Winter 2016

Bouquet Garni

 

The classic French bouquet garni is a bundle of fresh thyme, parsley, and a bay leaf tied with string. We tied this one with a tiny white carrot we found in the garden.

If you’re growing your own herbs you can bundle them at the end of the season and let them dry in anticipation of making stockBundle them with butcher’s twine and dry on a drying rack (ours doubles as a pizza tray). Or cinch them into a small square of cheesecloth and add a teaspoon of whole black peppercorn, star anise and two cloves of garlic.

You can also liven up your bouquet by adding other herbs like rosemary, basil, tarragon, or savory. Throw in some Asian accents like lemongrass, lemon verbena or kaffir lime. 

 
 
 
 

Making Vegetable Stock

 

A tetrapak of vegetable stock is a pantry staple - but homemade vegetable stock is almost effortless to make - especially if you are a dedicated composter. Compost is so loaded with the stuff of a hearty vegetable stock, you can easily divide your compost bin in two - dedicating one to 'stock'.

Just save your washed, chopped vegetable scraps in the freezer throughout the week - no cover necessary. Avoid stinky brassicas and red beets. Throw in ginger, lemongrass or kaffir lime if you want to make an Asian broth. Look for a ratio of 2 cups veggies to 1 cup stock.

Once you have about four cups of scraps - including the equivalent of least one onion, two carrots,  three celery stalks, and four cloves of garlic - you're ready to begin. Other great vegetables to toss in include:

  • asparagus
  • beet greens
  • bell peppers
  • carrots
  • celery
  • fennel
  • leeks
  • lettuce
  • mushrooms
  • potatoes
  • squash
  • tomatoes

To make stock,  you can either roast or boil your vegetables.

To roast,  toss your scraps with olive oil and sea salt on a parchment paper lined baking tray and roast at 450F until tender (about 45 minutes). Then put them in a blender with enough water to cover them.

To boil - consider using an asparagus pot with a built in strainer. Include a bouquet garni,  a teaspoon of whole peppercorn, a tablespoon of sea salt, two cloves of garlic and some star anise. Add enough water to cover and simmer over low heat for at least an hour - stirring occasionally.  

Whichever method appeals to you, when finished, strain through a cheesecloth lined colander to separate out your now compostable veggies from your broth. Stock freezes well in plastic containers and/or big ice-cube trays if you expect to need smaller amounts for a risotto, for example. Cool before freezing.

 

Endless Citrus

 

 

 

The variety of citrus available today is dizzying. We enjoy it for its juice as well as the fragrance of its rind.  This week we took advantage of the diversity and served up blood oranges, cara cara oranges, cocktail grapefruit, heller peak season grapefruit, noble shiranuhi tangerine, minneola tangelo, ugli fruit, kumquats and mandarin oranges any way we could.

We juiced them, ate them raw, broiled them with honey and candied ginger and candied their rinds.

In the Spring we'll preserve blood oranges as marmalade. In the height of summer, we'll muddle limes into Brazilian Caipirinhas and whisk lemon zest into birthday pound cakes. In late December, we'll float slices of yuzu in a hot bath to celebrate the winter solstice (the shortest day and longest night) and ward off winter colds as we learned in Japan.  In early February, we'll score bright orange seedless tangerines with their green leaves attached in Chinatown - to ensure good luck and longevity for the Lunar New Year.  

 

DIY wallpaper to the rescue

 

Living not far from New York City's Chinatown - we've come to embrace its Blade Runner aesthetic. For years we've dodged in and out of market stalls selling raw fresh fish,  sweet-bean-paste buns, steamed  dumplings, and exotic fruits like durians and mangosteens.

Some of our favorite spots are Dim Sum Go Go for vegetarian dumplings,  Pongsri for its coconut rice, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory for almond ice-cream, and the little café next door for its iced-lychee drinks (and walls papered with dollar bills). 

We've slowly domesticated our live/work loft near Chinatown - embracing the tools and the aesthetic of local restaurants. Most recently we coped with the upstairs neighbors' leaky hot water heater by wallpapering the kitchen wall with Chinese newspapers. 

We tried both mixing our own wheatpaste (wheat flour, water, vinegar) and using a low-odor, commercial wallpaper paste (preferring the latter because it didn't yellow). We simply brushed on the paste with a wallpaper brush, tacked on our newsprint, and brushed another layer of paint on top. Once it dried, we appled a second coat. The commercial paste promises it is easily removed with a little steam though we can't imagine removing it. In fact we intend to layer it with more found and homemade pieces of art as an ode to the lost graffiti mecca, The Chocolate Factory, up the block. Of course,  Banksy has an open invitation to add his own flourish.