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Cold Almond Soup, Gilded

17 Jul

It’s hot in New York City. As I write this now, it’s 87°F (dele, now it’s 92°), the same temperature it was when I went to bed last night. It’s so hot I just might (and this is a big deal) overcome a mortal fear and take the bus to work. Yes, that’s hot!

So, how do you beat this kind of heat? Walk very slowly in the shade, drink lots of water, watch old movies, read a book, put a bag of frozen peas on your neck, try to leave work by 5pm (since they turn the AC off at that time, but I never get to leave work before 5pm, so then I sit and boil), eat lots of salads and cold soups.

On Saturday I talked the boy into going over to Boerum Hill in Brooklyn to watch the Bastille Day petanque tournament on Smith Street. I promised him lunch at our favorite restaurant, sweaty Frenchmen and cheap wine. Yeah, none of that happened. Our favorite restaurant was closed for renovations and the petanque tournament was on Sunday. Doh!

On the subway ride home we decided that the best way to salvage the day was with a fabulous dinner, Cold Almond Soup. I was SO excited to make this because it meant that I could finally squirt almonds! I never thought I’d get to indulge in this activity because to be quite honest, I don’t really like nuts of any stripe. Luckily with enough olive oil and garlic applied in the proper way, I do like nuts.

We stopped off at the best new place in the Lower East Side; Formaggio Kitchen (actually, is’s a tie for b.n.p.i.t.l.e.s. between Formaggio Kitchen and Saxelby Cheesemongers). Max, the seriously knowledgeable manager hooked us up with some delicious cheese for snacks and a bottle of gorgeous sherry vinegar from Andalucia (they have huge vats of vinegar and olive oil that you can decant into your own pretty bottle for $1 off!)

Next we bopped over to Economy Candy for some almonds. I couldn’t remember what kind of almonds this recipe took so we got some plain and some roasted. Turns out we only needed plain. (The boy had this soup once about a year ago at the lovely Uovo. We looked up recipes at that time so I was working from memory on this soup).

I think it was the memory of that meal at Uovo that inspired one of the garnishes for this soup which is traditionally served with halved red grapes (or maybe I just wanted to play with fruit some more). The chef at Uovo is a wizard with pickles. One time, he sent my fish out garnished with pickled summer squash, another time we went for the deep fried pickle (I loved, boy hated).

In crafting this soup, I was afraid to make the vinegar taste too intense, so I figured the pickled melon would be a good way of controlling that. And then well, who can say no to garlicky fried bread crumbs, and well, why not just gild the lily and season them with the saffron salt lurking in my pantry? Saffron’s just as Spanish as Ajo blanco, even if one is a peasant food and the other a treat of the bourgeoisie, who says they can’t get along?

And get along they did. Let me just say that this soup was just as beautiful in the mouth as it is in pictures. This is a wonderful, impressive dish for a swanky summertime dinner party, and it’s pretty darn cheap to make too!

Head below the jump for the recipes for this delicious soup and its gilding garnishes.

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The Salads Of Yore

12 Jul

Apparently Spain blissfully missed the days of Jello salads. In the comments yesterday for the blueberry pasta, lobstersquad in reference to the mentioned “salads,” questions: “the jelly salads ?!?!?”. I turn to another one of my old cookbooks for an example. The Big Valley Amish Cookbook, published in 1979, has 26 salad recipes in it. Of those 26 only 7 do not contain either Jello, instant pudding mix, mini-marshmallows or whipped cream! And most of those contain either mayonnaise or bacon, or, well, both! Here’s the recipe for my favorite (the picture is not of this salad, it is what I imagine the salad would look like):

Ribbon Salad – by Lois & Emma Zook

3 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese — 1 c crushed pineapples — 1 box red or orange Jello — 1 c whipped cream — 16 oz. marshmallows — 1 box Lime Jello.

Mix Jello with water like usual, then pour 1/2 of it in bottom of cake pan. Let stand til set. Now mix cheese, marshmallows and other half of Jello. Melt this together. Let stand til set.

Now add 1 c whip cream and drained pineapple, mix and put on top of green Jello. Then mix the red or orange jello and put on top when cool.

Boy have our ideas about cooking changed on this one! So, 30 years ago, Jello + fruit + cream cheese = no guilt good for ya salad eating, but I bet they were still debating about lobsters! (see below)

Photo of the Red And Green Holiday Mold courtesy of Kraft Foods


heirloom·modern: Macaroni Maruzze With Blueberries

10 Jul

For my second installment of heirloom·modern, I found a recipe that allows me to, yet again, play with my fruit. It’s been very hard to find recipes that do not require cooking in vintage cookbooks. At first I thought I’d just be able to make a bunch of salads, but as the Times noted yesterday, the idea of the salad has changed significantly over the past five decades or so. I simply refuse to make any “salad” the requires the use of jello or pudding. Not to judge, but it’s just plain wrong.

So, when the world throws you a bunch of gelatin-enhanced salads, it’s best to ignore them completely and look for another recipe that is easily adapted to a low heat cooking solution. Luckily I found just such a meal in a wonderful old cookbook published in 1966.

Macaroni Maruzze With Blueberries

(Adapted from Feasts For All Seasons by Roy Andries de Groot)

This absolutely unique and delightful cookbook is divided into cooking for the seasons and gives wonderful detailed lists of what fish, meats, vegetables and fruits will be available at market. The entire de Groot family (including the family’s seeing eye dog (Mr. de Groot was hurt in the Blitz and later went blind)) contributed to the recipes.

A later book by Mr. de Groot, Recipes From The Auberge Of The Flowering Hearth, describes a trip he made to France where food was cooked with the seasons and is said to have influenced a generation of famous American chefs (including Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters). Apparently I’ve been living in a cave somewhere because this guy was seriously influential.

This intriguing recipe comes from The Family Meals Of Spring and yet it asks you to cook the pasta for 20 minutes in a 350° oven. Now, maybe it’s just me, but if it’s hot enough for blueberries to be showing up in the markets, it’s also too hot to have the oven on for that long (at any temperature). So I decided to take a slightly different tact on this one.

Since I had such wonderful luck with the risotto method of cooking pasta last time it seemed logical (if a bit risky) to employ it here. I had only heard of it being used with rather small pastas, but I can now say that yes, it does work with slightly larger shapes.

I made one pretty significant mis-step in this meal. Rather than using the wine to deglaze the pan, I added it after I had already put the pasta in the pot. What I realized after I had done this was that the pasta was cooking in the boiling wine, so I had to quickly add the stock, crank the heat down, cover the pot and allow the shells to cook. Unfortunately this imparted a raw wine flavor to the finished dish that wasn’t awful but was in the end a wee bit distracting.

So would I make this pasta again? Yes. It is delicious, gorgeous and very, very unique! I would love to make it for a dinner party to serve alongside a roasted duck or goose. I think in winter it would be a lovely dish if you replaced the blueberries with cranberries. This is definitely a keeper.

Oh, and for those in NYC (or any other city with insane real estate prices) I wanted to share this note I found nestled within the pages of this book:

49 St. E. Charming floor-thu overlooking Turtle Bay Gdns — Sublet early June – mid Sept. $300 mo. PL 3 – 7686


Head below the jump for my adaptation of Roy Andries de Groot’s Macaroni Maruzze With Blueberries.

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Simple, Beautiful, Delicious

9 Jul

Musk melon, decorated with a sprinkle of coarse-ground pepper and wrapped in prosciutto.

Pure bliss…

My Technicolor Weekend

5 Jul

When the NYSE throws a four day weekend your way, it behooves oneself to enjoy it thoroughly! (Yes, I do realise that the weekend was supposed to be about patriotism and revolution and stuff, but, if the exchange’s board members hadn’t decided to close early on Monday, I would have been at my desk and quite cranky).

So, did we enjoy ourselves? Oh yes! Walks were taken despite the horrific heat and humidity. Football was watched. Shopping was done. Relatives were entertained. And of course, food was consumed.

Backyard Barbecue In Brooklyn.

Bison sausages. Jalapeno sauerkraut. Goodies from the new Fairway. Little neck clams. Delicious dill & fennel slaw. Cheese (natch). Grilled baby carrots and a savory cherry salad (recipe below). It was a feast fit for a hungry clan, not just the four of us, but through our valiant efforts I feel we came out victorious over the delectable dishes. And I think we made another bevanda (or whatever you want to call it) convert, too.

Sunday’s Simple Salad.

I woke up on Sunday craving tacos. Not just any tacos, my very favorite tacos in the whole world. But alas, they are gone. They used to reside on 5th Ave. in Brooklyn between 10th & 11th streets at the back of a wedding cake shop, but, no longer. I am very sad. So, to cheer myself up I romped through Target and cruised the Tompkin’s Square Green Market. Happily squashes are back in force as are funny, tender little root vegetables. Ain’t summer grand? Despite the heat the squash needed to be grilled. My grill pan made the apartment hot and a little smokey, but the results were undeniably, deliciously perfect. This is a must-try recipe (find it below the jump).

Hosting Made Simple.

Thankfully, my second trip to Brooklyn for a remembered culinary craving went better than the previous days. The Vietnamese joint was right where I remembered it in Bay Ridge and the fried squid with garlic sauce was just as insanely good. And then, just to make the day even better, we went out for tacos! The boys sister #2 was in town for a visit. We needed to feed her, but the apartment is waaaay too small for four people to eat in, so, we settled upon serving dessert at home only, and not just any dessert, ricotta gelato from a local favorite, il Laboratori del Gelato! The things I learned from this experience are: Mercadito should have more offerings with huitlacoche on their menu, rosé doesn’t pair very well with cheese ice cream, and four people is the absolute MAX my apartment should ever hold!

Chillin’ On The Fourth

With grilling out of the way, entertaining out of the way and serious recipe crafting out of the way, there was nothing left to do on the Fourth but relax. We had an invitation to head over to Red Hook for a party, but, after three straight days of traveling to the County of Kings, it was time to keep it local and low key. Cheese from our new favorite cheese joint and a very low key take on one of my favorite dishes in the whole world: choucroute. I took some of the jalapeno sauerkraut, placed it in a pot and put some of the leftover bison keilbasa on top, put the lid on, set the flame to super low and let it all steam and blend for about 30 minutes. It was delicious, easy as pie and all American (well, except for the bottle of South African rosé… oops!) After dinner we ambled down Houston, found a decent place to watch the fireworks, oohed, aahed, then headed home to contemplate the end of a very good weekend.

I hope it was excellent for all of you too!

Head below the jump for some very simple summer salads.

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