The Most Michael Pollan-ish Plate of Food in New York


I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while, because I really believe in it.

Like many of you, I’m a fan of Michael Pollan, his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (which I wrote about here) and his useful and helpful food rules. I’m also a big fan of Maury Rubin’s City Bakery on 18th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. How are these two things related? Let me explain.

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How To Roast Red Peppers


As autumn conquers summer, and I stroll through the Union Square Farmer’s Market, I start to panic and worry about all the fruits and vegetables I didn’t buy during those precious few warm-weather months. Which explains why, during one Saturday saunter, I came home with four giant red peppers.

I didn’t really have a red pepper agenda, but after watching this red pepper video on Food52 I decided I wanted to roast them. Then marinate them. And who knew that from that simple act I’d get three more dishes: a sandwich, a salad, and a gussied-up mac & cheese?

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Heirloom Tomato Salad


Despite this month’s banner, one of my favorite dishes to serve in summer is an heirloom tomato salad. It’s a dish that does the work for you: just buy an array of quirkily beautiful heirloom tomatoes–as many colors and shapes as you can find at the farmer’s market–cut them into slices or wedges and serve them with torn-bread croutons, green basil (plus purple basil if you can find it) and some shaved ricotta salata on top. The finished plate looks something like this….

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Nectarine Cake


So yes, when you come home from a foreign country, you want to cook all the things you ate there–to see if you can recreate the magic–but then you also want to cook something familiar: the kind of food you missed when you were abroad. The very first thing that I made when I came back from Barcelona was a tomato salad. Sure, there were tomatoes there in BCN, but I wasn’t looking for a tomato rubbed on toasted bread with garlic and oil; I wanted big chunks of tomato with basil, olive oil, All American corn, and (here’s the doozy) big pieces of toasted bread. I bought all my ingredients from the Union Square Farmer’s Market, which I visited bright and early the Friday after we got back, still jet-lagged and able to awake at 6 AM.

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The Radicchio Salad at Franny’s


We all get hammered over the head so often about fresh ingredients and using the best ingredients (“Use a really good olive oil,” says The Barefoot Contessa; “I make my own toothpaste,” says Alice Waters) that sometimes it’s easy to dismiss it all as snobby nonsense. Then you go to Franny’s, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants (and certainly the best restaurant near our apartment; it’s only two blocks away!) and order their radicchio salad and when it arrives and you take the first bite you’re struck speechless. What’s so awe-inspiring about it? Is it the execution? Is it the conception? No, you realize, it’s the ingredients.

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Rena Made Us Dinner


A belated thanks to Rena, Craig’s friend (and now my friend) from Seattle who stayed with us a few weeks ago and made us a delicious dinner of Otsu from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone. I made Heidi Swanson’s Otsu last May (click here) and really enjoyed my first Otsu experience. Deborah Madison’s otsu is sweeter than Heidi’s and also features black sesame seeds, a more racially sensitive choice than Heidi’s. Rena also made us a terrific salad with avocado, orange segments and carrots.


Rena can probably tell you how she made it in the comments. (Hey Rena, are you there? TELL US!) So thanks to Rena for a lovely dinner–you can cook for us anytime.

Killer Salads


I’ve been making some killer dinner salads lately and I’d like to share with you my technique.

I subscribe to the “stuff” philosophy of salad-making which is, essentially, that the best part of a salad is the “stuff,” not the lettuce. So my salads have no lettuce: just lots of stuff mixed together in a bowl with a homemade vinaigrette. The salad above, for example, has chopped up carrots, peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, bacon, avocado and blue cheese. The salad below, on the other hand, has peppers, carrots, onions, green beans, and chickpeas:


So here’s how I make a great salad. Buy your ingredients–they don’t have to be fancy or even from the farmer’s market, I got mine from my crappy Key Foods–bring them home and wash them and dry them well. Then cut your ingredients into big pieces and throw them into a bowl.

In a smaller bowl, place an egg yolk (that’s my dressing secret), a big spoonful of spicy French mustard and about 2 Tbs of balsamic vinegar with salt and pepper and whisk together. Then, slowly, drizzle in–drop by drop–your favorite olive oil, whisking all the time. If you do it correctly, it’ll stay thick and emulsified and you’ll ahve a creamy, tangy, colorful dressing for which to dress your salad.

Then pour about half the dressing over the vegetables, crumble on some really good blue cheese (the kind that has a name–like Danish Blue, which I used), grind some pepper over the bowl and mix it all together with a big spoon. Taste a bite and see if it needs more dressing, if it needs more cheese. Adjust accordingly and serve with some crusty bread which you’ve heated in the oven.

It may not be the healthiest salad on the block, but its certainly a healthier alternative to that fast food burger you were thinking of scarfing down from immoral cows.

Bon appetit.

Orangette’s Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad with Tahini


Going through old pictures, just now, I found the picture you see above and smacked my lips at the memory: “Hey!” my brain sang out. “That’s that delicious butternut squash and chickpea salad with tahini you made from Orangette’s website.”

According to the picture, I made this on December 19th. So please follow this link to Orangette’s recipe (it’s an adapted recipe, so lets not give her ALL the credit) and take a picture, date it, and bury it away so you can have the same experience I just had. Then make it again as I plan to make it again quite soon.