Roasted Mushroom Grilled Cheese with Cheddar + Chèvre

I’ve started to notice the mushroom man at the market again, with his practical windbreaker and earnest smile. He looks misty-forest ready, as if he arrived at the market by way of a foraging expedition. He must be pedaling something magic, I think, because his line is five shoppers deep at the market on Sundays. Or maybe it’s just that time of year.

The Frenchman has been away for two weeks now, and I am melancholy. But, there is just enough of a chill in the air to encourage me to turn on the oven. While I don’t feel inclined to make a production out of dinner for one, I do find that chopping vegetables, and then watching them transform at the oven door like a child at the aquarium, acts as a temporary nostrum. This recipe is a simple supper, a satisfying lunch. Plus, the Frenchman loves this combination of roasted mushrooms, onions, and potatoes. I cook it and pretend as though he is here. Read more »

End of Summer Tagliatelle

This pasta is my little swan-song to the end of summer. It contains everything I’ve cooked like crazy this season: slow roasted tomatoes by the armful, sweet corn, and fresh cheese. It’s balanced, tasty, and simple.

I made this with (store bought) basil pesto (hey, the Frenchman is away on business this week, so I’m keeping dinner as effortless as possible), but you can use arugula, or really whatever kind of pesto you’re into. Also, the butter is not mandatory, but it helps to bind the sauce together, and pushes the tagliatelle in the direction of a restaurant-rich pasta dish. I think the taste of toasty hazelnuts complements the dish, but if you prefer, you can substitute breadcrumbs–the point is to give the pasta a little crunch for textural diversity.

My suggestion is to roast the tomatoes the night before. They need so little attention, it’s no hardship to forget them in the oven once you get home from work. Pour yourself a cocktail, or give your kid a bath. Before The Daily Show comes on, the tomatoes will be done–flavor concentrated and ready to burst. Read more »

Slow Roasted, Late Summer Salsa

Is this sacrilege? At the same time I’m buying blackberries in bulk–lay them on a baking sheet, move to the freezer; in a few hours, you’ll have un-clumped berries you can toss into baggies for winter–I am starting to flip through the fall chapters of my favorite cookbooks. Nigel Slater, David Tanis: they are already nudging me towards fall, what with their talk of hunks of pork roasted over beds of thyme, deep apple crisps cooked in earthenware pots, Dutch ovens full of lentils gemmed with sturdy vegetables. I am looking forward to mushrooms in cast iron: cook them in salty butter flecked with parsley, until they’re deep and warm and nutty; twist into strands of pasta bejeweled with crisp-fried nuggets of pancetta, sprinkled with a dusting of some hard, sharp cheese.

But I digress.

We are living in the strange, liminal time where the Fall Season has been trumpeted, and yet: I’m still picking weighty tomatoes off the farmers market pallet, and also melons, and silky husks of corn. I’m still carting home the peaches, the zucchini, the eggplant. Did I miss the figs entirely? (More on that next week.) I’m buying peppers of all sorts by the armful, and cherry and pear tomatoes (why are tiny tomatoes named after other fruit?) Toss those baby tomatoes in olive oil, salt, and pepper; roast for 2 hours at 250F, and then for another hour at 200F. The result will be burst-in-your-mouth, crostini-or-pasta-perfect tomatoes. Add garlic, and a spoonful of ricotta. Read more »

Zucchini-Corn Fritters with Spicy Yogurt Dipping Sauce

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 »

Roast Eggplant Dip

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 »

When It’s Too Hot To Cook: Summer Tartines

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 »

Tortilla Primavera

Today I’ve tasked myself with organizing a Fourth of July party–in France. I’m not normally the most patriotic person in the room, but my status as the (presumably) only American for many miles has suddenly given me the irrepressible impetus to represent my country, to explain the holiday to any and all Frenchies who’ve crossed my path over the past several days.

Of course, my interest in the 4th is mostly food-and-pool related (is that bad? ah well), although I’m never one to snub my nose at fireworks, either. (Fortunately, I got to watch a spectacular show on the beach just a few days ago, as Châtelaillon was celebrating the start of summer with some feu d’artifice of their own.)

Anyway, here’s what I’m making: Read more »

Spring Hash

Yesterday evening, after twenty hours of travel, the Frenchman and I arrived in La Rochelle. The trip, maddeningly, took longer than expected: a delayed flight resulted in a missed train, resulted in an extra four hours of airport get the picture. When our (second) train at last pulled into the station, I was feeling decidedly sleep deprived.

But then the Frenchman’s family appeared. They peppered us with kisses, and their sheer enthusiasm was a tonic more efficacious than coffee.

And so we waltzed to the old port, to a café table facing the ancient towers. We ordered a round of frosty beers, and shared a plate of brine-bright oysters from Île d’Oléron. The evening was sunny and breezy. Read more »