Monday, September 27, 2010

In the Kitchen :: ...and Dreaming of Morocco

Maybe it was the rain and nasty weather or the fact that signs of Morocco have been popping up all around me of late -- a vacation site email in my inbox yesterday morning, Sunday's NY Times Travel Magazine, featuring mesmerizing Marrakesh.  I couldn't think of anything better than curling up to a bowl of something warm and aromatic, hints of cinnamon, cumin and other spices I'd imagine finding in the markets of a far off, fantastical Moroccan city.  Lacking a proper traditional tagine, I figured a cozy autumn stew in my sturdy Dutch oven was the next best thing.  And though my inclusion of coconut milk brings India and Thailand more to mind, I will definitely say that the spice blend I tossed together conjured up exotic visions of Morocco that made me want to pack my bags and board the next flight out of JFK.  For a bit of faraway inspiration that highlights seasonal ingredients (squash and apple are this stew's star ingredients), the recipe follows.  This is a perfect weeknight dish, made in under 30 minutes.  And the lentils give it a great dose of satisfying fiber while the squash and spices pack lots of antioxidants.  

Squash Curry with Apple & Red Lentils
makes 4 to 6 servings

1 2 to 2 1/2 pound buttercup squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
10 ounces light coconut milk
2 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper
2 dried red chilies
3/4 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup diced apple
extra apple for garnish, finely diced
creme fraiche or plain yogurt for garnish

In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven, add the oil and saute the squash and onion about 10 minutes over medium-high heat until lightly browned and semi-soft.  
Add in the coconut milk, broth as well as the lentils, spices, chilies, salt and pepper. 
Lower heat and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in apples with 10 minutes cooking time left.  
Garnish with extra diced apple and a tiny dollop of creme fraiche or plain yogurt if desired.

photos :: me,,,,,

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Very Edible Event :: Eat Drink Local

Happy Monday!  If you're looking for something to take the edge the start of another work week, here are a few events to set your sights on this week.  The local food events this autumn just won't quit...

Eat Drink Local :: Sept. 26th - Oct. 6th    
Eleven days devoted to the fall harvest all across New York State.  Restaurants, wine shops and farmers markets are joining forces to celebrate the season, sponsored by Edible magazines might be the biggest event of the fall.  Here's just a taste of what this week has in store.

*Special locavore meals and deals: All week-long partnering restaurants, wine shops and wineries, breweries and beer bars, farms and food artisans, and cultural institutions that celebrate food.
*Ingredients of the day: Each day of the week will be defined by
a local ingredient. Restaurants that take part will be cooking with them and you can try them at home, too. Check the list — which includes clams, Concord grapes, apple cider and Long Island duck – right here.
*Profiles in deliciousnes
s: Profiles of local farmers, food-makers, ingredients, recipes and other edible items of note. Check the list of those profiled such as Kennon Kay, director of the Queens County Farm, and Empire State Wineries.

*The EDL Challenge:
 20 local cooking must-trys from canning to clamming to making butter to reading Michael Pollan. (Tell Edible about it on Facebook, Twitter via Flickr or in person at our Festival at Chelsea Market on Oct. 4, you might win one of our rapidly growing mountain of prizes.)

*The Sotheby’s Vegetable Auction: An Amish style heirloom vegetable auction to be held at Sotheby’s on September 23.
*The L.I. Wine Auction: A Long Island wine auction,
HARVEST at Wolffer Estate Vineyards in Sagaponack on September 25.
*The Educational Institute
: The Edible Institute at the New School, a public discourse on urban food issues on September 27.
*The Food Film Fes
t: Hungry Filmmakers, which features sneak peeks at some of the best up and coming food films, September 28.
*The Stone Barns Harvest Fest: The annual party and pig roast that
is Harvest Fest at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, October 2.
*The Festival of the 11 Ingredients at Chelsea Marke
t: A tasting of our 11 ingredients of the week from the vendors at Chelsea Market, plus local brews and bottles, October 4.
*Taste of Greenmarket: The annual,
unforgettable fundraiser for the youth outreach component of the city’s Greenmarket program, October 6.

*Edible Gardens: Throughout the week, there will be programs and lectures on gardening and eating what you grow
at the New York Botanical Garden.
*Cooking Demos: The Union Square and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets will feature cooking demos from partner chefs, New York wine pourings and other happenings. Find a full calendar of demos 

And if all that isn't enough, there's an all day event this Wednesday in Union Square, called New Green City -- all about recycling, gardening, teaching and greenmarketing.  Check out the full day's event details here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In the Kitchen :: Autumn Pasta with Apples, Ricotta & Brown Butter Sage Sauce

moi with the founding editors of Rue, Miss Anne Sage (of CitySage) and Crystal Gentilello (of Plush Palate)

Yesterday was all about some good cooking, gorgeous floral arrangements and inspiring tabletop designs.  Partnering with my wonderful team of ladies from Rue Magazine, Kat Flower and Merci New York, I had the pleasure of cooking at the New York Design Center's "What's New What's Next" event.  The event highlighted the flavors, colors and feel of season.  The featured dish was apparently a big hit (gobbled and gone within an hour or so), but  you can easily replicate it at home, bringing all the scents and tastes of autumn into your own kitchen.  A few items of note--fresh ricotta cheese makes the WORLD of difference in any recipe.  Get the good stuff, a small, local brand if possible.  And don't stress about the calories/fat - you get such great flavor and texture, a small dollop is all you need!  And bonus, ricotta is packed with calcium.  Brown butter sage sauce also sounds incredibly rich, out of the question right?  When done right, anything's feasible.  The proportion of the butter sauce to the pasta and apples is significantly smaller, making for a light but delectably smooth and aromatic pasta dish.  The recipe, and photos from yesterday's smash event below...

 if only my kitchen were this spacious, I love the "English country" feel of it

Pasta with Apples, Ricotta & Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Serves 4

½ 16 oz package of twisted or tubular pasta like garganelli, casarecci or gemelli

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 green or tart apples, diced

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sage, chiffonade (stack the leaves and roll them like a cigar, then cut into long, thin strips)

additional black pepper for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta for 9 to 11 minutes until al dente. 
While pasta is cooking, add olive oil to a large sauté pan  and sauté shallots for 1 minute over medium-high heat, add apple and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until apple softens slightly.  Set mixture aside in a small bowl.
Mix together ricotta cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Add to a small saucepan and keep warm over medium-high heat.
Add butter and sage to the large sauté pan and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes just until butter begins to lightly brown in color (when it takes on a nutty smell you’ll know it’s ready).  Add apple mixture and cooked pasta back into sauté pan and lightly toss.  Serve with a dollop of warm ricotta cheese and a sprinkle of extra black pepper.   

the other apple tart with spiced caramel sauce & chicken liver pate crostini with green apple
find both recipes within the pages of Rue's inaugural issue!

Merci New York & kat flower's whimsical, enchanted-garden-themed table design. I have a minor obsession with the gold bamboo flatware (vintage courtesy of Kathleen's mom) and those beautiful gold-trimmed plates from ABC Carpet & Home

 one word: breathtaking.  kat flower, you are a floral force to be reckoned with!

...and to Anne, Crystal, Caitlin, Alaina, Kathleen and Jackie - AMAZING working with you all.  Hope everyone got home safely! note -- what made my life (ok, maybe just my cooking) a little easier yesterday?  ScanPan's fantastic cookware, particularly their saute pan.  It works wonders with induction burners. And those suckers are known to be incredibly challenging to cook on!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dining Room Redesign :: Brightening History with Big Color

I've been waiting for the perfect moment to put up this post and with the turn of season, it's finally here.  Call me a school girl (and a history buff) at heart, but every fall, I get a bit nostalgic about my alma mater, University of Virginia, the historic town where it's located, Charlottesville, and it's notable founder and architect, Thomas Jefferson.  So when I spotted these images in a recent issue of Elle Decor showcasing the newly refinished dining room of TJ's primary residence, Monticello...well, I was excited to say the least.  The vivid color shift from a cool, Wedgewood-blue dating back to 1936 to an enlivened marigold yellow gives this colonial dining room warmth, energy and a rich Southern spirit.  Makes you want to sit right down at the table and enjoy a long, lovely meal, doesn't it?  After a bit of paint studying, historians concluded that the dining room was painted a chrome yellow shade around 1815, just a few years after the bright color had been created in France.  It seems only fitting, Jefferson being as passionate and worldly as he was, to return to a stunning shade of yellow.

the dining room pre-redesign

tableware from Monticello's collection mixed with contemporary pieces, 
tablecloth from Ralph Lauren Home

view from the dining into the tearoom 

a table setting by interior designer, Charlotte Moss 
(if you're a Virginia grad, you'll notice the Jefferson cups on the table)

the tearoom

Monday, September 20, 2010

Food Fixation :: Concord Grapes

After snagging some of these autumn beauties at the greenmarket this morning ($4 per quart), I felt obligated to share the love and let you in on a little secret...concord grapes are the sweet, natural sugar fix of the moment!  Deep, dark purple in color, concord grapes hit the scene in the 1850's in -- surprise, surprise -- Concord, Mass.  Rich in disease-fighting, anti-aging antioxidants, these grapes are exceptionally sweet, they're the variety generally used to make that grape jelly you loved so much as a kid.  As a mature adult, I might be more inclined to opt for some raspberry preserves or strawberry-balsamic jam, but for a quick sweet-tart snack or dessert, these babies are like mini bombs of flavor and will cure any sugar or candy craving with even the teensiest handful. 
If you can find them, get some, as they have a fairly short season....and they're  just 62 calories per cup.  That's one good grape.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Friday finds :: a few from Rue

Happy Friday and happy reading, the first issue of Rue Magazine is officially live as of yesterday!  Here are a few of the issue's luscious photos to start your weekend off right.  Above, it's a perfect fall weekend to nestle up to the flavors of the season.  Take a lazy Sunday and head into the kitchen to bake this lovely apple tart with spiced caramel sauce (created by yours truly).   

Or whip up an easy warm and comforting dessert like this apple compote with vanilla ice cream.

Straight laced, simple and oh-so-crisp, grab an apple for a quick, wholesome snack.

Sip on a fabulous vintage cocktail or two with friends.  Check out the recipe for the Rue Manhattan studded with a brandied cherry here.  (Yes, this mag's so fantastic it needed its own cocktail). 

Enjoy a weekend evening of nibbles and great conversation.  Appetizers abound at this Mad Men-themed fete.  

Congratulations again to Crystal, Anne, Alaina and Caitlin - it's party time ladies!

Dive into fall and savor the weekend!

*Many thanks again to the photographic genius of David Malosh and David Tsay and the styling savvy of Michelle Wong and Emily Henderson.  
*images: Rue Magazine

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September, and a few good side dishes

I don't know if it's something in the gorgeous crisp September air, or the thrill of a new season, but the creative energy is flowing these days.  And thankfully, is directing me right into my kitchen.  I whipped up a few new side dishes for a dinner with friends last week celebrating the Jewish New Year.  New year, fresh flavors and colors with a little mystery and flair thrown in for fun.  So, for your viewing/cooking pleasure...

Quinoa with Pomegranate, Apple & Scallions 
*As I've mentioned before, quinoa is an exceptional source of whole grains and a quality source of plant-based protein.  If you're looking for an energy-dense, nutrient-packed, good-for-you carb, look no further. 
Serves 8

2 cups quinoa
seeds from 1 pomegranate*
4 to 5 scallions, chopped
2 tart apples, diced
juice from 1 lemon
salt to taste
freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons Dijon vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1 teaspoon shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine quinoa with 4 cups of salted water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.  Fluff with a fork, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Toss cooled quinoa with pomegranate seeds, scallions and diced apple.  Season with lemon juice.  For the vinaigrette, whisk together shallots, mustard and vinegar.  Slowly and continuously, whisk in olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle dressing over quinoa and mix well.
*To easily remove the seeds from a pomegranate without permanently staining your fingers a vibrant shade of magenta, cut the pomegranate in quarters and place them in a bowl of water.  With your fingers, remove the seeds in the bowl.  Water works magic!

Green Beans with Toasted Breadcrumbs, Lemon Zest & Hazelnuts
*who knew, those little delicious hazelnuts are packed with heart-healthy antioxidants!
serves 6 to 8

1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed
2 slices crusty day-old whole wheat bread, smashed to tiny pieces
1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, halved

In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the green beans for 2 minutes and transfer to a bowl of water and ice to stop the cooking process and keep the beans nice and crisp and emerald green.
In a small saute pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat and add bread crumbs, toast for 3 to 4 minutes and set aside.  
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and garlic, cook for 1 minute.  Add in lemon zest and green beans, saute for 3 to 4 minutes.  Add in hazelnuts and toasted breadcrumbs, toss and serve.