Top Ten Tomatoes!

by Anne Maxfield on August 20, 2015

Accidental Locavore Blue Bowl With TomatoesSince you might have a few beautiful tomatoes kicking around, the Accidental Locavore is happy to share some of my favorite things to do with them, starting with:

  1. How to pick a good tomato: some tips to make sure you get the best from the market, whether they’re Purple Cherokees or good ol’ beefsteaks.
  2. But before you go poking all those tomatoesAccidental Locavore Tomatoes Stem Side Down
  3. Why should you store tomatoes upside down? We all know not to store tomatoes in the fridge (kills the flavor), but did you know to store them on the counter, stem-side down? It keeps them fresher longer because the moisture can’t escape through the opening where the stem was. Peaches work this way too.Accidental Locavore Gazpacho With Croutons
  4. If you’re in the mood for soup, here are two very different but equally delicious recipes for gazpacho, smooth and chunky. My current fave is the smooth, but what about you?Accidental Locavore Tomato Mozzarella Basil
  5. You know how to do the classic caprese – tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. If I can find good smoked mozzarella, that’s what I go for, although recently these little mozzarella balls have caught my attention. A drizzle of good olive oil, sea salt and maybe a splash of balsamic and you’re done!Accidental Locavore Chili Tomatoes
  6. If you’ve got a plethora of cherry tomatoes, here’s a recipe for them, packing some heat. It’s simple and quick (and the Martha Stewart story with the recipe will make you smile).
  7. Still have a lot left, or some small heirlooms? This recipe from Ottolenghi is a little more complicated, but well worth the extra 20 minutes!
  8. Moving into main courses, but still using the cherry tomatoes, here’s a good, fresh pasta sauce that comes together in no time. And you can keep it simple, or dress it up, depending on your mood.Accidental Locavore Tomatoes Stuffed
  9. One of my all-time favorite things to do with tomatoes, especially the biggies like the German Stripes I adore, is to stuff them. Any kind of sausage is good, and any size will work, but the really huge ones make a great presentation!
  10. To end, how about a pie? When I make a ratatouille pot pie it’s always a big hit with my friends (and worth turning the oven on for).

Serve and enjoy!

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Dinner at the Seafire Grill

by Anne Maxfield on August 17, 2015

Accidental Locavore Seafire Grill InteriorRecently the Accidental Locavore was invited to try out the (new to me) Seafire Grill. It’s a big room on East 48th Street. When you enter, there’s a large, active bar to your right and a long dining room behind that. We were warmly greeted by Aron the manager, sporting a good-looking pink tie.

Even though it was a Wednesday night in the summer, the bar and restaurant were packed, with large parties enjoying themselves. That didn’t keep the service from being perfectly attentive, a sign of a well-run restaurant.

When you sit down, a basket of flatbread crackers and focaccia arrive at the table with the house specialty – a very tasty whitefish spread. It had a nice smoky flavor, which distracted from the slightly stale focaccia.

The wine list is extensive and interesting, with plenty of selections, both red and white, at all price points. We decided on a lovely Sancerre from the list of half bottles.

Accidental Locavore Oysters RockefellerWhat’s interesting about Seafire Grill is that it’s run like a steak house. Large, generally unadorned portions of seafood can be complimented by a host of side dishes and vegetables. While several of the dishes have an Asian flair, there’s nothing “weird” on the menu – it’s all pretty straight-forward.

Our self-imposed ground rules were that we couldn’t order the same thing so we could taste as many different dishes as two people could. We started out with the tuna tartare and oysters Rockefeller. The tuna came on a bed of seaweed salad which was a little sweet, but the tuna was perfectly fresh and nicely prepared. Oysters Rockefeller are a pretty traditional dish, but every now and then they hit the spot and these certainly did! The addition of some pink peppercorns gave the well-prepared oysters a nice punch.

Accidental Locavore Arctic CharI opted for the daily special of Arctic char over julienned zucchini and soba noodles. Perfectly cooked, it was nicely flavored and the pickled ginger that topped it was a good addition.

After a short debate as to whether swordfish was still on the do-not-eat list (if it’s American it’s okay) my friend had the Montauk swordfish. It came with two sauces, one an avocado, similar to a guacamole, and a Seafire version of a remoulade. Again, it was a perfectly cooked piece of fish, well-spiced and enhanced with the avocado sauce.

Accidental Locavore Seafire AsparagusWe were encouraged to order some vegetables and since kale always sounds too healthy, we went with the asparagus. It was billed as having black truffles and Parmesan (definitely not as virtuous as the kale). Five average-sized spears came to the table. Sadly there was no sense of either truffle or Parmesan – just some balsamic-colored sauce with no discernible flavor.

If you’re not a fish lover, there are plenty of meat options, including a good variety of steaks and surf & turf, if you’re really on the fence.

Desserts were tempting, with a good selection of the classics (cheesecake, crème brûlee, molten chocolate cake) to what looked like a nice trip of cheeses but we were way too full from the generous portions to indulge.

The night we were there it was pretty noisy, but there were two large tables behind us which probably created the din. We both remarked that the wait-staff was exactly attentive enough – a delicate balancing act, especially as it got busier and busier. Prices are what you would expect for midtown, with all the fish being pristine and perfectly cooked.

I’d like to thank both Aron and Alex, Seafire Grill’s managers, for a lovely dinner and Janet, for putting it all together.

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Turkish Spiced Chicken With Green Sauce

by Anne Maxfield on August 13, 2015

Accidental Locavore Turkish Chicken With Green SauceBeing a lover of all foods Middle Eastern (okay, maybe just all foods), the Accidental Locavore made this chicken recipe for dinner recently. Give it some time to marinate but don’t worry, the marinade comes together really quickly, so you can do it in the morning before you take off. The ingredients for the sauce are going in a food processor, so you can just coarsely chop them. Serves 4:

Accidental Locavore Marinade for Turkish ChickenFor the chicken:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs

Accidental Locavore Sauce for Turkish ChickenFor the sauce:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 chiles, jalapeno or Serrano (more or less to taste), seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Leaves from 8 sprigs of mint
  • ½ cup pitted green olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • Lemon wedges to serve

Mix the olive oil, cinnamon, cayenne, cumin, garlic and salt and pepper in a small bowl to make a marinade. Make little slits all over the underside of the pieces of chicken with the point of a knife. Put the chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over, turning to coat. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking.

Make the sauce just before you cook the chicken. Put the garlic, chiles, cilantro, mint and olives and vinegar in the workbowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined. Gradually add the olive oil and process until you have a rough paste (it should be chunky). Add lemon juice and salt to taste and set aside in a small bowl.

Accidental Locavore Grilled Turkish ChickenHeat a grill or grill pan on medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and shake off the excess. Cook the chicken for about two minutes on each side, then reduce the heat to low and cook for another four minutes per side. The chicken should be cooked through and singed, but not burnt.

Serve the chicken with the sauce and lemon wedges and enjoy!

My verdict: Great! I did the chicken thighs on the grill and they were delicious! If you can’t grill, a grill pan, or even a hot (400°) oven with a sheet pan would work fine. The sauce is really good with them and you can adjust the spice and salt to suit your personal taste (so mine was nice and spicy). The sauce would go well with a firm fish or even some lamb chops. I served the chicken with couscous and some green beans, but eggplant would be a good side dish too. If you have any Greek yogurt or labneh, you could add that too.

 

 

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Green Tower: Growing Your Own Sprouts

by Anne Maxfield on August 10, 2015

Accidental Locavore Green Towers BoxSometimes the Accidental Locavore is just overloaded with interesting things to use or taste! I was recently contacted by the start-up Green Towers. They’re working on several solutions for sustainable farming, including vertical farming and subscription boxes for you to grow your own produce. And coming soon, an indoor-outdoor beekeeping system, which looks fascinating (but since we’ve already had 20,000 honeybees removed from the house, I’ll pass on that).

Accidental Locavore Green Towers Day 3Since I’m not the world’s best gardener, having me grow one seemed like a good test to see how foolproof it was. About a month ago, a large carton arrived holding a big, black plastic tray, filled with dirt and seeds, and a clear cover. Once it’s set up, you add water until the soil is moist, place in a sunny spot and wait. In two weeks you should have sprouts – in my case radishes. As it turned out, mine was one of the early models, so many of the issues I had—mostly with the packaging – have been addressed.

I put the box on the edge of my herb garden and remembered to water it every other day or so. Sprouts appeared almost immediately and looked like mini plants by the end of the week. After about ten days they were big enough to harvest, so I did. For my almost-daily lunch salads, I’d just chop off a handful and dump them into the bowl. They taste like extremely mild radishes and add a nice flavor note to whatever greens I have.

Accidental Locavore Green Towers Day 14It’s a fun thing to have and if you are really into sprouts, you’ll love it! As I said in the beginning, if I can grow them, anyone can. Besides the packaging issues, which they say have been resolved, the box is awfully deep. It wouldn’t fit on most window sills, which may be a problem, especially in the winter. Two narrower boxes would probably work better, especially for apartment living, and you would also have the chance to have more than one crop at a time.

Accidental Locavore Salad With SproutsWhich brings me to my second issue. I’m not a huge eater of sprouts, and we’re only two people. The box holds a LOT of sprouts! Even though Green Towers have some beautiful recipe photos on Pinterest, I’m not sure what a normal person would do with all this greenery (share it with a friend or neighbor?). I’ve cut a few small bunches and tossed in salads, but am afraid that it might all go bad if not eaten in time. And if you’re getting them monthly, maybe mixing in some mesclun would add variety and make the $45/month a little more palatable, especially in the middle of winter when something fresh, green and local would be a big treat indeed!

 

 

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