Recipes for Things I Love
August 4, 2016
Thought for this perfect summer day: sometimes the simplest thing can make you happy.
A friend recently sent me three of these large (they’re really capacious – 30 by 38 inches) white flour sack dish towels.
I am in love.
They dry glasses better than any other towel I’ve ever encountered. They’re great for drying lettuce and leaving it in the refrigerator. They clean up beautifully because they’re so simple: pure white so they take bleach.
They make me smile at each encounter.
July 2, 2016
Two years ago today I was in Alaska. I’ll never forget the air in Juneau; it was the most delicious substance I’ve ever inhaled, and I stood there, taking it in, thinking I’d never breathed real air before. It was so clean, so fresh, so bracing it seemed like all I needed to sustain life.
But then there was the seafood….
I loved the salmon and the crabs, but for me the biggest treat was the spot prawns we pulled out of the trap every morning. They were so wonderful we simply at them raw – and then fried the heads and ate those too.
No shrimp I’ve eaten since have come close. But I’ve been thinking about them….
Here’s the problem: shrimp have an enzyme right behind the head that goes to work the minute the shrimp die, turning the flesh to unpleasant mush. So you don’t want to buy a dead spot prawn with its head on. And the heads are so delicious….
Still, if the shrimp are decapitated the moment they’re pulled out of the ocean, and then instantly frozen, they should taste good. Worth a try, I thought. So yesterday I ordered frozen spot prawns from Great Alaska Seafood.
I peeled them, sauteed them very briefly in butter and added a splash of lemon juice. That’s all. They were, hands down, the best shrimp I’ve eaten in New York state. Sweet, clean tasting, the texture smooth, subtle and pliant rather than firm. Although they were frozen, they tasted as if they’d just emerged from the ocean.
At $20 a pound they weren’t cheap, but it was the shipping that sent them over the top. Shipping’s free if you order eight pounds, and next time I’ll order a lot. Knowing I’ve got these shrimp sitting in the freezer, ready to turn any ordinary day into a special occasion, will make me very happy.
June 24, 2016
On this dreary Brexit morning, it seems necessary to find reasons to rejoice.
It’s a little thing, but when I opened this container of Sidehill Farm sour cream (new to me), I discovered a remarkable substance. It is unlike any sour cream I’ve encountered in the past. Almost yellow, it has a rich full lively flavor; you think of green meadows filled with spring flowers. Piled onto the just-picked strawberries I bought at the farmstead down the road, it made me happy to be alive.
Later, I think, I’ll make this Borscht Salad. It’s the perfect vehicle for great sour cream.
Borscht Salad (adapted from a Fergus Henderson recipe)
Shopping list: 3 beets, ½ small red cabbage, 1 green apple, 1 orange, sour cream
Staples: 1/2 red onion, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt.
Peel 3 raw beets and grate them. (You might want to use rubber gloves, or your hands will be magenta for quite a while.) Peel and grate a green apple and stir that into the beets.
Slice half a small red cabbage as thinly as you can. Do the same with a small red onion. Toss them with the beet/apple mixture.
Squeeze an orange and measure out 2 tablespoons of juice. Mix it with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon onto 6 plates and top each serving with a dollop of sour cream.
June 15, 2016
The weather’s been radiant, so bright and fresh it pulls me outside, enticing me to wander the city. Days like these, passing people offer secret smiles to one another; aren’t we lucky?
My day began at Sadelle’s with the best bagel I’ve ever eaten. It makes those soft, slack, silly circles that masquerade as bagels hang their heads in shame. It’s got such tooth and flavor I’m tempted to simply eat a naked bagel. But that would be sad when there’s Sadelle’s salmon, supple as silk and barely salty, just waiting to perch on top. Excellent egg salad is also on offer, and it proves another worthy partner to these sublime little rings.
A walk through SoHo, an encounter with that curious black cat on Spring Street, and down the Bowery to Little Italy. I’m headed for my favorite city shop, Di Palo’s, where there’s always something new to taste, always lots to learn. Today Lou’s cutting a golden wheel of autumn parmigiano: rich and crumbly, it tastes like concentrated sunshine. Afterwards some of Di Palo’s just-made mozzarella. Never refrigerated, it sits on the counter weeping milk, too voluptuous to contain its own richness.
Down Elizabeth Street, through teeming streets, to Dynasty, a raucous Chinese emporium that’s like a quick trip to Hong Kong. Tripe, sausage, black chickens, goose intestines…. they have it all.
Pork uterus anyone?
And then a turn north, to dinner at Upland. I don’t think Justin Smilie has ever made a dish I didn’t like, but for me it’s impossible not order his crazy mushroom: a huge hen-of-the-woods, crisply fried and served with soft fresh cloumage cheese.
But it’s Justin’s smoked duck with cherries, a new dish, that takes my breath away. Where has this version of the bird – like the most intense bacon I’ve ever eaten – been hiding all my life?
And finally, I stop in at Maysville for a nightcap; a little hit from their astonishing bourbon collection is an extremely satisfying way to say good night.
April 25, 2016
Soft, chewy and spicy, I am addicted to these little Japanese snacks. Dried squid with a touch of sugar, a hint of garlic and the zing of chiles. A sharp jolt of flavor. Good for you. No calories. What’s not to like?