Thursday, September 13, 2012

CSA Adventures: Tomatillo chicken stew


There has been a distinct dearth of cooking posts on this blog lately (and by lately, I mean...months). I've also been really bad at keeping up with the stuff I've been doing with the veggies I've gotten from my CSA this season; heck, I haven't even really been taking pictures of the last few shares or the food I've made from them. But this week I got tomatillos*! Aren't they pretty? I don't think I've ever eaten tomatillos before (at least, that I know of) and definitely had never cooked with them, so started off with suggestions on Flickr to make salsa. Of course, that would have left me with a lot of salsa and no I did a little digging around the internet and came across several recipes for chili verde in all its variations. Sounds good to me!


Tomatillos are easy to prepare--just take off the papery husks and give them a rinse (the tomatillos themselves turn out to be strangely sticky!) You can make salsa verde with raw tomatillos, but most recipes that I came across suggested roasting them first, so I did the same.

Roasted tomatillos

I also added a jalapeno and a couple of cloves of garlic (yes, all from the CSA) and left them under the broiler for about 10 minutes. Timing will vary based on your broiler, so check after 5 minutes and see if it needs some more time. Let cool off for a couple of minutes (mostly so you don't burn yourself!) and then transfer the tomatillos, de-skinned garlic, and jalapenos to a blender or food processor. If you are a cilantro lover, you can also add a couple of handfuls of cilantro. Pulse until everything is uniform.

Tomatillo sauce

Isn't it pretty? Season with a little salt and some lime juice. You could just use this as a dip for chips, or you can use this as the basis for a stew, which is what I went with, and it's just a couple of extra steps. I followed this recipe from Simply Recipes, except that I left out the ground coriander (don't have any) and added additional cilantro.

Tomatillo chicken stew

And here it is, just before I demolished it. The jalapeno turned out to be SUPER spicy, so I added a bit of sour cream to help tame the heat. This would be great over rice or with tortillas...but I just ate it as is. I'm saving room for the barbecue that I'm about to go eat! Woohoo! Until next time! In the meantime, maybe you're interested in seeing some of my other CSA Adventures.

 *Heh, my spellchecker doesn't recognize "tomatillos" and keeps suggesting "automatism" instead.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pig Island!

Pig Island

Ok, wow--I had this whole post written up on Pig Island but Blogger seems to have eaten it. GREAT! First post in 2 months and it disappears into the ether! Sigh. Well, anyway, to sum up in a more concise manner, I attended Pig Island (with thanks to the organizers for the press passes!) over Labor Day weekend; you may be able to guess from their (cute!) logo and name that this is an extremely pork-centric event. Apologies to any vegetarians/vegans; you may want to skip this one! On with the pictures:

Pulled pork sandwich & coleslaw

Pulled pork sandwich from Dinosaur BBQ, one of my favorite places. True story--back when I was in college in upstate NY, we used to drive specifically to Syracuse to eat at Dinosaur. I'm glad there's one within walking distance of my apartment now!

Pulled pork sandwich

Pulled pork sandwich from John Brown Smokehouse. I liked the pickled veggies on this one a lot.

Pulled pork sandwich

Pulled pork sandwich (are you sensing a theme here?) from the Waterfront Ale House, home of lousy food and an ugly owner. Hey, they said it, not me! And in fact, it's not true. The food was pretty good. (Can't say one way or the other about the owner, though!) Maybe this is a good time to mention that all 80+ pigs were sourced from local farms.

Grilled pork belly with peaches, arugula, and tiny croutons

Another of my favorites; grilled pork belly with peaches and arugula from Edi & the Wolf. The tiny croutons were awesome.

BBQ collar with grilled peaches & pickled cabbage

Barbecued pork collar with grilled peaches and pickled cabbage from Mangalitsa. Another fave!


There were pig heads everywhere. Apparently there was a vegetarian stand somewhere, but I never saw it!

Roasted pork with triticale

Roasted pork with triticale from Bobolink Farm. They also very kindly gave me a whole bunch of pig cracklings which were deeelicious.

Porchetta and beans

Porchetta and stewed beans, from Betto. You can see a few more photos here. I'll tell you--this event came the day after an epic lunch at Eleven Madison Park (a subject for another post), and I was not planning to eat as much as I did. But apparently I can't resist the smell of grilling pig! Very glad we attended, and next time I will be prepared and bring a blanket so I can take a nap afterwards.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Weekend plans: CookOut NYC 2012

Just a quick post before I retreat to the glorious air conditioning at work!  Hah!  This is the one time of year that I show up early to the office.  But anyhow, the best part about having a holiday in the middle of the week is that when you have to go back to work, it feels like Monday, but hey, it's already almost the weekend again.  Woohoo!  And if you're trying to make plans, here's a suggestion--head on over to Governor's Island for Cook Out NYC.  I mean, there's a kimchi eating contest!  (I wonder if it's too late to enter--I can eat the hell out of some kimchi.)  Not to mention that your ticket includes food sampling, a hot dog contest (with a kimchi dog!  Swoon.) and beer (must stay hydrated on a hot day).  Well I know where I'll be....

Get your tickets here (pssst...for a $5 discount, enter promotional code BlogOutNYC); the Governor's Island ferry schedule can be found here

CookOut NYC 2012
July 7-8, 11:30-4:30
Governor's Island

Monday, July 2, 2012

Send Help! Drowning in veggie-tubbles!

CSA 2012-Week 1 Veggies

Helllloooo, peeps!  I know, I let another week slip by.  Dudes, IT HAS BEEN SO EFFING HOT IN NYC LATELY.  Argh.  Thank goodness for the shaved ice man across the street.  And lots of watermelon.  And lots of iced green tea.  And air conditioning!  Anyway, I have been remiss in posting about this year's CSA adventures, and we're already into the fourth week!  And man, has there been a HUGE amount of good stuff this season!  My CSA changed farms this year to Hepworth Farms (and the CSA name itself has changed from Chubby Bunny to Cream of the Crop), and I dunno if it has just been a particularly good growing season or what, but from the very first pickup, I've been overwhelmed by the variety and quantity of veggies!  I mean, check out week 1 in the top photo there.  So much that I had to put it on the floor to take a picture of it!  Scallions, scapes, basil, cilantro, kale, chard, spinach, radishes, garlic, lettuce.

 Veggie Share Week 1 

Compare this with week 1 from last year! Holy vegetable explosion!

 CSA 2012-Week 1 Fruit 

And the fruit share from week 1--two boxes of awesome strawberries, and some apples from last season (I'm guessing because they were a bit wrinkled and also June seems like too early for apples.) 

CSA Week 2: Veggies 

Aaaaaand here is week 2.  I decided this week that I didn't want to be taking pictures of my veggies on the floor, but there were still too many to take one shot on my window sill, so collages it is!  Of course, now that Flickr's gotten rid of Picnick, I have to use a different tool to make collages, grrr, argh.  Anyway, check it out--more kale, more radishes.  More lettuce (like two whole heads!).  Onions, garlic, lots more spinach, basil, cilantro, two kinds of scallions (I had never seen red scallions before!), a huuuuuge amount of carrots, collards, and kohlrabi.  Oh, and peas!  

CSA Week 3: Veggies

And here we are at week 3.  Yes, you guessed it--more kale!  Good thing I like kale, huh?  Beets, cucumbers, round and regular zucchini, snap peas, carrots, radishes, spring onions, chard, purple and regular cabbage, the first tomato of the summer, basil!  Spinach!  Two MORE heads of lettuce!  String beans!  GOOD GOLLY!!

CSA Week 3: Fruit 

Somehow I had neglected to get a photo of the fruit from week 2, so here is a photo of week 3; cherries and a heap of plums.  I'm not sure what type of plums the yellow ones are.  Sooooo perhaps you are wondering what I have been doing with all this bounty....well, a LOT.  I tell you, keeping up with a CSA is practically a full time job.  But I cannot complain, I certainly am eating well!

Linguine with pesto 

Naturally with all that basil, I had to make pesto (several jars of it at this point!).  Garlic scapes make delicious pesto, although one morning I ate pesto pasta for breakfast, and despite careful tooth brushing, I think I was still exhaling garlic scape fumes for the next several hours.  Poor coworkers.  Good thing I'm isolated in an office.  (P.S. I don't use pine nuts because I never have 'em.  This time I used some walnuts, because I am trying to clear out my pantry, but I've also used almonds before.)

 Spinach & feta pie slice 

I was really despairing about using up all the spinach, but as it turns out, two bunches is just perfect for making a spinach and feta pie; and one box of filo dough handily makes two pies, hooray!  And it turns out making spinach pie is totally easy, and I love it, which is fortunate, because for a while there I was eating spinach pie for breakfast every morning.  

 scallion & cilantro pancakes 

Scallion pancakes seemed like a no-brainer; I also chopped up a bunch of cilantro to fold into these, but I should have added more.  You could barely taste it!  Oh, if you are interested in making your own, check out this old post for my recipe and step-by-step instructions. 

 Carrot, chicken & cilantro stir-fry 

I used up a bunch of carrots in a chicken stir fry with sesame oil; I also added an entire bunch of cilantro, right at the very end just to let it wilt down.  I have not typically cooked with cilantro in the past, but if you are a cilantro lover, you should totally try treating it as a vegetable.  Mmm, cilantro.  (If you are a cilantro-phobe, sorry, I cannot help you!)

 Braised peas and lettuce 

My biggest challenge every year is dealing with the lettuce; I am just not that big into salads, so I'm always looking for new ways to use it up.  One thing I tried was lettuce soup, which turned out surprisingly tasty, but was a horrible murky swamp color, so no photo.  (It did use up two whole heads though.)  And then while I was searching for more lettuce recipes, I found one for lettuce and peas braised together.  Perfect!  This was rather yummy (I suppose braising in butter helps).  (Also, ummmm, I need some new backgrounds, haha.)

 Tomato & mozz 

With the heatwave, cooking has definitely taken a backseat, so I was glad just to eat my lovely ripe tomato with some olive oil, some mozzarella, and some basil.  Man did this hit the spot.  Simple is best!

And here is an (almost) all CSA meal; a slice of spinach and feta pie, some carrot and cabbage slaw (made with rice vinegar), and some braised radishes.  I love when my food is colorful.  By the way, you can check out my ongoing CSA Adventures in my Flickr set and if I come up with any astonishing recipes, I will post them here.  One I feel like I should mention is this recipe for kale and chickpea stew; someone pinned it on Pinterest recently and it got a gajillion hits (but no comments!  I like comments *sadface*).  Let me tell you, even kale haters will love kale in this stew.  I've made three different batches already and I could happily eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Give it a shot if you have more kale than you can shake a stick at.

And if you've got any awesome ideas for using up my remaining heads of lettuce....please tell me!  Quickly, before they start multiplying in my fridge....

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Rice Dumpling Time Again!


Yup, it's time for Duan Wu Jie aka Dragon Boat Festival again!  I've written about these zongzi or rice dumplings before in 2011 and again in 2009 (and now that I'm looking back at those posts, man, apparently I take the same shots every year!  And the pictures seem better in the previous posts) so I will keep the words to a minimum! (And yes, that is an entire stockpot full of zongzi. Hey, if you're going to bother, make a lot! They happen to freeze very nicely, and then you can just microwave one when you feel the urge strike.


First ingredient: glutinous rice! Glutinous is such a weird sounding word isn't it? Anyway, this is sticky rice, and you have to buy this kind if you're going to make these dumplings, otherwise they will fall apart all over the place. For the savory ones, the rice is marinated in soy sauce diluted with water.


And second ingredient: pork! You have to get pork with some fat to it (but not too much fat). You could use belly but make sure there is actual meat and not just fat, which is what I keep seeing in the supermarkets. Check your local Asian grocery! This is cut into chunks and marinated in rice wine, soy, and five spice.


Filling the bamboo leaf cone. A layer of rice goes in the bottom, pork in the center, and top it all off with more rice. The rice to pork ratio is up to you; in our family, we never seem to make equal amounts of filling so the first few we make are super full of pork, and by the time we get to the last of the rice, we're rationing those precious, precious bits of pork (and let me tell you, an all-rice dumpling is no fun). I think we did pretty okay this year, though.

Red bean

And bonus shot of me in the middle of making a sweet rice dumpling. The filling here is chunky red bean paste, which you can conveniently buy prepared in a can. The rice, of course, is not marinated in soy sauce. But the filling technique is the same. And of course if you're making both you should figure out some way to distinguish between the two types, lest you spend the next few months playing rice dumpling roulette.


After all that wrapping comes a few hours of boiling. By the way, did I mention this is a good test of patience? It's worth it, I promise. Here is one of mine, almost ready to eat (and the reappearance of my fishy plate! It is sort of apt, if you know the legend behind these zongzi.)


And finally! Mmmm, porky deliciousness. (Sorry--I haven't had a sweet one yet, so no shot of those. Maybe after I stumble home from karaoke tonight.  Then again....maybe not.)

I love keeping these kinds of family food traditions going; it's an important part of our heritage. I mean, sure, I benefit by eating them (and these are so much better than the storebought ones) but there is something personally satisfying about spending a few hours sitting around the old kitchen table with my mom, making something we've made for years and years and years. And it doesn't hurt that mine totally look better than my mom's. ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

ZuZu Ramen

Oysters, Deviled eggs with uni!, shrimp

Hokay! Here we are, Monday again, and this is a relatively timely post (naturally, I have drafts of many more posts that are much less timely waiting for me to finish them), since I was just at Zuzu Ramen on Wednesday. A little background here--I've "met" a bunch of neat people who are just as food-crazy as I am on Flickr, and over time, I've had the pleasure of meeting some of them in person. And last week, a couple of us went over to check out Zuzu Ramen in Park Slope (I have been following the chef's photostream for a while, and had met him at Choice Eats! It was not quite as stalkery as it sounds, heh.) And the man fed us like royalty--we didn't even order!

Disclaimer time! Some of this stuff is off the menu (but might be available as a special.)

Apple, mint and lemongrass infused sake

We started with the tray in the top photo. From left to right: malpeque oysters with tosazu gelee and radishes, dashi marinated deviled egg with uni, and you can just barely see the prosciutto wrapped shrimp on the right. Uni on deviled eggs is pure genius. The photo above is some homemade apple, mint and lemongrass infused sake. It turns out my two dining companions are not big drinkers, so I got to drink more than my fair share, woohoo!

Octopus, grapefruit, radish salad

This was followed by a spicy and refreshing octopus, grapefruit, and radish salad. Sinus clearing! Loved the little bits of grapefruit.

Salmon BLT Bun

And then, this arrived: the salmon BLT (sans the T; apparently the green tomatoes ripened and were no longer suitable for this!) I think C said it best, when she said "I don't want this to end." Yes, those are chicharrones topping the salmon. Yes, it is every bit as delicious as you are imagining right now. (There is a pork belly version on the regular menu. I will definitely have to try this next time.)

Chili-cumin Glazed Ribs

A close second in deliciousness were these (on the menu!) chili-cumin glazed ribs. Dude, check out the ENORMOUS RIB I picked up. Falling off the bone tender. Mmm. I was pretty ready to wave the white flag of defeat at this point, but then Scratchy came out to ask if we wanted some ramen. How could we say no? (Although I did ask for a small portion.)

Green Curry Ramen

Here's my green curry ramen, with the most meltingly soft charshu ever. And who doesn't love a soft-cooked egg?

Hot & Sour Ramen

C's hot and sour ramen (also a small portion).

Beef Curry Ramen

And P's regular sized slow-braised beef curry. I only had a sip of the broth, but it was yummy, and it turns out the beef is tongue. Will definitely have to try this one next time, too. And after that, we really did have to throw in the towel. I don't know about the other two, but I definitely waddled to the subway. (And because we really are food-nuts, we talked about a future outing to eat our way around Flushing. Wheee!) Can't wait to go back to Zuzu! So hey, if you find yourself over in those parts and in need of a dining companion....give me a shout!

 ZuZu Ramen
173 4th Ave. (nearest train stop is the R at Union St.)
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Cash only

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ginger-Shallot Fried Rice

Ginger-shallot fried rice

Well, I feel mildly silly about putting up a recipe for fried rice since it's really the kind of dish where you use what you've got! It's the perfect vehicle for rejuvenating leftovers, but it's also great for those days when you are out of everything but the staples, and feeling too lazy to go out and restock (I mean, not that that's ever happened to me, no sirree.) But Py asked for a guide specifically for ginger fried rice, and so I deliver (and anyway, it makes me happy someone is benefitting from this blog besides me!) So. Onwards!


Okay, so this is a fried rice dish that I actually make when I'm feeling a little bit under the weather, because although my usual fried rice recipe contains a bit of ginger, this one contains a LOT of ginger. There is some hoo-hah about ginger being good for you because it expels excess wind or something, but I don't generally believe in that kind of stuff, and so can't remember the exact details. (And what is excess wind, anyway? When you're feeling gassy?) Just make this because it's delicious! You can vary the ratio depending on your tolerance (or love, in my case) for spicy ginger, but I generally go with roughly one portion rice to 1/2 portion finely chopped ginger, and 1/2 portion finely chopped shallots. If I'm really feeling gingery, I'll use equal amounts. For one person, you'll also need an egg, and this time, for color, I added some chopped asparagus to replace the green onion I would normally use. If you are feeling extra decadent, you can also use some finely chopped bacon or even better, waxed meat.

So, the technique: First step, heat oil in a large pan (if you are using bacon, put that in first, and let the fat render out. You may not need oil, depending on how fatty the bacon is). Second step, add your finely chopped ginger and shallots, and stir, stir, stir! Fry until everything smells awesomely fragrant. Third step, add your asparagus (or other vegetable, if you'd like), and stir-fry until the veggies are just tender. Push everything to the side, pour in your egg, and scramble until almost set. Dump in your rice (which is hopefully cooked and leftover! Freshly cooked rice is too soft.); this is a good time to add a bit of salt and a drizzle of sesame oil. Toss everything (this is why you need the large pan) until it's all combined and the rice is heated through; I like to let the rice sit on the hot pan for an extra minute or two to develop a little bit of a crust. Serve! Enjoy the intense gingeryness!

I will also just note that this recipe cooks very quickly, so you should have all of your ingredients prepared and ready before you start. I mean, honestly--it took me less time to cook this than it took to type this whole damned thing out.

Space Panda!

It's been a nice weekend! I went to see Prometheus with a friend. Can I just point out how crazy it is to go see a movie in NYC? We (or I should say, she) showed up an hour early to get in line. A whole hour! Why they can't just sell reserved seats is beyond me. Anyway, the movie was pretty good (not as good as Alien or Aliens) and Michael Fassbender was terrific. Afterwards, we wandered around for a while, trying to find a bar to watch the Germany vs. Portugal game in--Germany won, yay! And then we went to Lincoln Center for their art fair, for a bit, and found this awesome Space Panda that she kindly bought me for my birthday. I love it. It's a panda in a helmet! Awesome. We chatted with the artist, John Ha for a bit, and I hope I have talked him into making some art with horses in it.

Dusk sky

Okay well, I've got to go keep an eye on this experimental almond bread I've got in the oven, so I guess I will stop babbling now and leave you with this shot of Lincoln Center at dusk. (Hey, 3 posts so far for June, not too bad, huh?)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Cool Stuff: The Office Edition


Okay. I know, I complain a lot about working in Jersey City. It's just that, I hate taking the PATH! I really resent the fact that I have to take the subway AND the PATH. Plus, there's that whole being taxed in two states thing. And the lack of good or even edible food by my office. But, sometimes we get to see some neat stuff; for example, I've been watching the progress on the new World Trade Center.

And back in April, we got to watch the retired space shuttle Enterprise fly-by, piggybacked on a jet.

 It actually flew over our building twice, so you also get a shot of it flying away.

Tall ship

And a few weeks later, we were treated to a parade of ships coming in for Fleet Week. Like this tallship...

blue angels

And then the Blue Angels flew by (and that's a Navy ship below).


Check out the crazy trails of smoke they left behind!

Enterprise shuttle, floating home

And most recently, we got to see the Enterprise again, this time at a significantly slower pace as it was transported by barge to its final resting place at the Intrepid Museum. It looks a lot smaller to me on the barge than it did on the back of a jet!

So, I guess I can't say we never see anything cool from JC. But I'm still sticking to my guns about the lack of good food near my office! Happy Friday, and I hope you all have fabulous weekends.