Cathy Erway has long been an advocate of what many New Yorkers would find insane: not eating out in New York. In fact, she has a fantastic blog dedicated to just that, Not Eating Out in New York.
It's a scary thought for many, but eating in for a week isn't as serious as it sounds. It can take getting used to, and the supermarket music might not be that great, but even the most stalwart restaurant foodie might impress him or herself with a week's experimentation. Where to start? Last week, Michael Pollan spoke on the radio about what to buy to eat. He advised, "Simply don't buy food that has been advertised," a sign that it's been over-processed. As a strict adherent of all that Pollan says ("Eat food. Not too much. And mostly plants"), I decided to stick with this theme throughout. Of course, you don't have to be as dorky as I am on this. But another benefit to eating at home is all the money you'll save — and homemade bread tastes much better to boot.
Day 1: Sunday
Let's start with Sunday. After sleeping in, food shopping before brunchtime will build up your afternoon appetite. Buy some beets, a bunch with the greens attached, ramps (since they're in season) eggs, a box of pasta, crème fraiche and, if you trust your market, a pound of clams. Pick up a bottle of white wine, seltzer and OJ. Once home, flip the oven up to 400 degrees. Lop the beet roots off their stems. Wash and wrap each in foil, and toss into the oven on a baking sheet.
Beat an egg and a cup each of flour and seltzer with a fork. Chop your ramps down to half-pencil logs and add to the batter, with salt. Ladle them into a pan of sizzling olive oil one scoop at a time, until you've got a stack of silver dollar rampcakes.
At some point in the day, measure about three cups of flour and two teaspoons of dry active yeast and salt each. Mix with water until the dough just comes together; cover bowl and hide in a warm corner for the next 16 hours or so. Also, remove your roasted beets from the oven and refrigerate in their foilpacks.
By dinnertime, you'll have scrubbed and soaked your clams in cold water. Cook some pasta, al dente, and get a pan going with garlic, ramps and chopped beet greens from the bunch. Add some white wine and, when it boils, toss the clams in all at once and cover. Five minutes later, peek inside. If the clams have all opened up, you're in good shape. Pour the pasta with some of its starchy cooking water in, a scoop of crème fraiche, and toss the dish with parsley, seasonings and a few glugs of olive oil. Dinner's served.
Day 2: Monday
Have leftover rampcakes for lunch, but instead of the same way, fry an egg over-easy to top it along with a splash of soy sauce. Take out the dough and roll it around on a floured surface. Form into a ball, cover with a towel, and let it sit for a few hours. Since you're in the kitchen anyway, pour a couple cupfuls of dried black beans into a pot and cover with cold water.
When you're hungry again, preheat the oven with a cast-iron Dutch oven inside. Plop the doughball inside the Dutch oven and top with its heated lid. After 20 minutes, remove the lid, but continue to cook 10 more minutes. Peel a couple beets and slice into rounds. Roll up some beet greens and chop into chiffonades. Toss with a squirt of lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Make a loose pile of the leaves on fresh bread and top with a row of the beet slices. You can overlap them a little — they're just going to fall off with the first bite. Pick the pieces up and stain your hands even more, or forfeit by picking up a fork (you're not in a restaurant, nobody's watching!).
Day 3: Tuesday
Since that wasn't much to eat last night, bring your black beans to boil on the stove. Add a slew of aromatics — chopped onions, garlic and herbs. While it's simmering, chop your beet stems into ruby inch-long sticks. Bring a pot of equal parts water, vinegar, some salt and pickling spices to boil — just mustard seeds work just fine. Boil stems for a minute, then remove from heat and let cool before covering up to chill.
Meanwhile, have a poached egg on toast for breakfast and a lunch of leftover pancakes, or pasta from the clam incident. For dinner, make a black bean and rice platter, with a pat of garlic sautéed beet greens beside it and a garnish of beet green pickles, jalapenos and some crème fraiche.
Day 4: Wednesday
Time to shop again. Get some apples, spring lettuce, asparagus and cheese from the Greenmarket. After a leftover black bean lunch, notice that your bread has gotten a bit stale. Make a flurry of fresh breadcrumbs in a food processor. Mash some black beans in a bowl, crack in an egg, and add the breadcrumbs and spices like cumin and cayenne. Form into patties and pan-fry them in a small pool of olive oil. Wrap most to chill or freeze. Place apple slices on top of the most fetching one, and cover with a slice of cheese. Place under a broiler until browned on top. Toss the lettuce in a light vinaigrette, and eat alongside your black bean cake au fromage.
Day 5: Thursday
It's all about the asparagus today. Have some asparagus with your eggs in a savory frittata. Roast some spears and make a warm panzanella salad with toasted stale bread, lettuce and wedges of beets. Make a pasta that night with asparagus and cheese.
Day 6: Friday
Now that you've eaten like a pro for the better part of a week, relax and have a black bean burger with beet stem pickles on a roll. Splurge on a free-range pork chop that night, simply browned with salt, to eat with asparagus and creamed black beans.
Day 7: Saturday
Make apples with oatmeal for breakfast before hitting the store for more food. Mix another batch of bread dough for the week, pick up whatever you fancy at the Greenmarket. Start the week anew, or old. There are probably greens in your crisper, about to turn.
From farm to table: the path your spuds take is a long one indeed.
May 27, 2009
Get drunk with local beers, it's the right thing to do.
May 27, 2009
Now that you've eaten your fill, it's time to fake your way to a beach-ready body in three short weeks.
May 27, 2009