Housekeeping

1 Oct

Over on My New York, I dedicated a post to “The Other Bridge.”

Birds On A Wire

You’ve seen her around these parts a lot lately. She’s a beautiful bridge and is often overshadowed by her more glamorous and famous sister the Brooklyn Bridge.

There’s a few recipes and dishes that I keep meaning to write about that are beginning to feel a bit like the Manhattan Bridge; worthy, beautiful, simple and yet, overlooked. The glamorous dishes and serious cooking have been hogging the spotlight.

Like the two bridges the good story gets all the glory. But, do you know where to get the best view of the Brooklyn Bridge? Why from the middle of the Manhattan Bridge of course!

Dumbo Pebbles

And so, without further ado: A salad, bread & cheese, a juice and dessert.

Michael’s Onions

Michael's Onions

I first tasted these onions at my friend’s poker game a few Fridays ago. Our host had planned to make them on the grill, but due to a series of unforeseen mishaps he ended up cooking them in the oven. They couldn’t be easier, or tastier. Just thickly slice a sweet onion, dot it with a little butter, season with a shake of Lawry’s and then roast in the oven until soft and wiltingly tender. We ate ours with sausages.

Two nights later I just had to make them to top a salad. Equally as good. I don’t keep seasoning salt in the house, so I used various spice mixes my mom has given me over the years and a little salt. They come out so soft and delicious, like the inside of the very best onion rings.

Bread & Cheese

No-Knead Bread

Yep, it’s back. What’s back? No-knead bread season of course! While I conquered my fear of kneading last winter, I’ve been craving Bittman’s magic bread. (As an aside, thank you NY Times for finally removing the asinine Times Select thus allowing home cooks everywhere to access timeless recipes again.) It has a yeasty flavor and magical texture that I haven’t yet been able to capture in my kneaded loaves.

Fromage Blanc & No-Knead Bread

This loaf was 2 cups AP flour plus 1/2 cup white whole wheat and 1/2 cup extra fine semolina. I love the flavor and texture the semolina added, a slight nuttiness, a little extra browning on the bottom and a gorgeous crust on top. We christened autumn’s first loaf with homemade fromage blanc flavored with herbes de Provence.

Fromage blanc is a cultured fresh cheese from France that closely resembles cream cheese. It can be drained to a thicker consistency or kept a little liquidy for use in cooking or making sauces and can be flavored anyway you see fit. You can order the cultures here.

Concord Grape Juice

Concord Grape Juice

Have you ever thought about making your own grape juice? Neither had I, until yesterday. On Saturday I had been seduced by the aroma of concord grapes wafting through the breezes at the greenmarket. Seriously, it’s a heady, addicting aroma. So I bought a quart of them, got them home, smelled them and then looked at them and said, “So, now what do I do with you?”

No, the grapes didn’t answer, but I did finally come up with a solution, I turned to the Shakers. Up at the Watervliet site there’s grape vines everywhere, so I figured they’d have some recipes for them, and I was right. I settled on making some juice for use in a pork roast (more on that later).

All you do is pick the grapes off the vine, wash them, add them to a pan with a scant amount of water an let them boil until the pulp has broken down completely, stirring often. Be warned. If you use a wooden spoon, it will be permanently stained a striking (and attractive) shade of shocking violet. Once the juice has cooled slightly, strain it through a colander lined with cheesecloth. That’s it. You can then use the juice in cooking or dilute it with a little seltzer for a refreshing beverage.

Dessert

Ice Cream & Pretzels

My grandmother grew up in Bucks Co. Pennsylvania. Her favorite dessert, that she claims everyone ate, was peach ice cream eaten with Amish hard pretzels. It was always the treat she gave me when I would visit and I crave it often. While my grammy’s still around, she can no longer remember much of her past, so I keep at least a little part of it alive in this dessert.

Peach ice cream can be difficult to find, luckily the pretzels are a snap. Martin’s, who sell at the Union Square greenmarket, are the real deal, exactly like the ones I remember her brining back from her annual visits to Bethlehem. If you love the combination of salty and sweet, this is the treat for you. I especially like it with vanilla goat’s milk ice cream as a stand-in for the peach. Enjoy!

14 Responses to “Housekeeping”

  1. Kevin October 1, 2007 at 3:38 pm #

    Hey! I have a permanently stained, striking (and attractive), shocking violet wooden spoon too!!

  2. Lydia October 1, 2007 at 8:36 pm #

    Bread, cheese, onions — wonderful. But that dessert is calling to me — hard pretzels and soft ice cream. Oh boy!

  3. Christiane October 1, 2007 at 9:49 pm #

    First off, let me say I adore onions prepared that way. I also toss them in a little balsamic vinegar with a few shakes of salt and pepper and throw them in the oven for a bit.
    And living in Lancaster County, I can honestly say I now appreciate the goodness of a salty pretzel with ice cream, especially homemade peach ice cream.

  4. Christina October 1, 2007 at 11:03 pm #

    I always love your NY pics. Thank you for sharing your view of the city with us.

    I’ve been no-kneading again too, now that it’s cooling down. My regular mix is 21/4 cups AP flour, 1/4 cup whole wheat, 1/4 cup rye, plus 2 T flax meal. It’s crusty, nutty with good but mild grains, and so yummy. I am really intrigued by the addition of extra fine semolina (which I have in the refrigerator), so I’m going to try it out. Thanks for the idea.

  5. ann October 2, 2007 at 8:04 am #

    Kevin — much nicer than the turmeric stained one, right? ;-)

    Lydia — I bet you’d love it. It’s so simple. Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby is kind of the same idea, but done way (too far) over the top.

    Christiane — I was thinking about the balsamic… Good thought! So they still eat this down PA Dutch Country way? Too cool!

    Christina — Thanks. I love that top one, the light is just perfect :-) I love the idea of adding rye flour. I’ve been thinking of toying with malt too. The semolina also works well as the dusting element on the towels. Makes for great crust!

  6. Toni October 2, 2007 at 6:53 pm #

    As an ex-New Yorker, I love the way you always include the city in your posts. It’s like a character in your ongoing story – love it! And, of course, what could be simpler or more pleasing than bread and cheese and onions, followed by a simple dessert?

  7. Virginia October 2, 2007 at 9:02 pm #

    There is a good pretzel recipe in the new King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book. Soft rather than hard, but they satisfy a pretzel craving nicely. As for the peach ice cream, try Applegate Farms in Montclair. And thanks to Christina for the bread variation!

  8. Terry B October 3, 2007 at 11:07 am #

    For me, it’s often these deceptively simple foods that are what cooking is all about. Sure, it’s fun to do showboaty meals sometimes, but good food simply prepared is hard to beat. The first time I had caprese salad, we were staying in a friend’s Paris apartment. I leaned on her kitchen counter, a glass of wine in hand, watching our hostess slice tomatoes and mozzarella and arrange the slices on a plate. A little basil, a little olive oil, some salt and pepper and it was done. The taste of these few simple ingredients was a revelation to me. Thanks for reminding us that simple works.

  9. ann October 4, 2007 at 6:35 am #

    Toni — I’m just here to help ;-)

    Virgina — I’ll be expecting a delivery of homemade pretzels today.

    TerryB — Looks like we were on the same culinary wavelength this week. Your beautiful post was so nice and simple too. As the Shakers say, “tis a gift to be simple…”

  10. Will B October 4, 2007 at 9:34 pm #

    Terrific reading! Thanks for your insights. After almost fifteen years, I decided to try my father’s bread recipe, remembering back to being a young boy watching him kneading and kneading away – but it was all worth it! And I found, now that I have the recipe figured out, that it’s not that difficult to make bread. Mind you, this is just plain ol’ white bread – nothing european or artisanal about it! The flavor comes from using milk instead of water, and good old fashioned lard (can I use that word these days?) and lots of patience. I think it takes about four hours to make, with the active time being only about forty-five minutes. The remainder I spend reading recipes and trying to figure out what’s for dinner. Anyway, thanks for the great reading and interesting meals.

  11. Julie October 5, 2007 at 11:11 am #

    Lots of wonderful things here but the thing that really catches my attention is the fromage blanc. That picture makes me hungry.

    And I agree, the Manhattan Bridge is beautiful. You have some good pictures of it on your other blog.

  12. ann October 6, 2007 at 9:38 am #

    WillB — I love the kneading too. It’s very theraputic and I can’t wait to get back to it once the weather cooperates and gets cold enough to bake again! I’ve heard of that lard and milk loaf. I have a recipe for something similar in one of my Shaker cookbooks I think. Thanks so much for stopping by. You’re so kind to say such nice things!

    Julie — It’s funny, I had reservations about making the fromage blanc, it seemed too simple and too run of the mill, but then I read Year Of The Goat and all these cheesemakers talked about it in such hushed tones as being the best expression of milk’s terroir, and we did find that. It’s delicious!

  13. French Laundry At Home October 16, 2007 at 10:52 pm #

    As a former Amish country gal (York, PA represent!), I can attest to the goodness and loveliness of pretzels with ice cream. In the summertime, we did pretzels with peach ice cream, and in winter, my dad and I ate bowls of coffee and chocolate ice cream, and dipped our pretzels in to scoop out the bites of ice cream. There’s really nothing better. I served pretzels with ice cream at a dinner party a few years ago and my friends thought I was crazy…. until they tried it. Now they have it all the time. How wonderful to read about it here. You made me a little bit homesick just now. :)

  14. ann October 17, 2007 at 7:13 am #

    Yay Carol, thanks for stopping by and assuring me that it’s not just my crazy family that eats ice cream with pretzels! I HEART the idea of pretzels and coffee ice cream. I know what I’m having for dinner tonight! ;-)

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