Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Celebrate Brooklyn ended this year with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, playing on Saturday August 7 to a more-than-capacity crowd of 20,000. I went there with David, and really enjoyed it -- Sharon Jones is a treat to watch, a compact little woman made, it seems, of solid energy.

Russian Salade Nicoise

I have been winnowing down my old cooking magazines this summer, and sometimes I save a recipe just because it looks so good in the picture. This Russian-Style Salade Nicoise from a 1996 Food & Wine looked wonderful, and tasted great too.

My friends Alexis and David enjoyed it with me and were even brave enough to get into my homemade horseradish vodka!

A good rescue for over-the-hill cherry tomatoes: Cassoulet

You've done this too, I'm sure. Bought a beautiful box of cherry tomatoes and simply didn't eat them all in time. If this happens in dry cool weather, your tomatoes will first start to dessicate rather than rot, and they are still good at this point. They're sort of like raisins, just in tomato form. I added them to a white bean and mushroom cassoulet and they plumped up just fine in all the lovely juices.

Favorite Recipe: Oven-Fried Coconut Chicken

Here's a picture of preparations for the marinade for Oven-Fried Coconut Chicken, one of my favorite recipes from Cooking Light. I find that the panko breading does not stay put on the chicken even after it's marinated; I dip the marinated chicken in some egg whites and then in the breading. Also, be sure to coat the baking sheet with cooking spray -- doesn't do much to just coat the chicken. I need to take extra care when turning over the chicken after it's cooked for its first  half hour to make sure I don't leave the breading behind. I have gotten away with making this recipe with boneless chicken thighs, and cooking them only 10" per side -- but sometimes I have to run them under the broiler for a bit to make the breading turn nice and golden and crisp. This recipe is good to make ahead and serve the next day, reheated in the microwave with a finish in the toaster-oven.

Zabar's on a Saturday afternoon

I went to Zabar's recently and enjoyed just looking at all the cheeses.

This is the cheese case you see immediately upon entering the store.

And here's a closeup of the same case. I feel so lucky to live in a city where you can not only get Raclette, but you can get it sliced in a deli container to take to your party!

When I was young, my friend Sophie and I made up our own expletive: "Yarg!" It makes me smile when I see that word somewhere unexpected, such as on this cheese from Cornwall.

Of course when you are in Zabar's it's very difficult to not want to eat, and the management knows this -- they put out little toasts with tasty spreads on them for you to sample, and I swear they taste so great (being free adds to their savor). Can't you see the eagerness in this lady reaching for her taste of Zabar's house brand salmon mousse?

A Return to Spring: Bliss

My paper appointment book for the past few years has been Chris Hardman's Ecological Calendar, which follows the seasons from one winter solstice to the next with images, facts, and words that beautifully summon the characteristics of different times of the year. At the top of each page is a single word that captures the essence of that period -- usually a stretch of time four or five weeks long. The word they chose for this moment in time is "Bliss."

How true, when the weather turns just as you like it in early May. This week it is cool enough to need a jacket in the mornings and evenings, and summer-like only at midday. The trees are fully leafed out and juiced up by all the spring rains. We've had a good Spring in New York this year, and I enjoyed it so much I saved the banner from on a perfect April day: