Pimiento Cheese

IMG_1714    On last week's episode of "Better Call Saul" (which, if you haven't watched it yet, is great–but watch "Breaking Bad" first), Mike Ehrmentraut calls pimiento cheese "the caviar of the south." Having just made pimiento cheese for a dinner party, I thought this description very apt–with a similarly salty but creamy–and much lower price point–pimiento cheese is makes an excellent appetizer for your next party (seriously, it will be the first thing to disappear). IMG_1712

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It's traditionally served with saltines, but pretty much any cracker will do, or I've also known people to spread it on bread for a pretty ridiculous take on grilled cheese. Just don't tell anyone what's in it.IMG_1711

Side note: Ari (my darling boyfriend) is currently trying to raise money through Kickstarter to fund the next season of his podcast, Off Campus, which focuses on graduating from college and navigating the real world. Check it out (and donate) here, if you feel so inclined.IMG_1713

knife / board from Paris (similar) / bowl

Pimiento Cheese (adapted from Southern Living)

4 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon grated yellow onion
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (7-oz.) jar whole peeled pimiento, drained and roughly chopped
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Watermelon Rind Pickles

_MG_6464I've been wanting to try my hand at making watermelon rind pickles since last summer, when I realized how much watermelon rind goes to waste when you eat the red part. I had also tried them at a great little restaurant in Williamsburg called Rye (get the duck confit), and I'm pretty happy with how well they turned out. _MG_6472 These are what you would call "quick pickles" - you don't seal the jars, but if you would prefer to use that method I'm sure it would work.  Serve with pulled pork sandwiches, chicken liver mousse, or as part of a cheese plate._MG_6474 Watermelon Rind Pickles (adapted from Epicurious)

1 4-pound piece watermelon, quartered

8 cups water

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar

8 whole cloves (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves)

8 whole black peppercorns

2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 teaspoon pickling spice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Cut watermelon pulp from rind, leaving thin layer of pink on rind (reserve pulp for another use). Cut green outer skin from rind; discard. Cut enough rind into 1 x 1/2-inch pieces to measure 4 cups. Combine 8 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt in large pot; bring to boil. Add rind pieces and boil until tender, about 5 minutes. Strain. Transfer rinds to large metal bowl. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons salt, sugar and next 7 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour over watermelon rinds in bowl. Place plate atop rinds to keep rinds submerged in pickling liquid. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Strain liquid from rinds into saucepan; bring to boil. Pour over rinds. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Repeat straining and boiling of liquid and pour over rinds 1 more time. Pour rind and liquid into jars and cover. (Will keep, refrigerated, for 2-3 weeks.)

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

_MG_4712One of my favorite parts of warm weather, hand's down, is eating outside. And one of the foods I associate most with eating outside is barbecue. In New York, I'm fortunate enough to be near some excellent restaurants, but I had never tried my hand at making pulled pork. It always seemed far too complicated, and I never planned far enough in advance. But one Sunday I woke up, and knew that I just needed some pulled pork. My favorite versions are piled with coleslaw and served with pickles, and I found a recipe that includes both of those in one. The pork itself did take a while and called to be marinated overnight (I marinated it for four hours), but I have seen some great-looking recipes that can just be thrown in a slow-cooker which would make it really easy for a weeknight dinner. Of course, I think the best pulled pork sandwiches have an inherent smokiness from a wood fire, but until I have my hands on a grill, the oven works perfectly well._MG_4715 I followed this recipe from Food & Wine for the pulled pork exactly, and this recipe from Bon Appétit for the slaw, which I modified slightly by adding 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar for more acidity and 1/2 cup mayo for creaminess. Serve sandwiches on a picnic table with a cold beer, slathered in barbecue sauce._MG_4721

Also, I'm very excited to announce that I am collaborating with my friend Max, who started the amazing site Wine & Bowties. It is pretty much the go-to site for everything that's cool in music, art, style and culture, and I am incredibly excited to begin a recipe series with them. My first recipe (the guacamole that I posted here) went up on Monday night, and you can look for more new recipes every couple of weeks. Wine & Bowties also has a ton of other fascinating content, so be sure to check out their other features as well.

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Stone Fruit Cobbler

During the winter, I live for summer days when I can walk over to the farmer's market and pick up a bag of peaches. They are by far my favorite fruit, and though I think the best way to eat them is raw, I always need to make cobbler at least once per summer. Deceptively simple, you can use any combination of stone fruit and the results will be just as excellent. I had some peaches, nectarines, plums, and sour cherries lying around, so that's what I used -- but only peaches is wonderful too. Enjoy with a tall glass of milk or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Stone Fruit Cobbler (adapted from Bon Appétit)

1 1/2 pounds assorted stone fruit, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

For crust:

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an 8x8x2 baking dish (or a 9-inch cake pan in my case), mix fruit with sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Using an electric mixer,beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in egg yolk, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add flour mixture; beat just until dough comes together. Drop by the teaspoonful onto fruit. Bake until topping is golden brown and fruit juices are bubbling, 50-55 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Fette Sau

I'm pretty sure that trying to be a vegetarian is an obligatory part of any Wesleyan student's education. And many, I'm sure, succeed. I attempted to be a vegetarian the first semester of my freshman year and was actually pretty successful -- until Thanksgiving, that is. The turkey, ham, and my mom's excellent stuffing were just too much. Ah well. I don't think it was meant to be anyways -- I love barbecue and fried chicken FAR too much to try to give that up. Not that I'm knocking those who do choose to be vegetarian -- I actually quite enjoy tofu and I think that in many cases the environmental impact of eating meat can be too much.

However, this is not a post about the moral implications about eating meat. Rather, this is a post about excellent barbecue, at a marvelous place in Williamsburg called Fette Sau. Not vegetarian friendly -- you literally order meat by the pound. Options are limited, but that's alright with me. All of the meat is smoked for hours on location (a rare feat in NYC), and you can choose from a few options and rotating sides. Go with the brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. Just trust me. For sides, the German-style potato salad is a perfect foil for the smoky meat, and the baked beans are cooked with the burnt pork ends, making them wonderfully smoky and hearty. The meat is served with doughy rolls and the long tables are scattered with various barbecue sauces, including a spicy one and one laced with mustard. Fette Sau (which, appropriately, means Fat Pig in German), also has a great whiskey selection and multiple beers on tap to wash down your meal. Go on a night when you can sit outside, as the four long inside tables are always packed. You'll know you have arrived when you smell smoky, succulent pork wafting onto the street -- and how can anyone resist that?

(Clearly, not me, since I went twice in the span of a week.)

Restaurants: Little Brother

I'm not quite sure how this happened, as I come from Minnesota -- land of lutefisk, not so much of barbecue. But somehow, over the last year or so, I have become kind of obsessed with southern food. This isn't really a new trend, especially in NYC where (lucky for me and Ari) there are tons of great options for barbecue and fried chicken. (I mentioned a few in a previous post). However, I'm always looking for options that don't necessitate getting on a train, and that's where Little Brother comes in.

It opened last winter in a tiny, industrial space on the strange wasteland of Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Avenue next to the excellent Hot Bird bar. The first time I went was in January, and it was freezing. Even with our mild winter, we ate with our coats on. However, the food certainly helped warm us up, and their simple menu is the perfect length to order a few things to share. I'm a fan of the barbecue chicken and barbecue pork sandwiches (always with extra spicy barbecue sauce), which comes with pickles and vegetable slaw on top. The prices are reasonable enough to warrant ordering a couple of sides, of which I highly recommend the french fries (though I may be biased. I could eat french fries every day. Seriously) These, however are a whole different ball game. After they are fried, they coat them in the same spice rub they use to marinate the meat, and the result is a sweet-spicy-tangy kick that complements the crispy fries perfectly. The collard greens are very good as well, although i thought they could have used a little more flavor. Overall, a great place to go when you want a cheap dinner and don't wnat to venture too far from your apartment (at least for me). An added bonus: in warm weather, you can order the food to eat at Hot Bird and enjoy it outdoors with a cold beer next to their fire pit.