Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday morning, Brooklyn style.

Wake up to text messages from brunch partner. "You up yet?" Oy... not quite. A quick shower, then navigating the awful weekend subway system up to Cortelyou. Brunch at the bar at Farm on Adderley: red flannel hash, beet mustard, a fried egg. A bloody mary or two and some strong coffee.

Then a wander through the small farmer's market. Hmm... fish for dinner? The fish seller has a few filets, a bunch of whole fish... a little bit too intimidating for a novice fish-cooker. But ooh, those scallops look great! Five of those, please. And some of those crispy Fuji apples at the Red Jacket stand... and half a dozen eggs at Knoll Crest...

Then the food co-op just down the block. Oh hey, they have pea shoots! I've been meaning to make that recipe from the Ad Hoc At Home cookbook... no chanterelles, of course, but shiitake will do beautifully. A little thyme... some dried navy beans for chicken chili later on this week... time to check out and make my way back home.

Then home, to watch a "16 and Pregnant" marathon on MTV and prepare some food for the week. Pork tenderloin brined and roasted.... white beans soaked and boiled... and then it's time for my treat. A lovely Sunday dinner: mushrooms, pea shoots and thyme and scallops with a sweetly caramelized sear. Wow... Thomas Keller definitely knows what he's talking about! The mushrooms and pea shoots are perfect together, bright and savory at the same time.

It's the end of the weekend; time to stretch out on the couch with the cats and eat blackberries straight out of the carton and get ready for Monday. But, you know... I kind of am ready.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I was planning to cook some pork tenderloin for dinner tonight, with wild rice and asparagus on the side, but the pork was still frozen solid at seven o'clock. (I really need to get the hang of this whole freezing/defrosting thing.) Uh oh! The grocery stores in my neighborhood close long before sunset, and delivery food was really not an option. Porkless and bereft of any other animal flesh of the non-frozen variety, I looked through the cabinets to scramble together a Plan B.

What I came up with: a Barley Melange! Happily for me, it incorporated the last bunch of asparagus in the fridge, the impulse-buy delicata squash on my counter and the last of the cranberry and walnut trail mix in the cabinet. I dressed the salad in a vinaigrette made with olive oil, balsamic and some of the maple syrup I'd brought back from Montreal last month. It was great - the maple and cranberries added sweetness, the pearl barley gave everything a hearty chewiness and the asparagus and walnuts were nice and crunchy.

Two very enthusiastic thumbs up! And now I have leftovers for lunches this week. (I bet this will be even better alongside a couple of slices of that pork tenderloin... whenever it decides to unfreeze itself.)

Impromptu Barley Melange

3 1/2 c. cooked pearl barley
1 delicata squash
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1 T olive oil
1 T maple syrup
2 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Cook the barley according to instructions. Roast the squash at 375 for about 30 minutes. Steam the asparagus briefly, then blanch. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together. Combine everything in a big bowl. Serves four as a main course, probs more like six as a side.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Oh hey! It's spring again!

When I was in college, I knew it was springtime when people started congregating in the main square to play guitar, skateboard, sketch, form impromptu soccer games, blow bubbles and flirt with each other. Now that I'm (allegedly) a grownup, I know it's springtime when I start getting really excited about reading Lucy's Greenmarket Report. Purple asparagus? Pea shoots?! Oh my god. I'm on my way.

This week has been pretty crazy, but I managed to make a couple of yummy veggie dishes. The first one was steamed asparagus with sauteed oyster and hen of the woods mushrooms and ramps, topped with two gorgeous Knoll Crest eggs, over easy. Let me tell you, it was as beautiful as it was delicious; the thick, orange yolk of the eggs oozing out to mix with the rich brown hue of the mushrooms and the bright green asparagus. Unfortunately, I had just gotten home from yoga and I scarfed it all down the moment it hit the plate. No time for photos. Sad face.

But hey, I did take pictures of this!

Hello, gorgeous! I got the idea for this dish - a spring cianfotta - from the Dishing Up Delights blog. My version subtracted the spearmint, subsituted regular garlic for green garlic and added radishes and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. I made a big batch of cianfotta to bring to a GTFU dinner party that night, and it got great reviews!

What's GTFU, you ask? GTFU stands for Get The Fuck Up! And it's the official motto of a group of awesome Brooklyn-ite (and Manhattan-ite) ladies who I met via a Twitter tweet about forming a Weight Watchers gang. We've been going to WW meetings together, sending encouragement via email and tweets and throwing healthy dinner gatherings... and this new health kick will definitely mean good things for this blog, not to mention this blogger. The more veggies I eat, the happier I feel... and the less room there is for nachos.

So au revoir, parsnip soup with tons of butter and heavy cream... and bonjour, farmer's market! Good times!