Entries from August 2010

Every Day Should Be Like This

August 31st, 2010 · 11 Comments · Grilling, Pork and Beef, Rituals

7:30 Kids watch Fantastic Mr. Fox; parents take turns running on the beach.
10:00 Pool: Work on touching the bottom of the 9-foot deep end with hands, holding underwater handstands for at least 5 seconds, and tightening up jack-knives off the diving board.
1:00 Lunch. Tomato Sandwiches. Leftover Shrimp & Grits.
1:30 Quiet Time: Dad reads Freedom, Phoebe reads Utterly Me: Clarice Bean, Abby plays paper dolls, Mom marinates a pork tenderloin in bourbon, soy, brown sugar, olive oil.
3:00 Beach
4:30 Discuss the differences between a Snowy Egret (black beak, yellow feet) and a Great Egret (yellow beak, black feet) then seek out real-life examples on our bikes.
6:00 Yardarm. Mom prepares potatoes, peaches; Dad prepares the grill.
7:00 Family Dinner…

Grilled Pork with Peaches

A few hours before dinner (after the pool, before the beach?) marinate pork tenderloin in 1/4 cup bourbon, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, a few glugs of olive oil, a 2-inch hunk of peeled ginger cut into chunks.

Dinnertime: Slice three to four peaches as shown and brush with either melted butter or canola oil and a sprinkling of brown sugar.

Grill pork for about 15-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until the middle is firm but not hard to the touch. During the last 5 minutes, grill peach slices, turning so they don’t burn. Serve with campfire potatoes.

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The 1080

August 29th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Drinks, Rituals

I’ve made it clear how much I love my 6:00 cocktail. But since most of you have only known me for six months or so, I’m not sure I’ve made it clear enough how much I love my summer vacation cocktail. It’s been tempting to relax the 6:00 rule on the Dark & Stormy since I’ve been relaxing the rules on pretty much everything else this vacation (“Of course I’ll load your Pez dispenser for the second time in 15 minutes!”*) but so far, I’ve been pretty good about it. (I keep hearing my father-in-law’s theory on the 6:00 start time: “It’s important to me that I exercise some restraint.”)

It makes me think back nine years ago when I was vacationing in the very same week in the very same house and too afraid to relax the rules on drinking while pregnant even for one night. It was August and peaches were as sweet and perfect as they are right now so as soon as the sun went over the Yardarm, Andy would mix up a pitcher of my very own virgin cocktail: apricot or mango nectar, lime juice, club soda, strawberries and a handful of fresh sliced peaches (measurements pretty much to taste). We called the drink “The 1080,” named after the house number where we stay, and it was so good that whenever the peaches are good enough (even when I’m not pregnant) I mix one up and raise a glass to my third grader (how is it possible that she is in third grade?). Then I pour the Goslings.

*It’s a little embarrassing how many examples I had to choose from for this parenthetical. Runner-up: No folding the girls clothes: Each of them has one drawer and all their shorts, Ts, sundresses, swimsuits, and underwear get tossed into them right from the laundry basket.

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August 27th, 2010 · No Comments · Birthdays, Holidays, Celebrations

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Chicken Fingers Milanese

August 27th, 2010 · 5 Comments · Chicken and Turkey, Dinner

Guest Post By Adam Rapoport, editor-in-chief, Bon Appetit, father of Marlon, age 3.

It took hiring a babysitter for me to finally recognize the obvious—that boneless, skinless chicken breasts don’t offer much in the way of flavor. About a year ago, our sitter, Gina, started frying up chicken cutlets made from boneless thighs for our chunky, high-octane son Marlon. I’d get home from work, open the fridge, peel away the aluminum foil and take a nibble, and then another nibble, and then basically do all I could not to devour the entire plate. They were assertively seasoned, rich with flavor and perfectly crispy. If I were still in college, I reckon I could survive on them for an entire semester.

Of course, now that I’m all grown-up and a dad and whatnot, I’ve got to strive for something a bit more sophisticated. Which is where the Milanese comes in. I’ve always loved Veal Milanese, the pounded-thin, bone-in fried cutlet topped with a tangle of baby arugula and a mess of cherry tomatoes. But the fact is, using chicken thighs instead of veal actually packs more punch.

My wife Simone and I make Chicken Milanese  throughout the year (although there’s something particularly appealing about it in the summer, especially when you pair it with a well-chilled bottle of rosé). Besides chicken thighs, are other go-to ingredient is panko, the Japanese breadcrumbs you can now get pretty much anywhere. They’re like tiny little shards that fry up extra crisp and brittle.

And, of course, we always make extra cutlets so Marlon can get his share too. Although, for now at least, he’s saying no to the arugula and tomato and yes to ketchup. (more…)

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Shrimp and Grits (and then some)

August 26th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Dinner, Rituals, Seafood

Greetings from South Carolina! I know…Grits!…I’m so predictable. So New-Yorker-trying-to-be-a-Southerner! Well, yes. The thing is — you should know this about me — I’m so helplessly impressionable. Remember about eight years ago when brown was the new black? Or I should say, when brown paired with any other color — pink, green, light blue — was the new black? Those combinations were all I wore for an entire year. When my friend Jim was cooking for me while dancing to Graham Parker’s “Hold Back the Night,” I cooked and danced to that song in my own kitchen for my next three dinner parties. And so whenever I cross the Mason-Dixon line, which I do at least a few times a year, it is absolutely a non-negotiable requirement for me to make grits. And I don’t feel as spineless as I usually do about it because I think this particular brand of impresionable-ness falls under the very forgiving category of “When in Rome.”

It seriously never occurs to me to eat grits any other time the rest of the year, even though there is in fact a shrimp and grits recipe in Time for Dinner, and even though the girls (and Andy) have been coming to South Carolina their entire lives — Phoebe’s first trip was when she was 3 months old; Abby’s when she was 6 weeks. Tonight, we tossed in some sweet, plump shrimp (the shrimp down here deserves a different shellfish category altogether, btw) some fresh summer vegetables and had ourselves a Lowcountry Lovefest. (more…)

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Outsourcing the Family Recipe

August 25th, 2010 · 15 Comments · Baking and Sweets, Rituals

Guest Post By Claudia Heilter, former news producer, mother of Arlo, 6 and Lois, 4.

I’ve been wracking my brains on ways to pass along my Hungarian roots to my children. I speak the language but found it a bit too tricky to teach them. My husband doesn’t speak it and my parents live 2,000 miles away in Western Canada. It only dawned on me recently that it might be easier to pass along the family history not through the language, but through the food. Hungarian cuisine is so flavorful that it’s world-renowned. It’s quite kid-friendly too because most of it qualifies as comfort food: goulash soup, paprikas chicken, palacsinta (crepes) and galuska dumplings (instant homemade noodles). The only problem is, I can’t cook. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 6 years and the learning curve, for me, has proved too steep. I thrived working in the high-pressure, cut-throat environment of network news. But ask me to follow a simple recipe and it’s like my brain goes cross-eyed.

My kids love the buttery, bite-sized Hungarian cheese biscuits called pogacsa (po-gah-tcha) – a treat my mother makes every time we visit my parents. (You can’t be Hungarian and not have put your personal stamp on a pogacsa recipe.) Arlo and Lois beg their grandmother to send them some instead of having to wait until our bi-annual visits. But by the time the pogacsa would travel the two weeks and go through Customs (if it even got through Customs), they’d undoubtedly be stale. So I thought, Hey! I’ll just make them myself!  What a great way to pass along some part of my family history. But as soon as my mother started to explain the measurements in terms of ”it needs a little bit of this and a little touch of that” I thought to myself: Doomed. If I can’t work with actual measurements, I certainly wasn’t going to be able to go by feel. Now what? What I would have done in my producer days: Find an expert!

I admit I’m a bit embarrassed to be outsourcing my heritage. My friend and neighbor, Lori Walsh, though not Hungarian, is a gifted baker. And in this case that seems to be the more important criteria. She already bakes bread for us weekly and other yummy snacks and desserts, too, through her business Yum! So why not this?  I connected her with my mom (it seemed best to cut out the middleman), and we were in business.

Until the day comes that my mother teaches me her way, delegating this old-world tradition will have to be my modern-day stamp on the pogacsa recipe. In the meantime, there’s a little taste of Hungary, and a lovely (mess-free) reminder of my family, anytime we want. (more…)

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Tony’s Steak

August 24th, 2010 · 20 Comments · Dinner, Grilling, Picky Eating, Pork and Beef, Posts by Andy

There were so many things Abby wasn’t psyched to eat when she was three. Most things, actually. Fish, for example. She threw up when we made her eat flounder. Carrots (she couldn’t chew them). Waffles (she only ate pancakes). Eggs (they smelled horrible). Green beans. Pork chops. Yellow cheese. Tomatoes. Macaroni and Cheese (for Chrissakes!). We once went four straight weeks — no joke — when Abby basically rejected all solid food, and there but for the grace of Pediasure… well, I don’t even want to think about what would have happened had it not been for Pediasure. What she did eat during those dark days: pasta with butter and “Abby’s spice” (garlic salt); pizza; apples with peanut butter; and breaded chicken (as long as it was drowned in ketchup). Then one summer weekend a couple years ago, when we went to visit my brother Tony in upstate New York, she discovered the joys of steak, and our lives got a little bit better. Tony had taken a flank steak, marinated it forever in teriyaki sauce, and grilled it. He sliced it thin. Abby was, of course, initially skeptical. We begged her and tried to reason with her and explained how steak was exactly like a hamburger, only sliced instead of chopped — can’t you see that? — and finally bribed her (you want ice cream tonight, right?) to have a bite, one bite… at which point her stubborn little mind was blown. She had seconds, and then thirds, and “Tony’s steak” was born. Ever since that day, Abby has judged all meat dishes by this standard, her gold standard.

“I don’t  really like it,” she’d say when we served her a premium grilled ribeye or a tender filet, cooked to perfection. “I like Tony’s steak better.”

“Is this Tony’s steak?” she’d ask, sniffing out our lame imitation and forcing us to admit that it was not, in fact, Tony’s steak, not exactly. “It’s okay, but it’s not…”

Tony’s steak has proven hard to live up to. Until last weekend, that is. Last weekend, we grilled a steak that even Abby couldn’t argue with: the meat was grass fed and organic and all that, and we somehow achieved a marinade that was just the right amount of salty and sweet for Abby’s discerning palate. We sliced it thin. We served it with fresh, grilled corn and bok choy. We called it, without shame, Tony’s steak. We placed it before Abby. And this time, Abby believed us. – Andy (more…)

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Early Bird Special

August 23rd, 2010 · 7 Comments · Dinner, Rituals

Guest Post By Yolanda Edwards, Travels with Clara

One of our favorite restaurants in NYC is Prune, but the problem is that it’s everyone else’s favorite too. Dinner and brunch are impossible–there’s always a wait, and sometimes even a line down the block. The other night, though, we happened upon a clever idea completely by accident. It was 5pm, we were in the city with our 7-year- old, Clara, and all a little bit hungry. Normally, we’d get a snack, and head home to eat dinner at our usual 7PM time, but we figured this just might be the lucky hour to try Prune — doesn’t 5:30 always seemed to be the reservation option restaurants give you when you request “something for 7:30 or 8?” We were so right. There was only one other table seated and the staff was super friendly. We had the most delicious beef hearts, duck breast, and some kind of strawberry shortcake-ish dessert. Granted, it was not a cheap meal, but we did save on the babysitter, got Clara home by 7:30, and were able to experience one of the best restaurants in New York without any advance planning.

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Reader Mail

August 20th, 2010 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

Keep ‘em coming.

“I’m up way past my bedtime trying to read too many of your posts in one sitting. Such a wonderful find for me! Thank you for this site, and your great balance of striving for wholesome cooking without striving for perfection/guilt. We can’t stand dry chicken, so your yogurt-marinated grilled chicken will become a new standard for us—thanks!  The big hit though was the asperagus. We’ve done it on the grill before, but I don’t know that I’d used kosher salt on it before and I think that is what won my 5 & 2 yr old over (my 8 yr old would eat asperagus every night if I could afford it). We’re away from home this summer, and not being in our home kitchen has been an excuse to do less real cooking. I’ve actually missed it, and your blog has me re-enthused.” — Deirdre

“Just dropping you a quick note to let you know that we inaugurated Time for Dinner with the sweet and sour chicken with plums recipe tonight.  The adults loved it, and the nine-month old demanded tastes and proceeded to devour a huge portion of both the chicken and the plums.  The three-year old ate white rice, plus two bites of chicken when our praise for his sister’s enthusiasm became too much to bear.  This is success in my house!” – Molly

“Thank you for introducing me to the tomato sandwich. I simply don’t know how I survived 35 summers without it.” –Jodie

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My Digital Diet

August 19th, 2010 · 6 Comments · Kitchenlightenment, Rituals, Travel

When we renovated our kitchen a few years ago I was so psyched to build in my “Command Central,” a desk with a bulletin board to keep track of schedules, birthday parties, class lists, and emergency numbers. And of course, the crown jewel of Command Central would be my MacBook laptop — right there at my fingertips whenever I needed it. It would be great! I’d always be only a few feet away should I ever want to check my email or look up a recipe or read my facebook news feed, or see who is being skewered on gawker, or look up a phone number, or order that book Funny Frank Abby has been begging for, or google the woman I’m interviewing with the next morning, or open the soccer schedule that is saved in an Excel file to see if we can indeed plan on a road trip Saturday without missing a game, or see what the weather is tomorrow —  in Hong Kong, too! Where my brother- and sister-in-law live! — or check the traffic on DALS, or the comments on DALS, or see what time Ramona and Beezus is playing or the flight is landing or 30 Rock is premiering….

God. Damn. I spend too much time on the computer. And I hate myself for it. The thing is, when I look at this list, most of the things up there are family-related. Searches and purchases and general organizing meant to make children happier and jam-packed days smoother. But, of course, this is not how my daughter sees it.

“Mom, stop working! Turn off the computer!”

I’m not working! Don’t you understand? I am booking your pottery lessons! And your vacation tickets! And by the way, kiddo, even if I was working, this computer allows me to do it from home so that I may greet you and your sister at the bus stop every day at 3:00. So that I may accompany you to ballet, so that I am free to read Amos and Boris to your class in the middle of the day, so that I may accompany you to doctor’s appointments without destabilizing the fragile atom that is the dual-working-parent calendar.

But all this is gray area stuff. And with kids there ain’t no gray area. To them, I’m either on the computer and disengaged or I’m off the computer and engaged.

So for the next two weeks, while I head down south for vacation, I’m engaging. I’m keeping the laptop closed during my children’s waking hours. (Notice the way that is phrased. If it was closed for the entire vacation this post would be called “My Digital Detox.” What I am attempting here is more like a Daytime Diet.)

This doesn’t mean there won’t be DALS posts. There will be lots of them. Andy and I will be chiming in sporadically, but over the next ten days, you’ll be hearing from some new voices, too — some of my favorite people, writers, muses, and kitchen heroes — all of them parents attempting to do the most primal of duties: feed their young.

If you are not detoxing yourself, I hope you’ll check in to hear what they have to say.

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Holy Mackerel!

August 18th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Dinner, Grilling, Seafood

My NPR app has become something of a lifeline to the real world for me this summer. You see, since I no longer have my 8:43 commuter train to Manhattan, I no longer have my dedicated reading time for my New York Times. I know what you’re thinking — now that I’m working from home don’t I have big, fat, wide swaths of time available to leisurely read the paper cover to cover? (Or pageview to pageview?) Well, yes. I guess. But therein lies the problem. For whatever reason, in my life, Large Wide Swaths of Time seem to be the arch nemesis of Dedicated Time, and unless there is a ritual attached to something like reading, it becomes an effort. When it becomes an effort, it doesn’t happen. One of my School Year’s Resolutions is to figure all this out, but in the meantime, I have my NPR app. Lately I’ve been downloading a few programs to my playlist (usually some combo of “All Things Considered,” “Fresh Air”, and “Morning Edition”) and listening to them while I go running. Not only does it make me feel a little more up to date — it makes the run go faster. (Not to be misread as “It makes the runner go faster.”) (more…)

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Back Pocket Quiche

August 17th, 2010 · 10 Comments · Dinner, Vegetarian

When my childhood best friend Jeni got married ten years ago, my mom and I threw her a shower in our house. I still remember the menu. Probably because I wrote it down in my Dinner Diary but also because it was so perfect if I do say so myself! There was a baked goods and pastry spread, a smoked salmon and bagels station, and my mom and I each baked a quiche — one vegetarian and one classic ham and gruyere. I hadn’t ever made one before and couldn’t believe how simple it was (totally back-pocket-worthy). The only problem I had was with the frozen pie crust I bought. It came in one of those ugly aluminum pie plates so I attempted to transfer it to a prettier, more shower-appropriate one…and ended up cracking the dough. So I smushed the crust into a ball, spread it out again with a rolling pin, and placed it in my nice dish. Later, when Jeni’s mom (who also happens to be Rosa, one of my kitchen heroes) was deciding which quiche to eat, she pointed to mine and said “You know that one is going to be better because the crust is homemade.” I laughed a little uneasily — but because she was one of my kitchen heroes, and because I was secretly proud that my crust did indeed look all artisanal and rustic, I didn’t confess to my crime. And I’m embarrassed to admit that in the decade since, I have become a repeat offender.


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The Blame Game

August 16th, 2010 · 30 Comments · Domestic Affairs, Drinks, Posts by Andy, Rituals

Dear Andy,

You know how grateful I am for all you do for the family. How grateful I am for your mastery of the grill, for your patience and stamina at playtime (how did I miss both of those qualities on Parenting Skills Hand-out Day?), for your unfailingly impeccable musical taste. (I fully recognize that if it weren’t for you, our children would likely be on a steady listening diet of Billy Joel and Edie Brickell.) But. But. But. But. Would you please look in that recycling bin up there? That was last week’s tally of alcohol intake and though you know how much I believe in equality in this marriage, I feel it’s necessary to place the blame for my now non-negotiable 6:00 cocktail squarely on you and your long line of alcohol enthusiasts. As you know, I come from a long line of Westchester Jews, from a house where there was always an Entenmann’s cake in the snack drawer and a lone, unopened bottle of Creme de Menthe in the liquor cabinet. And yet, since we’ve had kids, since I’ve been working on various demanding jobs and assignments, I now find myself looking at the clock every two minutes from 5:30 leading up to 6:00, or, as your father would say, leading up to that blessed moment when “the sun goes over the yardarm.” I used to be such a nice Jewish girl and now I find myself keeping a mental tally of our wine supply as though it’s as basic a staple as milk or peanut butter. I find myself getting the Bombay Sapphire out at 5:56, the highball glass out at 5:57, the ice cubes stacked up at 5:58, the lime sliced at 5:59 and then waiting, waiting, waiting that interminable 60 seconds until I can mix in my fizzy tonic and start to sip. I find myself thinking things like I could never have another baby because it would mean giving up nine months of Yardarms. So anyway, thanks a lot. And thank your Syrah-drinking Mom, your vodka-tonic drinking Dad, and your Old Fashioned-drinking Grandma (may she rest in peace) for me, too.   Love, Jenny

Dear Jenny,

You’re scaring me. Looking at the clock every two minutes? Waiting, waiting, waiting? As basic as milk? You can blame me for leading you to water, but come on: you can’t blame me for your thirst. Anyway, thank you for the kind words on the parenting front, and while my mastery of the grill is highly debatable, I’ll return the compliments a million fold: were it not for you, I would, in addition to being a much less fulfilled and happy person, probably still be eating penne with Ragu Robusto every night in front of the Yankees game after the kids went to bed.

I would also probably not be addicted to dessert.

When I was growing up, the son of an Italian mom, dessert was something you had on special occasions. On somebody’s birthday, we’d have a Duncan Hines cake. In the summer, when the peaches were running wild, we’d have a cobbler on Saturday night. During the holidays, we’d make a huge batch of Christmas cookies, and we’d frost them as a family. But most nights, we’d have nothing. Or, at the most, some fruit. You know, like normal people. And then I met you. For you – and for the Rosenstrach clan at large, no offense beloved in-laws – dessert is just a given, a natural extension of dinner. And lunch. And snacks, too. You eat something non-sweet, you follow it with a dessert. I’m not talking here about an Oreo or two, or an occasional bowl of ice cream. I’m talking about the heavy artillery. Chocolate truffle cakes. Chocolate mousse cakes. Chocolate candy bars. Dove ice cream bars. Babka. Sticky buns. Chocolate croissants. Mallomars. Chocolate covered raisins…and peanuts…and almonds. The truly insidious thing about all this stuff, for a non-dessert guy like me, is that it tastes really really good. God, does it taste good. So, over the years, as you wore me down, I started to indulge a little, then a little more, and next thing I knew, I started needing – not craving; needing — a dessert after every meal. When I finish dinner these days, I head straight for the pantry (with the kids right behind me) for my fix, and do you realize what I see when I open it up? Seriously, have you looked lately? A bar of 72% dark chocolate. And a bar of Swiss milk chocolate, since Abby likes milk chocolate so much better. Oh, and a ONE POUND bar of dark chocolate with almonds from Trader Joe’s. And a box of chocolate mints. And some chewy oatmeal raisin cookies, Phoebe’s favorite. And do you know what the worst part is? I bought all of it! The only person I can blame is myself, which is always a terrible place to be.

Do you see what you’ve done to me?

Love, Andy

P.S. It’s not Crème de Menthe in your dad’s “liquor cabinet,” by the way. It’s Tia Maria, which tastes like coffee, and if you carbon-dated that bottle, I think you’d find it’s older than Mexico itself.

P.P.S. That recycling bin photo was doctored.

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Reason #522 to Buy Our Cookbook…

August 13th, 2010 · 14 Comments · Time for Dinner: The Cookbook

…Because Time for Dinner is approximately $600 cheaper than this one written by Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s first Chief Technology Officer.

Reason #172: Sweet & Sour Chicken with Plums (page 103)

Reason #63: Because DALS readers have already sent me early reviews proclaiming it “awesome” and “amazing” and “wow, wow, wow”-ish. One wrote “I almost cried when I saw the dedication.” (Intrigued?)

Reason #33: Because if you buy one, then send me an email about how much you adore a particular recipe, I will have no choice but to express my gratitude with a free “Make Dinner Not War” bumper sticker to the first dozen who do so.

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Green Tomato Pizza

August 12th, 2010 · 8 Comments · Dinner, Vegetarian

Last year we spent our Labor Day at Stony Creek Farm in the Catskills. It was a “farm-stay” getaway, the latest trend in agritourism where you get to harvest your own vegetables for dinner, collect freshly-laid, still-warm eggs right from a henhouse, then cook it all up on a wood-burning stove in your tented cabin. Because it was a Feather Down Farm (one of three in the US), we weren’t exactly roughing it — there was a bathroom in the cabin, there were clean, soft sheets, there were enclosed bunk beds for the girls that had little hearts carved into the doors. I wrote about it for the September issue of Whole Living (no specific link yet; you’ll have to pick it up on the newsstand) if you are interested in learning more, but what I really wanted to tell you about here is the green tomato and caramelized onion pizza that the owners of the farm baked for us on “Pizza Night.” (Every Feather Down Farm has this ritual.) Almost a year later, the pizza, with its distinct sweet-and-sour freshness, was still at the top of my ever-growing mental checklist of “Things I Must Attempt to Replicate.” (Also on the list: Philip Roth’s Writing…book club tonight: American Pastoral!) We did it last weekend, and though we didn’t have an outdoor brick oven like they did at the farm, we had Jim Lahey’s no-fail pizza crust…which was just as mind-blowing. (more…)

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The Family Part of Family Dinner

August 11th, 2010 · 15 Comments · Dinner, Posts by Andy, Rituals

The whole concept of family dinner, if you think about it, is pretty elemental: you gather around a table in the waning hours, you and yours, and eat some grub, converse about your day and, if you’re lucky, life its ownself. But sometimes — or, most of the time — our dinners can resemble not so much a family of four eating in the kitchen of our Dutch colonial but a pre-verbal gathering of primitive hominids on the veldt, hunched over a large rock, devouring the day’s kill with frightening, brutal efficiency – quick, before somebody steals it! – and doing it all through a silence punctured only by occasional lip smacks and grunts of pleasure. In other words, getting dinner on the table often feels like the easy part; it’s the conversing and communicating — the family part of family dinner — that often prove more elusive. And, okay, if you insist on greater specificity, it’s our ability to get our children to SPEAK TO US that is often very much in doubt. (more…)

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A Rich Man’s Salad Bar

August 10th, 2010 · 12 Comments · Dinner, Sides, Salads, Soup, Vegetarian

If you’re like me, during these peak weeks at the market, the bounty comes with a side of panic. Did I pick up enough tomatoes? Enough corn? Enough peaches? Enough apricots? Too many apricots? Will they turn to mush before the girls can finish them? Will that ginormous bushel of summer spinach go sad and wilty before I figure out a way to use it? In other words: Am I making the most of the season? Because in a few weeks, when the tomatoes return to styrofoam and the plums always come with a sticker affixed to their skins, the image of me passing over that Mr. Stripey heirloom will haunt me. A partial solution to this problem has been to turn my kitchen counter into a Rich Man’s Salad Bar for dinner. You can really pack in the veggies that way. These are seven of my recent favorites (you can mix and match as few or as many as you like) and while I’m not going to stop you from serving them alongside a piece of grilled meat or fish, they are all special enough to be the main event…so all you really need is a nice loaf of crusty bread.

White Beans and Kale (above) I soaked dry white beans overnight then boiled them the next day to make this, but you could just as easily use canned cannellini or Great Northerns. To make: Saute a small bunch of washed, chopped kale with garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat until slightly wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Toss kale with beans, 2 tablespoons of chopped red onion (or to taste), a generous shaving of Parmesan, olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, salt, and pepper.

Beets and Goat Cheese Lucky for us, this one falls in the Pink Food Category. Phoebe likes beets without the cheese. Abby likes beets for painting bright pink lines across her plate. To make: Remove stems from beets. Roast them at 350°F  for 35 minutes. While they are cooking, add a drizzle of heavy cream or half-and-half to a small log of plain goat cheese and stir/mash together until cheese is slightly fluffy instead of crumbly. Once beets are cool, peel and chop them into a fine dice as shown. Top them with goat cheese “fluff,” fresh thyme (or tarragon), freshly ground pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil before serving. (more…)

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The Dinner Doula

August 9th, 2010 · 16 Comments · Dinner, Picky Eating, Pork and Beef

Last year I went to lunch with my friend and writer Lori at Sam’s, a Jewish Deli in the Garment District. At the time I was her editor at Cookie and the goal of the lunch was to come up with story ideas for the next few issues. She is that friend you just want to follow around with a pad of paper and pencil — she’s always reading or writing something interesting and I’m always the one on the other end of the conversation saying things like “…and it’s called ‘Stuff White People Like’ or ‘Things White People Like?’” or “…and you spell Safran Foer…how?”  She is the friend who sends me the stories in obscure journals and websites that she knows I will love (and that everyone will be talking about). When she sat down at this lunch, though, she looked forlorn. After some small talk, her face turned slightly ashen, she leaned forward and whispered to me… (more…)

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