Archives for category: Brooklyn

Every once in a while I read a book that makes me go, Dang, I want to be able to write like this author does—as economically, as unpredictably, as gracefully. It tends not to matter so much what the content is, and in fact, the last few writers who’ve affected me this way have been Michael Ondaatje, Rachel Cusk, and Tamar Adler.

My dear friend Madeleine gave me Tamar Adler‘s An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace for my birthday last month and I devoured it the following week. Adler formerly cooked at Chez Panisse, was an editor at Harper’s Magazine, and is now a columnist for the New York Times Magazine. Her book’s subtitle could have been: writing with economy and grace. She writes like she cooks—unpretentiously, no panache, no gotchas.

To me it seems that most writing about food these days, especially in the pages of magazines and blogs, not so much in books I suppose, is an all-too-clever, winking, gotcha! tone. We get it, you’re funny; you could be an ad copy writer; you’re smart and I’m smart and we all have impeccable taste in food and style, bla bla bla.

Well Adler is none of those cloying things. Instead she’s all: here is how to boil your vegetables, use parsley, turn leftovers into better leftovers, cook meat, make soup. It’s an old-fashioned kind of mentality and tone and I mean that in the best possible way. The book, basically, instructs how to get good at the act of cooking and all the simple but important preparations involved in doing so. In all the food writing I’ve read over the years, hers is integrating into my being in a way others haven’t. In the past few weeks I’ve already wasted less food and made better meals than I have all year.

Yesterday, on a blustery early April afternoon in Brooklyn, I ventured to make her rosemary olive oil cake, which she adapted from Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli. It was subtle, herbaceous, moist, and would go perfectly with a cup of Earl Gray tea or an espresso. Here you go. You’re welcome.

(When I made this cake I wasn’t planning to write about it and thus have no good photos of it…then today I was struck by the desire to share the recipe so am doing so sans visual aids for the first time! Maybe it’s the spirit of Tamar encouraging me that simple is ok.)

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
ala Tamar Adler

8 eggs
1 1/2 cups raw cane sugar (I used only 1 cup)
1 2/3 cups olive oil
4 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary*
3 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

*You may be thinking 4 tbsp sounds like a lot. I only had 3 tbsp so I used that and the rosemary was subtle and in fact I think 4 would’ve been better, so be bold!

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter and flour a bundt pan.

Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl for 30 seconds with a handheld beater. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture becomes foamy and paler in color. Still mixing, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Then fold in the rosemary.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, and then pour the batter into the bundt pan.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, rotating the pan halfway through. Mine took closer to an hour. The cake should be golden brown and a skewer should come out clean. Allow the cake to cool briefly in the pan then gently tip it out to cool on a rack.

This would be delicious with unsweetened whipped cream, or smeared with a bit of honey. Makes great breakfast leftovers the next day.

 

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No doubt chia is trending. By now you’ve probably heard it’s packed with fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and, like flax, can be used as an egg substitute for vegan baking. I love it for breakfast, a late-afternoon snack. It’s the new oatmeal. Or yogurt. Or something.

The gelatinous quality of the gel, which is formed by combining the seeds with liquid, slithers and satisfies, but may not be for everyone. My stepmother, when I texted her a photo of the pudding, asked if it was for eating or facials. It took me a while to drink kombucha with chia seeds but now I like the slimy seeds sliding down my throat.

There are infinite substations you can make here, using your favorite spices, berries, sweetener. You could add pepitas, almonds, sunflower seeds; cardamom instead of cinnamon; agave instead of maple syrup. You can add more or less vanilla and cinnamon, to taste. I make this pudding incredibly not sweet, and I’ve had some with no sweetener at all—both are good. Adjust to your taste. You want approximately 1 cup of liquid per 1/4 cup of chia seeds — and beyond that you can decide what kind of milk to use, or yogurt. I like the combination here of almond and coconut milks.

Oh and since the ground is still frozen here in New York, and berries are a mere dream of a food I once tried long ago, I used frozen blueberries here. Worked like a charm. Now thaw, ground, thaw.

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Chia Seed Pudding
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 1/3 cup almond milk (my recipe for homemade here)
2/3 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp maple syrup, more to taste
1/2 cup chia seeds
coconut chips
blueberries

In a blender combine the almond milk, coconut milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and maple syrup and blend just until smooth. Place the chia seeds in a medium-sized bowl and add the liquid mixture. Stir until combined and let sit for a minimum of a half hour, or as much as overnight. To serve, transfer to a bowl or small jars and layer with the blueberries and coconut chips. Keep refrigerated and eat within a few days.

Pic below from an exhibition on plastic at Mass MoCA in North Adams, Mass.

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Kehinde Wiley show at the Brooklyn Museum, opened last week.

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Chinese New Year, on Pell Street in New York’s Chinatown last weekend.

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Snow reflecting on the mirror inside La Colombe, some of the best coffee in town. Lafayette Street, New York.

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I know what you’re thinking. That doesn’t look like celery soup. Did y’all see the Koons show at the Whitney? Go see it before the Whitney closes forever and moves downtown. Yes, even if, like me, you think you are above it or have some (lots of) preconceived notion of his art. You will gain a broader appreciation for him and the fabrication of some of these objects. I think. Shout out to David Gordon for dragging my butt there on an early Saturday morning. Also, did you listen to this? Hilton Als interviewing Khandi Alexander, Thelma Golden, and Toni Morrison for Studio 360. Oh my, what are you waiting for?

Ok, soup. It’s early fall. Which is actually the best time to be at a farmer’s market in New York. The stalls are spilling over with eggplants, tomatoes, early brussels sprouts (we’re not capitalizing Brussels anymore right?), all sorts of greens, apple varieties, peppers, and squash. More on squash in a bit. There’s still corn, raspberries, celery, blueberries at one stall I saw. If you live in the five boroughs of NYC you have no excuse—the Union Square greenmarket is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  While you’re at it, bring your food scraps from your freezer, the compost station is at the northeast end of the market. When you’re done composting and purchasing pretzels and apples and tatsoi and fairy eggplant, stroll down Broadway to the Strand bookstore and spend time in there perusing. Seriously. I recommend. I did this Saturday and it was life affirming to be in a brick-and-mortar bookstore browsing, touching, dreaming, reading first pages. I mainly hung around cookbooks and new fiction with my bud @superdaniela.

Celery seems to be having a bit of an “it” moment in food don’t you think? Featured as the main ingredient in salty spicy salads; in celery tonics; in the last episode of Breaking Bad (ok, made that up), and of course, soups everywhere. In the spirit of things celery and fall, here is a quick and dirty celery soup. Ok, not that quick, not that dirty, but pretty darn basic. Some easy substitutions could make this vegetarian and vegan lickety split (i.e., substituting vegetable broth, using coconut cream instead of half and half…) This soup is velvety, rich, and smooth. The original recipe uses whole cream instead of half and half and more butter; I reduced both, but feel free to tinker/increase, as your palate desires.

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Celery Soup

Serves 4
adapted from BonApp

1 head celery, chopped
1 large potato, preferably waxy, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
6 tbsp butter or vegan fat like Earth Balance
Salt
3 cups low-sodium broth (chicken, vegetable)
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
Red chili flakes
Dash of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup half and half
Olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt, to serve

Combine the celery, potato, onion, and butter in large saucepan over medium heat, season with salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about 8–10 minutes. When the onions seem about cooked, add the broth, bring to a simmer, and cook for another 8–10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Let the soup cool down a little before transferring to your blender.

Add the dill, chili flakes, and dash of balsamic vinegar and blend the soup until smooth. Depending on how ocd you are you can strain the soup at this point, or just transfer it back to the saucepan. Add the half and half and stir until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Gradually bring the heat up a little if you’re serving right away. Serve in soup bowls with tops of celery, drizzle of olive oil, and sea salt.

**Bonus recipe**
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Chili
I made this the other night and shazam, I am going to make this all fall.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wrap two sweet potatoes in tin foil (poke with a fork first) and roast for 45 minutes to one hour until totally cooked through and soft. Do the same with a bulb of garlic—wrap in tin foil and toss in the oven—for maybe 30 minutes. Remove the soft meaty flesh of the potatoes and transfer to a bowl. Remove one or two of the garlic cloves from the skin and mash into the potatoes. Combine with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice, finely chopped fresh ginger, red chili flakes, and sea salt. Mix well. Devour.

Below is a picture of me and my buddy Dan (sorry Dan forgot to get your permission first, if you hate this photo I’ll take it down!). We met our freshman year at Cornell so we’ve known each other a long time now. B/c we old. He just moved back here and that’s us in the JivamukTea Cafe taking a selfie for our friend Laura in Oakland. Hi Laura!

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One of the cool periodicals at last week’s Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1

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Three of the delicious pies at Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Gowanus, Brooklyn

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I run by here in the mornings, this guy is often fishing, Prospect Park Lake

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