IMG_5534

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A warm, sunny, almost no humidity Saturday in Brooklyn.

Bike: check. Saddle bag: check. Sunglasses, money: check check. Recipe? No la tengo.

I usually head to the market with a pretty good idea of what I want to buy and cook.  Not this weekend. Inspired in part by the new cookbook I’m editing, where the author’s focus is on method and what’s fresh, what inspires—rather than following a recipe exactly—I set off for the market with open eyes.

I went in search of what looked good. What’s in season right now, this week. I heard a rumor cherries were in and was hoping I might snag some of those.

But I got to the market late. One stall had em, not many, but I asked if they sprayed and the guy said yes. I appreciated his honesty but walked on by. If I’m buying produce from a Greenmarket I try at least to buy spray-free if not organic, even though it does cost more.

There was only one organic stand at the entire Grand Army Plaza market, at least that I could see. And the poor guy isn’t even on the main stretch with the other vendors but set back from the fray. Willow Wisp Organic Farm from Damascus, Pennsylvania. He did not have cherries. But kohlrabi, a variety of bok choy, cilantro, dill, numerous types of lettuces and radishes, and squash. Lots of squash.

That got me thinking. I’d buy my first zucchini of the summer and make a faux pasta with it. I have lots of basil growing at home so that would make for a nice combination. I bought some of the garlic scapes from Willow Wisp too, thinking I’d mash them with the basil and some olive oil. I knew I also had olives and walnuts back home and thought they’d add some nice saltiness and crunch. A raw and vegan (and gluten-free, if you’re into that kind of thing) lunch that takes just moments to put together.

This is a kind of lazy man’s pesto with big payoff. And a recipe of sorts just begging to be messed with. Just start with the zucchini squash and you can add whatever looks good or in season.
IMG_5511

If you’ve never made “pasta” from zucchini before it’s simple. You can use a regular vegetable peeler and slice the squash lengthwise—you’ll end up with a big heap of zucchini strands that look remarkably like fettuccine. Garlic scapes are the long, curly stalks that jut out from garlic plants. You can chop the green curly scape and use it much like you would garlic; the flavor is milder but you will still end up with potent garlic breath.

There’s a blog I’ve been reading called This Rawsome Vegan Life and a while back I tried one of her recipes for a raw, vegan, zucchini pasta with sundried tomatoes. This is a kind of riff on that, so thank you Emily!

IMG_5515

Zucchini Pasta with Basil and Garlic Scapes
Raw, vegan & gluten free
Serves 2

1/4 c olive oil
Handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 garlic scape, diced (1-2 tbsp)
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon (more or less to taste)
Red chili flakes, pinch
2 large zucchini or 3 medium
1/4 c walnuts, rough chop
1/4 c black olives, rough chop
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the olive oil, basil, scapes, lemon zest and juice, and chili flakes in a glass or jar and muddle, trying to extract flavor from the basil leaves. Set aside for at least 15 minutes and prepare the pasta.

Using a vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini lengthwise until you end up with a heap of long strands. Place in a large bowl and toss with the basil oil. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes before eating, the zucchini will absorb more of the flavors. Add the walnuts and olives before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.

This recipe could be made with any number of substitutions or additions. Regular garlic (or none) instead of the scapes. Sundried tomatoes. Capers. Shallots. I think the most important part thing to get right is enough acidity, spice, and salt. Or fresh peas and ricotta or feta with mint instead of basil.

Miscellaneous…
The two bottom photos are of Rockaway Beach from this past weekend and an art show hosted in part by PS1 at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. My friend Shingo Francis’s work is the blue piece. I’m kind of regretting right now I didn’t stay for the Patti Smith – Michael Stipe – James Franco performance(s)!

And a final note on the World Cup: not pleased that Mexico lost to the Netherlands today, and not until the 88th minute or so. Looking forward to watching US-Belgium Tuesday.

IMG_5512

IMG_5552IMG_5542

IMG_5446

Last night in Portland, I overheard a local ask my friend Dan if he’d like to play in a Star Wars tennis club. A what? They play tennis dressed up like characters from Star Wars.

I thought I was in an episode of Portlandia, Maine edition.

I was in this lovely ocean town for approximately 36 hours this weekend, following a museum publishing seminar in Boston. My friend has been living there for the past year clerking for a judge and I promised to go. It’s only a two-hour bus ride from Boston, on a coach bus that played the movie The Never-Ending Story.

There is kombucha on tap at nearly every bar. The ‘buch is from a place called UFF (Urban Farm Fermentory), “an experimental urban farm, fermentation factory, and community engagement hub.” They do 2-oz pours in little mason jars for $1 each or bring your own growler. Naturally.

We basically ate for two days, with other non-food activities sprinkled in between.

We did donuts from the Holy Donut. Potato-based. We tried the chocolate and sea salt; sweet potato and ginger; and a special whiskey-and-bacon for Father’s Day. The sweet potato was my favorite.

We did the aforementioned kombucha.

(He) did beer. It is a beer-lover’s dream town. A beer called “lunch” and one called “dinner” and one called “mita” he was all excited about from Rising Tide Brewery.

We did world cup + barbecue at this place called Salvage BBQ where an inexplicable number of people cheered loudly for England in the game against Italy Saturday.

We met up with friends and biked around Peaks Island, a 20-minute ferry ride from the mainland where we picnicked on greens from a farm in New Hampshire and local radishes.

IMG_5424

We did bagels: Scratch, to be precise. I felt like I was in Brooklyn there for a minute because the line snaked out the door. A recent online review boasts: “your bagels made my first trimester much easier.” These are out of this world but kind of the opposite of a Montreal-style bagel. More airy and the dough pulls apart, it’s like a soft roll. Sea salt is the hands-down winner. Tastes like there are olives in the dough but I’m told there are not, they’re just that briny and delicious.

IMG_5418

We did coffee. Tandem. Started by the folks who opened Blue Bottle in Brooklyn. It was lovely and sparse and Vien the barista shook my hand and Pavement was playing on a record in the background. A guy named Will (I think) was roasting the beans right next to where your coffee is being poured over in ceramic Japanese cone filters. It sounds precious but it’s not. Just attention to detail and no fuss. The tiny glass of fizzy water that accompanied my friend’s espresso was ever-so-slightly carbonated, not too harsh on the palate. Vien also seemed to know every person’s order that walked in the door, except mine of course. I have a feeling if I went back tomorrow though he’d say, “Decaf americano with steamed milk?”

IMG_5458

Spicy ramen at a place called Pai Men Miyake downtown. And charred Brussels sprouts, house-made kimchi, and tofu buns with spicy mayo. All white people working in the kitchen and serving. Definitely not in New York City anymore.

We did lobster rolls. From the famous Eventide Oyster Co. restaurant. Brown-butter lobster roll in a steamed bun. And a dozen Maine oysters with horseradish ice as a garnish. A house-made ice cream sandwich for dessert (even the vanilla ice cream was made in house which impressed me because they’ve got enough to keep busy what with all the shellfish shucking and all).

IMG_5410

We did more world cup + barbecue at Salvage, to watch Argentina beat Bosnia. Side of pulled pork and pickles.

With the amount of bakeries, bars, restaurants, cafes, donut shops, jerky shops, the ratio of food purveyor to residents must be something on the order of 1:1. I asked my friend what do folks do for a living here? His anecdotal answer, not surprisingly, was mostly food service.

IMG_5449

IMG_5399

Rhubarb rhubarb everywhere. It is a sure sign of spring turning into summer. It means, here in the northeast U.S., peak asparagus has passed, strawberries are not far behind, and early summer lettuces are at their best. And I have a newly potted basil plant on my fire escape next to sweat peas that are appearing as thin tall shoots.

This week, rhubarb could be found at every farmer’s market around New York City, just asking to be brought home and stewed, baked, or turned into jam.

Two Junes ago I made a strawberry rhubarb pie and last year it was a rhubarb crumb cake. This year I was thinking more along the lines of caramelizing the stalks and pairing with ginger. I managed the former but forgot all about the latter. (I blame that on the fact I was baking while trying to watch the men’s French Open final.) I ended up with an upside-down cake—you melt butter and sugar in a cast-iron skillet then add the rhubarb, caramelizing the pieces and adding a flour mixture on top.

IMG_5340

In other food-related news this week, I was lucky to dine at Brooklyn’s Mile End with my friend Daniela, where chef Eli Sussman (2014 James Beard nominee) treated us royally. Two highlights for me were the roasted sunchoke salad with curry yogurt and the cauliflower tabbouleh. On Friday I was at a meeting on Elizabeth Street and found myself face to face with the new Black Seed Bagels. Hand rolled, wood fired, best bagel I’ve had in years. Last night, after a long fun day at Rockaway Beach, I had the pleasure of eating at Greenpoint’s Selamat Pagi, serving food inspired by Bali. It’s from the team behind the delicious Van Leeuwen ice cream and Chef Jason Greenberg; as my friends said, how nice to eat something other than “new American.” Oh, and, when in Greenpoint…you must stop at Peter Pan Donuts & Pastry Shop. We got the ice cream sandwich between chocolate donut halves. What a day.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Kenzi Wilbur, Food52

3/4 c sugar plus scant 1/2 c
4 tbsp unsalted butter plus 1 stick and 5 tbsp cut into small cubes and chilled
Zest of one lemon
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c whole milk
2 eggs

Heat the oven to 375F. Melt 3/4 c sugar, 4 tbsp butter, the lemon zest and juice, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp salt in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once the butter and sugar have melted add the rhubarb, stirring occasionally. It will take between 5 and 10 minutes for the rhubarb to cook through, depending on their size.*

In the meantime, combine the remaining sugar and salt, plus flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Add remaining butter, and using your fingers, rub into flour mixture to form coarse pea-size pieces. Add the milk and eggs and stir until a sticky dough forms. (You may need an extra splash of milk for the dough to stick together.)

Spread the dough over the warm rhubarb mixture, trying to cover the entire surface. Bake on a baking sheet until the cake is golden and cooked through, about 35 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and let the cake rest for about 10 minutes. Now very carefully, place a large flat plate underneath the skillet and invert deftly. If any of the rhubarb has stuck to the skillet just scrape off and you can place back on the cake. This cake would be yummy served with unsweetened whipped cream, vanilla or ginger ice cream, or just plain of course.

*It is at this point that I intended to add about 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh ginger! I totally forgot. You could also add about 1/4 tsp dried ginger to the flour mixture.

IMG_5348 IMG_5337 IMG_5372 IMG_5375

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 126 other followers

%d bloggers like this: