If we were playing word association (since we just got back from vacay, there has been a lot of this game going on in our house) and we started with say, short ribs…Where would you go from there?
“Winter?” “Braise?” “Dutch Oven?” “Anna?”
I’ll tell you where I wouldn’t have gone:
Call me naive, but it never would’ve occurred to me to associate short ribs with backyard barbecuing — until a week or two ago, when our friends Todd and Anne had our family over for some dinner. Now, as you well know by now, dinner at their house in the summer is not your run-of-the-mill burgers-and-dogs-and-corn-on-the-cob kind of event. (Not that I would EVER turn down ANY of those things EVER!) But every time I walk in to Todd and Anne’s homey kitchen overlooking the Hudson River — whether it’s winter, spring, summer, or fall — Todd is busy concocting something curious. This time, he was mad-geniusing a cocktail: Lord only knows what the thing was — something that involved beer, cider vinegar, fresh lemons, bourbon, maybe even a small animal, can’t be sure, but whatever it was, it totally got the job done. Next to him was a platter of short ribs that Anne had dropped into a marinade a few hours earlier, getting ready to be tossed onto the grill. “It’s basically Tony’s Steak,” Todd told me, simultaneously working on a pot of quinoa and drizzling rice wine vinegar into some wilted spinach. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. This is so my kind of eatin’.
And I haven’t even gotten to the part in the story where the sun sinks into the horizon, casting a golden glow over the Hudson, the treetops, and the dinner table. So yeah, today, if you asked me to play word association with “short ribs” I’d have no choice but to say one thing: Summer.
Grilled Short Ribs with Scallions
Todd & Anne served this with an herby quinoa dish and wilted spinach that had been tossed with a drizzle of rice wine vinegar, a drop or two of sesame oil, salt, pepper, sesame seeds. Oh and also a nice cold glass of Ramey Chardonnay.
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Juice from one lime
Salt and pepper
2 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs
1 bunch scallions, trimmed (as shown above) and tossed in a little olive oil with salt
Add all the marinade ingredients to a large ziploc bag. Add ribs, seal it, and marinate in the refrigerator for anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Heat grill to high and add ribs and scallions as shown above. Cook ribs about 3 to 4 minutes a side, about 10-12 minutes total, browning all sides. Flesh should feel tender, but not smushy. Scallions are ready when they are slightly charred and wilted.
Tags:grilled short ribs
We went to Santa Fe last week, thinking we would enjoy some clear blue skies and some beautiful hikes and some of those 20-mile vistas you just can’t get on the East Coast. What we didn’t bargain for is that the highlight of our trip would be the breakfast table. It was like our world had suddenly flipped and — what the? — the morning meal became the thing we looked forward to. I realize a statement like this is going to make some people upset, but I think New Mexico might be — apologies to San Francisco, Austin, Portland, etc. — the Greatest Breakfast Place on Earth. (Also, relatedly, Home to the Greatest Hangover Food on Earth.) Every morning, we’d go out hard and ingest a terrifying amount of food — enough food to power us through the day and make lunch a moot point. Enough eggs and cheese to make my arteries groan. Enough green chiles to make me wonder why we don’t have green chiles every morning. The winner of the week? A very close call, but if we had to pick, we’ll go with this griddled polenta with fresh corn, crumbled chorizo, scrambled eggs, cilantro, and red chiles, from Pasqual’s on Water Street. (The closest thing we could find to a recipe was here.) Santa Fe, we miss you already. – Andy
Always a good sign when you see Tapatio on the breakfast table. (Yellow mustard, though? That’s a real puzzler.) This was at the Tune-up Cafe on Hickox, owned, we were told, by someone from El Salvador. We ate their twice, and would have eaten there every morning if there weren’t SO DAMNED MANY GOOD BREAKFAST OPTIONS IN THIS CITY.
Tecolote (on Cerrillos Rd.) was strenuously recommended to us by a New Mexican friend and, boy, did it ever deliver. A little outside of town, almost diner-style, with a world-class slogan: Great Breakfast, No Toast. I mean, come on! That alone would have been enough. What you’re looking at here is Jenny’s breakfast burrito, topped with cheddar and green chiles, with a side of beans. Looking at this now, I am weeping. We also ordered the Carne y Huevos, which consisted of two eggs, over easy, served on pork that had been cooked for hours (days?) in red chiles — spicy and incredibly delicious.
Our second morning at Pasqual’s, we decided to try something different. I got the smoked trout on a gruyere potato pancake with two poached eggs and a side of tomatillo salsa. Jenny got the homemade granola. The kids each got papas fritas — spicy, roasted, cripsy potatoes, garnished with jack cheese, sour cream, and chives, and served with two warm tortillas and some green chiles on the side. Nobody said we ate healthy. But if this meal took a day off my life, I am good with that.
Our last breakfast, we went back to the Tune Up Cafe, which was walking distance from where we were staying. (A huge thank you to our spirit guides, Toni and David.) You can sit outside, and eat on picnic tables covered with bright, floral-printed oilcloth. Seriously could not be better. Second time, I ordered the Huevos Salvadorenos, which I’d never heard of before, and which is always a reason to give something a shot. Eggs with scallions and tomatoes, fried bananas — not plantains — with crema, a warm flour tortilla, and the creamiest refried beans in human history. Coffee and watermelon agua fresca. And we’re still standing.
P.S. Not pictured here: SO MUCH STUFF.
Tags:breakfast·santa fe breakfast
You guys might be wondering why it’s July 10 and there has been none of the usual summer book club coverage for your kids. Well this year, instead of asking Lemony Snicket or George Saunders or Shaun Tan for reading recommendations, we figured we’d step things up a bit and go right to the source: Our 11-year-old daughter, Phoebe, who I’m proud to say has launched her own blog, Nerd Alert. It’s dedicated to the great love of her life — books, comic, graphic novels, and “other essentials” as her tagline says. She’s promised to post reviews at least once a week for the rest of the summer. Head on over there for her very first — and tell your kids about it, too!
When we were kids, summer camp taught us a couple of basic life lessons: (1) Kool-Aid stains do not come out easily, while Cheetos stains somehow do; and (2) on overnight trips, when the counselors “hang out” by the campfire at night, they are not just “hanging out” by the campfire.
Things are a little different with our girls, who came home from day camp last summer, walked into the kitchen with a bunch of recipes, and asked, “Can we make dinner tonight?” The menu: squash fritters with Korean dipping sauce and apricot crumble for dessert. Who were these kids, and what the heck had happened? Well, they’d been lucky enough to attend Farm Camp, run by the Stone Barns Center in Pocantico Hills, New York. You might know it as our CSA resource, or maybe as the place that provides much of the food served at chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns, possibly the most celebrated farm-to-table destination restaurant in the country. If all this sounds absurd, it is–but in the best way.
At camp, our daughters spent their mornings feeding hazelnuts to pigs and their afternoons “in the field,” which is a nice way of saying that we paid good money to have them weed someone else’s garden. At pickup, they didn’t hand us spray-painted macaroni art that we’d have to figure out how to “misplace” at home, but rather the delicious things they’d made in the camp’s kitchen: a batch of 30-second hummus, a mason jar filled with real buttermilk ranch dressing, a still-warm doughnut. What we came to love most about their experience, though, was that the camp reflected the mission of our family table as well. Behind it all was a desire to instill some love for great ingredients prepared as simply as possible. “Look at the colors,” one counselor would say after helping campers prepare a stack of those tasty fritters. “Look at the texture. How beautiful is that?” Pretty beautiful, if you ask us.
This is our “Providers” column for the July issue of Bon Appetit. Head over to their website for the recipe. Photo by Christina Holmes for Bon Appetit.
Related…Zucchini: A Hate Story.
Tags:csa zucchini·zucchini fritters
If you asked our family what summer means, you’d get a few different answers. The girls would say tomato sandwiches, no school, and ice cream. (Seriously, it’s a physical impossibility not to eat a Flav-R-Ice or a scoop of mint cookie every day.) If you asked Andy, it would be tomato sandwiches and road-trips where you’re driving down some county road in upstate New York and you come upon a Rolling Stones-tattooed barn like the one you see above. (We had to pull over to take a picture.) If you asked me, though, it would be tomato sandwiches, a honeysuckle-infused warm breeze off the Hudson, and, of course, the DALS Best of Summer Awards. With no further ado…the Third Annual Dollys!
Best Thing We’d Always Been Too Afraid to Make, Then Made And Discovered Wasn’t Hard: Fried Zucchini Blossoms
A few summers ago, we were lucky enough to eat at The River Café in London where we dined on many many delicious things – all of which have been completely subsumed in our collective memory by one dish: Fritto Misto, featuring Zucchini Blossoms. While it’s probably true that deep-fried battered anything is almost cheating when it comes to culinary trickery, these vegetables were different. Instead of rendering them greasy, heavy, and filling, the deep-frying seemed to have the opposite effect: The blossoms on our plates were light, airy, melt-in-your-mouth-y, and gone in 30 seconds. We attempted replication last week in our own kitchen with a box from our favorite farmer’s market vendor. Success! – Jenny
Best Seasonal Sundae Topping: Fresh Strawberry Smash
Hurry up and get on this one fast, while those tiny, ruby-red, slightly soft strawberries are dominating the farmer’s market. Ever since we made the pilgrimage to Doug’s Fish Fry in Skaneateles, New York a few years ago and had fresh smashed strawberries drizzled on top of homemade vanilla ice cream, I’ve been wanting to bust this out at home. This will be our year. To execute: Remove stems from berries and halve. (Don’t shy away from the berries that look overripe; those are the best ones.) Put them in a small mixing bowl, sprinkle with sugar, and smash with a fork, until the juice is running and the consistency looks saucy but not smooth. Spoon over vanilla ice cream — or, even better, sandwiched between a slab or pound cake and some fresh whipped cream. – Andy
Best Vegan Breakfast: Strawberries and Vanilla Almond Milk
If you’re not going to smash up those overripe berries for dessert, save them for breakfast. Add a bunch into a drinking glass, pour vanilla almond milk into the glass, then dump the whole thing into a blender and give it a whirl. Every time I start the day with one of these, I think “Now that’s how you start a day.” Then I chug a gallon of coffee. — JR
Best Summer Jam: Wakin’ on a Pretty Day, by Kurt Vile
You know when you’re in one of those phases when you can’t bear to listen to any of the music you have? When you’re sick of your entire iTunes library? When you’re out running and you spend more time scrolling — click, click, click, click — than you do actually listening to music? That was me a few weeks ago. So I emailed my buddy Will, who as far as I can tell, knows as much about music as any man alive and asked him: What should I be listening to right now? He wrote back instantly: “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day” by Kurt Vile, a song he described as “breezy good times.” Three weeks later, I’ve probably listened to it 200 times. Which is more impressive/troubling given that the song is nine minutes long. The kids love the zen-like video and it’s perfect for summer night when the patio door is open and the grill is going. — AW
Best Summer Time-Saver: Grab-and-Go Bag
We do a lot of road-tripping over the summer, which means we do a lot of packing and unpacking and…forgetting toothbrushes and braces gear and lip balm and hairbrushes. To save ourselves from the first-world anxiety that ensues, we bought the girls little cosmetic kits last year and filled them with supplies collected in hotel rooms and Target’s travel-size bins. The products live in the cosmetic kit year round, so all the girls have to do when packing for a quick trip is throw the kit in the duffel. This is one of those things that brings me (and I think them, too) inexplicable happiness every time it works. Especially when I forget my own lip balm. — JR
Easiest Summer Dinner: Grilled Sausages
Thursday is my new favorite day — it’s the day I pick up my farm-share box at Stone Barns. That means I don’t have to do much by way of dinner. I throw together a few fresh salads, then fire up the grill or the skillet, and cook a few sausages that I picked up at the farmer’s market the previous weekend. (Last week, I added some hot dogs to the platter for a friend of Abby’s, but she ended up saying “I don’t usually like sausages, but I’m going to tell my mom to get these!” then ignored the Hebrew Nationals altogether.) Because of the bountiful produce, you don’t need a lot of meat — maybe a single link each — and the whole thing comes together faster than you can drink a glass of chilled rose. – JR
Most Indispensable Summer Cookbook: Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables
You need to own this book. Full disclaimer here: I do not own this book. But I’ve given it to pretty much all of my food-loving friends, including Todd, who lives down the street from me, and who I email right about this time every year asking if I can borrow it for a little while. He is nice enough to say yes, but it’s really not so fair of me to take it from him right as the summer produce is peaking. The book is not so much a cookbook as it is an A-to-Z encyclopedia of vegetable inspiration – and it is always the first thing I think to turn to when the CSA box includes a head of kohlrabi or a bunch of garlic scapes or rutabaga or something else I feel utterly ill-equipped to whip into dinner. Waters assumes you’re starting with the freshest stuff possible, so the recipes are always simple (as in, again, yesterday’s slaw) and always inspired. OK, Todd, I’m going to one-click it right now. — JR
Best Accompaniment to Anything That’s Been Grilled: No-Mayo Slaw
We like a classic creamy picnic slaw as much as the next guy (see page 242 of my book), but lately we’ve been super into brighter, healthier, more experimental takes on the genre. Whether it’s our MVP kale-avocado-pickled onion, fennel-apple-sunflower seed (page 243 of my book), the Lee Bros cabbage, peanut, and lime slaw, anything from the slaw section of The Grilling Book (photo above left: Peden + Munk), nothing offers the same kind of fresh, cool counterpoint to the char of a whatever is coming off the Weber. — JR & AW
Best Reminder of Why it’s Fun to Be a Kid: Pink Soccer Socks
It’s crazy how much neon is flying around our house these days. It’s 1987 all over again. (Minus, thank god, the Forenza sweaters.) Neon shirts, neon sneakers, neon hairbands, neon lacrosse sticks. And now, maybe my favorite of all, ridiculously pink neon Adidas soccer socks. There may be a lot wrong with the world today and any number of reasons to despair, but these are definitely not one of them. – AW
Best Way to Use Up Straggling CSA Veggies: Scrambled Eggs
Of course, anything that involves an egg deserves a Dolly (maybe an Oscar? A Nobel?) in my book, but this has been my favorite lunch lately. I chop up whatever leafy green is on its last legs, sauté with a little onion or shallot, red pepper flakes, then scramble in an egg or two that’s been whisked with a little Parm. No one’s gonna complain if there’s a fresh chive or two snipped on top, either. It’s fast, light and, when washed down with an apricot or two, my idea of heaven. — JR
Best All-Purpose Summer Shoe for Kids: Salt-Water Sandals
It’s been well established that I don’t have girly-girls. For the most part, I’m OK with this. OK, fine, I freaking love it. Unless we’re talking fifteen minutes before the graduation party or my parents’ 45th anniversary celebration or the fill-in-the-blank special occasion when they come downstairs wearing something fancy (i.e. anything that isn’t a soccer jersey) with their Nike Free-Runs. When I ever-so-diplomatically suggest trying on a pair of ballet flats at Marshall’s (“just for special occasions”) they make that sucking-a-lemon face. But I’m lucky in one regard — the only fancy shoe (i.e. anything that isn’t a sneaker) they’ll tolerate is a classic: Salt-Water Sandals, or “Salties” as they’re known. I love them because a) they come in every color of the rainbow b) they are not Nikes and c) they work for pretty much every occasion that doesn’t call for Nikes: parties, sightseeing, traveling, beach-going. As long as it’s summer, that is. Come fall, I’m back to square one. — JR [Read more →]
I think once a week since the Atkins craze seized us in the 90s, I’ve told myself that I’m going to try to limit the carbs — and at dinner have two vegetable sides instead of one vegetable and one bready-ricey-potatoey thing. Problem is, I like those bready-ricey-potatoey things a lot. And so do the kids. So I barely make it through one meal before I’ve fallen off the strach wagon. But if ever there was a time of year that I had a shot of making this happen, it’s summer, when our farmer’s market opens for the season and the fridge is overflowing with fresh vegetables. We’ve been rockin’ the summer salads for the past few weeks and thought I’d share a few of my favorites.
1. Market Greens with Beets, Sugar Snaps, Candied Walnuts, and Toasted Quinoa (Above) Wrap beets in foil and cook at 400°F for 40 minutes until a knife slips easily through them. Let cool, then peel and chop. Toss into market greens with chopped sugar snap peas, candied walnuts, scallions, and toasted quinoa. (See bottom of post for instructions.) Toss with your favorite vinaigrette, but nothing too overwhelming. (I’d stay away from one that’s balsamic-based.)
2. Sugar Snaps with Cilantro, Pickled Cabbage. Trim peas and chop into bite size pieces. Add handful of cilantro, finely diced red onion, few tablespoons pickled cabbage (here’s a quick pickle recipe if you want; just replace carrots with red cabbage). Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Chilled Napa Cabbage with Cilantro and Shallots I know you’re going to think this is overstating things, but I dreamed of this salad all night long after making it last week. I had a head of Napa cabbage and wasn’t in the mood for a mayo-heavy slaw, so I did what any self-respecting farmer’s market-frequenter would do: I referred to Alice Waters’ bible, Vegetables. (You’ll be hearing more from me about this book very soon.) Waters suggested macerating (i.e. soaking) shallots in white wine vinegar for 15 minutes then tossing with shredded cabbage, cilantro, and really good olive oil, salt, and pepper. I’m telling you — it sounds boring, but when the cabbage is fresh, you won’t believe how perfectly the whole thing cuts the char of a grilled steak.
4. Market Greens with Homemade Ranch Dressing The thing is, when the greens are this good, you don’t need to do a lot. A simple homemade ranch dressing does the job just fine. See recipe at the bottom of this post.
5. Mustardy Potato Salad See what I mean! I can’t ever resist the potato-starchy component. We’ve been making some version of this classic for years now — originally a Mark Bittman recipe. Basically, you peel then boil red or Yukon gold potatoes (about as many as you see above) for 15 minutes — until a knife slips through potatoes with no resistance whatsoever. You don’t want to undercook potatoes, but they also need a little structure. While potatoes are cooking, to a large bowl add a heaping tablespoon whole grain mustard, a heaping tablespoon Dijon, then whisk in about 1/3 cup of olive oil and a splash of a mild vinegar (champagne or white wine or red wine). If you have time to fry a few red onion slices or shallots in bacon fat (from one slice bacon) go for it, otherwise just add a handful of them chopped to the dressing. (Crumble cooked bacon in there, too.) Toss in potatoes while still warm and add fresh herbs, like fresh oregano which we had in our CSA box.
I stole both the toasted-quinoa technique and the buttermilk-ranch recipe from my friend Shaina at Stone Barns, who you might have gathered, is a genius.
Add a handful of uncooked quinoa to a pan set over medium-high heat and toast until aromatic and nutty smelling, about 3 mintues. Shake pan so the quinoa rotates and doesn’t burn.
Homemade Ranch dressing:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic salt
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped shallot or red onion
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
Add lemon juice, mustard, garlic salt, salt, pepper, onions and herbs to a jar. Cover and shake until ingredients come together. Add olive oil and buttermilk and shake again. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.
Tags:homemade ranch dressing·stone barns csa·summer salads·toasted quinoa recipe
June 24th, 2013 · Rituals
In our family, few things say vacation like a box of Pop-Tarts. We like the frosted kind with the vaguely cinnamony filling, the ones that make that whispery sound when you break them in half. Within an hour of dumping our luggage, we’re at the supermarket, stocking up on all the staples that sustain a family–milk, pasta, fruit–as well as a few that definitely don’t: ice cream bars, Frosted Flakes, those Pop-Tarts.
Why? Because it feels good to take a break from saying no all the time, because we believe that vacation is a time to indulge every vice, to let our food ids run wild. We wash down our post-beach white-bread grilled cheeses with Coke; we finish the Key lime pie; we top off the Gin and Tonic with another Gin and Tonic. Each day begins with a bowl of Apple Jacks and ends with a “smush-in,” which is what the kids call those marble slab ice cream places where we let them smush gummy bears into their cotton candy-flavored ice cream. If the mark of a successful trip is forgetting your everyday life, then we’ve gotten pretty good at vacation.
When we return, though, the earth assumes its normal rotation, and our old selves reemerge. We make food amends. Our first dinner is usually Redemption Salad: chicken tossed into a mound of Asian-style, nutrient-dense, guilt-erasing shredded red cabbage and spinach. It’s our way of saying, Okay, that was fun, but now it’s time to get back to business. If it’s possible for a meal to make you feel healthy–to actually undo seven days of poor habits–this is the one. It also happens to taste good, which softens the landing a bit. But only a bit.
This is our Providers column for the June issue of Bon Appetit. Head over to their site for this recipe and for the entire Providers archive. Photo by Danny Kim for Bon Appetit.
Tags:bon appetit providers
June 21 has been circled in the girls’ calendars since last fall. You know where my Pixarheads are going to be as soon as their parents figure out a way to get them there.
I am about as sick of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” parodies as the next person, but this one, printed on cocktail napkins really made me laugh. (Thanks, Bonnie!)
A 5-day menu-plan for Vacation House Cooking.
The learning from this: Weekend behavior is very unlike weeknights when it comes to cooking. And: Mothers are crazy.
The power of rituals. (Thanks, Todd!)
A brand new blog for childrens’ books. (I think we must’ve grown up in the same house because our taste in books is identical.)
She believes in family dinner. She just can’t make it happen every night.
Always fun to hear what New York Times staffers are reading.
My summer reading, so far.
An absolute treasure trove of summer-ready ice cream treats, cheesecakes, pies, parfaits.
Have a great weekend!
Every year, right around this time, Jenny and I have the same conversation. We will have just finished dinner, and the kids will have disappeared upstairs to take baths or be mad because we are forcing them to take baths even though just they took baths last night, and Jenny will turn to me and say, “I think I could be a vegetarian.” And I am right there with her. Because (a) I like vegetables*, and (b) when this conversation takes place, we are inevitably transitioning from the gray of winter to the technicolor of prime produce season, when the carrots taste like carrots and the beets are like dessert and the kids can easily snack their way through a pint of snap peas, sitting in a bowl on the counter, in the course of a single afternoon.
It’s kind of crazy how a giant box of fresh produce — from the farmer’s market, a CSA or, if we were better people, from our backyard — in the refrigerator can reset your magnetic north (chicken, must have chicken, what can we do with chicken, remember to defrost chicken) when it comes to family dinner and just, in general, get the inspiration juices flowing again. The other day, as I was sitting at my desk, Jenny texted me a photo of some sick-a#s produce, along with a challenge: “What’s for dinner?” Not to go all Alice Waters on you here, but I let the green stuff be my guide. The truth is, you could throw any of this stuff in a bowl with a light dressing, some salt and pepper, and it would taste good. Apart from the roasting of the beets, nothing we did took longer than 15 minutes, start to finish — and the beets, if I’d been smart enough to plan ahead, could easily have been prepared the day before. Which is what I will do next time, because they were the best thing on the plate by far.
“The beets were the star,” Jenny said.
“Phoebe, what’d you think?” I asked.
“Yeah, good,” she said. “Can I have Oreos on my sundae?”
It was after this meal, as we were cleaning up, that Jenny turned to me and said she thought she could be a vegetarian. Will we ever do it? Who knows. It’s possible. That’s a conversation that, for now, gets derailed by Abby’s love of bacon… and Phoebe’s attachment to cheeseburgers… and that also might ultimately be contingent on fish also being in the mix, given our attachments. But what would definitely help speed our conversion along is if I inherited a fertile plot of land in, say, Northern California that would supply us with fresh produce all year round, or at the very least, if this CSA deal could be extended, ad infinitum, until I am old and sick to death of beets. Short of that, we’ll have to see. – Andy
*Except for zucchini.
This is the photo Jenny emailed me: A sampling of our idiot-proof raw materials — tiny Napoli carrots, dragon radishes, kohlrabi, Oregon giant snow peas, super sugar snap peas, red ace beets, and an herb called winter savory. And this is what we ended up having for dinner… [Read more →]
A few years ago, when I was working full-time and the girls were 3 and 4, a dad-friend of ours invited Andy, Phoebe, and Abby up north to his ski-house for some winter wonderlanding. Just dads and kids. No moms. I should’ve been offended, but I wasn’t. Almost as soon as Andy told me about the invitation I started making a mental map of all of the ways in which I would abuse my roughly 36 hours of alone time. There would be late sleep-ins, and long newspaper reading sessions by the fire, maybe an afternoon nap, maybe, if I was feeling ambitious, a really girly movie — get this — in an actual movie theater. In short, do nothing and embrace doing nothing. I was about 37, and 37 years are a lot of years in which one might get to know oneself and remember that…I’m not so good at doing nothing. I am almost too embarrassed to tell you (almost) how much got packed into those 36 hours, but let me just say that out-of-state zip codes were involved, the freezer was packed with different portion sizes of Chicken and Orzo soup (page 290, my book), and at midnight I was sipping a bourbon while assembling a newly-purchased Ikea chair. Every minute I wasn’t taking advantage of the fact that a kid was not climbing on top of me, brought on a wave of guilt.
Aren’t you glad you’re not married to me?
I bring this up because I was in total 36-hour-whirlwind-mode last week when I flew to Austin to speak at BlogherFood. I knew I’d be hanging around the conference for at least a good part of Friday morning, and then after that — I’d be free to explore if I wanted to. In fact, it looked like I had enough time for two dinners, one lunch, one breakfast, and a pretty solid chunk of afternoon time in there, too. Even better, I had convinced an old friend to tag along with me — Lia, my Time for Dinner editor and, as luck would have it, we picked up a new friend/old hero of mine along the way — Molly, one of the originals, creator of Orangette. Molly spoke on my panel (topic: storytelling) and won my heart (again) when she said about food-writing, “This is my first trip away from my 9-month-old daughter, and to me, sitting at a bar alone with a margarita, and how that feels is so much more interesting to me than whatever food I’m going to be eating.”
That doesn’t mean we didn’t eat good food. We were in Austin for crying out loud, and oh my goodness, I must say, we did right by Texas. My plan [Read more →]
Tags:36 hours in austin·austin·sway austin·uchi austin·veracruz taco·what to do in austin·where to eat in austin
The Order of Events
5:30 About to leave for Phoebe’s last lacrosse game of the season; realize I have not thought about dinner for one second. Do quick scan of fridge, see big bouquet of wilting CSA mint sitting in cup of water, screaming “Now or never!” It’s summer and summer + mint immediately sends me in the direction of peas. Yes! A bag of Trader Joe’s peas in the freezer. Leave on counter to thaw. Head out the door.
6:30-7:30 Game a total nail-biter. Would’ve loved to end season on a win — instead added a notch in the “L” column. Whole team fought so hard. 8 to 7. So close!
7:45 Walk in the door. Water goes on stovetop for boiling. Andy adds thawed peas and mint and everything else into blender. I assemble a turkey-and-cheese sandwich for the resident pasta hater. My sweaty, battered Left Attack takes a shower.
8:05 Milk poured. Pasta twirled. Picture snapped. Dinner served.
Spaghetti with Mint-Pea Pesto
This is a feel-your-way kind of recipe. We agreed after the fact that we should’ve used a food processor instead of a blender — because it helps to have the pulse option to control the consistency. Also: If you don’t want to serve this with pasta, just skip the thinning out part and spread on a baguette, Todd-style.
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (I used 3/4 of the bag you see above)
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, washed
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parm, plus more for serving
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/3 – 1/2 cup olive oil
salt to taste
1 pound spaghetti
Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Whirl remaining ingredients (except spaghetti) in a food processor. Taste and adjust as you go. (Don’t overprocess or it will be too emulsified.) Consistency should be somewhere in between smooth and chunky guacamole.
Add pasta to the pot and about half way through cooking it, scoop out about a cup of hot water. Set aside. Drain pasta once cooked. Scrape pea mixture into the empty hot pot, then start drizzling reserved pasta water into the dip, whisking until it has the consistency of a creamy sauce. Toss pasta in sauce and serve with freshly grated Parm and some torn mint leaves if you’re feeling fancy.
Note: This was written on Thursday so “last night” in the title refers to Wednesday. In case anyone out there is fact-checking.
Tags:mint pea pesto·quick summer meals·spaghetti with mint pea pesto·summer pasta·what to do with mint
I have a confession to make. My heart sank a little when I saw escarole in my CSA box for the second week in a row. I know I’m supposed to be so game for the challenge, so excited to explore what kind of gold I can spin from these Vegetables I’d Never Pick Out Myself. But last week, week #1 — and I’m sorry to be all blasphemous about this — I wasn’t so crazy about that escarole. I should’ve probably wilted it into soup with white beans, but it was hot in New York, and I didn’t want soup. I craved fresh, bright, light salads. I chopped up the escarole and dressed it with my new favorite vinaigrette. But it turns out escarole is bitter. Too bitter for me — or any of the nose-wrinklers at my table — to enjoy raw. This, you’d think I’d know by now. I don’t. No amount of pomegranate seeds tossed in with the leaves, no amount of sugar added to the vinaigrette seemed to help the situation. But I ate the whole stinkin’ head. (Kids: Another story.) I was not going to throw it away.
This week, when confronted with escarole for a second week in a row, I knew I had to do something. I knew I had to cook it. And if I wanted my kids to eat it, I knew I’d have to do something drastic that maybe even involved covert operations. With Deb’s pot stickers still fresh in my memory, I decided on dumplings.
Now be warned: Dumplings are not the kind of dinner you’re gonna be glad you have in your back-pocket to whip together at a moment’s notice. Oh no, they most certainly are not. I, in fact, made this batch you see above in the middle of the day, when the kids were still in school, as a reward for finishing up a project that took a lot out of me. (Nothing like pressing ‘pulse’ on the Cuisinart to build oneself back up again.) I had five kitchen stations going simultaneously: the cutting board, a skillet for cooking the vegetables, the food processor, the wrapping area, and a second skillet for frying the dumplings. This meal is not what one might call a No Brainer.
But it is kind of genius. Because that huge mop of escarole that was mocking me from the CSA box? Transformed into a crispy, greens-and-tofu-packed vegetarian entree. And even better, when the kids finally got home they couldn’t help but say as soon as they walked in the door “What smells so good?” (I know, frying wontons is kind of totally cheating) and then gravitated to the kitchen, playdates in tow, where the dumplings were laid out on a platter, and began shoveling them down their collective hatches. “Mom! These are good! What’s in here? Is that cheese?” asked Abby.
“Um, no. I mean, yes it’s cheese. Totally cheese,” I told her, remembering that tofu was on her black list as recently as one month ago.
“And spinach?” asked her friend.
“Yup. Spinach and Cheese.”
And pretty soon, all gone. Every last leaf.
Fried Vegetable Dumplings
Instead of wincing at this long ingredient list think about it this way: Dumplings are what you might call a back-pocket, end-of-the-week meal. As long as you have your basic aromatics (garlic, ginger, onions) and some pantry staples (soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, veg oil) then you can pretty much fold up any about-to-rot vegetable inside the wonton wrappers (which keep in the freezer forever, by the way). Also: I highly recommend making them as a weekend project with the kids.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
Dash of sesame oil
1 small shallot or 4 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
shake red pepper flakes
1 bunch fresh greens that you don’t want to eat raw, but don’t want to throw away (such as escarole, radish greens, turnip greens, or even fresh spinach), roughly torn
2/3 block extra firm tofu (pressed and drained on paper towels for about 15 minutes, and sliced into rectangles)
handful chives, roughly chopped
handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
Squeeze of lime
1 12-ounce pack of wonton wrappers
Add the oils to a large frying pan over medium heat and cook the scallions, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and Chinese Five Spice for about 2 minutes. Add greens and cook another minute until slightly wilted.
Transfer the filling to the bowl of a large food processor. Add remaining ingredients (except wrappers) and pulse until everything is roughly chopped, but not a big pile of mush.
Set up your dumpling-assembling station: A small bowl of water, the filling, and your wontons.
Dip your fingers in the water and dot or “paint” around the edges of a wonton. (This is an excellent task for the kids.)
Spoon a small amount of the filling into the center of each wonton. (Ignore the one on the upper right, it was my first one and it was waaay too much.)
Fold one corner over the opposite corner to make a triangle shape. Pinch all sides together; smush their centers slightly (so they’ll lay flat in the frying pan) and set aside.
Once all the dumplings are assembled, add a tablespoon vegetable oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Fry in batches adding more oil as needed, until dumplings are crispy and golden, about 2 minutes on each side.
Serve the dumplings with soy sauce. To make it an official dinner, round out with a fresh sugar snap peas salad.
Tags:csa recipes·escarole·escarole recipes·stone barns csa·vegetable pot stickers
Something momentous has happened in the past month and I haven’t even let you in on it. Not because I’ve been keeping it a secret, but because I just didn’t know how to tell you. And also, I wasn’t exactly sure how to deal with it myself.
In truth, the story begins a little over a year ago, on my birthday, April 2012. At the usual celebratory breakfast, there were a few gifts scattered on the table and Abby, the self-appointed VP and Director of Birthday Events in our house, chose the order in which I’d be unwrapping. There was a small box that looked like jewelry (#1); a medium box (#2) that, I’d eventually find out, held a dove-shaped candy dish (both girls know that I’m a sucker for anything bird-related); and a tablet-sized box, wrapped in leftover snowflake-print holiday paper.
“This is last,” Abby said. “It’s the best one.” She looked conspiratorially at her father.
“Hmmm,” I said shaking it. “What could it be?” I like to take my time unwrapping, because I know it drives the girls crazy.
“RIP IT OPEN, MOM!”
The paper came off fast to reveal a crimson box. In gold across the middle, it read “Liberty of London.”
“Hmmmmm….I like where this is going”
“JUST OPEN IT MOM!”
Inside was a blank notebook with a midnight-navy leather cover, embossed with ornate vines and leaves. ”Holy cow!” I said. “It’s so beautiful.” The only thing I like more than birds is a blank notebook. “Thanks!”
“It’s your next dinner diary,” Andy said. My first dinner diary, as you likely know by now, chronicles fifteen years’ of dinners. It, too, was a gift from Andy, though he didn’t know what it would become when he bought it for me a few months after we got married.
The only way I know how to explain what happened next is by using this phrase we often deploy in my house: Emotional Lockdown. It describes the phenomenon of shutting down what you are feeling in order to get through what you’re feeling without completely breaking apart inside. One might say I’ve been in a state of perpetual Emotional Lockdown all June-long, in anticipation of my eldest graduating from her storybook sweet elementary school next week. Sometimes, the passage of time, the change of an era, is just too much for me to bear.
“So who wants more pancakes?” I said to no one in particular, locking away both the journal and the heartburn back where they belonged. In a box, out of sight.
Andy stared at me, incredulous.
“That’s it!???” he said. “I thought I knocked that one out of the park! You’re almost done with your dinner diary. You need a new one!”
“I like it! Who said I didn’t like it?!?”
“So then what was that reaction?”
“Well. I’m not done with the first diary yet. It’s hard to think about a new one right now.”
“Wow,” Andy said. “That is dark. I’m just sticking to birds next time.” He got up and cleared the girls’ syrup-smeared breakfast plates.
I wasn’t lying. I did like the book. (How could I not? It was freaking gorgeous.) I just didn’t like what it stood for. And the original diary still had a dozen pages left, which roughly translated to one more year of dinner recording. Another year for me to think about all that had transpired since I cracked the spine on it fifteen years ago. Another year for me to decide whether or not I even wanted to start a new diary, now that I am coming to terms with the fact that these eras don’t go on forever. They have last pages. They have graduations. They wrap themselves in white towels instead of the ones with hoodies that have floppy puppy ears. They tell you to dismantle the dollhouse and store it in the basement, next to the box with the words “crib bedding” scribbled across the top in black Sharpie.
Periodically since my birthday, Andy would wander into my office where the Liberty journal lived, tucked away on a shelf, pick it up, and shake his head. “I will never understand your reaction to this.”
Easy, I thought. I was in lockdown, not willing to close the book on the era that began on February 22, 1998 with Andy’s childhood recipe for Chicken Cacciatore, and ended on May 12, 2013, with a Mother’s Day dinner at my sister’s house, where both my siblings, both my parents, my brother-in-law, his parents, and six cousins raised milks and Chardonnays to the first beautiful spring evening of the season. In between those two meals were holiday charcuterie spreads for old high school friends; beef stews and baked pastas for new work friends; Fourth of July barbecues on our Brooklyn rooftop, where we watched millennium fireworks light up downtown Manhattan and the Twin Towers; tortilla pies and lasagnas for college roommates who had their first babies; a grilled soy-limey swordfish for a couple we knew in our hearts to be soul mates, but who would break up five years and two kids later; many million Mark Bittman recipes (especially this one) that pretty much defined the era; spaghetti and meatballs for the Seinfeld finale, pasta with yogurt and caramelized onions for the Palin-Biden debate; breakfast burritos for American Idol every Thursday in the spring of 2011; coq au vin for the first dinner we cooked as new parents; grilled turkey dogs for our first dinner in our first ever apartment that came with a mortgage; take-out pizza with my entire family on the night we moved to our suburban Dutch Colonial (me=seven months pregnant, me=ravenous); mail-order ribs for end-of-the-school-year “bus stop parties;” Grimaldi’s pizza and Junior’s cheesecake for Andy’s Brooklyn-themed 30th birthday party; Andy-made paella, with homemade aioli, for my 30th birthday party; more than fifty birthday cakes for over fifty birthday celebrations; freezer dinners that helped two working parents survive two kids under two; four long-table, champagne-filled dinners from Phoenix to Kiawah Island to New York to Larchmont, celebrating each of our four parents hitting 70; dinners spent mourning the loss of two special uncles; Bugiali’s Minestrone; Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese; Nobu’s Miso-glazed Cod; Jim Lahey’s pizza; David Chang’s Brussels Sprouts; Andy Ricker’s Pad Thai; Fish cakes! My God did we eat a lot of fish cakes! Easter Hams every spring at our daughters’ great-grandmother’s house, until 2008, when she died at age 93; Passover briskets for seders presided over by my father, who once cried at the table remembering his father presiding over his childhood seders; the relentless — the blessedly relentless — roll-out of stir-fries and burgers and pizzas and baked potatoes and pork chops and Grandma Jody’s chicken at our family dinner table night after night after night.
When I think too much about all that happens around that dinner table, it’s hard to know what to do next.
“I’m going to be 57 when I finish the next diary,” I told Andy finally. Adding, as usual, God willing. “And Phoebe is going to be 26, which is how old I was when I got engaged.”
Upon hearing that, Andy — who, I might add, looked like he was in physical pain flipping through Phoebe’s elementary school yearbook the other night — started showing telltale signs of impending lockdown himself. The hand went up and his head turned away. “Stop. Stop,” he said. “Just start writing, would you?”
So here we go.
Page One: Abby snapped the above photo to record my first entry: Cobb Salad.
My New Diary. I’ve been keeping this one for almost a month, but it still feels like I’m cheating on someone when I log in a meal.
Old Diary, Page One. Some of these recipes are still in the rotation: Curried Chicken with Apples, Chicken Pot Pie, Scalloped Potatoes. And, now that I think about it, some of the recipes that have dropped from the rotation, are probably due for a comeback. (Next up: Amatriciana sauce!)
Old Diary, Last Page. After fifteen years, the original diary has completely ripped from its binding. These are the last two pages. On the left are ideas I scribbled three years ago — ideas I thought would make good posts for a blog I thought I might start one day.
Tags:dinner a love story dinner diary·dinner diary·jenny rosenstrach dinner diary
You could get him a robe. Or another something-or-other that could be categorized as a “gadget.” Or a bottle of gin for his gin & tonics. You could get him a charcoal chimney or grilling tongs monogrammed with his nickname. You could get him any number of things that would make him happy…OR…you could give him something that will directly, immediately, deliciously benefit you and the kids all summer long and for many summers to come. You could give him The Grilling Book, edited by Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appetit and longtime Friend of DALS. I dare you — and I dare you to dare him — to look at these photos and not want to fire up the grill immediately. The book will be your family’s summer bible — and for anyone who can’t seem to break through the hot-dog-and-burger firewall, you’ll find over 400 pages of gorgeously-photographed inspiration; primers for every stage of the grilling process; salads, slaws, cocktails and sauces that pull it all together; and recipes from all over the world, for all kinds of family dinners. Not convinced? How about a little teaser…to start wouldja look at that Cedar Plank Salmon above?
Skirt Steak with “ridiculously addictive” bright green Chimichurri Sauce.
Lamb Burgers with Moroccan Spices and Orange Salsa made from beets, cumin, jalapeno, and cilantro.
Chicken Yakatori, made with ground chicken, scallions, miso, and soy basting sauce. I am so tracking down all the ingredients for it as soon as this post goes live.
Grilled Haloumi with Watermelon, Tomatoes Basil & Mint. We’ve discussed Grilled Haloumi before, but I don’t know if it’s ever looked this good. It’s a sheep-goat milk blend, that’s firm enough to retain its shape over hot coals, but soft enough to ooze a little inside.
Check it out. Or check out Adam grill four fish recipes from the book on the Today Show. Happy Father’s Day!
All food photographs above by Peden + Munk.
Tags:bon appetit grilling book·chicken yakatori
Sometimes I fantasize about grocery shopping with my food heroes. I don’t mean Jamie Oliver and Marcella Hazan — though certainly I wouldn’t turn them down. I mean healthy, wholesome-minded moms like Alana and Jeanne. I have never even met these women, but based on their books and blogs, I feel certain that they’d make me see Trader Joe’s in a totally new and fresh way. (And that I wouldn’t end up with three separate white-bread products in my cart.) If I wore my Alana or Jeanne goggles before I went to the farmer’s market, I feel like I might actually come home with something outside my comfort zone, and as a result feel healthy and virtuous and heroic 24/7…just like them. (Right Alana & Jeanne?)
Well, in a way, I’ve done the next best thing: I’ve signed up for a CSA vegetable share with Stone Barns Center. Which is sort of like saying that I’ve signed up the girls for a soccer camp run by Alex Morgan. Stone Barns is an 80-acre farm in Pocantico Hills, NY that supplies Dan Barber’s restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Their mission, beyond growing ridiculously delicious vegetables, is to educate the public about sustainability, and to get people cooking their own food. The people know what they are doing, and I’ll be blogging for them to help spread the word.
Based on the emails I get from you guys (Summary: Why don’t you join a CSA? Why haven’t you joined a CSA? Have you thought about joining a CSA? What the heck is wrong with you that a food lover like you hasn’t joined a CSA yet?) it sounds like a lot of you know what this means. For those of you who don’t, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and in return for a modest investment in a farm, you receive a box of fresh, in-season produce from that farm for a set amount of weeks. The price varies depending on length of the program and the amount of produce in each delivery, but it can go anywhere from $20 a week and up to $50. (The one I signed up for is about $40, which is a little more than I drop at my farmer’s market every Saturday.) I don’t think I need to go into too much detail on why the whole thing is a win-win: It’s a great way to eat local on autopilot, to support farmers, and be part of something a little bigger than the four walls of my kitchen.
But the best part about it so far? Well, by definition, it means that someone else is picking out what my vegetable adventure for the week would be. Not Alana or Jeanne, but someone who, presumably, wouldn’t come home with mostly kale and beets all spring in spite of saying to herself before every trip to the farmer’s market, Let’s see if we can come home with something other than kale and beets today. Every week will be like I’m shopping with someone new — like I’m wearing someone else’s market goggles.
I guess you could say that I am forcing myself to accept the advice that I’ve been doling out to my kids ever since they could process English: Eat more vegetables. Try something new. How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it? And I’m hoping you guys are up for the adventure, too. The photo above shows the vegetables that arrived in my first batch on Thursday afternoon and what my initial visions for each one was. But that’s seeing the box through my goggles. What about you? When you put on your market goggles, what do you see?
Clockwise from top left: Seared Tofu with Sauteed Cabbage and Sriracha (recipe below; Sriracha not shown); Grilled Chicken Salad for Everyone; Something I really really like the sound of: Kohlrabi-Carrot Fritters; and shredded Portugese Kale and diced kohlrabi get ready to be turned into slaw. (Recipe follows)
RECIPE 1: Kale Slaw with Pomegranates*
Portugese kale, which was the kind I got in the box, was much more tender than the Lacinato/Tuscan I’m used to. So it needed a little texture to balance out the floppiness. Enter Kohlrabi! Crunchy and fresh, it was the perfect hit of texture.
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
salt to taste
1 teaspoon fish sauce (available at Asian specialty stores and better supermarkets)
lime juice from half a lime
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (crucial)
1 drop of hot sauce (or 1 tsp minced jalapeno or serrano chile)
1/3 cup neutral oil like grapeseed or vegetable oil
1/2 head of kohlrabi, peeled and diced into small pieces
handful of pomegranate seeds
kale, shredded as shown above (bottom left corner)
Whisk dressing ingredients together and toss with the remaining ingredients.
RECIPE 2: Quick-seared Tofu on Wilted Cabbage with Sriracha
I had this for lunch, so serving size here is one. Obviously, it can be doubled or quadrupled to work for your family. You know, since my recipes are so precise.
Add peanut or vegetable oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat. Dredge one playing-card size slice of extra firm tofu (about 3/4 inch thick, pressed on paper towels under a heavy pan for about 20 minutes) in a little flour that has been sprinkled with Chinese Five Spice (optional) salt, and pepper. Add tofu to the pan and fry without poking until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes. Flip and repeat. Remove from pan. Turn heat down to medium add 2 tablespoons chopped onion, shake of red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp fresh minced ginger (optional) and diced cabbage (“Minuet Napa Cabbage,” as it was called). Add a small drizzle of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce. A squeeze of lime. Taste and see how you like it. (You don’t want to overwhelm these already flavorful greens with strong flavors.) Cook until just barely wilted, about 1 minute. Serve with prepared tofu, a sprinkling of sesame seeds (optional), some snipped garlic chives (or regular chives) and a drizzle of Sriracha.
Tags:csa·kohlrabi recipe ideas·stone barns csa
This salad saved me last week. I’m not sure I really need to go into detail about how many miles we put on the Mazda getting kids to their various weeknight commitments, but put it this way: If our night was an instagram it would’ve read #uniforminwrongcar #again #firstgoalever! #ittakesavillage #i’msorryenvironment
Ever since discovering this chicken-based salad, I’ve gotten in the habit of roasting chicken on the weekend to have as a dinner insurance plan for nights that spiral into chaos. (Beautiful, messy, chaos-I’ll-someday-miss, but chaos nonetheless.) Prepping chicken this way takes about sixty seconds of hands-on time (45 minutes hands-off) and once I have a few breasts sitting in the fridge, I find all kinds of possibilities open up. (And not necessarily just for dinner, but for lunch boxes, too. Lately, Abby has been into chicken wraps — chicken rolled in a tortilla with a smear of mayo, a piece of lettuce, and a strip of bacon if I’m feeling big-hearted.) You can add your cooked chicken to soups and pot pies or chop up for Andy’s chicken salad, but my favorite use this time of year has to be the way you see above: Tossed with fresh greens, dried cherries, blue cheese, candied walnuts and a homemade vinaigrette that was also prepped on the weekend, so all I had to at 8:00 (8:00!) when we all collapsed into our dinner chairs was toss and serve. #genius
Step No. 1: On the weekend, make this vinaigrette.
In an old jam jar shake the following ingredients:
heaping 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Shake again. If you are using this entire bottle of vinaigrette that night add herbs, like chives, parsley, or thyme. Otherwise, save the herbs to toss directly into your salad. That way they don’t get all wilty and black and depressing a few days later.
Step No. 2: On the weekend, roast some chicken.
Roast 2-3 split chicken breasts or boneless chicken breasts at 375°F on a rimmed baking sheet along with 1/4 cup of water and tent with foil for 40 minutes. The bone-in split breasts are good for shredding, the breasts are good for slicing on the bias. (That’s what I did above.)
Step No. 3: On your busiest weeknight, make this: Greens with Chicken, Cherries, Blue Cheese & Candied Walnuts
In a large bowl, toss all of the following:
3 medium sized cooked chicken breasts (see above), sliced as shown
Four generous handfuls fresh greens
handful of tart dried cherries
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (or to taste)
handful candied walnuts*
snipped chives (or scallions)
cider vinaigrette (above, or your favorite mild vinaigrette)
*You can use storebought or homemade if you’re man enough. I was not.
Tags:chicken cherry salad·homemade cider vinaigrette
We’re not a camping family. Or maybe, to be fair, we’re not camping parents. We’ve done it a couple of times, for one night, and I wouldn’t say we excelled at it. I’d say we survived it. The ground was too hard. The birds were chirping too loudly. Our sleeping bags were too hot, but our ears were too cold. The bugs were bad and refused to keep a respectful distance. We went to bed smelling like lakewater and campfire, and woke up smelling like lakewater and campfire — and we would have done something about this had there been a shower within a mile of our campsite. Also, the bottom of our tent was sandy.
Camping may not be our thing, but we do love to be outside, and to hike, and there’s no day trip our kids love more than the walk up Anthony’s Nose, about an hour north of our house. We started doing this hike when the kids were in backpacks, unable to make it up themselves, and ten years later, here we are — the parents — calling for water breaks and bringing up the rear. You can have your dafodils and your exploding magnolia trees and your thick golden blankets of pollen: In our house, nothing says spring has sprung like a trip up Anthony’s Nose on a beautiful warm day, the sky so blue it looks pixellated and the river, muddied from spring storms, churning its way south to New York City. After admiring the view, we sit and have a picnic on the summit, perched on a giant, sloping slab of granite, overlooking the Bear Mountain Bridge with what seems like the entire Hudson Valley sprawled out before us. Yesterday, we sat out there for an hour and had sandwiches made from weekend leftovers — breaded chicken breasts, sliced on the bias, with Duke’s mayo; grilled leg of lamb, sliced thin, with a little dijon; some bulgur salad with feta, tomatoes, and mint — as a DIY American flag, which was tied to a fallen tree limb, hung with what looked like Buddhist prayer flags, and held upright by a pile of rocks, flapped in the breeze. Memorial Day! We picked out some landmarks, including the nuclear plant at Indian Point and the ice rink down below us, at Bear Mountain, that we go to during the winter, and from which we always stop and look up and say, “Look, there’s Anthony’s Nose. See it? Those rocks up there?” And as we say that, we’re usually freezing our butts off, longing for that first warm day when we can get up there and have our picnic and feel the sun and watch the summer roll in. – Andy
Tags:anthonys nose·easy lunch ideas·picnic lunch
May 23rd, 2013 · Grilling
I have been waiting soooo long to post this photo. It came from reader Abby with a note that read, in part:
Just wanted to say thank you. I’m sure you hear this a lot, but wow do I love your blog and your book even more. I have four children five and under (just turned 5, just turned 3 and 16-month-old twins.) I have always been totally committed to sitting down as a family to eat dinner without articulating it as a philosophy or, really just articulating it at all. It was just something we did and boy is it hard. Your book makes me feel so proud of myself and, as I’m sure you can tell from my family set-up, I need some of that good feeling every once in a while! So thank you for that.The dark n’ stormy’s have inspired me too. Attached is my beachtime innovation – drink to go in an empty jam jar. Life changing. With four kids it doesn’t take much.
I can’t recall the exact month she sent me the photo, but it had to have been cold because I remember taking in not just Abby’s genius beachtime innovation, but the tall pines and the blue sky and the water and her swimsuit and sunglasses….and man oh man summer seemed so far away. Like it happened to people on other planets.
And yet! Here we are about to kick off the first big weekend of summer grilling season. In addition to those Dark & Stormies, here are some suggestions for what to make:
Chicken: Option 1
Grilled Vegetables with Haloumi
Apple Coleslaw with Yogurt
Chicken: Option 2
Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken or Shrimp
Campfire Potatoes (tossed with chutney instead of creme fraiche)
Shredded Kale Salad
Macaroni & Cheese
Asian Slaw with Peanuts
Grilled Lamb Chops or Grilled Leg of Lamb
Fava Bean Crostini
Wild Rice Salad with Feta and Cranberries
Grilled Whole Black Sea Bass
Sorrel with Mint, Peas, & Parm
Oven-baked Fries (from my book) with Spicy Mayo
Happy Long Weekend!