Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homemade apple sauce!

Ryan and I decided to go apple picking while visiting Western Mass for a wedding. It was a beautiful day, and the apples were calling our name.

We scored a nice variety of red delicious, granny smith, and Macintosh.

Ryan came in handy- with his height and long arms- to get the good ones at the top.

So, the question soon became what to do with our apple bounty? We decided to make some applesauce!

Apples (I think we ended up using a hearty 6 cups or so)
Water (Apple juice or cider- we used cider, it gave the apples all the sweetness they needed!)
brown sugar (if needed)
pinch salt (always)

Wash, core, and cut up the apples. No need to peel if you plan to use a sieve and grinder to mash them up.
Put them in a pot, and cover with water/juice/cider.
Cook the apples down until they get nice and sticky-season to taste.
Pour into a jar, and refrigerate or can properly to keep on the shelf!!

Happy Apple picking & eating!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Purple Kale: A cooking extravaganza!

A few veggie-minded friends & I decided to take a cooking class from the fabulous Ronna Welsh of Purple Kale Kitchenworks- an amazing woman who founded a company that teaches at-home cooks how to improvise and 'play' like the pros. Check out Ronna & her website here at:

We decided to treat ourselves to a private cooking lesson- there were four of us, and so we received tons of personal attention from our chef-teacher. Not to mention the feast we ate!

Ronna came up with a fall produce menu- featuring 3 vegetables: kale, kuri squash, and fennel. Now, I am by no means a fan of fennel OR kale, and so I have to admit that though I went in with an open mind- I had some reservations about whether ANY recipe could make me love these fall/winter foods.

Well, of course, Ronna blew my socks off!! First off, she made me LOVE kale- 2 ways- sauteed and crispy with garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar (the vinegar really balanced off the bitterness of the kale), and also with garlic, lemon, and salt.

Ronna also got me to taste some fennel that I didn't hate, braised in a little white wine and garlic- and also with mustard. Can't go so far as to say I was converted, but came close. There are a few items I am permanently adding to the repertoire- super-slowly carmelized onions, herb and garlic butters, freekeh grains (pronounced 'freak'), and kuri squash, garlic butter, and gruyere on toast. (Can I get a hell yes to this!!) We also learned how to make a fabulous vegetable stock which we then turned into two kinds of soup: kale, freekeh and onion, and onion soup with gruyere and fresh croutons!!

I can't wait to learn more from Ronna- and I highly recommend taking her classes if you live in the NYC area!!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Ode to Squash: The Red-headed Stepchild of the Produce Aisle

Why has that *other* everyday staple of traditional american cultures, the squash, become the unloved stepchild of the produce section? It's brothers- corn and potato- are rocking the world, one recipe at a time- but poor little unloved squash is relegated to the 'gourmet's and snob's only" column? Since when? And why?

Now, I will admit that I myself had never had squash probably until I was an adult- which is a tragedy. It is soooo good, and easy to make- and cheap, to boot. I suspect that the fact that it cannot be eaten raw might work against it, but then again, corn and potatos need to be cooked too, and nobody looks at you like you have three heads when you say they are on the menu for dinner...

I have used yellow squash and zucchini in many recipes now and love them all- and as summer turned to fall, the time for heartier squashes- acorn, butternut, spaghetti, and buttercup- made me want to find new recipes and ways to enjoy this odd-looking, yet delicious fruit.

Spaghetti Squash:

This squash, named for the stringy flesh that comes out after cooking- is slightly sweet. My favorite way to serve it is with red onion, cheese, fresh black pepper and salt. I know a lot of folks who like butter and cinnamon- not my personal taste, but if you are a fan of sweet/savory combos with cinnamon, highly recommended. The most fun way, perhaps, is to top with mozzarella cheese, basil, and tomato sauce- just like real spaghetti!

Butternut or Acorn Squash

I love roasting either of these squashes with a bit of butter and brown sugar in their "bowls"- and then spread this over the finished squash!!


Last but not least, good ol' pumpkin. I have not yet made this at home- but always look for curried pumpkin soup on menus in the fall.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What's fa Supper?

Supper is a classic NYC restaurant in the fall for me- and one of those spots that is just all about memories. Good memories. And good food. We came here with Ryan's mom & aunt, my grandparents, and lots of our friends. We've had date night here- sat outside when it was chilly with our coats on- inside by the kitchen (and then I spilled water ALL over my friend)- in the back, and in the front.

What's so good at Supper? Ryan is a devotee of the priest stranglers- a handmade pasta that is long and skinny, with fresh tomato sauce and soft ricotta on top. I have tried many different dishes- ravioli with pumpkin and sage, and most recently- a grilled vegetable platter that was just soooo amazing. Everything was super fresh. Roasted beets, red peppers, tomato, eggplant and zucchini. I am also a huge fan of the wine selecetion and the bread and canneloni beans that they serve before your meal. The last time I also tried the grilled polenta with sweet gorgonzola cheese, totally awesome.

I've also had some darn good tiramisu here- this place is what memories and good food are made of!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

watermelon, lime and jalapeno salad

Before the summer season completely fades from memory, I wanted to share this recipe. I made it for our labor day party- and though the picture shows pink watermelon, I used a yellow melon instead. Ryan declared the salad to taste like a "lime-lemon ice pop"- and indeed it was extremely refreshing! A great palate cleanser or interesting side for a picnic!

3 tbs. lime juice
2 tbs olive oil
2 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
1 jalalpeno chile, seeded and sliced
sprinkle salt

Whisk together the lime juice and oil, and set aside.
Place watermelon cubes in a dish and pour lime mixture over top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Place 5 jalaoeno rings at the bottom of serving dish. Place watermelon on top, and divide marinade. Garnish with a sprinkle of salt, and a piece of basil.

Friday, October 1, 2010


The newest mexican restaurant in Williamsburg- and wow, the best. Finally, a place with fresh ingredients and non-gentrified flavors. My constant complaint about Mexican food in NYC is that it all tastes anesthetized- no spice, no seasoning- just tons of heavy nacho cheese, stale tortilla, and microwaved beans and chewy bits of rice. At the other end, we have some very upscale mexican joints- but come on, who really wants to pay $30 every time they want a decent enchilada?

Compared to the flavors and freshness of mexican food in California and Texas- it's really just unacceptable.

So, you can imagine my joy at finding a spot committed to creating good, authentic mexican food at a reasonable 'neighborhood' price point.

Ryan has tried the chicken, pork, and steak tacos. He loves the chicken- they spice the chicken itself, and each taco comes in a double shell (According to Anthony Bourdain, the sign of the real deal). The salsas are all amazing- and there is definitely some spicy heat to them all.

Ryan has also tried the chicken enchiladas with red sauce, which he really liked. I've had the vegetarian enchiladas- which impressed me, because they weren't stuffed with cheese- but actual vegetables! Spinach and mushrooms, topped with a tomatillo green sauce, and several different salsas. I found the same was true for a vegetarian quesadilla special- full if veggies, not cheese, and lots of flavor.

I've also tried three soup special- all of which were soooo good! A chilled avocado soup, which was creamy, rich, and full of 'green' flavor, a cauliflower soup that had a slight curry flavor to it- really interesting and unique- and a squash soup that tasted a little like stuffing at thanksgiving- lots of sage, celery, onion, and butter flavor- and all that tastes gooood.

Finally, we tried the flan, which was tasty, too!

This is such a welcome addition to our subway stop, and to the city in general!! Can't wait for my next order....