Archive for the ‘fruit’ Category

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Reason #3419. (FRUIT CRUMBLE)

August 18, 2013

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I don’t even peel the fruit, I don’t add more than a tablespoon of sugar to it. A squeeze of lemon and a badass crisp topping (as healthy or as buttery sweet as you want it to be) and not only do you have an impressive seasonal dessert but you have a crazy quick (outstanding) breakfast when you drop a scoop of crumble into a bowl of yogurt. Sweet summertime!

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What’s delicious. (FROM COSTA RICA)

March 21, 2013

CR_farmermarket

In a country where you can buy the above items (pictured: lemongrass, kale/lettuces, avocado, papaya, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, strawberries, freshly baked bread, oranges, honey, carrots, zucchini, mangos, beets and caimito (or star apples) on a sunny morning at the organic farmers market, the local cuisine cannot possibly be bad. It was my observation in Costa Rica that the more simply a food was prepared, the more impressive it was.

Items just grilled or lightly dressed with lemon or blended into a smoothie/juice were by far the best things we experienced. The produce is so fresh and beautiful, it needs very little assistance to be outstanding. And eating food that is so so simple and clean really makes for an energetic and healthful travel, despite the few sniffles passed around among the babes.

CR_trucha

Perfect fish plucked from the sea at arms distance was the second best thing around. It was all one needed to eat in addition to that amazing produce. There were places for unique ceviches and fish grilled over hot coals. There were crispy deep-fried seafood platters and even some raw offerings. All outstanding. The local beverage, young coconut water, could be found everywhere. Sold in the shell under the name agua de pipa (or pipa fria if served cold), the big, green coconuts were hacked open, dressed with nothing but a straw and ready to drink on the side of every road, in every market, on the beach, etc. There was even  a tiny ‘easy open’ variety for convenient transporting.

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But what good is a foreign food experience without some splurging? I had never before heard of this cake and have since learned it is a Tico specialty even though it bears another country’s name. The Torta Chilena is a sugar bomb that alternates dulce de leche with a crumbly cake in thin layers of sin. It was so good and terribly decadent. If you see one, run! …about four or five miles per slice eaten.

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Happy Birthday Little G! Pura Vida! xoxo

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Don’t lift a finger. (ROASTED TOMATO RELISH)

January 23, 2013

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Dinner! After a whole day of stuff! Can be a tall order! For this reason I am often trying to create recipes that are quick and healthy and still fun and beautiful to prepare and eat. Like this guy, Roasted Tomato Relish, a dish I kept seeing in my mind and proposing on menus, ladled over baked fish or crostini or pasta what have you, but I had not actually made. I only knew how I wanted it to taste, bold and sweet and savory and tart all at once. I also wanted to use these gorgeous multicolored tomatoes, packing them with as much flavor as possible while they guard their shape and hue.

But let’s not overdo it! This recipe is so easy on purpose, it barely takes any effort at all or maybe it’s so fast that it’s like you don’t even care (but secretly you know that it will turn out awesome). Everything goes on a sheet pan and straight into the oven for 10-15 minutes. The thing is that all of the ingredients let off their juices during the high-heat cooking, co-mingling all by themselves on the tray. You don’t even have to stir. Slide everything into a bowl and done.

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ROASTED TOMATO RELISH

2 pints of cherry tomatoes

12 fresh sage leaves, torn

1/3 cup chopped shallots

2 tablespoons flavorless oil (canola, grapeseed, etc.)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1.5 teaspoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon juice + 3 sliced rounds

2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Place tomatoes on a sheet pan and toss with remaining ingredients. 
  • Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until tomatoes have split and softened.

tomatorel_fish

Good times.

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Paired with this. A taste adventure.

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100% bueno. (SPANISH MEATS + TOMATO BREAD)

December 23, 2012

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I need to share this photo. It is the most exquisite plate of cured meats eaten in one of Barcelona’s cute little xampanyerias. We sampled the house cava, meats and cheeses accompanied by lots of the tomato bread pa amb tomaquet  found all over the place in Catalonia. Cured meats are a big deal in Spain, so we did our best to really treat them like the special deal that they are, eating them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snack. It was the perfect thing to obsess over because eating a plate of charcuterie left some room so that we could stop short at any other good looking tapas we saw along the way to wherever we were going… which was usually to eat tapas.

Starting with the top right you are looking at chorizo, moving clockwise next is lomo, which is made from the loin of the pig and is therefore significantly leaner than the others but no less delicious. Lomo is followed by traditional Iberico (swoon), then salami-like salchichon, and in the center is cecina or ‘dried’ beef which was knockout.

Variations of these meats are available in the States but it’s just not the same. Sure when you are eating something local in a foreign place, it is the atmosphere and the sounds, the smell of the fabric softener, the sky color and all the other details that amplify the experience but I have a theory about a number of delicious European foodstuffs that are also exported to the U.S. and it is simply… they send us the good stuff but not the best. This is why I have my own personal French calvados dealers.

Adéu!

Be real Spanish and serve this bread with your next meat and/or cheese platter.

PA AMB TOMAQUET

1 loaf of your favorite bread

2 cloves garlic

2 ripe tomatoes

your best olive oil

salt

  • Slice the bread lengthwise and toast it lightly (optional). 
  • Slice each clove of garlic in half and rub it on the cut side of the bread. 
  • Slice each tomato through its equator and rub each half all over the bread until it is just skin. 
  • Arrange the bread on a platter and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

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Together forever.

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YOU GOT VERJUICE NOW, MAN. (VERJUS)

April 13, 2012
Used Grapes. Gouache and pencil on paper bag
(This is a reprinted article I wrote a while back (6/16/08) for a site called cookingdistrict.com, formerly gigachef.com. I edited a bit of the blahblah but it’s still good stuff.)
    Verjuice is the slightly sweet, slightly tart juice of unripened wine grapes. It is bottled like vinegar or wine but it is neither fermented nor does it have an alcoholic content. The word verjuice or verjus is derived from the French word pairing ‘vert jus’ translated ‘green juice’ meaning the liquid pressed from unripened wine grapes. It will last for several years unopened, deepening in fruitiness and color while it ages. Once uncorked, it has only a few months to last in the refrigerator since it is an unfermented product and does not have the same stability as a fermented one. Its applications are wide and open to creativity.
    When used to deglaze the pan after roasting or sauteing meat or vegetables, the natural sugars in the young grapes help caramelize the leftover bits beautifully. In salad dressings, verjuice will not compete with wine being served, unlike vinegar or lemon which infamously sour the palate. The touch of acidity brightens soups, sauces and in my recipe-tweaking opinion,  goes swimmingly well with seafood. Dishes that normally call for white wine benefit from verjuice’s fruity, roundness without having to ‘cook out’ any of the alcoholic essence. Seemingly it shines in pared down recipes where the goal is to use just a few ingredients that are unique and/or possess some special quality that takes a simple dish to the next level.
    I like to splash some into the pan when wilting greens or as a part of a marinade. Not only a real winner* for savory courses, it can be used to poach or macerate fresh fruit or make a mean glaze when buddied up with some sugar.
    Verjuice is not a new ingredient. Its appearance in cooking dates back to the 1300’s. Now it is making a comeback for its merits of playing nicely with wine as well as the many above-mentioned uses. Though historically it appears in European and Middle Eastern cooking, an Australian chef, Maggie Beer, is credited with bringing it back to modern kitchens. She bottles and sells verjuice from her country’s Barossa Valley but most wine producing regions have their versions too: California, France, Italy (where it is called agresto), South Africa and locally here in New York on Long Island (Wolffer Estate), my personal favorite. Like everything, verjuice can be purchased online but also look out for it in wine shops and gourmet groceries.
Oh, and sometimes it is used for drinking straight up… or maybe on the rocks.
* I vaguely remember enjoying heavy use of the phrase ‘a real winner’ back in ’08.