Ottolenghi’s Tomato Salad

by Anne Maxfield on September 4, 2014

Accidental Locavore Ottlenghi Tomato SaladSometimes, looking at the availability of good ingredients, you wonder about the timing of cookbooks. The Accidental Locavore tried to get a reviewer’s copy of the upcoming Plenty More (due out in October) and was turned down. Luckily, Bon Appetit ran a few recipes from the book and this tomato salad caught my eye. I roasted the lemons ahead of time (on a cool evening), so they were ready to go and this came together quickly:

  • 1 lemon, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ pound mixed cherry tomatoes, or small heirlooms quartered
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large

Preheat oven to 325°. Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water 2 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain and pat dry.

Accidental Locavore Sliced LemonsToss lemon slices with sage, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium bowl. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lemons are dry and starting to brown about 15–20 minutes. Let cool.

Whisk pomegranate molasses, allspice, and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add lemons, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and mint. Toss gently; season with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: A great change from tomatoes and mozzarella, it’s light and refreshing, with a nice tang from the lemons and pomegranate molasses and it might be the easiest salad dressing on the planet! My pomegranate molasses will be getting a lot more use from now on – it was great with the tomatoes and mint. I also really liked the roasted lemon slices and saved some to toss in with my usual lunch salad. Next time, I’ll roast a couple of lemons at the same time and keep them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge for future use – they’d be good with a chicken too. Mint would also go well if you didn’t have any sage. My husband thought the lemon slices would be better cut in half, but I liked them as is.

And I’d still love to see a reviewer’s copy of the book…

 

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Maison Kayser Revisited, or a Great Lunch!

by Anne Maxfield on September 2, 2014

Accidental Locavore at Maison KayserSometimes it’s just great being the Accidental Locavore! As you know I’ve written a couple of times about Maison Kayser (it’s my favorite croissant in Manhattan). Their PR person, Janet Mick, invited me to lunch at their newest location on Third Avenue and 87th Street and I eagerly accepted!

It’s a nice, airy space, with a big seating area and a smaller take-out counter. If you’re seated in the right spot, you can watch the croissants going in and coming out of a stack of big ovens, and if you weren’t hungry before….

Accidental Locavore Tomatoes and BurattaIn the interest of trying as much of the menu as two people could, we started out with beautiful small heirloom tomatoes topped with burrata and pesto – a perfect August appetizer! Then, we added the fois gras torchons which came with their great bread toasted, and a cherry chutney. If you’re wondering how good they were, the fact that they were both pretty much demolished before I thought to take photos should be proof enough, right?

Accidental Locavore Fig TartineAfter that, I had a wonderful tartine with goat cheese, fresh figs and caramelized onions. It was a perfect blend of flavors (and looked great to boot). Janet had the salad d’Été—a big bowl full of fresh summer produce topped off with shrimp and a light lemon dressing.

Along with all this great food, Marine, the manager of this location, made sure we had the full selection of the breads Maison Kayser is famous for. Because I’ve had nut allergies, we had to skip the wonderful looking turmeric bread with nuts, but she made up for it with their amazing light rye with lemon zest (can’t wait to take some of that home and toast it!), a fig bread that would be perfect with a nice chèvre, whole grain, seeded (poppy and sesame) and white breads, any of which would be great to have around the house.

Accidental Locavore Dessert TrioWe couldn’t leave without at least a little taste of one of their incredible pastries, so Marine went off to surprise us. She came back with a trio of desserts, ranging from a dense dark chocolate tart, the Adagio with a passion fruit center and a chocolate glaze, a trio of bite-sized raspberry tarts (proving, as my husband always says, “the French really understand raspberries!’) and my favorite, the Saint-Honoré, three small cream puffs resting on a pastry base with caramel whipped cream. The crunch of the caramel glaze along with the cream and the pastry was just spectacular!

Accidental Locavore Maison Kayser GoodiesPart of what makes everything so good is that each location bakes everything from scratch, every day. The croissants are made hourly, to ensure that they’re always fresh. I mentioned to Marine that I was going to grab a couple to take to my cousin’s (where I was spending the night). She said she’d put together a few things for me to take home and I left lugging a huge shopping bag. There were croissants, plain and a giant chocolate one, fabulous chocolate chip cookies, a flakey palmier and a sweet bun, so we feasted through the night and had a fabulous breakfast the next morning!

If you’ve had your fill of that other French place, definitely check out Maison Kayser. This time I was their guest, but when I’ve been there on my own, the food has been consistently delicious, more interesting and the service better. There are now five of them in Manhattan, with a sixth opening in time for pre-marathon carbo-loading on the Upper West Side.

 

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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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