Rinse and dry the arugula you picked up in tonight’s CSA share. Toast some walnuts in a cast iron skillet. Thinly slice a radish or two. Shave and then crumble some Ricotta Salata. Whisk up a garlic scape vinaigrette. This is dinner without breaking a sweat, even when it’s 88 degrees and you’re too stubborn to turn on the AC.
I got back late last night from my annual trek down to Baltimore for Beth and Don’s (in)famous Memorial Day BBQ. It was, as always, great fun. And I served up some damn fine brisket, if I do say so myself.
But three days of hauling coolers, rubbing meat, and tending the coals will wear a girl–and her manicure–out.
I helped cook and serve everything from sweetbreads and pork belly to elk and musk ox. (I managed to stagger my grill shifts so as to steer clear of the whole raccoon.) Needless to say, meat is not so appealing to me at the moment. Luckily, a swing through my local sustainable seafood shop and the dregs in my refrigerator combined forces for a quick and lovely pescatarian meal.
Shrimp Tacos with Kale & Avocado Slaw
- 1/2 bunch Lacinato kale, shredded
- 4 scallions, minced
- 1 lime, juiced (plus another for your margarita)
- 1/2 avocado, diced
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1/4 cup salsa
- 3 corn tortillas
- salt and pepper
Toss the kale and scallions with the lime juice and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. After a few minutes, mix in the avocado and 1/2 tablespoon of oil. Stir occasionally so that everything comes together while you continue on with you dinner preparations. Bring a small skillet up to medium-high heat and a cast iron skillet up to medium heat. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and the butter to the small skillet. Toss the shrimp with salt, pepper and sugar in a small bowl. Make a margarita. Add the onion to the small skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until nicely browned. Scoot the onions to the side and add the shrimp. Cook for a couple of minutes, and then flip. Add the salsa and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced. Heat the tortillas in the cast iron skillet, about a minute per side. Assemble your tortillas, topping them with the shrimp, onions and a nice pile of slaw.
Grill a bunch of asparagus, a handful of chives, and the heel of some stale whole wheat sourdough in olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Add salt, pepper, a nice dollop of ricotta, and the juice and zest of half a lemon. This would be great with a glass of Sancerre. It would be even better with a whole bottle. Alas, I paired mine with the budget justification for one of two federal grants due in less than 24 hours
The weather this weekend has been nothing short of glorious. After a long, hard winter, New Yorkers are eager for sundresses and sandals, outdoor drinking, and fresh vegetables. Alas, yesterday’s farmers’ market foray yielded less greenery than I had hoped. I did manage to pick up a couple bunches of small, tender collard greens and a clamshell of spring onion shoots.
The rest of Saturday was spent drinking Bloody Marys, craft beer and some ill-advised whiskey in a series of Brooklyn backyards. We capped the day off with a couple of hours of dancing to 60s soul tunes.
I awoke early this morning with a distinct craving for fried pork dumplings, perhaps with a moo shu chaser. But this didn’t seem like the best way to regain my health after a weekend of possibly excessive imbibing. And so I set about crafting a healthier dish that would take advantage of my farmers’ market bounty and satisfy my salt and spice craving.
Garlic-Ginger Tofu & Collards
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha
- 1 one-inch piece of ginger, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large pinch sugar
- 1 container extra firm tofu, drained and sliced into strips
- 3 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
- 1 bunch collards, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 small handful spring onion shoots or a few scallions, thinly sliced
Combine the first eight ingredients in a shallow bowl. Add the tofu and stir gently to coat. (In a perfect world, you would have done this before you were ravenous so that the tofu had plenty of time to soak up the marinade, but my lunch was still pretty tasty.) Bring the oil up to medium heat in a large skillet. Lay the tofu pieces in, cooking them in two batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan. Let the tofu cook undisturbed until nicely browned, rotate the pieces and continue to cook until they are firm and mostly browned. Lay the tofu pieces on a paper towel to drain and add your collards to the skillet along with the remaining tofu marinade. Cook until the collards are wilted and most of the liquid has boiled off. Stir in the onion shoots or scallions and remove from the heat.
Rice would be the obvious accompaniment, but I went with quinoa cooked with chicken stock and satueed leeks. It was good. The leftovers should make for a bright spot in tomorrow’s workday.
Today is my first day off in almost a month. It’s been so long since I had a day to myself that I’m a bit paralyzed by the possibilities. I am also seemingly incapable of sleeping in despite being physically and mentally exhausted. By 11:00am I had done a sinkful of dishes, dealt with the alarming garbage and compost situation, tried (and failed) not to check my work email, made and consumed a cup of coffee, watched the final episode of House of Cards, spent an hour or so attempting to identify a movie that would hold my attention, given the cat some much-needed affection, and contemplated a shower.
I also found time to make myself a lovely lunch with whatever ingredients I happened to have on hand.
Bacon & Onion Bulgur Salad
- 3 strips good quality bacon, diced
- 1 red onion, sliced thinly
- 1 cup coarse/large bulgur wheat
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper
- splash red wine vinegar (optional)
Render the bacon in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Scoop your homemade bacon bits into a bowl, leaving as much fat as possible in the pan. Add the onion and cook stirring frequently until soft and starting to caramelize. Scoop the onion into your bowl, add the bulgur to the pan and cook stirring constantly for a couple of minutes. The goal here it to toast your grains in all of that delicious bacon fat. Add a cup and a half of water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Switch off the heat and pop a lid on. After 20 minutes, remove the lid, stir and let sit for another 5 minutes or so until the water is absorbed. Stir in the bacon, onions, scallions and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.
If you have somehow managed not to consume all of the delicious pickled watermelon radishes that a friend brought over a couple of weeks ago, they would make a great accompaniment. If not, you might want to add a little splash of red wine vinegar to balance the flavors.
Next up for my day of rest? A shower, a pedicure and a long walk capped off with a fancy dinner at Semilla. Tomorrow it’s back to the grindstone.
When last night’s birthday dinner somehow morphed into dancing until 4:00am but you still have to get up at a reasonable hour and put in a full day of work (yes, on a Sunday), consider bacon, kale sautéed in the bacon grease and slices of ripe avocado sandwiched between toasted sourdough bread slathered in mayonnaise and harissa
Toss lacinato kale with pear, clothbound cheddar, scallion, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and dinner’s ready in less time than it takes to decide what to order–leaving you with the whole evening to contemplate the pain of this week over unremarkable whiskey and a movie you’re barely watching.
When today promises to be even longer than yesterday and you’re not sure when your next meal will be, start with toasted whole wheat sourdough slathered in ricotta and topped with sliced plums, honey, fresh thyme and black pepper. This pairs nicely with a latte and some last-minute packing for a much-needed weekend getaway.
For a simple supper at the end of a superb summer Sunday, macerate fresh chopped tomatoes and basil in a garlicky red wine vinaigrette. Toss with red leaf lettuce and croutons made from the remainder of Friday’s baguette. (If you happen to have a little Serrano ham left, so much the better.) Pair your salad with a wine spritzer using that Riesling that somehow escaped consumption mixed with a little seltzer.