Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What Mama's Cooking: Amaranth at the Market

Here’s what I got at the farmer’s market this week.

Starting with the red leaves and moving clockwise I have amaranth, the greens cut from salad turnips, lamb's quarters, spring onions, garlic scapes, shallots (from the grocers not the market), and then the salad turnips themselves.

By the way, amaranth seeds are high in protein and particularly high in the amino acid lysine which is on the low-side in other grains. After researching their nutritional value I am resolved to start using these seeds more frequently and alternate them with quinoa, another great seed pseudo-grain. 

For those of you history buffs, they were the major component of the Aztec and Inca diets, so when the Spaniards overtook the Americas they outlawed growing amaranth to help make their defeat complete. In my part of New York State, Native American orchards and corn fields were burned by Europeans to accomplish the same. Apparently, in various parts of Asia and some parts of Africa amaranth leaves are eaten in stir-fry type dishes. So, that's  what I decided to do using all of my purchases.

Lamb's quarter's are also called wild spinach and are frequently found growing in my yard and everywhere else, as a weed. I found this interesting blog entry 
about wild food foraging in NYC which includes mention of the multiple nutritional benefits of this common weed.

As for the garlic scapes, or garlic flower stalks, do you remember I used garlic scape pesto with wild ramps to make a pizza for brunch
? Here's a recipe for White Beans and Garlic Scapes Dip I intend to try if they are still at the market next week.

For the stir-fry:
Melt a tablespoon of olive oil plus a tablespoon of "butter" in a sauté pan. Then add the garlic scapes cut into one inch pieces and cook for a minute. Add sliced shallots, then the chopped green onions with the green part, too, cooked for a minute. Finally, add the the cut turnips. After the turnips are crisp tender remove all of the vegetables from the pan and put the amaranth, lamb's quarter's and turnips greens in, and cook until they are wilted.

I bought wild mushrooms - Morels - at the grocery store and the black-gilled Wine Cap mushrooms at the market.

Wash, wash, wash the morels then slice them in half lengthwise, cut the others into strips. Sauté all the mushrooms with a clove or two of minced garlic in a tablespoon each of olive oil and "butter." Meanwhile boil the pasta, but when it is al dente add a cup of peas (they are in season now, too) then drain. Add to the pan with the mushrooms and toss. Yumm.

xx Mama and Molly

Monday, July 29, 2013

Engagement Party

This weekend we hosted an engagement party brunch for friends and family in the NYC area. It was nothing extravagant, just an opportunity to celebrate and an excuse to throw a party, but it ended up being so meaningful for us. We had a make-your-own champagne cocktail bar with different liqueurs, juices, simple syrups, fruits, and swizzle sticks, as well as a brunch spread of bagels, scones, yogurt and granola, fruit, and two cakes. Just a lovely afternoon spent with some of our favorite local people. 

xx Molly

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What Mama's Cooking: Fiesta Made For A Weeknight

My husband thinks I have a special way with Mexican food. I love the spice combinations, the cooking methods and the vegetable ingredient combinations. Sometimes, I cook everything the slower traditional way, but when I need to cook dinner quickly on a weeknight after a day of work I use some shortcuts I've developed.

For the green gazpacho I let this recipe 
from the blog Vegangela be my guide. I say "my guide" because it is difficult for me to follow a recipe completely. I am opinionated about food. 

Then I created this Mexi-tasting vegetable sauté.

Remember I told you how to roast peppers before, and I usually keep some in the freezer. I buy Trader Joe's corn tortillas made up of corn, water and lime - only. I like Better Beans - Rethought Beans that I find in the refrigerator section of Wegman's Nature's Marketplace. They come in a few different flavors of a few different beans. Use your favorite Better Beans or canned refried beans. It's really easy to make your own by thoroughly mashing a can of beans and adding garlic and onion powders.

Here's my recipe for Soft Taco Beans and Veggies. Serve it with the green gazpacho and you have a fiesta.

xx Mama and Molly

2 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise then in half moon slices
1 medium onion, cut into strips
1 fire-roasted poblano chile, chopped
1 fire-roasted red pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp cumin, ground
1 tbsp Mexican oregano
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
1 cup vegetable broth
about 1/2 cup leftover salsa if you have it
Refried beans
Corn tortillas

Sauté garlic in olive oil as soon as it begins to char add the onions, mix and cook together until some onions become dark. Add the zucchini, poblano, red pepper, broth, leftover salsa and tomatoes then simmer for five minutes. Add the spices and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Add the cilantro, continue to cover and cook until the vegetables are tender. Mix in the lime juice.

Heat the tortillas in a covered dish. Heat the refried beans.

Place a spoonful of refried beans then vegetables in a tortilla, fold and eat.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

MoMa Rain Room

I'm sure by now most of you have heard about the MoMa Rain Room, a temporary, interactive room where it is constant raining but stops just above you as you walk through the space. I've been dying to go check it out, and tried to go this weekend. Apparently, members had arrived at 5:30 am and the line had already reached capacity when I arrived at opening time (10:30 am). Lucky for me, the MoMa has added a view only option, so I didn't get to actually go under the rain, but at least I felt like I got to experience the exhibit in a small way before it ends this month. If you have a chance, at least try to make it to the viewing portion, it's really very cool.

xx Molly 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Vineyard Strolls

Banana Republic Shirt, Gap Shorts and Shoes (both are on sale), Kate Spade Bag, and Free People Sunnies

This weekend we celebrated another dear friend's birthday with a Long Island wine tour. It was nice to escape the oppressive city heat for a breezy day in the "country". Hope you all had a lovely weekend as well.

xx Molly

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fancy Swizzles: DIY

I’m having a little party in the coming weeks, and was trying to think of a way to “decorate” the cocktails we’ll be serving, so I decided to make fancy swizzle sticks. They were super easy to make, it probably took me 30 minutes if that, and will add a fun element to the bar and drinks. I bought kabob skewers at the grocery store, cut them to the size I wanted, and then simply hot glued sparkly pompoms to one end. Because you can use any pompoms you’d like, these swizzles can easily be adapted to fit a party’s color scheme and get the feel you’re looking for. I couldn’t be happier with the results, here’s to hoping my guests will agree!

xx Molly

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Mama's Cooking: Lentils, Swiss Chard and Pasta

I think Swiss chard is beautiful as well as tasty. Remember my photo of the glass vase filled with the red? This year I even planted some rainbow chard in my flower garden and have learned that deer share my aesthetic. So, these two bunches of rainbow came from a farmer's market.

Now that Molly and Alex have their CSA, every week they are asking "What should we do with the greens?" This is a recipe I'd started making long before Molly joined us in this world. I really don't remember what ladies' magazine I copied it from, but I sure remember the chef and the restaurant---Annie Sommerville of The Greens in San Francisco. After trying this recipe and then, a few years later traveling to San Francisco, Anthony and I made a point to eat at The Greens and enjoyed the restaurant about three times total. There were just so many great dishes and really good vegetarian restaurants were not that common at that time.

I remember serving it at a dinner party where a friend blurted out surprised, "this is restaurant quality." She was then very embarrassed, but it was true and it was at a time when vegetarian food was on the kooky fringe.

So if you find yourself with some Swiss chard and you've already tried my Swiss chard pancakes, try it with some pasta and lentils.

1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and drained
2 bay leaves
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups cold water
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
8 ounces uncooked linguine
1 lb Swiss Chard, rinsed, stems cut in 1/2 inch lengths; leaves stacked and cut crosswise in 1/2 inch strips
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring lentils, bay leaves, 1/2 tsp salt, and water to boil in a medium-size sauce pan. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes or until lentils are tender. Discard bay leaves. Drain off water; stir in garlic, thyme and oregano.

Meanwhile bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot. Add pasta; boil 4 minutes. Add Swiss chard stems; boil 2 minutes. Stir in leaves; boil 2 minutes or until pasta is cooked to firm stage and stems are crisp-tender.

Remove 1/4 cup water, reserve. Drain pasta and Swiss chard in colander; return to pot. Add lentils, reserved pasta water, lemon juice, parsley, oil, remaining 1/4  tsp salt and the pepper. Mix well.

Serve with the cheese.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

At Sea

This past weekend a group of us celebrate our dear friend’s birthday (happy birthday again, Heather) with an evening sail around Manhattan, and I even got to drive! Such a lovely evening, and wow, I’m constantly awed by the beauty of this city of mine.

xx Molly

J Crew shorts and blazer (last seen here), Banana Republic blouse, Cole Haan shoes, Free People sunnies

*thanks ladies for letting me borrow a couple pics!*