Thursday, May 31, 2012

Printable Weekly Menu Planner for Spring!

So here is how you can print your weekly meal planner below:
  1. Double click on the image below.
  2. Then right click and you should see a window of choices.
  3. Select print.
  1. Double click on the image below.
  2. Click on File tab
  3. Select print.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Artichoke Hearts with Bottarga

"So you made pizza with zucchini and what?" This is what I asked my brother when he told me to check  out his pizza on My Monday Pie.  Zucchini and bottarga.  "What's bottarga again?  A new and trendy, terrain-specific vegetable like say ramps?" Nope. Cured mullet roe.

I have since sampled this pie and it was very good.  It left me bottarga intrigued.  What else can I pair it with?  Where can I get it?  And why have I gone so long without it?  

Then one lazy evening I am watching Anthony Bourdain on No Reservations on Netflix and he is traveling in Sardinia.  His beautiful wife is describing the dynamic flavor combination of artichokes and bottarga in her lovely Italian accent. The next thing I know I am surfing the internet, planning my next shopping trip around where I can get bottarga.

As mentioned, bottarga is the roe removed from the inside of a fish, in this case mullet, though sometimes tuna, cured, dried and grated over a dish for flavor much like you would Parmesan.  Also like Parmesan, you can buy it whole and grate it yourself right before serving or buy it already grated. 

I may have mentioned this before but Buon'Italia is my go-to Italian market of choice in NYC.  I love  Chelsea Market and this is a wonderful time of year to walk the High Line.   There is always the famous Eataly but Buon'Italia is less of a circus show and more reasonably priced.  And have I mentioned the High Line?  

I may have gotten carried away here with the pictures, but artichokes are beautiful and so is Manhattan.

Artichoke Hearts with Bottarga

  • 6 artichokes
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of grated bottarga
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • butter
To trim your artichokes, remove the outer leaves until they start to become yellow and tender.  The heart will be cone-shaped.  Cut the hearts in halves or quarters.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.   In an oven-proof baking dish, toss with the artichoke hearts with the olive oil and parsley.   Add a few teaspoons of water to the bottom of the baking dish.  Grease a piece of parchment paper with butter and   place butter side down over the artichokes.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Toss with freshly squeezed lemon, sea salt and grated bottarga.

    Friday, May 25, 2012

    Homemade Mascarpone

    I know the kind of posts I should be writing.  Spring vegetables.  Memorial day grilling recipes.  You know, something seasonally appropriate.  I am not always so timely with my discoveries of regular with my writing routine.  This blog is my foodie journal writing and I suppose this is just where I find myself today, making cheese.

    I am not sure why I want make cheese.  It isn't because it is difficult for me to acquire great artisanal cheeses of every variety.....from New York.  I think it is the beautiful science of it.  The slow thickening of liquid to cream or curd.  I like the slow ceremony of it: sterilizing, setting up the equipment, the quiet waiting and watching.  It forces me to slow down and stay in a moment.  Then the reward, a lighter, brighter milk and tang taste, with every bite a reminder of where cheese actually comes from.

    I am starting small here.  Mascarpone is a mild, soft cheese and requires no major investments from a cheese making supply company. Although, butter muslin is not a bad idea since you may loose too much of this cheese through regular cheese cloth.  If you haven't had it, mascarpone is not unlike cream cheese.

    This recipe is from Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin.  If you are thinking it might be nice to make cheese at home than you should definitely start with this book.  Karlin does such a wonderful job with breaking down types of cheeses, equipment you will need, vocabulary and where to get cheese-making supplies that, if you were ever intimidated, you will feel confident in trying these out at home.

    • 1 lemon
    • 2 cups of heavy cream
    • 1/3 cup evaporated dry milk
    Mary Karlin stresses that you have your equipment sterilized before hand.  A good sanitizing solution is 4 liters of water to 1 tablespoon of bleach.  Also, that your whisk and spoon are a non-reactive metal.  Below is a list of the kitchen gear you will need.
    • 4 quart metal saucepan
    • heatproof glass bowl that will sit over the sauce pan
    • butter muslin or multiple layers of cheesecloth
    • wire whisk
    • metal spoon
    • kitchen thermometer
    Whisk together the cream and evaporated milk in the glass bowl.  Add about 2 inches of water to the bottom of the saucepan and set the bowl on top. Turn the heat on medium low and switch to a metal spoon.  The stirring is important because the cream forms a skin.  The idea is that you want the temperature of the cream to rise slowly until it reaches 180 degrees F.  It should take 40 minutes, give or take a few. Once it reaches 180 degrees, remove from the heat.  Slowly squeeze in juice from the lemon while stirring, one half at a time.  Refrigerate eight hours or overnight.  Strain your cheese in a colander through butter muslin (or about 5 layers of cheese cloth) to remove any excess moisture.  The mascarpone is now ready to eat.  It will last for about 2 days.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    Sipping Once, Sipping Twice, Sipping Chicken Soup with Rice

    Maurice Sendak, you will be missed.  You understood so well the loneliness children feel with their inability to articulate their feelings.  You understood that childhood is not all sweetness and innocence but also the first phase of struggles to overcome. There is still a copy of "Where the Wild Things Are" in my night stand to remind me that even in my most frustrating moments, I can always sail home.  Thank you for giving our young selves the words and illustrations we needed.  Thank you for not underestimating our feelings.

    I felt a great sense of relief when after Max had decided to return from his great and perilous adventure, after he left his new and terrible friends, that here was a bowl of something steaming and delicious brought to his room.  I could just taste it.

    On snow days and sick days my mom would read "Chicken Soup with Rice" from the Nutshell Library to remind us of the comforts of home when storm or flu kept us indoors.  I am home sick today and thinking of Old Bombay, my favorite line in the poem when the young illustrated Maurice imagines traveling to exotic lands to "dream about hot soup all day."

    I declared that I would ride an elephant in Old Bombay, to which my dismayed mother would always reply, "Oh no, please don't go, I'll eat you up, I love you so."

    This is a take on both a traditional chicken soup with rice recipe and an Italian creamed soup with chickpea, porcini and farro.  I added the elements of that soup while swapping the farro out for black wild rice.   Both exotic and familiar.

    Creamy Chicken Soup with Wild Rice, Mushrooms and Chickpeas

    For the stock:
    • 1 lb chicken parts
    • 2 small or 1 large onion
    • 2 stalks of celery 
    • 2 garlic cloves smashed to removet he skin but other wise kept whole
    • 2 carrots
    • 2 small or one large bay leaf
    • 7 to 9 sprigs parsley
    • 7 to 9 sprigs dill
    • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
    • 1 teaspoon juniper berries
    • 10 cups water
    • salt to taste
    For the soup:
    • 6 cups above chicken stock
    • shredded cooked chicken from above stock
    • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
    • 10 oz to 1 lb chopped mushrooms such as crimini, portabello, standard white button, oyster or a mix of these
    • 2 cups cooked wild rice
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 3 cups chickpeas pureed or mashed into a paste
    • 1 chopped onion
    • 1 stalk of celery chopped fine 
    • 2 garlic cloves sliced
    • 1 carrot chopped fine
    • 1 bay leaf
    • fresh chopped parsley for serving
    • fresh chopped dill for serving
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • sea salt  and white pepper to taste

    Put the dried porcini in a small bowl of water. 

    In a large stock pot, combine all the ingredients for you chicken stock.   Cover and and bring to a boil.  Once it is boiling, lower the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid reduces by one fourth.  Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.  Put a colander over a large bowl and strain the broth.  Discard remaining ingredients.
    In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil.  Add your chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic.  Sautee` until they soften.  Add mushrooms and continue to sautee until the mushrooms reduce in size. When the vegetables start to get dry, add the cream.  When the cream is absorbed by the mushrooms, add the stock and the bay leaf.  Simmer over medium low heat and reduce to desired thickness.  When the chicken is cool separate the meat from the bone and chop to shreds.  Add your cooked rice, shredded chicken and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with chopped fresh herbs.

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    A Fresh Look for Kitchen Chairs

    I love my kitchen.  I don't mean I love kitchens.  I do, of course but that is not what I mean to say here.  I mean I love my kitchen.  After 15 years of living in Brooklyn I have been blessed with a dream kitchen.  It is spacious enough for a dining table and over looks the building's flower garden.  All of you jealous city dwellers feel comforted by the fact that I was once in your shoes.  In most of my Brooklyn kitchens I had to lean against the wall in order to open the refrigerator door.  Thanks to a generous stroke of good luck (proceeded by a few strokes of bad luck, which is a story we will save for another day) we are able to enjoy a well lighted, well cared for and spacious kitchen.  I will say that I did the same kind of cooking in my tiny kitchens as I do in this one and never shied away from dinner guests or parties.  It is possible, it just poses different organizational challenges. 

    As a textile designer this is my favorite time of year.  At work we are scoping out new trends in colors patterns and fabric construction.  Spending a day in the fabric district, shopping and learning about new fabric styles and techniques feels a lot like when my Uncle Nino gave us free reign in his pastry shop. I can't help but bring a little of what I see home.  

    I like updating the look of my kitchen with a rotation of textiles.  This works well particularly since our kitchen is mostly white and neutral.  Reupholstering these chairs has been on my project list for a while.     I found this fabric at Mood Fabrics.  If you haven't heard of Mood, it is an overwhelming 3 floors of gorgeous fabrics and popular among designers and trendy design students (largely form FIT).  So for this project, let me narrow it down for you, head downstairs. For a richer look, go with a fabric that is woven vs. printed. The printed fabrics at Mood are beautiful but on furniture the woven will give a more upscale look.  I like take to take a bunch of swatches to see what works best in my home.  

    I haven't reupholstered chairs before but it was surprisingly easy.  If you are thinking of recovering your own chairs you will need the following supplies:
    • one pair of good quality fabric scissors
    • measuring tape
    • a staple gun with extra staples
    • 1 and 1/2 yards of fabric for 4 chairs
    • 1 fabric crayon
    1. Flip over your chairs and find how the seat is attached to frame.  For these chairs there were 3 simple screws that were easy to remove and put back.  I would recommend doing one chair first before taking the seats off of the other chairs so that you are comfortable with the process before you continue.  It is easier to fix a mistake once than four times.
    2. Measure how much fabric you will need to cover the seat of the chair.  Make sure you leave enough room to staple the fabric on the back.
    3. Staple the fabric to the back of the chair.  Staple once on each side of the seat directly across from the last staple.  Continue stapling in this order.  When you get to the corners, create a neat fold in the fabric and then staple. Make sure all of your folds are consistent and facing the same way.
    4. Reattach the seats to the frame.