No time for a long post today but I wanted to share this article from this week’s Dining section in the Times. I know that I’ve made more of an effort to limit my waste, even in the produce I buy. Some helpful tips and some interesting usages…
I picked up a beautiful green cabbage at the farm this past weekend in Southampton for a spicy cole slaw. The thing was frickin huge so the half I took home was taunting me in the fridge. I hate to waste anything and I was getting sick of making slaws. But when I picked up some cod on the way home yesterday and thought of the wonderful new spices I wanted to incorporate (anjwain, cardamom, cumin seed, and coriander), it all came together pretty quickly.
While it may look like egg noodles in the picture above, the cabbage in this dish really stole the show. I’ve cooked cabbage in this way before but forgot how delicious it can be. Sauteing with jalapeno, garlic, and the spices mentioned wilts the cabbage just enough without eliminating their crunch completely. And that’s a good thing! Finished with a bit of mustard, greek yogurt, and white beans this meal was hearty and delicious. Perfect for the cod!
In yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned a new trick stemming from a panzanella salad. And you probably thought, “All you do is talk about panzanella. What could you possible have to tell us now?” It’s true. I do love me some panzanella, and I know I’ve talked about it quite a bit here. But what could be better than grilled vegetables, grilled french bread, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil and balsamic vinegar? I dare you to find a salad that’s more perfect for the summer! But actually, this trick has nothing to do with the first five of these ingredients, and everything to do with the last.
We all love balsamic vinegar. And the high quality varieties, much like a good olive oil, can really blow you away. But out in Southampton, half of the fun of cooking for the crowd is the crapshoot. Besides the seafood we catch and the produce we buy, there’s no telling what ingredients will be in the pantry. Some seem to exist indefinitely while others surprisingly disappear. So when I couldn’t find balsamic vinegar, it was equally as shocking as it was expected. But then it hit me. Apple cider vinegar sitting right next to a jar of molasses looked like a sign from above. Did I just invent “poor man’s balsamic vinegar”?
While I think this is a tremendous name for my new concoction, I can’t really say balsamic has to be expensive; but the good stuff definitely is. Even still, this idea of adding a touch of molasses to a light, bright and acidic vinegar works perfectly. The sweet depth of the molasses balances the brightness just like in an aged balsamic. I think it might even be better with your standard white wine vinegar! As far as measurements, I really couldn’t tell you. My guess would be about 1 tbsp for every 1/4 cup of vinegar. But try it out and see what you prefer. And even if you don’t see it as a replacement for balsamic, you’ll be thrilled to have this new mixture in your bag of tricks! Enjoy!
Somehow, someway, the annual clamming excursion gets taken to a new level, each and every year. But one thing always remains the same: it’s the single best weekend of the summer. Tucked away from the city lights, we float, we drink, we crab, we clam, we eat, but most importantly we laugh. We’ll be accepting applications for next year’s attendee list shortly…
One of my favorite parts of any tradition is the evolution. Last year it was crabbing that came out of nowhere leaving us with about a dozen blue crabs for a delicious breakfast. But this year it was all about the oysters. While we’ve caught an oyster or two in the past while clamming, no one could have expected to catch 3 dozen. Yes, 3 dozen!
So with a bit more practice in me, I got straight to shucking while the garnishes were being made and that’s all that needs to be said. Nothing is as delicious as a just caught and shucked oyster! But it wasn’t just oysters we feasted on throughout the weekend. With the charcoal burning both nights and the skillets sizzling in the morning, we fed our heavy appetites with grilled sausages, spicy cole slaw, grilled corn, crab and eggs, grilled panzanella (a new twist I’ll share tomorrow), grilled carrots (amazing), and of course these unbelievable clams.
But I’d be an ass if I let you believe I was the only one in charge of all this food. Our good friend Emily Holbrook, who has just started blogging here, is a damn good cook and a blast to share the kitchen with.
Is it time for next year yet?
It’s been a hectic end to the week so I apologize for the lack of posting but were off to my favorite summer weekend full of clamming, crabbing, and hysterically laughing.
I’m still fine tuning my “marriage on the rocks” (like any good marriage, it requires patience and compromise) but check back next week for the final recipe. Have a great weekend!
Last night was another scorcher in the apartment and with the humidity seemingly reaching sub-tropical levels, I knew I had to avoid any long-term stove usage. Maybe I’m getting whinier, but I just don’t remember letting the summer effect my cooking so much. But in all honesty, it’s been a blessing in disguise (say’s the whiner). There are so many delicious dishes that require no heat whatsoever and are perfect for all of your summer produce.
It’s been really exciting chatting with so many friends this year who have a little garden of some sort. I think it’s because the planting and caring for your own fruits and vegetables is kind of addicting. Year to year, the gardens grow and so to does the creativity in the kitchen. But no matter where you are getting your produce these days, here’s a few amazingly simple side dishes that go well with just about anything.
This cucumber and blue cheese salad takes about 5 minutes to put together and is a tangy take on a pickle. These would be great next to some slow cooked ribs or even on top of your next burger. The next, a chickpea and raw corn salad uses a little bit of hummus and lemon juice to create a rich and creamy dressing. The sweetness of the corn and the brightness of the tomato work perfectly with the chickpeas and to be honest, this is more than just a side. I’m having some for lunch today! Enjoy!
Cucumber and Blue Cheese Salad:
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil
4 oz crumbled blue cheese (I like buying a wedge of danish blue)
In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the red wine vinegar, honey and olive oil. Using a mandolin or a knife, slice 1/4 inch slices of the washed and peeled cucumbers. Add to the dressing along with the blue cheese roughly crumbled and the chopped basil. Toss and chill for 20 minutes before serving.
Chickpea and Corn Salad:
1 can chickpeas
2 ears of corn
1 large tomato
1/4 cup hummus
Juice of a lemon
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
1/8 cup fresh basil
In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together the lemon juice and the hummus. Add the finely chopped rosemary and chopped basil along with the chickpeas and corn (off of the cob). Add the roughly chopped tomato and toss, seasoning with salt and pepper. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.
Growing up, the word “spices” meant dried oregano, dried basil, paprika, chili pepper, and a handful of other pretty basic cupboard standards. It’s only been more recent that I’ve begun to discover the truly delicious and absurd number of flavors and aromas available through spice markets like Kalustyans and Penzeys. Even still, when a co-worker handed me a nice sized container labeled “anjwain” I was stumped. But with a little taste and some great advice to “fry” up the anjwain before using, I was off to make a spice rubbed and seared skirt steak perfect for a summer salad.
That is until I came across this local day boat squid which was too fresh to pass up! And while I am sure the beef would have been delicious, the calamari was a perfect canvas for the anjwain to shine. Frying the spice in a bit of oil just before the quick squid saute really did make the difference here. The flavors were brightened with a squeeze of lime and the earthiness of the anjwain and black pepper made this otherwise simple salad, really damn delicious. With a flavor similar to thyme but with much more of a punch, anjwain is a great addition to the spice cabinet.
So, what are some of your favorites? Leave a comment here to be eligible to win a jar of my very own spice mix!