Jun 30, 2010

big bambu: you can't, you don't, and you won't stop

i had really been wanting to visit big bambu, the current rooftop exhibit at the metropolitan museum by the starn twins. smartly we went on the most perfectly gorgeous day ever in the history of new york city! loved the work on so many levels: sculptural, aesthetic, conceptual, intellectual, metaphorical. you can see a nyt video of the starn twins talking about the work here.

one of the artists is pictured below (through the bamboo), talking with some museum visitors.
from central park the sculpture looks like a rather large bird's nest.
new york city is such a great town for public art, art is everywhere and not just in the museums.

fortunately one cannot enjoy art on an empty stomache, so we stopped at EAT for some picnic essentials and had lunch in the park. on our way out, we stopped at le pain quotidien on madison for some iced coffee and mini palmier cookies. great day out.

Jun 25, 2010

velvet plumcots

right now i am swooning over these velvet plumcots. sometimes they go by pluots. either way they are my favorite of the whole plum/apricot hybrid family. some are more plummy some are more apricotty. these are just perfect. tiny. juicy. tart. sweet, plumcot perfection. they would lend themselves well to breakfast with some yogurt or cottage cheese drizzled with some raw local honey. or maybe grilled and caramelized and served over some ice cream with some crunchy chopped nuts and a drizzle of plum liqueur. or in a salad of mixed greens with goat cheese and slivered almonds and a light refreshing vinaigrette. you really can't go wrong when your ingredients are so sublime.

it was crazy hot this week in new york. but now the weather is just pure, gorgeous, summer. so lovely. happy summer weekend to you wherever you are. i could definitely get used to this. xo, g

Jun 22, 2010

apparently it is noodle week

don't know why but i've been on a noodle craze. first it was vegetable-y soba with napa cabbage, tofu, bean sprouts, chard, and orange bell peppers, topped with dulse flakes (sea vegetable). and then i decided to get serious with some grilled pork ramen with shitakes, nori, scallions and napa cabbage. my kids slurped this up like it was the best thing they'd ever tasted. which i think it may actually have been, as they said they wanted it for their birthday meal next year. high praise indeed when it is good enough for the birthday.

there is a secret to this ramen dish, which i will now reveal to you. first go and read david chang's momofuku cookbook to get the right mindset, the mindset of a noodle master. and then go to your best local asian food store on the day they are unloading the freshly made ramen noodles and buy them up. fresh noodles are the whole secret. you could probably skip reading momofuku but it does help. the broth and the toppings are so simple you can't really mess them up. i totally winged it myself following no recipe. i made a dashi broth with kombu and bonita shavings and vegetables then added the soy and mirin to taste. and i marinated the some sliced pork tenderloin in soy sauce, mirin and rice vinegar for 30 minutes before grilling.

so go ahead and give this a try. your friends and family will be deeply appreciative, i promise. happy summer solstice to you, by the way. maybe it is the solstice and these ultra long days that is inspiring these long noodles. who can say, but i can tell you i would like to eat them all over again. yum.

Jun 17, 2010

First Farmer's Market Haul

that most marvelous time of the year is here: farmer's market season. my local farmer's market opens in mid may, but they have mostly plants and cheese and eggs and that sort of thing until june. what really gets me excited is great organic produce, and it has just arrived, fresh, vibrant, and locally grown all the way up here in new england. sweet sugar snap peas, colorful kohlrabi, the best raspberries we've ever tasted. isn't life just delicious?

Jun 15, 2010


organic cherries from oregon are crazy delicious this year. juicy, sweet, firm, incredible. so incredible, i want to invent a new word to describe how amazing they taste.

during long winter months, as i try to imagine what summer tasted like, i sometimes day dream of what i will cook with these early stone fruits when summer finally arrives: maybe a classic clafoutis, or dorie greenspan's cherry rhubarb crumble or perhaps even jamie oliver's cherry rhubarb crumble with oats (i do love oats). someday i will try each of these recipes, but when cherry season is upon us, most years, the cherries are frankly too irresistibly sweet and delicious not to eat right now. calling us from the refrigerator as we wander down for breakfast. elevenses? perfect bright, fresh pick-me-up. simple pleasures are the best. and so this year, like most every year, with our deep appreciation for this amazingly dimunitive fruit, we are probably going eat them all before they can possibly be cooked into anything. in fact, right now i am planning to run right back out to the store to get some more, for lunch. cherries!

Jun 11, 2010

today i saw

have you seen jill wignall's today i saw series? it is brilliant and simple and clever. see here. for one year jill has been drawing a postcard everyday of something she saw and has then sent it to someone she likes after first photographing the card and posting it on her blog. they are really lovely and charming. at the 1 year mark and conclusion of the project last week, she decided to celebrate by conducting a postcard swap. i signed up for the swap right away. it was fun to do. i've finished the postcard above, and am sending it off to my swap partner (arranged by jill) in melbourne, australia. exciting. love the idea of a group art project series. and frankly, it gives me a few ideas. and i just love ideas.

otherwise, lovely weekend planned here, low-key, awesome, summery fun. cheers and happy weekend! xo g

Jun 9, 2010

Swiss Chard Brown Rice Gratin

martha rose shulman posted a recipe for a chard gratin recently in her recipes for health column in the nyt see here. this sounded so delicious that i found myself at the grocery store the very next day buying a large bunch or organic chard and a hunk of gruyere. i really love chard but have a hard time thinking up dishes for it the kids will enjoy as much as i do. this dish had the winning ticket. we all loved it. it was far tastier than i even imagined it would be in my wildest imaginings. something about the fresh vegetably texture of the chard contrasting with the chewy brown rice and the eggy cheesy fluffiness. i am telling you! this is a terrific example of a dish that achieves far more than the sum of its parts.

naturally, i altered the recipe. first, i was out of onions. although this never happens. in 15 years, it has happened maybe once before. so i used leeks and a shallot. as it turned out, i think the leeks are actually a better choice for this as i can't imagine it tasting any better. i also used two kinds of brown rice, aromatic wehani and plain, neither basmati, as ruth calls for. they were both long grain, but a bit chewier than basmati. the third thing i changed was the cheese. i doubled it (kids palate). and i also added a small amount of milk. feeling the dish would still hold together on account of the extra cheese. then i cooked the leeks, garlic, shallot, and chopped chard stalks, all together instead of separately, and for less time. i also wanted the gratin to brown a little less so i lowered the temperature slightly from ruth's instructions.

it all worked. i bet ruth's version is amazing also, though i may never know for sure, now that i've engineered this one..

swiss chard brown rice gratin
adapted from martha rose shulman, recipes for health, nyt
1 lb swiss chard
8 oz baby spinach
2 leeks
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 cup already cooked long grain brown rice (i used a mix of wehani and brown, cooked it in a vegetable stock)
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1/4 cup milk
3 large eggs, mixed
salt to taste
olive oil

first, preheat the oven to 350. next ready your gratin dish. wipe with a bit of olive oil along the bottom and up the sides. next set a medium large pot of water on the stove to boil.

wash and dissect the chard. by dissect i mean separate the leaves from the stalk. set the spineless leaves aside and finely chop the stalks. set aside. chop the leeks, shallot, and garlic. grate the cheese.

okay the water should be boiling now. add 2 teaspoons of salt. encourage the large chard leaves into the pot and push below the water surface with a wooden spoon. cook on high for 3 minutes. drain and remove. now the spinach. place it in the pot, submerse and remove right away, 10 seconds. empty the pot of water and return to stove. heat the pan on high until the water is evaporated, 30 seconds. add a tablespoon of olive oil and saute the leek/shallot/garlic/chopped stem mixture. saute for a few minutes, maybe 4. until softened but still fresh looking. meanwhile chop the chard and the spinach. add the chard and spinach into the leek mixture. now add the brown rice. saute to blend all the flavors. salt and pepper to taste. add in the milk. also the cheese, add in the three eggs. pour the whole thing into your gratin pan, maybe sprinkle a bit of cheese on top, and place in the oven for 40 minutes. if you would like it to brown a bit more, raise the heat to 375. allow to cool for 5 minutes. devour with relish.

the brilliance of the wehani chewy rice bits in this gratin is something you have to taste to believe. almost like little bits of bacon. so flavorful. i have a feeling i am going to be making this all the time now, forever. to me it tastes just a vacation in the Mediterranean, delicious!

Jun 8, 2010

weather continues charming

the weather windfall bonus continues. pictured are a few more shrubbery blooms from the yard. completely lovely.

work is keeping me busy today, but tomorrow will be mostly play. heading to meet a friend, one i've known for 30 years, in the city for lunch and a walkabout and maybe even a lilla p. sample sale. we still have so much fun together.

in other news, the beach was merveilleux yesterday, so much so that i am going to try to go back 3 more times this week for at least an hour or so. if i plan, it will have a chance of happening, no? so rare to find the time and have the weather, must celebrate the brief confluence of these disparate elements.

p.s. lilla p. is one of my favorite clothing designers, they've practically reinvented the tee shirt in a sophisticated, flattering, interesting, yet just-as-comfortable-as-ever sort of way. you might think this is not still possible in 2010, but it totally is. see here. remarkable quality. (and i am far too poor to afford things of low quality).

Jun 7, 2010

where much-hoped-for lovely weather arrives

the wicked wacky weather of the weekend (vile humidity, tornado watches, flash floods, hail, violent thunderstorms) has brought in incredible, cool, refreshing, sunny skies with pleasing sea breezes. this is the kind of weather that i am always always always hoping for.

going to celebrate today by heading to the beach with daughter. it is a tiny beach on long island sound, just down the road from here. the town puts out some lovely adirondack chairs and just enough sand for 70 people to stretch out on. we will laze around and read and look at the water and shells and little crabs and the boats.

meanwhile, the rain and heat of last week have inoculated the garden with unimaginable vibrancy and it is now lush and incredibly green. alliums and shrubberies blooming all around. even the hydrangeas are beginning. i love the blossom color, green and cream with blue tips. i could stare at those broad saw-toothed leaves for an hour. hydrangeas really are one of my favorite flowers, i used them in my wedding bouquet way back when, and somehow i wind up planting a few at every house we live in, east coast or west. lovely hydrangeas, so sturdy and captivating, and not at all shy, with their complicated blossoms and fantastical foliage.

this week is looking very good. happy monday. xo, g

Jun 5, 2010

weekend simplicity

lunch for 4 in about 4 minutes. fresh balsamic dressing, fresh mozzerella, flavorful kumato tomatoes, slivers of prosciutto, some heirloom lettuce for color and texture. smush together firmly, slice, serve.

Jun 4, 2010

nice party

well, the party went great. the weather was fabulous. he was and is still thrilled with his ping pong table. we play every day now.

they guests thoroughly enjoyed their dinners. they ate organic sliders, (made with organic grass fed beef and organic brioche slider buns from whole foods), crudite, chips and dip, drank sparkling mineral water, and celebrated with ice cream cake. and then there were the activities which proved quite popular: plenty of water balloons, ping pong. wiffle ball, basketball, yo yos, paper air planes. such nice boys.

what i love about this gathering is not just that it made my sons dreams come true, but how simple it was to pull off. the most important ingredient for a successful party, it seems to me, is some really nice guests. it isn't really about the food after all.

this weekend we are buckling down, the kids are studying for finals, and SAT subject tests, and playing a lot of baseball, as it is now little league playoff season. but we are ready (i hope).

have a great weekend. xo, g