Thursday, April 28, 2011

brisket with rhubarb and honey

brisket with rhubarb and honey

Perhaps it’s unfair that I’m writing this mere days after both Passover and Easter have ended. But spring comes late to us this year, after a prolonged winter has delayed spring crops by a few weeks.

For the last few weeks, every time I’ve chatted with the farmers, the consistent complaint has been a late spring harvest. Just last week I spied ramps and asparagus and squealed with delight. I filled my bags to the brim with verdant produce, eager to devour it in the coming days.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

coconut ginger shrimp

coconut ginger fried shrimp

What would you do on a day when it really, truly feels like spring? Us? Like the uncool and responsible adults that we are, we worked against deadlines. And then, after hours of slaving away at our respective laptops, we resisted the urge to order take-out and made shrimp for dinner! Delicious, dead-simple, ready-in-minutes shrimp, delicately flecked with coconut and ginger. I think we deserve a gold star!

And while we’re no strangers to Sunday work, it was made particularly painful given that it was so lovely out. We wanted to go and play hooky, but instead, we finally moved the two supremely ugly plastic storage bins out of our bedroom, which were mortifyingly depressing to look at (at least for me) and now the bedroom looks lighter, more airy, bigger (imagine that in NYC!). Have I mentioned that it’s been on our to-do list since mid-January when Andrew moved in? I finally broke down and requested that the one, single thing I want for my birthday, besides a pony, is for us to put those boxes away. Andrew, being a guy, looked at me as if I had two heads. Apparently, men have a whole different definition for clutter than women do.

Continue reading coconut ginger shrimp.

Friday, April 22, 2011

russian apple spice cake – sharlotka

apple spice cake - sharlotka

When it comes to farmer’s market wares, my eyes are often more bigger than my stomach. I forget that I’m shopping for two and go overboard, returning home with bags practically overflowing with the market bounty even with the greenmarket’s current modest showing. I worry what will happen once strawberries and asparagus hit the market, along with their friends, artichokes and fava beans.

A few weeks back was no different. Forgetting that there are only so many apples two people can eat in one week before the apples are past their prime, I wound up with a few too many. And given that we were going away for Passover, I knew that by the time we had returned, these apples would’ve grown mealy.

Continue reading russian apple spice cake – sharlotka.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

coconut macaroons

coconut macaroons

My first ever macaroon was an utter disappointment. Our first Passover in the United States brought to our table a lot of surprises. We could just walk into the supermarket and buy our matzo there. Imagine that! Just like people buy bread and eggs and milk – there it was, in a special isle (its own isle!) with a big bright sign that said “Passover Foods”. We were in shock, amazed that this kind of blatant display was in full view of everyone to see.

Back in St. Petersburg, my family would go to this one particular spot in the city where you could get matzo. We would then transport it back where it would reside in our kitchen, among all the regular food items. No one in Russia cleaned out their kitchen free of “chametz” for the holiday – it just wasn’t a practice back then. Plus, on your way back from the matzo pick-up, you kind of had to be discreet with it. Being Jewish in Russia wasn’t particularly hip and if you were too vocal about it, it was downright dangerous.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

matzo toffee with almonds and sea salt

matzo toffee with almonds

We’re in the thick of it here with Passover preparations. Andrew’s mother is at the butcher’s picking up kosher meat for tomorrow’s seder. We caramelized shallots this morning – they will be combined with roasted asparagus come tomorrow. There will be two types of haroset at the table. And tomorrow night Andrew’s family will host over thirty guests for a festive and boisterous first seder.

I like to think of Passover as an Jewish Thanksgiving – a loud, boisterous affair that, on the one hand, is big and chaotic, but on the other hand, has a linear order – what happens when you have to follow a script of sorts. In this case, it is a Haggadah. We will read from it, then we will eat, the read some more, and so on.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

tsimmes

Tsimmes

Of all the dishes of my childhood, none was more loathed than tsimmes. Right around Rosh Hashanah and Passover, this graced our table practically at every meal. But whereas come September, I had many more options food wise, being that it was harvest time and all, come March or April, Russian stores had little to offer and by little I mean sad-looking root vegetables. This is a lot like what the farmers’ market currently has as well, minus the sad-looking part.

For some reason, my hatred of tsimmes inspired my mother, against all odds, to make me love the mushy honeyed carrots. She’d stand over me as I shoved spoonfuls in my mouth, gagging in the process. It was not a pretty sight, but in the spirit of full disclosure I should also add that I was a very picky eater as a kid, so it could’ve just been that tsimmes was the straw that broke the camel’s, or in this case my mothers, back. Or maybe because she was so enamoured of the dish herself, she was hoping that we’d be share our enthusiasm over it. Sadly, that never happened, and I avoided eating and making tsimmes until I hit thirty. Tsimmes was my food arch-nemesis.

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