Archive for August, 2009

Pie in the Park 2009

August 26, 2009

Two years ago, my dear friend Lauren decided to invite all her friends to Prospect Park for “Pie in the Park.” Everyone brought a pie, and despite a little rain, we all had a great time. It was such a success, that Lauren decided to do it again last year and make it a pie baking contest. This year, the Third Annual Pie in the Park was also a fundraiser for Hot Bread Kitchen, and the rain didn’t start until we were already on our way home.

Last year I made a key lime pie, and this year I decided to up the ante and make a tarte au citron that they serve at Bouchon, French Laundry and Per Se. I found the recipe on Epicurious. One of the more intriguing elements is the pine nut crust. In addition to being delicious and unusual, it is easier to make and work with than pastry dough. You press it into the pie plate and bake it while you’re whipping up the sabayon filling. After pouring the custard into the crust, I made a little addition:

Pie 3

Blueberries! I tossed them with some sugar and plopped them on top. After a minute of broiling, we had this rustic beauty.

Pie 2

Though the pie did not win the contest, I was very happy with the result. It was fresh, light and full of summer flavors, with the berries adding sweet and colorful bursts. It was not long before it was all gobbled up.

Pie 1

Fortunately, before it was all gone, the Metromix photographer who came to cover the event got a great picture. You can see the article and slideshow here. It was so much fun; I can’t wait for next year!

Shrimps and Scallops

August 19, 2009

Several weeks ago, I got a craving for a lobster roll. Lobster being a little rich for my bank account, I cooked up a dinner party that would feature rolls stuffed with shrimp and scallop in lieu of lobster. Much credit goes to my friend Celia, who made a kick-ass aioli that we used to dress our fruits de mer.

Seafood Roll (1)

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. shrinp, cleaned and peeled

1 lb. scallops

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

Celia’s aioli

6 rolls (I used Portugese rolls)

chopped parsley for garnish

PREPARATION

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat, add half the garlic, sautée for 30 seconds, then add shrimp and cook until bright pink. Set shrimp aside in a large bowl.

Add remaining oil and garlic to the skillet and sauté the scallops until barely firm. Just a couple minutes, turning once.

I used sea scallops, so I quartered them. Bay scallops would probably be the right size whole. Toss scallops with the shrimp, then mix in the aioli—I didn’t measure, just use your best judgment.

‘BUT HOW DO I MAKE THE AIOLI?’ You must be asking. Celia was kind enough to share her recipe with us…

Let me first say that I have a long-standing aversion to mayonnaise, perhaps related to youthful summers spent in England consuming Marks & Spencer’s pre-fab sandwiches. Their isosceles bread-triangles inevitably emerge from the package soggy with white goop, which completely overwhelms the few wilted cucumbers suspended within. Luckily, this aioli is a completely different beast – fresh, garlicky, delicious.

To get started, pound one or two cloves of garlic together with some salt in a mortar and pestle. Separate two large, extremely fresh organic eggs, and put the yolks into a medium mixing bowl. Add the garlic paste, and give the mixture a quick turn with your whisk.

You will now begin to create your yolk-and-olive-oil emulsion. Slowly add the olive oil to the bowl while whisking continuously. Clearly, it’s best if you have a designated dribbler to assist you. But if you are alone, not to worry: you can alternate a small splash of oil with a burst of whisking energy. The mixture should begin to thicken immediately and lighten in color. Once you know the emulsion is off to a good start, you can let the oil flow more freely. The more oil you add, the thicker the mixture will become. I usually use about a cup, which yields a lovely, golden-yellow wobbly mass, perfect for spreading or dipping.

Finish off your aioli with a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper to taste, and a handful of chopped herbs if you like. Enjoy!

So, there you have it.

I also spread a little aioli on the rolls and put them under the broiler to toast them golden brown before filling with the seafood and topping with a little fresh parsley. As you can see in the photo, I served it with lettuce, avocado and tomato (dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette). A tomato from the salad landed in my roll. A happy accident.

We ate this dinner as a picnic on my roof, watching the subway roll by the Manhattan skyline, but it would be just as good at the beach or in the park. Just don’t forget the rosé!

Ethical Food

August 4, 2009

Since the last post included my farmed salmon rant, I might as well go all the way and share this New York magazine guide to ethical food with you. If you’re in New York City, they have tips for where to find ingredients that don’t harm the earth (too much).

http://nymag.com/restaurants/features/58197/