Friday, August 14, 2009

Why I 'Fringe' and Fringe Survival Pasta

The NYC Fringe Festival is a lot like street food. It is cheap and all over the place.

You don't go to a street cart and expect an awesome dining experience, you go only with the expectation that you will get something.

Maybe you will meet a great vendor, maybe there will be an ingredient that sparks your taste buds or maybe you will find something awesome and awe inspiring. This will happen ever 5 years IF you are a dedicated street eater.

At the Fringe I hope for something...maybe there are a few songs in a musical that make my toes tap, or a really talented cast member that has been thrown into a stew of really bad ingredients, but the discerning can find that talent.

Sometimes it is a director who has great vision for a cast that lacks talent, and upon rare occasions it is a fully satisfying experience.

I admit that much of what I will see has to do with time and location. It is very hard to choose based on the blurbs, some great shows will have lousy websites and some lousy shows great websites. You never know until you show up.

Treat the Fringe like your life, show up and see if there isn't something that will enchant.

This dish is my fringe staple. When you are running around in the Village trying to cram in 4 shows in 6 hours you need sustenance. I came up with this dish one day when I was going on a hike and it is so good I have repeated it several times. It is really high fat (Sorry Doc), but you don't become tempted to sneak bite of dried fruit when your attention should be on stage.

This recipe is per person, or per 4 ounces of pasta, so make times 4 if you are doing a pound and feeding your fringe friends.

4 ounces cooked pasta
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 ounces shredded cheese (any kind, Cheddar, Jack, Mozzarella, any shredded cheese or blend)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes halved
Basil, parsley, whatever fresh herb you have
Salt and Pepper

Put sauce ingredients in a warm bowl, reserves some pasta water.

Toss cooked hot pasta with sauce and add pasta water as needed to get the right thickness, give it several grinds of black pepper and a few dashes of salt. Eat this super rich fatty combo and go fringe for a few hours.

I put 26 shows on my schedule and will do my best to give quick updates on what might be worth your time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beet, Brie and Bacon Tart

I finished my vegetable week rather uneventfully with a lot of salads and fennel just sliced. I ended up getting very busy and did not create any amazing new dishes....until today.

I started to make a pie. I have a lot of Ed's peaches in my house and they are ripe. I made a single crust thinking I might do it open faced with a little infused cream. When I opened the refrigerator the beets from the CSA complete with great looking greens staring at me. In the recess of my mind I went to France, the south to those rustic summer tarts of many wonderful vegetables. The thyme called my name and to the garden I went for some tarragon. Ingredients began to tumble out at me and the following tart was born, and it is superb.

1 pastry crust
3/4 cup of heavy cream
4 medium beets, roasted or boiled and thinly sliced
All those lovely beet greens chopped fine sauteed with water squeezed out
2 chopped scallion (green part too, not just the white)
8 ounces of brie thinly sliced (I put it in the freezer and sliced while assembling)
2 medium potatoes thinly sliced
Big handful of thyme and tarragon
Salt and pepper
3 slices of bacon pan fried and crumbled (save fat)
1/2 stick of butter

Warm your cream on the stove top with the tarragon and thyme stalks in it. Keep it on a super low flame for about 10 minutes then remove and let rest with the herb. Do not worry if it develops a skin.

Chop and saute your beet greens with a touch of salt. Squeeze water out and keep in a colander.

Fry the bacon, reserve the fat and crumble the bacon on a plate.

Layer your beets in the bottom of the pastry shell. Top with 1/2 of the sliced brie. The greens go on top of the brie, the onion on the greens, the bacon on the onion and the potato on the bacon. Now, drizzle that lovely bacon fat on the potato slices and top with the remaining brie.

Remove the herbs from your cream and pour the cream over everything. Lightly salt and give those potatoes a a grind of fresh pepper. Now dot with butter, yes butter , bacon fat and cream. Julia Child will be proud of you.

Bake 375 for about approximately 70 minutes. It will smell so good, you will be tempted but let it rest for a couple of hours so it can be cut into wedges. Serve with a salad, and if yours is as good as mine excuse yourself from your guests, bring the laptop to the kitchen counter and share the recipe. Actually I was egged on to post by my guests...'Make sure you write it down before you forget it."

I have hungry mouths clamouring for a second piece.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Something good

i got a little creative today, no recipe emerged to share, but the spark of a couple of things emerged that I will work on developing.

The spinach leaves from the CSA were really huge. So I used them like grape leaves and made a stuffing of rice and pine nuts and baked them in a lemon sauce. These were really good, and if you have a grape leaf recipe go ahead and adapt it. I'm afraid none of my measurements were precise enough to give you a recipe.

Another experiment gets an A for taste but... It was really messy.

I hate fake meat. Nothing worse than tofurkey or fake sausage. Soy is so genetically modified and then when processed into fake meat, it becomes the opposite of health food. But that said, I have had a couple of really good bean and mushroom burgers that were not attempting to taste like meat, but they were formed for a bun or round roll. With that in mind I made a red bean and almond burger, I topped it with sauteed onions and mushrooms and put it on a roll with a goodly amount of mayo. My patty fell apart, so it needs work. Nonetheless it was a good little sandwich.

I dined on all kinds of fruits and salads and chopped veg all day and came in at under 2,000 calories. My waist is liking this vegetable week.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Locavore's Dilemma

Right now I have the sublet of a CSA farm share, yes in NY you can even sublet a farm share. I am trading the fruit for guaranteed delivery because my sublet is on the other side of town, far, far from West Harlem. It is worth it. My sublet is provided by Stoneledge Farm.

While today's haul was meager, there was purple basil, purple peppers, a few zucchini, some potatoes, the largest spinach leaves I have ever seen, and an eggplant. This is what Community Supported Agriculture is about, you share the bounty, when there is bounty and you share the risk. The rains have been difficult for our local farmers and a lot of blight has been spread with some crops rotting on the vine.

Nonetheless I won't go hungry. I have food growing out my back window, including some of the best tomatoes on earth and great herbs and I have my local farmer's at the Green markets to count on for just about everything else I need. Other than olive oil from Greece, and dried pasta from Italy, most of what I eat in the summer comes from within miles of the city. That is the goal of the locavore, to consume what can be grown and sustained locally. (clearly I drink less wine, we have almost no good local wine and what we do have is priced out of my range).

The Dilemma? Winter. I am so grateful for Argentinian Farmer's and those glimpses of summer in another part of the world. I can only go so far on root vegetables. The solution to this has been used in Holland for Decades now, Green houses. We will pay through the nose to get those greenhouse tomatoes in the winter, but there are not many enterprising folks in this area who will take this one on.

Corporate American farming is evil and those profit graspers care nothing for my health, so I will care nothing for their bottom line and avoid them. Whole Foods and Dean Foods are at the center of this axis putting out 'natural' lines which are anything but and working very hard to lower the standards of organic certification so they can move more junk through.

Right now, this summer I am able to eat locally and am grateful to be able to do so.

3rd veg day.

Not surprising I woke up hungry. I had a big bowl of Asian noodles in a vegetable broth topped with poached egg. Then the heat did in my hunger for the rest of the day and I ate 8 zucchini that I had grilled and brushed with vinegar. I had them, warm at room temp and later cold. They are about 3 calories each. That, along with fruit and some cucumber and tomato was it until dinner. I felt completely justified in indulging in noodles yet again, this time with a tomato basil sauce and a generous portion of chopped green olives stirred in.

I still stayed under 1700 calories. My nutrition was good, but a bit low on calcium, but for one day I am not going to worry.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 3 vegetables...

I ate well today, I heated up a very generous portion of the vegetables Anna for breakfast with some very good coffee and some fruit.

For lunch I dined very simply with some cucumber tomato salad.

It was a hot day in NY so I had little appetite for dinner despite a serious gym visit. I made a salad. A head of romaine, a head of Radicchio, a bag of Trader Joe's organic spring mix and dressing. This salad filled my largest mixing bowl. My favorite thing on top of a salad with vinegar is poached eggs and lardons. I was tempted, I had some house-cured pancetta that I could have easily crisped and tossed with those greens and eggs, but when I pushed them aside I came across a container of pitted black olives so I used those for my salt fix. In my entire life I don't think I have ever had a salad this large.

My nutritional chart checked out, my A and C were off the charts and everything else was in a healthy range.

I may make an effort to pack in a few more calories tomorrow. I typically consume about 2,600 a day and this is a big drop, but I look good.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Vegetables Anna

Bragging is a bad thing, but I am going to boast anyway.

I made one of the most delicious foods I have ever made, crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. Based on Potatoes Anna, I switched up the layers to use some very good vegetables. In my nod to Dr. Itzkovitz I line my cast iron skillet with parchment paper to lower my iron intake. But you can bake it directly and it will be browner and crispier for it.

Thinly slice
2 medium potatoes
1 peeled eggplant
2 medium zucchini
3 medium onion
1 large apple

Have handy
Olive oil

Rub the bottom of your largest cast iron skillet or parchment with olive oil. Layer your thinly sliced potatoes slightly overlapping the slices. Next onion, then zucchini, then apple, more onion, and now...hold back the last of the potato and use whatever you have next mixing up the layer. Now top with the last bit of potato.

With each layer you want to add a light bit of salt and pepper. Once layered, dot the top with butter. Bake at 350 for about 90 minutes. Let rest and put a plate of the same size as the skilled against the skilled. Flip it. The top will be brown and crisp and the layers creamy goodness.

I had one thin wedge and want more, but I am full.

Even though the calories consumed today were relatively small, I had the most wonderful first course and it filled me.

Squash blossoms stuffed with grated fresh mozzarella, a beaten egg, fresh peas, a few bread crumbs and a ton of fresh basil. Franca Tantillo, one of my favorite farmer's gave me a bag of them at today's market when I bought some green beans and fresh peas. I dipped them in a light batter and fried them til they were golden. The wonderfulness of them still lingers. So you can see why I was full.

My daytime eating was comprised of fruit, a few triscuit and for breakfast some leftover soba noodles and vegetables that I beat an egg into and made a torta out of. Roughly 1,700 calories including the glass of wine I am having now. I may do a bit of popcorn before bed.

Already fat loss on just two days without meat. Dr. Atkins...oh sorry, your dead. Probably from too much meat.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

1st Veg Day plus basil mushrooms

What impressed me most about the first veg day was the fact that my nutritional needs were met so fully. Vitamin D and E were not completely met by diet, but I had a day on the Jersey Shore that gave me plenty of D from the sun. The E will balance out over the next few days.

Peaches, plums and fried rice comprised breakfast, I scrambled an egg in the rice and threw in bits of various vegetables. I had to sustain for a train ride to the Jersey shore.

It took lunch along and it was pretty simple, cheese and whole grain crackers and a roast tomato and Mozzarella salad, along with a few more plums. Perfect for a hot day.

I had an unexpected dinner guest so it was garden, pantry and frig for ingredients. I had SO much basil, a bunch of mushrooms I had intended for a risotto, green onions from the farm share and a bit of cabbage leftover, along with a baby zucchini. So this was to be dinner.

2 cups raw mushroom
1 bunch scallion
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 zucchini (small) cubed
Soy Sauce
Red Pepper flakes
Romain lettuce leaves
1 cup basil leaves chopped

Grind the mushrooms in the processor and put them into a very hot pan with a bit of oil and let them brown, stir brown again and let the water that has been release evaporate. Toss in the zucchini cubes and just barely let them become tender, Season with soy sauce and red pepper and then the cabbage, just until it begins to wilt, about a minute. Turn the heat off and toss in your basil.

Bring the mix to the table in a bowl surrounded by lettuce leaves and make wraps at the table.

For those who worry about the protein content I managed 66 grams of protein today. I had approximately 1800 calories and am quite full and satisfied. Mmmmmm mushrooms!