New York, Tome 2: The Cooking Chronicles

Since I last wrote there has been another trip into the city to see a close friend and visit another museum, the MoMA. There has also been the arrival of my brother, as well as my brother-in-law’s entire family, making our grand total 13 adults, 3 young children and the newborn baby. Oh, and there’s also been a fire in the oven and a mishap with the fire extinguisher: it wouldn’t be the holidays without some drama. There has been a lot of wine consumed (and spilt) and a lot of meals devoured. I find that I’m most comfortable in the kitchen in times like this (as long as it isn’t on fire), so I’ve been cooking up a storm, earning me the nickname “cookie” from my brother-in-law’s father. Here are a few recipes that make a lot of people happy and are easy to bang out quickly.

Sardine Tapenade

Ingredients

  • 1 3.75 ounce pack of sardines and their oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon capers and their juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 green olives
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Add all the ingredients together in a food processor or a mortar and pestle.
  • Mix until a paste is formed.
  • Serve with crudités or toasted bread smeared with olive oil.

Homemade Caesar Salad With a Kick

For the crutons:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a loaf of stale bread, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • the zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit,
  • Place the bread cubes on a baking tray. Toss them with the remaining ingredients.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cubes are browned and crisp.

For the salad and the dressing:

Ingredients
  • 8 anchovy  fillets, with their oil (or 2 packs of 2 ounces)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 heads romaine lettuce, washed cut and patted dry or spun
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  • In a food processor or a blender add the first 6 ingredients. Mix until smooth.
  • While continuously blending the mixture, slowly stream in the olive oil. The resulting mixture should be thick and smooth.
  • Add in the parmesan cheese and black pepper to taste.
  • Top the romaine with the crutons and the dressing. Garnish with parmesan, cracked black pepper and red chili flakes.

Whole Wheat Pizza

Some people are intimidated by the thought of making pizza dough, but the dough really does most of the work itself. The one exception is the kneading, which is a bit of a bicep workout, but I find it to be very meditative. If you’re not into making dough, it’s pretty easy to pick up pre-made dough at a grocery store such as Trader Joe’s, or from your local pizza shop. If you would like to take a stab at it, here’s the recipe I used. I substituted the all purpose flour for whole wheat flour. A great idea is to add a bit of ground flax seed to the dough for more texture and earthiness. I also always sprinkle corn meal underneath the pizza to keep it from sticking and to add a bit more crunch.

As for toppings, anything goes. The pizzas pictured are pesto with potato, rosemary and carmalized onions and tomato sauce with spinach, mushroom and carmalized onions. Pizzas are a great way to use up leftover sauces, tapenades and veggies. Have fun with it!

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