Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Union Square Revisited

I went into the city on Saturday for the first time since moving (three months ago). I had fun doing my old routine -- swimming at the Y on 14th Street, getting sushi at Whole Foods Union Square, trekking down to Chinatown for won ton soup, and walking through the Union Square Greenmarket. I realize now I really took the greenmarket for granted. Living in the land of indoor markets, it'll be late spring before the vendors venture outside again. So I grabbed shallots and fingerling potatoes and about 8 lbs. of apples to haul back with me (after first taking them on a trip downtown through Soho and Chinatown. My left shoulder may never be the same). Since I got a mix of eating apples and cooking apples (at $3 a 4 lb. bag, I was willing to take my chances with the "slightly imperfect" ones), I settled on making apple sauce muffins with half the haul. The recipe, which is based on one in the Moosewood Low-fat Favorites cookbook, combines apple sauce with fresh whole cranberries and walnuts for a tart-sweet breakfast treat. With a mix of white and whole wheat flour, and only two tablespoons of oil, this muffin beats the low fat options at your favorite coffee shop hands down. And helps justify buying a grande mocha latte to wash it down.
Apple Cranberry Muffins
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
1 C. White Flour
1 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1 T. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 t. Cinnamon
1/4 t. Nutmeg
1 Egg
1 Egg White
1 C. Applesauce (Homemade or commercial)
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
Zest of one Lemon
2 T. Canola Oil
2 T. Skim Milk
1/2 C. Walnuts, Toasted and Chopped
1 C. Cranberries (Whole or Chopped)
Preheat oven to 400; spray or grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
Sift together dry ingredients.
In another bowl, beat egg and egg white until frothy; add applesauce, brown sugar, lemon zest, oil and milk and beat until well incorporated.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mixed until just combined; fold in walnuts and cranberries.
Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tins to just below the rim.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, January 11, 2010

London: Market to Market

After a hectic holiday, work took me to London the second weekend of January. It was a quick trip, and I literally had 36 hours of free time. But I made good use of the time, seeing a show ("An Inspector Calls"), dining in two of my favorite quick casual restaurants, attending evensong services at Westminster Abby (I think I prefer St. Paul's, but still worth checking out) and of course, visiting two of my favorite markets: Greenwich and Borough. Greenwich, just down the Thames from London, is a really cute college town I got to check out on my last visit (in October). Back in late October, the weather was still nice enough to take the river cruise to Greenwich. However, with the bitter January weather, I decide to take the train. And the one hour journey (tube to DLR) was worth it for the shopping and food. Greenwich market has a ton of stalls selling everything from handcrafts to fashion to accessories. And many offer unique items at reasonable prices. The market is also lined with really interesting stores specializing in clothing, jewelry or home goods, so you could spend the whole day there. On this visit, I picked up two makeup purses at Afxentiou. I discovered the stall on my last visit, the bright graphic prints (one could say almost Orla-Kiely-esque) catching my attention straight away. And since it's a small, London-based company with prices that are most definitely not Orla-Kiely-esque, the purses make great gifts too. I also couldn't resist buying a funky chicken doorstop from refab (despite not really having a door to prop up!). And then there's the food. From Portuguese to crepes to "Louisiana sausages," you could eat around the world from the food stalls. I decided to try a lahmacun wrap. The flatbread was crisped on the griddle and then stuffed with salad, hummus and a yogurt sauce. Nice and compact for eating on the go. Later that day (after training back to London, meandering through Soho and attending services at Westminster), I walked across the London Bridge to Borough Market. Sadly, I arrived a bit too late. By 30 minutes before closing, most stalls had gone or were breaking down for the day, including Kappacasein. With no cheese toastie for me this visit, I followed my nose (and the scent of grilling meat) to a new stand -- Northfield Farm. Northfield operates in the market as both a butcher and food stall. On one side, you can get your raw meat product and the other, cooked meat product. The "cooked side" had quite a menu -- from beef to pork to lamb. Although I was hoping for a sausage, by the time I made it to the front of the line, all they had left was lamb, lamb or lamb. So I opted for a lamb burger with mature cheddar and a sweet curry mustard. Once I peeled off the top bun (too much bread!), I actually enjoyed the burger. The lamb patty had been seared a deep brown on the outside but was still moist inside. And the cheese, although cold and not melty, was a nice touch. The burger really couldn't compare to a cheese toastie, but was a good substitute, especially since I was cold and hungry! The moral of the story is, when visiting either market, go early, go hungry and go to the ATM, as there's a lot of temptation at London's food, bric-a-brac and antique markets! Greenwich Market is open Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Take the DLR to "Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich" station. For more information, visit Borough Market is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday but most of the food stalls are only open Friday and Saturday. Although the market closes at 6:00 p.m. on Fridays and 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays, many stalls begin breaking down much earlier. Take the tube to London Bridge. For more information, visit

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ham for the Holidays

January 5. Also known as the 12th day of Christmas, making it an apropos time to reflect on the holiday season. Although I am back to the grind, I did enjoy a great few weeks upstate with family and friends. And while I did not do a lot of cooking, I did do plenty of eating. But when I did drag out the pots and pans, the one ingredient that kept showing up time and time again was ham. Full disclosure: I don't even really like ham (it has something to do with college and the biology for non-majors class I was required to take -- I'll spare you the details). But there is something about spiral ham that screams holiday. So serve ham diced in a jambalaya-style stew, or hide it under scalloped potatoes, and I'll eat it. Especially if the potatoes are covered with leeks and cream and Gruyere, as in the Williams Sonoma Potato-Leek gratin recipe. I think this is a perfect holiday recipe because, frankly, it's time consuming to clean and cut and cook the leeks, and peel and slice the potatoes, and grate the cheeses. But the end result is worth it. An easier weeknight take on the recipe would be to use the ingredients to make a potato leek soup (after all, if you're going to puree everything, no need to take the care to make perfect 1/4 inch slices!). Of course, this is also a perfect holiday recipe because it's not exactly low calorie. But if your New Year's resolutions allow for a splurge now and then, bookmark this recipe. Happy New Year!