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Archive for September, 2008

Chicken, broccoli and shells in a cheddar cheese sauce

Chicken, broccoli and shells in a cheddar cheese sauce

Like many American kids, I grew up with Kraft macaroni and cheese as a staple meal for lunch and sometimes dinner. I remember how my preschool teacher Marlys would “dress up” the cheesy elbow mix with sliced hotdog chunks. At home, mom would sometimes add freshly grated cheese or cracked pepper for a spicy flavor.  But I never really appreciated the dish ‘macaroni and cheese’ until I lived in the South. There, the blue Kraft box is rarely seen in the kitchen where, instead, mothers or grandmothers use decades-old recipes of grated sharp cheese, cream, and butter to make a rich and comforting dish.

Many reinventions of the southern classic have introduced other ingredients to the mix — crab meat, tomatoes, mushrooms and others. One recipe that I have come to love is Rachel Ray’s Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese. The sauce of sharp cheddar, dijon mustard, and a pinch of cayenne pepper has a complex flavor. And the sauted chicken with onion and garlic and the broccoli florets make it a hearty meal.

In the next couple weeks, I hope to try some other mac & cheese concotions at Pinch & S’Mac in my neighborhood. The restaurant specializes in “gourmet,” made-to-order mac and cheese dishes which include Four Cheese (Cheddar, Muenster, Gruyere & Pecorino), Cheeseburger (Cheddar, American & Seasoned Ground Beef), Napoletana (Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic & Fresh Basil), and Buffalo Chicken (Cheddar, American, Boneless Chicken & Buffalo Wing Sauce) among others.  Don’t those sound intriguing?!  I will report back.

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As a newcomer to New York City, one of the things I’ve enjoyed about living here is the prevalence of fruit stands and street markets. They are everywhere, and the produce is wonderfully displayed and very fresh (most of the time!).  The Greenmarket once a week near the Columbia University campus is particularly impressive, with produce trucked in from the upstate NY countryside. Really excellent fruit and vegetables and fresh baked goods.

Here’s a photo series of the market on Broadway and 114th.

Workers unload produce for Thursday's Greenmarket.

Workers unload produce for Thursday

Carole Foster unpacks fresh upstate tomatoes.

Carole Foster unpacks fresh upstate tomatoes.

Kalsang Tsering prepares the potatoes and onions for display.

Kalsang Tsering prepares the potatoes and onions for display.

Kalsang Tsering takes a breather among upstate apples.

Kalsang Tsering takes a breather among upstate apples.

New York apples

New York apples

Margaret Hoffman, Greenmarket coordinator, enjoys an apple.

Margaret Hoffman, Greenmarket coordinator, enjoys an apple.

Check out the Council on the Environment in NYC for more information on Greenmarket. There are 44 locations around town.

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Great Coffee in NYC

One of my favorite discoveries during my first month in NYC is Baruir’s coffee shop on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, Queens.

It’s not a traditional coffee shop. There’s no place to sit. No menu on the wall. No fancy blended drinks.  Just fresh roasted coffee (they have a roaster in the front of the shop) and a small assortment of Armenian/Turkish market goods.

I love their french roast columbian beans, ground to brew at home. It has a much better flavor than any of Starbucks’ coffees I’ve had.

And I’ve also become a huge fan of the iced coffee – to which they add a splash of milk and just a hint of sugar. The best part: the ice cubes are actually frozen *coffee* cubes – so your drink doesn’t get diluted! Brilliant.

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