Archives for category: Summer

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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.

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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.

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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?”

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The last time I blogged was a month ago. It was about tomatoes. As was the blog before that (sort of). Well I’m at it again: tomatoes. This time stuffing them into jars to be eaten once the last leaves have fallen from the trees in Fort Greene Park and my wool coat has reclaimed its place by the front door.

I recently returned from a 15-day trip around Turkey with a few new recipes under my belt, ones that have been passed down through generations in my boyfriend’s family. His sisters do the cooking, and do everything by hand, and do not own a single measuring cup or spoon. One thing they do each year is turn late-summer tomatoes into a sauce to be eaten year round. It’s quite simple: tomatoes, peppers, salt, and a bit of oil. They primarily use the sauce to make Turkish menemen (and egg-and-tomato dish like shakshouka).

When we left for Turkey the weather was hot, sticky, classic late August; when we returned last week early fall had descended on New York, with its warmish days but brisk mornings and chilly nights. Luckily we got back into town just to catch the tail end of tomato season. We bought these organic ones from Hepworth Farms at the Park Slope Food Coop for $1.26 a pound! If you can get bruised ones for cheap at your local farmers market that’s good too.

This recipe is not quite the rustic preserved tomatoes I made last year or the ones written about earlier this week in the New York Times. But it’s not far off either. In addition to menemen I’d love to eat this with pasta or polenta or in a vegetarian lasagna. And honestly, I can’t imagine I’ll wait til winter to try!

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Preserved tomatoes, Turkish style

8 pounds tomatoes, preferably Roma
2 pounds long sweet peppers
1/2 cup oil
1 heaping tbsp salt

1. Quarter the tomatoes lengthwise and puree in batches in a blender until smooth. Transfer the pureed tomatoes to a large stockpot on the stove. Bring the tomatoes to a boil.

2. Halve the peppers lengthwise and chop in a food processor until fine, but not pureed. (A food processor works much better for this than a blender which tends to just pulverize.) Without a food processor you can do this by hand it just takes a while—chop as finely as possible.

3. When the tomatoes are boiling add the peppers, oil, and salt and reduce to a simmer but keep the liquid bubbling. You want to reduce some of the liquid and create a sauce. So simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour until you reach the desired consistency of sauce.

4. Have your Ball jars or recycled glass peanut butter jars (what we used!) clean and sterilized (we boiled the clean jars in water for ten minutes and removed with tongs and air dried). Don’t let the sauce cool too much. Using a funnel, spoon the tomato sauce into the jars, filling almost to the top, leaving just the tiniest bit of room.

5. While still hot, put the lids on and flip the jars upside down. Leave for two days to ensure a proper seal. (This is the method my boyfriend’s family uses; you can also look on the internet for other methods to seal, namely submerging the jars in boiling water.)

Below is a photo of the beautiful village where we stayed for five days in the mountains of eastern Turkey, where my boyfriend grew up and his family still spends the summers. Bottom is me picking apricots in a neighboring village. I also saw pomegranate, lime, and fig trees during those two weeks. I’d definitely never seen a pomegranate tree before!

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