Five-Spice Spare Ribs

Greetings from Heathrow Airport, where I am having my first encounter with the wonders of Business Class travel.

It was an excruciating flight across the pond. Sheer exhaustion, a couple of stiff cocktails and Led Zeppelin IV enabled me to sleep through takeoff and the first hour of flight. But that left me with seven hours in which to watch mediocre movies, obsess about my physical discomfort, and make frequent trips to the restroom so as not to feel trapped.

A travel mishap found my stepdad ponying up some of his precious miles to ensure that I made it to Paris in time to start a two-week study trip. It seems that steerage was all booked, so I will be flying Business Class for the second (and, sadly, much shorter) leg of my travel. I knew this meant a bigger seat and complimentary on-board cocktails, but had no idea about the perks at the airport.

The transfer between terminals involved approximately a mile of walking and a 15-minute bus ride through the back end of the airport. I arrived at the Air France counter tired, hungry and more than a bit cranky. The woman I handed my passport to didn’t appear any happier–until, that is, she pulled up my name and discovered that I was (for this brief moment in time) a member of the elite. Within minutes, I was stepping through the discrete frosted doors of the Sky Club where they greeted me warmly and booked me for a complimentary facial. I had debated grabbing coffee and a lackluster baked good in the terminal, but it turns out there’s a full buffet breakfast, an espresso machine, and Bloody Mary fixings here in the Sky Lounge. There are sleek and clean bathrooms, all manner of comfy chairs, and a wall of moss, ferns and ivy that is doing wonders for my respiratory system.

Having knocked back a latte, a cappuccino, two glasses of cucumber-infused water, half a Bloody Mary, and a proper English breakfast (beans!), I thought I’d take a little time to update you, dear reader, on my progress on that fridge full of fresh produce. As previously reported, Saturday started with a Greek-Style Kale Salad. For my midday meal, I topped the slightly-past-their-prime figs with more of the goat milk yogurt and some flowering thyme.

Figs with Yogurt and Thyme

I spent the afternoon running errands while some ribs left from last season’s Lewis Waite Farm Carnivore Share spent their time marinating in preparation for a farewell feast. Louis arrived a little after 8:00 bearing Prosecco, Chardonnay and a Zinfadel that, I am ashamed to confess, we did not even crack. By 8:30 we were sitting down to a delightful meal of five-spice spare ribs, stir-fried bok choy with scallions, and rice cooked with ginger and shiitake mushrooms.

Five-Spice Spare Ribs

Gingered Shiitake Rice

Stir-Fried Bok Choy

Five-Spice Spare Ribs

  • 1 rack pork ribs (approximately 1.25 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar (Rice wine vinegar would be good, but I seem to have run out.)
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons five spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • small handful of roughly chopped scallion greens
  • black pepper
  1. Cut the rack into individual ribs by running a knife between the bones. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a shallow baking dish and submerge the ribs in this marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least eight hours, flipping the ribs to ensure even penetration. 
  2. Pre-heat oven to 325, remove plastic wrap, tent ribs with foil and pop in the oven. Let cook for one hour, then remove the foil, flip the ribs, and let cook for another hour. At this point, your marinade should be starting to thicken. Remove the ribs to a covered serving dish to keep warm. Pour the marinade into a small container and simmer on the stove top until it is the consistency of barbecue sauce. Drizzle this over the ribs and serve.

The next morning I converted the leftover rice into fried rice with swiss chard, scallions and egg.

Chard, Scallion and Shiitake Fried Rice

Later that afternoon, I polished off a head of romaine, half a cucumber that had been hiding in the crisper and the rest of the scallions with a dressing made from the last of the goat milk yogurt, garlic scapes and whatever fresh herbs I still had on hand. Some canned sardines–stockpiled for just such a purpose–rounded out the meal.

Romaine and Sardine Salad

Just before leaving for the airport, I admitted defeat and delivered one last bunch of kale to my neighbors. No vegetables get left behind!

OK, best be off for my pre-flight facial before they figure out that I’m an imposter.

Greek-Style Kale Salad

This not the refrigerator of someone about to leave the country for two weeks.

Packed Fridge

I am weak in the face of the season’s bounty. Having already overbought at last Saturday’s greenmarket, Tuesday found me dashing home to Brooklyn after work to collect my first CSA share of the season before hopping a train back into the city for four hours (seriously) of Alison Krauss and Willie Nelson at Radio City Music Hall. I’ve done my best to eat my way through all of these vegetables, but that’s a tall order when you’re pulling a 60-hour week.

Late Wednesday I made myself a salad of red leaf lettuce, radishes, strawberries, scallions and fresh herbs. This was damn pretty, but didn’t quite come together flavor-wise. Had I to do it over again, I’d eliminate the radishes and let some of the strawberries macerate in the dressing for a bit before assembling the salad.

Radish and Strawberry Salad

Thursday night found me at yet another work event. I wrapped my week and celebrated the beginning of a much-needed two-week vacation with swanky hotel bar cocktails and some down and dirty Indian food.

I awoke this morning determined to get through my stockpile of vegetables in the 32 hours before my departure for the airport. Noting that I still had almost a full pint of luscious (and decidedly not cheap) goat milk yogurt, I started the day with this Greek-inspired kale salad. A latte and a hard-boiled egg left over from last weekend’s potato salad extravaganza made it breakfast.

Greek-Style Kale Salad

  • 1/4 cup good quality plain yogurt
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic scape, sliced into thin disks (or a little minced garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or a pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (half as much fresh would be great if you have it)
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, cut into 1/2″ shreds
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape seed tomatoes, halved
  • 4 scallions, white and light green portions thinly sliced
  • 10-15 kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of the good olive oil

Combine the first seven ingredient in a small jar, shake vigorously and let sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Add the olive oil and give it another good shake. Add everything to a bowl, toss to combine and let sit for 15 minutes or so until kale begins to wilt and take on a glossy color.

Greek-Style Kale Salad

Those ill-fated radishes would have been great here, as would a little sliced cucumber. But it was still a damn tasty breakfast.

EAT THIS: Asparagus, Scallion & Ricotta Tartine

Asparagus Scallion and Ricotta Tartine

Top toasted whole grain bread with ricotta cheese, pan-grilled scallions and asparagus, lemon zest, salt and pepper for a quick and delicious breakfast when you’re eager to get out and smell the roses (literally if, like me, you’re lucky enough to live five minutes from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden).

Steamed Clams & Broccoli Rabe

Well that was a long week. I saw visiting family off on Monday, delivered a performance/presentation in class on Tuesday, had major dental work on Wednesday, and turned in my final paper of the semester on Thursday–all while holding down my full-time job. I had high hopes of attending an event tonight, but exhaustion and misanthropy got the better of me. I did manage to swing by the Union Square Greenmarket on the way home. Agricultural reality continues to lag behind our culinary aspirations, but I was able to pick up more ramps and broccoli rabe, along with a couple of Bread Alone’s multigrain panini. I got off the mercifully uncrowded Q train at 7th Avenue and swung by Mermaid’s Garden, the newish fish shop in my neighborhood I’d been meaning to check out for months. I picked up a dozen littleneck clams, which I somehow thought would pair well with broccoli rabe, and a couple of pounds of Georgia shrimp, which went into the freezer for some future delight.

Littleneck Clams

Steamed Clams & Broccoli Rabe

  • 1 dozen littleneck clams
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • 1 ounce diced bacon ends (or 1 slice bacon or 1 tablespoon olive oil)
  • 3 ramps and those 3 scallions that seem to have wilted in your veggie bin (Shallots, garlic and/or plain old yellow onion would also be fine.)
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup white wine
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  1. Drop the clams into a small bowl, top with water, and fix yourself a cocktail.
  2. Once you have finished your cocktail, fill a medium pot halfway with water, add a healthy pinch of salt, pop a lid on, and set it over high heat. While the water comes to a boil, fix yourself another cocktail. Roughly chop the broccoli rabe, toss it into the pot, and boil for two minutes or so until just softened but still toothsome. Strain into a colander and run some cold water over the top to stop the cooking process.
  3. Place the pot back on the burner, lower the heat to medium-low and toss in the bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon has rendered. Chop the ramps and the green portion of the scallions and add these plus the red pepper flakes to your bacon. Cook for a few minutes.
  4. Crank the heat up to high and add some of that white wine that was questionably drinkable when you first opened it and is most definitely not drinkable after a month in the fridge. Fish the clams out of the water and drop them into the pot. Let boil, stirring a bit, until the clams start popping open (approximately five minutes). As they open, pull them to the top so as not to overcook.
  5. Thinly slice the whites of the scallions. When the clams have all opened, turn off the heat and stir in the blanched broccoli rabe along with the lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste.

Clams and Broccoli Rabe

Dump this into a bowl and serve with some good quality bread to soak up the juices. A spoon might be helpful. But, if you happen to be dining alone, just lift the bowl up to your face. The cat will not be offended.

EAT THIS: Leftover BBQ Chicken Salad

Leftover BBQ Chicken SaladSaturday night was an unexpectedly festive one–so much so that I was still recovering by the time I met a friend for dinner on Monday. I found my comfort in some barbecued chicken. Hungry as I was, I still took home a quarter of what must have been a very hefty bird. The leg went to my new feline companion and the breast appeared the next night on a bed of romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, and a homemade ranch dressing–which is a whole different thing from the gelatinous stuff served alongside lackluster crudité.