Monday, August 31, 2009

Banana chocolate chip muffins

Welcome to the "Big Apple," have a banana muffin.

This past weekend, my boyfriend's family came into town to visit. Even though they were staying at a hotel (eight people crashing in our one bedroom apartment was not an option), I wanted to greet them with something homemade and tasty. I figured these muffins were a good option because they fill the aforementioned criteria and they travel well. They got rave reviews. Coming from four finicky nieces and nephews between the ages of 8 and 12, that's no small feat. File this recipe under "keeper".

These muffins aren't particularly sweet, but they are packed with chocolate chips. Go ahead and increase the amount of sugar or decrease the number of chips. You can also substitute nuts or dried fruit for the chocolate. The recipe can successfully be halved or doubled.

Banana chocolate chip muffins
makes 24

4 cups whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
5 or 6 large very ripe bananas, smashed
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 t vanilla
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
granulated sugar, for sprinkling
  • Preheat oven to 350 and place racks in the upper a lower thirds of the oven. Use muffin cups or lightly grease tins.
  • In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the rest of the ingredients, except for the chips, until thoroughly combined and smooth.
  • Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until there are only a few streaks of flour. Add chocolate chips and stir only a couple more times.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle lightly with sugar.
  • Bake for about 25 - 30 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and front to bake halfway through baking time, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Leek + goat cheese frittata

Supper is served and lunch is in the fridge!! When I'm pinched for time, I often defer to the incredible egg. I always have some in the fridge for moments like these and, because the urge to bake might hit me at any moment and (the idea of) a trip down and back up to my 5th floor walk-up to buy bland eggs from the corner bodega will surely blot out my desire. So, pick up some huevos.... They're an inexpensive (even when you buy them at a farmers market) source of protein and a blank canvas ready for anything that looks good at the market or whatever's past its prime in the fridge.

I like eggs (point taken) and I like to use them to make frittatas. Again, it's that pressed-for-time thing. This omelet, of sorts, comes together in less than 10 minutes. And the leftovers are perfectly flat for a sandwich. For this particular frittata, I used leeks and goat cheese.

Leek + goat cheese frittata
serves 2 with leftovers

2 large leeks, dark green parts discarded; washed and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
6 eggs
splash milk
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. goat cheese
  • In a medium saute pan, heat enough oil to coat bottom of pan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook until soft, 10 minutes.
  • Combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk well.
  • Preheat broiler
  • Add leeks to egg mixture and pour into a nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Cook slowly, without stirring, for about 4 minutes, or until the bottom has set. Scatter teaspoonfuls the cheese around the top of eggs (it should sit on top of the liquid eggs) and continue to cook for another minute.
  • Put the saute pan with eggs under the broiler until the eggs have set and the cheese is warm, 3 minutes. Remove from broiler and top with freshly cracked pepper.
  • Serve with a green salad and potatoes.
Potato "salad"

1 onion
olive oil
jalapeno, minced
2 large potatoes

Monday, August 24, 2009

Plum Torte

According to Florence Fabricant, the editor of The New York Times Dessert Cookbook, "This is the most frequently requested recipe that has been published in the Times." And how! This cake is super super (super) easy to make, and it really showcases the stone fruit of the season. Get thee you a farmers market and MAKE IT using whatever's ripe and raring to go; plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots or pluots... And visions of tortes will dance in your head.

Plum Torte

a Marian Burros recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar, plus more for topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
pinch salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
12 Italian prune plums, halved and pitted
1 t. ground cinnamon
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add dry ingredients to creamed butter. Add eggs, and beat well.
  • Spoon the batter into an 8, 9 or 10-inch springform pan and smooth evenly. Place plum halves skin side up on top of batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool cake in the pan until room temperature. Remove sides of pan and serve. Cake may be refrigerated or frozen at this point. If frozen, defrost and reheat briefly for at 300.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Stove top roasted peppers

These peppers are super versatile. Use them as part of an antipasto platter with meat and cheese, in pasta, on sandwiches or in the DELISH gazpacho below!!

stove top roasted peppers

bell peppers
  • Wash and dry peppers, then rub them thoroughly with oil.
  • Turn front burners to medium-high and place one pepper directly over each flame.
  • Using tongs, turn the peppers occasionally, to ensure even roasting, until peppers are blackened all over.
  • Transfer peppers to a work bowl and cover with plastic. Let steam for about 20 minutes, or until they reach room temperature.
  • Remove the roasted peppers from the bowl and, using your fingers or the back of a pairing knife, rub off all of the black skin.
  • Remove stems, pepper vertically in half and remove the seeds. Slice peppers into strips and season with salt.


Hooray, it's tomato season! For the next month or so I can think outside of the can and use fresh tomatoes to my heart's content (literally). The irresistible sweet and acidic fruit never comes cheap and this summer the prices have been inflated due to devastating "late blight", a fungal disease that has knocked out a huge number of the tomatoes in the Northeast. Our cold and wet spring made for unhappy tomatoes. And, in turn, unhappy farmers, who often rely on tomatoes to turn a profit. So, all the more reason to get out there and buy what's left of this years not-so-bumper crop. Make some cooking required!


6 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
1/2 large cucumber--peeled, halved, seeded and cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped or, for added flavor, roasted and cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup water
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
salt to taste

optional garnish:
diced cucumber
sliced onion
hot sauce
  • In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, garlic, water, oil and vinegar and process until coarsely pureed. Season with salt and adjust amount of vinegar if needed. Refrigerate until chilled.
  • Serve in chilled bowls with garnish.
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

peach + blueberry crostatas

We got just over a cup of blueberries in our CSA share this week and this didn't seem like quite enough for me to play with in a way I deemed fit. So, rather than gobbling them down on the spot, I decided to pair them with some of the uber-fragrant peaches from the green market. And what a combination they made! All wrapped up in a ridiculously tender (and simple, I might add) crust; I encourage you to make these babies soon. If, though, the thought of turning your oven on in the dog days of summer makes your skin crawl, wait until the fall and use apples, pears and cranberries. But really, you should make them NOW!

Individual peach + blueberry crostatas

makes 6

2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water
4 large peaches, halved, pitted and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 cup plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup blueberries
flour, for rolling dough
1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Make the crust. In a food processor, pulse the butter with the flour and salt until it resembles coarse meal. Add the water and pulse just until a dough forms. Alternatively, combine the butter and flour in a large work bowl and use your fingers to work the flour into the butter until it resembles meal. Add the water and mix until just combined. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and flatten each into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the filling. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches with 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, the cornstarch, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Fold in the berries.
  • Preheat oven to 375, place racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven and lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  • Roll the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each disk of dough until it's about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer 3 to each baking sheet. Spread the fruit on the rounds and fold about 1-inch of dough over the fruit to form a rim. Refrigerate filled crostatas for 30 minutes.
  • Brush the crusts with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 50 minutes, rotating the baking sheets (top to bottom and front to back) halfway through baking, until the crusts are golden. Transfer to racks to cool for about 20 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

CSA salad w Sauteed Mackerel

This composed salad requires a bit of time, but it's totally worth it. Boil the eggs and potatoes and roast the pepper the day before and it won't seem like such an arduous meal. While you're at it, make a couple extra eggs for a grab-n-go breakfast, boil a few more potatoes for that potato salad you're taking to the pot luck BBQ this weekend and that second pepper, it'll be perfect for gazpacho. You just took care of like four meals!!

A basic vinaigrette to dress the greens and potatoes and a simple 'salsa' to top the fish (which, by the way, cooks in all of six minutes) quickly bring the salad together. This is a healthy and extremely satisfying meal. Seriously... I had a warm peach tart sittin' pretty on the kitchen counter for dessert and skipped it because I felt just right after the salad. Hello! Peach tart for breakfast...can't beat that!

A note on the fish...Mackerel is a great choice because it's chock full of omega-3 fatty acids which are SO good for us and it's not overfished and, therefore, environmentally friendly (which is rare when it comes to fish these days). That said, if you can't find mackerel, go ahead and use whatever's fresh. Likewise, the rest of the elements of the salad can be substituted.

CSA salad w sauteed mackerel
serves 4

2 hard-boiled eggs
2 large new potatoes, cooked
1 roasted pepper
tomato caper salsa
1 bunch arugula, washed and torn into bite size pieces
4 5oz fillets mackerel


  • Place eggs in small saucepan and cover with cold water by an inch.
  • Over high heat, bring water JUST to a boil, cover pot and turn off heat. Let stand 15 minutes.
  • Pour off cooking water and cool eggs in ice water.
new potatoes

  • Place potatoes in small saucepan and cover with cold water by an inch.
  • Over high heat, bring water to a boil, turn heat down to medium so the water is gently bubbling and cook potatoes until easily pierced with a pairing knife, about 25 minutes.
roasted peppers


1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 T capers, rinsed and chopped
  • Combine tomatoes and capers in a small bowl. Make sure to taste before seasoning as capers tend to be salty.

1 half white onion, diced
1 t Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
2 T Champagne or white wine vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
  • In a cleaned jam jar, combine the onion, mustard and vinegar. Season to taste.
  • Add the olive oil, tightly put lid on jar and shake vigorously until emulsified. Taste again and adjust any of the ingredients until you like the flavors.
compose salad
  • Cut eggs in half lengthwise and the cut each half lengthwise again. You should have 8 pieces total.
  • Cut potatoes crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces. Place potatoes on a plate in one layer and pour half of the vinaigrette over them.
  • Cook the fish: heat a 12-inch saute pan over medium high heat until hot but not smoking, add 3 T olive oil, turn heat up to high and, when the oil is shimmering, add fillets skin side down. Cook for 6 minutes. Turn off heat.
  • Dress arugula with remaining vinaigrette, divide among four plates and top greens with one fish fillet, skin side up. Top each piece of fish with 1/4 of the salsa and then divide the eggs, potatoes and peppers evenly among the plates.
  • Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Farro w eggplant + tomatoes

Hitting the farmers market late in the day might not be the best time to find a wide variety of produce, or if you're looking for something in particular. But, it is the best time to find a bargain. I brought home a bounty without spending a fortune!

Among other things, I got a big eggplant that I typically would've skipped in search of a couple of smaller ones, but it was slim pickins and the reduced price was right. With an eggplant in my possession and pasta on the brain (always), I bought some super sweet plum tomatoes to make a quick summer sauce. I ended up using farro instead of pasta and purslane (the guy at the market was practically giving it away) instead of basil in the sauce, so the following is merely a base recipe. Whatever you do though, this is a bowl full of summer goodness.

Farro w eggplant and tomatoes
serves 2 with a leftover lunch

3 T olive oil
1 large eggplant, cut into cubes
5 plum tomatoes, cut into a large dice
1 cup semi-pearled farro
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1 T pine nuts, toasted
use any herbs you have on hand as garnish
  • In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and saute eggplant until soft and caramelized, 10 minutes. Lightly season with salt, add tomatoes, reduce heat to medium and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 minutes. Add herbs and season to taste.
  • Meanwhile, cook the farro in boiling salted water until al dente, about 20 minutes, drain and add vinegar.
  • Serve sauce over farro and sprinkle with pine nuts.
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chill out w cantaloupe soup

The farm stands in Stone Harbor, NJ are brimming with the season's bounty. Melons, berries and corn beg to be eaten now, while the nectarines and peaches, still a little bit hard, will be perfect in a few weeks.

The earthy fragrance of the cantaloupe overwhelmed our car on the short drive to the homestead and, as it turned out, was already passed its prime. Luckily, family run Conovers was happy to give us a new one! Initially, I thought we'd have cantaloupe and bacon for breakfast (a spin on Prosciutto and melon), but because our first try was thwarted, we ended up bringing the new melon back to NYC and, by that time, I was craving something different...

Having indulged in more than a happy amount of summertime "junk" food, enter cantaloupe soup. Obviously, my version of a cleanse doesn't compare to the aggressive Master Cleanse (even remotely), but frankly, I don't want to spend 10 days in the bathroom. Two days of fruit soup and some poached chicken broth with greens, and my stomach is already grumbling again. That's all I needed; to feel hungry again. Hungry for some damn good melon soup! Serve it for breakfast, brunch and dessert. Or, if you get over-heated in your air conditioner-less apartment.

Cantaloupe Soup

1 cantaloupe
2 cups orange juice, divided
juice of half a lime
juice of half a lemon
1 t honey
1/8 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1/4 t five-spice powder
garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt
  • Prepare cantaloupe: cut in half crosswise and scoop out seeds, cut in half again, place on flat side and cut rind from the flesh from top to bottom (see below). Cut melon into chunks and place in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup orange juice and blend until smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl or large Tupperware and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate for a least an hour. Serve chilled.
  • Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Orecchiette w lentils + kale

Quick and easy. Cheap as chips. Yummy:)

Orecchiette with lentils and kale
serves 2 with leftovers

1/2 cup lentils
2 cups water
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 pound kale
3/4 pound orecchiette
  • In a small saucepan, simmer lentils in 2 cups water with 1/4 teaspoon salt, uncovered, adding more water to keep lentils barely covered, until tender but not falling apart, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt.
  • While lentils simmer, caramelize the onions following the directions in purple here...
  • Meanwhile, cut and discard stems and from kale. Cook in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until just tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer kale to a colander to drain, pressing lightly.
  • Add orecchiette to boiling water and cook according to package.
  • Squeeze all excess liquid from kale, coarsely chop and add to caramelized onions along with lentils in there liquid. Simmer, stirring, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  • When pasta is al dente, reserve about 1 cup pasta-cooking liquid, and drain. Add pasta to lentil mixture along with enough cooking liquid to keep the pasta moist and cook over medium-high heat, tossing, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Top with grated Parmesan cheese if you like.
  • Enjoy!