With the past few days being rainy and cold, I can’t help but notice people in my life feeling down. It reminded me of a few things, the first being the union square market and how recently I took some pictures of the amazing produce that they have to offer. The market always reminds me of spring.
I finally took a picture of my favorite goat cheese purveyor, Ardith Mae. They just switched from being there friday mornings to Saturday. Seriously people, this cheese is amazing
and ranges from sweet grassy chevre, to hard aged salty cheese, to smooth wash rind cheese that emulates camembert. Go get some and tell him I sent you. They also sell goat meat if you are feeling adventurous!
So what did I want to eat on this cold rainy afternoon, the second one after a long stretch of gorgeous days? Chili! I didn’t have all the ingredients to make a fresh batch and so I created one with what I had, not wanting to venture out in the rain. Refried black beans layered with shredded poached chicken, sprinkled with southwest seasoning, warmed up with fresh chopped raw heirloom cherry tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, vegan sour cream, pickled jalapenos, and freshly chopped romaine lettuce. As a kid my dad would always make us a big bowl of rice, topped with the chili, cheese, sour cream and then tons of shaved lettuce. It is almost hard for me to eat chili plain now, without the starch and the lettuce. So although it is somewhat sacrilegious to call what I made last night “chili” to me it sort of was (missing the rice of course). Nothing like nostalgia to warm you up on a cold evening.
Plus, I am pretty much always in the mood for mexican cuisine and on cold days, I go to chili and stews over soups and broth (I have never been a big soup person). Anyway, I hope the sun comes back out soon, but for now, I am warming up with a warm bowl of something good.
Gorgeous, large artichokes appeared at the coop in the past couple of weeks to my excitement. Artichokes have always been one of my favorite foods, a staple at every person in my family’s birthday dinner. Simply steamed with a side of olive oil and lemon or traditionally butter, is divine. There is almost no other food in which the motion of eating, pulling each leaf, dipping in the butter and scraping your teeth along the flesh, that has a more nostalgic feeling for me. Although I have a bias, they are one of the most delicious and healthy vegetables out there. Full of antioxidants, good for your liver and digestion, (I have even read people use them as a hangover cure- not sure who…) they are delicious, and simple to make.
Just rinse, cut off about 3/4 of an inch to an inch off of the top. Trim the ends of the leaves if any are sharp with kitchen scissors. I cut mine a little too low tonight but it still turned out great. Put them in a pot fitted with a steamer and steam for 25-40 min or until fok tender in the top of the stem at the base of the heart. I promise you you will not be disappointed.
It was my sister Emily’s birthday and her girlfriend and I wanted to do something special, so we decided to throw her a birthday brunch at my apartment. I asked everyone to bring a beverage as well as something to eat but of course my mind went into full gear about things to make. Brunch, one of New Yorkers’ favorite meals, and one of the least favorite for the waiters of the world, I have found to be much more enjoyable at home. The only problem is, how to make the foods that we all love; french toast, eggs, bacon, home fries, etc.. able to be enjoyed at a party and not at a table with myself being parked in the kitchen as a short order cook. I came up with some fun recipes to make any brunch get together an easy and affordable way to entertain, and of course gluten and dairy free. The menu for Emily’s Birthday Brunch is as follows:
~Baked Potato Frittata Bites with Chive Sour Cream~
~Vegetable Frittata Bites with Goat Cheese~
~Pecan Caramel French Toast Casserole~
~Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts~
~Lemon Thyme Mimosa~
~Fresh Grapefruit and Orange Juice~
Making the frittata in mini muffin pans and the french toast in one big casserole made everything so much easier to enjoy and it looked gorgeous. Deviled eggs are one of Emily’s favorite so I had to bring that into the mix. The sweet and spicy nuts add a nice flair to the average cocktail nuts, especially in a brunch setting, where sweet and savory come together so well. Lastly the cocktails. I made my own bloody mary mix but you could certainly buy it to make things easier. Having good quality orange and grapefruit juice with prosecco allowed everyone to make drinks just the way they liked them. I also took the idea from my sister for a lemon thyme mimosa by making a thyme simple syrup and adding some fresh lemon juice. That created a really refreshing brunch cocktail I would sip any afternoon. See servers of the world (myself included) brunch can be easy and enjoyable!