Old & New and New & Old

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For the past 15 years, I have shared New York City with my sister, Heather.  Heather opened her Hell’s Kitchen loft to Michael and me when we returned from our European adventure poor and homeless.  Together we lived on the edge of this island in a commercial building shared with a man who made food carts and the commissary that prepared food for those carts.  It is a unique life, waking to the sound of men chopping chickens up for a Jamaican truck!  Eventually life led Michael and me (and then Adelaide!) to Battery Park City via Williamsburg and she to Red Hook via Park Slope.  Now she, and her husband Ethan, have bought a house and this week, moved to the C O U N T R Y !  

Thursday I invited her over to share in my first venture into frying chicken. Yes, I have fried chicken before; nice, flat, boneless chicken cutlets for parmesan or schnitzel but deep fried chicken on the bone?  Never.  I have my great grandmother’s cast iron dutch oven that begs to be fried in, but the idea of all that grease, the spattering, the smell, the mess?  I had yet to be brave enough.  But Martha put it in front of me in her June issue, like a gauntlet thrown,  and I decided the time was now.

Martha’s instructions are a bit time consuming but in a multi-step sort of way.  You brine the chicken overnight in iced salt water and them marinate it in spiced buttermilk for another night all before frying day.  I marinated mine overnight and then switched it to the buttermilk bath the morning of cooking night, eight hours is eight hours whether the sun is up or down, right? The night of cooking you simply dredge your chicken straight out of the buttermilk into your mixture of flour and cornmeal and into the fat it goes! I floured my pieces and let them sit while the grease came up to temperature, I believe this helps the coating stick to the chicken while frying.

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The recipe instructions said to fry the larger pieces for 10 minutes and the smaller for 6-7, mine must have been larger than their large as they needed a bit more time.  An instant read thermometer is an absolute must since there is no way to tell what is done by looking or touching. To deal with the spattering grease, I bought myself a splatter guard which seemed to help with both the spattering and the residual fried chicken smell that I remembered from Sunday suppers past.  

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The finished golden nuggets were sprinkled with sea salt and eaten with our fingers along with garlicky sauteed swiss chard and a roasted red pepper and feta caprese salad.  The few pieces that were left were later eaten straight from the fridge and one is destined for a chopped salad for Adelaide’s lunch tomorrow.  

A new experience an old pot, a new house, and old friendship.  I will miss having Heather across the river, they said goodbye to Brooklyn on Saturday, and drove themselves, their two dogs one cat and two goldfish up the river to a new life in the Catskills.  I am excited for them and this new life, a wee wistful, but excited none the less.

Here is the plan for this week.  You might see that there are some carryovers from last week, our weekends are always a bit fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants meal wise.  Friday night led us from Adelaide’s dance class, to Kara Walker’s Subtely at the Domino Sugar factory in our old ‘hood, Williamsburg (go see it if you can, http://creativetime.org/projects/karawalker/)  to tacos at La Esquina (http://www.esquinabk.com).  Yesterday our evening stroll ended in falafel at Taim (the best! http://www.taimfalafel.com) so I am carrying over the Strawberry panzanella and grilled lamb meatballs to this week.  I just noticed I’m a dinner short.  Stay tuned!

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planning for sanity

 

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Since I began writing about eating with Adelaide, the focus on weekly menu planning has gone from thinking about things I can get her to eat to managing keeping enough food in the house to keep her full.  Last year Adelaide grew 3 inches, and the year before that, 5.  I never thought about how many calories it takes to grow a human, but reviewing my weekly grocery receipts, I can tell you , it’s a lot.

The new child/food challenge is to provide for her a diet that is rounded and nutritious while still plentiful and satisfying.  I have certainly come to understand the slippery slope of snack food.  When you provide your child with three full meals a day but still find them ransacking the kitchen like a springtime bear, it’s hard not to turn to bags of chips, sugary granola bars or frozen heat-and-eats.  But I keep in mind her body and brain are still growing and her lifetime habits are still forming.  To make sure the foods made available to her help her make good choices for herself, nourish her and satisfy the ever burning fire of her metabolism is now my main focus.

I turn again to the weekly plan.  I do this for my own sake, because I find it easier to put aside an hour or two on the weekend and not think about meals the rest of the week.  I do this so Adelaide can check what is coming up for her week and edit it before we shop to avoid weekday strife.  I do this to save money since we live above a grocery store and Adelaide is happy to take my card and “go for snacks” that add up !  I do so to monitor how much meat we eat weekly, how many veggies and to watch the amount of calcium and fat we consume.

Although I enjoy planning my weekly menu, I know not everyone does so I thought it might be helpful if I shared.  I source my ideas from blogs I love, magazines I subscribe to, meals I eat out in my delicious city of New York and cookbooks I have on my shelf.   This week I have recipes from the blogs Food52 and 100 Cookbooks, and the June issues of Martha Stewart and Bon Appétit.  I am going to try to figure out how to get this list to post in a way that you can put it on your own machine and edit it for yourself but that might be next week!

Here’s to a deliciously short week!

G

 

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May 28, 2014 · 9:00 AM

I don’t have a plan, and the clock it ticking…

Bother!  It’s late in the afternoon and I am at Whole Foods driving my cart around looking for inspiration.  I have failed to make my weekly plan and now I am reaping what I have not sewn.  I’m not feeling any love for the meat counter so I am on my third lap of the produce section thinking about beans when my gaze falls upon a beautiful, white head of cauliflower.

A few weeks ago I made a new (for us)  recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie, a book I bought for giving as a present, but still lives on my shelf. Shhh, don’t tell. The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly, (ok fine!  I added a few chili flakes!) and paired it with quinoa with sauteed onions for a pure veggie dinner.  The recipe was simple and I was fairly confident I could remember all the components. The plan was slowly beginning to hatch.

Tonight I decided to add a half pound of squid, sliced into rings, at the last few minutes of the cooking process and served the whole thing with a Socca, a delicious chickpea flour cake that I have made many times and thank Mark Bittman for the introduction.

Success once again!  Tonight the cauliflower was exceptionally sweet, the nicoise olives buttery, and the calamari tender and delicious.  The chickpea cake was edged with a brown crust and melted into the tomatoey sauce.  Delightful and only an hour in the kitchen, start to finish!  Adelaide (and Nutmeg) gave it a thumbs up!  Thank you Jamie Oliver for all your inspiration!!

Baked Cauliflower with Tomato and Olive Sauce (in Jamie’s words)

4 servings

• 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
• 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
• 1 large head of cauliflower, outer green leaves discarded, stalk chopped
• olive oil
• a handful of black olives, stoned
• 4 good-quality salted anchovy filets in oil, drained and sliced
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped, stalks finely chopped
• 2 x 400g tins good-quality chopped plum tomatoes
• red wine vinegar

  First of all, find yourself a pan in which your whole head of cauliflower will fit, leaving an inch around the outside of it – this is important, otherwise it won’t cook in the way it’s supposed to. I use my regular porridge-for-four-people pan and it works a treat! Add the onion, garlic, chopped cauliflower stalk and a glug of oil to the pan and slowly fry for 10 minutes until softened and with a little colour. this is where I add a good shake of chili flake. Add the olives, anchovies and parsley stalks and fry for another couple of minutes. Add your tomatoes, then half-fill one of the tins with water and add that to the pan, with a good swig of red wine vinegar. Stir everything together, breaking the tomatoes down with a spoon to make sure there are no big lumps, and bring to the boil.

Take your cauliflower and gently push it down into the sauce. If you’ve got the size of your pan right, half of the cauliflower will be in the sauce, half above it. Drizzle with olive oil, put the lid on and let it tick over on a low heat for 50 minutes. Serve sprinkled with the parsley leaves. Again, this is a pretty well-behaved dish when it comes to cooking it in advance and then reheating it just before you want to serve it. Lovely with roast lamb, and it’s also a delicious main course for a vegetarian if you leave out the anchovies  I also think this would be delicious tossed with pasta!

Socca (Farinata)

Time: 45 minutes

1 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon, at least, ground black pepper
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
½ large onion, thinly sliced, optional
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, optional.

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a well-seasoned or nonstick 12-inch pizza pan or cast-iron skillet in oven. Sift chickpea flour into a bowl; add salt and pepper; then slowly add 1 cup lukewarm water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover, and let sit while oven heats, or as long as 12 hours. Batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream.

2. If using onion and rosemary, stir them into batter. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into heated pan, and swirl to cover pan evenly. Pour in batter, and bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until pancake is firm and edges set. Heat broiler, and brush top of socca with 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil if it looks dry.

3. Set socca a few inches away from broiler for a few minutes, just long enough to brown it spottily. Cut it into wedges, and serve hot, or at least warm.

Yield: 4 to 6 appetizer servings.



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Happy Birthday Golden Dragons!

Last week China celebrated their New Year, welcoming in the  Year of the Dragon!  This is a special year for us as Adelaide herself is a dragon, and a Golden one at that!  It was obvious what needed to be done, long life noodles had to be eaten!

Recently, I was cyber introduced to Melissa Marks-Shih and her blog “everyone into the kitchen”  She shared her recipe for these noodles, complete with an address to get her favorite roasted pork in Chinatown,  so with recipe in hand, I headed out!

One word of warning, Chinatown on Chinese New Year is a bit berserk!

With all my ingredients home and prepped I manned the walk.  Adelaide set the table and invited the neighbor dragon boy and his brother over to share the feast.  This recipe is fast and so easy to throw together and you can get the instructions here: http://everyoneintothekitchen.blogspot.com/2012/01/another-new-year-and-recipe-for-long.html   Thanks Melissa!

Shrimp, roasted pork, Chinese cabbage, bean sprouts sautéed with long tender noodles with a bit of garlic and hint of ginger… delicious!  The Year of the Dragon is supposed to bring extra good luck, I say let’s have it!  and maybe a second night of noodles!

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It’s a Keeper!

As you might remember, I try to plan my weekly menu so I don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner at 4:40 every day.  Some weeks the plan materializes easily, based on my cravings, and some weeks it is more challenging.  This past week I need a little inspiration so I got out a cookbook or two and started to browse around the internet.

Somehow, I found myself in the Recipes for Health section of the New York Times.  They have a list of healthy ingredients that you can click and find a list of recipes that feature that ingredient. I am having a small crush on chickpeas lately so there I clicked, and what I found was Puree of Chickpea Soup.  This sounded like a perfect mid-week, winter dinner, something I could start ahead and have ready when Adelaide returned from modern dance class tired and hungry.  I paired it with a loaf of crusty no-knead bread (thank you Jim Lahey!!) and some kale with garlic and roasted peppers.

Of course, with all new culinary adventures, we hold off on our praise until it passes the dinner/diner test.  This one, happily a keeper!  Smooth and warm with hints of cumin and coriander.  The drizzle of oil and spritz of lemon finish it off beautifully!

My only wish is that I had made a double batch!

Puree of Chickpea Soup

1/2 pound chickpeas (about 1 1/8 cups), washed and picked over

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium size red onion, chopped

2 to 3 large garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus additional for drizzling

Chopped fresh mint for garnish

1. Soak the chickpeas in 1 quart water for six hours or overnight. Drain.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Stir in the garlic, spices and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for about a minute, until the mixture is fragrant. Add the chickpeas and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer one hour. Add salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon) and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour. The beans should be very tender.

3. Puree the soup in a blender (in small batches, covering the top with a dish towel to avoid hot splashes) or with an immersion blender until smooth. Put through a strainer for a very smooth texture, pushing it through with the bottom of a ladle or a spatula. Return to the pot, and heat through, stirring the bottom and sides of the pot so that the puree doesn’t stick. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings.

4. Serve, garnishing each bowl with a few drops of olive oil or lemon juice if desired and a sprinkle of chopped fresh mint.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: The soup will keep for a few days in the refrigerator. Stir well when you reheat.

 

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Chicken Three Ways

Hello & Happy 2012!  I have decided to resurrect this chat about what we cook and eat and why we do the things we do.  I have been busy over the last year working and raising a new middle school student, but that has always included daily breakfast and dinner and usually lunch, which we cook, and I photograph, I just haven’t been writing about it.

2012 is going to be a year for us to really look at what we eat and who we are supporting with our food dollar.  I made a quick budget the other day and realized just how much of our monthly income we eat, a little less than 25%.  I think that might be a bit high on average, I’d be curious to hear, but I live in NYC where prices are high for everything.

One of the things that I know boost our monthly food budget is reasonably raised meat.  Last week I brought home a chicken that cost me $30.54.  I will admit, I stood at the meat counter a good, long time, deciding on whether or not I was going to put that bird into my cart.  At last, I hefted the fatty into my cart, it was a 5 pounder,  and headed to check out.  I am very happy I did.

My $30 chicken fed us for three meals.  Michael butchered it for me, roasting the carcass for stock for that night’s soup.  The leg/thigh portion were saved for chicken cacciatore later that week with the breasts frozen for the next.  Three dinners for 3 for $30!

This is what the breasts turned into.  Although we only had two, they were whoppers and easily fed the three of us!

Roasted Chicken Breast with Grainy Mustard Sauce.

Preheat oven to 400〫

salt and pepper two generous chicken breast halves on the bone (being on the bone helps keep everything moist and adds flavor to the meat)

Heat a saute pan with one table-spoon olive oil and one of butter.  When the butter is done foaming put your chicken breasts in with the skin down.  Throw in two or three springs of rosemary and let brown, not moving the chicken until it is time to flip.

When the edges of the skin start to look brown, flip the chicken and put in the oven.  I have a great electric meat thermometer that I put into the meat, not touching the bone and leave in since the reader part sits on top of my stove.  I recommend these to everyone so you don’t have to guess if your chicken is done and have bad results at the table.

When the chicken has reached 163〫take it out of the oven and transfer to a platter to rest, tented with foil.  Skim any fat from your drippings and place the pan over a med high heat.  Glug in 1/2 glass white wine, two tbs whole grain mustard and let reduce by half.  Pour in 1/2 cup heavy cream and continue to boil until sauce thickens up to the consistency you like.  Adjust the salt and pepper.

Slice the chicken against the grain and smother with sauce or serve sauce on the side.  Our chicken was accompanied by roasted potatoes,  sautéed kale with white beans and garlic and the rest of that white wine I used for the sauce!

The dinner was delicious and I can feel rest assured that the bird had a good life.


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phew! It’s been a long time!

IMG_0375Wow, is it just me or is the summer flying by?  Since I have last posted (ashamedly 2 months!) two things are different in my life, Adelaide is home every day (school break) and I have gone back to the restaurant business (desperate times, desperate measures!).  These two things combined make for little time for blogging but that does not mean I haven’t been cooking!!

I will admit that I did fall off the wagon a little, I went on a small vacation from my weekly meal planning and shopping.  Adelaide and I found ourselves out and around town and knew the cupboard was relatively empty at home and so ate out more than I care to admit.  I even left cash for the babysitter to order in Chinese once, the ultimate in laziness!!   Now as the farmers market is gorging with beautiful produce and we are turning our eyes back to the reality of back to school I have reigned in my wild horses and put my apron back on.

This week I am enjoying having a big jar of cream of broccoli soup in the fridge.  This is a favorite recipe from my beloved Moosewood Cookbook, the original, published by Mollie Katzen in 1977.  My grandmother gave it to me a decade later with the inscription “to Gretchen from Gram, don’t cook yourself to death”.  The Cream of Broccoli soup page is the most wrinkled followed closely by the Moosewood Brownie page, but that is for another day.

This soup is delicious hot or cold but I think I prefer it cold, the flavor seems to sit on your tongue longer for some reason when it’s cold, or maybe I just hold it in my mouth longer!

Cream of Broccoli Soup

4 T butter

1½ c onion, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 t salt

1 bell pepper, diced

4 c broccoli, chopped

2½ c veggie stock or water

2 c milk

½ c heavy or sour cream

¼ t allspice

pepper

Dash of thyme or basil (optional, to taste)

1 c broccoli florets, sliced and steamed (optional)

1/2 c buttermilk whisked in right before serving

Directions Melt butter in the Dutch oven, then sauté onion and bay leaf with salt over medium heat until onion is clear, about 5-7 minutes.

Add bell pepper, broccoli, and stock. Bring to a simmer, cover, and continue cooking for 10 minutes, until broccoli is tender, but still bright green.

Discard the bay leaf and purée the soup in batches with the milk.

Stir in the heavy or sour cream and spices, adjust salt and pepper to taste, top with optional florets, and serve.

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My mother sent me this soup in bell quart jars when I was in college and I would keep it in my little fridge.  When I was feeling peckish I would get it out and take a swig.  I think I grossed out one or two of my friends but maybe now they will read this and remember and make it for themselves because it is SUPER DELISH!!

I have found that chilled soups are good to have around in these hot summer months for quick snacks. Full of calcium, vitamins A and C, a glass of this chilled soup is just enough to get you through that afternoon trip to the swings!

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While planning ahead is an aide in cooking at home, I think another good trick is to space out more time consuming recipes over the course of a few days.  I tried this this week with my sweet onion and peppers chicken with ricotta gnocchi.  The gnocchi hail from the same Moosewood Cookbook (thank you Mollie Katznen!)  The recipe looks too fussy, but if you break it down into steps, it is easy and fun!

Ricotta Gnocchi

  • 1 pound ricotta cheese
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2/3 mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ½ c parsley, minced (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic, minced (optional)
  • ½ t salt
  • 1/2 c parmesan, finely grated
  • pepper
  • 2/3 c flour
  • Step 1 (which I did the night before).  Combine all ingredients and beat well with a fork.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate.
  • Step 2 (which I did in the AM of the day we were to eat them).  Flour your hands and make the batter into little balls (about 1/2″ in diameter), rolling them until firm between your palms.  roll them in flour shaking off the excess.  Place them , single layer, on a tray.  Refrigerate.
  • Step 3 (that night during dinner preparation)  Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Lower to a simmer.  Drop the balls in, one-at-a-time and simmer with a lid on for 10 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a buttered baking tray.  (I have frozen half of the batch at this point for a dinner down the road, I will let you know how they do)
  • Step 4  just before serving, broil the balls until golden brown on all sides.  Drizzle them with melted butter and sprinkle them with grated parmesan as you broil and turn them.  The cheese and butter  make a delicious coating.

I served these golden nuggets of cheezey happiness with chicken that I had braised with onions, red peppers and kale.  This is a loose interpretation of chicken cacciatore that changes every time I make it depending on what’s around.  Tonight’s dinner went like this

Chicken Braised with sweet onion and red peppers

Wash and dry a chicken that has been cut into eight pieces.  Liberally salt and pepper the  chicken and brown it on all sides in olive oil. remove the chicken from the pan and drain off the excess oil.  Add to the pan one onion, cut in half and sliced, one red pepper, cored and sliced and two garlic cloves, quartered.  Saute until the onions start to get golden on the edges.  Return the chicken to the pan with its juices.  Toss in 1/2 (28 oz) can of chopped tomatoes, one bay leaf and 1/2 c water or chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer for 45 or so minutes, turning once.  When the chicken is fully cooked remove it to a platter.  Add to the pan two large handfuls of julienned kale and cook until tender and the pan juices have evaporated a little.  Sprinkle in a tablespoon or two of fresh basil and spoon over the chicken.

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