Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Je visite a Paris

This afternoon, I'm flying to Paris with my husband to celebrate our first anniversary. How time flies. I promise lots of good food writing when I return. I've been practicing my french to make sure I can ask "Ou se trove la boulangerie?" whenever I feel the need for a pastry which I anticipate will be about every hour. Au revoir till next week!


The American Cheese Society has announced their annual best in show (or best in cave?). I plan on printing out the pdf -or at least part of it and taking it to the grocery store next time I'm up for a patriotic cheese adventure. Enjoy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fancy BLTs and another great way to use pickled jalapenos

This 'slider' recipe from last week's New York Times Dining section caught my attention. It's adapted from Stanton Social, a great, fun lower east side restaurant where I have had addictive kobe sliders. I'm guessing those weren't quite as make-at-home friendly, but these are good too...if not equally good. I propose one change which actually takes them even further from sliders than they already are -use a whole slice of bread and adapt other ingredients accordingly if you're serving these for a meal instead of as appetizers. That way there's no wasted brioche. And why would you want to waste the buttery goodness that is brioche?

Melted Cheese Sliders
Adapted from the Stanton Social Time: 40 minutes

Adapted from the Stanton Social

Time: 40 minutes

12 thin slices sandwich bread, preferably a brioche loaf, crusts removed

1 small clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/3 cup mayonnaise

3 ounces white Cheddar cheese, preferably artisanal, shredded

6 slices country bacon, preferably peppered

4 to 5 tomatillos, husked

3 tablespoons flour

3 to 4 pickled jalapeños (sold in jars)

24 cilantro leaves.

1. Use a 2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut 24 rounds of bread. You should be able to cut 2 rounds from each slice. Lightly toast. Set toasted rounds on a cutting board. Mash garlic and lemon juice to a paste in a mortar or on a flat surface. Mix with mayonnaise. Spread seasoned mayonnaise on toast rounds. Top half the rounds with cheese.

2. Fry bacon. Cut each slice in four. Slice tomatillos in 12 fairly thin slices, dip in flour and fry in bacon fat until lightly browned. Cut jalapeños to make 24 thin slices. Place 2 cilantro leaves on cheese, add 2 pieces bacon, a fried tomatillo slice and 2 slices jalapeño. Top sandwiches with remaining rounds, mayonnaise side down.

3. To serve, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, place sandwiches on sheet, and bake about 5 minutes, just until cheese melts and ingredients are warmed. Secure each sandwich with a toothpick, and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Eat your oysters all year 'round

In the New York Times, Anahad O'Connor debunks the "only eat oysters in months with an 'r'" myth. Since I was posed the same question over the weekend, I thought I'd share my answer in a superiorly written form. Basically the answer is that contemporary commercial shell-fisheries protect our favorite bivalves from nasty tasting algae and keep them from spawning (which also makes them nasty-tasting and flabby) So, slurp away, all summer!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Marlowe and Sons

For we snobby Manhattanites, a visit to Brooklyn means undertaking an uncomfortable journey to a distant state...a hipster state full of ironic t-shirts and pbr. But in the interest of adventure and triangulating locations we journeyed to Williamsburg last Friday to have dinner at Marlowe and Sons, recommended by DA reader Dorothy as 'our favorite restaurant' in Brooklyn. Boy was it worth the trip.

So market driven that its regular menu lists about 10 items, Marlowe and Sons was packed and hot. We started with oysters -the best I've had in recent memory, and then shared run-of-the-mill sweet bruschetta with white cheese and honey. Then things picked up. A special of lobster linguine (homemade noodles, of course) was devoured by our table, and choosing between the menu-favorite brick chicken and the special of homemade meatballs with faro, fennel and yogurt was impossible. Desserts were great too -especially the few bites I snagged of a chocolate caramel tart with sea salt.

Please make the journey to the land of buddy holly glasses and support this fun and affordable place. But, make sure to go early and bring friends so you can swap bites!

Baked Eggs with Herbs

I made these for a brunch this past Saturday. What a hit! A great way to make individual servings of eggs without manning a cook top or griddle. You can substitute whatever fresh herbs you find at the market for the rosemary and thyme.

Baked Eggs with Herbs
Adapted from Ina Garden

1 teaspoon minced garlic (from a jar is fine)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
8 large eggs
3 tablespoons (approximately) heavy cream
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 ramekins

Preheat the broiler for 5 minutes and place the oven rack 6 inches below the heat.

Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and Parmesan and set aside. Carefully crack 8 eggs into individual teacups, measuring cups, etc. without breaking the yolks.

Place 8 ramekins on a baking sheet. 1/8 tablespoon of butter in each dish and pour enough heavy cream to just coat the bottom of each ramekin. Place baking sheet under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Pour one egg into each ramekin, sprinkle evenly with the herb mixture, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place back under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, until the whites of the eggs are almost cooked. Don't overcook! The eggs will continue to cook after you take them out of the oven. Allow to set for 60 seconds and serve on a plate (ramekin will be very hot to touch).

Cheap Eats NYC

New York Magazine's 2008 Cheap Eats issue is now available! It's a great read, with lots of finds.

I especially like the recession food increase tracker. We all know that the cost of basics like flour has been rising and with that the price of our favorite take-out dishes. But to see that a slice of pizza at Di Fara's cost 33% more than last year definitely hammers it home.

The Cheapest of the Cheap is the guide's essentials list. Though, if you're lucky enough to get into PDT (and a good disclaimer for the Cheap Eats issue would be that you'll be making up in drinks what you're saving on eats there) I would actually recommend the John Dog above the Chang or Wylie Dog. It's a deep fried dog in a bun dotted with poppy and sesame seeds and slathered with scallion cream cheese -your favorite everything!

What do I do with all this ricotta?

I hate to waste food and when I had an enormous tub of ricotta left over after I used 3/4 cup in blueberry muffins, I knew I had to find a use for at least some of it, and fast!

Luckily, Cooking Light came to the rescue with Honey-Lavender Ricotta Ice Cream.

This is not your run of the mill ice cream. It's soft-cheese creamy with hints of floral -more along the lines of a fancy restaurant ice cream. It's light (no heavy cream) and a perfect frozen snack for the fifth day of New York City's heat wave. I used reduced-fat ricotta and orange blossom honey, which worked beautifully.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms
3 cups fresh ricotta cheese (about 2 pounds)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 45 seconds or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; stir in lavender. Let stand 30 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl; discard solids. Cover and chill 1 hour.

2. Combine fresh ricotta cheese, honey, and salt in a food processor; process until smooth. With processor on, slowly add lavender syrup through the food chute. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts (serving size: about 1/2 cup ice cream)

CALORIES 190 (29% from fat); FAT 6.2g (sat 3.8g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.2g); IRON 0.0mg; CHOLESTEROL 23mg; CALCIUM 250mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23g; SODIUM 240mg; PROTEIN 11.5g; FIBER 0.0g

Cooking Light, MAY 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blackberries and Plums, In: Raspberries, Out!

It may be your last week or so for fresh local raspberries, so get 'em while you can at your local farmer's market. If you have any left after munching, may I suggest baking them into a cobbler.

Farmer's market finds of the week: blackberries and sweet plums. Not your normal purple-y plums, look for the small orange-y and yellow ones that are almost too ripe. They're a perfect summer treat -a few bites of cool, natural sweetness.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

First Wave of Starbucks Closings

Starbucks has released the locations that are first to close in its 600 store round-up. Check this out to see if you local will survive. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed that not one of the 4 stores within a four block radius of my apartment makes an appearance. In fact, looks like all NYC stores are in the clear for now. Sigh.

Update: Looks like there are some NYC stores on the chopping 2009.

How to order the kind of wine we want. Plus, my favorite dessert wine

Over at Served on Serious Eats, Hannah Howard addresses, from a server's point of view, a very important question: How to serve the right wine to a person who isn't describing their tastes quite clearly? It's an amusing and enlightening article which does make one sympathize with the servers plight in dealing with difficult or confused (or already over-served) customers.

On the flip side, as non-oenephile customers, it is often confounding to describe precisely what kind of wine we want, especially if we don't see a tried and true fave on the list. At a high end restaurant, I tend to trust a sommelier or server to guide me, but I also have an arsenal of types I like at the ready. If I can say, "I don't like oaky Chardonnays, but love Gruner Ventliner," that'll usually get me in the ballpark. And if I'm particularly intimidated or doubtful of the restaurant's selection, I know I can't go wrong with a glass of champagne. I particularly appreciate a place that will let you taste before you buy.

Two things about this article struck me. One, I cannot believe that the woman in question describe the wine she tasted as "gross." That is just rude...and weird, not to mention unhelpful if the goal is to get a drink she likes. Two, I ADORE the Elio Perrone Bigaro wine in question. It is pretty and sweet and festive. Pink and bubbly! A perfect wine to accompany the chocolate truffle tart or a more summery cream based dessert. I encourage you to give it a try.

The Best Fried Clams

I spent a weekend in Rhode Island attending two weddings and their attendant festivities. After a weekend of the three d's (dancing, drinking and dining) we probably didn't NEED an enormous platter of fried fresh seafood (and indeed, we barely made a dent), but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go to Flo's Clam Shack right off of Newport Beach.

I took a picture of the fisherman's platter, but somehow it didn't come out. Trust me, though, it was a mountain of fry: clams, clam strips, calamari, scallops, shrimp, whitefish and a 'clamcake.' The bay scallops were quite good, but the stars, unsurprisingly were the whole fried clams. Crispy on the outside, briny and slimy on the inside. They were the exact opposite of the rubbery, tastless fried clams I've been disappointed by before. If I go back, (and I'm sure I will since my husband fell in love with Newport) I'll limit myself to what is truly worth the cals: whole fried clams. Well done, Flo.

Btw, the lobster roll was also very good, though you curiously have to dispense and mix in your own packet of mayo.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Wonderful, Magical Animal!

It's Pork Week over at! In honor of that I will share one of my favorite food quotes.

Homer: Are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal

That, of course, was from The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Vegetarian" and, in addition to being hilarious, does contain a salient point. The pig is a true nose to tail (or snout to tail) animal; virtually all its parts can be consumed.

Rebecca Traister addresses this truly 'magical' quality all the while referencing one of my favorite authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder, AND detailing how to make your own bacon from scratch! It's a great article.

Happy Pork Week!

Cook's Illustrated Short Ribs

Some of you may know that in fall of 2007 I signed up to be a recipe tester for Cook's Illustrated Magazine. It's been a fantastic experience. It's made me cook things I wouldn't have otherwise, with precision I don't always display, and has given me access to new techniques.

We recipe testers are not supposed to blog about the food before the recipe is published, so I'm just going to give you all a heads up. I got the best short ribs recipe I've ever tasted last night! Yes, its a winter recipe in July, but we test about 6 months in advance of each issue. "Restaurant quality flavor" was the consensus. So, watch out for this incredible recipe (I'll let you all know when it's out in print)

Meanwhile, if you'd like to test recipes for Cook's Illustrated, you can sign up here.

Happy cooking (and eating!)

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I arranged a few of today's market finds patriotically for my photo today. Happy 4th, everyone!

In yesterday's New York Times Dining Section, Mark Bittman continues his 101 series. This time, just in time for the July 4th weekend, it's "101 20 minutes Dishes for Inspired Picnics." What I especially like about this series (including 101 Simple Appetizers in 20 Minutes or Less, 101 Quick Meals, Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less ) is it features simple preparations and few ingredients. It's good to remember it doesn't take much time, effort or exotic ingredients to present simple, delicious meals, especially with the fresh produce, eggs, meat, etc. available at your local farmer's market.