Tonight’s Harvest

July 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

This year was darned cold. Despite growing up outside of Chicago — or perhaps because of that — I have never enjoyed winter. And this past NYC winter was brutal.

Even now, near-August, the days have been cooler than this time last year. The evenings have been downright chilly at times. All this means that my rooftop garden is fruiting much more slowly.

This time last year we had gaggles of cherry and heirloom tomatoes. We lugged a tray of them to Martha’s Vineyard. This year I’ve harvested a pint — total — of cherry tomatoes and the few heirloom tomatoes on the vines are still hard and green.

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But we have had gaggles of jalapeños this year…

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And tonight I got to harvest three of our first eggplants and use some of our cherry tomatoes, cinnamon basil and lemongrass for a home-grown, home-made Thai green curry with lemongrass-coconut rice. There’s nothing quite like coming home, picking veggies and herbs, and cooking dinner for yourself on a Wednesday…in New York City.

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Copenhagen (EATS)

May 11, 2014 § 1 Comment

It’s been an unintentional year-long blogging hiatus. It was a year of experimenting with rooftop gardening in NYC — you can grow a heck of a lot on a rooftop. I’ll share more about that this season.

I decided to relaunch Together In Food with delicious eats we experienced on our trip to Copenhagen to visit my little brother, who’s studying abroad in the same program my husband did 15 years ago.

Nearly a decade after my first trip to Denmark, we were delighted to find that Copenhagen’s food scene has improved dramatically. On our last trip, we subsisted on Carlsberg beer, Fanta soda, and their admittedly delicious hot dogs with spicy mustard. This time, it was a whole new world. And that world began with Noma, the #1 restaurant globally.

Noma setting

We had 20 courses crafted from ingredients grown or foraged in Scandanavia. A sampling of the most unusual (clockwise from upper left): the “Nordic coconut” with nearly meat-like warm beet broth sipped through a straw; fried moss with creme fraiche; a beautiful hen egg with foraged herbs, fiddlehead ferns and flowers; an apple cooked for 12 hours in sloe berries; and new elm seeds with yeast sauce.

Noma food

But the strangest experience was this:

Noma ants

You may have looked twice. I did. But yep, those are ants. As there’s no citrus in Scandanavia, a Brazilian chef dispatched his knowledge to the Noma team that ants impart a lemony burst. So the cooks traipse through the forest to forage ants, then they rub ‘em with salt and adorn your dish with them. I have to admit, they were surprisingly citrusy and delicious.

Noma’s service, atmosphere, and experience definitely made the 4.5 hours and dollar amount I don’t want to think about at the moment worth it. But honestly, the best meal we had was at Amass, located in the middle of nowhere and run by a Noma alum who was also a chef at Per Se in NYC and hails from San Diego.

We loved the graffiti art, the use of our favorite glassware, the open kitchen..

Amass

…and the straightforward set menu that was more California in its cooking style: high quality ingredients, preparations that helped those ingredients shine, and lovely yet not highly constructed presentation. We sampled (clockwise from upper left) sour pancakes with foraged herbs, fermented potato flatbread, salad gathered from the garden out back, and monkfish.

Amass food

Of course, we tasted more basic aspects of Copenhagen cuisine. We trekked to Torvehallerne Food Market, where we tried Coffee Collective (laughing that they had a very Blue Bottle-like approach); delicate, perfumey local strawberries and peas that tasted like spring; and ice cream cones as big as our heads.

Torvehallerne Market

We had the classic Danish smorrebrod, freshened up by a shop called Aamaans. The best were the avocado and the sirloin with fried onions.

Aamaans

And it wouldn’t be a trip to Copenhagen without sampling classic fare: a traditional Danish meal at my brother’s host family’s lovely home (apples with jam, cabbage, potatoes and roast pork); toasted malt at the Carlsberg factory tour; those famous hot dogs; and a new discovery, sea buckthorn berry tart at an excellent seafood restaurant, Kodbyens Fiskebar.

Danish delicacies

How to Make a Bulgur Chard Mash-up (RECIPE)

January 2, 2013 § 2 Comments

I can’t believe that I’m about to reference the movie Pitch Perfect while discussing cooking, but here goes. Last night, I watched this perfectly “popcorn for the brain” flick. The movie’s main character, Beca, likes to make electronic music, and she takes her penchant for mash-ups to a college acapella group that she’s somehow strong-armed into joining. She takes a bass line from one song, a melody from another, lyrics from another and puts them together in surprising but harmonious ways.

As I was figuring out what to do with the container of bulgur wheat that I accidentally cooked (rather than soaked) two days ago, the large bag of chard in my fridge, and not much else in the way of dinner ingredients, this idea of mash-ups came back to me.

So I did it to the bulgur and the chard.

I took the idea of Indian flavor pastes and  made a simple one out of minced cipollini onions and garlic, a generous squirt of tomato paste, cumin, cayenne and salt. I added collard greens, which I learned to slice into thin ribbons and saute in olive oil from a South American recipe, maintaining their fresh green flavor rather than cooking them to a pulp as you often see. I stirred in the cooked bulgur like I might when making fried rice (or rather, when my husband does, as that’s his specialty). And then I topped the whole lovely mess with toasted walnuts, which I got from a vegan cooking website.

And it was a heck of a lot tastier than I expected. A pleasant surprise for a Wednesday night dinner. Happy new year!

Bulgur chard mash-up

Bulgur chard mash-up

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BULGUR CHARD MASH-UP

Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients

2 cipollini onions, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T tomato paste
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. salt
1 bunch chard leaves. Clean them, cut the leaves off either side of the stem, roll the leaf halves together tightly and slice into 1/8-inch ribbons
1/2 cup cooked bulgur wheat
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (you can toast them in the

Cooking Instructions

1 — Heat frying pan with high sides on medium heat. Toast the walnuts for a few minutes, then set aside.
2 — Add olive oil to the pan. Cook onions until softened, then add garlic and cook for a minute or two.
3 — Add tomato paste, cumin, cayenne and salt. Stir and cook into a flavorful paste.
4 — Add the chard leaves a handful at a time, stirring each batch to coat all leaves in the oil and cooking paste. Put all the leaves into the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the leaves are tender.
5 — Add the cooked bulgur, breaking up any lumps and mixing well so that the chard and bulgur come together. Cook until the flavors meld. Add salt to taste.
6 — Serve in a bowl topped with toasted walnuts.
7 — Feel virtuous because you’re eating a nutritious vegan meal that actually tastes good!

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