Brooklyn


Fall is here and proving to be much needed and even more appreciated than past years. Although the weather could be about 12 degrees cooler (spoken like a true Minnesotan) and the colors could be a deeper hue of reds and oranges, I still feel Autumn’s presence and welcome it with open arms.

Perhaps it’s my first start-to-the-school-year as a new teacher along with the building anticipation among my students over costumes, candy and pumpkins. It could also be the two cakes baked in new tradition to celebrate my favorite Fall birthdays. Or perhaps it’s my recent jaunt up to the Catskills with John that pushed me over the edge (apparently altitude provides fall foliage, cool breezes and envied country-style living) but the new air feels crisp and full of excitement.

I absolutely adore this time of year between Summer and Winter.

During our brief stint in Phoenicia, we made a stop at our favorite vegetarian haven: Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, where mistreated farm animals are rescued and saved from being slaughtered. I don’t really like to get too heavy with the animal preaching, but I think we can all agree that what’s going on with factory farming is cruel and disturbing and frankly we all can agree that animals shouldn’t suffer. (right?!?) These are all animals that were saved from such negligence. They are the lucky ones. Worth the stop if you’re open to it.

Sarah and Dylan the cow

Now for a whole slew of Fall recipes that I have sadly been neglecting to post. Some are obviously out of season, but good to file away for future recipe reference

Tomato Salad with Crushed Croutons

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Crushed croutons:

4 slices crusty bread
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Tomato salad:

1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes, mixed colors if you can find them
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
Pinch of sugar
Freshly ground black pepper

Handful basil leaves, slivered.

Prepare the crushed croutons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Tear bread into chunks and pule them in a food processor until coarsely ground (largest chunks can be lima bean sized). Don’t feel like dirtying the food processor? Keep tearing the bread up until it is in ragged, mixed sized crumbs. Spread crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and parmesan until croutons are evenly coated with oil. Bake until golden brown and dry, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Assemble salad: Halve each tomato lengthwise and arrange cut side up on a platter. Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt, sugar and a few grinds of pepper in a small dish. Drizzle over tomatoes. Sprinkle tomatoes with crushed croutons. Garnish with slivers of basil.

The completed tomato salad

Next up: Macaroni Salad (A new staple in our house!)

Scallions ready to go for macaroni salad (see below for recipe)

Scallion Macaroni Salad

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 pound elbow macaroni

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced green onions (3-4 bunches)
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
fine grain sea salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
zest and juice of one lemon
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

4 big handfuls arugula
1 large apple, diced

Cook the macaroni in a large pot of well-salted water per package instructions. Set aside at least 1/2 cup pasta water. Then drain pasta and set aside.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large skillet until hot. Add most of the green onions, all of the garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions soften, and the garlic begins to take on some color, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a couple minutes.

Use a hand blender or food processor to puree the green onion mixture along with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, zest of the lemon, half the lemon juice, and the reserved pasta water. Puree and taste. The green onion flavor should be intense. Stir in the Parmesan.

Combine the macaroni with the green onion sauce in a large bowl. Toss well. Add the arugula and most of the apple and toss again. Taste, and add more pepper, salt, or lemon juice if needed. Serve topped with the remaining apple and green onion.

Not enough for you? Here’s some more! (and this one is actually still in season)

Winter Pasta Recipe (recipe below)

Winter Pasta Recipe

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 small shallots, peeled
1 small bunch of kale (roughly 1/2 lb) stalks removed, washed well
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (or 2 oz) goat cheese, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons + hot pasta water
fine grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice – optional
12 oz  dried penne pasta
fresh thyme

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water generously, and add the garlic and shallots. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stir in the kale and cook for another ten seconds. Don’t overcook. Working quickly, use a slotted spoon or strainer to fish the greens, garlic, and shallots from the water. Use a food processor to puree the ingredients along with the olive oil and goat cheese. Add a couple tablespoons of hot pasta water if needed to thin things out if needed. Then season with a touch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Taste. Depending on your goat cheese, you might need a little extra acidic oomph if your sauce is a bit flat. If so, add fresh lemon juice a bit at a time until you’re happy with it the sauce. Set aside.

Reheat the pot of water and boil the pasta per package instructions. Drain and toss immediately with the green sauce. Serve topped with a few pinches of fresh thyme, and more crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 4-6.

Before blended up...

And I swears this is the last one, but probably my favorite (I’ve only made it about 3 times in the last month)

Golden zucchini sandwiches (recipe below!)

Golden Zucchini Sandwiches (omg soooo good!)

adapted from Big Girls Small Kitchen

2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, 1 minced, 1 made into paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large zucchini, grated ( used 2 small)
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped basil, tarragon, or other fresh herb (optional– I used none because I had none)
2 tbsp mayonnaise
4 slices good sourdough bread, lightly toasted
1 cup freshly grated white cheddar (from about 4 ounces cheese)

In a small frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is just barely golden, about 1 minute. Add the grated zucchini and a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is cooked down and all the moisture is evaporated, about 15 minutes. It should be an almost jam-like consistency. Add the fresh herbs if using, then taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, combine the garlic paste with the mayonnaise in a small bowl and mix to combine. Spread one side of each slice with the garlic mayo. Top the un-mayo’ed sides with a quarter of the cheese, each, pressing down so it doesn’t slide around.

Distribute the zucchini mixture on top of the cheese on two of the slices, then top with the remaining two. The mayo should be facing out on all sides.

If your frying pan is large enough to hold two sandwiches, rinse it out. Otherwise, find a pan that is and heat it for about 2 minutes over medium heat. (You can also of course make the sandwiches one at a time.) Place the sandwich(es) on the pan and cook 4 minutes on the first side side, until golden on the outside and gooey on the outside, then flip carefully and cook 3-4 minutes on the second side. Remove from the pan, cut in half if you wish, and eat immediately.

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It’s hot in New York City.

When it gets this hot, people generally walk around the city in their flip-flops and summer dresses with their heads drooped back in anger and frustration. The streets are humid, the trains are steamy and even the bars and restaurants are capable of breaking you into a quick sweat. Nobody is ready for the heat quite yet, so many businesses are still unveiling their AC units, some only to discover that they don’t work after being hidden by snow and cold over the entirety of the winter.

Last night, we spent some time at a new bar in Williamsburg- an area of Brooklyn that we rarely visit due to its inconvenient location by public transit. We felt it might be worth the trek, since we knew the owner and a friend was tending bar that night. The Counting Room was one of the businesses experiencing a pretty rad issue with their AC unit, but the atmosphere, drinks and company made the evening great fun.

I dragged a friend along for the evening and we got to talking about the art of friendship among woman. This is a tricky subject and recently seems more so since losing my father. The truth of the matter is that nobody really knows what to do or say when something like this goes down in life, but walking away from a friend is never the answer (most people are saying “duh,” I know, but the truth is that most people would rather not deal with having to relate to tragedy. It’s just too real.) Anyways, my point of writing this (I swear there is one) is that on a random Friday night, in some random bar, my friend and I had a beautiful conversation about what it truly means to be a friend. Women can be difficult. We have high expectations and want people to know what we need without saying it out loud. The truth of the matter is that even our fellow ladies need a bit of an open window to know what the hell we need. It felt good to vent and share with her over chilled wine and assorted cheese plates.

Reality only rained down on our evening for a short period of time, but it made me grateful for the people in my life who know me well enough to ask questions, offer solutions and simply be there for me. One of the ways I show my gratitude and love for the people in my life is by cooking for them- something that has been missing since Dad died.

I’m taking baby steps towards the dinner party by experimenting with a few interesting recipes on my husband, my most favorite taste-tester out there. I was excited to share this dish with him, because it used and abused his amazing herb garden and called for an entire stick of butter (oh, hell yes.) This pasta splurge was bursting with flavor and felt like the perfect entrée to start summer off right.

Pappardelle with Spiced Butter

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

4-5 saffron threads
Pinch of salt
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 medium shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper
1/2 pound pappardelle egg pasta (fresh or dried)
1/2 pound asparagus, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
Splash of cream
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

Bring a large pot of water to boil. In the meantime, use a mortar and pestle to crush the saffron and salt into a fine powder. Set aside.

To make the spiced butter: Place the butter and olive oil in a frying pan and cook the shallots for about 10 minutes, or until they soften and the butter browns. Stir in all the spices, the salt, and a bit of freshly ground black pepper, remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

Salt the water generously and cook the pasta per the package instructions. About a minute before the pasta is done cooking, add the asparagus. Drain and return the pasta and asparagus to the pot. Stir in the saffron salt. Pour about half of the spiced butter over the pasta, add a small splash of cream, and toss/mix well.  Add enough of the spiced butter mixture to complete coat the pasta- taste to see whether you need more or less. (There will be leftover butter mixture that you can save to use on another pasta dish or as a nice dip for bread.) Sprinkle with pine nuts and herbs and serve.

Serves 4

Ah, date nights. Love them. Those precious moments where we abandon our tight schedules and our strict budget to rejoin society.

He took me to Fort Greene, where we hit up No 7 (highly recommended) and then Stonehouse Wine Bar. Wine bars seem so silly when you can just buy a bottle and drink it at home– but we had fun!

Dinner was:
Pimenton Smoked Mozzarella w/fried artichokes, lemon, parsley
Apricots & Frisee w/pistachios, manchego, tarragon vinaigrette
Fried Broccoli w/dill, grapefruit, black beans
Pumpkin Seed Crusted Tofu w/cannellini beans, tomato & haricots verts salad

One of our good pals gave us the unique and fabulous gift of a BAM membership (Brooklyn Academy of Music) which basically buys us discounted movie tickets and gives us priority on special events, concernts, and shows. We have already used our special little gift a few times, but last night definitely took the cake with a screening of Paul Giamatti’s new movie: Cold Souls. We’ve never had the privilidge of seeing a movie before it hit theaters nation-wise, but the real treat was the q&a with director Sophie Bathales and fellow-Brooklynite and star of the movie Paul Giamatti. We followed the movie/discussion with a veggie burger and fries from Bonnie’s Grill in Park Slope. What a fun date night!