Monthly Archives: June 2011

Greenmarket Cocktails, Take Two

Cherries, Gooseberries and Chamomile

We had so much fun mixing up a few greenmarket cocktails last week that we decided to do it again.

But, this time, a caveat: one of Ryan’s co-workers said that all of our drinks were too girly (hi, Graham!) and requested that we make more “manly” drinks this time around.

I didn’t think any of last week’s drinks were particularly feminine—okay, maybe lavender is a little too “ladies who lunch”—but we aim to please, so this week we broke out the bourbon and mezcal and got to work.

Gooseberries

This week’s cast of characters: fresh gooseberries from Kerran Farms in New Jersey, cherries from Locust Grove Fruit Farm in Milton, New York, and fresh chamomile.

The first drink we mixed ended up being our personal favorite. In fact, we made another one later in the evening and will probably keep drinking it throughout the summer. We’re calling it a Summer In Manhattan.

Summer In Manhattan Cocktail

First, muddle 5-6 cherries with a 1/2 tsp. superfine sugar and a 1/2 oz. of freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Then, add 1 oz. of Luxardo Maraschino, 2 oz. of bourbon (we used Bulleit Bourbon), a dash of Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters. (P.S. you can get them here!)

Cherries, Gooseberries, and a Cocktail

Shake vigorously and served in an old-fashioned glass, preferably with a big ‘ol sphere of ice and garnish with a lemon twist.

The cherries were much sweeter than anticipated so we tweaked this drink a few times until we perfected it. The final product (the above recipe) is a perfect balance—the overly sweet cherries are complemented by the oaky smoothness of the bourbon and the cherry bark bitters added an entirely new dimension. (Of course, I still can’t get over the drink’s carmine hue. I thought my hands would be stained with cherry juice for weeks!)

Next up: gooseberries!

You’re probably wondering a) what is a gooseberry, and b) what can you do with a gooseberry?

They have the texture of a grape, the interior appearance of a more-solid passionfruit, and the flavor of a slightly less sweet raspberry. Now you’re even more confused, I’m sure. Apparently you can make all sorts of tasty jams and jellies with them, but that didn’t sound nearly as fun as mixing them into a cocktail.

Gooseberry Cocktail

I kept it pretty simple with this drink. I initially wanted to do a take on a paloma, but gooseberries are such a strange ingredient that I didn’t want to overwhelm the palate with gooseberries, lime, and grapefruit.

I muddled six little gooseberries (Ryan pointed out that they look like little striped beach balls!), then added a 1/2 oz. of lime juice, 1/2 oz. of simple syrup, 1/2 oz. of St. Germain and a 2 oz. of Fidencio Clásico mezcal. Shake, strain and serve in a coupe, garnished with a lime wheel and a spare gooseberry.

When I went to buy the mezcal at Astor, I actually had the opportunity to meet Arik Torren, the chief operating officer of Fidencio Mezcal. Arik was hosting a tasting of all three of Fidencio’s mezcals and offering tastings of a few different cocktails made with them.

All of Fidencio’s mezcals are “sin humo,” or without smoke, which produces a lighter, smoother mezcal than some others on the market. I initially went into Astor to purchase another brand of mezcal, but after trying all three varieties of Fidencio, I was sold.

Gooseberry Cocktail

The finished product, which we’re calling La Grosella (gooseberry in Spanish), was similar to a margarita, as you would expect, but the mezcal added more depth than just a regular bottle of agave tequila would have. The gooseberries complemented the elderflower notes in the St. Germain, while the lime added a perfect citrus kick at the end of the palate.

I think this drink would be particularly good in a larger scale—perhaps in a pitcher at a barbecue? (If you host, I’ll make it.)

Finally, the chamomile.

The chamomile was a total impulse buy at the Union Square Greenmarket the other day.

We were down to our last dollar when I saw it and knew it was a must-get. A must-get for what, I didn’t know, but the ropy, fragrant vines sold me right away.

I made a few different drinks with it, but I ultimately decided it works best in a Tom Collins or Gin Fizz-type drink, and thus, the Chamomile Fizz was born.

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

I coarsely chopped the chamomile, blossoms and all, and muddled it with a 1/2 oz. of sugar and a 1/2 oz. of lemon juice. Then, I added 2 oz. of gin. We used Plymouth again here, but Hendrick’s would really be fantastic, if you have it. Then, add an egg white to the shaker.

Shake, strain, and serve in a Collins glass. Top with soda and garnish with more chamomile.

If you shake vigorously enough (which you always should!), you should have a beautiful white, foamy head after topping with the soda. Ours almost looked like cream!

Chamomile Fizz Cocktail

This drink, despite the feminine ingredient, was quite possibly the most manly of the bunch! The chamomile was incredibly earthy and played so well with the botanicals in the gin. It also remained subtle and not too sweet. It was a great drink to sip slowly, even after the enthusiastic foam had subsided.

We were quite pleased with this batch overall. If the market agrees and offers more fun bounty, we’ll be mixing even more creations up next week.

– Laura

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A Daily Dinner: Lamb Chops with Tomatoes and Olives

Daily Dinner: Lamb with Tomatoes and Olives

It might seem shocking given what we write about, but believe it or not, Ryan and I eat at home most nights.

We’re completely and utterly in love with FreshDirect and the greenmarket and typically eat at least four meals a week at home.

We try to keep our weekly menus focused on seasonal ingredients and I also like to mix up proteins. For example, last week, we had bluefish, lamb (which you’ll see here), pork chops, and a meatless pasta dish.

Fresh Australian Lamb Loin Chops

We both particularly liked this dish, so I figured I’d share it here, as I hope to do with some of our future meals. Lamb is my personal favorite protein and I’m lucky that Ryan likes it as much as I do! We prefer ours quite rare (almost still “baa”-ing, even), but if you like a more well-done product, you can simply increase my recommended cooking times by a minute or two.

Before I get to the recipe, I also want to mention a funny little side dish that we ate with this meal: purslane.

Purslane from the Greenmarket

I picked it up at my office’s greenmarket, not really certain of what it was. After a little bit of Internet research, I discovered that it’s a tenacious little weed that many gardeners spend lots of money and time trying to get rid of!

Of course, it also happens to be very nutrient rich and quite tasty. I ate some raw, but for our meal, I blanched it for a few minutes and then sautéed it in some parmesan butter I had mixed up earlier in the week.

When it’s cooked, it has a slight crunch that then yields to an almost okra-like texture. Cooking it also mellows out the flavor, which is why I liked having a little extra kick from the parmesan and the butter.

If you see some at your market, I highly recommend it as a nutritious leafy green. It seems like it can be prepared quite similarly to spinach or chard or arugula or any other salad green, so I look forward to experimenting with it further. If you try it, let me know what works for you.

Lamb with Tomatoes and Olives

…And with that, I digress. Here’s the recipe for our delicious one-pot lamb, tomato and olive dish:

Lamb Chops with Tomatoes and Olives
Adapted from Real Simple

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 2″-thick lamb loin chops
1 tsp. paprika
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 shallots, quartered
2 tomatoes, quartered
1/4 c. pitted kalamata olives
1/4 c. flat-leaf parsley, torn

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Season lamb with paprika, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
3. Add shallots to the skillet, transfer to oven, and cook lamb to the desired doneness, about 6 minutes for rare.
4. Add tomatoes, olives, and parsley to the skillet, with lamb, and toss with the shallots to combine.

Simple, right?

We don’t have a particularly elaborate kitchen (in fact, it’s actually a pretty big downgrade from my previous kitchen in Dallas) but it hasn’t stopped me from making anything that I want to make. We have, oh, perhaps five pots and pans of various sizes, one roasting pan/baking sheet combo, a colander, a few bowls and utensils, and that’s about it.

Fresh Purslane and Lamb

But, I can tell you with certainty: that’s all it takes to make healthy, delicious meals at home.

– Laura

(P.S. Have you “liked” us on Facebook yet?)

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Pride in the Village

2011 NYC Gay Pride Celebration

Yesterday marked the 42nd Annual NYC Gay Pride March in New York City. This year’s festivities held an extra special significance for New Yorkers, thanks to the recently passage of same-sex marriage in the New York State Senate.

NYC Gay Pride 2011 Celebration

2011 NYC Gay Pride Celebration

Laura and I walked out to Bleecker Street to admire the costumes (or lack thereof) of the parade-goers. Many local businesses were hosting pride parties of their own, complete with speakers blasting music out into the streets.

We were particularly struck by A.O.C’s pride party—the normally tranquil French bistro had been taken over, as dancers filled the windows and queens struck poses in the doorway.

NYC Gay Pride 2011 Celebration

We continued to wind around police barricades and cutting through the seemingly endless crowds along Christopher Street until we made it to our destination of the evening.

Sheep's Milk Ricotta Gnudi at the Spotted Pig

The Spotted Pig held its annual pride party on the second and third floors of the restaurant, though diners on the cramped first floor were treated to the multiple glam entrances of the parade’s revelers.

"Don't Be a Drag, Be a Queen," at the Spotted Pig

Upstairs, guests were invited to try the “Don’t Be a Drag, Just Be a Queen” shot special, made with house-infused vanilla vodka with ginger syrup served from an anatomically-correct bust, sculpted from ice.

Ryan and Robinson at the Spotted Pig

Jenga at the Spotted Pig

Meanwhile, on the third floor, the celebrations continued. There was much singing. There was dancing. Many heated games of Jenga were played.

The Third Floor at the Spotted Pig

On our walk home the streets were still packed with people hugging and congratulating one another. The jubilation of the crowd was undying and continued long past our bedtime, I’m sure.

It was a day to not only be proud of who you are, but a great day to be a proud citizen of a brave state.

Happy Pride Weekend to all!

-Ryan

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Joseph Leonard: a Kitchen for Two

The Chef's Table at Joseph Leonard

One of our first “posts” in the life of this blog (not that long ago!) was a quick snippet about one of our favorite restaurants in our neighborhood, Joseph Leonard.

Well, Joseph Leonard is still our neighborhood golden child and even more so after another superb dinner last night.

Joseph Leonard

The Kitchen at Joseph Leonard

Like I mentioned in that first post above, we always opt to sit at the chef’s table—two seats directly in front of the kitchen’s pass.

We love sitting there, as it is the perfect vantage point to watch everything going on in the restaurant’s minuscule kitchen and an opportunity to chat with Chef Jim McDuffee and his crew. (Where else in the city is your chef actually your waiter, too?)

Chef Jim McDuffee at Joseph Leonard

Chefs at Work at Joseph Leonard

The entire restaurant is the size of a one-bedroom apartment, roughly 600 square feet, and is beautifully decorated.

Gabe Stulman, of Market Table and Little Owl fame, owns the place and it’s part of his West Village “Little Wisconsin”—composed of Joseph Leonard, Fedora, and Jeffrey’s Grocery.

Bread and Butter at Joseph Leonard

Stulman’s home state is the inspiration behind the relaxed atmosphere and friendly service at Joseph Leonard. And luckily, the food matches up.

Chilled Melon Soup at Joseph Leonard

Chilled Melon Soup at Joseph Leonard

We started off with a chilled melon soup, served with crab and a delicious drizzle of chile oil. The flavors of the soup were clean and rich, perfectly accentuated by the sweetness of the crab and the punch of the oil.

As you can see, this dish was also astoundingly beautiful—I could have spent much more time photographing it, but considering how tasty it was, I’m glad I didn’t.

Next we shared two other small dishes—an heirloom tomato salad and sepia (cuttlefish) with fresh snap peas.

Unfortunately, Ryan dug into the tomato salad before I could snap a photo—it was just that good. It was composed of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes cut in half, a few slices of crisp cucumber and some lettuce, all dressed with a basil mayonnaise. Very, very good, and extremely rich, but nevertheless, we emptied the bowl.

Sepia at Joseph Leonard

The sepia was meaty without being tough and, like its tomato counterpart, perfectly dressed. The snap peas were sweet and crisp. We had fantastic cuttlefish a few weeks ago at Roberta’s, so I loved having another (just as wonderful) take on it.

For our mains, Ryan had the chicken with a summer succotash, and I had the Montauk fluke.

Chicken at Joseph Leonard

His portion of chicken was a huge drumstick and thigh, perfectly moist, served on a mountain of crisp corn and bell pepper. It was a true welcome to summer. Ryan said it was his favorite main course that he’s had at Joseph Leonard, which is saying a lot.

(By the way, the sign in the photo above is a perfect representation of the fun atmosphere at Joseph Leonard. Where else can you eat food like this with Jay Z’s Big Pimpin’ blasting in the background?)

Montauk Fluke at Joseph Leonard

The fluke has been on the menu for awhile, but I had neglected to try it until last night. It was another generous portion, as the large filet of the flaky white fish was topped with fresh spinach and served alongside a light, summery take on a rice pilaf.

Carrot Cake at Joseph Leonard

For dessert, we enjoyed a slice of moist carrot cake, complete with a perfectly sweet cream cheese frosting, to finish our meal.

We rounded out our evening with a lovely walk around the Village, which is currently adorned in rainbow for this weekend’s pride celebration. (And, with the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, what a celebration it will be!)

– Laura

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Cocktails, Fresh from the Market

Strawberries, Lavender and Basil

On Wednesday night, Ryan and I decided to make a few cocktails with some ingredients from my office.

Yes, you read that right: my office. Luckily for me, Hearst Tower’s Cafe 57 hosts a greenmarket every Wednesday, featuring produce from local New York and New Jersey farmers.

Fresh Greenmarket Lavender

As you may know, I go crazy for the greenmarket as it is, so having one in the cafeteria of a 46-story office building is particularly exciting to me!

That’s why when I saw fresh lavender, basil and strawberries, I scooped them up right away! I admittedly didn’t know what I would do with my new treasures, but as I was sitting at my desk, the scent of lavender wafting into my nostrils, my mind wandered to cocktails.

Strawberries, Lavender and Basil from the Greenmarket

And then I knew: cocktails with ingredients fresh from the farmers themselves! Yum!

Ryan was obviously a willing partner, so we got to work on Wednesday evening, mixing and imbibing.

Live Basil Gimlet Cocktail

First up: a live basil gimlet, from the New York Times‘ Summer Drinks feature.

For this drink, from Scott Beattie’s Spoonbar in Healdsburg, Calif., we muddled five large basil leaves with 1 1/2 ounces of gin, 3/4 ounces of freshly-squeezed lime juice, and a 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.

Shake, then strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a basil leaf. Delish!

Deutsch 75 Cocktail

Our second concoction was a creation of our own. We named it the Deutsch 75—a riff on the classic French 75, one of Ryan’s all-time favorite drinks.

While the classic French 75 is topped with champagne, we grabbed a sweet Riesling instead. Note that your choice of Riesling doesn’t need to be expensive—a bottle in the $10 range is just perfect for this refreshing summer tipple.

Deutsch 75 Cocktail

To try our Deutsch 75, take five or six fresh strawberries and muddle with 2 ounces of gin, 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar, and a 1/2 ounce of lemon juice.

After shaking and straining, pour into a chilled champagne flute and top with Riesling. Garnish with a sliced strawberry and another strawberry in the glass, if you wish.

Our berries were from Berried Treasures, located in Cooks Falls, New York. These berries were the small, sweet variety, rather than the large, mass-farmed kind, so I definitely recommend seeking out berries from a local farmer, if at all possible. You’ll taste the difference.

Purple Pilot Lavender Cocktail

Lastly, we modified a little bit (actually, a lot!) on one of our classic favorites, the Aviation. We’ve named our new creation the Purple Pilot.

For this drink, I chopped up a handful of the lovely lavender blossoms you see above, allowing them to release their aromas and oils. I muddled these blooms with 2 ounces of gin, an ounce of simple syrup, a 1/2 ounce of Crème Yvette, and 3/4 ounce of lemon juice.

(As a side note, Crème Yvette is a very old spirit that just recently returned to the market; it can be tough to find. You can order it from Astor Wines & Spirits, or, if you can’t find it, you can substitute Crème de Violette.)

After shaking and straining these ingredients in a Collins glass, I topped with soda and garnished with some fresh lavender blossoms. By the way, don’t you love our metal spoon straw? Our favorite bar, Little Branch, sells them for just $3 each.

Each drink was delicious, but yet simple enough to let our fresh ingredients shine through. I can’t wait to see what next week’s market brings. (I’ve got my eye on you, watermelon radishes!)

By the way, are you following us on Twitter yet? We’d love to get to know you.

– Laura

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