Monthly Archives: August 2013

Jazz Age Lawn Party 2013 {& St. Germain Cocktail Recipes}

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This past weekend, NYC’s Governors Island played host to the 8th annual Jazz Age Lawn Party. A Gatsby-esque 1920s celebration, the prohibition-style party offered enough live music and entertainment, themed gourmet food, and bespoke St. Germain cocktails to fill a sunny summer day. Revelers decked themselves out to the nines in their best flapper fare, complete with boaters, suspenders, and bow ties for the men, and fascinator hats, strands of pearls, and parasols for the women. I pulled together an outfit and took the short & free ferry ride to Governors Island, following a sea of boater hats and wicker picnic baskets.

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Carefully crafted by chef and restauranteur Jimmy Carbone (owner of Jimmy’s No. 43), the A Taste of the 20′s menu was stacked with authentic, delicious, and playfully named offerings. Highlights included the Wimpy Burger (on a classic bun with pickles, catsup, and cabot cheddar cheese), the Shrimp Roll (filled with fancy shrimp salad with chives, on a brioche bun), the Squab on Toast (grilled cornish hen, rosemary marinade on old fashioned garlic toast), and the  Raw Bar (stacked with fresh oysters, clams, and shrimp). The Kale Waldorf Salad was also a hit, and the Mii Sundaes with whipped cream, fudge sauce, and a cherry on top drew a line that stretched 20 people deep.

The cocktails served were decidedly anti-prohibition. St. Germain sponsored the event, and crafted specialty cocktails to fit the spirit of the day. The St. Germain Cocktail was my personal favorite; though the Sangria Flora tasted fruity and delicious. You can make both of these celebratory cocktails for yourself at home with the recipes below. My cocktail seemed to disappear before I could capture a photo of it- so you’ll have to imagine what these look like.

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The St. Germain Cocktail

  • 2parts Brut Champagne or Dry Sparkling Wine
  • 1½ parts St-Germain
  • 2 parts Club Soda
  1. Stir ingredients in a tall ice-filled Collins glass, mixing completely.
  2. Think of Paris circa 1947. Garnish with a lemon twist.
  3. Variation: Think of Sartre circa 1947. Be the lemon twist.

For the full article and more St. Germain cocktail recipes, visit Devil Gourmet. 

Homemade Vegenaise

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Vegenaise, the classic vegan mayonnaise spread, is an easy and delicious substitution when you’re trying to cook healthier and smarter. Even the most health food averse won’t taste the difference. With countless uses, ranging from the expected mayo-Vegenaise swap to the unexpected uses in baked goods, soups, creamy pasta sauces, and beyond, Vegenaise has become an indispensable ingredient in my cooking. But at upwards of four dollars a jar, it made sense to figure out how to make it at home. It’s also not widely found everywhere, so this recipe comes in handy if you’re in a place that doesn’t sell it. The recipe below can easily be doubled, and it keeps as long as your soy milk would. Store in mason jars in your fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup full-fat soy milk (unsweetened and non-flavored)
  • 1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey {or light organic agave or maple syrup if you are vegan}
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all the ingredients except the oil in a blender and blitz on high-speed until creamy and combined. With your blender on a low speed, slowly stream in the oil to emulsify the mixture. Scrape down the sides of your blender, mix again, and season to taste, adding more salt, pepper, lemon, or mustard as needed. If your mix comes out too thick, add a splash of water or almond milk. If it comes out too thin, add a bit more olive oil or grapeseed oil. It will thicken significantly as it chills in your fridge. Give the jar a good shake before you enjoy it.

Note: The soy milk seems to work best here, providing a thicker result than any other non-dairy milk.

Photo Credit: www.followyourheart.com

Healthy International Recipe: Greek Roasted Mackerel and Tzatziki

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With all its coastal regions, fish holds a central place in traditional Greek food. Fresh, whole fish is easy to find, and simple, quality ingredients help make a simple piece of fish into something special.  Mackerel are the perfect fish for healthy eating. High in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and full of protein, mackerel provide many of the health benefits of salmon for a much lower price. Fish lends itself to a healthy meal, and roasting the fish in the oven keeps the fat content low and the fish moist. Tzatziki, the classic Greek dip made of yogurt, cucumbers, and dill makes the ideal compliment to the lemony fish, adding a welcomed creamy counterpoint.  Keeping the Tzatziki ingredients low-fat makes the dish lighter. Serve the mackerel and tzatziki with roasted potatoes or crusty bread to soak up all the flavors.

For the recipe, visit Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Healthy Travel Blog.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

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This salad is so simple it hardly requires a recipe. For this summery tomato salad, just buy the best heirloom, local, super-ripe tomatoes you can get your hands on, and add a few ingredients to make their flavor really shine.

Slice your tomatoes into fairly thin slices, lay them out over the platter, and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Drizzle the whole plate with some extra virgin olive oil and maybe a bit of balsamic vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice, and sprinkle over some fresh minced basil, parsley, chives, whatever.

That’s it! Serve with some crusty warm bread, or a bit of torn up mozzarella if you have some on hand.

For the full article and more recipes, visit Devil Gourmet. 

Summer Corn Chowder {Vegan}

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Summertime calls for simplicity. These no cook recipes come in handy during the warmer days of August when turning on your oven is the last thing you want to do. Hardly complex enough to be recipes, consider these ingredients as suggestions for highlighting fresh farmers market produce. All of these ideas would be ideal for a breezy outdoor dinner party; easy and effortless al fresco dining at its best.

Three of my farmers market favorites, corn, tomatoes, and melon come into their peak flavor this August, along with other summer favorites that usually peak in summer’s earlier months, but because of our odd weather this year, are coming into their own this month. So head to your local farmers market (or venture into NYC for a change of pace) and use these suggestions to celebrate the last lazy, warm weeks of summer.

Vegan Corn Chowder {Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free- Delicious!}

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
  • 6 cup fresh corn (from 7 to 8 ears)
  • 1/2 lb carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 lb celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups thin-skinned potatoes (I like the mixed bags of mini creamer potatoes), quartered
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups light, unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh basil, chives, and parsley, lime wedges- to serve
Instructions
  1. Preheat a 4 quart soup pot over medium high heat. Add the coconut oil and melt. Add the onions and sauté with a pinch of salt until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for another minute. Add the corn, carrots, and celery and cook for 3 more minutes or so.
  2. Add the broth to the pot, along with the potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, break the stripped corn cobs in half and add them to the pot (the starch will help thicken the soup). Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove the corn cobs. Add the coconut milk, black pepper, salt to taste and lime juice.
  3. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup very briefly, maybe 5 or six runs around the pot. You just want to blend it a bit to thicken it, but not lose the integrity of all the individual ingredients. If you don’t have an immersion blender, then just transfer about 1/3 of the soup to a blender or food processor and purée until smooth then add back to the pot. Or leave the soup as is- no less delicious!Taste for salt and seasoning. Serve garnished with fresh herbs and a few lime wedges if you like.

Best Farmers Markets in NYC

  1. Union Square Greenmarket (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 8 am-6 pm)
  2. Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket (Saturdays, 8 am-4 pm)
  3. Fulton Stall Market (Sundays, 10 am- 4 pm)

Best Farmers Markets in NJ

  1. Montclair Farmers Market (Saturdays, 8 am- 2 pm)
  2. Hoboken Farmers Market (check for uptown and downtown market days)
  3. Dreyer Farms (Not technically a market but a full-fledged farm in the center of town. Visit for the best heirloom tomatoes and sweet jersey corn you’ve ever eaten- not to be missed!)

For the full article and more recipes, visit Devil Gourmet. 

Photo Credit: Adrienne Cohen.

Healthy International Recipe: Danish Smørrebrød

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Smørrebrød, which translates as “butter bread” in Danish, encompasses a broad variety of open-faced sandwiches. Understated, simple, and unpretentious, this Danish national dish exemplifies perfectly the effortless and unfussy Danish sensibility. Easily dressed up or down for a simple lunch or a lavish holiday dinner, Smørrebrød can be suited to any taste. Traditionally built on a slice of hearty, whole-grain bread, Smørrebrød lend themselves to a healthy meal. Use simple, local, and fresh ingredients in building your Smørrebrød spread, and the healthy possibilities are endless. Below are a few suggestions, but feel free to improvise depending on your personal preferences.

Visit GeoBlue’s website for these delicious & healthy recipes:

Shrimp Salad with Dill & Lemon

Homemade Gravlax

Smoked Herring with Boiled New Potatoes & Chives

Summer Honeydew Salad

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Summertime calls for simplicity. This no cook recipe comes in handy during the warmer days of August when turning on your oven is the last thing you want to do. Hardly a recipe, consider these ingredients a suggestion for highlighting the sweetness of honeydew melon, at its best in August.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole ripe honeydew melon, rind cut off, seeds removed, and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • generous sprinkling of flake sea salt (like Maldon)
  • a few generous cracks of black pepper
  • a sprinkling of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, parsley, chives, whatever you have on hand, chopped

Directions:

Combine all your ingredients together in a bowl and toss well to combine. Serve with an extra sprinkling of sea salt and herbs if you like.

 

Lobster Rolls: A Summertime Classic

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It wouldn’t be summer without lobster. Those curious looking crustaceans, once pawned off to prisoners in 18th century England, have become a hallmark of a classic New England summer, with lobster rolls being the favorite vehicle. There’s really no reason lobster rolls can’t be eaten year round (the actual lobster season is August through November), but for some reason they always scream summertime; something about fresh seafood and easy outdoor cooking and eating. While they have a reputation for their upscale price tag, you can enjoy lobster rolls at home for a fraction of the cost.

Making lobster rolls actually stretches the lobster meat quite a bit, so instead of buying six lobsters for six people, you can get away with only three lobsters for the same group. Rather than buying the lobster meat pre-cooked and shelled, buy a few lobsters and cook them up yourself. You can even take a shortcut and just buy lobster tails, throw them on the grill with a little olive oil brushed on, and cook until opaque. Once you’ve got your lobster meet cooked, shelled, and broken into bite sized pieces, just mix it with a few simple ingredients, toast up a split top roll with lots of butter, and you’re in business. Here’s my favorite recipe:

Ingredients
•3 lobsters, cooked, shelled, and meat broken up into bite size pieces and reserved
•1 celery stalk, finely diced
•2 tablespoons lemon juice
•2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise (homemade, low-fat, Vegenaise, whatever you like)
•2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
•1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
•Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
•6 Split-top New England style hotdog buns (If you can’t find these, just trim the edges off the sides of regular hotdog buns to allow for better toasting)
•2 tablespoons butter
Instructions
1.In a large bowl, combine the lobster meat, celery, lemon juice, mayonnaise, chives, parsley, salt and pepper and stir everything together. Set aside.
2.Spread the butter evenly over the soft sides of each bun, and toast over a grill or in a sauté pan until golden.
3.Fill each roll generously with the lobster salad- enjoy!
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If ordering up a ready-made lobster roll is more your style, make your way to one of Red Hook Lobster Pound’s many food trucks, or visit their flagship store in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Voted the best lobster roll by the New York Post (not always credible, but in this case spot on!), RHLP serves up lobster rolls just as they should be- quality Maine lobster meat, pure, simple ingredients, toasty split-top buns, and not too much muss and fuss. Why tamper with perfection? You can catch their truck at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg and Dumbo in Brooklyn on the weekends, and all over the city during the rest of the week. Follow their twitter for up to the minute location updates.

For the full post, visit Devil Gourmet. 

Oysters 101: How to Eat & Enjoy Oysters on the Half Shell

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Recently I visited the John Dory Oyster Bar in NYC for an oyster tasting. If you’d asked me to attend such an event two years ago, I would have laughed and vehemently rebuked the invitation. I used to find raw oysters repulsive; the one culinary chapter I couldn’t subscribe to. I just couldn’t see the appeal of knocking back a raw sea creature whole.

I reluctantly tried one in college, and couldn’t bring myself to try again until culinary school, when we had to eat them.  Slowly, through a steady process of bucking up and making myself try them, and a little trial and error, I started to love them, and now I feel compelled to order them whenever they appear on a menu. If you’ve never tried raw oysters, or have and disliked them, I urge you to try again, implementing the tips below. It’ll be well worth your while.

In spite of my oyster enthusiasm, I knew very little about how to order them. Aside from knowing that I prefer small oysters (the bigger ones still give me pause) with lots of lemon on the side, I didn’t really know much about how to order my oysters or how to distinguish from the numerous varieties.

  1. First, if you’re squeamish, start small. West Coast Kumamoto oysters from Oregon (my personal favorite) serve as the perfect jumping off point for oyster novices. Beausoleil from New Brunswick on the East Coast of Canada, also have a mild, meaty flavor and small size perfect for starters. Save the bigger Blue Points for the more experienced diner. Size is a good place to start when you order and you’re not familiar with the varieties offered.
  2. Pick a side: East Coast or West Coast? Or both? Each coast offers a different flavor profile and texture range, so you need to try a few to decide what you prefer. East Coast tends to taste saltier, with a more briny, fresh from the sea flavor. They have smooth-edged, rounded shells, and tend to be flatter and slightly less plump. West Coast tends to taste sweeter, more buttery, with a firmer, plumper texture, and a scalloped shell with beveled edges. Variances exist within these generalizations, but these are standard guidelines to follow.
  3. Whatever kind of oysters you decide on, they should smell fresh, salty like the sea, and look opaque, not clear. It should fill the shell, have plenty of liquor (the liquid accompanying the oyster) and not appear dried out.
  4. Pick your oyster accompaniments carefully. Purists eat oysters just as they are, in their natural liquor. I need a little lemon and possibly some mignonette or cocktail sauce to get by. A glass of champagne or a gin martini pair perfectly.

For the full article, visit Devil Gourmet. 

Healthy International Recipe: Pad Thai

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Pad Thai features prominently in Thai cuisine. One of Thailand’s national dishes, it actually originated in Vietnam, but was brought to Thailand by traders, and after a few flavor changes quickly gained popularity. Often served in a rich peanut based sauce, this recipe gives pad Thai a lighter twist. Lime juice and rice vinegar give the dish a fresh tang, and mung bean sprouts, scallions, and fresh onion and garlic make this a lighter noodle option. Shrimp provides protein, and can easily be swapped out for tofu or chicken. Those with a gluten allergy can also enjoy this pad Thai, because the rice noodles are naturally gluten-free. Look for dried brown rice noodles for an even healthier dish, but regular rice noodles work well too.

For the recipe, visit GeoBlue’s Healthy Travel Blog.