Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Farmer's Market Green Bean and Tomato Salad

I can't help myself when it comes to farmer's markets.  Even if I wander through the stalls for a while without any intention of buying, I must MUST try a sip of freshly made apple cider (my favorite!) or "taste" (is it really a taste if I "taste" four, or maybe....five times??) a sweet New Jersey cherry tomato.

This weekend I had to have these multi-colored green beans.  They were beautiful--purple, green, yellow and instead of cooking them to death, I thought I'd make a salad so they could still (somewhat) retain their pretty natural colors.
Begin with:
Green Beans 
Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Clean the beans first, then chop off the ends.  Start boiling a pot of salted water, but have an ice water bath ready.  You are going to blanch (! this was my first time doing a fancy cooking move, all learned from Smitten Kitchen) the beans.

The purple beans lost their color in the boiling water, which was pretty sad.  Keep them in the water for about three minutes, or until they are tender but haven't lost their crunch.  Then, throw them in the ice water so they stop cooking.  Chop them up into pretty pieces after you've dried them off.

Mince the shallot, or chop it up finely.  Put about a third to a half cup of olive oil in a pan, and when it is heated, throw the shallots in.  It'll take just a few seconds for the shallots to cook through, just long enough to take the raw, biting edge off for a salad, and just enough time for it to fill your kitchen with amazing smells.
Then, put the oil and vinegar in a bowl.  Put about two tablespoons of red wine vinegar in, a splash of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  

Chop up whatever (farmer's market or Amish Market) tomatoes you have in the fridge.  I used Amish Market "cocktail" tomatoes.  Throw these, the green beans and the dressing all together.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hannah's Lemon Squares

Because I am a part of this generation:
I have a lot of friends avoiding the real life at various law schools around the country.  

Just kidding, they aren't slackers, and (most) aren't living at home, but I do have friends all suffering through the same 1L pain across the US.  They all happen to like to cook, and so once in a while I'll post a "celebrity shot," or a post from another law school student.
Here's Hannah's Lemon Squares. Enjoy!

Hannah's Lemon Squares

It was nearing Friday sundown and after a week full of hours of class and my first memo assignment, I needed a creative outlet. I also happened to have a craving for something sweet. That's when the idea hit me. I was going to whip up some lemon squares and treat myself after another long week of first year law school.

I did a quick Google search and I used the following recipe for inspiration:

At only 118 calories each, I figured I was on the right track to a fabulous and fuss-free Friday night dessert...

Here are the ingredients and proportions I used:
  • Crust:
  • 1/8  cup  granulated sugar
  • 2  tablespoons of  butter, softened
  • 1/2  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/8  cup  granulated sugar
  • 4  teaspoons  grated lemon rind
  • 1/3  cup  fresh lemon juice
  • 3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  teaspoons  powdered sugar


The first step was to preheat the oven to 350°.
Then I got to work on the crust. Using my Cuisinart mixer for the first time, I beat 1/8 cup of granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of butter at medium speed until it was nice and creamy in texture.
Next, I added the flour into the sugar and butter mixture until the consistency resembled that of small crumbs. I couldn't believe it but my crust mixture was complete! There's no doubt my Cuisinart made it quick and easy.
After, I emptied the crust into a baking pan and gently pressed it down with my fingers. I put the crust into the oven at 350° for about 15 minutes (until I noticed a light brown color).

While the crust was in the oven, I started on mixing my lemon batter. First, I grated my lemons, using their fragrant rind. Then, I beat eggs in my Cuisinart, added in the sugar, the grated lemon rind, fresh squeezed lemon juice, flour, a dash of salt, and powdered sugar.
In the meantime, I noticed the crust was ready. I removed it from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Once cooled, I poured my lemon batter over the crust. My kitchen was starting to smell like dessert.

I baked the crust and lemon batter at 350° for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until the lemon topping was set.

I cooled the dessert on a wire rack and then I added a decorative touch by sifting powdered sugar over the top.

The last step was to carefully cut medium to small size squares out of the pan and finally, to enjoy!

I know that I'll be making these squares again soon. Not only were they simple, but more importantly, my bite-size treats were a sweet and rewarding way to end a tough week. Bon appetite!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Quick Leftovers Idea

Law students like me have little time, little money and very little energy to think about what to eat during the week.  Sunday night dinners are ideal for leftovers that I eat throughout the week in various forms.  

Here's an idea for when you have a little leftover (still delicious) steak and veggies from the night before:
Stack a little steak, asian slaw (basically cabbage with a little oil and rice wine vinegar) sliced cukes on top of your bread of choice.  Drizzle with leftover peanut sauce and spice it up with sriracha.  Fabulous, filling, and an excellent way to clean out your fridge.  
Besides being yummy, the sandwich also happened to pass my law school lunch test: 3 hours of property law reading without snacking.  
It is now on my go-to for week day lunch.

Korean Spiced Steak and Peanut Noodles

I love love love sesame noodles from my favorite Chinese restaurant in my hometown.  I have yet to find an equally satisfying dish at a Chinese restaurant near my apartment so I thought I would try and recreate these noodles by myself.  They came out well, although if you are trying to replicate the dish and prefer a heftier noodle, I'd recommend using spaghetti or venturing down to a Chinese or Japanese supermarket (or just good old M2M on 3rd avenue and 11th street) for some legit asian noodles.

I started with: creamy peanut butter, ground ginger, toasted sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame seeds and sriracha sauce (not pictured, but you can use red pepper flakes as a substitution, if you want some spice).

The base of the noodles are really simple.  Put about a cup of peanut butter in a small pot and turn the heat on low.  Stir it constantly.  Add about a a quarter cup of soy sauce, and a dash of rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil.  Sprinkle some ground ginger and garlic, and then taste it as you go to add more if you like more spice.
There is no set recipe for these noodles because you can make them as hot or mild, as peanut-y or soy-y as you'd like.  Go crazy with the sriracha to make it spicy! 
Cook the noodles to your desired doneness.  Toss the noodles with the sauce and garnish with sesame seeds and if you like, chopped scallions.
These noodles are really good warm, better when they've cooled down, and best eaten the next day cold, possibly even for breakfast....

As for the meat portion of this meal, I saw some Korean spiced sesame marinated petite beef fillets on sale on freshdirect and bought them.  I (aka my grillmaster friend who does all the manly grilling--why is it a man's job again?) simply popped them onto my grilled pan and cooked them through to a medium rare.
The beef looks kind of nasty when its still rare.  It looks much better like this:
It looks even better on my plate, with some sesame noodles and a side salad made with romaine, tomatoes, cukes and a ginger miso vinaigrette I picked up from a nearby Japanese restaurant:
Leftover ideas on the next post...

Quickie Tomato and Avocado Salad

I first tried this combination at a classy restaurant in Milan, Italy when I was studying abroad.  It seems like such a simple salad, and it really is, but it's a fabulous side dish, or a please-make-me-one-every-day salad for people like my dad.  

I like to use campari tomatoes, but these are a little expensive so use whatever smaller tomatoes  they are selling at the farmers market that day or weekend (in any color--I like to use a mix of red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes, too).  

Cut bigger tomatoes in fourths, and cherry tomatoes in half.  Cut the avocado in chunks as well.  Toss everything with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Chop up a little basil (take it from the garden if you are lucky enough to have the space for one in your backyard--I don't, but I definitely like to steal it from people that do--thanks mom).  Sprinkle the basil on top, along with some sea salt.


Stuffed and Grilled Figs

MMM these were so delicious!  I'm not sure what season figs are, all I know is that the Amish Market (yes, I'm obsessed) sells them for a very nice price (a small carton filled with all those pictured above for under $3!) and they are so delicious.  I eat them plain, with yogurt, or drizzled with a little honey.  

Tonight I decided to make a savory side dish and stuffed them with little chunks of goat cheese (also cheap from the Amish Market!).  I (aka my sidekick grill master) put them on the grill and covered them for just a few minutes until the goat cheese melted.  They are delicious like that, or you can throw a few chopped nuts on top.  I chose to top them with walnuts, and it turned out to be a wonderful, sweet and savory, soft and crunchy piece of goodness that I eventually saved for dessert because of how rich it was.

It is a wonderful side dish for a bbq dinner, or a delicious and sophisticated dessert!

Figs, leftover eggplant bruschetta, typical tomato and avocado salad, some fresh bread and my favvvv (ok I promise my next post won't have zucchini in it!) grilled zucchini.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Roasted Eggplant&Zucchini Bruschetta, Tomato Salad and Walnut, Roasted Pepper and Feta salad

After a long hard week during which I was cold-called upon in Torts (and then mercilessly tortured repeatedly for the next hour), I decided to mellow out and start the weekend with a sort of pot luck dinner with friends.  And by potluck, I mean I cooked, and Amy brought a (fabulous) salad.

One of the girls attending this dinner follows a "flexitarian" lifestyle, so I decided to pick a few fresh, veggie-friendly dishes and call it a night.  Borrowing from an "eggplant bruschetta" recipe from, I decided to make a roasted eggplant, zucchini and goat cheese bruschetta, and a small fresh tomato and smoked mozzarella salad (love those leftovers!). I started with 1 large and 1 medium sized eggplant and zuchinni, fresh bread from Amy's bakery (on 47th and 9th) fresh tomatoes and goat cheese and garlic from the Amish market (50th and 9th) all pictured below:

I began by cutting the eggplant into small chunks; make them as big or as small as you'd like but try and make them even so they cook evenly.  Throw them onto a baking sheet and lightly coat them with olive oil and salt and pepper.

 Bake those for about 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring them once, until they are "silky."  You'll know what I mean by silky when you try the eggplant periodically as it cooks.
About ten minutes before the eggplant is done, chop up the zucchini in similar chunks.

Saute these with a little bit of minced garlic until soft enough that a fork could pierce them easily, but not mushy.
When the eggplant is cooked through, throw it in with the zucchini in a big mixing bowl.  Toss with a large handful of goat cheese crumbles, a teaspoon of red wine vinegar and a generous helping of sea salt and pepper.

Then, spoon this delicious mixture over some bread!

 As a side dish, cut up some of the freshest tomatoes you can find.  This time I used "cocktail tomatoes" which were incredibly reasonable (just $2.50 for a carton of them at the Amish Market!) and toss with some fresh lemon juice, salt, pepper, olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Then slice some of your favorite cheese over it.  I used my leftover smoked mozzarella and it came out wonderfully, although the pictures simply do not do the dish justice.  It is an amazing mix of sweet, tart, and all different wonderful, fresh textures.

Lastly, Amy brought the ingredients for an amazing salad.  Clean and fresh, a great mixture of roasted red peppers, walnuts, feta and romaine with a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar and olive oil.

Everything was so fresh, healthy, filling and cheap, and a great start to the end of a difficult and tiring week!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chicken, zucchini and smoked mozzarella panini

For all of you that don't know me, I am a 22 year old law school student living in New York City on a law school budget, in a typical (read: small) apartment.  I love fresh, whole foods, trying new and weird dishes and experimenting in my kitchen, all of which are especially fun to do in the summer when farmers markets pop up around the city with fresh, cheap, and delicious produce.

I figured I'd start off my first blog post with today's lunch, a simple and easy panini that is absolutely delicious and easy to make, especially if you have either or both a George Forman grill or a grill pan.

The farmers market on my corner shows up on Wednesdays so on my way home from class, I picked up a few zucchinis--I will be so sad when the summer zucchinis are gone--and contemplated what I was going to do with them on the rest of the walk home.  As a student, I constantly make big batches of food on the weekend and make a variation of the same dish for the rest of the week.  This weekend, I had sauteed a bunch of chicken cutlets and had a few leftover, along with some smoked mozzarella I bought from the Amish Market in midtown.  They have an amazing assortment of cheeses at really reasonable prices!

I decided to grill the zucchini, and cut one small one into thin slices lengthwise (about a quarter of an inch thick).  I then grilled them on a grill pan (although the George Forman would have been a fine substitute) and let them cool off for a second while I slathered my thin, round bread  (I like Deli Flats, but this would be good on any type of bread) with honey mustard, and heated up my chicken quickly in the microwave.  When the chicken was heated through, I cut generous slices of the mozzarella to place on top of the chicken and bread and put an even amount of zucchini slices across the sandwich.  

The whole sandwich gets placed (gingerly--it's pretty big now) on the Forman grill, and it heats up in just a few minutes.  It is ready when the bread has nice grill marks and the mozzarella is bubbling.

This meal is pretty cheap and easy to make with leftovers; it happens to be delicious as well. Enjoy!