Farmers Market Salad

Farmers Market Sungold Tomato Salad

So I’ve been incognito for a while—but it hasn’t been without reason. I adopted a cat, made an Instagram for said cat, deleted said Instagram once I realized it was a quick downward slope into Crazy Cat Lady Land, I moved into an apartment (more on that later), and I’ve been working a lot. Almost all of my time is taken up by my job—writing, styling, writing some more—not that I’m complaining.

I love my job—and I’m not just saying that because I know my boss may be reading this (hi!), but because it’s really a dream—I get to play with food, be creative, shadow my favorite bar because I think it might be a good idea for an article, and I get to take home a lot of food. I’m talking buckets of vegan chili, grilled chicken, and slow-cooked salmon. The challenge comes in making these foods into a meal (I’ve become a champion of the motley meal)—but the other day, all I had to do was pour the entire contents of my refrigerator into a bowl and call it a day: A shredded kale salad became the foundation for a pan-seared corn salad, which was pulled together by some Sungold tomatoes purchased at a farm stand in the Hamptons and a Dijon-honey vinaigrette. The result was a sweet and spicy salad that I couldn’t stop eating.

Farmers Market Salad Dinner Party

Farmers Market Salad
Serves 6
Corn salad adapted from Kendra Vaculin’s recipe on Food52

For the salad:

1 bunch lacinato kale, minced
1 cup fresh mint, minced
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2–2 tablespoons Sriracha
3 ears of corn, kernels sliced off of the cobs
1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup packed, chopped parsley
1/4 scant cup crumbled cotija
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup halved Sungold tomatoes

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon honey, creamed if you have it on hand
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil

  1. To make the dressing, in a small dish or Bell jar (which makes for easy storage later), whisk together the honey and Dijon with a fork until fully combined. Add in the vinegar and mix, then, while whisking with the fork, slowly add in the olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, until well-combined. Set aside.
  2. In a large serving bowl, toss the chopped kale, chopped mint and the walnuts together, then set aside.
  3. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, warm the butter. Add the Sriracha, then, add in the corn, stirring with a wooden spoon until the corn is slightly browned, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the peppers and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add in the parsley, cotija, and lime juice; mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the warm corn to the bowl of kale mixture and toss to combine.
  6. Add the halved tomatoes on top, toss with the dressing, and serve so that the corn is still warm.

 

Shake It Out: Apple Cider Nor’Easters

Nor'Easter from Shake the Cocktail Book

Ever since moving to New York, I’ve developed a fascination with bartenders/mixologists/cocktailians. Two points if they have a tattoo of the logo of the trendy bar they serve, three points if they can make and shake two tumblers at once.

More than that, I’m mesmerized by their behind-the-counter assortment of brews, bottles, and bitters. Watching a mixologist create a complicated drink can be like watching a chef serve a five star meal, which is how I decided that I would like to become one – for a day.

This goal came with several obstacles:

  •  The Pisco Sour incident of 2012 (Pro Tip: Don’t make a cocktail with an egg if you don’t know what you’re doing.)
  • My kitchen is incredibly ill-equipped for cocktail-making. Unless you count a hammer as a muddler (which I have).
  • I’m terrible at making decisions. Especially when it comes to deciding which delicious alcoholic beverage I’d like to devote my time and resources to creating.

This is where Shake (Clarkson Potter, $25.00) comes in. Written by Eric Prum and Josh Williams, it’s a hipster’s fantasy with easy-to-follow cocktail recipes, accompanied by beautiful photos. While I would have liked to have seen a few more recipes, this is one of the best cocktail books I’ve seen because it takes complicated recipes and breaks them down so that even a beginner could follow them and make delicious drinks with minimal effort.

Shake Cocktail Book

For my Monday après-work drink, I selected the Nor’Easter from the Fall Section, which made my Monday approximately 74% better. Here’s the recipe so you can follow along and bask in apple cider deliciousness:

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Organic Wine 101

Earlier this year, I researched the best organic wine bars in Boston, in a collaboration with the Organic Wine Journal, navigating my way through the biodynamic, sulfite-free, and small producers that make up the organic wine industry.

At the start of my search, I had nearly no experience in the field, and could not tell my “wine made from organic grapes” from my “organic wine,”  – and what are sulfites anyway? Since I figured I can’t be alone in this, here is a short introduction for all the non-sommeliers out there to help you make an informed wine decision, or just to be able to impress a date with the casual sentiment, “I always drink biodynamic – I prefer my wine to be harvested according to the cosmic cycles.”

Organic Wine 101

Organic Wines – These are wines that are free of pesticides, herbicides, and all that bad stuff. Natural preservatives like sulfites (more on that later) are kept to a minimum, and traditional wine-making techniques are observed, with hand-picked grapes and very little filtration.

Biodynamic Wine –  Like organic wine on overdrive, this refers to the agricultural processes involving the grapes. Biodynamic producers often use compost, and plan their harvest schedule with the cosmic cycles. Wines that use biodynamic practices are also certified organic. The concept of “terroir” is often used in describing these wines, as they are said to be the best representations of the land that they came from.

Wine Made from Organic Grapes – This is a separate category of organic wines, which are made from organic grapes, but can have added sulfites and can undergo other manipulations after harvest that are not organic practices.

Certified Organic Wines – Recognized by the small green badge of honor on their label, these are often larger commercial wines that practice organic production.

Uncertified Organic Wine – Many smaller producers practice organic production without getting certified because the certification process can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and getting certified in the US and in Europe are two separate processes. As Felisha Foster of the Boston wine bar, Spoke, puts it, many small producers believe, “My family’s been doing this for eight generations, why would we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a stamp on the back of our label for something that we’ve been doing forever?” However, it is important to be careful here because many smaller wineries will claim that they are organic when they are not, so it’s best to go on a case by case basis. But most good wine directors have close relationships with their distributors and producers and will tell you if they believe that a wine is organic.

Sulfites – These are compounds that are naturally present in all wines – so when a label says “Sulfite-Free,” it actually means no added sulfites. Sulfites are usually added into foods as preservatives, and are added to wines to stop the fermentation process to prevent oxidation (pre-mature oxidation basically means spoiled wine). The reason sulfites are such a hot-button topic in organic wines is because the ingestion of too many sulfites can cause health risks. While a little won’t hurt you at all, sulfites can destroy vitamin B1, and can cause allergic reactions such as trouble breathing. If you have aspirin sensitivity or asthma, it may be best to keep in mind that white wines contain more sulfites than red wines, and sweeter wines contain more sulfites than dryer ones. But almost all wines have sulfites. For a wine to be deemed truly sulfite-free, it would have to be tested in a lab.

Why is organic wine a big deal?

Really, choosing between organic wines and non-organic wines comes down to personal preference. Here’s a chart of some of the main pros and cons to help you decide for yourself!

Organic Wines Pros and Cons

How to tell if a wine’s organic –

  1. Organic Label – Certified organic wines will have a green sticker on their label that reads “Certified Organic.” Easy, right?
  2. Wine menus – Many wine menus will boast their organic wines by placing an asterisk next to their organic options. When in doubt though, don’t be afraid to ask your waiter or sommelier – some menus leave their organic wines unmarked, and unless you recognize the producer, it can be impossible to tell whether the wine is organic.
  3. Case by case basis – Many smaller producers do not go to the trouble or financial burden of registering their wines as organic, so when you see a smaller producer on the menu, feel free to ask a sommelier you trust whether the wine uses organic practices.

Need a jumping off point? Here is a list of some organic wines to look out for and try yourself – 

Best Organic Wines Chart

Drink Your Vegetables

Radish-Cocktail-Drink-Your-Vegetables

This past fall, I ordered a drink at Backbar in Boston called “Popeye’s Love.”  The green cocktail, with olive oil infused gin and spinach syrup, was surprisingly delicious and un-salad like. Ever since, I’ve made a point of ordering veggie-heavy cocktails whenever I get the chance. At a recent class at the Experimental Cocktail Club in New York, the mixologist invited me behind the bar to shake and stir my own garden variety cocktails.

The two-step process was surprisingly easy: muddle the hard ingredients (radishes, celery) then mix in the rest and shake vigorously before serving over ice.

This is Radish
2 pink radishes
1 dash lavender bitters
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. honey syrup
1 oz. dry vermouth
1 oz. sherry
1 oz. vodka
topped with soda water

Click “More” for additional recipes.

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Stirred, Not Shaken: Batchable Summer Cocktails

Batchable-Cocktails-Labor-Day-Drinks-Summer

After years of ordering anything on a cocktail menu that contains egg white or the words “pisco” and/or “sour,” I declared myself a qualified at-home mixologist. I can cook eggs every which way, so I should be able to mix them into a drink. Right?

When my boyfriend supported this insane idea by buying me a home cocktail kit, I got set creating the drink of my dreams with the works: bitters, egg, crushed ice, and fresh herbs. In the end, my concoction better resembled a muscle man’s badly blended breakfast shake (read: drippy raw egg, everywhere) than the foamy, minty goblet I’d envisioned.

Taking a few steps back, I decided to create some cocktails appropriate for my level of experience (somewhere above a rum and coke, but below anything with egg or vigorous shaking).

Here are four cocktails that are easy to make at home (but clean up nicely with a wedge of lime and a salted rim). Oh, and the best part? They’re batchable – just in time for Labor Day!

Batchable-Cocktails-Recipes
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