Monday, August 25, 2008

Eric Ripert's Parmesan Zucchini with Balsamic

Chef Eric Ripert of the very famous and very acclaimed Le Bernardin here in New York City shows you how to roast zucchini in a (very fancy Cuisinart) toaster oven.

I have long been a fan of toaster oven cooking. It is a perfectly efficient way to cook for one or two people in the summer. Last year, I did toaster oven enchiladas and open-faced chard and goat cheese sandwiches. Eric Ripert's tomatoes Provencal are also a fantastic way to enjoy this summer's produce.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Roasted Ratatouille

roasted ratatouille
Summer vegetables abound! Here's a recently-discovered way to combine all of them. Instead of sauteing the veggies in a pot (the traditional way to make ratatouille), I roasted them in the oven while I watched TV and marveled at the comforts of home air conditioning. I have a feeling that grilling the vegetables would be a great way to make this dish even more summery. Ratatouille is great as an accompaniment to chicken or fish, tossed with pasta or rice, or eaten on its own (as I've done in France, straight out of a can) with some bread to soak up the juices.

2 medium Chinese or Japanese eggplants
2-3 medium summer squash
2 bell peppers
1 onion
4 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
15-20 basil leaves, chopped or cut into thin ribbons
big handful of chopped parsley
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the eggplants, squash, peppers, onion, and tomatoes into thick chunks. Toss vegetables with just enough olive oil to coat, and a little bit of salt and pepper (I like to keep the vegetables separate, so that I can cook them on the same baking sheet but remove any that cook more quickly than the others). Spread vegetables out on two large baking sheets, and roast in the oven until tender (about 35-45 minutes). The tomatoes and onions may brown/cook the quickest, so you may want to remove them a little early.

Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and gently break them up using a wooden spoon. Add garlic (I like to let the hot roasted tomatoes cook the garlic just a little bit). Fold in to make a thick sauce. Combine with remaining vegetables, herbs, and additional salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cold Borscht

cold borscht
On your next trip to Coney Island, I suggest you make a quick stop in Brighton Beach, just a 15-20 minute walk (or three short subway stops) away. This neighborhood is the heart of the Russian and Ukrainian community in New York City (it's also known as "Little Odessa"). Beneath the whoosh and rattle of the Q train overhead, sidewalk vendors sell Cyrillic-labeled produce, pickled things, and all kinds of baked goods on Brighton Beach Avenue.

Led by a tip from a friend's barber, I wandered through Little Odessa's main street looking for cold borscht (and warm blintzes and vareniki) on a hot and humid summer day. A couple weeks later, I had all the ingredients to make my own beet soup at home. While my homemade cold borscht was nowhere near as delicious as the cold borscht found upstairs at M&I International, it certainly was refreshing.

a few small beets
1/2 small yellow or white onion
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
a few cups of water or broth
1 small cucumber
a few radishes
1 c yogurt or sour cream
handful of chopped dill
handful of chopped parsley
handful of chopped scallions

Peel and coarsely grate or chop the beets into small, thin strips. Finely chop the onion. Heat the oil in a pot, and cook the beets and onions over medium-low heat for a few minutes. Add water or broth (as much as you want, depending on how chunky you want it to be). Let simmer until beets are soft and cooked through (about an hour).

Meanwhile, seed and slice cucumber into thin matchsticks. Slice radishes into thin matchsticks. After soup mixture has cooled, add cucumber, radishes, yogurt, and herbs. Season to taste with salt.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

CSA in the News... ABC News

Recently, ABC World News did a story about my CSA. Check it out! (There's even a video! Unfortunately I am unable to embed it directly on this page.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Simple Summer Salads

My kitchen has become overrun with fruits and vegetables. There are plums tucked into every corner of the counter top, and I get a full upper body workout every time I try to close the refrigerator. I know, I know, it's a great problem to have. Fortunately, most of these items can be eaten raw and quickly prepared. Below are some salads that give nod to my surplus of summer produce and my shortage of time.
cucumber salad
Cucumber and Radish Salad
sliced cucumber, sliced radishes (rat tail radish pods, in this case... more on them later), minced shallots, dill, parsley.
Dressing: plain yogurt, lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil.

peach and tomato salad
Peach and Tomato Salad
sliced peaches, halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced sweet onion, minced rosemary. (Note: if anyone knows how to properly pit and slice a peach without getting it bruised and beaten up, please let me know.)
Dressing: sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper.

And the pièce de résistance:
zucchini carpaccio
Zucchini Carpaccio
thinly sliced zucchini (I used an adjustable-blade slicer set to 1.3mm), crumbled feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, chopped mint and basil.
Dressing: lemon juice, good olive oil, salt, pepper. Layer zucchini on a plate and drizzle dressing over it. Top with remaining ingredients. (Note: this zucchini carpaccio concept is very popular.)