Sometimes, lo and behold, I get a little tired of pasta, and instead get a hankering for risotto. Creamy and indulgent, short-grain Arborio rice grains soaking up wine and broth and whatever flavorings have been sautéed and toasted on the bottom of my pan. What stops me is the notion that risotto is time consuming, risotto is difficult, risotto is easily-mess-up-able. Is it more time consuming that spaghetti with garlic and olive oil? Yes. Is it difficult? Hell no. Forget about standing over the stove stirring five cups of stock slowly, oh so slowly, into your risotto. Cook’s Illustrated has a no-fuss method and we’re never going back. What better way to give it a test run than with a lovely, allium-rich late spring risotto?
Hear ye, hear ye! There are local strawberries at the NYC farmer’s markets! Thank the fruit gods, that rhubarb bridge really did bring us to summer sweets, and more quickly than I had imagined. I had gone to the Union Square Greenmarket last Friday for asparagus and ramps for an upcoming risotto I’m cooking up, but there was no way I was forgoing those gorgeous scarlet gems when I stumbled upon them. And the Pennsylvania farmer who prominently displayed them (the only one that day) took credit cards, which solved my “I only brought $15” conundrum, hallelujah. Six dollars for one pint and $10 for two wouldn’t be a bargain for giant strawberries trucked from across the country, but for small, sweet, tender berries grown locally and only just picked, that $10 was money well-spent. I brought them home after a couple of hours walking around downtown, and when I removed them from the bag I was reminded how delicate local berries can be. They needed to be consumed or baked into something lovely, stat. Good thing the fella and I were going to my baby nephew’s (um, and brother and sister-in-law’s) house for pizza Friday. Why yes, I would make us some strawberry balsamic basil hand pies for dessert.
Spring has finally arrived: the sun is out this week, and rhubarb has been spotted — and picked through and procured — at the Union Square Greenmarket. “O, frabjous day! Callooh, callay!” she chortled in her joy. But what to do with these nearly neon pinky-green, celery-like stalks? Especially when trucked-in, beat-up strawberries are still upwards of $6 or $7 at the supermarket? Can rhubarb stand alone? The answer, unabashedly, is yes. And with a sweet, crackly, crumbly crisp envelope and a touch of orange, they shine as brightly as that sun out there. Continue reading →
Nothing says summer — even if it’s still technically spring — like fresh, sweet, red strawberries. I was trying very hard to wait to make these until I could get to the Union Square Greenmarket, where, I hear, strawberries are starting to line the tables. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t wait any longer. When I found juicy, fragrant strawberries at my local organic market, even if they were trucked in from California, I just couldn’t resist. Time for my favorite warm-weather breakfast treat: strawberry scones.
You’ve probably noticed a slow, steady decline in posts here at the ImaginariYUM over the past several weeks. Well, I might as well make it blog official: I’ve gone back to work full time. I’m once again a grown-up. Trust me, I lament the loss of my cat-desk much more than you could imagine, but I’ve gone to a good place, with great people, who, unfortunately, refuse to let me acquire a cat-desk for the office. I told them I’d be okay with a dog-desk, too, but they failed to see the use in that.
What this means is that, satiated though I am intellectually, my creative juices — no, my energy — is sapped by the time I get home. I’ve baked only one dessert since I started, which, honestly, brings tears to my eyes. Readjusting to normal adult life — with the inclusion of at least three intense after-work running sessions per week with my teammates — means that I am in survival mode. Wake, commute, work, commute, run, cook dinner, eat at 10pm, sleep. Repeat. And it’s only going to get worse when marathon training begins in less than two months. But at least I’ll be hungry.
As you can see, I’m still trying to create one new delicious dish to share with you each week, but I’m maybe drowning a bit, as seven days turns into nine, then to fourteen, and I know my posts often get hidden by the powers that be on Facebook, where the vast number of my wonderful following reside. (Which is why I will urge you to subscribe! See the top of the right column anywhere on the blog.)
I got a bit of a kick in the pants last Wednesday night when, in between 400-meter repeats on the track, my friend and teammate Caryn begged me not to stop. “I won’t,” I promised. “Don’t!” she said, just before we lined up, still breathless from the last lap, and we took off. And I won’t. I promise. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve gotten from some of you, your exclamations over some of my recipes. I always wanted my beauties to be my little secrets, but the truth is it’s kind of amazing to see my cookies on other people’s Instagram feeds. If I can’t share physical bites with the world, I sure as hell can show you how to make your own. Continue reading →
The cherry blossoms are blooming in Central Park. The magnolias are bursting in front yards all over Astoria. Daffodils are everywhere, and so are the people. Spring has finally sprung in New York, and nothing says spring, especially after an active day outside shaking off the last of winter’s hijinks, like a crunchy, herby salad filled with chicken, tomatoes, feta, and pasta.
It’s the perfect segue: ingredients that are available all year round, ready to be consumed the first day of the year you truly really want to put effort into making a savory meal that tastes like a warm, sunny day. And because it’s a salad, you can throw as much of this, as little of that as you’d like and it will be amazing every single time. That’s sort of the way I learned this one. I was visiting my friend Erin in Boston, probably a good ten years ago, when she suggested we make this for dinner. It hails from a possibly ancient issue of Cooking Light magazine, but we never measured anything. A handful of basil and parsley, a bunch of scallions, a bag of lettuce. And, okay, fine, a little too much penne that one day. I think once it was cooked it barely fit in the pot. I swear, it wasn’t me — but of course it was so very me. She just knows me so well. Needless to say, I have been hooked since that day, and this salad is a staple in my warm weather dinner arsenal. Continue reading →