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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.

Hey Mac, Say Hello To My Little Friend Sprout…

20 Oct

Toast & butter. Chocolate & peanut butter. Wine & cheese. Spaghetti & meatballs. Turkey & stuffing. Pork & apples. Steak & potatoes. Coffee & donuts.

There are countless perfect culinary combinations. Like Shaggy & Scooby, they stand alone as a classic duo, there’s no need for a third wheel like hyper-annoying Scrappy-doo.

And yet sometimes, a new twist on a classic actually works. Say, a new way of thinking about mac & cheese? Heresy you say? Allow me to explain.

roasty, cheesy

First there was the simplest Mac & Cheese, and there were leftovers.

Then there was the the Rogue Sprout and his roasted vegetable brethren, and there were leftovers.

There wasn’t enough of either to make a meal, so the boy suggested combining them and heating them up together.

roasted vege& mac & cheeseCulinary heresy? Mad dining genius? I’m going with the latter.

The mac got crustier, the vegetables got roastier and cheesier. Combined they felt as if they had taken one step above the simple comfort food plateau.
Do I think this combination will catch on?

Mac & cheese & roasted vegetables?

Nah. Too long, too complicated a name. Let’s just keep this one a secret amongst ourselves.

Now if only they’d done the same with Scrappy…

Q·E·2: Fast, Fresh (or) Frozen

8 Aug

Hi all!

I promise… I will get to our wonderful trip to the Adirondacks soon, but first I wanted to introduce you to my second Granny Cart editorial feature, Q·E·2: Quick. Easy. For 2. (It doesn’t have to be just for two people, but that’s our household). (And also of course you’ll remember that my first editorial feature is heirloom·modern).

My hope for Q·E·2 is to provide those just starting out in the kitchen (or those just completely overwhelmed with work/family) with a few simple tracery books of recipes. These are not handholding recipes (they require you to use your imagination and trust your taste-buds). To that end, I’ll provide bare bones ingredients (hopefully easily obtainable) and a few hints and suggestions.

None of the recipes in this series should be difficult. They shouldn’t require you to stress out or plan overmuch. They should be fun, easy and feed the pit of hunger hibernating in your stomach at the end of a long day at work (after-work drinks also shouldn’t be a factor… you should be capable of making any of these after a couple beers or a glass of wine or two, driving notwithstanding).

So without further ado, I present you with four “recipes” that represent the inaugural edition of Q·E·2.

Cold Soba, Warm Egg

I have a problem guys… A new addiction. It’s called Momofuku. Okay, good I see a few heads out there nodding in sympathy. For those outside NYC, Momofuku isn’t some dread disease, it’s a noodle bar. But this ain’t your ordinary Chinatown stylee noodle bar, this is a noodle bar that serves fresh, local, seasonal cuisine. Berkshire pork, Kurowycky sausages, seasonal pickles (omg, so good, you don’t understand…).

The biggest problems with Momofuku are, 1. I can’t go there everyday, 2. It’s a little pricey to eat everyday, 3. It’s hard to get into (small, no ressies, etc) and 4. Besides all that, they don’t deliver. So, what’s an addict to do? Try and recreate her favorite dish at home, natch!

Tsukemen is described as noodles, dipping sauce, Berkshire pork, poached egg. To recreate at home grab some bottled dipping sauce (aka Soba Tsuyu) from the local asian grocery and mix with some flavorings to make a tasty broth. Try combining the dipping sauce with heavy soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, etc. until you have a flavor that makes you happy. Toss some frozen edamame in salted boiling water. Add some frozen soba (or any Asian noodle) to the water when the beans are about half way done. Drain, rinse under cold water. Very lightly poach an egg for each person (the yolk should be rather runny). To eat: Put noodles & edamame in a bowl, pour dipping sauce over, place egg on top, garnish with pickled ginger and shredded wakame, season with a bit of togarashi. Dig in and slurp ’til your heart’s content.

Lobster Ravioli In Mushroom Sauce

If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, this one is a snap. TJs Lobster Ravioli are a steal at $2.99 a pack, come in the perfect size package for two people, actually taste like lobster, need very little gussying up and, to be frank, feel awfully sophisticated. “What’s for dinner honey?” “Oh, just some lobster ravis.”

Something to try? Saute some minced garlic in olive oil, add some pre-sliced crimini (aka “baby bella” ugh) mushrooms and allow to cook until they release their moisture. Flavor with a splash of lemon juice, some fresh oregano, salt, pepper and a wee bit of butter. Spoon the sauce over cooked ravioli. Mangia!

Truffles Love Eggs

Ever been seduced by one of those cute little jars of truffle pate? You know, the wee bitty ones that promise real truffle flavor without having to pay an arm and a leg? Or maybe it was truffle oil that got you. Either way, the aroma’s usually pretty good, but generally the flavor leaves something to be desired. The easiest way to enhance whatever flavor exists is so very simple, easy, tasty and elegant… scrambled eggs.

Prepare eggs for scrambling (2 or 3 per person, milk or no milk, heavily or lightly whisked, its your call). If using truffle oil, add a little to the eggs before cooking. Scramble in your favorite fashion (high heat, low heat, whisk, spatula, olive oil, butter, again, your call). To serve, place eggs on a plate, top with truffle pate or drizzled truffle oil. Serve with a simply dressed salad of butter lettuce.

Simplest Strawberries

A few weeks ago a guy at the Greenmarket had these beautiful frankenberries. He said they were a hybrid between his cultivated and some wild berries growing on his farm. I don’t care what they were. They were small and beautiful (about the size of a thumbnail) and actually tasted like strawberries. I felt like a kid again, when my mom would send me out for hours to go pick berries. So for a simple dessert preparation, I cribbed one from her playbook.

Halve the berries (quarter if large). Place in a bowl and toss with a tiny amount of sugar and a wee pinch of salt. Cover the bowl with a plate (to keep bugs out) and allow to macerate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. To serve, place in a bowl and drizzle with heavy cream. Enjoy!

Well, that’s all for now. Next time, we go back to the mountains. Happy Tuesday!

Summer’s First Salad

31 May

While this weekend was the “unofficial” start of summer, a few things have happened that have made me realize that I don’t need Memorial Day to tell me when summer officially, or otherwise, starts. One of my barometer’s is the first cold shower. Check. That was Monday. The second milestone is the day I change from hot coffee to iced coffee. Check. That was yesterday. The last, and most important sign that summer is here also occurred yesterday and that was the making of summer’s first chopped salad.

The chopped salad, at least in my mind, is a celebration of bounty. There’s no greens (aside from some members of the chicory family), everything is cut small, and everything is hyper, hyper-fresh. Now, I admit that almost nothing that went into my salad last night was either seasonal or, most likely, local, but it is the thought process that counts. It was hot yesterday. Muggy, overcast, the AC at work was barely cutting it. We had the windows open and my high-maintenance boss made us close them (he can’t concentrate when there’s noise around). It was a slow, lazy day and all I could think of was the symphony that is a summer salad.

I see people all the time on blogs asking for recipes for salads. Seriously? You need a recipe for a salad? Oy vey… What is the world coming to when a person can’t just cruise through the produce aisle and say, “That looks fresh. That looks yummy. Oh man, look at those BERRIES!” purchase them, take them home, cut them up, toss them in a bowl and drizzle some oil and vinegar over them and sit down and pig out? Yes, I guess I’m a salad snob, but, seriously, they’re like, the easiest things to make in the world.

Either way though, all food snobbery aside, I highly encourage anyone looking for a fresh, summery, tasty-as-hell salad to try this one and then, please, improvise on it, add your favorite this or you favorite that, change proportions, substitute vegetables and fruits with abandon, and please, let me know how it goes!

Head below the break for the “recipe” for Summer’s First Salad and some other ideas on how to customize your own summer salad.
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Basic Soup

16 Feb

The best thing in the world is roasted chicken, but not everyone can (or should) attempt the roasting process in their own kitchen.

My kitchen is tiny. How tiny? Probably 12 square feet in total.

One snowy day last winter, I decided to try roasting a chicken myself, but, having a small kitchen (and by default, small cabinets) I had to try roasting the bird in a flimsy, disposable aluminum tray.

Let’s just say, that didn’t go so well…. The bird wasn’t even close to the goregousness of this beauty.

Since then, I have become a convert to the grocery store roasted chickens and I am astonished by the versatility of said birds (a love the good folk at Gothamist share).

My favorite way to ressurect a de-nuded bird for a second meal is to toss some aromatics in a pot and sautee them (garlic, onions, lemongrass, bacon (yes, bacon is an aromatic), mirpoix, whatever), add your leftover shreded chicken, water, and let ‘er rip!

It’s best to let it go for a few hours, it’s a great meal to cook while you’re home sick from work.

Once the broth has achieved a lovely flavor, it’s time to give it some personality.

Toss in some hominy, chiles, raw radishes, raw onions, top with oregano, and you’ve got a take on the mexican classic, pozole.

Add bean thread noodles, firm silken tofu, thai basil, minced bird chiles, a little lime juice and some coconut milk, and you’ve got a riff on tom yum soup.

The combinations are endless and in the weeks ahead, I will give more specific recipes for some amazing meals I’ve concoted out of store bought birds, and their bovine, porcine and poultry friends.