greens

Recipes Gone Wild: Beth Lewand’s Random Green Gratin

Before becoming a Greenpointer, I was a Williamsburger, living near the bridge with a lovely French lady and her feisty kitten, whom we’ll call Tache (to protect the innocent). In what I understand as a typically French behavior, my roommate would not refrigerate her stinky cheeses, but rather would let them ripen, over the course of a week or so, atop the counter. Just like his caretaker, Tache the kitten was crazy for blue cheese in the way that most cats are crazy for catnip, and daily I’d hear my roommate cry out “Tache!!!! Nnnnnnnoooooooon!!!” upon finding her frommages pilfered and devoured by that mischievous fur ball. Poor Tache simply couldn’t resist an odiferous, bloomy blue. But where is this whole kittens and cheese tangent going? When I asked Beth Lewand of Eastern District if she’d like to help me think if something to cook this week, she sent her beautiful Random Green Gratin recipe, enhanced with ripe, tangy notes of firm and soft cheeses, a dish that no kitten could resist. Plus, if you know Beth, then you know she’s really into kittens. Can’t blame her. Kittens ‘n’ cheese. The epitome of the good life. Continue reading

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Plunders and Blunder of Shopping Therapy and Gift Giving (to the Japanese)

Midtown sucks, we all agree. I try to be in and out, but when I have to wait around I seek a haven; a quiet place or I go to therapy, shopping therapy. It’s slim pickins’ but when I need a snack and reading time I head to Fika, a swedish espresso bar, with great coffee and pastries, including chocolate balls, great macaroons and my favorite sandwich, avocado with arugula, red onion and cream cheese on raisin bread.
And when I need to get a brain fix I head to Argosy, a 3-story fetish shop for used books and old prints.
On the bottom level you can find prints from $3, like that sweet flamingo (bottom right). I also picked up that Brooklyn Amusement Park poster (top left) from the late 80s for $10. The other two, a graphic novel with a dude chain sawing a tree (top right) and a weird Russian canned food print (bottom left) were $20 each. Pretty cheap for awesome artwork!
After a ride back home on the G train, which made me wonder they leave one door half open in each car when you wait at Court Square, I realized maybe it’s to keep the A/C inside. The MTA being energy conscious?
The plan was to go to Vintage Modern for the We See Stars trunk sale, but since the train ride was supersonic fast, I mosied around The One Well and chat with Kerry.
I wanted to buy a gift for my friend’s girl who is visiting from Japan. The problem with shopping for someone else is you always find things for yourself.
“That is totally normal!” Kerry assured me, so I bought these pearly pink old lady earrings ($28), which weren’t clip-ons, hallelujah! And for the lady friend I bought this adorable flower bowl ($12).
Then I headed over to the trunk sale and scored those arrow earrings ($18) and ate a gallon of potato chips. See that spread! Erica, the jewelry designer, also sells at the Dekalb Market on weekends.
Jon met me down the block for dinner at EAT after he ate a hot dog. Lucky! Our salad had the most delicious honey vinaigrette. Seth told us how to make it: just whisk together honey, oil and apple cider vinegar with a little salt. Magic.
While there I started unraveling all my wares from my shopping spree.
“Well I had a lot of time to kill!” I reasoned.
“So you shopped. You are such a good American,” Jon said.
“Look how adorable, right? She is going to love it!” I said proudly showing him the flowery bowl. Then I turned it over.
“MADE IN CHINA! I can’t give this to her!”
Every year, my parent’s friends, the Watanabe’s send us Christmas presents from Japan. As a kid (and as an adult) I beg to open all the origami wrapped gifts. When we turn them over we find the “Made in China” sticker and laugh, even though the gifts are always gorgeous. Meanwhile, we probably send them gifts made in China, too. Or worse, Canada!
Without thinking too hard about the history of far eastern diplomatic affairs or mass consumerism, I bought her the slate colored handmade bowl from Eat instead ($7), which is Made in Brooklyn and I happily kept the cute little Chinese bowl for myself.
Oh the blunders and plunders of gift exchange with the Japanese! Now hide my wallet and hope today is payday!

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Recipe: Jon’s Carbonara Pasta with Asparagus

Jon has become the master of pasta carbonara, which is simply (italian) bacon and egg pasta. He got the recipe out of a cook book his mom gave us for Christmas called Weeknight Fresh & Fast.

I was skeptical at first because of an incident I had when making carbonara using duck eggs, very raw duck eggs, but Jon’s is just right. And he wears a wife beater just for me!

He put his own spin on this recipe with the substitution of asparagus, instead of kale, but the green possibilities are endless, broccoli rabe or brussells sprouts. I can’t think of any more.

This dish takes literally 20 minutes to make and is so delicious. By the time the time I put the laptop aside and ask him if he needs help, he is already finished.

Cube 1/2 C. pancetta and pan fry it until brown. Add one chopped chopped shallot until softened, then 1 C. chopped asparagus. Add 1/2 C. of wine and reduce.

While all this is happening boil your spaghetti. Don’t ask how much. Just do what we do and make an entire pound for two people! I need to get one of those spaghetti measuring rings. Okay, like 1/2 lb?

In a separate bowl, beat two eggs. Add 3/4 C. grated cheese (pecorino romano and/or parmesan will do). Jon uses a 1/2 C. parmesan, 1/4 C. romano. Grind a lot of black pepper into it.

After the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back to the pot. Add everything else to it and let it all get happy in there. Serve and enjoy!

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