Thursday, July 31, 2008
Years ago I was on vacation in Virgin Gorda, BVI. Weary from a day of diving, I was simply unable to make a decision on a pre-dinner cocktail. A talented bartender – whose name I now wish I could recall – came to the rescue with a wonderful tropical drink filled with fresh fruit juices and just the right touch of Caribbean rum. I’ve been a fan ever since.
2 ounces dark rum
2 ounces orange juice
2 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
Dash of grenadine
Maraschino cherry / slice of citrus fruit for garnish
Combine all the juices and the rum in a shaker with ice. Shake well, and strain into an ice-filled glass. Top with grenadine, and garnish with a maraschino cherry and a slice of citrus fruit.
Makes 1 serving
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Beefsteaks, cherries, plums, Big Boys, heirlooms, Sungolds—there seem to be as many varieties of tomatoes as there are days of summer. A South American native, this fruit—yes, it’s botanically a berry, therefore technically a fruit—was cultivated by the Aztecs as early as 700 A.D. Since then, there’s been endless debate over what exactly constitutes a great tomato (if you've ever tried a grocery store tomato in mid-January, then you certainly know that not all tomatoes are created equal). A tomato should have a hefty feel and pleasant scent, and should readily yield to a sharp blade with little pressure or sawing. Inside, it should glisten and shine, with small seed pockets and a thick gel. Both sweet and acidic, it should burst with flavor and feel silky to the tongue.
And, it should taste like summer.
Years ago (when I actually had a "real" job + didn't work in my pajama's) my office was located on 21st and Broadway, just a few blocks up from the Union Square Greenmarket. My good friend-slash-colleague, Mike, and I would pass through the market several times each week in order to meet with a client down on 11th Street. Food lovers that we both are, it would be impossible for us to resist browsing the farm stands, and we would inevitably arrive back to the office weighed down with bags of ripe berries, Jersey corn, bright green string beans, sweet peaches, or whatever fresh produce caught our attention, inspired an idea for dinner or dessert. One of my favorite memories of summer is of us, on a hot, steamy New York afternoon in mid-August, slowly carrying our haul back uptown, while popping sun-warmed grape tomatoes into our mouths like sweet, delicious candy.
Sometimes even bustling Manhattan can feel like Main Street, USA.
SUMMER BLT (PRINT RECIPE)
Whoever the genius was who first thought of taking two slices of bread, and putting slices of ripe, red tomato, crispy bacon and sweet mayonnaise between them should be given an award; this is the quintessential sandwich of summer.
3 (0r more) strips cooked bacon
1 ripe Beefsteak tomato, sliced
2 slices bread, toasted
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Spread mayonnaise on one side of toast. Top with sliced tomato, bacon, lettuce, salt and pepper. Place second slice on top, cut sandwich in half and serve.
Makes 1 Serving.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
It's Friday evening and instead of fluttering around town like the champagne-sipping social firefly I planned on being this week, I am instead, in the kitchen--looking anything but glamorous with my hair in a librarians bun, and spectacles perched on the tip of my nose--cooking up a storm. But I don't mind, because it's all for a good cause, as tomorrow I have a little ladies cocktail luncheon to attend. A friend of mine is turning thirty-nine for the fiftieth time, and so I am whipping up some quick and easy appetizers to counter the effects of our late afternoon cosmo-fest. I'm making two of my favorite spreads for the occasion--a white bean spread with rosemary and a bit of lemon zest, and a sun dried tomato and goat cheese spread that is so flavorful my mouth is actually watering just from typing the name of it. They are the perfect summer recipes as far as I am concerned, because they use just a handful of inexpensive and easy-to-find ingredients, and require no cooking whatsoever. I'm going to serve them tomorrow with warm pita bread, toasted baguette slices and a vegetable crudite, but I love the bean spread on toast, topped with slices of ripe tomato, or roasted red peppers out of the jar, or even chopped black olives. And the sun dried tomato spread does double duty as a delicious pasta sauce that tastes like summer itself (or, stuff some into an omelet, add a little to your next BLT, use it as a pizza topping if you are grilling pizza outdoors this summer).
These are two healthy and soul-pleasing recipes you will turn to again and again, and want to keep in your refrigerator well after the summer season has passed.
WHITE BEAN SPREAD with Rosemary + Lemon Zest
2 - 15.5 oz cans cannelli beans (drained)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped lemon zest
salt + pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in your food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
SUN DRIED TOMATO + GOAT CHEESE SPREAD
10.5 oz log goat cheese
6.5 oz jar sun dried tomatoes in olive oil
Place the goat cheese and 3/4 of the sun dried tomatoes (drain them first) in the food processor and blend until creamy. If you'd like you can add some fresh rosemary to this recipe.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
I know, I know...I said I was taking a break! I promise that I am, but first the Type A in me has to get this posted so I can relax. Now, off to pour myself a glass of that sangria I promised myself last evening.
Missed Old Fashioned Summer Fun for Kids? Watch it Now!
If you missed me this morning at 7:23 on the Good Morning Connecticut Weekend show (I don't blame you--if I had a choice, I'd be sleeping in at that hour, too), you can watch my segment online at the WTNH website.
PS. A big thank you to all my friends at WTNH for your support this past year! You guys are truly great.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I've been so caught up with work and other nonsense, that I've not slowed down enough lately to fully appreciate my summer. But that's all going to change, starting tomorrow at 7:26 a.m. You see, at 7:23 a.m. tomorrow I have my Old Fashioned Summer Fun TV spot, and approximately three minutes later--at 7:26 a.m--I am going to kick off my shoes, drop the top on my Jeep, pop some Bob Marley into the CD player, and begin to enjoy the remainder of my summer. My good friend, Ronni, is throwing a little outdoor soirée on her patio tomorrow evening, and her timing couldn't be more ideal; it's warm and sultry here in New York, and a ripe, full moon has been lighting up the night sky all week long. For me, a midsummer's night party is just what the doctor ordered, and I welcome a relaxed evening where I can eat, and drink, and socialize with old friends.
As for the remaining 43 days until September, I'm planning on making up for lost time by taking a break from work and life for the next few weeks. I don't have a grand plan, or a detailed agenda, but I do know that before the summer is over I am going to...
Walk on the beach Catch fireflies Spend time on the water Eat a really good hotdog Jump in a lake Go for a hike in the woods Ride my bike on a country road Nap in a hammock Watch the Perseid Meteor shower Sit by a campfire Eat a lobster roll Lay in a tire tube for an afternoon Enjoy a root beer float Play miniature golf Visit the Spiegeltent Drink sangria Write Dig into a clam pizza in New Haven Ride a roller coaster Watch a sunset Dance Check out Eliasson's waterfall under the Brooklyn Bridge Make beer can chicken Swing on a trapeze See Wall-E Laugh more
So, if you don't hear from me for a few weeks, you'll know where I'll be. Enjoy every ephemeral second of your summer. I'll be back soon.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I stopped by the craft store yesterday to pick up some supplies for my TV spot this coming weekend and was shocked and appalled to see Halloween decorations taking up three entire aisles. What is wrong with those suits in Corporate America? Can't they ever let us relax and enjoy one season before they start force feeding us the next?
Now that I got that off my chest, may I make a gentle reminder to all you Summerologists out there that the clock is ticking on our favorite season, so hurry up and visit Crafty Suzanne for lots of summer-inspired ideas before the inevitable Countdown to Christmas! begins.
As you might recall, I spent most of this past Saturday stuffing thousands of empty calories into my poor, defenseless body, the exception being, a plateful of delicious steamers, coated in butter (ok, so maybe it wasn't exactly health food) and garlic. Those twelve little hatched-footed mollusks were the culinary highlight of my day, and quite possibly my summer, thus far. I love clams--linguini with clam sauce, clam pizza, baked clams, clams on the half shell, clams casino, clam chowder, fried clams--if it's got clams in it, on it, or around it, I will eat it until I burst (well, not really; I'm being somewhat dramatic). Last October I posted a recipe for Linguini with Clam Sauce that I adapted from the oh-so-talented Juan, at the Fish Market in San Diego. This year, I've decided upon a recipe for garlic steamed clams that are so chock-full of garlic, I personally guarantee that you will be 100% vampire-proof for at least a week after digging in. Of course, no one will want to make out with you either, but if you ask me, that's a small price to pay to be in bivalve bliss.
GARLIC-STEAMED CLAMS (PRINT RECIPE)
4 dozen hard shelled clams, well scrubbed
3 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
10 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1-cup white wine
1/2-cup parsley, chopped (optional)
Make certain your clams are alive by checking that they are tightly closed. If they are open slightly, tap to see if they react to your touch; if not, discard. Also discard any clams that have cracked shells. When ready to cook, scrub the clams with a stiff brush under cold running water.
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven with a firm fitting lid, heat the olive oil, then add the garlic and sauté for approximately 5 minutes.
Turn up the heat and add the water, the wine and the parsley. Add the clams, close the lid and allow clams to steam for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until the clams open. (Note: During the cooking process – without opening the lid - shake the pot a few times to redistribute the clams)
When done, place the clams and the broth in a large bowl, discarding any clams that did not open. Squirt some lemon over the clams and serve with crusty bread. You can also serve with a side of melted butter for dipping.
Makes 6 appetizer servings, or 2 entrée servings
Saturday, July 12, 2008
This morning at 8:30 a.m. I met my best friend, Cindy, at her store, Marmalade, where we proceeded to pack up our cars with books, candles, diffusers, summer tees, and an assortment of provisions for her booth at the Pleasantville Music Festival (for those who must know every granular detail, those provisions included sunscreen, the cash box, ingredients for sun tea, her quick-witted, bubbly, and generally fun to have around employee, Summer, and various goodies + caffeine-enriched drinks from our local Starbucks.)
Cindy, looking quite movie star-ish
Summer's summery tootsies
The day was a hot and sticky one, so we spent the greater part of it under our tent, consuming the sorts of foods normally fancied by ten year-olds, such as kettle corn, calzones, pizza, ice cream, bubble tea, lemonade, sweet potato fries, as well as a hodgepodge of grown up foods like pulled pork, steamers, and hard lemonades, all of which I am most confident my doctor would frown upon, and that I am, at this very moment, regretting stuffing down my gullet.
Homemade sun tea...yum!!
Jack inexplicably grows a beard at the event
The Festival was a day-long event, so while the kids ran amok across the village green, and on the rides, got their faces painted + fake tattoo's airbrushed on their sweaty bodies, their parents set up blankets and lawn chairs near the stage, then stopped by the beer and wine garden for adult libations + neighborly conversation, dug into some fresh roasted pork, listened to Joan Osborne, Graham Parker. This was Americana at it's best, and I loved watching it, soaking it in, as it is at events like these where you connect with friends and neighbors, feel the pull of community, appreciate the simple things in life. For me--and I never tire of reminding myself, or my readers of this--there are few things better than spending a day just being with people you truly enjoy being with. Today, it was about gossiping with Cindy and Summer under the tent, eating a weeks worth of calories in an afternoon, reconnecting with old friends I've not seen in some time, watching the kids run wild across the bright green summer grass, and loving every small-town second of it.
PLEASANTVILLE SUN TEA (PRINT RECIPE CARD)
Large glass jar with lid
14 tea bags
8 cups cold water
1 lemon, sliced
1-2 cups sugar (to taste)
In a large glass jar, combine the tea bags, water, lemon. Screw on cap, then place the jar in a warm, sunny location for approximately 3 hours. Remove tea bags and fruit and serve sun tea over ice. Serves 6
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Perhaps it's the jaded New Yorker "thing", or maybe I'm just a tough audience, but I tend to be wee bit bored when it comes to humor. Certainly Caddyshack does the trick, as do Seinfeld repeats (of which I never tire). Animal House and Ghostbusters, for sure. Old Woody Allen and Mel Brooks movies, too. But on a day to day basis, I've sadly concluded that very few things in this world get me laughing out loud like a ticklish two-year old on a sugar high. Until that is, I stumbled across the NYC Donut Report!! on the Blogs of Note a few weeks back. Written by international donut reporter, Duane Reade (only in New York kids, only in New York), this zany blog hits all the right notes for me--it's clever, witty, irreverant, slightly edgy, and, as an added bonus, informative, too. I find myself--despite the fact that I rarely eat donuts (until the fall when cider donuts from upstate are available, of course)--eagerly awaiting the latest donut report like a hungry infant awaiting his first morning spoonful of Pablum. It's a daily dose of humor, New York style, and I am totally addicted.
So, in the spirit of donut consumption everywhere, I am posting a recipe I learned waaay back in sixth grade Home Economics class (Do they even teach Home Ec any more? Am I totally dating myself!?) for canned biscuit donuts. Believe it or not, these donuts taste amazingly good, and they're a snap to make as well. I like to think that if international donut reporter, Duane Reade suddenly found him or herself transported Star Trek-style into my kitchen in the leafy suburbs of New York, that these donuts would get a big, enthusiastic thumbs up. And, if not, at least a really bad review that woud make me burst out in a fit of laughter over my morning iced coffee, and keep me coming back for more.
Biscuit Donuts (PRINT RECIPE CARD)
2 cans large buttermilk biscuits
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
Vegetable, canola or peanut oil
Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Remove biscuits from package, separate, and punch a hole in the center of each with your finger and form into a donut shape.
Heat 2 inches oil in a large pot to 350 degrees F. Carefully cook donuts in batches in the hot oil until golden, then flip with tongs to cook the other side. When done, drain donuts on paper towels and sprinkle with cinnamon + sugar mixture. Allow to cool before chowing down.
Monday, July 7, 2008
I'll be signing copies of my book, Summer: A User's Guide at the Pleasantville Music Festival this weekend, in lovely Pleasantville, NY. If you're around for the festivities, stop by the very friendly Marmalade booth to say hello!
Friday, July 4, 2008
The hot dog title stays on U.S terra firma, as Joey Chestnut did it again folks. It was a crazy day on Coney Island, as Chestnut and Kobayashi were tied after both managed to woof down 59 dogs in 10 minutes. The tie resulted in a 5 hotdog eat-off, with Chestnut scarfing down 5 Nathan's franks in the shortest time.
Nice going Joey. Now, go get yourself some healthy veggies.
Nice going Joey. Now, go get yourself some healthy veggies.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
If you've read my book, Summer: A User's Guide, then you know what a huge fan I am of the Nathans 4th of July hot dog eating contest. This annual event is New York at its finest--30,00 fans turn out to cheer on intrepid frank-loving power eaters on the boardwalk of Coney Island; it's competitive, it's outrageous, it's fun, and in true New York spirit, it's just a bit decadent. Last Independence Day, California native Joey "Jaws" Chestnut not only wrested the title away from Japan's Takeru Kobayashi (ending his 6-year reign), but also set a new a world record by woofing down 66 dogs in 12 minutes (I'm sorry--that's gotta hurt).
Tomorrow marks the 93rd year of this world-famous event, and when the clock strikes noon Joey Chestnut will try for the coveted title once again. If you can't get to the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues to participate in the madness, watch it live on ESPN, or visit back here later in the day for the official results.