Classic Bruschetta

As those who know me well know well, I rarely cook the same thing twice. I am constantly exploring and experimenting. I credit my parents for allowing me to do my own thing in the kitchen at a very early age. (Somewhere there is a photo of a four-year-old me standing naked on a chair preparing scrambled eggs.)

But this weekend I was reminded that classic dishes became classics for a reason.

After a stroll through Prospect Park (air cast be damned), I swung through the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket where, despite the CSA bounty overflowing my refrigerator, I couldn’t resist picking up Italian eggplant, basil, and Bread Alone‘s insanely delicious whole wheat sourdough. On my stroll home, I devised a plan to toast the bread, slather it in ricotta cheese, and top it with basil, fresh peaches, black pepper, and perhaps a drizzle of honey. While I have no doubt that this dish would be delicious, the thick mold on top of my ricotta forced me to make other plans.

(Fairly) Classic Bruschetta

  • 2 slices whole wheat sourdough or other good quality bread of your choosing
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped and sprinkled with salt
  • 10 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (optional)
  1. Bring half a tablespoon of olive oil up to medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Add the garlic and cook stirring constantly until just tender but not yet browned. Remove garlic to cutting board, lower heat a bit, and add your bread slices.
  2. While your bread toasts, finely chop the cooked garlic and combine with the tomato, basil, and remaining olive oil in a small bowl. Taste and add a little salt, pepper, and/or red wine vinegar as desired. (My tomato was far more sweet than acidic, so the vinegar balanced it nicely.)
  3. Flip your bread and toast the other side while your tomatoes macerate a bit. Assemble and enjoy.

Classic Bruschetta

The simplicity of this classic dish is what makes it so perfect. Tragically, I ate my last tomato when I prepared this on Saturday. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s CSA share brings another batch!

EAT THIS: Late Summer Vegetable Melange

Late Summer Vegetable MelangeSautéed red onions, green beans and corn seasoned with red pepper flakes, hot paprika, black pepper and smoked salt and topped with sliced tomato and a sprinkle of feta cheese can be your dinner in about 20 minutes–leaving plenty of time for the 200 pages you have left to read before tomorrow’s class.

Greek Casserole

Between a broken ankle and the beginning of a new school year, I’m a bit behind on consuming my CSA vegetables. This weekend found me with a cooking date with my dear friend Leila and an abundance of green beans, tomatoes and potatoes. My first thought was some sort of Indian curry. But I seem to be out of rice.

Autumn has arrived in New York City. The sunlight is a distinct shade of gold and the air is crisp. My apartment, which is excessively hot in both summer and winter, has finally dropped below 76 degrees. (I know this because the coconut oil in my pantry has begun to crystallize.) After months of chopped salads and quick cooking on the stovetop, I found myself longing for a hot dish and the heady aroma that accompanies an oven bake.

Thus was born this potato, lamb, green bean, tomato and feta casserole.

Greek-Style Casserole

  • 8 new potatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoons ground cumin or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (plus some cayenne and/or Aleppo pepper if you’ve got it)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced basil
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook approximately five minutes until the skin gives easily under your fingernail. Remove the potatoes and add the green beans. Cook for one to two minutes just until bright green. 
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft. Then add the cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg and hot pepper, stirring constantly to toast the spices without allowing them to burn. Do the same with the minced garlic. Add the ground lamb and cook until the meat is thoroughly browned and any excess water has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and add more cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg or hot pepper as needed. (You want a very flavorful mixture.)
  4. Slice the potatoes into 1/4″ discs and arrange in a single layer at the bottom of a shallow casserole pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the lamb mixture on top of this and then layer the blanched green beans. Add a layer of thickly sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle oregano, basil, salt and pepper over the tomatoes and then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Lay a slice of feta on each tomato and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. 
  5. Bake until the intoxicating aroma rouses you from the couch and the feta is well browned (approximately 30 minutes). 

Greek Casserole

Grilled Edamame

I’m writing from my favorite sushi spot which, as luck would have it, is just a few blocks from my apartment. I worked my CSA shift tonight and, despite having just picked up two bags’ worth of glorious fruits and vegetables, hunger compelled me to stop off for some chirashi. The fish was great, as always, but the steamed edamame that came on my platter seemed like a sad afterthought.

This reminded me that I’d been meaning to post about grilled edamame. When last in Baltimore, I dined at a swanky Japanese restaurant with an exceptional happy hour. Edamame were a mere $1.88, so I figured I’d order some to soak up the mystery punch I was drinking. (When in doubt, order the punch.) The edamame that arrived were a revelation. After some liberal sampling, I hazarded that grilling was the key.

As luck would have it, a few days later, I found myself in a beach house with a grill…

Grilled Edamame

As with so many good recipes, this one starts with a cocktail or two. I leave that part up to you and your bartender of choice. Once everyone is good and liquored up, determine that someone should do something about dinner.

Oh wait, that someone is you.

Fortunately, you threw those t-bones in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and a whole mess of garlic before you left for the beach this morning. But there are skewers to be soaked, vegetables to be cut, and shit, you’re almost out of olive oil. Dispatch one of your housemates to a neighboring rental house to scavenge.

In the meantime, pull the bag of edamame in their shells out of the freezer and toss them with whatever oil you have left, some black pepper, and that strange pre-mixed rib rub that seems to come with every beach house. You could defrost the edamame. You could make your own seasoning mix. But this is vacation cooking.

Fire up the grill, taking care not to do the same to your caftan. Noting the charred remains of asparagus, onions, and peppers that slipped through the cracks during previous evenings’ grilling adventures, retrieve the top portion of the broiler pan from the oven and stick it on the grill. When the grill is good and hot, spread the edamame across your makeshift vegetable basket, shut the lid, and sear away.

Discover that your housemate has returned from his mission with olive oil and a stockpile of wine that the folks in the other house didn’t think they could finish before their checkout tomorrow. Don’t mind if you do.

Open the grill and push your edamame around to get an even distribution of tasty charred bits. Note that the grill has mysteriously turned itself off. After attempting to relight the grill, conclude that you’ve run out of propane. Shut the grill and cross your fingers that the carryover heat will be adequate to finish these babies because, now that you think of it, you’re rather peckish.

Contemplate broiling the steaks in the oven. Discard that idea once it’s determined that another housemate is a couple of cocktails behind and can still drive to the big grocery store to exchange the propane tank. Pour yourself another glass of wine and check on the edamame. Lo and behold they are done. And they are good.

Grilled Edamame

The Summer Crutch (A Cock-Tale)

On Saturday I returned from an end-of-summer mid-Atlantic vacation. I spent the first few days in Baltimore catching up with friends; playing a boozy 18 holes of mini golf; and dining obscenely well on roadside barbecue, high-end sushi, whole lobster, and an excess of bone marrow prepared on the grill.

This was followed by a delightful week in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where I rented a house with a handful of friends. We spent our days sunning, swimming, reading, dozing, and biking. Evenings were reserved for grilling, the occasional amusement park foray, and cocktailing. One of my housemates takes her adult beverages quite seriously and came equipped to prepare about 20 different classic cocktails for which I would have gladly (and, in many cases, already had) forked over $14 a pop. Among my favorites were the Hemingway Daiquiri and the Enzoni.



It was a truly blissful week. Between the sun, the surf, and the endless stream of cocktails, I was almost able to forget about the nagging pain in my right ankle.

A week before leaving town, I had taken a nasty spill. I wish I had a better story. But the reality is that it was early in the morning, I was distracted, and I was wearing platform heels. My full cup of coffee splattered across the pavement just in time for my hair to land in it. When I pulled myself together enough to stand, I had a bloody knee, a rather sore ankle, and a busy day ahead of me. So I hobbled to the subway.


The next week was a blur of rest, ice, compression, elevation, and grant writing. My ankle didn’t look so good but, after a couple of days, an ace bandage and a limping gait got me where I needed to go. I hauled my overstuffed suitcase down to Baltimore on the bus. I played the aforementioned mini golf. I taught a five-year-old with bouncy curls how to cha-cha. I took a few late night bike rides down to the state park. I stumbled through sand. I doggie paddled. I drove a bumper car.

Around the two-week mark, my limp was just about gone and the bruising had migrated to just below my toes. But I still didn’t feel comfortable without a brace. And then there were those strange intermittent stabbing pains I was starting to notice. I told myself that, if it wasn’t better by Labor Day, I would seek medical care.

Yesterday was my first day back in the office. I spent the morning sifting through my email. Around lunchtime I walked up to the urgent care center on 14th Street. I explained that I had fallen and hurt my ankle, was pretty sure it was a sprain, but thought it best to have an x-ray just in case. The attending doctor was nice and seemed willing to humor me. Three x-rays and less than 15 minutes later, she walked back into the exam room and told me that I had, in fact, broken my ankle. It is hard to say who was more surprised.

Before I knew it, she had outfitted me with a neon peach temporary cast, a set of crutches, and instructions to follow up with an orthopedist. Less than an hour after entering the urgent care center, I left. Only this time I couldn’t walk. I gingerly crutched my way to the curb and flagged down a cab to take me back the six blocks I had just walked with almost no difficulty.

ImageBy the time I made it home and up the two flights of stairs last night, I was feeling rather sorry for myself. Clearly I was deserving of a cocktail. But these damn crutches make everything a challenge.

The Summer Crutch

  1. Position yourself in the dead center of your kitchen and prop your crutches carefully against the kitchen counter. (If they fall, it is a royal pain in the ass to retrieve them.)
  2. Take two hops toward the refrigerator and pull an ice cube tray out of the freezer, praying that the one you can reach is not empty.
  3. Hop back to the kitchen counter and fill one of the jelly jars that you compulsively hoard with as much ice as it will hold. Consider refilling the tray and returning it to the freezer before realizing that this is an impossibility.
  4. Pour a generous shot of the Buffalo Trace bourbon left from vacation into the jar. Contemplate your current situation and add a little more.
  5. Hop back to the refrigerator and grab the black cherry juice generously left by your cat sitter.
  6. Hop back to the counter and fill the rest of the jelly jar with the juice. Give it a swirl with your finger and taste.
  7. Attempt to add your homemade grapefruit bitters, but discover that the cap is on far too tight. Add a couple dashes each of the orange and rhubarb bitters or whatever else you can reach without standing on the kitchen stool (also an impossibility though, now that you think of it, it may come in handy when you attempt to shower).
  8. Screw the lid on tight and stuff your cocktail into the pocket of your caftan. (A caftan with pockets has got to be one of the best inventions ever.)
  9. Crutch your way to the couch, gingerly drop down, and retrieve your freshly shaken cocktail.

The Summer Crutch is mean to be slugged directly out of the jar while staring ruefully at your cast. I do not have a photo of this refreshing beverage, as I forgot to put my phone in my other caftan pocket and there was no way I was getting up again until absolutely necessary.