Monthly Archives: September 2013

This time. Last year.

Some people have spirit animals. I have a spirit city. It’s NYC and I’m missing it hardcore right now. Every year, without fail, I get very contemplative and nostalgic once fall arrives; it stirs something within me. It’s my favorite season by far. I love the crisp air and the way it smells differently. I love falling asleep with the window open and my socks on, and I prefer sweaters, boots and scarves to t-shirts and sandals.

It’s so hard to believe that this time last year I was living in Greenpoint— my little Polish neighborhood, situated in a little nook on the tip top of Brooklyn. I was settling into feeling like a New Yorker. I was interning at Time Out—feeling like a little fish in a big sea, calling restaurants and PR firms galore, gearing up for fall preview, researching beer tastings, cooking classes, festivals and markets, and actually getting to write some. I was afraid of my boss, who was gorgeous but mean and impossible to please. But I can say the woman was fierce. She got shit done.

I had learned how to walk from the West Village to SoHo, to the East Village and to Tribeca. I had a favorite bodega, two favorite neighborhood coffee shops (Grumpy’s and Charlotte Patisserie), favorite walks, and a favorite view (the East River and Manhattan skyline from the pier by Transmitter Park. I worked. I worked on weekends. I learned to carry a lot of heavy things without a hand truck and how to set up a tent by myself. I babysat spoiled upper west (and east) side monster children who behaved so atrociously I thought they only existed as a cliche, in films. I met friends. I made friends. I laughed. I cried. I yelled at cars that almost ran me over (on a regular basis)—”I’m walkin’ here!” I felt empowered. I felt insufficient. I felt inspired. I felt uncomfortable. I felt energized. I felt intimidated. The city knocked me down some days and lifted me up others. It always surprised me.

I don’t miss having to right walk by suffering homeless people on a regular basis, I don’t miss urine in the subways or sharing a teeny tiny bathroom with three other people. I don’t miss waiting for the G train. I don’t miss missing my boyfriend, sleeping alone, and waaaaaaaiting.

But I do miss and miss dearly breakfasts with people I love at Five Leaves, subway music at the Metropolitan/Lorimer stop, strangely and comically running into people I know all. the time. I miss the Blue Stove, the Flea, walking everywhere, the smell of Polish Rye bread baking in the New Warsaw Bakery and wafting out into the night air. I miss that first night where my three roommates and I stayed out all night drinking frozen harrisons and dancing at Enid’s. I miss Commerce Street, brownstone stoops, Cobble Hill, the walk home from the Bedford stop, through McCarren Park, seeing the old man in my neighborhood making pizza all day and then falling asleep on a chair outside late at night, the Union Square Green Market, doughnuts  the size of your head, from Dough, Peter Pan Bakery, walking through Washington Square Park at golden hour, the people, the culture, the food, the transience that can make you feel alone and not alone at the same time. This city will always tug at my heartstrings.

So there you have it. I’m pretty much always missing New York, but especially this fall. So I drink my coffee out of my Brooklyn Flea mug every Saturday or Sunday morning and let myself get nostalgic, and longingly look ahead to my next visit. I look around me and am grateful for the journey I’ve taken so far, the opportunities I’ve been given, the people I’ve met and the memories I have. I’m a lucky, lucky girl.

 

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List Love

  • This late summer trifle looks so incredible, I’m determined to find an occasion to make it, ASAP. I think the fact that it’s late summer and that I’ve never made a trifle before classify as suitable occasions.
  • I’m kind of really in love with this blog and with Rebekka’s paintings.
  • Last week we made Alice Waters’s ratatouille and it was seriously life changing. I can’t stop thinking about it.
  • I have some gorgeous Italian prune plums that are begging to be made into Molly Wizenberg’s plum crumble
  • I’ve been living vicariously through the dreamy recaps of this Kinfolk workshop
  • It’s just about time for pears, and I intend to make this
  • I’m incredibly excited for the brand new series debut of A Chef’s Life, airing on PBS (nationally!) this Thursday evening (check your local listings here). It’s a unique hybrid of cooking-reality show, and each episode explores a particular ingredient and how chef Vivian Howard translates that ingredient on the plate. I’m honored to have been able to assist with some of the show’s website and blog content, and some social media, and through the process, have gotten to meet some incredibly talented people. I’ve known the show’s creator, director, and filmmaker, Cynthia Hill (from Durham) for a few years now and this woman is  talented and driven. She’s always got at least a couple projects in the works, is raising two adorable daughters, and runs Markay Media and The Southern Documentary Fund. Her partner Rex is also quite the talent. He too is a documentary filmmaker and has worked alongside Cynthia on this series. I can’t say enough about the wonderful work they do in the documentary field. And Vivian is the real deal. She’s got a true Mida’s touch, where everything that comes into her hands—be it a humble ingredient or a fancy one—turns to gold. She beholds a raw, unbridled talent for conceiving unique spins on simple southern dishes, and invested interest in exploring her southern roots and upholding those rich culinary traditions. She works with some amazing local farmers and food purveyors and has a mighty, tenacious crew at her and her husband Ben’s restaurant, Chef and the Farmer. It’s well worth driving to Kinston for the mere sake of eating there. If you’re even remotely interested in the south, NC, and/or food, you need to tune in Thursday night and watch this show.

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The next best thing

One of the most thrilling aspects of wedding planning is honeymoon research. I’ve spent countless hours, scouring Airbnb, Tripadvisor, and my new favorite, Fathomaway. I daydream about lounging in a hammock on a pristine beach in Tulum, armed with a good book and a Michelada, eating fish tacos to my heart’s content, or gazing out at the Mediterranean from an infinity pool, on the top of a cliff in Santorini. I can almost feel the coarse back of the elephant I long to ride through the rice paddies of Ubud. Who knows where we will go yet, but we’re sure having  a time just shopping around.

Lately I’ve been enamored with the possibility of Tulum, but for the longest time I was set on Greece and it’s still big on the radar. Naturally, all of these idyllic images of Greece have left me craving Greek food. We found a Middle-Eastern chicken kebab recipe from Once Upon a Chef, which employs a stellar marinade that delivers a cacophony of flavors. I think the Greek Yogurt is what really makes it. The recipe calls for marinating the chicken for eight hours-overnight, but we just marinated it for two hours and it was unbelievably full of flavor. The night we were cooking, I called Jay from the grocery, asking him if he could take the lead on cooking the bulguhur (which neither of us had ever made before). I failed to mention we’d be using it for tabouli and he ended up making the bulghur pilaf recipe on the back of the box. When I got home and saw him toasting the grain in a skillet with butter and onion, and was like, “What are you doooooing?! This is for tabouli!” Luckily, it was a happy accident because I thought it was just divine, especially with some greek salad  and a glass of rosé.

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Chicken, Zucchini and Onion Kebabs with Bulghur Pilaf and Greek Salad

Serves 2 hungry people.

  • Chicken, zucchini and onion kebabs (recipe below)
  • about 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of crumbled feta
  • *olives and pepperoncini peppers optional
  • Greek vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Bulghur Pilaf (recipe below)

Greek Vinaigrette

  • 1 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • about 8 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, split

Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and whisk to combine. While whisking, gradually add the olive oil. Leave the garlic clove in the vinaigrette for about 10-15 minutes, just long enough to infuse the vinaigrette. (Depending on how big your salad is, you may or may not use all of the vinaigrette at once). Toss with the romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, feta (and olives and/or pepperoncini if you like).

Bulghur Pilaf (slightly adapted from the back of the Hodgson Mill box)

  • 1 cup bulghur
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 2 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade, it makes a HUGE difference)!

Melt the butter in a skillet, over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté until the onions have browned. Add the bulgur and toast until golden, for about 5-10 min. Add the chicken stock, cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 min.

Middle Eastern Chicken Kebabs adapted from Once Upon a Chef

Makes 2 servings

  • 1/2 cup plain, Greek yogurt (we used Fage, which is my favorite, in 0% but 2% would work just fine if not better)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp cumin (it calls for 1/4 tsp but we’re not big on cumin, so we scaled way back)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • zest from half a lemon
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  •  1/2 tsp + a heaping 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thighs), trimmed of any extra fat and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 zucchini, cut into wedges
  • 1 yellow or sweet onion, cut into wedges

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, spices, zest, juice, and garlic and whisk until everything is incorporated. Thread the chicken onto metal skewers, alternating with the onion and zucchini. Don’t cram the skewers (about 4 of them will do). Put the kebabs on a baking sheet lined with foil and spoon/brush the marinade over the skewers, thoroughly, so that all of the chunks are covered. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to overnight if desired.

Prepare your grill (we use charcoal). If using gas, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and be sure to grease the grates with vegetable oil. Turn the skewers occasionally, to ensure even cooking. Depending on what kind of grill you have and the heat, this should take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes or so. We like a little char on everything. Transfer the skewers to a platter and serve with Greek Salad and tabouli or bulghur pilaf.

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