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From The Back Of My Pantry: Meat And Potatoes

23 Jan

Editor’s Note: Yep, we’re still taking a trip in the time machine and looking back at recipes from the early days of The Granny Cart. Sher wanted to know how the move‘s going. Sher: slowly. Ugh, so tiring, both physically and mentally.

We took a break between trips on Saturday and found an amazing, local Polish restaurant, Polonica, who’s clear borscht always has mushroom uszka, and might possibly be better than either Veselka’s or Polonia’s. I think 2007 is going to be the year The Great De-Beet goes Borough v. Borough, and Blogger v. Blogger!

The other reason to go to Polonica? The salads. Usually at most of these Polish restaurants you have to choose one or two salads to go with your entree. Say, Bigos with Red Cabbage and Beet Salads. Or Suffed Cabbage with Sauerkraut and Carrot Salads. But at Polonica? No choosing. You get ALL of them. Yep, all. And the best part? Every single one of them is fantastic.

So, even though the move continues to be a long slog, we’re eating our way through it. By this time next week, it’ll all be over. I cannot wait for next Tuesday!

Meat And Potatoes. Originally published March 7, 2006.

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In Sunday’s New York Times, Julie Powell asks, are Americans ready for Nigel Slater? And I say to her, “Honey, I’ve been ready for him for years!” She calls him “a yuppie hooligan”. Maybe he is, but that’s never how I imagined him.

Nigel Slater Appetite

Who is Nigel Slater then? To me, he’s the thinking woman’s Naked Chef, he’s the slightly more grizzled (and male) Nigella Lawson. He’s the guy constantly sitting on my shoulder while I’m cooking, saying, “calm down, it’s just cooking!”

I’ve never seen his shows, and I really don’t know anything about him that I didn’t learn from the only book of his I own, Appetite, but I love what he says in it.

Nigel Slater Appetite

This is the ultimate first cookbook. He talks about how to build a kitchen, how to stock a pantry, and how to cook for only you, or a party of 50. His recipes are barely recipes; they’re more like guidelines, a list of things to put together, and then yeah, you go ahead and riff on that. It’s an approach I not only appreciate, but also whole heartedly endorse.

So, in honor of Nigel’s shout-out in the Gray Lady, I cobbled together an entrèe from one of his recipes entitled “A Pork Roast”. The recipe is supposed to be made with fresh pork belly with the skin on. Now, I know I live in one of the most foodie friendly cities in the world, and I consider myself a pretty savvy food shopper, but I had A) no idea where to get pork belly, and B) truly no desire to tackle this cut of meat myself. This is why god invented Alias and Uovo.

Pork Loin

I also chose to “follow” his advice and use his garlic and rosemary variation. Oh, and I decided to braise the pork, rather than roast it, and to use a loin instead of a belly, and to braise in verjus rather than white wine, but hey, this is a Nigel recipe, which means, as long as it tastes good in the end, then all is well!

Pork And Ugly Peas

I served the pork with what can only be fairly called Chartreuse Mash. It was a goaty riff on Smashed Potatoes And Peas from this months Gourmet. I couldn’t figure out why there was no picture of this slightly flawed recipe, and now that you’ve see mine you’ll understand why… this is one ugly dish, but oh. my. god. is it GOOD. Make it, now. You’ll thank me for it!

Head below the break for the detailed recipes.

Continue reading

Meat And Potatoes

7 Mar

In Sunday’s New York Times, Julie Powell asks, are Americans ready for Nigel Slater? And I say to her, “Honey, I’ve been ready for him for years!” She calls him “a yuppie hooligan”. Maybe he is, but that’s never how I imagined him.

Who is Nigel Slater then? To me, he’s the thinking woman’s Naked Chef, he’s the slightly more grizzled (and male) Nigella Lawson. He’s the guy constantly sitting on my shoulder while I’m cooking, saying, “calm down, it’s just cooking!”

I’ve never seen his shows, and I really don’t know anything about him that I didn’t learn from the only book of his I own, Appetite, but I love what he says in it.

This is the ultimate first cookbook. He talks about how to build a kitchen, how to stock a pantry, and how to cook for only you, or a party of 50. His recipes are barely recipes; they’re more like guidelines, a list of things to put together, and then yeah, you go ahead and riff on that. It’s an approach I not only appreciate, but also whole heartedly endorse.

So, in honor of Nigel’s shout-out in the Gray Lady, I cobbled together an entrèe from one of his recipes entitled “A Pork Roast”. The recipe is supposed to be made with fresh pork belly with the skin on. Now, I know I live in one of the most foodie friendly cities in the world, and I consider myself a pretty savvy food shopper, but I had A) no idea where to get pork belly, and B) truly no desire to tackle this cut of meat myself. This is why god invented Alias and Uovo.

I also chose to “follow” his advice and use his garlic and rosemary variation. Oh, and I decided to braise the pork, rather than roast it, and to use a loin instead of a belly, and to braise in verjus rather than white wine, but hey, this is a Nigel recipe, which means, as long as it tastes good in the end, then all is well!

I served the pork with what can only be fairly called Chartreuse Mash. It was a goaty riff on Smashed Potatoes And Peas from this months Gourmet. I couldn’t figure out why there was no picture of this slightly flawed recipe, and once you see mine (below the break) you’ll understand why… this is one ugly dish, but oh. my. god. is it GOOD. Make it, now. You’ll thank me for it!

head below the break for the detailed recipes (and one ugly picture!)

Continue reading

Like Herding Ducks

29 May

I fried some tomatoes last weekend.

Unfortunately, not in a culinary sense.  There was a frost warning Sunday and Monday nights, so my mom told me to put up-turned terra cotta pots over the two tomatoes I had planted.

But what turned out to be even worse than the frost was the two days of 90°+ heat on Wednesday and Thursday.  My poor helpless tomatoes fried in their own little pizza ovens.  By the time we woke up on Saturday morning they were shriveled and dead, dead, dead.

And then there were the beans.  Also dead (not sure if the frost or the heat got them), except for the ones that survived and are infested with aphids.  Where are all those ladybugs that lived in our house with us all winter long when I need them?

It’s kind of a relief though.  I knew something had to go wrong in the garden eventually, so I guess I’m hoping that this will be the extent of it.  For all my cranky, curmudgeonly complaints, I’m still a wide eyed optimist.

Want to see a really pretty picture of a tiny rooster? Head below the jump.

Leisure

31 Aug

We’re good New Yorkers.

The view from Fairway

We rely on public transportation to get around. I’m nice to tourists. He walks incredibly fast. We indulge in real estate porn. I have a favorite spot in Prospect Park, he has one in Central Park. We know how to tell if a taxi is available (and share this knowledge freely). We love Grandma Slices and know who Dr. Z is. I do the bulk of my shopping at Greenmarkets and bodegas. I haven’t been to a Wal-Mart in more than a decade. We don’t own a car.

Can you guess what I am?

And so, like many, many, good New Yorkers, come tomorrow morning we’ll be jumping in a rental car and glomming onto the good will of two friends who own a country house to revel in the last days of summer. God I love three-day weekends!

And yet…. I’m a little sad that summer’s ending. It seems to have been less profound out here by the water in Bay Ridge. It’s amazing how much less painful 100° days are when you’re not spending them boiling to death in a 350 square foot, east-facing oven with no cross ventilation.

Wires

We’ve only used the air conditioner once this year. And yet… I’m still bummed. I didn’t do a lot of the things I thought living out here in the “suburbs” would allow me to do. I never once sat on the stoop and read the entire Sunday Times cover to cover. We never pulled out the teeny tiny barbecue and grilled anything. We never picnicked in the park at the end of our street and I haven’t gone swimming once this year.

Sad

Yes, yes, there’s still time to do all these things, and let’s be honest, September is the greatest month of weather in New York City (those planning vacations to Gotham take note of this insider gem) and therefore ideal for many of these activities. And yet… I feel it’s somewhat hasty to be heralding the end of a season I kind of feel like hasn’t even gotten started yet.

Locks

And so I’m going to kick back and hope for good weather up in the mountains. I hear there will be beer, and maybe some vintage baseball and definitely some grilling and if it’s hot enough even a trip to the town pool.

I won’t be laboring very hard and I hope you won’t be either, so I’ll leave you with three incredibly easy recipes for enjoying Summer’s bounty.

Teeny Tiny Salted ‘Taters

Buy really, incredibly tiny red potatoes, wash them and then cook them in the saltiest of boiling water until tender. (For more detailed instructions see the recipe for Salt Potatoes).

Teeny Tiny 'Taters

The traditional way to eat these would be with drawn butter alongside a heaping platter of clams. But why not toy with tradition and eat yours with romesco sauce or Viking-style with mustard and dill?

Teeny Tiny 'Taters

Panzanella

Like your tomatoes with bread? Tired of sandwiches (is this even possible?)? Too hot to try Luisa‘s amazing sounding soup? Why not try a tomato and bread salad! Those crafty Italians gave it a fancy name so you can serve it to people without saying, “It’s, uh, tomato and, uh, stale bread, uh, salad.” Instead you can walk up to the table with a big bowl and say to everyone in your finest Sophia Loren accent, “It’s Paanzaneeeeellla! Prego! Go! Dig in! Everyone eat! Mangia!” and be adored. God the Italians are brilliant.

Panzanella

To make it crush a few cloves of garlic in a garlic press, toss them into a bowl with a healthy pinch of salt, a luxurious glug of olive oil and splash of red wine or sherry vinegar (please, no balsamic). Cube up some of your prettiest heirloom tomatoes, toss them in, mix and add some roughly chopped basil. Grind in some pepper and mix it up again. Add cubes of stale bread, toss one last time and serve with a smile.

Squash Carpaccio

I was at the Greenmarket a few weeks ago at the same stand where I bought the eggtoes. And see, here’s another thing that makes me a good New Yorker. There was a guy buying some so I briefly told him about my recipe, he said thanks and I walked away feeling good. I was buying Avocado Squashes because they were pretty and I’d never heard of them before. I walked up to pay and the lady in front of me turned and said, “Ooooooh those are delightful prepared like carpaccio!” Really? I asked. “Oh yes,” she said, “Just slice them very thin and dress them with lemon juice and olive oil.” Thanks! I said, and I actually meant it. She’s a good New Yorker, too.

Avocado Squash Carpaccio

So I took her at her word and boy was she right.

Avocado Squash Carpaccio

To eat her good advice simply slice a few avocado squash very thinly and arrange on one plate per person. Sprinkle with a little salt and some freshly ground pepper and dress each plate with the juice of half a lemon, a healthy glug of the very best extra virgin olive oil and a few capers. Top with a handful of arugula dressed with lemon juice and olive oil and a few shavings of Parmesan and more freshly ground pepper. Your vegetarian friends will thank you, but so will everyone else!

So get out there America! Go grill some steaks, prop your feet up on a cooler and enjoy this last weekend of Summer.

This good New Yorker will be right alongside you. Just don’t work too hard doing it, that would be unpatriotic!

P.S. I just noticed that my little stats counter says I’ve had my 100,000th visitor. What a milestone!  Whomever you were, thank you so much for stopping by! The same goes to all of you, from the first to the last, who have made my little blog so much fun and so fulfilling. You guys rule!

Q·E·2: Scandinavian Spuds

9 Mar

It’s that time of year. Veggies are looking sad, no matter where you buy them. Hearty winter dishes have lost their appeal. Is there anyway to eat one more root vegetable?

Yes.

Take a cue from summer and boil up a pot of salt potatoes. The spuds might not be the smallest, or the best, but they’re still delicious hot, cold, plain or doused in butter, or better yet, why not dress them up as Vikings?

No, I don’t mean that you should run out and buy a little horned hat for your Mr. Potato Head. Instead I would encourage you to track down some Nordic mustard.

Nordic Mustard

This stuff hails from the ancestral home of Hamcheese and maker of the most amazing chicken pot pies, Nordic Delicacies on 3rd Avenue out here in Bay Ridge. I originally bought it because I liked the packaging, and my condiment addiction needed a fix, but, like most condiments, the mustard proved to be much more than a pretty face.

It has the most wonderful texture. Each little mustard seed pops in your mouth as you chew. It’s somewhat sweet, with just a hint of mustard bite, much different from it’s Polish cousins who tend to be brash and bright, and somewhat overwhelming.

So let’s say that you’ve managed to get some Idun Sennep Grov mustard and you were motivated enough to boil up some spuds. Now what?

Scandinavian Spuds

Take a few ‘taters and heat them up in a pan with butter or olive oil. Mash them as they’re cooking with the back of a fork until they’re broken apart.

When heated through, place in a bowl and mix in a truly healthy dollop of mustard, a little yogurt or sour cream, a dash of lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt, a pinch of curry powder and a dusting of fresh or dried dill. A few chunks of chopped up cornichons would taste amazing in this as well.

Mix to incorporate, sit down and try to eat with a fork.

Just because your potatoes are wearing Viking garb doesn’t mean you should eat like one.