vegetarian


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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They say when it rains, it pours.

Much has happened since my last post, including a shiny new job and a much delayed return of my band, Waiting for Jerry to the stage. Read below for a slightly more detailed explanation of things which have come and gone, but first, I must tell you that Mac and Cheese will inevitably be the bandaid for all pain and frustration in this world. Especially when you add crimini mushrooms and an assortment of herbs.

Look! Look! http://www.30days30waysmacandcheese.com

See what I mean?

Oh, right. Shiny object. Back to the point:

It seems like so many people in my life are redirecting their focus and making huge changes in their lives. Going back to school, playing music again, creating, writing, having more babies, moving, shifting jobs…change!

Though I miss being slightly more social, I’m happy that so many creative people around me are being incredibly inspiring. It’s almost like a light bulb went on above everybody’s head, at the same time, and showed us just how miserable life is without the ability to focus on what we love.

All of the sudden, everyone I know is simply excited about the prospect of making something better for themselves, without the dream of “making it big” or surviving on their passion. We’re just doing it. Because it makes us happy. And it makes other people happy.

Win win.

So here’s some news, as well as a recipe that celebrates another inspiring person in my life, a woman who is grabbing her kimchi by the balls and sacrificing precious time to work out a way to communicate with her newly extended family (something I have a new respect for after trying to learn two Chinese words and realizing Asian languages are, I dunno… haaarrrrrdddd.)

New Job: That’s right! I left my comfy cozy job in early childhood music (that I actually loved quite a bit, aside from the weird hours and very little pay) and traded it in for an opportunity to work full time, with benefits and all kinds of security. So I traded in my folksy kids songs for some bilingual chorus music for the 6th and 7th grade students at IS 220 in Sunset Park. I wish I could tell you it was the right decision to make, but it’s much to early to really say… and honestly, much more difficult than I could ever imagine. Let’s just say this might be the toughest gig I’ll ever have and I can only hope in the end, I will be happy that I gave it a go.

Gig: The band is back and kickin’ with several new songs and a dummer to boot. Our first show back was last weekend and there are more to come. (Nov 20th, Rockwood Music Hall, 5pm)

So, without further ado, here is Dani’s Mac and Cheese. Add some hot sauce to really make it kick.

 

Mushroom Herb Mac and Cheese

Adapted from 30days30Ways


11 tablespoons butter, divided
1 pound cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 shallot, minced
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh chives, chopped
3 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) Gruyère Cheese, shredded and divided
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) White Cheddar Cheese, shredded and divided
1 box (12 to 16 ounces) small pasta, such as elbow pasta
1 cup breadcrumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. Set a large pot of water (for the pasta) over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.

In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallot; sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have cooked down and are browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add vinegar and cook, stirring, until the liquid has cooked off. Turn off the heat and set aside.

For the  sauce, in a medium-sized saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in flour and cook for about 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Add the herbs and, still whisking, sauté for an additional 30 seconds. In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the milk. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook to al dente, or 1 to 2 minutes less than the box calls for.

Once the sauce simmers, stir in 5 ounces each (about 1 cup) of the Gruyère and Cheddar Cheeses until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter with the breadcrumbs. Drain the pasta. In a large mixing bowl, toss pasta, sauce, and mushrooms. Pour into the baking dish.

Sprinkle with remaining 1 ounce each of  Gruyère and Cheddar. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Every now and then you just need some hearty food to make it all feel better. This is a recipe I’ve turned to several times over the last few years, especially when my belly longs to be filled with comfort.

Rosemary Dijon Potatoes

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp dry white wine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lb. red-skinned potatoes, chopped into 3/4- to 1-inch dice

Heat the oven to 400°F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, wine, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Toss the potatoes onto a large rimmed baking sheet and spread them in a single layer. Roast, turning with a spatula a few times, until the potatoes are crusty on the outside and tender throughout, 50 to 55 min

 

 

Fresh out of the oven.

 

Fall has been trying to force its way in with cooler, crisper temperatures… but not without a good fight from the remaining days of Summer. All of New York is waiting with bated breath for the new season, with sweaters at the ready and ovens waiting to come out from their summer hiding. Of course, this cruel, cruel summer of 2010 couldn’t go out without a bang.  That “bang” came when the mascot of Summer visited us with not one, but two tornados in Brooklyn and Queens. Um, did you hear me? A tornado in New York City.

Being a true Minnesotan girl, I took one look at that dark green sky and instinctively grabbed my cats away from the window. Within seconds the entire street was being blown to shreds. It honestly felt like the twister was right outside the door and I found myself wondering what the hell a New Yorker is supposed to do under such weather conditions. Growing up, a siren would go off in our hometown, signaling us to scramble down to the basement and under the staircase. I debated crawling down to our boiler room in the basement, but decided to wait it out instead, which is apparently what everyone else in the city did as well. I guess that’s how they do things here. We hope for the best.

Thankfully, our lovely tree outside the apartment (the one that frames the terrace so beautifully and makes you almost forget that you live in an urban jungle) didn’t fall under the will of BK Twister Fest 2010.

Our neighborhood, however got slammed:

Car Bummer

A tree falls in Brooklyn (along with probably about a hundred others throughout the 'hood)

I can only hope that this was the last of Summer’s slam-down on New York City and we can now look forward to a pleasant turn of season with Fall’s arrival. The nights have cooled down a bit, which makes baking bearable once more. After a few trips to our neighborhood’s farmer’s market, I became obsessed with fresh tomatoes (I will never eat a grocery store tomato again!) and corn on the cob. Luckily, Deb over at Smitten kitchen had my back through this love affair and was two steps ahead of me with her Tomato Corn Pie recipe.

Seriously, this was curl-up-in-your-flannel-pj’s good. Welcome back, Fall!

Tomato and Corn Pie

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 3/4 tsp salt, divided

3/4 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 2 teaspoons melted

3/4 cup whole milk

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 3/4 pounds beefsteak tomatoes

1 1/2 cups corn (roughly three ears of corn) coarsely chopped by hand (my preference), divided

2 Tbsp finely chopped basil, divided

1 Tbsp finely chopped chives, divided

1/4 tsp black pepper, divided

7ounces coarsely grated sharp Cheddar (1 3/4 cups), divided

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter (3/4 stick) with your fingertips or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. (I used my fingertips) Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Divide dough in half and roll out one piece on a well-floured counter into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick). You can put the other half of dough into the fridge until you need it later. Fold the round gently in quarters, lift it into a 9-inch pie plate and gently unfold and center. Pat the dough in with your fingers and trim any overhang.

Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. (If you’ve never done this, neither had I, but it’s super easy. I cut an “X” about an inch into the tomato’s bottom) Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired gently remove seeds and extra juices. I wold recommend letting some of the juice out of these bad boys, so your pie isn’t too soaky.)

Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, 1 Tbsp of the basil, 1/2 Tbsp chives, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper and one cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Roll out remaining piece of dough into a 12-inch round, then fit over filling, folding overhang under edge of bottom crust and pinching edge to seal. Cut 4 steam vents in top crust and brush crust with melted butter (2 tsp).

Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes, then cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pie can be baked 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warm, about 30 minutes.

Sometimes, life gives you a lemon–and you just have to juice it, zest it and make something delicious out of it. No matter how bad it might seem.

My husband and I have both spent the last year working towards what we thought would be the start of our careers. Then, we each got handed a dreaded lemon.

My “lemon” is the silly hiring freeze that is making it almost impossible for new teachers to land gigs- especially in the arts. So, I took my sour piece of fruit, sliced it in half and accepted a part-time job as a music teacher at three different schools in Brooklyn. Certainly not my ideal job, but the hope is this will elevate my level of experience from non-existent to, well, anything more than that. So I turned my lemon into some zucchini cakes, fingers-crossed that we can continue to buy food to make such lovely delectables in the future (did I mention it’s only part time pay?? yikes.)

My husband didn’t even get a lemon, poor guy. He got a pathetic, tiny lime. I guess someone got confused and handed it over and told him it was yellow when it was in fact green and really just so unexpected. See, he was all geared up to open his very own wine shop in Brooklyn and at the last minute, it all fell through. Everything he has worked so hard to accomplish and was looking forward to: gone. (bureaucratic BS if you ask me)

So, he took his lime, juiced the hell out of it and made this black bean spread- and really showed his amazing ability to bounce back by getting a job at one of the best wine shops in the city: Chamber Street Wines. He’s pretty amazing… and definitely climbing the NYC wine-geek ladder quickly. I’m super proud of him.

In celebration of these new jobs, we ate and drank, recipes below. Congratulations, baby. Here’s to a lifetime of making mountains out of our molehills. 

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Zucchini Cakes

from BGSK

1 medium zucchini, grated

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon butter

Combine the zucchini, scallions, sugar, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Add the egg, lemon juice, and zest and stir until well mixed.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large cast iron skillet. Once the butter is melted and the oil is fairly hot, drop in the zucchini mixture in tablespoonfuls, making sure not to crowd the pan (about 5 at a time). Cook for about 1 minute on each side until browned and semi-firm. Remove to a paper towel to drain and repeat with the remaining zucchini mixture, adding more oil as necessary.

NOTE: this can be done a day in advance. Simply reheat the cakes in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

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Black Bean Spread

We stored this spread in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator for about a week and used it on pretty much everything: quesadillas, lunch sandwiches, eggs, etc. It served us very well!

2 cups cooked black beans (I used canned black beans, rinsed and drained well)

1/2 cup olive oil

Juice of two small or one large lime

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tspn garlic powder

Salt, pepper to taste

In a food processor, add the beans and pulse until well chopped up. Turn food processor on to run continuously and slowly drizzle in olive oil. Add spices and lime juice and blend well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Process until the spread is smooth, about two minutes.

After an incredibly hot and humid summer, cool temperatures finally returned to the Big Apple this week, renewing and exciting its battered, worn down citizens. Walking down the street, you once again saw sweaters, scarves and close-toed shoes.  Though the rain fell almost daily, New Yorkers had the weekend to look forward to…Saturday did not disappoint one bit, with its warm temperatures wrapped up in cool breezes. One could almost mistake this weekend for the Fall.

Of course, right as the good got great, Sunday came along and changed everything, with its hot weather and gross air. I curse you, present-weather and long for 2 days ago.

My husband and I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather on Saturday by going hiking in the Ramapo Valley Reservation in New Jersey, about an hour’s drive outside of Brooklyn. We were pretty excited to spend the day doing the 8.5 mile hike around Bear Swamp Lake.

Hiking is not something we usually do, but this summer seems to be a mixed bag of new experiences. As we made the climb up Hawk Rock, wound back down through the forest, crossed small brooks and made several grueling ascents to spectacular views, we couldn’t help but spend a good portion of the hike feeling a sense of calm from the storm of this year. Even as our legs burned from the climb, it was pain that soothed us.

Ramapo Valley Reservation

A day before the trip, I made up a chickpea and roasted red pepper salad along with some homemade granola to accompany us on our hike. Throw in a couple of Clif bars and you have yourself a crunchy meal that served us well as we made our way through the sometimes strenuous, off-path hike. It was pretty awesome.

Picnic for our hike

We can’t wait to do this again…as soon as the weather returns to its previous state of bliss, of course. Until then, it’s back to skirts, flip-flops and uncomfortable misery.

In the meantime, make these snacks to get you through the end of summer.

Recipes: Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Salad and Nutty Cranberry Granola

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Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 large red peppers, roasted and skinned or about 2 cups from a jar (instructions for roasting your own)

3 cups of cooked chickpeas, rinsed if canned (about 2 15-ounce cans)

1/4 cup of parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp of chopped mint

3 Tbsp of capers, rinsed

2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice or red wine or sherry vinegar

1/4 tsp of salt

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Cut the peppers into half-inch wide strips and put them in a large bowl together with the chickpeas, herbs and the capers. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, garlic and oil. Pour over the chickpea mixture and combine.Serve immediately, or refrigerate it for a day.

Enjoy!

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Nutty Cranberry Granola

my own recipe- enjoy!

3 cups old fashioned, rolled oats

3 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Start things off right by mixing up the dry ingredients (oats, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon) in a large bowl. In a separate, smaller bowl mix up the wet ingredients (honey, oil and vanilla) and add this mixture to the bigger bowl.

Mix well and spread onto a large baking sheet. Try to keep an even layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring the oats after about 15 minutes. (I do my granola for about 30 minutes, since I prefer a crunchier texture.)

While the granola is baking, toast your nuts in a large skillet over low heat. I added a tiny sliver of butter to bring out the flavors. When toasting the nuts, be careful not to let them burn. I only allowed them to be on the heat for about 5 minutes and I watched them like a hawk. Let them cool and then chop them up to your liking (I separated the pumpkin seeds, since I didn’t want them to be chopped.)

Once the granola has cooled, add the nuts and dried cranberries. Mix well and serve!

Last weekend was a rip-roaring good time, starting with a whole buncha Midwesterners descending from the sky and landing on the isle of Manhattan. Several of them (my most immediate of family members) stayed in Brooklyn, since it’s obviously much ( so much) better than any other place in this city. The visit was mostly based around the nuptials of my cousin Kevin to his brand, spankin’ new wife, Teresa, but we managed to have some fun of our own as well.

In celebration of their arrival, my husband and I spent a good chunk of time cooking up a bunch of recipes from this here blog to share with them. Unfortunately, our guests were two people down due to vertigo (nope, not the Hitchcock classic…for realsies this time) and we were forced to fill their spots with some fellow Park Slopians in order to prevent food wastage. (Plus, we really like these people.) We definitely missed my brother and his girlfriend who were stuck back in Minneapolis, sorting out his shaky shakes. Next time, guys! (And you’ll get your very own blog post about whatever I end up *cooking for you!)

Nom Nom Nom

The menu was perfectly paired with all kinds of wine and fun. We decided to keep things somewhat simple by serving up a baguette and ciabatta alongside several signature salads. Everything was made ahead of time, which made serving less stressful (and no ovens!)

Smashed Chickpea Sandwiches

Black Bean Confetti Salad

Aunt Stella’s Czechoslovakian Potato Salad

White Bean Roasted Red Pepper Dip

We also pulled out some new dishes to share: White Bean Tomato Salad and Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Blueberry and Raspberry Sauce. You can find both recipes below.

Love my family. Love my friends. Love Park Slope.

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White Bean Tomato Salad

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubes

1 lb roma tomatoes, diced into about ½ inch cubes (try to get seeds/water out)

1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed

Handful of slivered basil

¼ cup olive oil

3-4 tbsp red wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, beans, olive oil, basil and vinegar together in a bowl. Add mozzerella and salt/pepper to your liking. Serve with crusty bread or on its own.

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

3 cups heavy cream, or 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup whole milk

¾ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the pod to the pot. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the remaining 1 cup cream and the milk) and the vanilla extract.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Blueberry and Raspberry Sauce

2 cups fresh blueberries

¼ cups sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup fresh raspberries

Combine blueberries, sugar, water and cinnamon stick in heavy medium sauce pan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Then, increase heat and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 3 minutes.

Uncover and cook until berries look tender and saucy. This will take about another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and gently stiry in raspberries. Chill until serving. (Can be made up to two days ahead of time.)

*sorry, Paul. No meat. Big feet.

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