Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Mulberry Project

Tucked into a basement, in the heart of Little Italy, is a slightly hidden speakeasy called The Mulberry Project.  On one sunny, hot Saturday, we and a few friends, ventured there for brunch.
The place, while dark and sexy in the lounge, opens to a great back yard – a novelty for any New Yorker in the summer.  Decorated with fake grass and graffitied walls, it was a perfect setting for a summer meal. 
We were all enjoying the drinks, conversation and ambiance until it got too cool for school. Now, I may be getting old, but once the DJ started spinning (in the early afternoon...and at a high volume), I wasn’t loving it as much as I did originally.I understand the whole idea of a clubby brunch, and can certainly appreciate, but just wasn't feeling it.
I will say that it’s a very cool place, with great artwork in the foyer. The service and food were both pretty good, but don’t think I need to go back there again. 
Overall,  The Mulberry Project is a cool and hip place, perhaps too cool and hip for me! 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cupcakes and Spices

Feeling lazy, yet wanting a fresh baked snack, I made a batch of cupcakes (from the box) with store-bought icing. While I sometimes feel guilty for not making it from scratch, boxed cakes are so nostalgic for me and in all honestly, I think they turn out quite nicely. 
To give it a semi-homemade twist, I used some spices to enhance the flavor. I made three different types and did one sprinkled with sea salt, one with curry and one with a pinch of cayenne. They all turned out nicely and really stepped up a traditional cupcake. 
Of course I had fun with the piping bag and did my best to make them look pretty. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Saag Paneer

Oh a quiet, rainy Sunday, Rob decided to try his hand paneer – a soft, fresh cheese, common in South Asian cuisine.  His culinary skills didn’t stop there, and he made homemade saag, as well. The result was a fresh and flavorful dinner of saag paneer with all the gustatory adventures of a traditional Indian meal.  
Like ricotta, paneer is very easy to make and follows a similar procedure. First, bring whole milk to a simmer, then add about ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice. 
Next, stir the concoction until it separates, producing curds and whey. 
After that’s completed, pour the dairy mixture onto a strainer with cheesecloth and let drip out for about 5 minutes (and give it a quick rinse to wash off the lemon taste). After that, seal up the cheesecloth bag and place on a plate. Put another plate on top and weigh it down with a bag of beans or a large canned item. Let rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. 
It’s that simple. Those few steps produce a lovely, firm disk of paneer. 
After the paneer was all ready, Rob made saag, a traditional a spinach and/or mustard leaf-based dish commonly eaten in Pakistan and India.
First, he marinated the paneer in a spice mix with some oil and let that sit. Then, he sautéed spinach, a fragrant spice mixture, onion, ginger and garlic for a few minutes to marry the flavors.  Finally, he added plain yogurt for that touch of creaminess.
Next, he seered the paneer and added it to the spinach mixture. 
To finish the dish, he added the paneer to the spinach and let it simmer for a few minutes. 
The result was a wonderful meal!
I’d definitely make this again (or in this case, have Rob make it and enjoy the results) and was surprised how easy Indian food is to make, how healthy it can be and importantly, how delicious the finished product is!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Great treats from last night’s CSA!
In addition to the staples, like cucumbers, beets and tomatoes, I got a new veggie, which I’d never heard of, purslane.
After looking it up on the trusty Wikipedia, I learned, “although purslane is considered a weed in the United States, it can be eaten as a leaf vegetable. It has a slightly sour and salty taste and is eaten throughout much of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane can be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked like spinach, and because of its mucilaginous quality it is also suitable for soups and stews.”
While I don’t yet know if it’s good (tasting), it is good for you and I learned that purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant, in addition to other nutrients found in leafy greens.
I think I shall try something with it tonight and will report on the results!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Donut Peaches

Back from the blogging hiatus, as I’m re-adjusting to civilization, after an amazing week in Jamaica. There will be posts to come with pictures and stories, but for now, please enjoy the beauty of the donut (or Saturn) peach.
I Grabbed just a few of these babies from the New Amsterdam Market on Sunday, and after enjoying them last night, I wish I had more. Sweet, but not tart; ripe, but not mealy; they were a perfect evening snack. While I don’t need a Top 10 to want to eat them, I did find some interesting facts to share, thanks to Mother Earth News.
1. They taste better than other peaches. They're sweeter, with almond overtones.
2. They are lower in acid than other peaches.
3. The pit doesn't cling to the flesh, so it's easy to pop out with your thumb.
4. The fruit's thin, red skin has little or no fuzz, so it doesn't have to be peeled.
5. Their small size lends itself to being eaten out of hand.
6. The frost-hardy, highly pest- and disease-resistant trees are easy to grow in most areas.
7. You can count on Saturn peach trees to produce an abundant harvest up to twice as many peaches as other varieties.
8. The trees bloom earlier in the spring than other varieties, and put on an absolutely spectacular show of pink blossoms.
9. Most of the nursery stock is now grafted to dwarf roots, making easy work of pruning and harvesting.
10. By planting a rarer variety of peach, you are helping to preserve biodiversity and maintain diverse seed stocks for generations to come.
I’m heading to pick up CSA tonight and if they’re part of the harvest, I will be oh-so-happy!