Search results for 'veselka'

Mt. Greylock

1 Dec

We got to the top, and there was nothing to see.

And yet in a completely white world, there was plenty.  After spending about 10 minutes in blinding whiteness I concluded that I’m really quite happy I never settled on “Arctic Exlorer” as a career path.

We thought we were supposed to be following the red blazes, which took us tromping off willynilly into the forest.  Multiple times they would just *poof* disappear.  But the baby blue blazes, they looked solid and dependable, so we decided to follow them.

And they took us to the top.  Up through the ancient, breathing, dripping rain forest and out into the wide white world, 2,200 feet above where we started.

What to eat after a seven mile hike? Pork of course!

Root Down

10 Nov

When I’m stressed out, I buy books.

And so, on the day before my surgery, I found myself in the cookbook section of the Strand.

I was looking for a copy of Nigel Slater’s Appetite to give as a going away present to an aspiring home cook, but what I was finding was a mountain of books I wanted.  There was I Know How to Cook, Momofuku and Ad Hoc at Home; Jim Lahey‘s new bread book, Judith Jones‘ treatise on the pleasures of cooking for one, the surreal world of Heston Blumenthal and no Nigel.

So, I grabbed a classic Jamie Oliver tome for my co-worker, and, just for good measure, The Veselka Cookbook (complete with a recipe for my beloved Christmas borscht!) and for absolutely no reason (other than I’m a sucker for puffy book covers), Stephane Reynaud’s French Feasts for me.

On Friday, Isaac made us a beautiful pureed cauliflower soup while I lazed on the couch, trying to purge the anesthesia from my body as quickly as possible.  By Saturday morning, I was ready to get up and go again (I think they give you something when you have surgery to make you feel energetic and happy the day after), so we wandered down to the Tucker Square greenmarket.

The plan was to roast the last of the wee tiny beets and bitty little carrots from the garden, but we needed to supplement them with something.  So I grabbed a butternut squash, an acorn squash, a bouquet of sage, rosemary and thyme and a smoked duck breast.

Here’s where I divulge to you an embarrassing secret:

Want to know what it is? Head below the fold.

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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Savory, With A Side Of Sunshine

22 Mar

Thank god for Latin.

Without this sad dead language, the only class in my entire life I gave up entirely, I’d be lost.

Wine Garden

I tried very hard to read Winnie the Pooh like an ancient Roman, but the look of perplexed amusement on my Professor’s face every morning when it was my turn to read to the class was too much. One morning he actually laughed out loud and asked, “Tell me again which language you spoke before this class?” I sheepishly replied, “German.” At which he nearly fell off his desk laughing and between gasps got out, “You have possibly the worst accent in Latin I’ve ever heard.”

I never went back to class after that. I decided that sleeping until 10am was far more important than being ridiculed by a tiny Englishman speaking a dead language every day for the rest of my freshman year. Sadly I hadn’t learned enough to become truly pretentious, but luckily I had learned enough to be good at parsing the etymology of taxonomic names.

Ah, The Majestic Gowanus

Why should anyone who cares about food care about etymology and taxonomy? Because it can free you to shop in stores where not only do you not know the language, but sometimes you don’t even know the alphabet!

Case in point? Those amazing dried porcini mushrooms.

All the packaging is in Polish, except for their scientific name Boletus edulis and the word borowik, which rang a bell as the mushroom used as the stuffing for uzska. Now, if I hadn’t had at least a little Latin in my life (well, that and wikipedia) I might have written both these recipes telling you to use borowik mushrooms, when I could have told you to use ceps, porcini,king boletes, steinpilz or even crow’s bread mushrooms. Confused yet?

So rather than bowing to one language over another, I can just tell you to look for the little italic script on the dried mushroom packaging that says B. edulis.

Want another example of useful culinary Latin? Fish. There are so many names for fish, and they can sometimes be confusing.

Case in point? Escolar, aka Snake Mackerel , aka Lepidocybium flavobrunneum, which is sometimes passed off as Chilean Sea Bass (another misnomer as they aren’t even bass), aka Patagonian Tooth Fish, aka Dissostichus eleginoides and I believe also Butterfish of which there are three kinds, Alaskan (Anoplopoma fimbria), American (Peprilus triacanthus) and Pacific (Peprilus simillimus), but may actually be a kind of Oil Fish (Ruvettus pretiosus).

See, just a little Latin and a friendly fishmonger can save you too from a night of unbearable, gut twisting intestinal pain.

Anyway, back to the mushrooms.

Opening the package of dried B. edulis is like walking through a thick, ancient, verdant forest after a day of rain. Musky, earthy, vegetal aromas waft through the air as they soak in the hot water. If umami has a smell, it is this.

The scent memory was locked in my brain the whole next day after making the porcini spätzle. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I was a woman obsessed. And so somehow I convinced The Boy we needed to eat more mushrooms that very next night, and with pasta (not his favorite thing in the world), but I think the words farro (aka emer wheat, aka Triticum dicoccon) and risotto won him over.

What happened to the risotto, or absorption method of cooking pasta that had the foodblogosphere so in it’s thrall last year? Has everyone forgotten it? I certainly hope not because it’s a lovely and amazing way to impart flavor and a gorgeous texture to a simple pasta dinner.

Arugula, Raddichio, Blood Orange & Dill Salad

For this dish I soaked the mushrooms and then used the liquid as the cooking liquid for the farro curlicues to absorb. The result was intensely mushroomy in a seriously sensual way. The pasta was silky, yet firm and highly perfumed, enveloped in the shadowy, musky, almost feral, aromas of porcini and fresh sage.

I knew the dish was going to be intense so we planned a light, fresh sunny salad to go alongside it. Sharp and bitter greens with blood oranges, dill and a slightly sweet lingonberry/Scandinavian mustard vinaigrette with chopped hazelnuts (aka filberts aka Corylus avellana) on the side. The salad was a breath of sunshine in these depths of winter.

Lingonberry/Mustard Vinagrette

The filberts were also excellent on top of the pasta, lending a distinctive crunch to the dish.

Sometimes all it takes is a nut to tie it all together.

And yes, that is a Jack Daniels glass I use to mix my salad dressings. You mean, you don’t use one too?

Head below the jump for the recipes for Posh Porcini Pasta and Sunshine Salad.

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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.


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.

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