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Archive for the ‘Quick’ Category

Elote Loco

Corn Cob

August in New York City = so much great stuff at the farmer’s market. I’m particularly excited about corn – bushels and bushels of sweet, snappy, corn!

All you need to make corn delicious is salt, pepper and, if you’re normal and not me, butter, right? Sure. But two summers ago the Red Hook Ball Field vendors opened my eyes/mouth to something even more awesome that permanently changed my puritanical ways.

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Salade Nicoise

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Summer is a tough time for cookery, especially in a hot city of small kitchens. Although there’s great produce to be had, the idea of spending much time in front of the stove is unappealing to say the least.

Which is why summer cooking takes some adjustments: Nothing in the oven unless you’re able to leave the room while it’s in there, nothing that requires constant attention on the stove top, etc. This is why hearty salads – like Salade Nicoise -are such a good summer option.

Salade Nicoise is a classic French composed salad – “composed” is just a fancy work for a salad that has all the ingredients piled on top rather than tossed in – and although it does have cooked ingredients, they can be prepared in under 30 minutes. And it’s a Julia Child favorite, so – in honor of the upcoming movie that I can’t decide whether or not I want to see – here it is:

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Salsa

Technically, this is called pico de gallo. Wikipedia has all sorts of interesting etymological explanations for why it’s called that. But to me, this is fresh tomato salsa. Easy to make with summer ingredients, and delicious as a condiment or as its own salad. The funny thing is, it’s so simple and easy. But it’s rare to see on the table. Maybe salsa is now universally associated with the soupy stuff you find in a jar, and the thing about those jars is that you’re constantly trying to use them up once they’re opened. So no one ever thinks to make it from scratch.

Well, as they say, your first time is always special. My first time, I was spending a depressed summer in Paris and a friend came over and said ‘hey, let’s make fresh tomato salsa!’ It changed my life. My second time came the very next day, when I invited three other friends over and promptly passed it off as my own invention. They were duly impressed, and I’ve never stopped eating it since.

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Homemade Ricotta

making ricotta

This is incredible. It’s quick, it’s easy — it’s magic. It’s homemade ricotta cheese, using just whole milk, lemon juice (or vinegar), and a little salt, as well as a few pieces of equipment. It’s homemade ricotta cheese for less than the price of buying commercial ricotta. It’s homemade ricotta cheese that tastes fresh and pure in a way the stuff from the tub never will.

It’s homemade ricotta cheese! (more…)

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100_1866As I’ve said before, you really don’t need any fancy kitchen equipment to cook 99.5% of the things you’re likely to want to make at home, and I think investing in any big, expensive equipment (Antigriddle, anyone?) when you’re first starting out is a poor decision.

There are, however, a few intermediate toys that are nice to acquire along the way. Ones that aren’t too expensive and will get used often enough to make them worth the storage paper. A food processor is one. A mortar and pestle is another.

And a mandoline is one I highly recommend. It looks like a medieval torture device, but it’s much more affordable and it will make perfect thin slices of zucchini for this “pasta” faster than you can say antigriddle.

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Polenta finalOften, when I’m looking for a quick dinner, I try to make a large serving of something typically considered a side but load it up with veggies and proteins enough to make a proper meal.  Read: I’m often eating rice or pasta at home.  While I love rice and pasta, and try to vary what kinds I’m using and what I’m serving them with, I was looking for something different recently.  Bingo: Recipes for Health in the New York Times recently suggested polenta.

I went to Raffetto’s in Manhattan, an Italian-foods specialty store that thank God is cash-only, since I am perpetually cash-strapped, or I would have serious credit card problems there.  Since quick was what I was after, I purchased a bag of pre-cooked polenta that only needed five minutes on the stovetop to be ready to eat.  I also picked up a can of San Marzano tomatoes and a zucchini at a small market nearby, and I was set to make polenta with zucchini and tomatoes.  This recipe is great because it can be fully made in about 30 minutes, or, if you are particularly pressed for time, many parts can be made ahead of time, and can be mixed and matched. (more…)

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Ah, the underrated beauty of a spring onion.
Dear Ah-Yee*,

One of the first meals I remember you preparing for me and my step-brothers is a tuna fish salad with fresh apple chunks mixed in. I was young and it was different, so I thought it was pretty weird. But like our new family, I started to appreciate the combination more the older I got.

This sandwich is inspired by the juxtaposition of savory and sweet, gamy and mellow, chewy and crisp I remember from our lunch table long ago. As with so many other things in my youth, you were right and I was wrong.

Like my tastes and our family, it’s grown up a bit. The white bread has bloomed into organic whole grain, seed-studded, thick-sliced brown bread. The tuna has evolved into low mercury, gloriously fishy, skinless and boneless sardines. The mayo has stepped aside for a smoother, healthier greek yogurt emulsifier. But the heart of it, the apple, remains constant from my childhood.

Thanks for the inspiration, the meals, and the heart.

Love,
***Alice

*My family’s romanization of “step-mom” in Mandarin.

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