10 Summer Foodie Moments

1. My birthday: always deep in August, when summer is winding down. This year spent on Fire Island, grilling everything possible, going to the beach every day, and winning the local trivia bar night. Which led to free beer koozies, fire ball shots, and maybe some inappropriate ocean usage. Shh.

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2. My roommate had a thriving roof top garden! We ate so many fresh tomatoes and herbs in everything. Herbs make the world go ’round.

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3. My uncle turned 60 and had a surprise birthday! I was commissioned to make a cake, and you can never go wrong with a smitten kitchen classic. 

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4. Daniel and I spent the Fourth of July with his family in Texas. We went to a real bonafide Texan Rib-B-Q! This Northerner Jewish vegetarian was out of her comfort zone. (But I did consume a “cowboy cauldron” rib and enjoy it thoroughly.) (Also please note Daniel’s impressive plate.) We also went on a road trip for kolaches! Aka Czech/Texan baked donuts, either savory or sweet. (Get a really good version in NY at Brooklyn Kolache Company.)

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IMG_12995. Yesterday I ate a pretty awesome bagel, just because. From Black Seed Bagels, a trendy new Lower East Side place. It was after a pretty terrifying audition for a Chase Bank commercial, which happened accidentally by being scouted at my current employment bakery. Everyone else there was a 6′ sexy European model, so I would say my bagel was justified.

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6. In other cooking news, my CSA made me pretty darn proficient at cooking Swiss Chard. Especially here, as part of a complete breakfast. And also rhubarb! As a crucial part of this stewed honey rhubarb and fresh mint ice cream experience.

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7. My mom and sister came to town! A highlight was our dinner at Fat Radish, followed by amazing strange dessert at Mango Mango Dessert (probably the worst website I’ve come across recently and by that I mean BEST). I love nothing more that sticky sweet fruity ricey desserts in the middle of summer. Mmm.

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8. Many mid-day World Cup watching sessions turned into mid-day snack quests. Enter: the macaroni and cheese pizza. Aka the baked ziti pizza. Aka maccheeziti pizza. Yup, that entire slice happened.

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9. At the beginning of the summer, Daniel’s brother and sister-in-law joined us for a week of eating, climbing, and exploring. One highlight was mac and cheese night–we used our favorite recipe from Homeroom in Oakland as the base, and made it our own with smoked gouda, fontina, cheddar, and parmesan. Love any excuse to make mac.

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10. For recent birthday celebrations, my awesome friends joined me for a park picnic. Daniel, (at my request), popped his layer cake virginity with this beautiful creation. We had to even out the bottom layer, and so it became a cake cookie. I made Ottolenghi’s carrot salad, and my amazing friends made tomato quinoa salad, potato salad, nectarine & mozzarella salad, deviled eggs, sangria, etc. I’m a lucky lady. photo 1photo 1

Here’s to hoping fall is just as delicious! Apple-everything: I’m ready for you.

 

 

BBQ Sweet Potato Nachos + Upscale Bar Food Dinner Party

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Imagine: You invite two friends over for dinner. You may have previously bragged a bit about how much you love cooking and recipe planning etc. You chat about blogs, Bon Appetite, restaurants, food trends. You promise to go all out.

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Flash forward to two weeks later, the morning of said pre-planned dinner. You have some frozen corn in the freezer from last week’s CSA. That’s it. You realize that you have roughly nine hours to create a beautiful and memorable meal. You have a minor freak out.

But then coffee was consumed and magazines and blogs were consulted. And so a theme was deliberated over: Bar food? No, Mediterranean. No, fancy bar food. Bourgeois bar food! The barista thinks its a good idea.

Commence brainstorming: some sort of soup, but on toast? something like dip, but in salad form? how much fried stuff is too much? do we need dessert?

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And so, four grocery stores, one bike ride, 4 bottles of vegetable oil, and many hours later, this is what we came up with.

“Spinach Artichoke Dip” Salad

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not pictured: a very healthy dose of parmesan and feta, and lots of lemony vinaigrette

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” 

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Daniel says, “yeah those tasted great but dang were they ugly. I’m not taking no pictures.” And I said “oh okay YOU=CAULIFLOWER.” And its my blog so here’s his picture.

Sesame-Soy (actual) wings

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“Stuffed jalapeno” individual polenta cakes (leftovers amazing with scrambled eggs!)

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a healthy dose of bacon to please the carnivores

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Homemade Sweet Potato Chip nachos, vegetarian and meaty versions

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With beer and whisky. No need for dessert.

We mostly just followed other recipes, tweaking as we went. But, in honor of the blog name, here’s the recipe for those awesome nachos.

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Vegetarian (or not) BBQ Sweet Potato Nachos

adapted from the Food Network

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices with a mandoline
vegetable oil for frying
¼ c salt
⅛ c ground pepper
⅛ c garlic powder
healthy dash cayenne
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 jalapenos, one diced and two cut into thin rounds
1 T tomato paste
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ lb ground beef, optional
2 cups shredded cheese; we did half smoked gouda and half monterey jack
½ bunch of cilantro, chopped, optional
sour cream to serve, optional

Make sweet potato chips:

First make seasoning mixture by combining salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. (Keep in mind this makes a ton! Keep leftovers for future chip batches.) Break out a large heavy pot (5 quart if you have it), fill it up to roughly ⅓ with vegetable oil (I’d say about 4 inches depth. You’re going to use a lot of oil here), and heat it until it reaches about 360º (use a candy or deep-fry thermometer). Place enough sliced sweet potatoes in to create a fairly dense surface layer and start actively patting them down under the oil with a slotted spatula. The temperature is going to drop pretty quickly, but if it stays above 180º you’ll be fine. Keep stirring and turning and drowning for 5 to 7 minutes, and just when you start seeing the hearts of your sweet potato chips going brown, start removing them and place them on a thick bed of paper towels. Sprinkle your seasoning mixture and coat to taste. As soon as the oil temperature reaches 360º, repeat. Once your crispy batch cools enough, toss them into a bowl, but keep the same paper towels on the plate for reuse with all cooked batches. As you repeat this process, more and more of the seasoning will rest on the paper towels, so keep that in mind as you’ll need to coat each new batch a little less. Also, feel free to eat as many of these chips as necessary to “test” that you’re doing it right, as well as to revel in how amazing it is that you’re making chips all by yourself.

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Make BBQ beans/meat:

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onions are translucent and garlic smells wonderful, about 5-6 minutes. Add diced jalapeno and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the air smells spicy. Add tomato paste, black beans, and s&p. Mix so tomato paste coats everything. Add BBQ sauce and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so, or until mixture thickens and smells amazing. Add extra BBQ sauce if mixture becomes too thick. If you want a non-vegetarian version as well, heat another medium skillet. Add a small splash of oil and add ground beef, stirring frequently, until evenly browned and cooked through. Add half of bean mixture to beef and simmer together for another five minutes or so.

To make nachos:

On a rimmed cookie sheet, or any other large platter, layer sweet potato chips, bean/beef mixture, jalapeno rounds, and cheese. Repeat. Place in a 400 degree oven until cheese gets melty, about 5-7 minutes. Top with chopped cilantro and sour cream and serve while hot!

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Mustardy Potato, Kale, and Green Bean Salad

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I went to a Tori Amos concert. With a group of friends, including 2 straight men. One of whom is my boyfriend, who has already seen Tori four other times. Perhaps surprisingly, I was introduced to Tori in the first place by my high school boyfriend. My dad took me to my first, second, and third concerts (Natalie Merchant, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Sarah MacLachlan). All artists I discovered through his CD collection.

So I guess the men in my life like folksy female singers. Whatever, no shame. They have good taste.

Although straight men were in the minority at this concert. The crowd mostly consisted of fabulous gays, tattooed tough ladies, and the comfily-clad liberal arts school set. (Guess which one I fall into…)

Anyways, Tori, at 50 years old, is an incredible performer. We should all be more like her. Maybe she got that way by eating potato salad. With kale. And green beans!

Yeah, that seems likely.

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Mustardy Potato, Kale, and Green Bean Salad
Adapted from buttercupandbourbon and smittenkitchen

Delicious when served with beet reuben sandwiches for dinner. 

2 cups small red potatoes
1 large handful (about 1.5 cups) of green beans, ends snapped off
1 small bunch kale, torn into bite sized pieces
olive oil
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t smoked paprika
1 T lemon juice
s&p
handful of fresh parsley or dill, chopped

For the dressing, mix together:
1/4 cup of olive oil
Nearly 2 T of whole grain mustard
2 t dijon mustard
2 T white wine vinegar
a lot of fresh ground pepper and some salt

To cook potatoes: Put (rinsed) potatoes in a medium pot and add enough cool water to submerge potatoes. Add sprinkle of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, uncovered, until fork-tender. Drain and set aside. When cool, cut into bite-sized chunks.

To make green beans: In same pot you made potatoes in, bring 2 inches of salted water to a boil. Add green beans, return to a boil, and cook for just 1 minute, until more pliable but still crunchy. Drain immediately and set aside. When cool, cut into 1/2 inch segments.

Heat 1 T olive oil in a large pan. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook over medium-high heat until you can smell the garlic, 1-2 minutes. Add green beans, potatoes, and smoked paprika. Stir constantly until the vegetables are coated in paprika. Cook about 5 minutes, or until potatoes are slightly crispy. Add kale, 1/4 cup water, lemon juice, s&p, and another small drizzle of olive oil. Cook until kale wilts, stirring frequently, making sure all ingredients intermingle.

Pour into a bowl and let cool. Right before serving, mix in dressing. Top with herbs.

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Smoky Beet Reuben Sandwiches

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Things that make me feel badass:

  1. Motorcycling to New Jersey from Brooklyn. (Never mind that it was for a salsa dancing pool party, which is decidedly un-badass but very decidedly fun. Also never mind that I will never be the Super Badass driving the thing, but alas always the eye candy holding on tight. Ah, how hard the life, being eye candy… JOKES.)
  2. FINALLY buying a motorcycle jacket, which is good for all seasons, not made of leather, not a gazillion dollars, and has great padding and is almost sexy (note above comment about eye candy). Plus, persons at said salsa pool party said I looked like I was from the Matrix and/or Battlestar Galactica. I will take that as a compliment.
  3. Making incredibly delicious and fattening and filling vegetarian sandwiches. Just because there isn’t any meat does not mean we are sacrificing flavor or calories here, people.
  4. Having my roommate tell me, after consuming above-mentioned delicious and fattening and filling sandwich, that I should open a sandwich shop because this was sooo gooood. She took a picture of the sandwich and sent it to a boy on Tinder and pretended she made it, so that’s probably a pretty good sign too.
  5. If I had a sandwich store it would definitely be called a SHOPPE, because letsbereal, those are always the best and most legit.

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This is how Daniel would’ve written this blog entry, according to a late-night gchat where I kvetched about not knowing what to say:

Daniel:  Ok: “I MADE SANDWICHES NOM NOM NOM NOM NOMMMMMMM” the end.

Simplicity is key.

He has a point. I know you want to nom nom on a sandwich now.

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Smokey Beet Reubens, or “Ruebeets” if you think you’re cute
Makes 3 sandwiches
adapted, barely, from Food and Wine magazine

2 beets
smoked salt (we used Hickory Smoked Sea Salt from The Spice and Tea Exchange)
ground coriander
1/4 cup mayo
1 T ketchup
2 t fresh lemon juice
s&p
6 slices rye bread
softened butter
sauerkraut
6 slices Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle beets with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and rub in until evenly coated. Wrap individually in foil and cook for about 1 hour, until easily pierced with a fork. Let cool. Peel off beet skin and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Sprinkle slices with smoked  salt and ground coriander.

To make Russian dressing: Mix mayo, ketchup, lemon juice, s&p.

To assemble sandwiches, preheat broiler. Spread butter on all the bread slices and broil for 3ish minutes, or until slightly toasty. Set aside 3 slices toast, and flip over the remaining 3 on broiler pan. Top each slice with a healthy schmear of Russian dressing, a pile of sauerkraut, a layer of smoked-salted-beets, and 2 slices of cheese. Return to broiler for one minute, or until cheese is melted. Top with buttered bread and dig in while still piping hot! Have a pile of napkins nearby.

Sandwiches were delicious with a side of mustardy potato, kale, and green bean salad!

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