Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Picnic and a movie, locavore style

The fondest memories of food are ones that are made with friends and family.  Your most profound memories of food probably aren't of the most refined dining experience or the finest quality ingredients.  Instead, memories are made with those around you. With that in mind, yesterday, I combined my passion for food, friends, and a free movie at the park.

My day started off with a trip to the farmers market to pick up some local and organic produce to make an array of fresh and seasonal salads that would be a perfect pair with a good rosé and a movie in the park. I bought almost everything from green market, where I happily paid the higher prices, knowing my dollar going straight into the farmer's hands. The food I selected was all delicious and very much in season. I first bought some corn, now finally in season and very tasty. With it went cilantro, limes (one of the only non-local ingredients), poblanos, and scallions.

Try these recipes to make some fond food memories of your own:

Corn and Poblano Salad
4 servings:
3 ears of corn
1/2 bunch cilantro
1-2 limes
1 poblano
scallion greens
olive oil
1. Peel outer corn husk. Leave 1 or 2 layers on. Put on grill or roast in oven to achieve light brown color. Cool. Cut off cob.
2. Roast poblano in oven or on grill. Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap to steam, Peel and deseed. chop into pieces around the same size as corn kernels.
3. In bowl mix corn, poblano, chopped cilantro, scallion tops slices on bias, lime juice, oil, and salt. Season.

I wanted to add some sliced red pearl onion for color and flavor, but received a frown when mentioned "onions," so I left them out. This dish turned out to be sweet and spicy, and the corn was excellent. A great summer get-together dish to try.

Local potato salad, with a mustard vinaigrette and pickled spring onions.
Serves 4:
5-6 medium sized potatoes from farmers market
2 Spring onions, Including tops
Red Wine Vinegar
Mustard (Dijon and whole grain)

1. Cut potatoes into even bite size pieces. Cook potatoes until tender in salted water. Chill.
2. Slice Spring Onions. In a pot, put 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, bring to boil and pour over onions, chill.
3. To make vinaigrette: put 1/4 cup red wine vinegar in bowl, add 1 tsp each of whole grain and dijon mustard. Add 2 tbsp honey and whisk together. Drizzle in 3/4 cup oil, while whisking vigorously.
4. Mix sliced spring onion tops, potatoes, pickled onions, and vinaigrette in bowl and season to taste.

Potato salads can be made many different ways. This is a twist on the traditional. I like the addition of pickled ingredients, which added flavors and acidity to the dish.

Heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad
Serves 4:
2-3 Heirloom tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella (homemade is best)
Sea salt

1. Slice tomatoes and Mozerrella and arrange on plate. Top with torn basil, sea salt and EVOO.

This is simple, fresh, and light.  Heirloom tomatoes are excellent right now. Get them and don't be afraid to pay for them, because the Tomato Blight might run tomato farmers into the ground this year.

Grilled Flank steak sandwich w/ roasted scallions, rosemary mayonnaise, lettuce, and blue cheese
Serves 4:
1 loaf fresh bread
1 flank steak
Rosemary and thyme
Red Wine Vinegar
1 egg yolk
Blue Cheese
1. Marinate steak with oil, a splash of vinegar, rosemary and thyme sprigs for a few hours.
2. Make mayonnaise: 1 egg yolk with a splash of water in bowl. Whisk together with chopped rosemary. Slowly drizzle in 1 cup oil, making sure it is emulsified together. Season with salt. Set aside.
3. Take scallion whites, trim them up, clean. Toss in oil and salt and roast, Until tender in oven. Split in half if large.
4. Cut bread into slices
5. After steak in marinated, dry off well, season with salt and pepper, and grill until medium rare. (Do not overcook, flank steak gets really tough if cooked more than medium rare.) Let rest and slice thin.

To assemble sandwich, toast or grill bread. Spread toast with mayonnaise. Place scallions on, followed by steak, blue cheese, lettuce, and then bread. Slice and serve.

After we all gathered in the kitchen to prepare this delicious rustic dinner, it was off to Astoria Park to enjoy an evening spread out on blankets and share all of these wonderful salads and sandwiches. It was a beautiful night, with the lights of the Triborough Bridge (recently renamed the RFK Bridge) and Manhattan skyline reflecting off the east river. We sat between the Hell's Gate Bridge and Triborough.  And this, my friends, is how some of the best memories are made with food.

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