May, 2010 Archive

Saturday, May 29, 2010

shaved asparagus pizza

shaved asparagus pizza

I had a shaved raw asparagus salad last month for the first time and was fascinated by it. It was tossed and tangled with olive oil, salt, pepper and a gratuitous amount of Parmesan cheese and while all of these things were wonderful, I felt they only interrupted the deliciousness that was the raw asparagus. I decided immediately that I had to make a pizza out of it, where the asparagus could be as uncluttered as possible.

stalks
shaved asparagus

Of course when I came home and Googled my idea — certain that nobody could have ever laid claim to such brilliance, such a stroke of asparagus genius, before me — I learned that I had been beaten to the punch by one Jim Lahey, who has apparently been serving a shaved asparagus pizza at Co. on 9th Avenue for months. Years, even. Foiled again! From Lahey, however, I learned all sorts of fancy-fancy things you can do with my simpleton ideas. For example, he shaves black truffles on to the pizza, and dots it with quail eggs. Lahey only uses extra virgin olive oil and forgoes the mozzarella entirely for knobs of tomme de savoie, a semi-firm French cow skim milk cheese with a gray rind that I have no doubt will raise this pizza to previously unimaginable heights of deliciousness.

peeling the stalks

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

strawberry brown butter bettys

strawberry brown butter bettys

Me and strawberries are going through the wringer this week. It started with a large, plank-like shortcake with cream cheese, sour cream and a buttered center. It was a dud, an all-caps level DUD. I should have known better than to try a recipe from a dubious source, and also to mess with a perfect thing. Next came a strawberry-striped tweak on my favorite crumb cake, except it didn’t really stripe and when released from the pan, stood briefly on the counter, sighed then slumped wobbily to the side. Filed under: delicious dud hanging out in the freezer, waiting for the next barbecue invitation. Third came a [we'll talk about it later] which I was attempting for the [that too] and it is all sorts of magically tasty if you can look back the large crater in the middle, as if strawberry filling had recently erupted from within it. Filed under: another delicious disaster and lordy, my freezer is getting full. Recipe four was tasty, but I’m debating whether it’s worth burdening your time to discuss; I will ponder this over my next serving but recipe five, recipe five is the real reason we’re here today.

wonder bread
squisssssssh

It started with an apple brown betty, and my recent realization that I have never tried one. Butter + crumbs + sugar = what is wrong with me? Obvious that. Then I found a link I’d bookmarked eons ago to tiny brown bettys, molded in muffin tins, a web recipe from the late Gourmet Magazine. [Moment of silence.] And where it said “good-quality sandwich bread”, I read “Wonder Bread” because I can get it at the bodega. Where it said, “Gala or Fuji apples”, I read “South Jersey strawberries” because I can’t stop buying them. Where it said, “light brown sugar and cinnamon”, I read “dark and lemon zest” and I took “unsalted butter, melted” to mean “browned butter”. Because that’s what I always do. And I’ve never regretted it.

south jersey strawberries

Continued after the jump »

Monday, May 24, 2010

scrambled egg toast

scrambled egg toast with goat cheese

Let me get this out of the way from the get-go: I cannot believe I’m discussing scrambled eggs today. I like to think of myself as somewhat particular in vetting out what I think is worthy or not worthy of your humble click over here, and I can’t say that scrambled eggs would normally make the cut. In fact, if you are happy with your scrambles, if you’re pretty sure you’ve got that whole moving the egg around the pan thing down pat, I won’t even be offended if you come back next time, when I figure out what to do with the four pounds of strawberries in my fridge. Or last time, when we made rhubarb tarts.

egg pretties

But this is for the rest of us, myself even, who do not let anyone else, not restaurant, not short-order griddle guy at the bodega, nobody, make our scrambled eggs. Because they are, almost without fail, terrible: dry, stiff and overcooked with a telltale brown spot where they stuck to the pan, forgotten. Shudder. Scrambled eggs are best made at home, and where their path from frying pan to plate to fork to your belly is as short as possible. Scrambled eggs should have a short lifespan.

fork beaten

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

rustic rhubarb tarts

rhubarb tarts

I hadn’t intended to audition any new rhubarb recipes this year. Between last year’s cobbler and previous seasons’ filled crumb coffee cake, strawberry rhubarb crumble, strawberry rhubarb pie, loaf cake and even compote, I was pretty sure I had the rhubarb terrain well-covered. But then I walked through the Union Square Greenmarket two weeks ago with Adam and we were both lured in by the bundled stalks. Because they’re shiny and pretty and pearly and pink and I cannot speak for Adam but I am incapable of resisting shiny pretty pearly pink things, nor do I wish to.

shiny pearly rhubarb stalks

I also hadn’t intended to bake another recipe from my new cookbook obsession, Good to the Grain, just yet. For the sake of my hips. For the sake of repetition, given that I already cannot stop talking about it (“The photos!” “The fresh ideas!” “Those danish, aaah!”). I needed to put it on a top shelf and come back to it with some willpower. Problem was, in the process of putting it away, those free-form rhubarb tarts on the cover taunted me once again, “Don’t you have rhubarb to use up? You know you wanna!”

rhubarb cross sectionrhubarb, sliced on the diagonalyolks, cream and dry ingredientspressing down the doughfilling the tartrhubarb tarts, ready to bake

Continued after the jump »

Monday, May 17, 2010

carrot salad with harissa, feta and mint

carrot salad with harissa, feta and mint

There’s nothing better than a recipe that gives you a feeling of promise, especially when it involves something as mundane as carrots. Yes, carrots. I mean, just when I thought I’d done everything worth doing with carrots — shredding them into my favorite carrot salad, pickling them, roasting them for an avocado salad, grinding them into a ginger dressing, grating them into Indian vegetable pancakes — a reader (Hi, Sasa!) came along, emailed me her favorite carrot recipe and with one look, I knew exactly what my carrot routine was missing.

soaking the carrots
garlic

It turned out to be a lot of things (fortunately, none of them were striped socks), actually, but small things: paprika, caraway, cumin, harissa, mint, garlic, parley and also feta. The carrots are grated, the spices are heated with a pinch of sugar in olive oil, whisked with lemon juice and poured warm over the carrots, with minced mint and parsley — think North African pesto. You let the flavors muddle for a bit and then you add feta. And I know this is when I should say “You can eat it with lamb! At a picnic! With skewers off the grill and pitas!” But honestly, I just ate it with a fork. Because this salad is fascinating.

peeled carrotsshreddedharissa, cumin, corriander, paprikaspices to heat

Continued after the jump »


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