I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Cherry Treats

What a lovely summer it has been so far. The beer garden with new friends, Big Apple BBQ with old friends. Dinner with the husband on the rooftop at The Nomad. A truly inspiring dance performance from Cedar Lake Dance Company. And last week, my new baby nephew was born. I feel full of love and joy.

Plus, the greenmarkets have been full of delicious produce--with especially gorgeous cherries lately. I took home way too many (if there can be such a thing) and had to come up with a few ways to use them up before they went bad.

First up I made a mini cherry pie. I used my small cast iron pan instead of a pie pan, since Joe and I have a hard time eating a whole pie before it goes bad. This was a perfect little size. I halved the recipe from over at Smitten Kitchen and used half of the flaky butter crust recipe. I liked the idea of using a star cookie cutter to cut out shapes for the top instead of having to weave a lattice crust--easy and fast.

Next up, I used some more cherries to create a bourbon soaked batch to use for cocktails. This is the third year in a row I have been doing this and usually end up with just enough to make it through the year of manhattans and old fashioneds that we whip up. I like to throw in a bit of the spiced bourbon from the cherries into the cocktails before I shake them or drizzle it over of ice cream for a boozy dessert.

Bourbon Soaked Cocktail Cherries

1/4 c. turbinado sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2 cinnamon stick
3/4 c. bourbon
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 t. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 c. pitted cherries
1 quart jar, sterilized

Place the sugar, water and cinnamon stick into a small saucepan. Heat over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and then stir in the bourbon, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature.
Place the cherries into the quart jar *. Remove the cinnamon stick from the bourbon mixture and pour into the quart jar over the cherries. Place the lid on the jar and place in the fridge. Allow to sit for at least two weeks before using.

*I have read on a few sites that leaving the cherry pits in adds depth of flavor to the cherries. I would rather have pitted cherries in my drinks, so I toss a few of the pits into the jar with the pitted cherries to add flavor without having to deal with the pits in my cocktail cherries later on.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Big Apple BBQ

Somehow, despite being a meat-loving Kansan living in NYC, I have never made it out to the Big Apple BBQ until this year. Now that I've been, I'm kicking myself for not making it a priority sooner.

I think the fear of huge, messy crowds played a part in keeping me away. However, I found (at least this year) these really weren't so bad. The couple of lines my friends and I waiting in moved quickly and efficiently, there was plenty of grass in Madison Square Park to picnic on, and the pork was so worth any of the annoyances. I only made it to a few of the stands this year: Ed Mitchel's Whole Hog, Big Bob Gibson's Pulled Pork Shoulder, and the Blue Smoke Dessert shop for Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp and Root Beer Floats. Next year I plan on sharing plates with friends so I can get in even more meaty goodness in my belly.

A few phone photos for you to see some of the action:

Folks enjoying their BBQ in the window of a gym, taunting those within.

I want to make this cheese spread soon.

Yeah, she is caramelizing the meat with a torch.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Yellow Squash Tart

Once the summer produce starts hitting the markets I struggle to come up with creative ways to use it. Oftentimes I want to just showcase the flavors with straightforward presentations: a simple blanch and saute or a quick toss in vinaigrette. Other days I crave something more. Like last week when I took a few of the new market arrivals to create a dinner tart that was hearty and filling without weighing us down. I love how beautiful summer tarts turn out--I feel like I should be hosting garden parties for ladies who lunch when I pull them out of the oven. Instead the husband and I chowed down on this one on the couch while catching up on Game of Thrones. Classy.

Yellow Squash Tart
4 servings
1 recipe flaky butter crust
3/4 c. chopped garlic scapes (or chopped green onions)
2 zucchini, sliced into rounds about 1/4" thick
2 eggs
1 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 TB fresh lemon thyme, chopped
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a skillet with a little olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped garlic scapes and saute until slightly tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and drain the oil.
Place the prepared tart dough into a 9" tart pan and trim any extra hanging over the edges. Spread the sauteed garlic scapes on the bottom of the crust. Layer the yellow squash slices evenly on top of the scapes until you have filled the tart shell.
In a small bowl beat together the eggs, heavy cream, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over top of the squash in the tart shell so it fills in all the gaps in between. Next sprinkle the goat cheese all over the top of the tart.
Place the tart into the oven. Bake until the edges of the crust turn just barely brown and the tart filling has barely set, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.