Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memorial Day

Weekend reading

This has been one of the more hectic weeks in recent memory. After a few blissful days in Montauk, I got back into the city on Monday night, packed up my entire apartment in a single day on Tuesday, then spent about eight hours moving into a new apartment yesterday, followed by a three hour class up at Columbia. I. Am. Exhausted. Did I mention that I started a master's program in English and Comparative Lit at Columbia? So incredibly excited about it, but my summer session class on Fitzgerald and Hemingway is comprised of a semester's worth of work in five short weeks, so the amount of reading I have to do is bordering on insane. Ah well, it'll be well worth it in the end.

Here are a few snapshots from the holiday weekend. Hope everyone's having a great week! xo

Dinner at Ruschmeyer's

The tomato and bread soup at Sole East is the best

Watching The Drums play at Surf Lodge

Suz Monster romping around in the grass

Dinner party menu for the new restaurant at Surf Lodge

Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Entertaining for MyHabit

Now that summer is here, entertaining just got a lot easier and more fun. Veggies are fresh and easy to prepare, seasonal fruits make desserts a snap to whip up, and all it takes is a simple white dress to look put together for your guests. I wrote a post for MyHabit about my top few summer dinner party tips. Click on over to check it out HERE!

Wishing everyone a happy Memorial Day weekend. xo

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Roast Chicken with Ramps, Lemon, and Honey

This spring-infused roast chicken has officially made it into my roast chicken rotation. And that's a big honor. I roast a lot of chickens, many of which I like very much. But few make it into The Rotation. There are just too many methods to try, too little time. So when I'm eager to roast a chicken the same way over and over on a consistent basis, it's got to be really good. And that's exactly what this little bird is.

First, it's washed and wiped down inside and out with paper towels until it's bone dry (that's the trick to perfectly crisp skin). Then it's slathered in a delicious mixture of fresh lemon juice, honey and olive oil, and stuffed with big wedges of lemon. After a stint in the oven, ramp bulbs are tossed into the piping hot pan juices and back in it goes, until your entire apartment smells like the most heavenly mixture of lemons and honey, chicken and ramps. After about 10 minutes or so, the green ramp leaves are mixed into the juices until thoroughly wilted and tender, ready to be devoured along with big bites of juicy chicken with the occasional satisfying snap of salty, savory chicken skin. It's the perfect spring dinner, and I hope you'll give it a go. xo

Roast Chicken with Ramps, Lemon, and Honey
Serves 4
1 4-pound organic chicken 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1 1/2 tablespoons honey 
1 lemon, halved, one half sliced into 4 very thin rounds 
1 bunch fresh ramps
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°.

Whisk 1/2 cup oil, lemon juice, and honey in a small bowl to blend. Using your hands and beginning at the neck end of chicken, lift skin away from breast. Slather lemon mixture under skin and all over the outside of the chicken and rub it in well.

Place 1 lemon half inside the chicken cavity. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper and arrange 4 lemon rounds on top of each chicken. Drizzle chicken with remaining a bit of extra olive oil, about a tablespoon or so.

Place chicken into a 12-inch cast iron skillet and roast, basting frequently with pan juices, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep the ramps: trim the hairy bottoms and remove the outer layer of skin. Separate the leaves from the bulbs, rinse both gently and pat dry. Cut any fat bulbs in half lengthwise. Tear the leaves into large pieces.

Take chicken out of the oven and toss ramp bulbs (not leaves) and garlic into the skillet. Stir to coat them with pan juices. Increase oven temperature to 425° and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165° and skin is deep golden and crispy, about 10 minutes longer.

Spoon pan juices over chicken, and serve, dividing chicken pieces and ramp bulbs and leaves equally.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Market List

Every time I go to the farmers' market these days, it gets better and better. This Saturday, in particular, I hit a special kind of high that can only be attributed to the sudden appearance of strawberries. Yes, my dear readers, summer strawberries are finally here. I wait all year for this moment, and then promptly buy multiple baskets of the tiny, juicy little orbs to bring home with me and eat in every way possible. If you've ever compared a typical super-sized, out-of-season grocery store strawberry to the freshly picked little guys that farmers offer up starting in May, you know that they may as well be different fruits. The ones you can pick up now are warmed by the sun, sweeter, juicier, and taste distinctly like earth somehow. I ate them alone, with some freshly whipped cream, and baked a whole pound of them into a summer strawberry cake this weekend (recipe coming soon). You can't really go wrong here.

Some other things that are especially good at the markets right now (in photographic order): heirloom radishes, spring asparagus, French breakfast radishes, the aforementioned strawberries, and wintered over broccoli rabe (look for bunches sprouting yellow flowers--they're just prettier and the flowers are a delight to eat). xo

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Favorite Thing

I was recently reunited with my super-soft camel Dicker boots by Isabel Marant and I basically haven't taken them off since. I know that they're pretty ubiquitous by now, but that's for very good reason. They're just about the most comfortable shoes on the planet--you can walk miles and miles in them without so much as a twinge of pain. And they've got way more going for them style-wise than the typical boring ballet flat. Perfect shoe pick for summer. You can get a pair here. xo

Monday, May 14, 2012

Asparagus Scrambled Eggs

Following my broccoli rabe obsession, I am now on a crazy asparagus kick. There's this one stand at the Union Square farmers' market on Saturdays that sells the sweetest, plumpest, wild asparagus. The farmer spreads out all his spears on a big wooden table and lets you pick and choose which ones you want in your bundle. Seriously exciting stuff. The past couple of weekends, in my unbridled enthusiasm, I've come home with way too much asaparus for any (sane) person to handle, so I've had to get creative with ways to prepare it all. This is what you'd call a good problem.

On Sunday, I decided to quickly roast a small batch of my skinnier spears and fold it into fluffy scrambled eggs. End result? Best scrambled eggs of my life. This is like the souped up, totally gangster (gangsta?), spring-time version of breakfast eggs. They're awesome. One note: If you're working with wild asparagus, keep in mind that they'll cook faster than regular asparagus, so you'll need a shorter roasting time. The best thing to do is to just keep checking on it after about 7 minutes or so to make sure they've got some good bite left along with those delicious, soft, charred spots that are the whole reason for roasting anything in the first place. xo

Asparagus Scrambled Eggs
Serves 2
3/4 pound asaparagus (wild, if you can find it)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves spring garlic, chopped
4 large organic eggs

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus cut them into 1-inch lengths. Place the asparagus pieces in a medium-sized bowl and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper, until thoroughly coated. Spread the aspargus in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan and roast for about 15 minutes, checking on the spears occasionally after 7 minutes to see if they're done. They should be tender but still crisp.

While the asparagus is roasting, whisk the eggs in a bowl with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, to taste. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When most of the foam has subsided, place the garlic in the pan with the butter. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lower the heat, and add the eggs to the pan. Cook the eggs, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until barely set. Fold in the roasted asparagus and serve hot.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spaghetti with Roasted Broccoli Rabe

I know that the natural inclination with broccoli rabe is to blanche it, then saute it in some olive oil until it's wilted and soft and sweet(er). And there's a good reason that this is the natural inclination. It's absolutely delicious that way. Roasting it, however, may be even better, if only for the crisp/chewy charred spots that dot the otherwise soft leaves, creating some exciting texture. The trick is a super hot oven and a short roasting time. Then, you can toss it with some spaghetti, spring garlic, and oil, and you've got yourself a (healthy!) meal fit for a king. Extra points if you keep the pretty yellow flowers that are sprouting out of spring harvests of broccoli rabe, and use them for garnish at the very end. xo

Spaghetti with Roasted Broccoli Rabe
Serves 4
1 (1-lb) bunch broccoli rabe, hollow stems discarded and leaves and remaining stems cut into 2-inch pieces
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, separated
1 pound spaghetti
1 head wild spring garlic, cloves separated, peeled, and sliced thinly
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes (to taste)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Toss broccoli rabe with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread out the broccoli rabe on a roasting pan in a single layer, spacing out the pieces as much as possible. Roast for until soft and wilty in some places, and golden brown and charred in others, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions in a big pot of boiling, salted water. Drain in a colander and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is pale golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour over pasta and toss to combine. Add your roasted broccoli rabe and mix thoroughly. Garnish with flowers and cheese if desired. Serve hot.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Roasted Spring Veggies

I went a little nuts for spring veggies this weekend. When I hit the Union Square greenmarket on my weekly Saturday trip, it was bursting with beautiful pops of color via ugly little carrots, bright magenta heirloom radishes, verdant green spears of skinny asparagus, and so much more. I skipped around to all my favorite vendors (Lani's Farm being at the top of that list) and bought as much as I could carry home on the 4/5 train. Which turned out to be quite a lot.

When I arrived home, my canvas YSL market bag full to the brim, I unloaded my loot on the kitchen counter and stared at it, wondering what on earth I was going to do with so many vegetables. There's no store on the planet that can inspire as much impulse purchasing for me than a good greenmarket. As usual, I went for the easiest possible solution and decided to simply roast the entire batch. Roasting brings out the delicious sweetness in veggies, and makes them soft and charred and completely delightful to eat. I ate them on their own as soon as I pulled them out of my oven, but you can toss them with pasta, eat them with basmati rice to make a full meal of it, or serve them up on a platter if you're having guests over. xo

Roasted Spring Veggies
Serves 4
1/4 pound small fingerling potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound assorted spring vegetables (i.e. carrots, asparagus, radishes, sugar snap peas), trimmed or peeled if needed, cut into same-size pieces 
1/4 pound small fingerling potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 head young spring garlic, cloves separated and peeled 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450°. Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, combine vegetables, garlic, and oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Add the veggies to your rimmed baking sheet with the potatoes and spread it all out in a single layer. Roast, stirring halfway through, until tender, golden brown, and charred in spots, about 20 minutes.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Favorite Thing

I'm always adopting and discarding various products in my morning routine, but I have a feeling that the little rituals that involve my beloved Rodin products are here for the long haul. In the past month or so, I've started using Rodin Crema, a hand and body cream, every morning after my shower. At $80 a pop, it's a bit too luxurious to use on the entire body (I slather Rodin's body oil all over my arms and legs instead--just a few drops will suffice), but I do rub it into my palms, fingers, and the backs of my hands until they're smooth and silky and smelling like the brand's signature blend of jasmine and neroli. It's probably the most calming moment of my entire morning and one that gets me through the door that much more ready to face the day ahead. Highly recommend. xo

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chicken Adobo

A few months ago, during one of those random weekend nights when you have the luxury of having absolutely nothing pressing to do, the decision was made to venture out to a remote part of Brooklyn to give Filipino food a try for the very first time at Umi Nom. There were lots of pig parts on the menu (i.e. pig's ear tacos), which I devoured enthusiastically, but I think my favorite dish of the night was the pork adobo. I loved the way the sharp acidity of the vinegar cut right through the richness of the pork, making it taste clean and zingy. And the falling apart pieces of meat--made tender by hours of braising--were just the thing for a cold winter evening. As I sat there lapping up the last bits of sauce and sucking the bones dry, I made up my mind to try making the concoction myself as soon as opportunity allowed. And now, months later, here it is, folks. My very own chicken version, courtesy of  April Bloomfield's new cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig.

In this recipe, the chicken thighs are browned and then simmered in rice vinegar and soy sauce, along with what will seem like a ridiculous amount of garlic and ginger (which, incidentally are both very good for you!). Your home will fill up with the warmest, most comforting smells, and as you take your first few bites, you will come to see exactly what I mean when I write about the mouthwatering tangle of flavors in this dish. Also, as with most recipes on this site, it's pretty foolproof to execute. Give it a try and let me know what you think. xo

Chicken Adobo
Serves 6
1/4 cup canola oil
5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken legs and thighs, cut through the bone into 2-inch pieces (you can have your butcher do this)
2 heads garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
1/2 large Spanish onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup thinly sliced skin-on ginger
10 whole black peppercorns
4 fresh or 2 dried bay leaves
1 1/2 cups unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce

Heat oil in a large Dutch-oven over high heat until it begins to smoke. Working in batches, add chicken, skin-side down, to pot and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to plate and repeat process with remaining chicken.

Add garlic, onion, ginger, peppercorns, and bay leaves to Dutch-oven; cook, stirring, until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Return chicken to Dutch-oven along with vinegar and soy sauce. Increase heat and bring liquid to a boil, stirring and scraping brown bits from bottom of the pan.

Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender and easily pulls away from the bone, about 45 minutes. Serve.