Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Weekend Guide: What's Cooking

Lots going on in and out of the city this weekend, have a good one!

Watch :: The fourth annual NYC Food Film Festival kicked off this past Wednesday.  Catch foodie flicks through Sunday.

Eat ::  Back Forty's Summer Crab Boil runs every Tuesday through September 3rd.  A $42 pre-fixe gets you all-you-can-eat crabs, garden side dishes and endless pitchers of ice cold beer.  Having spent my childhood summers eating Maryland blue crabs like it was my job, I can confidently say that Back Forty's are a close second.  Reserve tickets asap, they sell out fast.

Go :: The Summer Fancy Food Show is back June 27 - 29th.  Taste-test your way through 180,000 speciality food products and learn about the hottest new culinary trends in snack foods to spices.  At the Javitz Center.

Check it out ::  The Hester Street Fair. Mix it up and head to the LES for food, fashion and as of last weekend a weekly greenmarket!  The fair runs every Saturday and Sunday through December. 

Ride :: Ok, not literally, leave the riding to Nacho.  Grab a group of friends and do something different in the heat.  Head to Governor's Island for Veuve Cliquot's Polo Classic.

And finally, if you're sticking around town, give a shout out and show some support for the annual Gay Pride Parade! And finally, finally, in town or not, cheer on the U.S. soccer team as they take on Ghana in the World Cup.  2:30pm Friday...GOAL!

*photos courtesy of NY Mag's GrubStreet and

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Scoop :: 10 Ways to Eat Ethically from the Boys at GQ

In the spirit of the World Cup, if you're looking for something worthy to cheer on (and possibly get a bit obsessive over) this summer, aiming to eat a little more ethically and sustainably is unarguably a solid pick. Even the guys at GQ are talking about it with Alan Richman's candid "Eat No Evil" article in the July 2010 issue.  
And yes, my own obsession with all things magazine and print takes me into the world of men's periodicals...good looking men in well-fitted suits, straight up-no-BS articles and interesting food & travel coverage...I'm definitely not one to discriminate.  
Richman shares his personal account of a 30 day attempt to wine and dine as ethically as possible.  Simple and straight up as eating really should be -- good food from good sources, raised, produced and served using good methods and products.  Here's his official, amusing but sensible "10 Commandments" of ethical eating (check out the full article as well in this month's issue, it's great beach reading that even your boyfriend can appreciate).  

1. If you have to eat in a hurry, eat a salad, difficult as that might be.
2. Food wrapped in plastic or Styrofoam is ethical only if you're an astronaut.
3. Know how the animal you eat was raised. You can lead an unexamined life, but your food cannot.
4. Transform your front lawn into a garden. (Be prepared for neighbors to consider you a fruitcake—or worse, a European.)
5. Unless your mom cooks from scratch, she has no business telling you what to eat.6. Nobody's health ever declined from eating unadvertised products.
7. Consider vegans a warning sign of ethical eating run amok. *no offense vegan readers!
8. Buying eleven-grain bread instead of seven-grain bread does not make you a better person.

9. The $4.99 all-you-can-eat pancake special at IHOP is not an ethical meal, even without bacon.10. If you have to eat in airports, don't. (But you already knew that.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

In the Kitchen :: Plated Part Deux

A quick follow up to Friday's post on hip, pretty plates.  Here's the result of that afternoon's lunch - a summery fresh salad with whatever was left in my fridge, finished off with herbs straight my balcony's herb "garden!"

summer salad | a mix of boston lettuce and purslane (a summer lettuce that's surprisingly rich in antioxidants & omega-3 fats, pick some up at the Union Sq greenmarket).  toss in strawberries, cherry tomatoes, avocado slices and a bit of goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.  sprinkle fresh tarragon and chopped basil over top and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt and fresh pepper to finish.  super simple and satisfying lunch!

the small but GROWING "garden" on my patio - basil, lemon verbena, tarragon, tomatoes, strawberries & more!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Scout :: Graphic Plates for a Cool, Colorful Table

Spotted, Urban Outfitters (of all places), Wednesday afternoon, downtown NYC - super cool plates for a vivid summer table.  It's not very often I venture into this store of ultra, youthful-hipness, but I'm very thankful I did.  I laid eyes on these lovelies and snapped them up with out a second thought.  And with the federal government's call earlier in the week for a crackdown on sodium and saturated fat and a push for Americans to get into the kitchen and cook more often with more fresh ingredients, what better way to accent a healthful meal than with some eye-catching plates.  Here's to scoring some delicious fare and style this weekend!
Urban Outfitters | Bird/Ikat/Flower plates, $8 each

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Favorite Finds: Great Pitchers & Glassware for Summer

I can't think of anything better than an iced cold drink on a hot, steamy summer day.  Here's a solid line-up of well-styled pitchers and glasses to outfit your beverage of choice -- whether it be water, sparkling water with lime, fresh strawberry lemonade, *unsweetened* iced tea with mint, white wine sangria or something a little stronger.  Obviously, I wouldn't leave you hanging for something stronger...scroll down to check out my recipe for lemonade vodka spritzers with fresh mint (they're killer).  Find more summertime drink recipes in my new book, The Cheater's Diet

1. Aino Glass Pitcher & Glasses | Moma Design Store, $125 for pitcher
2. Clouded Carafe and Tse Tase Glasses | Horne, $140
3. Roost Recycled Glass Bubble Collection | Velocity Art & Design, $242 for pitcher, $9 per tumbler
4. Chacha Pitcher | Crate and Barrel, $29.95
5. Curved Glasses, Leonardo Design Team | Moma Design Store, $70 per set
6. Tetra Water Glass | Global Table, $12 each 
7. Hobnail Pitcher from Prague | Apartment 48, $125

Lemonade Vodka Spritzers with Fresh Mint
Serves 8

2/3 cup fresh mint leaves
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ cups vodka
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups club soda

Muddle the mint and sugar in a large pitcher.
Add the vodka, lemon juice, and club soda.  Shake or stir well and serve over ice.
*For a sweet boost of color and antioxidants, add in 1 cup of fresh strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In the Kitchen :: Killer Guacamole for the World Cup

With the kickoff of the 2010 World Cup this past Friday, I've been glued to ESPN and ABC a decent amount this weekend. When you've got a group of soccer fans hovered around a TV, I can't think of any snack more crowd-pleasing than guac and chips. Guacamole's gotten some bad press, so let's dispel a couple of misbeliefs...
a) Avocado is packed with incredibly healthy omega-3, mono-unsaturated fats, great for your heart, cholesterol and anti-aging/wrinkles (why do you think so many face- masks are made from mashed avocado? It's amazing for plump gorgeous skin!).
b) Avocado and/or guacamole will NOT pack on extra pounds, unless of course you're eating massive quantities of it on a daily basis.
c) A 1/2 cup of sliced avocado is just 117 calories and 10g of GOOD fat, so don't stress about the number! You'll always find that good fats and fresh ingredients fill you up fast. Avocado is so rich and creamy that even a small amount goes far to satisfy you quickly. Take-home message: eat up, about 1/3 cup guac per serving and just watch those chips. a serving or so, about 15 chips, and you're golden.
d) Avocado is actually a fruit, who knew!?
Here's my super-simple recipe for killer guacamole, great for World Cup watching and beyond. Try pairing it with blue or yellow corn chips by Food Should Taste Good - awesome chips made solely from whole grains and organic ingredients. Not to mention they're lower on the sodium and have a decent of protein per serving which gets you full that much faster (harder to over-do-it handful after handful!). Become a FSTG Facebook fan for coupons, giveaways and more.

photo courtesy of Flickr
Guacamole with Tomato & Jalapeno

2 avocadoes, peeled and pitted
juice of 1 lime
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
1 medium vine-ripened tomato
¼ cup red onion, diced
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
1 teaspoons jalapeno, minced

Place avocadoes, lime juice, salt and cumin in a medium bowl and mash until smooth, or slightly chunky. Mix in tomato, red onion, cilantro and jalapeno and serve.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

In the Kitchen :: Turkish-Spiced Shrimp & Lamb Kebabs

I christened my new outdoor grill this past weekend and concurrently came to the conclusion that it's indeed time I invest in a new camera (at least it's a business expense), sigh. But back to the food, I can't think of anything better on a long weekend than an impromptu grill-out with a few close friends--my patio is tiny, so you know I really like you if you're on the guest list. Having just returned from Turkey, I created a summery dinner around some of the spices I brought back from Istanbul's expansive Spice Market. Here's what the Turkish/Mediterranean-inspired menu turned out (and I apologize in advance for the shoddy pics, though my good friend Kafi performed her photo-taking best): Turkish Shrimp & Lamb Kebabs
serves 4 to 5

1 lb large wild-caught shrimp, peeled
3/4 lb lamb shoulder, cut in 1 1/2 to 2" chunks
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Turkish kebab spice blend, divided *(blend of coriander, cumin, cayenne, pepper and more. you can find special blends at Middle Eastern speciality shops or online retailers like Kalustyan's, Penzey's or Zamouri Spices)
1 zucchini, sliced
1/2 large red onion, sliced into thick half-moons
12 button mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
8 to 10 metal or bamboo skewers (*soak bamboo skewers first so they don't burn)

In two separate bowls, marinate shrimp and lamb with olive oil and spice blend for 20-30 minutes. Skewer shrimp in a 'C' shape, alternating with zucchini, onion and mushrooms, about 3 shrimp per skewer. Do the same with the lamb.
Place kebabs on a heated oiled grill. Cook shrimp kebabs 3 minutes on each side or until done, but not rubbery and tough. Cook lamb 8 to 12 minutes total, turning once (8 minutes for medium rare, closer to 12 for medium well).

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
No Turkish meal would be complete without yogurt dip, or cacik. It's the perfect cooling compliment to spicy dishes, kebabs, or really anything you can think of. Word of warning, after a few glasses of vino, you might find yourself licking the spoon and the bowl...yes, it's that good.

5 oz 2% Greek yogurt
1/2 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 cucumber, finely grated

Stir it up and you're done!

The rest of the meal...

Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Radish, Mint and Pecorino Romano
I grabbed snap peas that morning at the farmers market and they were by far the best I've had yet this season - crisp, sweet and so good, I could have easily downed the whole bowl if I didn't have to share (damn having to be a nice hostess). Blanch about 3 cups of snap peas in boiling water for 2 minutes and place in an ice bath to keep them green and crunchy. Using a mandoline, slice 4 radishes super-thin. Toss snap peas and sliced radish with 1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce
(recipe above)

Cucumber, Tomato and Red Onion Salad
Toss together a simple mix of sliced cucumbers, heirloom or vine-ripened juicy tomatoes (locally grown are my fave, the taste is unbeatable) and thinly sliced red onion. Lightly drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and 2 teaspoons or a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a bit of sumac (a tasty Turkish/Middle Eastern spice used for salads, sliced onions, fish, rice pilaf and more) on top and you've got a gorgeous, summery salad that's packed with antioxidants and low on the calories.