Sunday, August 24, 2008

Summer Nights

It was my official last weekend spent in the Hamptons and it seemed only right to end on a high note with long beach days, fresh food, local wine and of course prokadima contests. We spent Friday night cooking in. It's always a gastronomic affair with our group. The grocery shopping on the way in only started the process... Waldbaum's for the essentials, The Seafood Shop for the fish, and a final stop at our local wine store for bottles of their best. Once the wine was corked, culinary cheer filled the room. I had the honor of sharing the chef's hat this summer with my friend's boyfriend, Ben. He pulled out his own set of knives and I knew it was on. Simplicity, healthsome, tastefulness. We had the same mindset. It was gonna be gooooood. Fish tacos with Ben's spicy cole slaw and avacado. His tuna ceviche; my summer salad. Fresh, tasty goodness. We used talapia for the fish. Simply pan seared with olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes. I used a fork to pull into perfect pieces. I am still trying to convince Ben to share his slaw and ceviche recipes with us. Hopefully this will be soon to come! There is nothing better than old fashioned S'mores for dessert. We weren't camping out on the beach like our previous weekend at a friend's Lobster Bake, so we had to settle with the good ole' gas stove. (I have to say it was a step up from our only other option...the microwave.) This was the treat of the weekend...every late night snack, as well as the final morning's breakfast. An absolute hit.

The summer in the Hamptons will be one not to forget. Jitney rides, beach days, cooking out, eating in, Surf Lodge, watching sunsets, Pierre's, Physique 57, Yama-Q, Della Femina, 3 dogs too many, bike rides, Turtle Crossing, summer playlists, looking forward to being back in the city for the start of fall in September: "The hottest party month in the city" -Chris Sweet.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dinner in Dwelling

There is nothing better than cozying up on the couch with a good bottle of Pinot Noir and catching up with your "stories" on the tube after a previous long night out with friends. Add great food, a boyfriend, a dog, a playmate, a sidekick, a partner or just a delusion to the picture and you've got yourself a perfect date-night in.

I have been making this salad every weeknight to go along with whatever I am having for dinner. It seems to compliment everything from an Amy's Roasted Vegetable Pizza (to die for, by the way!! No cheese, organic whole wheat crust, shitake mushrooms, roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts and sweet onions!) to my Turkey Meatballs, to a fillet of fish. I absolutely crave it, but I didn't realize how amazing it was until I make it for others and they are just dying for the recipe?? I spice things up as seasons change and use what is fresh and in-season, but for summer I stick to these basic ingredients:

Simple Summer Salad

Mixed Greens or Baby Romaine
Avocado (pitted and diced)
Tomato medley - Cherry, Exotic, Grape, Mini Plum, etc. (halved or quartered)
Pine Nuts
Grated Parmesan
Brianna's Real French Vinaigrette
Fresh Cracked Pepper (to taste)

Nothing fancy. No slavin' away in the kitch. Literally toss to your liking and enjoy! The sharp Parmesan cheese and the creamy avocado mixed with the simple dressing creates an appealing texture that you have just to try for yourself...

This week I ventured out and made a filet mignon to go along with my salad and used the help of Tyler Florence to create a savory Pinot Noir sauce. As I am sure you can gather, I don't eat beef too often...but I crave the occasional steak and this one was totally tasty!

Filet Mignon with Mushroom and Pinot Noir Sauce

2 filet mignon steaks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
Assorted mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 cups Pinot Noir
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Season both sides of filet mignon generously with salt and pepper. In an oven-proof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Place the steaks in the hot pan and sear one sides, about 3 minutes. There should be a nice crust. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast about 10 minutes, or until steaks are cooked to your liking.

Remove the steaks and mushrooms and cover. Bring the pan back to the stove over medium-high heat. Add the wine and scrape the pan, getting up all of the good bits. Place the steaks and mushrooms back in the pan, coat in the sauce and add the butter for extra richness.

Plate the steaks and mushrooms again, topping with the sauce to serve.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Afternoon Slump is Starting to Look Up!

Ok, I know that I've already mentioned my summer OBSESSION with iced coffee so I thought it only right to pass along some
delicious dirt. Present a receipt from your morning cup of joe and Starbucks will sell you an iced grande beverage for $2. Only now through September 2nd (the officially dreaded final day of summer). So GO! RUN! Before summer is over!

And spread the good word...

(Though nothing beats the iced coffee from Cafe Angelique or Grey Dogs, but that's just my opinion).

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cookie Dreams Contest

What would YOU want in a cookie? Tell me your cookie fantasy and YOU could WIN your very own cookie....named after you! What is your ultimate flavor combination?

If you're on Facebook, join my Group O'COOKIES and reply to the discussion board topic...
"What Would You Want In A Cookie?"


Voting starts now!

O'Cookies Captured