Friday, June 19, 2009

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Below, this week's Idiot Convention Today Show clip. Bittman shows how to ball out and make 5 meals from 10 ingredients, plus pantry staples. Meredith and David seem really confused by this concept, and our man has to spend about half the segment explaining the basic concept to them, but he pulls out a real win in the end.

What's really worth watching, as usual, is a Times clip from last week about steaming.

Steaming [nytimes video]
5 Meals, 10 Ingredients [Bitten blog]

Saturday, June 13, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed: Spicy Grilled Squid

Remember the Spicy Grilled Shrimp that came out pretty tasty and perfectly cooked but way way WAY too salty? Well, the flavor beneath all the salt was really quite good, and so I decided to try that recipe with some squid that I had in the freezer (like shrimp, squid freezes really well). You just combine lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, cayenne, a mashed clove of garlic and some salt--not too much--and marinate the squid in it. I also added a little bit of pimenton (smoked paprika), which didn't hurt. Grill it up, and you're good to go.

Spicy Grilled Squid
Serve with some lemon wedges. This could really work with any meat or vegetables, but goes especially well with all kinds of seafood. Give it a shot--even cleaned squid is pretty cheap and really quick to cook. Not enough people think to make it at home--I never did before I started the project, and now it's become standard.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Market Haul: Stir-Fried Asparagus, Crisp Cooked Jerusalem Artichokes, Linguine with Clams

Spring is here, bigtime. I was psyched about the first signs of it at the greenmarket, with ramps and green garlic and then the asparagus, such delicious asparagus! But now the strawberries are out and we're really in full swing. This meal, from right before my trip to New Orleans, felt like a climax of the early spring period. Almost everything came from the greenmarket, and it was all delicious.

For the salad, I sauteed a bunch of ramps in olive oil and a tiny bit of butter, starting with the ramps and then adding the greens at the last second. Threw it on top of some lettuce, with olive oil, balsamic vingegar, black pepper, and some parmesan cheese. Keep it simple, you know? You don't need to do a lot when you have really great produce. This was in now way a HTCE recipe, per se, but I think Bittman would approve.

With the asparagus, I made Bittman's Stir-Fried Asparagus. Basically, you cut the asparagus into bite size pieces and just barely cook by steaming it (I did it in the microwave), then add it to a pan with some hot oil, garlic, chiles (I used sriracha), soy sauce, a bit of water, and a bit of sesame oil. I'm sure you could add whatever else you feel like here, and indeed Bittman has a list following the recipe with seven different ideas for stir-frying asparagus, including fermented black beans (yum) and chopped nuts.

Stir-Fried Asparagus

All in all, I wasn't so crazy about this method of cooking asparagus, but I think that may be because I cooked them too much during the steaming process. I will probably try this again to see if that's the case.

Along with that, there was the How to Cook Everything recipe for Crisp-Cooked Sunchokes, which at the market they call Jerusalem Artichokes; Bittman says they're the same thing. They look a little like a spiky potato, and they taste like the lovechild of a potato and an artichoke. For this recipe, you chop them up and cook them in a pan with a little oil, as if they were hash browns. They have a sweet, artichoke-ish flavor, but they behave a lot like potatoes (they're great roasted as well).

Jerusalem Artichokes

I burned them a little, but it only made them taste better. In the last minute, you throw in some chopped shallot, onion, or garlic. I went with shallot, which in retrospect was the right choice.

Have you ever heard of green garlic? It's one of the best parts of early spring. It looks kind of like an overgrown scallion, but it smells and tastes like garlic, with a much lighter, sweeter flavor.

Green Garlic

Basically, you can use loads of it, substitute it for both the onion and the garlic in a recipe, but it never really gets all garlicky and scary like it would if you used too much regular garlic. Great stuff. I used it in the Linguine with Clams recipe, which is easy and pretty impressive, I might add. You just throw some clams, maybe like three pounds or so though you can get away with using less (cockles are fine) into a pot with some hot oil til they start to open up and release their juices. That's basically the whole sauce right there, it's pretty light but very tasty.

Linguine with Clams

And that was our early spring feast. Sure, I'll miss the ramps, but I'll get over it with the help of delicious fresh strawberries. Don't look back, you know?

Lunchtime Shepherd: Midtown Lunch in the Times

OK, OK, I promise a return to regular posting by the end of this week, I swear. But I must digress once more, for this week's dining section features a profile of a personal hero of mine: Zach Brooks, he of Midtown Lunch. This is a site so powerful, so well curated and written, that it has me thinking midtown isn't actually a wasteland at all; I eat really well here now that I know where to look. Since I started working in midtown last year, Brooks has led me to virtually all of my favorite spots: Hing Won, the street meat guys on 53rd and 6th, Margon, the Jamaican Dutchy cart, and the list goes on. On top of that, he settled the confusion over said halal cart (long story), and he also blogs for Serious Eats: New York. Show the man some love by surfing over to The link to the article is below.

Midtown Lunch [website]
A Tour Guide Tames Lunch in Midtown [nytimes]