foods.

We had some kale (not pictured) on its last legs so I cooked that in a little olive oil and white wine then added some marinated salmon to the pan. I also employed Jen's corn on the cob cooking technique (which she taught me last night): wrap husked corn in wax paper, microwave for two minutes. I then made a baked potato (also in the microwave) and sliced up the remainder of an heirloom tomato.

I served all of this on top of a floral salad mix which will undoubtedly earn me a fair amount of scorn from my father-in-law, though not as much as if I had served it with a form of red meat.

For a summer beer we had the 21st Amendment Brewery Hell or Highwatermelon Wheat Beer. This beer was described to me as "surprisingly good" and I think it lived up to that description. While I'm generally not a huge fan of flavored beers this was delightfully refreshing for a hot summer evening.

Watermelon beer? It's almost as if tonight's dinner was designed to drive Jen's father crazy. I can almost hear his cries of outrage all the way from New York City.

For dessert I made a crust with crushed graham crackers and Lyle's Golden Syrup. Then I served fresh blueberries, peaches, and whipped cream on top with just a slight shake of cinnamon.

The only thing that could have made Jen's father more angry would have been if tonight's dinner was served warm. If I'd done that he may have boarded a plane to New York to personally give me a piece of his mind.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

West Side Burgers

Today began with a 10:00 AM departure to Governors Island. For seven years we've been saying we were going to go to Governors Island and today it finally happened. That's five islands down, twenty-eight to go!

We had a quick lunch on the island near a food truck that was blasting some C&C Music Factory. Even in the shade it was exceptionally hot, only the second or third day over 90 degrees we've had this summer. Cycling around the island for the rest of the afternoon may not have been the best way to beat the heat.

I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it when we were half way into our day. Yet somehow we summoned the strength to not only move on but to go grocery shopping and make dinner. We didn't know what we were going to have for dinner until Jen spotted some bacon cheddar cheese at the store. She thought, "Wouldn't that be delicious on a burger!"

Jen made her traditional burger patties which I "grilled" on the George Foreman. I also made a quick sweet potato salad with garlic scapes, onion, celery, mayo, whole grain mustard, and bacon. Jen steamed some corn and got together all the burger accompaniments.

Jen was kind enough to stuff my burger with this delicious smoked Oregon blue cheese. I didn't know the blue cheese was smoked which was an unexpected treat. We purchased the bacon cheddar but didn't actually use it with our burgers. Partly because we were too tired to slice an additional cheese. It was all we had to keep our eyes open long enough to watch the offensive portrayal of Puerto Ricans in West Side Story.

The best part so far is the tomboy who is always yelling, "Pow! Pow!" at everyone.

She is a favorite.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peachy Keen

When I got home this evening I opened the fridge and found a miniature Chairman Kaga standing there. It was kind of like that scene in the Ghostbusters except instead of growling the word "Zuul!" he took a bite out of a miniature bell pepper before exuberantly unveiling tonight's theme ingredient:


The first course was a peach and almond salad with shaved Parmigiano Regiano, cider vinegar, and olive oil.

For the main course: pork chops with curried peaches and cumin-spiced green beans. For the curried peaches I simply cut them up, tossed them with curry powder, dijon, cayenne, cider vinegar, and salt. For the green beans I steamed them, then tossed them in the pan I roasted the pork in, and seasoned them with a little masala spice and cumin.

The dessert was vanilla yogurt with fresh peaches and Jen's amazing granola that she made this weekend. We were initially worried that she may have made too large a batch but I think we may breeze through the two giant containers in no time at all.

I can't wait to see what Ghostbusters-style Chairman Kaga shouts out at me tomorrow!

It may involve needing to go to the grocery store.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Unorthodox Summer Meal

For anyone who figures out the two (2) meaning behind tonight's blog entry I will award you a free T-shirt*!

Today is Tuesday and, as per routine, I picked up the ninth week of our farm share. This week included: green beans, Juliet tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, sqaush, lettuce, basil, garlic, kale, corn, and peaches.

I used the Juliet tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce to make this salad. Of course I made a cucumber-free version for myself as readers will already know I would rather dine on any number of unspeakable internal organs than feast upon a single cucumber. The Juliet tomatoes were good but not quite as good as they were last year. This is undoubtedly due to the biblical rainfall we have received this summer.

For the main course I did something a little strange. Braised cabbage is not generally known as a summer dish. However, since the cabbage from last week was still kicking around I decided to braise it with some garlic, onion, bacon, cayenne, shrimp, corn, basil, and lemon juice. While it seemed strange I can honestly say this is one of the best impromptu meals I have ever made. I was so happy with this result that I wished I'd written down the exact quantity of everything I used for future reference -- something I never do. Given that ingredient list I should hopefully be able to duplicate it again in the future.

For a beverage we had one of Jen's favorites: white wine spritzers! I usually let Jen enjoy these by herself but it seemed like a perfect night for me to partake as well. Besides, it's been a while since I've had girly drinks so tonight seemed like the perfect opportunity to get back in the game.

Tomorrow night: Fuzzy Navels!

*T-shirt does not actually exist but we will allow you to create your own without legal repercussions!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Up To Speed

I'm not quite sure what tonight's meal was. You could look at it and decide that it is just my culinary ingenuity at work. You could also look at it and decide that it is just a collection of odds and ends from the fridge put onto a sheet pan and baked until golden brown. Well, almost golden brown. It was 95 degrees today so I just couldn't bare to leave the oven on any longer than absolutely necessary.

I lightly cooked some zucchini wedges in olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme, and sage, then laid them on a sheet pan. In the same pan (of course) I cooked some garlic, onion (from the farm), tomatoes (from the Greenmarket), anchovy, and some sage and thyme (from my mother's garden). I topped it with some bread crumbs, pine nuts, and mozzarella before finishing it in the oven.

"But how did we get to this point?" You ask. Well, let me catch you up on this weekend. I'll show you how we ended up at this point. It's kinda like the movie Momento except the ending is not going to make any more sense after you read the rest of this.

Though you may figure out when we purchased the pine nuts. (Spoiler alert!: it was on Saturday afternoon).

Saturday's main focus was in using up Friday's leftovers (which were plentiful). This meant putting together a lot of various different items utilizing beef sirloin, beets, and Humboldt Fog. Jen was clever enough to manufacture a tasty green olive tapenade that we also through into the mix.

On Saturday we unexpectedly purchased vast quantities of dried fruit and nuts which Jen used on Sunday to make this granola which I have dubbed Jen's Bangin' Granola. Because it is bangin', you see.

Tonight we had the pleasure of Paul and Caolan's company so we started off with some of Jen's green olive tapenade and baguette slices.

With the Greenmarket tomatoes and some Lioni mozzarella I put together a very simple caprese salad, the highlight of which was that awesome plate I got in France! Observe its magnificence! I could have used crunchy pink tomatoes and this still would have been a marvel to behold.

We had a lot of basil so I made some fussili with basil pesto as the main course. Not much to describe, just simple pesto: garlic, basil, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

We enjoyed the pesto with some Sauvignon Blanc from Paumanok Vineyard, a vineyard located on Long Island. If you are a frequent reader you know that I have a vast wine knowledge. You can tell this wine was excellent because I liked it despite the fact that it didn't have a humorous name or a flashy label.

Wow, that's good wine.

For dessert Jen once again made her Nana's "Napoleon" recipe. The best thing about this recipe is that the longer it stays in the fridge, the better it gets. The paradox being that we usually eat it rather quickly. Just once I want to make this and leave it in the fridge for like three months to see if the result would be so good that it elevated us to some new level of consciousness.

I suppose there may be a point of diminishing returns. We'll do some research on this at another time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fridays Are Bonus Vegetable Days

Last week I missed our farm share pickup, a moment of great personal sadness. To fill in I made a trip to the Greenmarket. This week I was able to pick up our farm share, however, I was so impressed by the Greenmarket on 97th Street that I made a trip this week anyway. Considering our farm has been suffering some sort of horrific tomato plague the Greenmarket is a great way to supplement our extremely small share of tomatoes.

At the Greenmarket I picked up corn, blueberries, sweet potatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, peaches, and a loaf of sourdough bread from Baker's Bounty. I also got a free sample of heirloom tomatoes from the Heirloom Tomato Company. I'm not great at identifying heirloom tomatoes but let's say the three that I got were a Green Zebra, a Black Brandwine, and a Rose. I'm probably wrong but we will leave it at that.

Since it was such a nice night we stopped by Coogan's for some of their Buffalo style calamari and Coogan's ale.

At home I made a salad with the three types of heirloom tomato, basil, and Humbolt Fog cheese.

Jen picked up this beautiful sirloin steak which we pan roasted with shallots and celery. We also made some of the corn and potatoes. We were so full that I can't tell if this picture was taken before we started or after we finished eating. No matter. The leftovers will be put to good use this weekend.

Jen made a peach and blueberry crisp for dessert. I made the whipped cream.

Jen ridiculed me for purchasing this bottle. I saw this bottle at the store and had an amazing idea to use it for making whipped cream. Jen feels strongly that this type of device is tailor made for making fools like me make an ill-advised purchase.

But check out how awesome it is! It's got this little wire ball in it. It's supposed to be used to make shakes and stuff for people that make protein drinks -- body builders and the like. But I had the magnificent idea to harness that whisking power to make whipped cream. And let me just say that it worked fabulously.

It's outside of the box thinking like this that makes me one of the world's foremost culinary innovators.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Farm Share (Reprise)

Last night may have been an all time low for the farm share. A combination of fridge emptiness, missing last week's vegetable pickup, and general malaise contributed to this:

A particularly weak stir fry. Normally one would expect a nice variety of vegetables in a stir fry, however, all we had was that partially used head of bok choy from two weeks ago. I used that in combination with some shrimp and scallops form the freezer and made a quick coconut rice with farm scallions.

The results were adequate.

Today's farm pickup brought us Red and green tomatoes, cabbage, basil, cucumbers, white onions, lettuce, beets, squash, eggplant, Yukina Savoy, and peaches.

For a salad I used the lettuce, beets and scallions from the share with a little feta, Jersey corn, and tomato with olive oil.

We had some Bilinski sausages in the freezer so I used that with some of the savoy, onion, garlic, and garlic scapes to make this orecchiette dish. I made a light rosé butter sauce and topped it with a little Parmigiano.

I'm beginning to put together a shopping list the likes of which the world has never seen. Hopefully by Saturday we will have made a huge shopping expedition in hopes of restocking the fridge. Lately it's been quite a stretch to cobble together even a mediocre meal like tonight's.

Think of the marvels that may await if we were to get our hands on some exotic ingredients such as milk, chicken, and lettuce!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The No. 1 Swedish Hangover Remedy

Yesterday was a day filled with adventure and errands. Mostly errands. Mostly errands involving places like Ikea and Target. These errands took up the bulk of the day from 10am to 6pm. By 6pm we found ourselves wandering around a Target aimlessly in some miscellaneous city in New Jersey.

There is a certain point in shopping at such stores where a person's mind starts to shut down. You feel like you're floating above yourself watching in limp-fisted agony as you plod your way through an impossibly boring shopping list consisting of deodorant and laundry supplies.

I don't know if there's a medical term for this but I'd like to coin a term: Target Haze.

After visiting a myriad (well, three) friends in Brooklyn last night who were celebrating their birthdays we took an obnoxious 2 hour drive home through dense early morning traffic.

If Target Haze is the term to describe yesterday then Ikea Hangover would be the term applied to today. That is when you wake up to find your home filled with brown boxes and nowhere to put your newly purchased goods.

To make up for an extremely full day we spend most of today (okay, all of today) assembling our Ikea purchases and watching The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. All in all it was a pretty great day.

Then it was time to eat.

I toasted up some supremely stale slices of ciabatta bread and topped it off with this salsa I made from the Greenmarket tomatoes and corn with a little avocado. I sprinkled a tiny amount of cayenne over the top and served it with some mixed baby greens. Also, I served it on these new plates we got at Ikea yesterday.

For the main course I centered the leftover minted zucchini and tomato on a plate with some broccoli rabe and mozzarella ravioli from New York Ravioli and Pasta Company

With twenty minutes of cooking complete it's time to return to cleaning out our Expedits so we can find room for our new Slomjårg and Thürkeldran.

I wonder if they have any Ikeas in Botswana.