Monthly Archives: July 2010

Salsa – Two Kinds!

We are fortunate to work very close to the Greenmarket in Union Square.  Our favorite Friday ritual, especially in the summer and especially during the month of July’s abundance, is to go to the market on the way in to work and load up with whatever is fresh and available.  We are then set for a weekend of cooking and experimentation.

Tomatoes are finally here and, more importantly, locally grown, ripe, and delicious.  This past week, one of our favorite vendors also had tomatillos, and plenty of them.  So, I decided to make salsa and if there’s anything better than one kind of salsa, it’s two kinds.  As the weeks of summer drag on, the tomatoes become more plentiful and the prices begin to drop.  That means I can buy more tomatoes and make more salsa.  The tomato abundance almost makes up for the fact that July has been the hottest month on record in NYC in what seems like forever.

Although I make tomatillo sauce on a somewhat regular basis, I decided to reference Diana Kennedy for the Salsa Verde and have included her recipe.  The Salsa Mexicana I have been making forever and have included a recipe that originated somewhere, I suppose, that I have tweaked over the years.

Both are delicious with corn tortilla chips (my favorite way to enjoy them) and make a nice condiment for roasted or grilled meat, chicken or fish.  I hope you like these as much as we do! Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Appetizers, Condiments

Blueberry Cornmeal Cake

I found this recipe in the letters section of the May 2010 issue of Bon Appétit.  Someone had written in to ask how to make one of the creations they had at the Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe in Santa Monica, CA.  I held on to it until the local organic blueberries were available and finally made it a few weeks ago.

As I have taken to doing recently, I substituted my 5″ silicone pans for the 10″ springform that the recipe calls for.  We ended up with two small cakes, the first of which M and I quickly devoured.  The second one was frozen and recently served with coffee as breakfast  to a houseguest.

There are so many great things about this cake but the overall texture is what really sets it apart.  It is crusty on the outside and, because of the amount of blueberries involved, super moist on the inside.  The addition of cornmeal to the batter gives the cake a grainy (but in a good way) texture.  It defies classification and is equally at home being served as a breakfast treat, on its own with tea or as a dessert.

Hurry up and try this before all the blueberries are gone!

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Breads, Cakes, Desserts, Sweet

Cold Sichuan Cucumber Salad

When we were in China, this dish turned up everywhere…and we couldn’t get enough of it. Fortunately for us, this was one of the side dishes that we learned to prepare during our Chinese cooking class.

I don’t know a lot about cucumbers, other than the fact that I love them, but I did a little research and here’s what I found out.  The good news is that cucumbers (eaten raw and with the peel) are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.  Cucumbers are also a good source of Vitamins A, C and K , and various minerals.  The bad news is that a large part of the calories in this food come from sugars.  But, I’m not sure that I consider  8 calories and 1 gram of sugar for a half a cup of sliced cucumbers to be so terrible.

The cooking school’s official name for this recipe is Sour and Spicy Cold Dish (Sichuan Style).  And, although we have not tried any variation on this recipe, our teacher let us know that it is common in China for the cucumber to be substituted with either julienned carrot or cold noodles.

It has been so hot here in NYC this past week. The last thing either of us have felt like doing is cooking, and especially anything that will further heat up the apartment.  So we turned to this unbelievably easy to make and extremely delicious dish and served it up with a simple piece of poached fish.  We, and the apartment, remained, well, cool as a cucumber.

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Salads

Cherry Pie

Sour Cherries

Tradition, tradition!

There’s nothing that says Fourth of July to me like a homemade cherry pie. Back in the day, when Gourmet was still around, or July 2007 to be exact, we saw the most beautiful cherry pie featured on the magazine’s cover and knew we had to give it a try. We made it with M’s mother and father who came to visit us for the holiday weekend.

The wonderfully flaky crust and the sour cherry, cinnamon-enhanced filling combine to create a delicious, fairly easy to make pie, as far as pies go. Throw in the fact that M is a true “dough whisperer” and that is how a tradition was born.

We made it again in the summer of 2009 and then again this year. I’m not sure what happened in the summer of 2008 or why we didn’t make the pie that year, but that is history and I have vowed not to repeat it.

Cherry Pie

Part of the fun, or frustration, depending on how things shake out, is finding the sour cherries. Like Meyer lemons, they too have a season. Lucky for us, we work steps away from the Union Square Green Market, one of the best in the country and certainly the best in New York. This year I learned, thanks to the friendly woman working the Samascott Orchards booth (I miss you Kinderhook) that the lighter colored sour cherries are not as sour as the deep red colored ones, the ones that I always mistook for sweet cherries.

The filling is really easy to make after the laborious pitting task is completed. The cherries are tossed with cinnamon, vanilla, cornstarch, tapioca and sugar and then allowed to rest for a while. The pie crust is somewhat more complicated but not overwhelmingly so.

That’s it. This pie is outrageously good and, once cool, keeps nicely on the counter until it slowly disappears slice by slice over a nice three-day weekend.
Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Desserts, Pies and Tarts, Sweet

Summertime in Paris

Oh how I wish.  But summertime in New York will just have to suffice for now.

Making this drink was inspired by two things – a leftover stalk of lemongrass and the always present leftover rosemary.

We love cooking with rosemary but find that a small amount goes a long way.  Therefore, after we have roasted rosemary chicken, made our favorite potatoes, or used a sprig as a skewer for the grill, we are always left looking for ways to use the remains of the bunch.  So, we were excited to discover this cocktail recipe that includes fresh rosemary.

Lemongrass simple syrup is really easy to make.  Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup of water with a stalk of smashed and chopped lemongrass and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and the mixture infuse for 30 minutes or so.  Once cooled, strain and there it is – lemongrass simple syrup.

Summertime in Paris

No sooner had I found a use for the rosemary and the lemongrass than I learned that Meyer lemons were also required.  They are  not the easiest to find, have a definite season, and came and went here in New York in early spring. I was not able to find any for this recipe so I made my own “Meyer lemon” juice by mixing 3 parts regular lemon juice with 1 part orange juice.

Vodka, rosemary, lemongrass, summertime, Paris… C’est si bon!

And if you don’t believe me, here’s how Eartha Kitt said it…

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Alcoholic, Beverages, Uncategorized