Friday, July 25, 2008

The Tom Tom Club

I've spent my life eating. When I am not eating, I am thinking about what and when I will be eating next. There is no middle-ground, and this is the truth. Summer is my favorite season because there is the shortest distance between thinking about the food that I want and obtaining it; it seems that every other corner I turn offers up a bouquet of fresh vegetables and thick, dark breads for sale . It's the season of the farmers market... and all my favorite foods are there, begging to be eaten raw, ripe, and juicy.

I say this because I want you to be sympathetic to my plight, the one in which I have begun to eat too many tomatoes. I ingest them constantly and without regard to personal pride or recipe. On many a workday I have been known to casually saunter into the Union Square greenmarket, spend an hour or so fervently selecting the ripest and reddest of all the tomatoes--the ones whose splitting flesh yields softly to the applied pressure of my palm--and then return, triumphant with my prizes, to the office to eat them completely raw (and a little noisily, if my coworkers don't say so themselves). It's disgusting, childish, frivolous. These things I know, but I am powerless to stop it.

The only thing to be done (the only thing that could conceal the nature of the beast) was to find recipes that allowed me to consume as many delicious tomatoes as my gourd could possibly hope to handle in as respectable a fashion as possible. Respectable being the key word here, but one also having a broad and highly elastic definition.

Since pizza in the summertime is an all time favorite of mine, I thought I might as well up and toss 'em on some 'za. This is one of those recipes that I can hardly wait to make again, both because it was so delicious and also because there about a million things I want to tweak about in order to make it better. Any suggestions are warmly accepted and appreciated!

Thus: Lemon-Avocado and Tomato Pizza

You Will Need:
1 tomato, ripe
1 avocado, ripe
a few slices of Fontina (or your favorite) kind of cheese
1 bunch fresh basil
pizza dough (i picked up a big bucket of mine from my favorite pizza place)
2-3 tbls. of olive oil
2-3 tbls. of fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Pre-heat your over to 350°. Slice the avocado open, then use a butter knife to slice it while it remains in the shell. Each slice should be relatively narrow, but not so much as to disintegrate into mush upon removal from the shell; they should have some individual integrity. Scoop out the slices using a spoon, and place them in a bowl. Cover them heartily in lemon juice and black pepper, then set them aside (they'll come in handy later.)

Next, prepare the dough by abusing it a little. You'll have to roll and beat it on a well floured surface. Using a rolling pin works best, but I found that a sturdy glass can suffice just fine in the absence of one. Once the dough is nice and pliable, stretch and roll it out as thinly as possible, and mold it into as round a shape as you can manage. Rub the finished piece with fresh olive oil. Now you're ready to start laying down the actual pizza.

Slice the tomato thinly, clean and chop a little basil, slice a little of the cheese. Lay down the tomato slices, making sure to leave a little space between each round. Now, arrange the slices of lemon-soaked avocado to fill in any blank spaces. Sprinkle generously with the fresh basil. Tear your cheese slices into bits, and scatter them across everything. Eventually, they will melt into brown, attractive little spots.

Pop your pizza into the oven and let it bake until the cheese bubbles and the crust smolders into a lovely, golden shade of tan. Let cool and then eat it all in one sitting!

For the sake of historical record, I must also note that this recipe was made and consumed in honor of my close, personal friend Ben's birthday. He is the man, obviously:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Counting Your Eggs

When I was little, the newspaper in my hometown ran a weekly feature where kids would submit phrases into which the word "egg" had been cleverly incorporated. Every week I would read it and consider contributing. I never did. Being that I was not a big fan of eggs at the time, and that my family did not celebrate Easter in any capacity, this regular and vaguely disinterested pondering was, for a long time, the extent of my relationship to the food.

It was only much, much later in life that I realized the degree to which eggs could be incorporated into almost anything. Not just turns of phrase, but every conceivable kind of meal. Eggs benedict, burgers, grain salads, quiche: eggs seemed to be the pivotal ingredient in limitless cuisines. So for awhile I went nuts and tried to put them in everything, resulting in equal parts disaster and delight. Then, inspired by the plight of a miserably empty pantry one morning before work, I decided to reign in the unmitigated cree-egg-tivity (haw haw) and just do it straight for a second. Let the egg be an egg, like it was always meant to be. I decided to bake myself some! A little of this and a little of that later, I pulled out of the oven a right tasty egg dish. I look forward to making it for my friends with some frequency in the future, but until that morning comes I will satisfy my urge to share as usual...via blog.

PS: Predictably, cooking an egg in a muffin tin makes it look like a muffin. This does not detract from their appeal in any way whatsoever.

You Will Need:

Whatever spices you damn well feel like

To Make:
This is so simple it is literally painful. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Crack your eggs into each, individual muffin tin. Be careful so as not to break the yolks (unless you like it like that). Sprinkle the top with whatever spices of interest you have on hand. I used oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Slide them into the oven, and let them back for approximately fifteen minutes. Upon removal, let them cool for a bit so you can pop them out without breaking them apart. Serve over fresh, cool slices of tomato.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

one if by land, two if by sea

What are vacations good for if not eating? A photo-essay of the good eats to be had will have to suffice for now as I'm only home for a second. I have about four hours until I am back on the road again until Sunday, and I haven't even started to pack. Silence for now, but rest assured that the stories are plentiful, fresh, and locally grown.

In a quick synopsis of events: we went clamming!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

peace out!

It's the Fourth of July and I'm goin' to Montauk! I'll be back on Sunday just fit to burst with stories of fresh lobster, BBQs, homemade pancakes, popsicles, and sunshine. And I'll admit, a small, girlish part of me does want to check-out Sam Talbot's new restaurant The Surf Lodge, while I'm up there...but I doubt I'd get one cut-off-denim clad leg in the door before they'd be shooing me away with a broom.

I've got lots of other good stuff on the way, as well, (figs are in season!) so make sure to come back soon, ya hear?

Photo (as always) care of Ben D.