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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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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!

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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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?


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.

The Polenta Space

23 Feb

Perhaps it started months ago, when all of us New Yorkers were, under our breaths, cursing winter… I wanted winter… I craved winter… I wanted thick hearty foods… Gooey, sticky braised meatsGrainsSoupsRoastsPastasBreads.


It was during this time, when winter was shyly avoiding our fair coast (and this may seem silly) that we discovered polenta. Yes, that’s where the silly comes in. Discovering polenta? That’s like saying we discovered North America, yet, we (The Boy and I) had missed polenta. We were into grits, and risottos, and pastas cooked like risotto, and grains cooked liked risotto… but polenta had been but a momentary blip on the radar.

When I made the boar, the weirdness of the polenta having arrived in a shrink-wrapped sausage-like packaging totally outweighed my lust for creamy, delicious grains. It’s only been since moving, when I go grocery shopping on my lunch break that I discovered the utter, Nobel-deserving amazingess of 5-minute (and $2.49 a box!) instant polenta.


Radishes, Carrots, Polenta, Mint

5 minutes. Perfect, creamy, tasty polenta.

And last night I did a comparison against pasta. For basically the same size serving, polenta has about half the calories and carbohydrates (if you’re into that kind of thing) and slightly less fat than regular white wheat pasta. This comparison came about  after dinner, The Boy asked me, “So why aren’t we eating polenta two or three-times a week?” I tried to make it about health concerns, and I was sorely beaten into submission.

So, what’s my point? Polenta is an incredibly delicious and elegant blank canvas.

On Sunday, coming back from a shopping mission in the city, The Boy and I got into a discussion on cooked radishes. We conjectured as to whether they’d be any good cooked and decided it might be worth trying. We roasted them with carrots because I thought their sweetness would offset the radish’s bitterness, but it was totally unnecessary.

Roasted Radishes & Carrots

Radishes, when roasted, loose all of their bite. All. None. I found on the Internet those that praise the taming of their bite, but, uh, excuse me, the beauty of radishes is their bite. They were still delicious, but I must admit, I was a wee bit disappointed. I planned the meal around their assumed acerbicness. The carrots for sweetness. The polenta for smoothness. The ricotta for creaminess. All that aside though, it was a nice meal. The mint added that something extra, the perfect interplay with all the earthiness (I promise that’s the last -ness).

Conversely however… Braised escarole and polenta.

Suburban Brooklyn

The escarole had been purchased as supporting character in my Green & Gold soup, but had proved unnecessary. It sat in the crisper all week waiting for its turn as the star in a good after-work dinner. Finally, last night, it happened. The Boy minced garlic and washed and chopped the greens. When I got home all I had to do was brown the garlic in good olive oil, add the escarole and homemade stock and make the polenta.

The result? Something I hope Molly would approve of. She recently discovered escarole as a salad green, which was the only way I knew it until this past Christmas. My mom served it to us braised and I was gobsmacked. For thirty years she had served it to me as only a salad green. She’d been holding out on me.

Sauteed Escarole & Cheesey Polenta

Raw escarole is lovely, somewhere between romaine and radicchio, but the application of heat coaxes out a demure silkiness that I find tantalizing. The greens grasp the garlic and turn limpid in the hot oil yet retain a delightful crunchiness that is just so much more exciting than spinach.

Cooked for 7 minutes and served over creamy polenta with a dusting of pungent Romano cheese, it is the very best sort of weeknight dinner. Fast, healthy, utterly, seductively delicious.

So why haven’t we been eating this dish 2 or 3 times a week for the past 6 months? I don’t know, but it’s something I’m going to work hard at rectifying.

Head below the jump for the recipes for Roasty Toasty Radishes & Braised Escarole.

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Q·E·2: Rabe & Ravs

10 Nov

It’s been one of those weeks. No, not one of those. One of those.

You know, the kind of week that by Monday night, you wish there was a “re-set” button. And then by Tuesday night, you wish there was a gym coach you could turn to and ask for a “re-do.” By Wednesday night you don’t know how you’re going to get through the week, but at least it’s half over now. And then on Thursday night you’ve just slammed your head into your keyboard so hard that you’ve given yourself a minor concussion, fallen off your chair and had to call the IT guy to replace the “G” key on your keyboard. Yeah. It’s been that week.

Of course on Monday evening I had no idea it was going to be like this. I had an inkling; that sick sort of sinking feeling that hovers around the pit of your stomach, but no concrete idea, yet. So when the boy called me at work and told me he’d already cleaned and trimmed the broccoli rabe for dinner, it made me smile. I gave him blanching instructions, wrapped up my work and had a nice walk home.

On Sunday we had gone cruciform crazy at the Tompkins Square Greenmarket. We bought purple Russian kale, purple mustard greens, tiny yellow cauliflower, romanesco and a trove of Brussles sprouts. The kale and mustard were consumed that day, the cauliflower, romanesco and sprouts are still languishing in the fridge. I hope they’re okay (I really ought to check on them).

Back to the rabe. I love the stuff. I love its pungent, clean, antiseptic bite and its hidden soft sweetness. It has always surprised me that my lover-of-all-things-cruciferous boyfriend insists that he doesn’t like the stuff. Now I know why.

When I walked in he said to me, “You know, I was getting worried because the rabe didn’t look how I’ve always remembered it, but now that it’s cooked, it looks right to me.” So I sauntered over to the sink and looked in the colander at the sad, wet mass huddling at it’s bottom and without thinking turned to the boy and said, “Where’s the rest of it?”

What do you mean the rest of it? The rest of it. Huh? The stalks, the florets, the rest of it. In the garbage. What? In the garbage. Well what’s it doing there? I threw it away. I thought you only ate the leaves, that’s all I’ve ever been served. Oh. Well, no wonder you say you don’t like the stuff.

So there we were, standing in the kitchen, me frustrated, him feeling bad, neither of us knowing what to do. My first impulse was to bin the soggy stuff and go out for dinner, but I was tired. Even though Monday was probably the best day I had all week, I didn’t know it at the time. I was cranky and crabby and hungry.

So I picked up a few leaves and squeezed the liquid out and tasted it. Happily, they were imminently salvageable. So I turned to the one thing that can rescue any evening and turn it from tense and testy into something special, lobster ravioli.

Lobster Ravioli With Broccoli Rabe

I set a pot of water to boil, heated a sautée pan with oil, popped in a few cloves of garlic (squeezed through my garlic press, natch) and added the well-drained rabe leaves. I doused them liberally with lemon juice, chile flakes, porcini powder and salt and pepper. When the ravioli were cooked we scooped the glistening leaves over top and dug in. It was delicious. The night was saved.

But it wasn’t.

After washing up and some making up (I’m sorry I was cranky. I’m sorry I don’t know how to clean rabe) I sat down at the computer to finish the work I hadn’t been able to while I was still in the office. No dice. Apparently someone had forgotten to feed the hamsters and gerbils again because there was a dead server somewhere blocking all my attempts to log-in. I called a friend that lives nearby hoping hers was working, but again, no dice.

So, a glass of wine down, I hopped in a cab at 8.30pm and went back to work. By the time I was done and in another cab on my way home I had decided I wanted, no I deserved, a dirty vodka martini when I got home.

Now let me say this to you friends… Should this occasion ever happen to you, when you’re sitting in a cab justifying the consumption of a pretty healthy dose of hard liquor later in the evening after a sucky day at work, remember this tale. I’m not by any means blaming the booze, that would be heresy. But I have to wonder, would this week have been quite so loathsome if I hadn’t woken up with a splitting headache on Tuesday morning? I have no idea. But I do know one thing.

Thank frickin’ god it’s Friday.