Archive | June, 2007

Sea Breeze

28 Jun

I’m in love.

View From Susnet Park, Brooklyn

The boy and I had a weekend of utterly ridiculous deliciousness and yet, even in the midst of all this gluttonous glory, I have a favorite.

I got it rolling with a pretzel croissant from City Bakery. If you’ve never had one of these, hie thee to W. 18th Street or book yourself a flight to New York, stat. Imagine, the most perfect, airy, light, fluffy croissant, glazed with butter and topped with sesame seeds and sea salt. They’re so awesome they have their own website.

Flame Flower

But woman cannot live on pastry alone. There’s a bodega for every nationality in Bay Ridge. The Poles have one, as do the Ukranians. The Middle Eastern community has several and I’m sure there’s subtle differences between them that elude me. There’s one for the Koreans, many for the Greeks, plenty for the Italians and even one for the Irish.

The Mexicans have one, too, and on weekends the proprietress has taken to selling agua fresca and antojitos from a table on the sidewalk. This past weekend she just happened to be selling Puffy Tacos filled with delicious beans and cotija cheese. Yum.

No thanks. I'm more of a Coca-Cola girld myself.

Saturday dinner you know about, and if you’re a close reader, you know about Sunday lunch, too. Brooklynguy (what, you’ve never been to his blog? Go! Learn about wine!) was kind enough to alert me to the existence of a heretofore unknown barbecue joint existing within walking distance of chateau Granny Cart. We went, and, oh. my. god. That’s good ‘cue! The ribs are ridiculously good, and the pulled pork and smoked brisket ain’t shabby neither. And the portions? Huge! Prices? Totally reasonable.

We had so much leftover meat in our doggie bag that we walked (very, very necessary after a meal of that quality and quantity) to, yep, you guessed it, Eagle Provisions, to pick up a few cabbage salads to eat with the leftovers later in the week. Good stuff, good stuff.

Green-wood Cemetery Flower

The ‘cue put us both into pretty severe meat comas and kept us stuffed until well into the evening. It was very hard to think about eating again, but I had a dinner percolating at the back of my brain that simply needed to be let out. The first genesis of this dinner occurred to me one evening while I was trying to fall asleep. I get a lot of good ideas at this time (also in the shower, oddly enough), but tend to forget them. This one was so good it forced me to recall it.

Green-wood Cemetery Flower

It’s an embarrassingly simple, easy and very, very quick (under 30 minutes!) dinner to prepare, but there’s a key. All the ingredients must be absolutely fresh and utterly perfect.

The scallops should be pink, coral or milky white, not stark, blinding white. They should smell sweet, not fishy in the least.

The peas must be freshly shelled. Freshly shelled and frozen are okay (that’s what mine were) and very, very sweet.

The arugula must be fiercely snappy.

If your ingredients do not match these descriptions, dinner will still turn out good, this one’s a no brainer, but, perfection is it’s own reward and doing this one the right way will make you feel like you’ve channeled Thomas Keller.

Scallops & Peas in Brown Butter with Pistou de Menthe and Strozzapretti alla Rughetta

It’s my new favorite meal ever. I’ve craved it every day this week. The buttery, perfect sweet scallops. The jewel-like peas. The intense yet cooling, herbaceous, spiky yet creamy mint Pistou. The pleasantly bitter arugula lithely wrapped around the nutty, comforting pasta.

It was so good I actually patted myself on the back and grinned like a teenager who’s just gotten her first kiss from her high school crush. I beamed and beamed and then gave myself a standing ovation at the table.

I love this dish.

And if you try it, I hope you love it too.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Scallops & Peas in Brown Butter with Pistou de Menthe and Strozzapretti alla Rughetta.

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The Wurst Is Yet To Come

25 Jun

I’ve been thinking about sausages a lot lately.

MTA Bus Depot

I blame Luisa. She invited me to a blogger dinner at my favorite East Village Ukranian joint, Veselka, last week in honor of Shuna who was in town. The conversation was bright and lively and though carried out while munching on pierogis and kielbasa (Polish sausage), it inevitably turned to ice cream. For this I blame David and his book. He’s turned a world of rational women into ice cream obsessed zombies.

It seems Luisa has been aching for an ice cream maker for this very reason. The always amusing and astute Deb said that rather than buying an ice cream maker she should buy a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and get the ice cream making attachment. Finally, not being one to lust after homemade ice cream (except for this stuff), I saw my entry into this conversation. “Oh, and if you have a stand mixer you can also get the meat grinder attachment and make sausages!” I interjected. Luisa turned to me, laughing, and said something to the effect of, “Ann, if anyone at this table is the one to make sausages, it’s not me, it’s you!” I had to admit, she had a point.

And so, I blame Luisa for my current sausage obsession.

But wait, no, not just Luisa, also Salman Rushdie.

Wild Yarrow

I was sitting on the train reading Fury, heading to the Greenmarket. There’s a wonderful scene where a hapless young gentleman offers a woman his sausage, to which she sharply retorts, “Oh, but there are some animals I simply never eat.”

You see, simply by the accident of their shape, sausages are a funny, embarrassing food; the subject of many jokes, double entendres and awkward moments.

Once I went to my favorite Polish grocery, Eagle Provisions in the South Slope, to buy kielbasa. There were some smaller sausages I had never seen before, so I asked the disarmingly handsome man behind the counter what they were. He said something completely unintelligible to me, and then leaned across the counter in a secretive, sly, conspiratorial way, and whispered, “In my village, we call them little penises. Would you like to try one?” I blushed from the top of my head to my very tiniest toe and stammered something that I think could have been interpreted as yes or no, then he winked at me and said, “Why not I just slip you one?” I think it was at that point that I stumbled backwards, grasped for my package of kielbasa, tripped over a little old lady and nearly took out the entire display of spices.

Beets & Baby Carrots

I had been sent off to the market on Saturday with only one specific instruction: buy baby carrots and whatever else I could find suitable for roasting. The weekend was going to be relatively cool and therefore suitable for culinary activities involving the oven. I found the carrots and gorgeous multi-colored beets, went nutsy buying lettuces and grabbed some other staples before I realized I was very nearly out of money.

But I had sausages on the brain. I needed to buy some bangers.

Beets & Baby Carrots

I approached one stand where a woman was fretting over whether or not the sausages contained wheat gluten. When did gluten intolerance become the new lactose intolerance? Unfortunately for me and my sausage cravings, the proprietor indulged her (most likely) made up concern and launched into a long winded diatribe about how he wasn’t sure what was in his sausages because the FDA won’t let him grind his own and then sell them. Yawn.

Beets & Baby Carrots

So I wandered further up the market to Flying Pigs Farms where I asked the guy what he could sell me for $8. “Anything!” he said. Ah, music to my ears. I settled on herb sausages which are a most magical fate for any pig.

Roasted Bangers, Beets & Baby Carrots

Porky, fatty and herby, the sausages didn’t hide from the roasted vege. Although I felt there was one odd, off-note to the dish the boy was over the moon. He’d been craving a meal like this for months and was heartily satisfied. I was just happy I could stop obsessing over sausages. I was beginning to feel like a walking Freudian slip.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Bangers, Beets & Baby Carrots.

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Fennelification

21 Jun

I had a strange experience yesterday. Things were going a little haywire at work and I was feeling rudderless when I received an email from the Boy. “Have you read this yet?” he typed, “If I didn’t know better I’d swear you wrote it…”

Bay Ridge God Sky

I took a deep breath, mentally closed my ears, turned away from my bulging-over inbox and clicked on the link. It is was an almost offputting sensation, reading someone else’s words that so eerily echo my own in tone and spirit, but the more I read, the more pleasant it became. I think Melissa Clark and I would get on very well if we ever bumped into each other.

She over shops at the Greenmarket just as I do and contemplates pork products, one of my favorite activities on the face of the earth. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in my eccentricities. It’s also nice to know that I could possibly work at the Gray Lady.

Bay Ridge Gingerbread House

In fact just last week I, “fell into a frenzied state of shopping euphoria, buying copious quantities of perishable green stuff.” That’s Ms. Clark’s phrase but it fits exactly what I did. I bought Puntarelle! Upland Cress! Wild Arugula! Baby Fennel! Breakfast Radishes! Shelling Peas! Three kinds of Chevre! A whole wheat Baguette!

Who was I feeding you might ask? Just me and the Boy. Talk about eyes bigger than one’s stomach!

But, no, I was wrong. Out of the blue, the Boy’s friend from home was going to be in the area for business and wanted to stop over. For once my haul was useful! It had a purpose! And yet, even after concocting a huge salad for dinner to eat along with the bread and cheese, there were still greens leftover to linger in the fridge.

And so over the weekend I concocted a simple, snappy, springy pasta dish to use up all the leftovers, including the citrus and onions that have been hanging out since my flirtation with huachinango.

Radicchio Pasta With Citrus Braised Baby Fennel

I caramelized two sweet onions which were then given a citrus and vermouth spa treatment where they were joined by the baby fennel. I left them to braise with green garlic while I boiled up some radicchio linguine and pounded hazelnuts into submission. When the pasta was done it joined the citrusy fennel. Each serving then got a dollop of goat ricotta and a sprinkling of filberts.

Can you tell what I forgot? Yes, the greens. They were supposed to go in at the very last minute to, “add a correctively spicy bite to keep things from getting too cloying,” a role played by radishes in Ms. Clark’s dish. See, we even think alike, but sadly, she actually remembers the maligned vegetables in her crisper drawer, while for me, obviously, it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. This is just one of the many reasons why I should never be trusted to watch over children and small dogs.

Even missing that spicy bite, the dish was outstanding. Satsuma are such a nice fruit. They’re not overly assertive and have the most magical perfume. Their softness perfectly harmonized with the baby fennel who are still growing into their anisey adulthood.

Radicchio Pasta With Citrus Braised Baby Fennel

And the goat’s milk ricotta? Ridiculous. Is there anything goats can’t do better than cows? I suppose steaks, but thats not what we’re here for. I’ve always found ricotta, while perfectly creamy and wonderfully textured, to be rather insipid and bland. Not so goat ricotta. It’s a bit richer feeling in the mouth and just ever so slightly barnyardy and sweet. The perfect foil for this dish. If you can’t find goat ricotta, you could make your own if you can find goat’s milk.

And so, on this first day of summer, I give you this perfectly springy dish.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Radicchio Pasta with Citrus-Braised Baby Fennel.

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Pole-d Pork

18 Jun

I missed the Big Apple BBQ this year. Of course, considering how well it went last year, I’m really not all that broken up about it. A Yankees stadium hot dog is just about as good as a Southside Market Elgin hot sausage anyway, right?

Bay Ridge Rain

I thought I had wallowed only briefly in pork-deprivation misery. A co-worker who was also going to miss the event and I wasted some quality time by toying with the idea of going on the ultimate NYC BBQ crawl; starting in Harlem at Dinosaur, hitting Hill Country and finishing up in the borough of Kings at Fette Sau with sundry other stops in between. It would be a crawl for the ages, for science, for culinary infamy!

Those 15 minutes were the last time I thought about barbecue (I thought).

Park Slope Pretty

We’ve had a 2 pound chunk of smoked pork loin lurking in the refrigerator since last weekend. The Boy bought it last weekend for our aborted dinner of rhubard and roasted carrots, but instead it just sat and waited for it’s ultimate calling.

We had no plans for it other than sandwiches. We’d picked up some Jalapeno Sauerkraut from those freaky, fun Hawthorne Valley kids, impulse purchased some lovage and bought a loaf of bread, that was it.

Park Slope Church

Yesterday was really hot. Finally. It’s been raining like summer here. Most evenings have been punctuated by massive, roiling thunderstorms that have drowned my radishes and ripped my basil to shreds, and yet the temperature has been struggling to stay above 70°.

The tomatoes look miserable. You can tell they want some heat. Maybe not day after day of near 100° heat wave heat, but something. I think they’ve finally gotten what they wanted. One day of near 90°s and they look happier already.

I’m happier, too. We finally found a fourth chair and can begin having people over for dinner, like real adults. We pushed ourselves through the Park Slope throngs and summer sunshine to haunt stoop sales to no avail. Just as I and my legs were about to give up, we found one and were able to take a seat on the subway platform and return home triumphant.

Smoked Pork & Spicy Kraut Sandwiches

The Boy assumed the sandwiches would be a thrown together affair; sliced pork and kraut straight from the fridge. But despite the heat I felt a little warming up was called for. Ibroiled the pork for a few minutes and then kept it warm in the oven. The kraut got mixed in with sautéed onions and simmered with sherry vinegar and a few lovage leaves to provide a counterpoint to the piquancy of the chiles.

Two slices of bread, a slick of slightly-sweet Colorado mustard, a mound of kraut and a few slices of pork all mooshed together and the meal was complete. Pure heaven. We contentedly munched away, oohing and aahing over how something so simple could taste so good. I think I used the term “taste symphony” to describe my culinary happiness.

Smoked Pork & Spicy Kraut Sandwiches

The Boy had other ideas. “You know, if you closed your eyes, this could easily be an Eastern European precursor to a North Carolina pulled pork sandwich,” he said. “I don’t think you’d ever actually see a sandwich like this in Poland,” I replied with a sniff. He sat there, looking at me, munching and contemplating and then an idea struck him and he laughed. “Maybe you could call your post about this Pole-d Pork!”

Apparently I hadn’t forgotten about the barbecue after all.

Head below the jump for the recipe for Pole-d Pork Sandwiches.

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Excuses

14 Jun

Things have been a little hectic chez Granny Cart since returning from Colorado and I’ve spent very little time in the kitchen.

It’s frustrating… This is the very best time of year for the Greenmarket and I’ve already let an entire day’s haul go bad in the refrigerator through neglect.

So, what I’m trying to say is, I have no recipe, no witty post for you today, but I’ll make up for it with, what I think is, a very pretty picture.

The Rocket Returns

If you don’t know who that little man in the circle is, that’s okay, we can still be friends.

The boy’s mother had told us months ago that she’d like to come visit and go see a Yankees game, so we bought some tickets. It just so happened to turn out that the tickets were for the return of Roger Clemens to the Stadium.

I’m not a huge Clemens fan. I remain of two minds as to whether he’s an asset or not, but I can tell you for sure that it was the best game I’ve ever been to. So fun, so loud, such a good time. Exactly what a baseball game should be. Oh, and the hotdog was delicious.

If it had just been the Boy and I returning from a game, we probably would have cooked up some steaks and relaxed with a bottle of wine, but instead we took his mom out to dinner.

And then the next day I was going to cook when I discovered the veggie massacre in my “crisper” drawer.

Ah, how life gets in the way. Instead of Smoked Pork Loin Smothered in Roasted Rhubarb Compote and Baby Carrots, we had a pie from Singas.

So, I hope you’ll forgive me and stick around. I know a recipe site is kinda dull when there are no recipes, but I promise I’ll do my best this weekend, that is if Life doesn’t get in the way again.