A couple weekends ago, the Frenchman and I absconded from the city to the country. It was a necessary escape. New York in the summer is stifling, the heat gets trapped between the buildings and it makes you crazy. It took us two hours just to get out of the city, but it was all worth it, when we crossed the Rip Van Winkle Bridge (yes, it’s a real thing), high above the broad band of the Hudson, straight toward the dusky outline of mountains.
I’d booked our farmstay in January, so you could say that I was looking forward to it.
We pulled into the farm past 9pm, and it was so dark we had to use our brights as flashlights. There was a rib eye from the farm store waiting for us in the fridge. I flicked on the chef’s range and seared that baby over hot, hot heat with just a bit of Maldon sea salt and black pepper. I stirred olive oil and lemon juice and more salt into mixed diced tomatoes for a quick salad, and the Frenchman poured us tall glasses of red wine. We ate dark chocolate for dessert, over a fierce game of Scrabble.
Kinderhook Farm is impossibly bucolic, verdant, and lovely; such a stark contrast from the noisy, rush-about city. The renovated barn where we stayed had soaring ceilings and stripped wooden floors that creaked slightly, satisfyingly under bare feet. We spent much of our time shuffling languidly between the wide, open kitchen and the picnic table/double hammock situation in the yard, although I won’t soon forget the view from the shower: yawning pasture, stretching greenly in three directions. Read more
I spent most of my kitchen-time last week testing ice cream recipes, none of which were successful. I had high hopes for a ripe market cantaloupe and buttermilk ice cream, but the results were consistently too icy. I moved on to a doughnut peach base, swirled with rivulets of deeply purple blackberry quick jam. But the flavor was always too muted; doughnut peaches might be better for eating juicily, messily over the kitchen sink than stirred into ice cream.
Now I have three new ice cream recipe ideas burning a hole in my pocket (did I mention I really love ice cream?), but I needed a break–ice cream can be finicky to make, it’s time consuming to test, and it makes me grumpy-pants when I get it wrong. And August is not a month for finicky, time-consuming recipes.
Instead, I went in the opposite direction: a (relatively) quick, savory dip, starring a deep-summer vegetable. Read more
It’s too hot for cooking. Plus, the Frenchman is away on business in Atlanta (which, somehow, is cooler and less humid than New York, go figure), so I don’t feel like making a big fuss. Dinner the past few nights has consisted of various salads spooned onto toast, usually with a bit of cheese, sometimes with a runny egg.
It’s handy to keep a running arsenal of these minimally cooked, stuff-on-toast ideas for the very middle of summer, when produce is outstanding, but the idea of turning on your oven is more than you can handle right now, do you have any idea how sweltering a NYC train platform is, seriously how long do I have to wait for this stupid train to arrive, thank you very much.
These “recipes” are largely interchangeable–use the bread, cheese, and herbs you prefer. Use whatever fruit or vegetables look best at the market. When you have excellent summer ingredients on hand, it’s sort of hard to screw it up. Read more
Disclosure: at the moment I am sick and chilly, and a hot beverage described as “the best thing [Harry] ever tasted, [a drink that] seemed to heat every bit of him from the inside” sounds pretty appealing.
Buttered Beer is actually a real drink dating back to Tudor England involving ale, butter, egg yolks, and various heady aromatics like aniseed, licorice root, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and what have you. Butterbeer, however, is a fictional tipple summoned from the clever mind of J.K. Rowling. Read more
The Frenchman and I recently fled the city to visit a friend who is finishing her PhD on Long Island. For the year, she is renting an impossibly charming cottage with overgrown woods to its back. A crescent stone wall encloses a slate patio, bursting at the seams with fanning dandelion greens. There is space enough to enjoy the working fire pit.
To the front, a covered, wrap around porch gives way to a flagged path, gives way to a gravel drive, gives way to a bay strewn with boats. At low tide, they cant like children napping in the car. The air smells of wet piles, of salt-licked weeds, of secret bivalves buried in the silt.
The house is small, but windowed on all sides, so that even on the rainy day we visited, gossamer light followed us from room to room. Read more
Butter, sugar, salt. When balanced properly, is there a happier confluence of ingredients? (The answer is no, unless you’d like to discuss the merits of cream, yolks, and sugar.)
My goal for this batch of cookies was to bridge the transition weeks from warm to colder weather. Toasted walnuts and notes of nutmeg tackle the ‘oh my, it’s quite nippy, I think I’d like something conforming’ aspects of fall, while drops of strawberry jam brighten each sablé and remind of sunny afternoons.
I decided these sablés (a word that means “sand” in French, in reference to both the cookie’s color and texture) should be pop-able, but ample enough so that a few would satisfy. Read more
Welcome to The Roaming Kitchen’s brand new, very first, Friday mini-post! I’ve decided to share my kitchen exploits with you, lovely readers, more than once a week.
These installations will fall somewhere between actual recipes and photographic inspiration; they are meant to be very simple, and manageable for even the most reluctant cook. Some ingredients will reflect the season, but more often than not, this column will show you how to coax new life into a leftover slice of bread, a nub of cheese, or a vegetable wilting in the crisper.
So, without further ado, Shishito peppers: Read more