Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I find it appropriate that Panzanella is the first thing I made in my New York kitchen. After a week-long restaurant binge that could rival my best vacation eating on record (Cookshop, Tipsy Parson, Crema Restaurante, Oyster Bar, Bleecker Street Pizza, Txikito, Shake Shack, a culinary tour through Chinatown, and Otto Enotecca) I needed to slow down and make a simple and affordable dish.
Panzanella is considered peasant food in Italy. At least it was when the salad was created as a way to use up stale bread. A bit of a peasant myself these days (no paycheck in site and a culinary education to pay for) I am trying to take on my own waste-not-want-not mentality. Rather than discarding stale bread, I can chop it up, sauté it with a little olive oil and garlic and toss it with some chopped vegetables already on hand. It means lunch is thrown together without running out for additional ingredients. Simply put, Panzanella is delicious and makes me feel good about my grocery budget. Added bonus? I do not have to preheat my oven in the sweltering New York heat.
I ate this salad right away, but it gets even better after a few hours as the flavors meld together.
Next up – finding ways to use up mounds of julienned carrots without turning on my oven. Practicing my knife skills at home, where there is no industrial pot of chicken stock waiting at the ready for my carrot donations, may turn me orange from carrot consumption.
7-inch long piece of baguette (multigrain or other)
3 T of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, smashed and skin removed
6 baby roma tomatoes (or 2 regular roma tomatoes, roughly chopped)
2 oz buffalo mozzarella
2 t balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Cut the baguette into 1-inch chunks. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and fry the garlic clove for one minute. Add the bread and salt liberally. Reduce heat to medium and sauté until bread is crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. While the bread is cooking, peel the cucumber and chop into 1-inch pieces. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. When the bread is crisp, place it in a medium bowl along with the cucumber and tomatoes. Using your hands, rip the mozzarella into small pieces and add to the bowl. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the bread mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I am sitting in the living room of my Chelsea apartment, as close to the air conditioner as I can get, with my feet elevated. It is nearing midnight on day three in New York and I am wiped out. So much has happened in the past 72 hours and I feel as though it may all pass me by in a whirlwind if I do not start documenting it.
Things I have learned about New York so far:
1. It is July and air conditioning is supremely important. I am grateful for the powerful unit in our living room and even more grateful for my favorite Chelsea discovery: Manhattan Fruit Exchange. The entire place is refrigerated like a walk-in cooler and they have at least 12 varieties of mushrooms at wholesale prices. Though I must admit, 12 is an estimate because I forgot to count. I was too happy about being cold.
2. For some reason, a lot of well-cooled retail establishments have their doors open. Walk slowly as you pass these places.
3. They say you are a real New Yorker when you stop looking up. I think you are a real New Yorker when you stop talking about air conditioning in July.
4. Your feet are going to hurt. Your feet will hurt slightly less if you change shoes often and vary the height of the heel.
5. Even with my Ray-Ban sunglasses, I am not fashionable enough to be mistaken for a local.
I am sure there are more New York lessons on the way, but by all means, if you are a local and can save me the trouble of having to learn them the hard way, please help a girl out.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Welcome to my breakfast. This is what I have come to call pantry eating. I have not been to the grocery store in a week and a half. I refuse to buy new groceries in an attempt to use up the many boxes of various grains that crowd my pantry and the stocks, proteins and numerous containers that are taking up my freezer. I am hoping to use, not throw away, the contents of my kitchen before I clear out.
The picture is of the grits and eggs and that are quickly becoming a staple for breakfast. I wish I had something more elegant to show you or even a recipe to share, but it is just not in the cards this week. My kitchen is in boxes halfway to New York and I have done next to no cooking.
Instead, my week has been filled with finding places to store boxes, trips to Goodwill and realizations that I really did not ever need so much stuff anyway. I think any move is a good time to go through your belongings and trim the fat, but a move to a small New York apartment will really show you how little you need to exist comfortably.
Today is day four of official unemployment and as I awake to find that I have already found a home for every box and that most of my furniture is spoken for, I realize it is time to slow down and start to say my goodbyes to those I care about in Los Angeles. I am much better at the busy ‘doing’ rather than the slow and sometimes painful feelings associated with goodbye. Unfortunately, with no more boxes to move and only four days left in Los Angeles, I cannot avoid the goodbyes any longer.