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bars

I don’t think I’ve ever taken advantage of summer fruit to the degree I have this year! Lately, I’ve noticed myself becoming a baker…someone who actually measures things. Which is weird. I am usually a “throw it in” kind of cook. (I am still not the most meticulous baker around). But I have to say, baking is a singularly satisfying activity. It doesn’t have to be complicated — I rarely make anything that requires much special expertise or equipment — but the smell of baking, the satisfaction of watching batter or dough turn into something not just edible but delicious…it’s fun, I’ve got to admit! Especially since baking usually means I have way more than two people could or should eat, so I get to share the results.

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, which I’m sure had been heavily adapted from All Recipes…so here is my take on it. The original featured blueberries and lemon. I switched it up to include sour cherries and almonds. Let your imagination run wild…there are a lot of possibilities here! And if you are not visiting your farmer’s market fruit stands with regularity, shame on you. You’ll be sorry when it’s snowing!

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cheesecake

Just banish the thought of cheesecake from your head. This is more like a quiche, in a way, with the cheese-to-egg ratio reversed, and a lighter texture. I found this recipe on 101 Cookbooks, and modified it a bit. For one, I don’t own any 7″ round dishes, much less a 7″ springform pan (isn’t that a weird size? or is it just me?). I just used my trusty 8×8 casserole dish and modified the cooking time and it was fine.

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radishes

I keep hearing about this very French snack, or appetizer, which is simply radishes with butter and fleur de sel. Sounds pretty great, huh? Well, this month Gourmet featured Radishes with Creamy Anchovy Butter, and boy would this be perfect for a picnic. Before you go all haywire in the brains at the mention of anchovies, trust me, it does not taste fishy. Seriously. Anchovies whole on pizza are one thing, but in Caesar dressing, or here in this butter mixture, I promise you they are just this unidentifiable salty delicious note in the background. I’m telling you, calm down and just try it already.

The recipe from Gourmet made way too much butter, so I just used 4 T. butter; 1 small anchovy, which I chopped finely and then smashed with the broad side of my knife into a paste; a very small clove of garlic, finely chopped; and about 1 t. lemon juice. The original recipe says to blend them in the food processor but that’s hardly necessary. Let the butter soften to room temperature and then just stir until well combined. Serve atop slices of crusty bread, layered with radishes. Sprinkle a little extra coarse sea salt on top if you like.

I think the French are onto something.

Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market. Perfection. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

peaches

redonions

greens

rainbowcarrots

Sometimes I’m sad that I only have 2 to cook for when I go to the farmer’s market. I could seriously walk away with one of everything.

cobbler

Awhile back I made a cobbler with cinnamon-cardamom biscuits, and tonight I did it again — and this time I took a picture.

Cobbler, crumble, crisp…look no further for simple, delicious fruit desserts. This time I used some nice, ripe black plums (5 to be exact) and a pint of blueberries. I was going to use peaches or nectarines, but they were all completely unripe. This was no compromise, though. I can never quite believe the color cooked blueberries become, that deep purple-magenta. It’s almost like the unnatural quality beets have when cooked. That color comes from nature? Really?

plumblueberry

To any cobbler situation, you just fill your chosen vessel with fruit, toss with a couple tablespoons of sugar (more or less depending on the inherent sweetness of the fruit), a couple tablespoons of flour, a pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I added a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract here as well. Top the fruit with these biscuits and then brush with cream (or butter, or buttermilk) and sprinkled with coarse sugar. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes and there you have it. Summer at its finest.

grill

One result of participating in a cook-off is that you become suddenly aware that there are kind of a lot of cook-offs going on year-round. Summer is the season of grilling, so yesterday I attended the 4th Annual Great Hot Dog Cookoff hosted at the Kelso Brewery in Brooklyn, benefiting City Harvest. I’ll admit: I didn’t stay for the whole event, as they were running behind and I had places to be that evening.

But I did sample several of the hot dog creations, including “The French”, served on a croissant with blueberry and raspberry preserves and pepperjack cheese (surprisingly tasty) and the “Displaced Wall Street Executive” dog, which had so many ingredients I couldn’t begin to list them, but most importantly, chili, bacon, and some kind of creamy sauce. The messiest by far, but very, very tasty. And how could I leave out Brooklyn Beer Experiment co-organizer Nick Suarez’s “Corniest Dog in Brooklyn”, topped with (duh) corn, plus 20 other ingredients including cotija cheese, bacon, and a squeeze of lime. It had a nice kick to it, and as evidenced here, I love corn, so it was an obvious winner to me.

I will say that one drawback was that every time the dogs came out (the contestants went in rounds) it was like someone had let the rabid, flesh-eating zombies out of their cages and there were fresh victims on the table. I have never seen so many people get so aggressive trying to grab hot dogs. As a result, I didn’t get any good pictures of actual, prepared hot dogs. I was too afraid of getting my arm ripped off.

And finally, I have no idea who won. For that, you’ll have to visit The Great Hot Dog Cookoff web site in a day or two to find out.

dogx4

tart

I just had to make something with cherries from the farmer’s market. I couldn’t keep walking by those baskets full to the brim of juicy fruit. I don’t recall being much of a cherry fan growing up, but I think cherries are one of my favorite fruits now, particularly in preserves or dried in granola. But ’tis the season for fresh cherry preparations, and I needed a recipe I could execute without spending $20 on cherries. I love them, but not that much. For inspiration, I turned to tarts.

cherries

A tart is really just a modest-sized pie, although the opportunity for cramming a lot of flavor into a very shallow pan is huge. I modified a recipe I found on epicurious for an almond raspberry tart (cue my obsession with almonds: now) and added a sour cream topping, to great effect. The crust is very buttery and delicate, and the almond portion of the filling is like marzipan (one of my favorites). Topped with stewed cherries and a lattice of more buttery pastry, the combination of the three elements is heavenly. I’ll admit the recipe is very labor intensive, but I had the day off work, so I had plenty of time on my hands. This would be a very impressive recipe to make for guests.

Tart recipe is here. The only modification I made was subbing the raspberries for 1 c. sweet cherries and 1 c. sour cherries (approximately 1 pint of cherries total). I imagine almost any berry or stone fruit would also be delicious here.

wholetart

And finally, the sour cream topping was very simple:

1/2 c. whipping cream
1/4 c. sour cream
1 T. sugar

Whip the ingredients together until they form soft peaks. Serve on room temperature tart and devour!

corn

The thing I miss most about summer produce once it’s gone is fresh corn on the cob. I think it is one of the world’s most perfect foods. It’s too bad we’ve made mutant corn the staple of our diets (I’m of course talking about high fructose corn syrup, and other freaky genetically modified corn products lining the shelves of pretty much every grocery store in the country) because it gives the corn I love a bad name. Corn straight from the grill with herb butter, or a squeeze of lime, or queso fresco. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

So when I was thinking up uses for the tomatillo salsa I had left over from the other night, I went to Eugenia Bone’s book Well-Preserved. She includes a tomatillo salsa recipe specifically for canning, and with it, three recipes to use said salsa. The beauty of adding something like a pre-made salsa (in this case, still home made) to a soup is that you get the complexity of that flavor added in one spoonful. You’ve done all the hard work making the salsa already, now you get to capitalize on the tangy, slightly spicy, salty note it adds to the dish.

It’s sort of funny that I seem to keep doing stews and soups despite the season — yesterday was the first miserably hot day here, and I’m hoping it was a fluke. Frankly, I’ve been enjoying not sweating profusely all day long. But I guess that was too much to hope for. Luckily, I made this before the 10 ton brick that is “summer” in New York hit us.

cornsoup

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cookies

I’ve had a little bit of a lemon curd obsession of late. I found this recipe for strawberry thyme shortbread cookies and decided they would be better sandwiched with some lemon curd, obviously! The cookies were fairly labor intensive (anything that requires 2 bouts of refrigeration in the midst of preparation is not really my kind of recipe…I have the attention span of a gnat) but the lemon curd was so, so simple. And, might I add, delicious. Tart, tangy, sweet, lemony — why is it that this is not as popular in the States as any other toast accoutrement??

Here is the lemon curd recipe, which you should feel free to make sans cookies. I was practically eating it out of the jar with a spoon. Classy!

lemoncurd

Lemon Curd
via epicurious

1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
2 t. finely grated lemon zest
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
6 T. unsalted butter

Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes.

Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.

broccolipasta

I wrote about wanting to make this dish in April. It is now mid-July. What is happening? Summer is half over and I feel like we’ve had about 4 nice days so far. But then again, New York is not exactly known for its long, luxurious springtime. It’s muggy and stinky and filthy here in the summer. So I guess I’m grateful I’m even able to set foot in my un-airconditioned kitchen and cook anything. I may be making a lot of chilled soups come August.

I adapted this pasta sauce from this recipe on Epicurious. I try to be open-minded, but I have come to the conclusion that I just don’t like peas. I didn’t want that to stop me from trying this, so I paired the pasta and sauce with some nutty roasted broccoli instead, which is one of my favorite things in life. I know I have gone on about it before, but if you think you don’t love broccoli, try it this way. I promise it tastes nothing like the bad overcooked broccoli so many children must suffer through eating. (I was lucky. My parents understood the concept of “al dente”).

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