Spring is on the horizon. Make the most of your last winter weekend, and get out for one of these food and drink events.
Guest Chef Bagels, Black Seed, 170 Elizabeth Street, Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m.
Sunday marks the final day to enjoy Ivan Orkin’s guest-chef bagel at Black Seed. The ramen guru’s offering — a Japanese spiced everything bagel with aonori cream cheese and ikura egg salad — is also available for delivery. The shop will debut a new guest bagel every Monday through April 6, with Danny Bowien, Missy Robbins, and Alex Guarnischelli each putting their own spin on the Montreal-style baked treat.
NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.
Stock up on greens and learn what innovative techniques chefs are using on veggies at New York’s annual Vegetarian Food Festival. Guest speakers include a variety of health experts and nutritional gurus like Steve “The Sproutman” Meyerwitz, and you’ll be able to sample plenty of veggie treats from businesses like Bunna Cafe. Tickets will be available at the door for $40; check out the festival website for additional information.
Broth Fest, Sugarcube at South Street Seaport, 17 Fulton Street, Saturday, noon
Broth has been around for centuries, but it’s having a moment right now. This weekend, the first-ever Broth Fest will celebrate the trend, and guests can sample a variety of very modern recipes. Participants include chef Paul Gerard (of newly opened Belle Reve) and Katz’s Deli; there will be a total of six different broths to enjoy. The event will also include beers from Brooklyn Brewery and live music; tickets are $33 and include two drink tickets.
Around the World from Home: Sweet & Savory Ireland, Bowery Culinary Center, Whole Foods, 95 East Houston Street, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Ireland with something more than green beer. This hands-on class covers Irish delicacies like cheese tartlets, beef pies, and Irish soda bread. Reservations are $30.
The James Beard House Annual Cookbook Sale, James Beard House, 167 West 12th Street, Sunday, 10 a.m.
Want to pad your recipe expertise? Or put away a few gifts? Whatever your reasoning, this sale promises plenty of reading material at a discount price. Stock up on old and new volumes, and get cooking.
Toast the end of April showers. This week’s best food events include a Persian feast, an oyster shucking competition, and a lesson on the science of ice cream.
Our Persian Spread, The V Spot, 156 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn, Monday, 6 p.m.
Check out this vegetarian version of a traditional Iranian meal, where the prix fixe menu includes options like eggplant, walnut, and tomato mezze and sweet and sour stew. Tea and dessert are included in the $60 ticket.
German Food: A Journey of Cheese, Wine, and Beer, Bedford Cheese Shop, 67 Irving Place, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.
Learn about Germany’s beer law along, the qualities of German wine, and German cheesemaking technique from sommelier and food writer Ursula Heinzelmann. Tickets are $25.
A handful of Williamsburg bars and restaurants will compete in a few friendly competitions including oyster shucking, cocktail creating, and ladies arm wrestling to help raise funding to benefit the North Brooklyn nonprofit Neighbors Allied for Good Growth. For $75, guests can sample a selection of food and drinks courtesy of area businesses like Dram while cheering on local competitors.
The Mysteries of Ice Cream, Littlefield, 622 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
In this installation of the continuing free series by the Masters of Social Gastronomy, guests will get to learn the science behind ice cream making as well as a historical look at the treat’s growth in popularity. Did you know, for instance, that the 19th century’s favorite flavor was artichoke? Though not required, guests are encouraged to reserve spaces in advance.
Publishers love to send us cookbooks here at Fork in the Road, and often those books come straight from the chefs at some of New York’s best restaurants. So we decided to share the love, and each week, we’ll feature a new book, a recipe, and a few thoughts on cooking from the authors. Check back every Tuesday for a new book.
To Peter Berley, “flexitarianism” is really about being a good omnivore. He didn’t coin the term, but since publishing his seminal veg-friendly cookbook, The Flexitarian Table, in 2007, he’s been carrying the term around like a happy, if sometimes pesky, monkey. “Flexitarian isn’t my word,” the author says. “I read that word, and I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s kind of what I’ve been doing,’ and people ask me all the time, ‘Are you a flexitarian,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, yeah. I’m a flexible person.’ I’m flexible. I’m really into the world; I’m into eating everything; that’s what keeps me happy and alive. Does that make me a flexitarian? I guess.”
Berley has made a career of cooking and writing about plant-based foods. He helmed the burners at vegan favorite Angelica Kitchen (300 East 12th Street, 212-228-2909) for years, before moving on to the (dearly departed) Culinary Loft. Now you can catch him at the North Fork Kitchen and Garden on Long Island, where he teaches gardening and cooking workshops and classes.
He’s also working on an exciting new project on the Lower East Side, so look out for that in the coming months, and we’ll post more details as soon as we have them… But first, a few words on Flexitarian, which comes out in paperback today and offers exciting, thoughtful menus that transcend the age-old animal question of carnivore versus herbivore.
Slow-cooked shanks of lamb… or beans… With escarole and white wine. With polenta.What is one of the oldest recipes in this book, and where did you find it?
I would have to say a tofu ceviche. I was messing around with a lot of these tofu [dishes] at Angelica in the early 1990s. So I wanted to do a recipe that you could use the same flavor profile and exactly the same ingredients, and apply it to tofu and apply it to a whitefish. And it’s interesting, because [the one in the book] uses seaweed, which is sort of an obvious thing to do, but not that many people do it. And tofu and seaweed go together often.
What is one bit of advice you’d give to someone who wants to bridge the gap between meat-eaters and vegetarians in a single dish?
One thing that’s really important is to consider the weight of food, in terms of how you experience a dish. Is it light? Is it heavy? Is it rich? Is it lean, bright, dark? You need to think about what you are trying to achieve. And that’s not about the ingredients so much as their effect in your menu. Some of the flexitarian things just seem very obvious: You just swap out tofu for chicken…There’s nothing too extraordinary about that to me. And that’s fine, that’s valid, there’s nothing wrong with doing that.
The other thing you can do is give a menu experience that’s similar to people who do and don’t eat meat. So it’s not like you’re serving a different dinner, but for instance, [in the book], there’s a menu that has baby stuffed eggplant and lamb. There’s a whole variety of dishes there, the sum of which gives you a similar experience, and if you’re not eating meat, you’re very satisfied.
So I think it’s important to start with that as the first step: How can I make someone feel very satisfied with this meal. There has to be enough there to feel that. I do a goat cheese and red onion frittata, and that’s in the same meal as lamb chops. And the goat cheese frittata, it’s got heft, it’s got some shape to it, it’s got something that is satisfying in a way in which the lamb chop may be satisfying to the meat eater. It’s fatty, rich, savory, all that. There’s also this white bean dish with brown butter. I do this herbed garlic brown butter, that when you toss it with white beans, it’s so satisfying. I have it with polenta, and you can do it with seafood instead. And it’s like, it’s so similar: the shrimp, and the white beans. It’s not that you’re swapping a vegetarian protein like tempeh or seitan; it’s a bean. But it’s a bean that’s being treated in a really interesting way. That’s one really successful example, and it’s really easy to do.
Any New York restaurants you like to visit that are especially flexitarian-friendly?
ABC Kitchen, really. They’re doing a great job. It’s approachable food, it’s not weird, and they have a great respect for vegetables and plants.
What is your best winter ingredient and one recipe you like to use it in?
Root vegetables; any root vegetable. I’m really into rutabagas, and there’s a really easy way to make them. Just peel and boil them and make a spiced oil or a spiced butter. Rutabagas are spicy anyway, and they can take a lot of punch from seasoning. So I love to take carraway and cayenne and smoked paprika and garlic and sizzle that all together for like a minute in some butter or oil, and crush your rutabaga with that. They can take a lot of heat. And celery root. I love celery root.
One thing I love to do with root vegetables is to cut them into slabs, and parboil them in salted water for a few minutes, get them par-cooked, and cook them on a griddle, or la plancha style, put them over really high heat and sort of char the surface. You can’t grill a root vegetable on its own. You can try, but it’s usually pretty bad. You have to par-cook it first. That starts to breakdown the cell walls and season the food. Then when you cook it in a hot pan or griddle, you’re going to suck out the moisture, and it’ll get this very meaty, satisfying texture, and you’re going to get a lot of flavor because the water’s coming off of it. As opposed to roasting, which has a similar effect. But I kind of like this better. You can really make vegetables come alive like that.
How has flexitarian cooking/eating changed in the seven years since this book was first published?
It’s everywhere. At the time [in 2007], people didn’t take a meatless meal seriously, they couldn’t get behind that. There’s been somewhat of a paradigm shift. It’s not uncommon at all now for restaurants to have very cool vegetarian dishes. If you were a vegetarian before, and you walked into a restaurant, you’d just get the pasta or the vegetable, and that’s that. There just wasn’t anything out there; it was a pain in the ass before. Someone would say they were a vegetarian and people would be like, “Eeew. I have to deal with that now?” It was an irritating inconvenience for someone to say, “I don’t eat meat.” Like, then what? People made fun of it, and people looked down on it. Vegetarians were sort of considered not serious people in a way. I’m exaggerating a bit here, but it exists. It’s out there. So things have definitely changed since 2007. It’s like the doors have been blown off. The whole world has changed. And Flexitarian Table, and the other things I’ve done, are just one tiny reflection of that change.
What is one approachable, quick recipe you can make at home without a whole lot of prep or trouble?
The sauerkraut with fried tempeh, that’s a good one.
Sauerkraut with Fried Tempeh/Smoked Whitefish, Green Apples, and Onions
Serves 4: 2 Servings with Tempeh, 2 Servings with Fish
I owe the inspiration for this dish to my dear friend Paul Vandewoude, a marvelous chef from Belgium and the proprietor of New York’s charming Miette Culinary Studio.
A jar of sauerkraut from a natural food store will be tastier and have a better texture than the pouches of cabbage sold as sauerkraut in most supermarkets. Look for sauerkraut made only with cabbage, salt, and water — no vinegar or preservatives. Avoid the canned stuff. Smoked paprika and smoked sea salt (see below) give the tempeh a great smokiness, but just one of these ingredients would do the trick.
Note: This recipe calls for two pans for the two proteins — if you double the fish or tempeh and exclude the other, use just one large pan.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces tempeh, sliced crosswise into 8 pieces
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon sweet Spanish smoked paprika
¾ teaspoon smoked sea salt or regular sea salt or kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 cups thinly sliced onions
½ cup diced peeled carrot
½ cup diced celery
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled cored, and diced
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1 whole smoked whitefish (or 1 pound kippers), sliced crosswise into 3-inch chunks
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or dill
FOR THE TEMPEH: In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the tempeh and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Add the wine, paprika, and salt, bring to a boil, and simmer until all the wine has been absorbed, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
FOR THE SAUERKRAUT: Divide the butter between two medium saucepans and melt it over medium heat. Add half of the onions, carrot, celery, apple, and caraway seeds to each pan and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Divide the wine between the pans, bring to a boil, and cook until it has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir half the sauerkraut and ¼ cup water into each pan and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
Lay the tempeh over the vegetables in one pan and the fish over the vegetables in the other. Cover the pans and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Add half of the parsley or dill to each pan and simmer for 1 more minute, then serve.
Where There’s Smoke…
…there’s flavor. When you harness smoke, its primal, meaty flavor deepens the whole dish. And you can smoke just about anything, from a chunk of bacon to a chicken breast to a cube of pressed tofu.
Smoked tofu is just what it sounds like, a convenient packaged food with a firm, smooth, chewy texture and a pleasantly smoky flavor. Look for it in natural food stores and in Chinese markets, but be sure to read the ingredients and avoid any that are seasoned with MSG. Other meatless ingredients with a smoky flavor include roasted peppers, smoked cheeses such as cheddar or Gouda, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, Spanish smoked paprika, and even smoked salt. Smoked paprika and smoked sea salt are available in gourmet markets and online at www.zingermans.com.
Several varieties of smoked sea salt are available from www.maineseasalt.com.
In this space, James A. Foley explores New York City’s strangest sandwiches.
After one big first bite into the Thanksgiving sandwich at Terri, which launched in Flatiron and just opened a new location in the Financial District at 100 Maiden Lane, a number of thoughts struck all at once: First, it was the middle of summer, and Thanksgiving ain’t even close. Second, as sweet sensations of cranberry sauce and tangy vegan mayo came together with walnuts and celery only to be interrupted by the bizarre rendering of processed soy known as Tofurky, it occurred to me that while sliced Tofurky appears, smells, and tastes (sort of) like slices of lowbrow corporate deli turkey, it’s probably best to interpret the soy product more like a substitute for meat rather than a replacement.
And also, this sandwich version of a traditionally meaty meal was vegan. So is the menu at Terri, which makes it seem a little unlikely on Wall Street, which is flush with bankers who frequent Manhattan’s steakhouses.
And indeed, on a weekday after work, patrons at that location were mostly dudes with beards and chicks with attitudinal hairdos munching on selections from a menu full of vegan versions of everyman sandwiches and desserts.
But back to the Thanksgiving sandwich. The crushed walnuts provided meaty-ish flavor and substance, the homemade cranberry sauce spread added playful sweetness, and crunchy celery rounded out the texture for an agreeable sandwich. A light griddling lent the visual appeal of grill crosshatching on the thick ciabatta as well as toasty crunch.
My only real beef (ha) with the sandwich was with the bread-to-filling ratio: Each bite was a mouthful of bread and a small taste of Thanksgiving. But even with the mismatched ingredient quantities, it’s worth seeking out this sammie even when we’re a long ways away from the fourth Thursday in November.
In this space, James A. Foley explores New York City’s strangest sandwiches.
Hampton Chutney Co. is an Indian snack shop that sells a variety of chutneys. There is delicious iced chai, cardamom coffee, and a mango lassi on the menu, and a daily curry special, too.
The joint also sells more than a dozen kinds of dosa–an Indian crepe made from fermented rice and black lentil batter that’s typically filled with cheese and/or seasoned potatoes and served with a chutney and a bowl of spicy vegan soup called sambar. That’s not surprising, except that at Hampton, the dosa menu includes a list of markedly not-Indian fillings, which has to make these some of the strangest Indian crepes in the city.
Sure, there’s a Classic Masala Dosa ($7.95) on the board, but it is overshadowed by the Masala Deluxe ($10.95), which takes the classic potato-stuffed dosa and adds spinach, Monterey Jack cheese, and roasted tomatoes. Egg, cheese, avocado, and veggies are rolled up into a Breakfast Dosa ($9.95), and the Curry Chutney Chicken ($11.45) dosa is offered with balsamic roasted onions and spinach. The Seasonal ($10.95) includes grilled corn, roasted red peppers, arugula, and Jack cheese (and you can add avocado for another $2).
The wildest of all, though, might be No. 13: tuna with cilantro-chutney dressing mixed with avocado, arugula, and tomatoes ($12.45).
I once traveled in India for three months and ate more dosas than I can remember. To say I was skeptical of this fishy dosa is a gross understatement–I was disgusted with myself for ordering it. Beyond being an unlucky number, it felt like a sin.
I did not have high expectations.
The first bite turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The crispy, sour dosa was well-matched to the cilantro-chutney-imbued tuna salad it was wrapped around. Avocado added a welcome silkiness, and the mango chutney on the side added an element of sweetness to the savory flavors within. As a sandwich, I think the tuna combo might come off as mundane, but wrapped in the crispy, sour dosa it works unbelievably well. The only thing that brought the dish down was its general wetness–the dosa got soggy toward the center.
By the way, Hampton Chutney Co. also sells actual sandwiches: Varieties include smoked turkey, brie, and cucumber; grilled cheese with tomato and avocado on sourdough; or grilled portobello with chèvre.
But if the dosa is wrong, I don’t want to be right: I’ll stick with the wacky Indian fare.