Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn
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I’m trying really hard to win at summer right now. With most of July spent recovering from my training, summer has fled by. I’m trying to make up for some serious lost time. There has been lounging – combined with a few serious summertime naps. There are long walks to the train. Long mid-day walks around the park. Windows – open. Beach time – yes. Ice cream? Most definitely. Always.
And cooking! What have I been cooking you ask? Well mainly tomatoes, corn and zucchini all at once or separately and into every meal that I can. Oh and let’s not forget these little guys that I picked up last week. They were a fun cucumber like addition even though J kept calling them lizard eggs.
This weekend I dived into my Jim Lahey and Rick Flaste’s “Pizza” cookbook for a bit of inspiration. I’ve taken to actually reading my cookbooks lately. Like, not just the recipes but the beginning part too. How often does that happen!?
I particularly like the section on “A Reverence for Ingredients.” He lays out specifically what we should be looking for in the most basic ingredients needed to make a great pie. Pizza is simple and what we put on it should be top notch to make the flavors shine through.
Below are the nuts and bolts.
Flour – Simple all purpose or bread flour. None of that fancy pizza dough crap. Keep it real.
Olive oil – Don’t be cheap. The best and freshest from the first press is necessary – not the leftovers from the first press. It should be smooth and buttery with a peppery finish. He says that Chile has the highest standards for production even though Italy has the richest culture for it. France and Spain are also nice. I keep a good stock from California Olive Ranch on hand always. After a particular informative wait at South Brooklyn Pizza I’ve started finishing all my pies with a good swirl of olive oil, a dose of Parmesan and a sprinkle of basil. It will change your life.
Cheese – It’s the main part of the pie so why skimp? The mozzarella should be fresh. Specifically he says “it should be creamy, slightly sour, and very wet with a fleshy texture.” Done and Done. Why would we do other wise?
Tomatoes Fresh is best – Same as the olive oil. Sensing a trend? When using canned, go for something out of Naples. Tomatoes from the base of Mount Vesuvius are particular popular touting that the rich volcanic soil does wonders for the taste.
San Marzano tomatoes are the most easily accessible tomatoes out of Mount Vesuvius and run about $3 a can in Brooklyn. If you have a chance to go to Eataly check out their extensive collection and splurge. I cracked open my final can from a recent semi regretful trip, 28oz. I got two pies from it and am making sauce tomorrow for at least two meals. It will be well worth it.
Have I mentioned I really love this book? Buy here. It’s so nice to have around the house.
I ended up making two pies this week. I went a little nuts and made all white pizza dough – living on the edge I know. Trust me it’s a big, delicious departure from my usual half whole-wheat crust. And in my cast iron skillet? Holy delicious. You can see the basic recipe here. Play around with how much whole wheat you use. I’m not sure the taste is worth the health benefits.
Before I got started I sliced a bunch of mini zucchinis with my mandolin and salted in a colander to release the moisture.Let sit at least 20 minutes.
For the sauce, I took Lahey’s advice and crushed the tomatoes (28oz can) with my hands, mixing in two tablespoon of olive oil and ¼ tsp of fine sea salt.
I used fresh mozzarella and ricotta from Russo’s. I topped the cheese and sauce with fresh cut baby heirloom tomatoes and some zucchinis. I baked for 25 minutes, swirled with olive oil and Parmesan. Then I proceeded to burn my tongue because I couldn’t wait to eat.
The second pie, I repeated but added fresh corn because, why not? I have yet to taste this version but seeing as how J almost finished it by himself in 2 days, I’m not worried about it being bad.
How do you make your pizza?
Translation – Then the Seer (Self) abides in Its own form
If you remember, Sutra 1.2 stated “The restraint of the modifications of the mind stuff is Yoga.” Sutra 1.3 builds on that saying it is only when we control the fluctuations of mind that we can truly see ourselves. The Seer – that’s us! That’s me, you, and you and you. So only when we quiet the mind from all the chatter are we able to see ourselves for who we truly are.
This sutra is simple enough to understand but difficult to put into reality because more often than not, what we are considering to be our true selves is often just a reflection of what we are observing at the moment. And every moment is different. Our feelings change from second to second sometimes. I know mine do! So how can we say with complete confidence that what we are feeling at any given second is who we truly and absolutely are?
“The true you is always the same, but you appear to be distorted or mixed up with the mind. By making the mind clean and pure…you appear to have gone back to your original state.”
The true you!
While I haven’t gotten close to working this out, I am in the baby steps. It’s particular helpful in relationships and work situations. To be able to say to yourself – Wait a minute and step back from a situation that’s frustration or weird is truly a great thing. Instead of jumping to conclusions that are directly related to me ME ME, I am now able to step see multiple sides of a problem and come to a more realistic end.
How do you clear your mind?
Last week I picked up the first of many containers of tomatoes at the farmers market. These were pretty little puppies, shaped like a fat tear drop and had the word “candy” in the name. No, I cannot remember where I got them.
My relationship with tomatoes has always been long, drawn out and shaky. Up until about 4 or 5 years ago, I never ate them except sparingly on bruschetta doused heavily in olive oil and garlic. On their own? Forget it. Slowly and gently the snob in me started to experiment with heirloom tomatoes, the big fat ones that I historically shunned but grew interested in because… media. I wouldn’t eat them on their own but they grew in numbers on my plates mixed in with pasta and rice dishes. I still won’t eat them on their own but their domination is clear this summer as I threw the first of this batch in a tomato and cucumber salad.
And now, quiche! Quiche with gently roasted tomatoes in the oven with olive oil and flaky sea salt, this thing is a beauty. I started with this recipe from TheKitchn but as per usual, I started mixing up several recipes in my head at once.
I used all my tomatoes because why not? I ended up with about 1 ½ cups extra custard so I put some tomatoes aside and made two mini crustless quiches in my Wreck jars.
Enjoy! (And in case you are curious, there are 8 servings – 7 Weight watchers points/serving, 4 pts w/o the crust)
1 pie crust. (Use your favorite recipe or your favorite grocery store to pick one up at. I prefer Union Market but went with Fairway this time.)
11 ounces cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
½ cup nonfat milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup goat cheese
Preheat oven to 375. Pre-bake crust for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, cream and 3/4 teaspoon salt until frothy.
Mix in half of the cheeses. Scatter half the tomatoes and half the goat cheese, crumbled, over the bottom of the crust. Pour in the egg custard. Scatter the remaining tomatoes and crumble the remaining goat cheese around the custard. Scatter the remaining Parmesan cheese evenly over the top.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the center is set, but still a little jiggly. (I forgot about mine and checked right at 50 minutes when the buzzer went off. It was perfection.)
If the crust starts to brown too much during baking, wrap foil around the edges of the pan to protect it.
Let quiche cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
I wish I could say I’ve been a source of inspiration in the kitchen but as of late, things have been a little bit dry. Between navigating my busy work season along with yoga teacher training, I am only now starting to get back on my feet. The last three weekends were spent completely comatose.
This weekend wasn’t much different. I rallied a bit but not too far. I ventured into some roasted tofu, brown rice and lemon grass. It proved worthy. I attempted another Bikram visit. That proved….difficult. But really, the highlight of the weekend was not spent in the house, but walking, ice creaming and beaching. It is summer after all!
J put it best as we were lounging on the rooftop of the new Ample hills in Gowanus. “Why would we pay so much to live here if we’re not going to go out and do the stuff that makes living here to expensive?”
Amen to that.
I never give myself enough credit. Because I would be lying to you and my weight watchers counter if I didn’t tell you that some cookies did get made yesterday. Sunday seemed to be the summer day that never ended and I will forever be happy for it this week. We rose early – grabbing bagels for a beach time breakfast. The bathroom got cleaned. Cookies and pizza got made. Trash and recycling- taken out. Floor – swiffered. Oh and the entire season 2 of Orange is the New Black? Completed along side two hours of restorative yoga poses. Yes, I slept deliciously.
Cookies? I did mention cookies didn’t I? A midst the afternoon naptime, my Martha Stewart “Cookies” book caught my eye. I wanted something warm and simple to go with ice cream so I went with the soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie. It’s really the best and requires so little ingredients that it’s a no brainer.
The recipe calls for 1 heaping tablespoon of dough per cookie to make 3-dozen. I used one heaping and one level combined to make one good-sized cookie and got 18 cookies out of the batch.
2 ¼ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks of butter)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar – packed
1 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips – a combo is good too
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Whisk flour and baking soda together in a bowl.
3. Beat sugars and butter together until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes.
4. Add salt, vanilla and eggs – mix until well blended – about 1 minute.
5. Mix in flour mixture
6. Mix in chocolate.
7. Drop your cookie dough measurement of choice (1 heaping tbsp?) onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper spacing a few inches apart. Bake cookies rotating half way through until edges are still brown but centers are still soft. 10-12 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire wracks to cool completely. Can be stored between sheets of parchment in a Tupperware container for up to 1 week.
Sutra 1.2 – Yogas cittas vritti nirodhah
Translated – The restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.
In Sutra 1.2 Pantajali tells us the definition of the yoga and the goal. Yoga is the quieting of the mind – it is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind stuff. If our mind was a lake – sometimes it has so many ripples it looks like a thousand rocks were just throw into it. Now imagine that lake clear, calm, peaceful with no ripples – that is your brain on yoga ☺ Sorry I had too.
It is said that if we master this sutra – we are able to master yoga.
Within the goals of yoga, changing the outside world is not one of them. It is not the world, or the things or the people within it that liberate or bind us. It is only our attitudes towards them that constrict us. So, to change our world, we must change our thoughts. If we are able to control our mind…our possibilities are endless and nothing will be able to bind us.
“The entire world is based on your thoughts and mental attitude. The entire world is your projections. Your values may change within a fraction of a second…. If we remember that, we won’t put so much stress on outward things.”
So that’s great and all, but how do I control my mind? Well a good start is the breath. You have certainly noticed at some point or another that when you work on deepening your breath or slowing it down, you immediately calm down? You are focusing on you, your breath and nothing else. Yoga is built on this. When you start to get stressed out on the mat, focus on your breath. You will begin to see things clearer – the ripples will smoothen.
Bit by bit we work on this, on the mat. The nice thing about the sutras is that is shows us that what happens on the mat, also happens off of it. It is a constant, continual practice. Eventually we will be able to control our thoughts so matter where we move.
This is especially a nice thought in New York where just walking out the front door is a constant battle. It is my hope that one day I walk out the door and feel a clear, blue lake with bright skies instead of being assaulted by the smell of garbage and a searing humidity. Everyday is a practice…
What do you do to help clear your mind?
Yoga Teacher training was an intense twelve weeks filled with asana (poses), anatomy, philosophy and practice teaching. At my times, my body and brain felt as though they were combust. One of my unexpected favorite parts of the class was the philosophy lectures when we talked about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.
The word sutras can simply defined as ‘threads’ and teachers use these threads to add their own “beads” of experience for the sake of their students and themselves.
It was Patanjali who expounded yoga thought throughout these scriptures and is often considered the father of yoga. It is unknown when he lived exactly but the Sutras can be dated to range from 5,000BC to 300AD. There are 200 of them. So much for the Ten Commandments huh? As Patanjali talked, his students jotted the Sutras down shorthand. Most of the sutras are just words or thoughts barely reaching a fully formed sentence.
The science of yoga is defined within the Sutras — It’s purpose, the practice, the obstacles you meet, how to remove said obstacles and finally the results. Each sutra flow into the next. The Sutras are split into four chapters or “Padas”. 1.Portion on Contemplation 2.Portion on Practice 3. Portion on Accomplishments 4. Portion on Absoluteness.
Spiritually, studying the sutras has given me what I have always craved and it has only just begun. I look forward to dissecting the sutras here as I move forward in my studies. It is my goal to start at the beginning and go Sutra by Sutra. I hope you enjoy them as much as me.
Sutra 1.1 in the Portion of Contemplation reads first reads: Hatha yoga anusasanana
Translated – Now the exposition of Yoga is being made.
Simply read – Yoga is now. Every single moment of every single day is yoga.
What does this mean? Yoga is only when on my mat for one-hour maybe one hour and thirty minutes! No. Here Patanjali says that our yoga practice goes beyond the physical and must be practiced all day every day for “without practice, nothing can be achieved.”
The physical yoga, which we all practice today, was designed to help us get to the real Yoga which is completely mastering your mind. And that is something that must be worked on when we are brushing our teeth, making breakfast, riding the train, etc.
More next Friday in Sutra 1.2.
Since I first bought Jim Lahey’s “My Bread” book focusing on the no-knead method, I’ve pretty much had it attached to my hip. It’s the only cookbook of mine that is just broken. Coffee split, pages stuck together and I swear, that if I lay it on the table, it turns directly to the page for pizza dough.
Yes, it’s that good. And even better is the recipe for sweet focaccia with dried berries. But for today we’re focusing on the standard loaf with a twist. The basic recipe makes it impossible to shape this dough into anything but a lump. Which is fine but I was thrilled when I saw both food52 and the kitchn have post guides on how to form this into a sandwich loaf.
The original recipe is not brain surgery and is easy to adapt. If you don’t have 12-18 hours for it to sit around and rise, you can increase the amount of yeast a hair. The original recipe calls for ¼ tsp. I went with 1 ½ tsp for a 6 hour rise.
As you can see, I played with the flours a bit, straying from the standard bread flour. I like the variation of adding oat flour. It gives the bread a soften texture and taste. I’ve tried it all white, all whole wheat, half and half. It works all ways and just depends on your tastes. I double the recipe and stick half in the fridge for later in the week. The yeast does wonders in the fridge and it’s even better the second time around.
Special Equipment needed – 1 loaf pan
2 cups bread flour
½ cup whole wheat
¾ cup oat flour (can be done by pulsing whole rolled oats in a food processor. Use whole wheat if you prefer to not do oats.)
1 ½ tsp yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
3 cups water – room temperature
Combine flours, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix. Gently mix in the water with a wooden spoon. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, a plate or a tea towel and let sit at room temperature for 5-6 hours or until double in size.
Roll the dough onto a floured surface and knead a 5-6 times. Next – follow this technique since I didn’t take pictures. Essentially you will 1. Shape the dough into a rectangle. 2. Fold 1/3 of the dough to the center. 3. Take the last third and fold it over.
Either butter your loaf pan or throw some corn meal on the bottom. Place your loaf seam side down in the pan. Let rise for 1 hour or until double in size. It’s good to preheat your oven to 450 at least 30 minutes into the last rise.
Dust the dough with flour or cornmeal. Score the top with a serrated knife. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top has begun to brown. Once removed from the oven it will continue to cook and expand within the crust. No matter how tempting, let the bread cool for at least one hour.
As I sit down to write for the first time in a year, I feel myself becoming itchy.
Facebook – open – close – open – CLOSE. Do I need coffee? Yes. Is that hunger? Should I make my smoothie now or later? It’s hot. Let me rearrange the fan. Do I need to pee? Without a doubt.
And on and on and on and ON.
It’s been a YEAR.
What exactly have I been doing for a year that would take me from the one thing I have always claimed to love?
Asking yourself questions is hard. The mind interrupts with thoughts of more coffee and I’m hungry and running water, etc and more often than not those questions never get answered.
But today, now that the time is quiet and I’ve calmed my itchy-ness, I’m answering those questions because really, the answers are easy and they are nothing to be afraid of.
I got busy and then well, I fell in love – twice.
I can see now, very specifically the time I stopped writing this blog and it coincides with when my boyfriend and I started talking about moving in together. How typical right? Girl falls in love, girl forgets blog… but it was then that the world started spinning and I wondering what exactly I had gotten myself into. It was also then when I started to admit I was falling head over heels.
Love is scary y’all.
The world didn’t stop spinning until January. It was after a December of moving, a Christmas with both of our families (together – YIKES) and a January of silence and unpacking that things finally stopped moving. At dinner one night, I looked at this man, across our kitchen table and plates that I’m sure were filled with fresh pasta and realized that I felt at peace. I felt silence and love and I was ok with staying like that forever.
And because our love is the encouraging type, he wasn’t deterred when I said I wanted to sign up to do my 200 hour teacher training at YogaWorks and in turn losing every weekend for 3 months straight. He took it as a coup to have a yoga teacher girlfriend and went with it.
It was then that I fell in love a second time – with yoga. As someone who has been practicing for almost 10 years, I had doubts about what this training could do for me. My hips were just too big and my butt was just too wide to get into some positions. That was that.
No – it turn out that was not that. It turns out, yes I can hold plank for that long (which, in teacher training, is forever – FYI) and it is possible (sometimes) for me to do this (which I thought for be never ever, ever).
The training was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and I look forward to sharing my continuing education here on this blog.
So here I am. Still in love, but back. Awake. The fog is lifted and I’m ready to have my weekends back along with a cake or two here and there.
The focus here will be shifting a bit. I’ll be delving more into yoga and yoga philosophy. I’ll of course cooking and baking more with a focus on delving into my forgotten cookbooks. P and I also have a project in the works – coming soon!
There are few things in this world better than lobster, homemade pasta and fresh ricotta. Yes. Together. In the same day. On one plate.
The price of lobster has been driving way down lately – like $5/a pound down. And that’s for Fresh Direct, northeastern lobster. I’m not talking about Chinatown lobster here. It’s unheard of! That price has already inspired a lobster party in this lady’s apartment so when I saw that magical price again this week; I just had to order more.
There are quite a few lobster recipes on my to-do list. Spicy Singapore Lobster stew has been on there for as long as I can remember but it has just been to hot for that. This weekend, P and I went for lobster ravioli.
We chose to make our own dough and fresh ricotta from scratch. We used my trusty ricotta recipe and had to do a bit of trouble shooting due to a faulty thermometer. No worries though, we just brought the whey back up to temp and like magic, we had ricotta. For the dough we went with Lidia’s recipe. Any of her pasta dough recipes, which you can see here, will work wonderfully.
We followed this recipe. The filling was basic and was nice for the lobster, but the sauce…meh. I know, there is little wrong with tomatoes, garlic, and cream but when it overpowers lobster, it’s a terrible, terrible thing. Next time I’ll go with something more basic such as some olive oil, garlic and fresh tomatoes or just a brown butter with a tad of Parmesan.
PS. I realize now I should have taken more detailed pictures but there was quite a distraction with all of the making things from scratch. My apologies!
olive oil, extra virgin
mushrooms handful (optional, i like them )
1/4 c lobster meat
1 c cream (warm in microwave so it won’t curdle)
1/2 c tomato sauce
a few basil leaves chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 shallots, chopped
2 c cooked lobster meat, chopped roughly from 3-1lb. lobster (set aside ¼ cup or so of lobster meat for the sauce),
2 pinch parsley
1/2 lb ricotta cheese
3-4 Tbsp parmigiano-reggiano, grated
pinch salt and pepper
Cook shallots in olive oil on medium high heat.
Once the shallots have softened, add lobster meat and parsley. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the ricotta and Parmesan.Taste filling and season with salt and pepper to taste.
There are two options here.
Since we made our own down, we rolled out and used a ravioli press. If you do not have those tools available and are buying pre-made pasta dough you can use the following option.
On a pasta sheet laid out on the counter, add about a tablespoon or so of filling a couple of inches apart. Wet with egg wash (1 egg and a T Water) the pasta in between the filling creating the borders of the ravioli’s so they seal properly.
Top off with another pasta sheet.
Around each mound of filling, press out on the wet area, making sure there are no air pockets in the filling. Cut each ravioli out with a pizza roller. Ensure the ravioli’s are well sealed again (or they will open up in the water when cooking).
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the ravioli’s for 7-8 minutes until they float up. (If you are lucky enough to have extra, lay them individually on a baking sheet and freeze before cooking them. When they are frozen, place them in a sealed plastic bag.)
Cook shallots and garlic in oil.
When the mushrooms have softened, add lobster meat, tomato sauce and heated cream.Turn down the heat and let the sauce simmer until it has slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add basil last.
In case the last post didn’t clue you in, P and I are crazy about corn right now. If you’re not into corn right now, it’s now or never. (Same goes for tomatoes) The season is fleeting and there’s no better way to embrace the end of summer. SUPER SAD FACE.
Today, we’re talking about corn cakes!
It only took me a bite to be fully and utterly hooked on these things. I’m two batches in and I’ll be going for a third this week.
The first batch we ate on the roof, covered in an heirloom tomato salad with fresh mozzarella. J ate a few smothered in honey. And what of the second batch? Well, the second batch I ate alone, and no I’m not ashamed. I sautéed some spinach and garlic, tossed in the fresh cherry tomatoes and ate on the couch, sans pants and a fresh (for me) episode of Freaks and Geeks. And yes, they are just as good thrown on a paper towel and eaten plain. Top with an egg for a delightful breakfast.
I adapted from Food52 and it’s as easy as can be. I replaced the buttermilk with my yogurt whey (a win win in my book!).
• 2 cups corn kernels, divided in half (from about 3 ears)
• 2 tablespoons butter, plus more for cooking
• 1/2 cup buttermilk (or yogurt whey)
• ½ cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup cornmeal
• ½ cup whole wheat flour (if you don’t have, just use equal amount of all purpose flour)
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tbsp chopped chives (optional)
• Pinch of salt and pepper
1. In a blender, purée half the corn kernels, butter, cayenne pepper and buttermilk until mostly smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in remaining corn kernels.
2. In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine all of the dry ingredients.
3. Add wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until just combined.
4. In a skillet, melt some butter over medium heat and about add 2 heaping tablespoons of batter for each pancake. (You can customize this based on how big you’d like your cakes to be, of course.) Cook about 2 minutes per side or until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.