French Dinner, Part Deux
Created by women in New York City looking to hop on the blog train. We're a supper club started in 2006 by women looking to share culinary experiences.
Bonjour Amis! The Chefs in the City girls met this month for a fantastic French dinner. Our dinner was super rich, super buttery, super cheesy and super sweet! Ooh la la!!
I was really looking forward to this month’s dinner. I love
Unlike many foreign travel experiences, my time in
Quite oddly, and rather ironically, I ate quite untraditionally while staying in
This month’s cooking club gave me an opportunity to finally have a proper home-cooked French meal. The meal, complete with various French cheeses of course, consisted of a portobello mushroom variation to filet Charlemagne, a buttery shallot and local brussel sprout dish, a potato gratin and a cherry clafouti finale. It truly was another delicious and successful Chefs in the City dinner!
While we sat around Kendra’s table talking about our local New York City lives and experiences, my mind was across the ocean in France dreaming of distant memories of experiences I only hope to relive again; but next time, through food!
Until next time...
Until next time...
I love how it feels like Fall. Although Indian summers are not unusual in New York, it has felt like the summer heat has been lingering a bit too long this year. This past weekend, however, it really felt like the seasons had changed and Fall had arrived. The weather was cool and crisp, and if I could speculate, I would imagine the leaves on the trees changing colors and falling to the ground. But, really, how could I know that from my small New York City apartment?
The change in seasons really brings out my best culinary inspirations. In May, for example, I start anticipating the fresh produce, the great farm stands, vine-ripened tomatoes and all the wonders that make summer cooking great. Similarly, in the Fall, I get excited about cooking in cooler temperatures, letting the oven stay on a bit longer and eating heartier meals. The Fall in New York also brings some new vegetables to the farm stands and green markets like beets, brussel sprouts and squash.
This past weekend, on an autumn high, I made a great “Fall” meal complete with a very Fallish vegetable dish. I actually followed a recipe from this month’s Bon Appetite magazine – a brussel sprout and shallot hash. The recipe was so simple to make and took very little time. You begin by sautéing thinly sliced shallots in a bit of butter with some salt and pepper until they are almost caramelized. Once the shallots are near caramelization, add a bit of apple cider vinegar and about a teaspoon of sugar and reduce. After the vinegar has been reduced, remove the shallot mixture and sauté your thinly sliced brussel sprouts (trimmed, cut in half and then thinly sliced) in some extra virgin olive oil until tender. Once the brussel sprouts are just about done, add the shallot mixture and cook it together.
The dish was very hearty, healthy and satisfying. We ate this dish with the apartment window open and feeling the cool Fall night air in the background really made the meal. I look forward to more seasonal cooking this Fall - despite the nasty rumors I hear that the temperature is supposed to reach 72 degrees in New York City this week...
Until next time…
I am such a pastaholic. I am constantly craving pasta and lots of it. I am, however, unlike other types of addicts who may take their vices in other forms; for example, an alcoholic would probably settle for gin if a preferred vodka wasn’t available. But unlike your garden variety addict, I am not an equal opportunity pasta lover. In fact, I am quite bias when it comes to pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I will settle for penne or rigatoni, but I like pasta in the spaghetti family; i.e. spaghetti, linguine, capellini or fettuccini. As long as you can twirl it and slurp it, I will eat it and love it.
I also, unfortunately, don’t experiment all that much with my pasta. My favorites are a good Bolognese sauce and I just adore linguine and white clam sauce – both of which are on a heavy culinary rotation in my kitchen. Last week, for example, I made linguine and clam sauce – one of the easiest and fastest pasta sauces to make. My recipe deviates slightly depending upon whether my refrigerator is well stocked for clam sauce night.
If I am in the mood for a little extra bite in my sauce, I will add finely chopped celery, but it is not really for flavor, it is more for texture and color. The base of my sauce, however, does not change. It consists of diced shallots and minced garlic sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil, a dab of butter and a generous amount of red pepper flakes. I find that heating my oil with red pepper flakes infuses the entire sauce evenly, which is quite nice if you like a little heat with your littlenecks.
Speaking of those succulent bivalves, as a general principal you should, of course, use fresh littlenecks, but for a mid-week quickie meal, I rely on canned minced clams. The seasoning of the sauce is very important, especially if you are using canned clams. I liberally season my sauce with salt and pepper, fresh basil and fresh parsley. The fresh herbs really add a crisp and clean flavor to the sauce, giving it a bit of a bite if you choose not to incorporate celery. I also add some white wine to the sauce a few minutes before I am ready to serve.
The entire meal can be prepared in the amount of time it takes the pasta water to boil and the pasta to cook. It is such a quick and easy dinner, but more importantly, it is one of the fastest ways I know to satisfy my pasta cravings.
Until next time…
Last week the Chefs in the City girls shared another sustainable meal. This month’s theme, just as it has been since May, was local food – an understandably conceptually-difficult theme for a NYC based supper club. Many New Yorkers think that eating locally is only a luxury, or perhaps just a way of life, for residents of suburbia or rural communities. The attitude of such urbanites is being, if you can’t see the farm, the local produce can’t possibly exist. When I first moved to NYC, like many New Yorkers, I believed that the freshest tomato I would ever eat in Manhattan would be one that had just arrived off the cargo plane from Florida, despite having grown up just 50 miles from Manhattan in New York’s agricultural Mecca – the North Fork of Long Island.
This supper club, along with a little culinary curiosity, proved that farm-fresh local tomatoes, and any other produce this area of the Northeast can grow, is available throughout New York City, anytime during the year. In the past few years, greenmarkets have sprouted up in communities throughout New York City, the most famous being the Union Square Farmers’ Market. The City itself, including our current Mayor, has pledged a commitment to local, sustainable eating through the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) – a privately funded agency within the Office of the Mayor, which promotes community-based greenmarkets.
Despite this, and the many misconceptions New Yorkers have about eating locally in New York City, local eating is not a recent trend or some hot topic that is taking this City by storm like Pinkberryesque frozen yogurt shops. In fact, long before urban crawl became urban sprint, the vast majority of Americans lived on farms. In New York City’s early history, City residents ate food that was brought in by horse and cart from nearby farms. Did you know that Brooklyn was the top producing agricultural county in the US in the 1880s? Although the City’s landscape is certainly different than what it may have looked like in the 1880s, it is still very easy to eat fresh, eat healthy and support our local farmers at the same time. For more information, CENYC has an interactive map on its website that details every greenmarket within the 5 boroughs (www.cenyc.org).
But in keeping up with our recent trend, Chefs in the City enjoyed a delicious “local” Italian meal. From a roasted heirloom tomato and thyme pizzette, to fresh pasta with a local tomato sauce, to home-made local mint chocolate chip ice cream, we once again found that New York can be more than our collective connections to our culinary tales, secrets and ambitions – we can actually eat what it produces...
So in the past few years, living in New York City has taught me many things. For example, if I had one, I could drop off my pocketbook pooch at puppy day care at any time of day, I could take a spinning class at 2:30am, or, better yet, I could travel to my local greenmarket and create a completely local meal from soup to nuts (literally) from ingredients that were made and harvested within just a few miles from my City apartment.
Until next time…
I haven’t spent much time in New York City this summer. In fact, since the beginning of May, I have only spent 2 weekends in Manhattan - this past weekend being my second. I really enjoy spending my summer weekends in Cutchogue, my home town, where I can be by the water, by bountiful farm stands selling the freshest local produce, and - by far the biggest perk - in cooler temperatures. It is HOT in New York City in the summer.