NY Times

How Do You Save Recipes?

by Anne Maxfield on July 10, 2017

Accidental Locavore Recipe FilesRemember back in the day, when you wanted to save a recipe from a magazine or the NY Times, you either ripped it out or saved the magazine?

And you ended up with huge files that never saw the light of day again.

Never mind used.

One grey and blah Sunday when dinner plans had been cancelled, I ended up cruising through some huge folders of stuff I’d ripped out and saved.

The surprises?

  1. An article on our favorite pizza place in Nice, Le Safari, with a recipe for their Pizza Provençal (my favorite). Hmm, might be time to get a really hot grill going.Accidental Locavore Safari Pizza Recipe
  2. Other interesting finds from past NY Times Food sections, Frank Briuni reviewing 11 Madison Park—two stars in 2005 (and entrees from $26-38) and Le Bernadin getting another 4 stars in his 2005 return visit.
  3. Nigela Lawson doing avocado toast in 2003.
  4. Restaurants come and gone, mostly gone. Lever House, Savoy, Tabla, Veritas, San Domenico, Chanterelle, and still here: Jean Georges, Le Bernadin.
  5. Magazines that haven’t stood the test of time (or the Internet) More, Metropolitan Home, Gourmet.
  6. Wines, tasted and lusted after and one that will always be remembered—a 1992 La Tâche.
  7. Gordon Ramsey making his US television debut. Yes, someone had him first.
  8. Places to go in Croatia, Paris, Corsica, Morocco.
  9. Cheeses, eaten here or to look for in France.
  10. Recipes with almonds and walnuts, sadly not a part of my life anymore.
  11. How to make mayonnaise, yogurt, pork chops with cornichons, salad Niçoise, pasta puttanesca—things I can cook with my eyes closed.
  12. Cooking classes I’ve taken, lots of DeGustibus courtesy of my aunt (merci!)
  13. Big endeavors I need to revisit, like croissants and baguettes.
  14. What was I thinking? Projects were never going to happen, like Verjus-Marinated Black Walnuts.
  15. Post 9-11, what to pack in your “go” bag (haven’t we all learned to make copies of all important documents and store them in the cloud among other places?).

And me? I got a nostalgic reminder of what was important and a much skinnier file, ready to get cooking!

How do you save recipes?

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Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

by Anne Maxfield on March 23, 2017

Stuffed shells used to be the Wednesday special at the pizza place near my office.

Shells and two sides for $6.50. Couldn’t beat that.

It was a family-run place that was there for years.

No more.

And I don’t think I’ve had stuffed shells since then.

These were in the NY Times recently and it seemed like the right time to give it a try.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  • 1 pound baby spinach, rinsed, or 2 pounds bunch spinach, stemmed and washed thoroughly
  • Salt
  • 12 ounces giant pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 10 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, grated, about 1/2 cup
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups marinara sauce

Accidental Locavore Stuffing for Shells

Bring a large pot of well-salted (“it should taste like the sea”) water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Cook the spinach until just wilted (about 30 seconds) and transfer to the ice water, then drain. Squeeze out excess water.

Bring the water in the pot back to a boil and add the pasta shells. Cook about 10 minutes, until al dente, drain and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade chop the garlic. Add the spinach and pulse to chop finely. Add the ricotta and the egg and process until well blended.

Add 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, the chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until well blended.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil a large baking dish (or two 2-quart dishes), big enough to fit the shells in one layer.

Fill each shell with a scant tablespoon of the filling.

Arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.

Accidental Locavore Stuffed Shells and Sausage

Top with the tomato sauce and cover the dish with foil.

Bake 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Sauce for Shells

My verdict: Delicious! On Frank’s request, I added some hot Italian sausage that I’d removed from the casing, chunked up and browned.

Because making and stuffing the shells was enough work on a weeknight, I used a Tomato and Italian Olive sauce I was given to try. It’s made in Barcelona by Delicious & Sons, but packed and shipped from Poughkeepsie (more about that and them at a later date). It was well named as it was delicious – a good tomato taste and a nice bite of olive here and there (and once I recycled the jar, no one would know it wasn’t homemade)! All the ingredients are organic and there’s nothing your nonna wouldn’t use. My thanks to Ricky for that and an assortment of other goodies I haven’t had time to enjoy!

Back to the shells. I didn’t have quite a pound of spinach, but I did have a lot of ricotta.

Even with that, I had a ton more shells than stuffing. They’re now in a bag in the freezer, waiting for another batch of stuffing.

 

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Pete Wells and Restaurant Reviews

by Anne Maxfield on December 12, 2016

  1. Accidental Locavore Restaurant Reviewer

The Accidental Locavore was reading about the restaurant reviewer for The NY Times, Pete Wells, in The New Yorker (check it out if you haven’t seen it).

According to the piece, before he writes a review he goes to a restaurant at least three times.

While it makes sense to give you a broader overview of the restaurant, does it work that way in real life?

No.

Maybe.

It depends.

Here’s why:

Pete Wells or his counterparts can be recognized.

And a chef friend told me that it’s pretty common for a restaurant that gets a good write-up from a prestigious paper to fire the chef and the team that got them the four stars since they think they can now live off that review.

“You only get one shot to make a first impression.”

Accidental Locavore Bad WaitersIf you like a place, you’ll go back even if it’s far away or a big splurge.

You’ll always tell your friends.

In glowing dish-by-dish descriptions.

You might post it on Instagram.

If the restaurant isn’t up to expectations, you’ll go once and cross it off your list forever.

You’ll always tell your friends. You’ll tell anyone who will listen.

In glowering dish-by-dish descriptions.

You won’t post it on Instagram. You might post it on Yelp.

Do any regular diners go back another two times?

Don’t think so.

Hey, our dinners aren’t being paid for by the NY Times, so we’re going to be pickier about how we spend our money.

Even when we’ve spoken to management (or they’ve seen the Yelp review) and been invited back so they can “make it up to us” we have never taken them up on the offer.

Prime example: Frank and I went to celebrate our anniversary. Friends had raved about the Red Onion in Saugerties and we decided to forgo our favorite, Les Baux.

Mistake.

Big mistake.

It started when I got out of the car and stepped in a mud puddle.

The rack of lamb (a house specialty we were told) was overcooked and under seasoned (unlike mine in the photo).

Accidental Locavore Rack of LambPeas straight out of a big plastic bag.

A mountain of mashed potatoes that could have come from a box.

Two hockey pucks that were reputed to be onions.

Even if it wasn’t a 45-minute drive (in each direction), we won’t be back.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a blog where you can vent.

What’s been your most disappointing meal?

And no, that’s not a photo of Pete Wells, but who knows?

 

 

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Plum Cake Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on September 29, 2016

accidental-locavore-plum-tartWhat to do with a plethora of plums?

And a plethora of plums that won’t stop coming.

Most of the time it’s zucchini or eggplant people complain about when they have a CSA.

We thought a fruit share sounded like a good idea, but knew eight pounds of fruit a week would be too much so decided to share it with friends.

It’s still too much, and we’re not eating enough of it so the Accidental Locavore is trying to figure out what to do with it all (and in ways that don’t necessarily involve desserts).

But this one does.

Billed as the most requested recipe from the NY Times, they refer to it as a Plum Torte, but it’s more like a cake (IMHO).

Plum Cake Recipe

Serves 8.

  • ¾ to 1 cup sugar (depending on your sweetness tolerance and the sweetness of your plums)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 halves pitted purple plums
  • Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

Heat oven to 350°.

In a mixer, cream the sugar and butter.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.

Spoon the batter into a 9” spring-form pan. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter.

Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit.

Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.

Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. Serve and enjoy!

accidental-locavore-plums-halvedMy verdict: Moist and buttery – well there was a stick of butter…

Make sure to add the sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon to top it off. Just go easy on the cinnamon unless you’re a big fan (I’ve learned the hard way that a little cinnamon goes a long way!).

The plums give a nice tartness to what is a rich treat, but as the Times says, you can use almost anything; I’m going to do it with peaches and then maybe apples.

While it’s a great dessert, it’s also a pretty fine breakfast!

My only issue was that my (cheap)spring-form pan leaked and I ended up putting a parchment-lined baking sheet under it to catch the drips. Not sure you need a spring-form, just butter any sort of cake pan (or buy a better spring-form).

The paper of record says you can freeze it, and to serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300°.

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