Once a year, the local city magazines in most metropolitan areas do an issue about the least expensive places to get a good, quality meal. I always find them to be great reads. They are also a means to discover the range and variety of what a town has to offer in the way of ethnic and creative cuisine.
Happy Anniversary to the Greenmarkets! As both the New York Times and New York Magazine highlight they turn 30 years old this week. In a way, it is hard to imagine the city without these culinary resources, they’ve become something of an institution. Specials and the latest seasonal produce are highlighted on blogs, and new arrivals are heralded in the Dining In section of the Times on Wednesdays. The market has even published The New Greenmarket Cookbook (Ed note: this is a 2014 edition, as the previous book is no longer available).
There, I’ve picked up wonderful cheeses, delicious handmade sausages, great homemade jams, and lovely freshly-baked bread – for toast of course. Plants and flowers dress up the square and the aroma of lilacs during the spring season makes the trip intoxicating as well. Like lots of folks who visit the market on a regular basis, I have my particular favorite vendors that I search out week after week for their wares.
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 large clove garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch pepper
1/4 cup finely grated fresh parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely grated fresh pecorino cheese
3-4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
In pre-heated 300o F (150o C, Gas Mark 2) oven, toast pine nuts until light brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. This will release the oils in the nuts. While pine nuts are toasting and cooling, prepare the basil.
1/2 16-oz. box linguine (about 200 grams)
5-6 small red new potatoes per person, cut into quarters
8-10 fresh green beans per person, cut in half
1 Tbsp pesto per person
In large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add 1 tsp salt. Throw in green beans. Let cook for 3-5 minutes until a fork goes through them easily. With skimmer, remove green beans from pan and set aside either by dividing them onto the plates on which they will be served or in a large bowl.
The Weather Channel says that it’s currently 92 degrees Fahrenheit outside (about 30 degrees Centigrade). That’s hot enough to do nothing but just sit around inside watching television and drinking cool liquids. But, to do that today would be something close to culinary sacrilege.
There is, however, one special fair that takes place each year on a Sunday in mid-July that draws out the folks who most likely don’t usually brave these spectacles. The Alliance Française in New York holds its Bastille Day celebration in Midtown Manhattan, taking over three blocks on 60th Street. Local proprietors, restaurants and many things French are featured.
Brioche with Orange Flower-flavored Cream
Tuna Niçoise Sandwich
*Sniff* I can’t believe it’s here already. The end of the season has come and I completely missed them. I’m not talking about baseball. I don’t mean hockey. I’m not even referring to the World Cup. No, the season I am talking about is short, sweet and red. It is enticing, sometimes decadent, and very, very delicious.
I bit into it and, WOW. Robust, full, fruity, flavor just exploded in my mouth. Juice dripped down the sides of my face. Strawberry taste, the kind that seems too artificial to be real, was everywhere, complemented by the rich, fluffy cream. It was as though a taste light-switch had gone off in my brain. I was in love, or something very close to it.
1 lb. Strawberries
1 cup Heavy Cream (or English double cream)
3 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tsp Sugar
Chill metal bowl in freezer for 10-15 minutes. If using beaters, also chill those for best results.
You may notice that there’s yet another break in the sequence in which I usually post, especially as I took a hiatus a while back. I’ve been debating changing the name of this blog for a while and decided during my “six-month self-review” – triggered most likely by the fact that we’ve been going through these at work as well lately – that I should just take the plunge and not hesitate any longer. I’ve decided to call this blog The Experimental Gourmand instead of “From Banking to Blogging.”
Today is a bank holiday in the United States. As I couldn’t afford to take off yesterday, it is sort of weird week for me. Saturday and Sunday were filled with the usual scramble to get errands done. Yesterday was really quiet, even more so than the day after Thanksgiving, and lots of places seemed closed. The financial markets closed at 1:00 p.m. and, in one of the major perks of working in the industry, some of us got to leave a couple of hours later, several hours before my usual departure time. Ahhhh, I did miss that when I was temping for non-financial companies.
What getting home when there was still plenty of sunlight did, was give me time to deal with the pile of magazines and papers on my floor. You know the one. It starts to take on a life of its own, growing, spreading, until really you think it should be paying rent in your room. It looked much larger earlier in the day. O.K. Maybe the rest of you have a more ordered existence than I.
In the pile were some great notes and recipe ideas. I also discovered some thoughts for the blog that I’d scribbled on various pieces of paper. It made me realize how much this concept I’d discussed a little more than six months ago over coffee with a friend has evolved more into something that does what the title now suggests: explore experimenting with food and enjoying various tastes.
It is my hope that the new title doesn’t scare anyone away and, in fact, draws some of you “lurkers” (the term for those who read but don’t post – I didn’t make that up, btw) out to post your comments and ideas. Cooking and eating are about experimenting and trying new things and new recipes. I hope that my photos and tips will inspire you to do just that.
Buon appetito! (and now I have to return to the Italy-Germany game to root for my Azzurri – yes, that is a link to ESPN, probably one of the only that will ever happen on this site)
1/4 cup Red Raspberries, pureed
1/4 tsp White Sugar
1 shot Light Rum
Sparkling Mineral Water
Fresh whole Red Raspberries to garnish
Measure out 1/4 cup raspberries per person. Put in food processor and puree until liquid. Add 1/4 tsp sugar per person being served. Puree one minute more.
6 jumbo Shrimp per person, peeled, deveined
1 cup Mesclun or other mixed greens
1/3 cup Red Grapes, cut in half
1/4 cup Slivered Almonds, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled Goat Cheese
3 Tbsp extra-virgin Olive Oil
1 medium clove Garlic, super-finely chopped
Whole wheat pitas
Heat griddle pan over medium high heat. (unless you decide to grill them on a barbecue) Peel and devein shrimp, unless bought prepped. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook shrimp until pink on one side, flip over and cook until opposite side is also pink. These should take about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.