December 10, 2009

The Pearl Onion has a New Home!!!

The Pearl Onion has a new home. I am still working on the design, but from now on you can access The Pearl Onion at:

November 29, 2009

If Only Thanksgiving Could be Year-Round...

Thanksgiving is hands-down my favorite holiday. I love the food and wine of course, but I also love having a special time to relax with friends or family and enjoy each others' company. This year I spent the holiday with friends in their new family home. Here are some pictures...

I hope your Thanksgiving was as lovely as mine. Enjoy!

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November 23, 2009

A Fall Saturday in New York...

I recently got a new camera and what better way to make use of it than to bring it along with me on a beautiful fall day. So here is a day of a foodie in New York...

Brunch at Five Points
Walking around the Union Square farmers' market

Enjoying the fresh, locally grown food


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January 10, 2009

Homemade Vegetable (and Fruit) Wash

Lately I have become more and more paranoid about the pesticides that are inevitably on the vegi’s and fruit we buy at the market. Of course you don’t have this problem with organic produce, but most of us can’t afford to buy all organic food nor can we find everything we need in the organic section of the market. But fear not my readers, I have found a homemade vegetable wash that should do the trick pretty easily and leave you feeling good about the produce that you are eating.

I know that you can buy vegetable washes at the market, but these are usually overpriced and really no more effective than a homemade wash. In my search for a recipe, I found that you can either choose to make a solution that you spray onto your produce, or you can make a wash that you soak them in. Frankly, I have a hard time believing that a spray is all that effective. Sure, may be on nice smooth vegi’s and fruits like tomatoes and apples; but what about our other favorite, more complicated items like broccoli or herbs? How can a spray reach all the crevices and surface areas? Therefore, readers, I dare not lead you astray and will only focus on the wash that you can soak your beloved produce in and feel confident that all parts have been treated properly.

This solution is made of vinegar and salt—cheap ingredients and items you always have on-hand. These ingredients (combined with water) help remove the wax from your produce, neutralize the pesticides, and kill any bacteria that may exist. Furthermore, they will do all of this while not leaving a taste behind. Now when I come home from the market, I immediately make up this wash, soak my produce, and within minutes have worry-free vegi’s and fruit waiting for me to enjoy.

So here is the recipe:
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • water
  1. Rinse your produce under running water and set aside.
  2. Mix the vinegar and salt in a large bowl or clean sink until the salt dissolves (adding a little warm water will help the salt dissolve faster).
  3. Add water to fill the bowl or sink (if the sink is large, you may want to only fill it a few inches high with water or double the vinegar and salt portions).
  4. Submerge the produce in the solution and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove and rinse with clean water.


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November 29, 2008

Rice Pilaf with Rosemary

It was recently brought to my attention that a contingent of our population is “cooking” rice pilaf from a box. A box—really? Okay, now I know it is easier and off-hand less intimidating, but making the real stuff from scratch is actually quite easy and much more flavorful. So I made it my mission to find a recipe that is super easy and guaranteed to convert you boxed pilaf folks to the real thing.

For those of you not familiar with pilaf, this method is unique in that it toasts the grain before cooking (much like cooking risotto). This provides the grain a nutty flavor and firmer texture. It also allows for the starches to gelatinize, which helps keep the grains separate when cooked and pick-up the flavors of the dish.

Okay, so back to the recipe. This one is courtesy of Tyler Florence on The Food Network with some variations of my own. Not only it is super easy and flavorful, but it was one of the only recipes I could find that truly toasted the rice. Don’t be fooled, folks, a lot of the pilaf recipes out there are posers—just rice mixed with stuff. They call that pilaf? So wrong.

Anyway, so here is the recipe dedicated to you closeted boxed pilaf cooks out there (you know who you are). This makes 2 1/2 cups:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (can substitute with olive oil)
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup basmati-style long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (if you use regular broth, add less salt above)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (about 4-5 inches)
  • Toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds (optional)
  1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and shallot to butter and sauté. Season with the salt and pepper and cook until the onions and garlic are soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rice and stir until coated with the butter. Increase the heat to medium-high. Let the rice cook until toasted, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Stir in the broth, bay leaf, and rosemary. Bring to a simmer over low heat, cover, and cook until all the broth has been absorbed by the rice and the rice is tender, about 15 to 18 minutes. (You can shorten this cooking time by about 5 minutes if you heat the broth before adding it to the rice.)
  4. Remove from the heat (still covered) and let set for 5 minutes. Discard the rosemary and bay leaf (and garlic clove if you wish).
  5. Fluff the rice with a fork and mix-in pine nuts or almonds, if using. Check for seasoning and adjust if needed. Serve.


July 22, 2008

Garlic Scapes

I am a little late posting this seeing that we are now past its season, but I wanted to share with you garlic scapes. I noticed these long, curly greens a month ago while roaming the farmers’ market. Intrigued, I picked one up and brought it home to see what it had to offer.

I learned that garlic scapes are the part of garlic that grows above ground (because of course the garlic cloves that you are used to are bulbs in the dirt). Anyway, when garlic first sprouts, it creates these scapes. With time the scapes grow strait and toughen so you must cut them within two weeks of growth while they are still tender, hence why their season is a bit short. They grow in the late spring/early summer.

The flavor of scapes is obviously of garlic but they are not as pungent. Although in the States farmers only recently have been utilizing the scapes in lieu of throwing them out, they have been popular in Europe and Asia. You can use them in place of garlic or green onions in your recipes. For my garlic scape I chopped it up, sautéed it with some butter and olive oil, threw in some pasta water and tossed with pasta and chopped parsley. I loved the nice, subtle garlic flavor.

Enjoy (well, next Spring)!


July 12, 2008

Homemade Orecchiette

Sorry for the delay in posting. The Pearl Onion is still very much alive, but unfortunately my internet has been a bit inactive (i.e., my neighbor who I “borrowed” from placed a password on his wireless internet). Luckily, this weekend I find myself at my “summer house” (aka, my friend’s parent’s suburban house) which allows me access to the internet.

Anyway, my “summer house” has a beautiful, large kitchen that is great for cooking. There is even a local farmers’ market near by on Saturdays. So needless to say I have been really enjoying living the life of those who have real homes (unlike my tiny Manhattan apartment with a kitchen that has 9 square feet in foot space—no exaggeration).

My first creation in the kitchen was homemade orecchiette (meaning “little ears” in Italian due to their shape). As you can probably figure out by the proportion of my recipes that involve pasta, I love it. I especially love fresh pasta and have always been intrigued to try to make it myself. However, I do not have a pasta maker (next on my list of purchases). I saw this recipe for homemade orecchiette in my Gourmet magazine and noticed that no pasta maker was required. Perfect!

On top of my excitement that I could make fresh pasta by hand, I was also pretty excited to see how simple the recipe looked. Yes, there really are only three ingredients and one of them is water.

So I ran out to my market to purchase some semolina (you can find this in the flour section of your market) and continued on my way to the train station to head out to my “summer house.” After some time of relaxation in the house—you know, breathing fresh air, stretching the legs by actually walking more than 10 feet in one direction without hitting a wall, etc.—I began to make the orecchiette. In summary, all you do is mix the ingredients together (5 minutes time), let it sit 30 minutes, make the orecchiette “ears” (20 minutes), let them dry for 30 minutes, and then cook them (5 minutes). As you can see, the active time of making these things is quite minimal.

The final product was so yummy too. I mixed my homemade orecchiette with fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, chopped shallots, fresh marjoram, cherry tomatoes, and salt/pepper. It made the perfect summer evening dinner.

Alright, so here is the recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine’s April 2008 issue (for 8 first course servings, or 4 main course servings):
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F) (Seriously, who has a thermometer for their water? I just ran the hot water in the faucet until it felt “warm,” and that worked just fine.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups semolina (sometimes called semolina flour)
  1. In a bowl add the water and salt. Mix until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Then add the semolina slowly in a stream while beating the mixture with an electric mixer at medium speed. Continue mixing for about 2 minutes until a stiff dough forms.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic for about 6 minutes. Divide dough into 5 sections and let stand under an overturned bowl for 30 minutes.
  4. Lay out 2 dry kitchen towels (not terry cloth) on a flat surface and dust with some semolina.
  5. While keeping the remaining dough covered, on an un-floured surface roll 1 section of dough into a 14-inch-long rope about ¾ inch thick. Cut the rope into ¼ inch pieces.
  6. Using your thumb (lightly dusted with flour), press down on each piece of dough, pushing away from yourself and twisting your thumb slightly to form an indented curled shape (like an ear). Transfer as formed to the laid out towels. Repeat process with remaining sections.
  7. Let the orecchiette sit on towels until dry for about 30 minutes.
  8. Cook orecchiette in a pasta pot of boiling salted water (3 tablespoons salt for 6 quarts water) until al dente, then drain and toss with sauce.