¡Hola Fruta! ¡Hola Moving to a New Apartment!

The week before you move into a new apartment, you don’t eat much but pizza and ice cream. You’ve packed your pots and pans, cleaned out all the fresh food from the fridge, and your current apartment is a maze of boxes that you wouldn’t risk carrying a hot plate through.

Luckily for me, Pierre’s Ice Cream had me covered. A representative from a branch of Pierre’s, ¡Hola Fruta!, contacted me last week. ¡Hola Fruta! makes all-natural, low-fat sherbets of many Spanish-centric fruit (and drink mix) flavors—and they wanted to send me samples! I could hardly stop from jumping for joy—I knew I was in for some grueling days of packing and this would do just the trick to perk me up.

I’ve tried the strawberry and mango sherbets, which are deliciously light and sweet, with a creamy texture that you just can’t get with sorbet. Then I tried the pina colada and pomegranate-blueberry sherbet pops, which were intense and fruity and perfect for when you need to use one hand to pack boxes while the other holds your pop.

And then, after the packing was done, I tried the margarita… in a margarita. The ¡Hola Fruta! website gives a recipe using tequila, triple sec, ice, and the sherbet—and man, it is good. It is, like, forget all about how exhausted you are from packing and how sad you are that it’s only half-done good. It’s, by far, the best margarita I’ve ever had good.

Tomorrow’s the big moving day and I’ll be without internet until next week, but I urge you to go right on over the ¡Hola Fruta! store and buy some sherbet. I know I’ll be going back for more—which makes me think this whole offering samples thing is a ruse, because everytime some company offers me samples, I become a die-hard customer, spending even more money on food than I already do. Ah, well, let me forget about all that while I have another margarita.

Margarita

recipe from ìHola Fruta!

6 oz tequila
2 oz triple sec
3 generous scoops of Margarita ¡Hola Fruta!® Sherbet
1 cup crushed ice

In an electric blender, blend crushed ice, tequila, triple sec and ¡Hola Fruta!® Sherbet. Blend at high speed for a short length of time until smooth. Pour into glass and serve.

We’ve got fresh berries and you give us cabbage and kale!?

I know. We’re smack in the midst of the season for berries, tomatoes, and sweet corn, and here I am shoving cabbage in your face. Cabbage… and kale. I mean, really, the nerve I got.

And you’re right—I’m content with blueberries galore or a mound of ripe tomatoes. Most nights I eat a simple piece of fish and a salad and then gorge myself with fresh fruit. So, yeah, I’m giving you cabbage and kale, but it’s not like that’s all I’m eating in this vegetable paradise that is Summer.

Though, I wouldn’t actually be displeased if I was. It’s simple, it’s satisfyingly light yet filling. It’s Asian styled, and we all know that’s “cool.” But maybe if you don’t want to be sidetracked from your berries and corn, you could fold up this recipe and place it in your back pocket—for when the weather gets colder and the rest of the veggies desert you. ‘Cause you know cabbage and kale will always be there.

Cabbage and Kale Stir-fry

serves 3-4

  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 2-in piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch kale, leaves stripped from the inner stalks and cut in a chiffonade
  • ¼ cup or more soy sauce

Cook the kale and cabbage in boiling water until mostly tender, between 5 and 15 minutes depending on the age of the cabbage (in the summer it will be quick.)

Meanwhile, heat oil in a wok or large skillet. Add garlic and ginger and fry until fragrant. Drain cabbage and kale and add to the garlic and ginger. Add soy sauce to taste. If there’s a lot of water in the skillet, cook until it mostly evaporates. Serve warm or at room-temperature.

Chicken for the true gourmet.

I had chicken for the first time in my life this week.

I mean, I’ve had chicken before—many, many times. Chicken from plastic wrapped packages in the supermarket, chicken from farmer’s markets, chicken at fancy restaurants, chicken at fast food joints (well, that may have been “chicken.”) But this week, for the first time ever, I had chicken.

This chicken was not just chicken. This chicken made you savor the very word chicken, exaggerating it to the point of italics as you slowly chewed it’s flavorful meat.

This chicken was bought at Podere di’ Melo, a small farm run near my new apartment (I’m moving in August!) in West Amwell, New Jersey. Jim and I visited the farm, touring the idyllic landscape of stables, vegetable beds, the forest of trees for the pigs, peeking into the feed bins to assure ourselves that it was organic, almost tripping over the many happily pecking chickens that inhabited the entire area. We heard the farmers—a lovely married couple still working full-time jobs while running the farm—talk about their desires for the place, their view on the farm’s growth over the past two years, and about their love of food, cooking, and animals. Before I even bought a chicken, I already knew that it would be the chicken for me.

I’m leaving for vacation tomorrow, but I couldn’t go before letting you know about these chickens. Podere di’ Melo explains it best:

“Simpy put, these are one of the tastiest chickens you can find. Derived from the same genetic strain as the famous Label Rouge (Red Label) chickens of France, these birds are unlike anything you have tasted before. Unlike conventional (or even most organic) chicken, these are bred for flavor, not rapid weight gain (a feature that benefits the producer, not you!). They take longer to grow than commercial (and most organic) chickens and are active foragers (commercial breeds rarely move from the food tray). This results in an amazingly flavorful meat. This is the chicken for the true gourmet.

I’ve had organic chicken before. I’ve had “free-range.” But I’ve never had chicken. And once you’ve had chicken, you’re a convert for life.

Herb Roast Chicken

excerpted from The River Cottage Meat Book (copy and pasted from Married… with Dinner.)

1 small but plump roasting chicken weighing about 3 to 4 pounds
7 tablespoons soft butter
generous handfuls of fresh herbs, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 glass of white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Take off any string or elastic trussing from the chicken, place the bird in a roasting pan, and spread out its legs from the body. Enlarge the opening of the cavity with your fingers, so hot air can circulate inside the bird. It will cook quicker like that.

Put the butter in a bowl, throw in the roughly chopped herbs and the garlic, and season well with salt and pepper. Mix together with your fingers, then spear all over the chicken, inside and out. (Note from Anita: I also gently loosen the skin and spread some butter directly onto the meat. Yum. Note from Robin: I didn’t do that, but you definitely should!)

Place in the center of a hot oven (400F) and leave for 20 minutes (phase 1). Then baste the chicken [with the drippings], turn the oven down to 350F, pour the wine into the pan (not over the bird), and roast the bird for another 30 to 40 minutes (phase 2), depending on its size. Open the oven door, turn the oven off, and leave the bird for 15 to 20 minutes (phase 3). This is usually enough time to roast a small chicken through without burning the skin (the reason I prefer small chickens for roasting.) For a bigger bird, you will have to make the necessary adjustments, adding a few minutes to each phase. You may also wish to protect the bird’s skin with buttered foil for, say, the first 20 minutes of phase 2. A good test for doneness is to pierce that part of the bird where the thigh joins the breast; the juices released should run clear.

Forget about gravy. Carve the bird in the pan, as coarsely and crudely as you like (no wafer-thin breast slices, please), letting the pieces fall into the buttery pan juices and letting the fresh juices from carving mingle with the rest. Then take the pan to the table and pass it round your family or guests in the pecking order of your choosing, so they can pull out the bits they fancy. Pass it round a second time, to help redress grievances and encourage the further and fairer distribution of juices.

Accompaniments? Roast potatoes would be de trop. A green vegetable would probably go unnoticed. Some good bread to mop up the juices will be appreciated, while a leafy salad, produced only after your guests have demolished the chicken, might assuage a few guilty consciences.

The discover of the roasting pan, a day or so later in a cool larder, is a joy you may not wish to share. Plundered the jellied juices, congealed bits of skin, and crusty meat tatters that cling to the carcass before you quietly make the rest, along with the giblets, into stock.

*I’ll be in East Hampton until next week, so I won’t be responding to your comments. I’ll try to get to all of you as soon as I return. See you then!

Tastes like home.

I don’t normally post the “old stand-bys,” the banana breads and blueberry muffins that all cooks have snug in their oldest recipe boxes. I figure we all have our favorite recipe, or method, for making these foods, so why throw my version in and muck everything up?

That’s not to say I don’t love reading about them on other blogs. Whenever I see a banana bread or simple blueberry muffin I remember that it’s high time I make some again. These posts are my gentle reminders, telling me that I’ve gotten too caught-up with newfangled, out of the ordinary recipes. I’ve lost track of the foods that are simply needed if you want a warm, cozy home.

Zucchini bread brings me home. Just one whiff of the baking bread zips me back to my mom’s kitchen, where my sisters broke eggs and I begrudgingly measured flour (I wasn’t a cook back then, though I loved to eat) and my mother helped us read the recipe from her big old cookbook.

I loved zucchini bread… I still do. The combination of cinnamon and clove remains my favorite for baking. It shouts family, holidays, sitting around the kitchen—love. I was amazed when I realized that I’d never baked it for Jim. Me, with all my domestication and home-cooked meals, the frilly aprons that I wear when cooking to feel more 50’s housewife, my nurturing need to feed him.

Maybe I wanted to keep my childhood memory to myself. Maybe, living too far from my sisters and mother to see them often enough, I felt like I needed to horde away my treasured thoughts of them—I wasn’t going to share.

Then I came to my senses. How silly of me! Every man (or woman) should, at least once, come home to a freshly baked loaf of zucchini bread, made by someone they love. Everyone should experience this dense, moist loaf, warm with the scent of cinnamon and clove and flecked with little green bits of summer. The crisp, sugary crust should be bitten into by every single person on this earth, because it’s that good.

There’s a reason why it’s a old favorite.

Zucchini Bread

makes one loaf

  • ½ cup buttermilk*
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini (about 1 large or 2 small)
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-by-4 inch loaf pan. Combine buttermilk, oil, and sugar in a medium bowl or your stand-mixer workbowl and whisk until light-colored and fluffy, a few minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk a few minutes more (it will seem very liquidy now, that’s okay). Fold in the zucchini.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, powder, salt, cinnamon, and clove. Stir to combine. Mix the raisins into the flour then combine everything with the wet mixture. Stir until completely combined, but no more.

Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for about an hour, or maybe 70 minutes, or until the top is firm and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the loaf cool in the pan for a bit before turning it out onto your counter. Enjoy with a cup of tea and some smooching.

*I use buttermilk to lighten up the batter but if you don’t have it, you can substitute oil in its place, using 3/4 cup oil for the recipe.