The Holt’s Apple Butter

Having now lived in NYC for almost a decade, I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself something to the effect of “I’m <insert colorful descriptor> done with this place”.  The frequency of such complaints is inversely correlated with falling temperature and positively correlated with the rising rent – which happens right about this time of year.  After such declaration, the “NYC Triple Threat” invariably happens where we meet some incredible people, walk past some amazing piece of architecture, and / or have our minds blown by some experience. It’s as if New York is telling us: “You don’t know what you’re talking about.  Stay just a little while longer”.  Rinse and repeat, the love-hate relationship continues.

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Mom Pesek’s Old-Fashioned Ice Cream

Fall travel season is upon us!  With family spread all along the coast, Preston & I try our best to see everyone as a couple, but time and budget constraints can definitely put an occasional damper on that.  Speaking of which, Preston had initially planned on making a solo trip to the Pesek household in Texas 2 weekends ago, but after receiving a few photos of our then 3 month old nephew, severe FOMO set-in and I had no choice but to join him.  “Mission: Fat Baby Fingers” works every time.

Having now lived in the States as long as I have lived in Hong Kong, the struggle to define ‘home’, to keep my roots alive with traditions, foods & language is constant – there is just something so soothing about the concept of “going home”.  I therefore relish every trip we take to the Pesek household in Texas where the following (non-exhaustive) list of activities is encouraged: Continue reading

Zucchini Noodles with Shrimp and Tomatoes

FINALLY feeling normal after our 1 year wedding anniversary / belated honeymoon trip to Hong Kong and Japan, we had to take a break from sorting through the 3000+ photos we took, which I hope to share you with one day.  As much as I know we are going to sound like SUCH  snoots, we had a hard time ‘adjusting’ to the food in NYC after the incredible meals we had for 3 weeks in Asia, but honestly some home cooked meals are in order to begin our post vacation ‘cleanse’.

With that, what better place to get our groceries than at our neighborhood farmer’s market?  Check out these Komet tomatoes plump and glowing in red in the speckled sunshine! It was hard to resist buying them even at $5.49 /lb (gulp)….Such as farmer’s market goes though, you never know what you might find. To make up for those pricey red beauties, we passed by Monkshood Nursery selling some amazing looking organic GIANT zucchinis ON SALE for $1 EACH!!!! Holy crap.

Komet Tomatoes

$5.49 / lb Komet Tomatoes

Giant Zucchini !

Giant Zucchini !!!!! Courtesy of Monkshood Nursery

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Just Stew It – Polish Edition (edited)

Winter gettin you down? No sweat (it’s too cold anyway), lift your spirits with some Polish Hunter Stew!

I still remember the first time I had this radiant stew years ago at an unassuming New Jersey catering spot.  With loads of vegetables, the slight tang of sauerkraut, smokiness of kielbasa, spiciness of cayenne pepper, this Polish national dish (Bigos) is anything but forgettable.

   
 Far from being a “quick” dish, this stew is a great alternative to your traditional stew and is worth the extra TLC.  What’s more? It freezes well, keeps well, AND it tastes even better by days 2 and 3! BOOYAH!
Bigos - Polish Hunter Stew

Ingredients

  • 2 thick slices hickory-smoked bacon
  • 1 pound kielbasa sausage, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 pound cubed beef stew meat
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (green or napa,both ok)
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar sauerkraut
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon caraway seed, crushed
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 ounce dried mushrooms (ok to skip)
  • 1 dash bottled hot pepper sauce
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 cups beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons canned tomato paste
  • 1 28oz canned diced tomatoes

Directions

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and kielbasa; cook and stir until the bacon has rendered its fat and sausage is lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and transfer to a large casserole or Dutch oven.

2. Add the garlic and onion in the pot, sautee until golden (approximately 3 minutes), then add carrots, fresh mushrooms, cabbage and sauerkraut. Reduce heat to medium; cook and stir until the carrots are soft, about 10 minutes. Do not let the vegetables brown.

3. Remove vegetables with slotted spoon and sautée floured beef in pan until browned. 

4. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the red wine and stirring to loosen all of the bits of food and flour that are stuck to the bottom. Season with the bay leaf, basil, marjoram, paprika, salt, pepper, caraway seeds and cayenne pepper; cook for 1 minute.

5. If you have them, mix in the dried mushrooms, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beef stock, tomato paste and tomatoes. Heat through just until boiling. Pour the vegetables and all of the liquid into the casserole dish with the meat. Cover with a lid.

6. Cook on low to medium heat for at least 1 hour or until meat is very tender.

Give a gift of food!

From Poland, via NYC, gifted with Love!

Credit goes to All Recipes with my notes and modifications

Is it Fall Magic? No, it’s Apple Saucery!

This year, my husband and I finally got our act together, managed to organize an Adirondacks Fall camping trip (more on that later) and squeeze in our first apple picking experience!

Ok, so apple picking is actually quite a bit of work and is not like the calico skirt, birds chirping, pretty basket experience that I had envisioned, but it’s totally worth it!  Not only are the apples crispier and sweeter than our farmers market apples, it gave us a healthy appreciation for how hard it is to actually pick (let alone grow) the perfect apple. Here’s a quick shout out to Hicks Orchard, which despite my Manhattan food snobbery, does have the best Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cider Donuts…

To reward our hard work and as a continuation of my husband’s birthday week celebration, I decided to try my hand at making apple sauce!

Branching Owl's Homemade Apple Sauce

Branching Owl’s Homemade Sugarless Apple Sauce

I’ve never done it before, but making apple sauce like a boss isn’t as hard as it might seem. First of all, upgrade your mom’s apple corer with this, it is worth the $10, second, making apple sauce really does involve boiling the crap out of some apples.

Ingredients (Yields 12 – 15 servings, or 1 serving for my husband)

– 15 Apples

– 2 1/2 cups of water

– Juice of 1 Lemon

– 2 Tsps of Cinnamon

– 1 Pinch of Nutmeg

– 1 Pinch of Salt

Directions:

– Wash and core all your apples, cut them into chunks. We kept the skin on, since that’s where the flavah lives!

– Put apple chunks, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a big stock pot

– Bring the water the boil, the lower to a boiling simmer. Stir frequently and cook for 20 – 30 minutes, until the apples are mushy (i.e. boil the crap out of the apples)

– You can use a potato masher, or an immersion blender to smooth out the consistency

Here’s the result: The Homemade Apple Saucery Tower of Power:

Homemade Apple Sauce Tower of Power

Homemade Apple Sauce Tower of Power

Apples from Hicks Orchard

Honeycrisp Apples from Hicks Orchard

Edit: As a demonstration of his gratitude, my husband contributed this helpful reference image:

apple saucery - duh

apple saucery – duh