Tag Archives: summer

A Daily Dinner: Portobello Quesadillas with Corn

Portobello Mushroom Quesadillas and Corn and Avocado Salad

Before I get into this week’s Daily Dinner, Ryan and I would like to share some exciting news with you all.

Last week’s Daily Dinner post, the lamb chops with tomatoes and olives, was selected as Foodista’s Food Blog of the Day for today!

This was entirely unexpected but we’re totally flattered, so if you’re visiting from Foodista, welcome! We hope you’ll stick around and read more.

Fresh Corn on the Cob

This week’s dinner was inspired by two things: the heat and tasty summer produce.

Now that the mercury has fully risen here in New York City, I find myself craving cool, fresh salads and seeking out recipes that involve very little (if any) use of the stove top. (And I definitely avoid the oven at all costs!)

Luckily, these two goals are fairly easy to accomplish, thanks to the fact that summer produce is often so good that it needs very little cooking.

Like I mentioned in our last post, we’re huge fans of FreshDirect and have been really impressed with the quality of their produce, much of which is locally-sourced.

Fresh Portobello Mushrooms

This week, our delivery included some amazing portobello mushrooms that looked like they were just pulled from the soil, the juiciest, sweetest corn I’ve ever had, and buttery ripe avocados.

These great things came together to make two of the best summer dishes you’ll ever make. Each has just three ingredients, give or take, and one of them requires absolutely no cooking. None.

The Ingredients: Portobello Mushrooms, Corn and Pepper Jack Cheese

Grilled Portobello Quesadillas
Adapted from RealSimple.com

2 large portobello mushrooms
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 8″ flour tortillas
1 c. grated pepper Jack cheese

1. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil over medium heat in skillet. Season mushrooms with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
2. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes per side; thinly slice.
3. Heat remaining 1 tbsp. of oil over medium heat in skillet. Form 4 quesadillas with the tortillas, mushrooms, and cheese. Cook in the pan until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crisp, 1 to 3 minutes per side.

Corn and Avocado Salad
Adapted from RealSimple.com

3 ears of fresh corn
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 green jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off the corn.
2. In a medium bowl, toss the corn with the avocado, scallions, jalapeño, oil, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Portobello Mushroom Quesadillas and Corn and Avocado Salad

Could those two recipes be any easier? Together, that’s my idea of a perfect summer meal.

The mushrooms were juicy and flavorful and I loved the extra kick from the pepper jack cheese. As for the salad, let’s just say that we fought over who got to eat the leftovers!

What are some of your favorite summer recipes?

– Laura

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Rockaway Beach’s New Wave

A red and white bullseye beach umbrella at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

One of my favorite parts of summer is taking the ‘A’ train out to Rockaway Beach in Queens.

I love watching the huge waves continuously crash against the shore and seeing all the surfers who come to ride them. It’s a relaxing escape from the city without even leaving its limits.

The weather today was slightly overcast and a bit chilly, but as you can see, that didn’t stop people from enjoying the Rockaway’s charms.

People crowd the beach on a Wednesday afternoon at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

A man builds a sand castle along Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

Typically I pack a little lunch for myself since most of the concessions usually involve fluorescent yellow cheese or dirty water hot dogs.

This year, however, the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach has been taken over by some of the best vendors in the city.

Blue Bottle Coffee along the boardwalk at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

San Francisco-based Blue Bottle Coffee opened up shop at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, for summer 2011.

Blue Bottle's drip coffee at their Rockaway Beach, Queens, location.

I was particularly excited when I heard that San Francisco-based Blue Bottle Coffee was setting up a beachfront shop. Their New Orleans-style iced coffee is the most perfect drink for the beach.

Caracas at Rockaway Beach serves up arepas, micheladas and more.

They share their airy space with the East Village empanada joint Caracas. Caracas is serving up arepas and tangy micheladas in addition to bean and cheese or fish empanadas.

A michelada from Caracas at Rockaway Beach.

Just a few doors down is Rockaway Taco, the vendor who started this Rockaway revitalization.

Rippers at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York

Rippers, a Rockaway Beach collaboration between Brooklyn's Roberta's and The Meat Hook.

One of our favorite restaurants has even been sucked into the surf, so to speak.

Roberta’s has teamed up with The Meat Hook to open Rippers, a surf shop meets burger joint that serves up twisted takes on concessions of yore. Go here for your hot dogs, but they won’t be rotating on a rusty grill all afternoon.

If you get a chance to head out that way, don’t forget your appetite along with your sunscreen.

– Ryan

A cook at Rippers in Rockaway Beach, Queens, prepares fresh French fries.

A surfer holds his surf board at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York

 A "Fish Boat" from Motorboat and the Big Banana

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A Fourth of July Treat From Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls

Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls, located at the corner of Charles Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan's West Village, serves up New Orleans-style shaved ice..

As we were trying to beat the summer heat today, Laura and I were desperately seeking somewhere cool and refreshing.

Twitter came to our rescue when we saw that Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls—one of our neighborhood’s newest shops—was open today.

The interior at the West Village's Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls.

Located at the corner of Charles Street and 7th Avenue in the West Village, Imperial Woodpecker serves New Orleans-style shaved ice in almost 40 flavors. We tried tried the ultra-refreshing Mojito flavor, but old favorites like Tiger’s Blood and Dreamsicle are also on the menu.

The shop may be small, but it’s big on charm—floor-to-ceiling windows compliment a cheery color scheme and relaxed feel. It’s even run by two Southern gals, one from New Orleans, and one from Georgia. Perfect.

Serving up New Orleans-style shaved ice at the West Village's Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls.

We recommend stopping by tonight before going to watch fireworks. (At the High Line, perhaps?) If you stop by between 7-9 p.m., they’ll have live music and cool treats!

Hope you’re having a fantastic holiday!

– Ryan and Laura

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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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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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