Condense Your Blogs Into One. Watermelon.

Recently I thought that, you know, if I just condensed some of my blogs into one, I’d have more posts and everything would be easier to find.  (By everything, I mean recipes that I use often and keep forgetting exactly how I did it that one time.)  So, on the auspicious 5th-posting celebration of this blog, here’s summer post from another blog idea I had once (the ideas wasn’t a joke/food blog, I swear.)

This recipe came from an idea I heard on NPR about grilling watermelon.  Then I added a bunch of stuff that I thought would taste good together.  It was summertime – and we were really throwing caution to the wind up here in Washington Heights. 

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When it comes to melons, I only have one joke.

Melon 1: Honey, do ya love me?

Melon 2: Yes, but we can’t elope.

So, yeah.  But this post isn’t about honeydew or cantaloupe.  Nope.   The glory here is all watermelon.

Twice tested by not-so-independent tasters.

watermelon, round 1

I heard on NPR that you can grill watermelon with delicious results.  That would be great if I (1) had a grill and (2) had a place to legally use the grill.  Apparently, grilling on the fire escape is NOT allowed.

After some minor experimentation over an open flame on my gas stove (note to mom: grilling does not produce the same flavor as turning something on a chopstick over my gas stove flame), I decided that sautéing the watermelon would be the tastiest, and safest, cooking method.  But I think this would also be great if you chose to grill the watermelon.

With that said, here’s how it goes:

1.  Gather watermelon chunks, olive oil, balsamic, rice vinegar, shallots, garlic, and some really good tomatoes.

2.  Heat some olive oil in a pan and then saute the watermelon.  I did this until the sides looked like they were going to taste like I had actually done something to the watermelon.  They were sort of seared looking.

3.  In another pan, I sautéed the shallots and some garlic.  I then added balsamic vinegar and let it reduce, stirring often.  I added a dash of rice vinegar, since it seems to make everything taste better. Maybe a dash of salt, for good measure.

4.  Once the sauce has reduced and the watermelon sautéed, I sliced the most amazing tomatoes ever.  I had picked them up on the way back from the beach in Maryland.  On top of the tomato, I placed a watermelon chunk, and then drizzled the balsamic reduction over both.

5.  I served it with sharp cheddar and lime on the side.  Let me tell you: the lime makes it AMAZING.  Even if you have to forgo the cheddar, don’t skimp on the lime.

Enjoy the last bits of summer!

watermelon, round 2

Hang out with the DJ. Phat Beets.

It can be hard to find a DJ you really like in NYC.  There are lots of them, for sure.  Some have this annoying habit of changing the song every 30 seconds.  I really hate that.

My friend Aaron, or DJ Alias as he’s known on the party circuit, is one of the best.  I know that I’m probably biased, but it’s only because he plays my favorite music.  A great blend of pop, hip hop, soul, etc., etc. and he doesn’t change the song 30 seconds in.  Once, he even played the full live version of The Roots + Jill Scott’s You Got Me.

If you want to catch him, he’s got some pretty regular gigs at Piano’s (on the LES) and Soda Bar (in Brooklyn) along with the DeKalb Market (when it’s open), some local radio stuff, and events that he coordinates.  You can follow him on Twitter @DJAliasmusic or check out his website.  He has some GREAT mixes up.

He used to work with me prior to deciding to be a full-time DJ.  A mutual colleague of ours, Eileen, recently passed along the recipe below.  So choose a DJ Alias mix, pump up the volume, and cook up some phat beets.

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BEETS, KALE, GOAT CHEESE, & LIFE
(inspired by Eileen’s recipe)

Stuff you’ll need:

  • Beets (Preferably w/greens, but not required)
  • Kale
  • Goat cheese
  • Onion/Shallots/Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Veggie Stock (optional)
  • Pasta (something tube-shaped, probably with ridges)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt/Pepper

What to do:

  1. Separate the greens from the beets.  Set aside the greens.  Wash the beets.
  2. Roast the beets.  (I put them in a tin foil packet with some olive oil and salt.  Roasting just involves putting them in the oven at 350 until you can easily slice through them.  This is usually an hour or so, depending on the size of the beet.)
  3. When the beets are done, let them cool as sec.  They’ll slip right out of their peels, so no need to bust out the peeler or take a knife to them.  But you’ll burn yourself if you don’t let them cool.
  4. Boil water for pasta.  Salt the water (this is your only change to flavor the pasta).  Cook pasta.  Save some pasta water.
  5. Saute some onion, garlic, and shallots in a pan.  Add in salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste.
  6. Add the beet greens and kale with a little bit of water OR veggie stock (I think stock just makes everything better, so…). Cover for a sec and let them steam a bit.  Uncover and add in the beets and some pasta water to loosen everything out.  The starch and salt in the pasta water is a good thing.
  7. Add salt/pepper/red pepper flakes to taste.
  8. Pour sauce over the pasta.
  9. Add goat cheese liberally.  Mix it all up.  Yum.
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Binge Hang Out with Friends. Bacon.

It’s rare that I’m able to hang out with two of my favorite people from the growing-up years at the same time.  Even more rare is when I’ve got them for more than a few hours.  Ringing in 2012 (an even year, FYI, with factors including – but not limited to – 1, 2, 4, 503, 1006, 2012) with them by my side AND for an extra 2 days after that was like finding a duck-billed platypus on the streets of NYC in December.

Now, you can probably tell that I generally orient in the veggie direction.  One exception tends to be when a certain friend is around.  We have a great breakfast tradition, dating back to at least 2003, that involves fresh juice, delicious cheese, broccoli, and – of course – bacon.

A note about bacon.

I know I don’t need to justify myself. And, many will be and are happy to defend our evolutionary, species-dominant right to consume it. I also know that pigs could probably win on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? And, a friend who once described his favorite thing about bacon as, “the sound it makes when it’s cooking,” has recently become vegan. That said, it is part of our tradition, and all should know that we buy only the best most organic-Earth-treats-pigs-well-wish-we-could-have-slaughtered-it-ourselves bacon we can find.

End note about bacon.

For those who are into curating a menu, you don’t get much better than this:

  • Broccoli and cheese omelette
  • Thick cut bacon
  • Baguette (or some similarly crusty outside/soft inside bread)
  • Carrot-orange juice
  • Coffee/Tea

Over the years, we’ve increased and reduced our brocolli to egg to cheese ratio.
We use whatever cheese strikes our fancy.
We’ve tried various types of bacon brands, rubs, and widths.
We’ve bought fresh and, most recently, juiced our own juice.

However, even though there’s obviously lots of flexibility here, we have made some decisions regarding what belongs in the best-of category for each.  So, here goes:

THE BACON

The bacon is first because, even though you know it’s wrong, you’ll want to use the grease to cook everything else in.  Just admit that you do and move on.  It’s not like you’re eating this every morning.

Also, while you can obviously buy your fav brand/rub/width, let me humbly suggest our favorite:  the thick sliced bacon with this specific rub that they sell at the butcher counter at Whole Foods.  Unless you’re in Paramus, where they apparently don’t know you can cut a pig into strips of bacon, they should have it.  It’s delicious.

THE OMELETTE

We generally use about 2 eggs per person.  Whisk together with some milk, preferably the kind with at least a little bit of fat.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Cut broccoli into smallish heads.  Saute in bacon grease (you don’t need much).

Pour egg over broccoli.

Let it cook a bit and, before you’re going to attempt to fold it, layer on the cheese.  We like a sharp cheddar.  Mmmm.

Flip!  Put on plate.

THE JUICE

This year, we juiced the orange and carrot separately and let folks combine at their preferred ratio.

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Visit a friend in LA. Radishes.

We’re entering a tear in the space-time continuum here.  As you are probably unaware, I have a backlog of things I’ve been meaning to say for a while now.  Things got busy!  You know how it is.

So, this one’s from way back in the fall, when the weather was pretty much exactly as it is right now.  I went to visit a close friend from college who has now up and transplanted herself to LA.  I’m happy to report that she’s adapted quite well to the east coast-west coast change, but that’s probably mostly due to the fact that she’s originally from Texas.

It was my first time in LA.  I can confirm that the weather is great out there; although, while on a hike, we were attacked by a giant cloud.  For some reason, I had this idea that the cloud that came up the mountain and enveloped us could contain bolts of lightning.  I’m pretty persuasive when under duress, and it took little convincing that we should start to make a run for it.   In case you’re wondering, it’s very difficult to outrun a cloud.  I have the video footage to prove it.

We survived.  Before I left to return to the right coast, she took me to the Brentwood Farmer’s market.  One thing the west coast totally has on us out east is the awesome produce.  For rls.  I was so psyched to see my newest favorite veggie to snack on raw out in full force – the radish.  I even got to introduce the radish, in all it’s spicy, crispy, crunchy gloriousness to my friend.

FYI – the farmer woman at the stand told me that the later in the season, the spicier the radish.

And, in case you’re also wondering, the answer is, “yes.”  You are definitely allowed to shove as much produce as you can fit into your carry-on bag and send it through security.  They don’t bat an eye.

THE RAD RADISH

  • Radish
  • Salt, or whatever else you want to dip it in.  Hummus works well, too.

Wash & cut off the end of the radish.  Or don’t.

Dip in salt.  Or hummus.  Or don’t.

Eat.

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Make a New Year’s Resolution. Veggie Stir Fry.

If you know me, you know that I’ve probably already made a hundred new year’s resolutions, started fifty of them, and already left them lying somewhere around the house for my partner to pick up after me.  Isn’t that always the way it goes?  No?

Well.  Last August, I made a soft commitment to returning to a more veggie-centered lifestyle.  After a carnivorous summer of delicious meats and cheeses, I felt like I needed to take a break.  Because I have trouble tempering myself in any way whatsoever, I quite the meat cold turkey, so to speak.

To be completely honest, I still eat seafood.  I’m from Maryland.  What can I say?

So, make a new year’s resolution if you like.  It’s probably something good to do, especially if you evangelize goal-setting.  But definitely, for shizzle, eat this.  I bet it will align nicely with several of your resolutions.  If you’re like me, then you totally forgot about stir fry for the past 6 years or so.  Personally, I’m falling back in love with broccoli as we speak.  And stuff with sauce just makes for delicious left overs.

KEEPING IT SIMPLE STIR FRY

DELICIOUS SAUCE

  • Mirin
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Soy Sauce
  • Agave
  • Garlic, lots
  • Scallions
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Ginger, micro-planed
  • Olive & sesame oil

I chopped up some garlic and scallion, threw them to saute in the olive-with-a-dash-of-sesame-oil mix, sprinkling red pepper flakes on top.  Added in pretty equal parts of mirin and rice vinegar, and a tad more than an equal amount of soy sauce (essentially, to taste).  A squirt of agave, tablespoon of ginger.  Let simmer for a second and set aside.

STIR FRY

  • Veggies: I chose broccoli (don’t forget the stems!), green beans, red bell peppers, onion, and more scallions.  There are really no rules here.
  • Tofu (extra firm)

I fry the tofu first.  I do veggies separately and then combine them at the end.  After combining, lower the heat, and add sauce.

We ate it over rice we had left over from last night’s order-in Thai.  If you’re a better person, you’ll probably put it over your super grain of choice (I predict…quinoa).

Happy New Year!

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