Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grilling and Hurricanes

So I figured the best way to herald the arrival of Hurricane Irene would be to grill - a nice leisurely summer activity. That and surfing. So with the rain coming down, I set up my new grill and went to work. The recipe below I've now tried a couple of times and it's pretty darn good:

Grilled vegetable salad
Zucchini sliced thin lengthwise
Red pepper
Onion slices
- Grill the above (on the wonderful stove-top grill that Erin bought) with salt and pepper
- Add cilantro and balsamic vinegar and mix it all up to make a grilled veggie salad of sorts
- Can add feta or goat cheese as you like...

I did go surfing before Irene rolled in fully - it was some of the best surf I've had in New York. Here's a pic from this morning when it's all tossed about at the spot:

Not very good at all now... but you can see that there was some swell - wish I had some pics from before when it was cleaner though there was always so much rain that it was hard to see the waves from a distance. It wasn't Teahupoo where Peter is now (below), but it was still fun...
One thing that prevented me from paddling out when it was really pumping was the creature that bumped me the day before the storm - I was sitting on my board with my feet in front of me (sometimes they're to the side hanging off), and I feel this bump then another jolt that was fairly strong... then my leash is getting pulled and turning me around... all happened rather quickly and I figured at first that it was another surfer tangled for a second since there were quite a few people out, but turned around to find no one close... and came to the alternative hypothesis that a sea creature of some sort had decided to investigate me a little. Not going to jump to conclusions about what kind of sea creature and he/she showed no malice, but I took the next wave in anyway.

It's almost time to bake the Hurricane Bread that I started last night
- 3 cups flour, 1 tsp yeast, salt, thyme
- mix the above, let rise overnight after adding a little less than 2 cups hot water
- toss again with a bit of flour for molding and let rise for 2 more hours
- bake in preheated dutch oven at 450 (with lid on) for 30 mins

One of the funnier things about the news folks on TV during episodes like this is that they basically run out of things to say and always seem to want to make their particular situation seem extreme!!! It must be hard to be on camera with one story like that (that's not really changing - rain and wind is the bottom line) and keep coming up with something new and interesting to say. One guy kept saying how much worse it was just before they got to him like a fisherman about the one who got away... I'm sure it was a bad storm for some folks and tough in many ways and hopefully people recover quickly.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pies and the farm on adderley

This week had some solid dinners - had a wonderful carne asada set of tacos, scallops with a spinach and goat cheese salad but the real winners came towards the end of the week.

Pie - apple version:
I made pie because it had been too long and needed to woo Erin a bit. Apple pie is just wonderful in the summer. This time I tried a different recipe for the topping below. Erin cored and sliced the apples, then we just mixed them with sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest and into the pies with the following on top:
3/4 cup white/brown sugar mix
3/4 cup flour1 stick butter
3/4 cup oats
- blend all of that together to a crumble and in one version, I put it on top of a pie with crust already and another just with the crumble. Both were delicious and enjoyed in good company - a party for some mentors and with friends who visited from Providence, RI.

Pie - pizza version:
Erin pulled off a real surprise on me twice this weekend for my birthday - the first was a pizza party. Noah and Deb came down from Providence, and I thought we were just going out to dinner. On the way, the sky opened up and closed at the same time in a way that only seems to happen in the summer around here... a complete torrent and darkness at the same time. We were weaving our way between overhangs in Spanish Harlem on the way to Patsy's - the original one founded back when Spanish Harlem was Italian Harlem. Their little Leah, 5 months old, was the only one who managed to stay dry and happily slept through the whole thing - resolute about her naps for sure.
So we get to the place dripping wet and I wanted to sit down at one of the small open tables but Erin was acting quite peculiar about waiting for another table - we go around to the bar to wait and low and behold there was Mike, Lan and eventually a whole host of friends. We ended up just hanging out at the bar, having appetizers, thin, burnt crust pizza that was quite impressive in quality and talking for a few hours - it was wonderful and I was completely surprised. The pizza is good: very thin crust, the sauce is understated but good and the toppings were top notch as well - we had sausage, a sun-dried tomato, a garlic and olive, a Margherita and a portabello mushroom.
The Farm on Adderley:
Adderley is a main thoroughfare in Cape Town and to have a farm there is somewhat of an impossibility. “If that ever happens I’ll buy you a farm on Adderley.” This was the place, in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, that Erin and I decided to celebrate my birthday. Quite appropriate considering we had just spend part of the day stand-up paddle-boarding on the Hudson - same type of impossibility in some ways. Erin was a trooper as always - between the camping and the paddle boarding and her general can-do attitude, she never ceases to amaze me. It was pretty fun to be on the Hudson seeing New York from a completely different view - it's not as good as surfing on the ocean, but it was a lot of fun, and also a complete surprise.

Here's the website:'s in a somewhat unlikely location befitting the name. The interior and staff were both laid back and the food was incredible. Not often am I that impressed with food - but they did great things with fresh ingredients and inventive combinations of flavors.

Summer beans with buttermilk dressing - went perfect with the kale but sweet
Kale salad with lemon, parmigiano, radish and olive oil - bitter but with tang from the parmesan
Summer squash and sungold tomato crostini

Steak with okra and collard greens - perfectly cooked, impressed with the lack of stickiness and solid taste of the okra too
Pan roasted fluke with corn, fennel and potato - the whole fennel pieces went really well with the sweet corn and the fluke had a nice crust on it but still juicy inside
French fries with curry mayo - could have eaten a pound of these

Milk chocolate mousse with salted cream - the salted cream was a nice touch
Peach and blueberry cobbler

This week in preview:
- I got a stove-top grill for my birthday from Erin - very excited to be able to grill some veggies inside

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Camp food, frogs and newts

Got out of town this past weekend up to the wilderness known as Willowemoc Wild Forest and had some needed quiet time just the two of us and a million amphibious creatures. It is a bit crazy how you can end up seemingly in the middle of nowhere with no other humans around within only a short 2 hour drive and 3 hour hike from New York City.

Willowemoc houses a large variety of toads and frogs (though there apparently is no scientific distinction amongst the two - only a popular myth) and given the intermittent rain we've had, they were out in droves, or 'knots' as apparently they are called when in company. The forest itself was otherwise fairly quiet with only a small chipmunk and a few other rustling creatures to be found aside from the newts that dotted the rocks almost everywhere you looked after it rained.

I am so proud of my very pregnant wife. She hoofed it along with a full pack for about 7 miles round trip up and down hills and across a couple of brooks. As an aside, I have been told that brook means 'fart' in Tamil. Just trying to raise the bar of this post apparently. Anyway, being a wilderness, there are no actual campsites so we broke a trail into the woods and found a decent little clearing, set up camp and relaxed for the afternoon. Can barely see the little fellow in the pic below!
The meal we had picked up at a little country type store in Liberty, NY on the way up. To be honest, it was the kind of country store that looks like people from New York City set up after falling in love with the countryside - a little bit forced in places and definitely trying to be country in some ways except with big city prices.

Beautiful little campsite surrounded by ferns, lots of leaves on the ground and plenty of downed timber perfect for a fire. Got the fire going, then the thunder began to start up... Erin suggested we hurry. I wanted to wait for the coals to get a little more established... compromised. The lucky thing about the site we chose was that the trees above were so dense that even after the downpour began, not only did the fire keep going (with a little help), but we stayed dry for the first 15-20 minutes of it. We enjoyed a feast of Andouille sausage, corn on the cob and onion flowers all with that wonderful fire-roasted tint with a bit of scotch to top it off. The Andouille, while made in New York, was the real deal in other respects: smoked but sweet and not too spicy. The best part was eating it with lovely pregnant and beautiful Erin while dry next to a fire in the middle of a thunderstorm in the Catskills. It was our son's first camping experience too... not the last.

Here's a pic from the morning after at our site:

This week, I am going to give a west African inspired meal a go: some sort of peanut-sauce based spicy chicken dish with okra and tomatoes - had a lovely meal at a Senegalese place around the corner and going to try and one up them at home!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Enchiladas for dinner

I've had a hankering to make green enchiladas with chicken for a few days, and I'm thinking that will be our dinner tonight. However, often tomatillos are difficult to find at grocery stores around us, so if I can't get them, I'll either use canned green tomatillo sauce (not bad, usally), or switch to more of a cilantro/jalapeno/onion based sauce, and hope that it still tastes okay.

We have beans and rice leftover from our beach trip and Viva Empanada (Katie's choice) yesterday, so that and a nice salad will suffice for the sides.