Find us on Google+ cooking lounge * FOOD * LIFESTYLE * MUSIC *: June 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Road Trip: Hudson Valley - Fresh, Local, Organic, Strawberries, Citizen Cope



Full-on Summer is here.   With the warm weather, vacation time, barbecues, family reunions, yoga retreats, me time and the list goes on, lots of people are taking a Road Trip across the country.

Cruising down the highway getting from point A to B, often fits us with blinders.  We forget to take time to soak in the local scenery, take a peek at local the community.   So this summer as you jump off for your Road Trip, slow down, have a look, stop even at a roadside stand or little town.   Whether it's the Hamptons, The Eastern Shore of Virginia or a stretch of blacktop out West, there are abundant farmers, ranchers, watermen, fresh produce and local products.  Some places will have signs shouting organic; but, the real point is you are getting the food close to the source. It's always fresher, better, less handled.

Just outside of the town of Hudson, NY, stopped at a roadside stand adjacent to a farm.  Man, the minute you stepped out of the car, the air was was filled with the sweet smell of strawberries and the earthy scent of swiss chard, damp soil still clutching its roots.  We picked up fresh from the field strawberries and sugarsnap peas.  The French call sugarsnap peas, mangetout, which means eat all because with these peas the pod is edible. 

Here's an easy dessert/condiment/treat for summer.

Strawberries with Lemon and Cinnamon
2 pints of strawberries washed and trimmed.
1 Lemon
1 cup of sugar (brown, white or's your choice)

Slice the strawberries (halves, quarters, however it's your choice).  Place sliced berries in a bowl. 

Wash the lemon well to remove the wax or drop the lemon in some boiling water for a second or two before wiping away the wax.  Use a zester or paring knife to remove the bright yellow rind (get as little of the bitter white pith as possible). Mince the zest so you have about a tablespoon. Slice and juice the lemon.

Add a 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the lemon juice.  Stir well.

Mix the lemon zest with the strawberries.   Pour the lemon juice and cinnamon over the strawberries.  Mix.  Add the sugar.  Mix well.  Now refrigerate in a covered bowl for at least 2 hours.  That's it.

Use as a filling for dessert cups with some fresh whipped cream, top off pancakes or waffles with the berries instead of syrup (let strawberries stand and reach room temperature in advance or gently warm) or just enjoy as a snack. 

Found this online from USA Today "Winemaking roots go deep into the Hudson Valley soil", after seeing a sign for Duchess Wine Trail pointing to vineyards.   Another indication that there is so much to discover on the quiet two lane roads ribboning quaint towns and the countryside. Detour! (we did not.wish we had.); have an adventure; taste something new.

Citizen Cope is Clarence Greenwood.   I started hearing about him in the late 90's back in Washington, DC and saw him perform at Joe's Pub in New York City a few years ago.  

While on the Hudson Valley Road Trip, a mixed CD of Citizen Cope tracks was popped in and suddenly we were joy riding, bobbing our heads, gleaning glimpses of orchards zipping by and taking in deep breaths of country air.  

Ironically days later, a friend turned me on to a Citizen Cope disc, "The Clarence Greenwood Recordings" ;and I found myself rediscovering this artist.

Citizen Cope has a new single, "Keep Askin" released for download on June 14, 2009 from the upcoming "The Rainwater LP" out Feb 2010.

Citizen Cope's music is rock, jam, blues, soul and the beyond category.  But one thing is for sure these days, many of us are citizens coping.  Music soothes.  Sharing Citizen Cope on a long drive will ease you on down the road.

Enjoy summer.  Feast on the bounty of the season.  Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

And remember, whenever possible buy from local, regional farmers and purveyors.  Support small businesses.

photo: K. Beall iPhone
all other photos: wbj

Cooking Lounge

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Staple Black Bean and Corn Salad, Chilean and Argentinean Wine, Adventura, Latin Flavor

Black Bean and Corn Salad with lime vinaigrette

photo: wbj

Black Bean and Corn Salad with lime vinaigrette adds colorful, Latin zest to meals. This is an easy dish to have on hand all summer. Versatile enough to work as a side dish, ingredient for tossed salads, filler for quesadillas, or a spicy relish to top fish, chicken or beef.

You can tailor Black Bean and Corn Salad to what's on hand or in season, your taste preference and time available. Cooking Lounge wants you to develop your instincts for what goes well together and what works; so, you can improvise and not feel hampered by a recipe. Most recipes are simply guides for preparation.

What you need:
Black Beans (canned, or prepared dry beans)
1 can (15.5 oz), drained and rinsed in cold water. 2 cups of prepared dry beans, drained and rinsed. I like to rinse the beans because I like them to stand out in the mix and not have that bean liquid coating everything.

I tend to purchase Goya brand products the most because they are readily available. Buy a few things and experiment. Liven up simple meals.

Corn (canned, frozen or fresh)
1 can, 1/2 bag frozen, 3 ears fresh
Fresh corn in season is the ultimate choice but better quality canned or frozen corn is pretty good. With fresh corn to add an smoky flavor twist, you can grill it with the husk, roast it in the oven with the husk or remove the leaves and silk and broil it. Let the fresh corn cool to handle. Cut off the tip and base. Stand upright on base. Starting at the tip with a sharp knife against the cob, shave off the corn kernels.

Jalapeno or your favorite chile pepper
1 chile pepper. More or less as you prefer.

Onion or Scallion
1/4 cup minced.
1 teaspoon minced.
Parsley, Cilantro or Basil, fresh
1/4 cup chopped. If using dry herbs, 1 tablespoon or to taste.
1 Ripe medium or the equivalent in cherry or grape tomatoes.
1 lime juiced
Olive Oil
1/4 cup
2 tablespoons
to taste
to taste

In large bowl, add black beans, corn, tomato, chile pepper, and onion. Toss until well mixed. Toss in the fresh herbs. In a small bowl, mix lime juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper; pour over salad. Toss until well coated; refrigerate and let it chill so all that goodness soaks in.

This is a vibrant, healthy addition to any meal that's high in fiber as an added bonus.

Aventura can ease you into a warm and sultry summer mood with its modern take on Latin music.

What is the definitive 21st-century New York musical act? A pop critic would probably point to one of the city’s arty indie-rock standard bearers, like TV On the Radio or Animal Collective, or to a rapper like Jay-Z. But pose the question to Latin music fans — or to hit radio listeners in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe — and the answer will likely be Aventura, whose blend of bachata with R&B, hip-hop and big-city attitude has created a swaggering, distinctly New York style.

excerpt from article By JODY ROSEN "Crossover Dreams of a Bronx Bachatero" Published: June 3, 2009 New York Times

There is an audio link to a song 'Su Veneno' when you go to the article.

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
Clockwise from back row left, Anthony Santos, Henry Santos Jeter, 

Lenny Santos and Max Santos of the bachata band Aventura


With a couple of additions, you can sat the mood for a fiesta for a date, family or a few friends.

Have some guacamole and chips as a starter. Buy some interesting hot sauces. Here's a site to check out to give you an idea of all the variety out there.

Grill some fish, chicken or beef. Buy some hard or soft taco shells. Have a couple choices for fillings for a buffet style, causal meal. Lots of grocery stores have well stocked shelves of International/Ethnic products like Goya.

Buy Latin beers like Corona, Sol, or Presidente.

For wine do something different, try some of the great selections from the Chilean vineyard Casa LaPostolle.  Argentinean wines have become very popular especially those from the Mendoza Region; and lately, I've seen Rose making an appearance among the selections from Argentina.

Some suggestions to point you in the right direction. Thanks for reading the latest post on Cooking Lounge.  Enjoy.                photo:wbj