Gazpacho, As if You Needed a Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on August 28, 2014

Accidental Locavore Gazpacho With CroutonsWhile it may not seem possible to have too many tomatoes, there are times (like now) when you might be facing a pile of very ripe tomatoes that would be a shame to waste. The Accidental Locavore ended up with five pounds from the CSA this week and knew there were a few more than I could (or should) comfortably use for salads. This being August, recipes for gazpacho are a dime a dozen, from Mark Bittman’s spread for the Times to an interesting one from Food & Wine that my friend Mary adapted for her blog. But gazpacho, like its summer cousin, pesto, really doesn’t need a recipe. It does need a blender or food processor and some great tomatoes (although there’s a hack for that too – see below). This is what I tossed together this morning:

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, cut into big chunks
  • 1 garlic clove (size depending on your love for garlic)
  • 2 slices of bread
  • ½ cucumber peeled and cut into chunks
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

Put the tomatoes, garlic, cucumber and jalapeno in the food processor and pulse until well chopped. Add the bread, olive oil and vinegar. Process until it’s just shy of your desired consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Process to your desired consistency and chill for at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and top with your favorite garnishes, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: I always loved the gazpacho at City Bakery, mostly because you could mix in a whole host of garnishes: cilantro, croutons, chopped tomatillos, etc. It also allowed you to control the consistency, making it as smooth (fewer garnishes) or as chunky as you like. When you make it yourself, you can do that with or without the toppings. If you use a blender, you will get a finer blend; with the food processor it will always have a little more texture. I’m not a fan of green peppers, so I leave them out and really only added the jalapeno because it was left over from a batch of salsa (that may garnish the soup). Other great garnishes or add-ins could be avocado, bacon, some toasted pine nuts.

The hack for not-so-good tomatoes, I learned from Carla Hall. If you have pallid tomatoes, use more of whatever you have that’s tastier. So, if you have some good peppers or a nice cucumber, add more of them and just adjust the taste to suit yourself.

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A Storytelling Evening at Farmigo

by Anne Maxfield on August 25, 2014

Accidental Locavore FarmigoIf, like the Accidental Locavore, you spent a lot of time in New York City, the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn was not somewhere you’d go on a whim. However, in the search for hipster space it (like so many other places) has been cleaned up and is now a hot area. The other night I went out there to visit Farmigo’s offices and go to their monthly storytelling event.

This was the second in a series they’ve started, featuring food entrepreneurs telling an unscripted story around the month’s theme. The topic was “in the weeds,” a restaurant term for being slammed with orders to the point that all hell breaks loose.

Accidental Locavore StorytellersIn lieu of the standard bio, Benzi, Farmigo’s CEO, introduced the storytellers by asking what their food fetishes were, a much more interesting (and shorter) way to go.

The presenters, like their fetishes, were an interesting mix, ranging from Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens, whose predilection is for lettuce (naked), to the extremely handsome Sean Dimin of Sea-2-Table. But my favorite in terms of fetishes was Jorge Salamea, of the soon-to-open Cuatro Rios, who loves a crunchy chicken butt! Nicole Chaszar of the Splendid Spoon, and Scott Bridi of Brooklyn Cured rounded out the list.

While being in the weeds is something that happens almost daily for a chef like Jorge, whose weeds story was about not having an essential staffer – a dishwasher – on a busy Friday night, for Nicole, it was about firsts – giving birth and filling a big soup order for Fresh Direct, all in the same week! Sean told us about an adventurous trip to Alaska (“forget Texas, everything really is bigger in Alaska!”) where after being warned about the various bears, he had to go out and hunt them to help out the fishermen he was trying to work with.

Accidental Locavore Salasa IngredientsBefore the event, there was a networking period and a chance to explore Farmigo’s spacious new digs. Refreshments included beer from the Brooklyn Brewery (a neighbor), crudités, cheeses, salsa and chips, all labeled to show their local provenance. Possibly a sign that the sequel to Portlandia will be Brooklyndia?Accidental Locavore Sunset in Gowanus

 

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Playing With Food: Salami and Cheese Crisps

by Anne Maxfield on August 21, 2014

Accidental Locavore Salami CrispsThe Accidental Locavore was reading a recipe recently for an extremely big, complicated sandwich, part of which included a “frico” with salami and provolone. Since we had some very attractive salami and some normal-looking provolone, it seemed like a good idea to go play in the kitchen. It’s not really much of a recipe (and if you’ve ever made fricos (Parmesan crisps), you’ll know just what to do), but you really need to have a Silpat.

  • Thinly sliced salami
  • Sliced provolone

Accidental Locavore Cheese Covering SalamiPreheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a hotel pan or baking sheet with a Silpat. Depending on the size of your salami, place 1-3 slices on the Silpat, and cover with a slice of cheese. Do this for as many as you want and/or can fit on the sheet. Bake until golden brown all around the edges, about 10 minutes (keep your eye on them). Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack over another baking sheet. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Salami and CheeseMy verdict: The original recipe had you doing them in a cast iron skillet or griddle – huge mistake! There’s just no way to remove them in one piece. I tried with a big spatula, a flexible one and then with the two together but it just made a mess. The cast iron griddle wasn’t much better, although it was easier to get at them (only to mess them up again). Then the light bulb went off over my head and I remembered how to do fricos; just plop them on a Silpat and put them in the oven. As you can see from the photos, that worked. To give myself a fighting chance, when I removed the pan from the oven I put the cooling rack on top of the Silpat, flipped the whole thing over, and carefully peeled off the Silpat. Finally, success! The other advantage with the Silpat is that you can make a bunch of them at once. You might be able to do them on a parchment paper-lined pan, but I haven’t tried it. I thought they’d be good to dress up a hamburger, or could be silly hors d’oeuvres. Thinly sliced pepperoni or chorizo would be interesting and you could use almost any kind of cheese (grated into a small pile if you can’t find it sliced).  Chopping the salami might also help although it wouldn’t look as cool.

 

 

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Noshi’s Coney Island

by Anne Maxfield on August 18, 2014

Accidental Locavore Noshis Hot DogsLike the Accidental Locavore did, you could pass Noshi’s for ages without it registering in your consciousness. But if you did that, you’d be missing out on a really good local hot dog joint. At the end (or the beginning) of Main Street in Poughkeepsie there’s a faded sign, a couple of tables plopped on the sidewalk, and a warm welcome when you walk in.

Accidental Locavore Noshis Burger

A family-run place, it’s usually Dave, his wife, or one of his daughters ready to take your order. While hot dogs, in various combinations, are the house specialty, everything we’ve eaten there has been great! There are almost as many hamburger variations as hot dogs, and if that’s not enough for you, there are a couple of salads and some great sandwiches.

Accidental Locavore Noshis GyroWhat’s spoiled me from all other local diners is their gyro. Actually sliced from a spit (instead of those weird, diner-processed slices), the meat is then sautéed on the flat top, giving you a mix of nicely browned bits along with some tender inner pieces. All this is tossed on a griddled pita with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato and onions. Since I often leave most of the pita, Dave’s daughter whispered that you can order it as a salad. I’m not sure why it’s not as successful that way – maybe just too much lettuce in relationship to meat, but I prefer it as a sandwich (even if I eat it with a fork).

Accidental Locavore NoshisMy husband, when he’s not eating his way through the hot dog menu, loves the steak sandwich. This is high praise indeed from someone who comes from the home of highly-contested steak sandwiches – Philly! Real cheese and decent bread makes this a winner, and 168 miles closer. If Noshi’s were open past 5:00, I’d probably be cooking a lot less; as it is, Frank tries to keep it to a once-a-week lunch treat.

 

 

 

 

 

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