Tag Archives: Garlic

How we danced

I’m writing this all down before I forget.

I didn’t take many photos this past weekend. Or, none that were food related, anyway. Or of myself or my friends who were in town for that matter. For the most part, I was too busy simply enjoying the rightinfrontofme.

Instead took photos like this one:

Spotted on a quiet street in Brooklyn, which lead to a debate of who actually wrote it. (I’ll spare you the suspense: it was Alexander Hamilton.)

And this:

Look closely and you can see Jane’s Carousel in the distance. It’s a venue so secure in its own permanence that it has a plinth announcing “Since 2011″—I laughed when I first saw it, but on second thought, I like the brashness of it, the implied staying power. Something from another time, made modern by the architecture.

Naturally, the kids waiting in line don’t think about these things. They’re just happy for the chance to ride one of the hand carved horses. Or, if they’re really lucky, to get a chance to share one of the chariots with a friend. I thought about doing just that.

Then, surrounded by the children and their parents, I got bashful.

I’d like to say that’s unlike me, although that might be a stretch. It’s of no consequence. I knew that had I asked, my friend Ben would have done so—after all, in the first weeks of our friendship we had tangoed across the floors of the Tate Modern. It was closing time soon, so the docent let us be. I’d like to think that he also felt the Rothko room needed a little less red and a little more life in it.

At the present moment, there were places to go and sites undiscovered as of yet.

Including Cindy Sherman (the exhibit and the artist. Or, at least some of us thought).

And, then it was time for us to say goodbye. That’s the thing about having dear friends or family in different cities, you’re often saying goodbye or attempting to share experiences from afar.

It’s easy, if you have someone to show you the way.

In this case, while we can’t share meals, we can share recipes. This, then, is a variation on Ben’s Thai Green Curry.

brookyln bridge

Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Eggplant

1 bunch cilantro
2 limes, zested and juice
1 small knob fresh Galangal (appox. 1 TBS), peeled
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2-3 sprigs scallions—the white part should be roughly chopped and the green parts should be chiffonaded and set aside
5 garlic cloves, peeled roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
5-6 bird’s dried eye chilies
2 TBS peanut oil
12 ounces coconut milk
6 ounces water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 eggplant, roughly diced
fish sauce (approx 2 tsps)
soy sauce

garnish: scallions

Using a food processor, combine the cilantro, Galangal, garlic, dried bird’s eye chilies, onions, white portion of the scallions, and lemongrass stalks and pulse until the mixture becomes a thick paste. Add water if you are having difficulty getting into combine.

Heat a heavy bottomed pot over a high flame. Add in the peanut oil and allow to heat, approximately 1 minute. Add in the cilantro paste and heat approximately 5-10 minutes, until the paste become aromatic. Reduce the heat to medium low, and add in the coconut milk and water. Stir and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add in the chicken and stir. Cover the pot with a lid and allow to simmer 10 minutes. Add in the eggplant, mix together and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until the eggplant has become soft.

Season to taste using fish sauce (approx. 2 tsps, depending on how salty you like your curry) and soy sauce. Garnish with the green part of the scallions and serve with white rice.

Serves 4 as a main dish

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Making Concessions. And soup.

This is my one concession to Thanksgiving.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited about the food as everyone else—in fact, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner just might be one of my favorite meals of the year. And, I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that I’d be happy to make whole meals for the rest of the week out of stuffing.

But, the thing is….

Well….

How to say this?

Ok, out with it then.

My family’s Thanksgiving meal is traditionally in a restaurant. Or, at least it has been for the past several years.

There are lots of reasons for this, but mainly, it’s simply that it works for us. We’re all coming from different places and have different dietary restrictions. And, this way we can all sit and relax. Which is really, I think, the point of the holiday.

The problem, of course, is that I really don’t have a stable of recipes. I do, however, have an address book filled with suggestions for Prix Fixe dinners.

And, that said, my immediate family typically does have a smaller version of the meal at some point over the weekend—after all there’s something to be said about having the left overs for days on end. So, in some ways, I get the best of both worlds. And, I’m not constrained by the traditions when I cook.

With that in mind, and following the longest introduction ever, I present you the pumpkin soup that I’ve been eating as of late. This version isn’t for you purists—frankly, I’m a little bored with the classic combinations and find things like pumpkin and maple syrup or brown sugar or apples or you name it a little too sweet for a soup. This one’s got kick. Lots of onions, lots of chili. I’m enjoying it so much, I’m planning the left overs already.

Until the next time, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

1 2-pound sugar pumpkin
3 TBS olive oil, divided
6-8 cups vegetable stock (recipe follows)
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
2 tsps ancho chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape the center, setting the seeds aside. Brush the pumpkin with 1 TBS oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp paprika and salt. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour until the pumpkin is soft and can easily be scraped from the skin.

Once the pumpkin seeds are dry, sprinkle 1 TBS of oil on them and season with salt. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, until they are golden brown.

While the pumpkin is roasting, make the vegetable stock (recipe follows).

When the pumpkin is roasted, allow it to cool and scoop out the roasted flesh. Set it aside.

In a large dutch oven, heat 1 TBS of olive oil. Saute the onion, garlic and shallot for approximately 10 minutes on a low heat, until they start to brown. Add the pumpkin, ancho chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and a dash of salt. Cover with the vegetable broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste, adding salt if necessary.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. If the soup is too thick, add more water.

Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Serves 6 as an appetizer

Vegetable Stock
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 ribs celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
salt
8 cups cold water
1 TBS lemon juice

In a large stock pot, saute the vegetables, onion, and garlic for approximately 5 minutes on a low heat until everything starts to brown. Add in the red pepper flakes and saute for another minute. Then, add in the water, peppercorns, bay leaf and add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for an hour. Strain out the vegetables, add in the lemon juice and season with salt.

Set aside.

Makes 8 cups

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Filed under Meatless, Soup, Uncategorized, Vegetables

The Last of the Season

I’ve mentioned before how I was slow to like tomatoes, and that afterwards became ravenous for them. I still am.

This means that from May through September, I want to eat them at every meal. It also means that, come mid September, I get a little ridiculous.

Instead of buying a reasonable amount of tomatoes—say, two or three at a time—I buy them by the pound, momentarily forgetting that I live by myself, and tend to eat out several nights a week.

Wherein the problem resides.

I have pounds and pounds of tomatoes, and only one of me, and while I frequently have friends over for dinner, as it turns out, many of them do not think a plate of tomatoes constitutes a dinner.

Tomato soup seems the perfect solution—its easy to prepare, and best of all, it freezes well. Meaning, that I’ll be able to hang onto the last of the season tomatoes a least a little after the season is over.

In this case, roasting the tomatoes and garlic imparts a sweetness and earthiness to the soup. If you’re looking for something slightly richer, add in a cup or so of heavy cream, depending on your tastes. Or, you can dress it up with lots and lots of vegetables for a hearty minestrone. Stay tuned and I’ll be sharing a recipe for just that shortly.

Roasted Tomato Soup

For the Vegetable Stock
1 onion
3 ribs celery
2 carrots
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
approx. 1 tsp salt, with more reserved as needed
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 TBS olive oil
8 cups of water

For the Soup
3-4 pounds tomatoes
1-2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 head garlic

To Make the Vegetable Stock:

On a low flame, heat the olive oil. Saute the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir for a few minutes, until the vegetables have browned slightly. Cover the vegetables with water. Add in the salt, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Allow to simmer for at least a half hour. Once you are ready to use the stock, strain out the vegetables and set it aside.

To Make the Tomato Soup:
While the stock is simmering, cut a clove of garlic about 1/4″ from the top and coat it with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cover with tin foil. Place in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 45 minutes, until the garlic has become soft and has caramelized. Once the garlic has cooled sufficiently, remove the caramelized cloves from the paper. The easiest way to do this is by simply squeezing it into a bowl.

Cut the tomatoes in half and place them in an oven safe dish. Coat them with the remaining olive oil and spices and roast for 45 minutes. You want the sides to be browned, and the tomatoes to have shrunk in side by at least a quarter.

When the tomatoes and garlic are ready, combine them with the vegetable stock, adding more salt and pepper, if necessary. Combine everything using an immersion blender. Simmer for five to ten minutes and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

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On being resourceful

So, about a year ago this happened. If I’m being completely honest, it was hard—harder than I would have liked. Of course, that’s not surprising in retrospect given how tumultuous the years before had been. Such is life.

The weekend after, Ben and Mike, two of my dearest friends, were in town. Men who, as it turns out, have a knack being in exactly the right place when I need them, despite the Continents between us.

When I think back to then, I remember being in all sorts of pain—from the cliche of heartbreak, yes, but mostly from traipsing across the city with what turned out to be a stress fracture in my leg. And there was a lot of traipsing. In fact, I recall attempting to under play the pain I was in, if only because I was having such a wonderful time. If I had been up to skipping, I would have. Instead I limped from the East Village all the way to the High Line, taking everything in, and feeling like a tourist in my own city.

Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to make you see what’s right in front of you.

At some point during the weekend, my friend Jared pointed out that, had the aforementioned heartbreak not happened, I probably wouldn’t have spent nearly as much time with Ben and Mike.

I had to admit he was right.

And, I had to acknowledge that many of the wrong things had been occupying my time. It was the start of a humbling and slow process.

There are multiple ways to look at anything.

2009 could be the year my family waited, or it could be the year my father received a new heart. It’s the same thing. Sort of. Just recentered a bit.

By that same token, I could have focused on what I thought I had lost, and certainly, for a while, I did. It’s natural. But, ultimately, it’s unimportant. Had things not happened the way they did, then so much else wouldn’t have followed, from finally getting to visit Ben and Mike in their adopted home, to a new job, to some of the quiet moments that have sustained me.

What it comes down to is taking a second look at the immediate, and thinking about it in a different way. Making the best of things, if you will.

I hesitated in sharing this recipe, as it seems so obvious, but I think that it’s informed by the same spirit. With some oil and just a bit of seasoning and time, stale bread gets a second life, and in this way, nothing goes to waste.

I do this sort of thing all of the time.

Croutons

2 cups bread, cubed
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
2 TBS olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the diced bread in a large sealable bag, along with the garlic powder, salt and olive oil. Seal and shake well, until the bread is well coated.

Spread out the bread on a cookie tray so that takes up one layer. Cook for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, turning halfway through, until the bread is golden brown.

Makes two cups

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The Most Important Meal of the Week

We New Yorkers take our brunch very seriously. It’s one of the great institutions of the city, I think. To a certain degree, anyway.

The fact is, I’ve known friends to wait upwards of two hours for a meal that usually takes one at most.

I’m no exception.

[Full disclosure: If the company is right and the promise of a good meal is at hand, I’ve been known to wait upwards of two hours on occasion, too.]

Coupled with Shabbat dinner, I can think no better way to begin and end the week. Perhaps without the waiting and the frenzy, but not without the excuse to sit down a long meal that begs to be savored with company.

And, with that in mind, brunch at our house is a leisurely affair. No waiting on lines, or even changing out of pajamas for us.

The coffee—fragranced with a dash of cinnamon—quitely brews while we do our thing. Usually this means a flurry of chopping while the oven preheats and we argue about who gets to take a break and read the paper first.

Eggs are our preferred brunch, prepared in a variety of ways and flavored with whatever happens to be on hand that particular morning. This combination is one my favorites, not least for the method. Once the egg has mostly set, it finishes off in the oven, so there’s no fussing to make sure that it’s done. Which means both of us get to sit and relax while drinking that first cup of Sunday coffee.

Chorizo and Tomato Fritatta

Make this fritatta in an oven-safe pan, ideally a cast iron skillet, that’s well coated in oil so that the eggs come out of the pan easily.

1 tomato, diced with seeds removed
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 whole eggs
2 egg whites
2 TBS half and half
8 oz precooked chorizo, cut into 1/2″ pieces
4 oz manchego, grated
2 TBS olive oil, plus more as needed to coat the pan
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 F

In a bowl, combine eggs, egg whites, half and half and salt and pepper. Whisk and set aside.

In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil until it shimmers slightly. Then, add in the onions, garlic and a dash of salt. Cook under a low heat until slightly carmelized, about 10 minutes.

Add in the chorizo and cook until browned. This should take another 5 minutes.

Once that step is complete, add in the tomatoes, sauteeing for about 2 minutes.

Stir all ingredients together and season with salt and pepper. If the pan looks dry, carefully add in more olive oil to coat it evenly.

Adjust the flame to a medium heat and add in the egg mixture. Using a heat proof spatula, move the egg away from the pan as it starts to set, allowing the wet egg mixture to take it’s place.

Put your skillet into the preheated oven and bake until the eggs have almost completely set, approximately 5-10 minutes, depending on the heat of your oven.

When the frittata looks almost completely cooked, sprinkle the top with grated manchego and return to the oven. Heat for another 5 minutes, until the eggs have completely set and the manchego has melted and started to brown.

Serve immediately.

Serves 2

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Guaca wakka wakka

The truth is, it’s not even July and it already feels too hot and sticky to even think about turning on an oven.

Needless to say, we here at the Refrigerate After Opening kitchen have not been doing much cooking.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that we still have to eat.





These days meals are lazy affairs, composed of what’s easily on hand—vegetables for us (and, more truthfully, lots and lots of chips), finished off with a cooling dip. Mostly guacamole, due largely to my sheer aversion to all things mayonnaise and sour cream based.



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Guacamole is one of those dips that has endless variations, so think of the recipe below as a blank canvas. A very green blank canvas.

I tend to keep mine simple, allowing the acid of the lemon juice to do most of the work, its bright kick making the other flavors shine, although fresh herbs would be a nice addition and a little sriracha or Tabasco would give it some heat. Just keep playing with the flavors and you’ll come up with your signature version.

It may even tide you over until you’re willing to turn your oven back on.

Guacamole

2 ripe avocados, diced
1 1/2 shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large or 4 small tomatoes, with seeds removed and diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine avocados, shallots, garlic and onions, using a potato masher to break down the avocado and combine all of the ingredients well.

Add in lemon juice until you reach your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

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Just So

I went nearly fifteen years without eating red meat.

Around the time that I was twelve, I stopped liking the taste of it and then, next thing I knew, years had passed, and I still didn’t miss it, so it hardly seemed worth trying again.

Except.

Except that the smell of seared steaks always seemed so inviting. So, it was really only a matter of time before I tried it again.

And, so, when the man I was seeing offered to cook me steak, it seemed as good a time as any. We had New York strip steaks, cooked simply, deeply seared and almost bloody inside, paired with a lightly dressed salad. It was revelation, and I couldn’t help but wonder, aloud, several times, why I had ever given it up in the first place.

Now I’m trying to restrain myself from making up for lost time and eating all of the steak I didn’t for years in one fell swoop. It’s easier said than done when I have someone around to cook it so well for me.

This, then, is his recipe.

Seared Steaks

This is more of a method than a recipe, since your measurements will vary depending on size of your steaks. Likewise, cooking times will vary based on your desired temperature.

2 New York Strip Steaks
Garlic, crushed
Olive Oil
Worcester Sauce
Salt
Pepper

Salt and Pepper each side of your steaks and place them in a small container. Add in olive oil, Worcester sauce and garlic and allow your steaks to marinate, at least one hour. You can put them in the refrigerator if you’d like, just be sure to warm your steaks up to room temperature before cooking them.

When you’re ready to cook, heat a cast iron skillet until very hot. If you can’t hold your hand 6 inches above the skillet because the air is too hot, your skillet is ready.

Place the steaks in the skillet and allow them to cook. Do not move the steaks until you are ready to flip them over so that a seared crust has time to form. I typically cook my steaks about 3-4 minutes on a side, so that the inside is still rare.

Once you’ve reached your desired temperature, take the steaks out of the pan and allow them to rest at least 10 minutes prior to serving so that the juices can redistribute into the meat.

Serves 2

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