city island: i’m on team johnny.

city island: i’m on team johnny.

Dear Hurricane Earl, I know you caused a ruckus for plenty of folks further south, and that was admittedly not very cool. I know you were supposed to be all big and bad, that as an East Coaster, I am now supposed to be wary of hurricanes instead of tornadoes.

But apart from the boisterous breezes, which made wearing a skirt a no-go for our Saturday trip to the Brooklyn Flea Market (stop by just for old-fashioned shaved ice and fruit pops at People’s Pops, YUM), you really outdid yourself with the weekend weather. So my sincere thanks for that, in part because it resulted in my first adventure to City Island.

What’s that?, you ask? City Island is a small maritime community that is surprisingly part of the Bronx, neighbors Pelham Bay and is known for its plentiful seafood, nautical activity and views of Eastchester Bay and Long Island Sound.

You can get there by bus or bike easily enough and when I decided to sell my car, I was envisioning my new automobile-free life with, well, much less automobile. But the thing about living in student housing with most of your new friends – many of whom hail from various New England locales, is that there are abundant opportunities to ride shotgun. One such friend, a Scarsdale local, offered to drive us out to City Island for dinner, so we packed into his SUV and headed across the bridge to stuff ourselves with seafood.

As we followed the Labor Day weekend crowds down City Island Avenue, past one dining venue after the next toward our destination, our host informed us of the fierce rivalry between Johnny’s Reef and Tony’s Pier, two seafood restaurants across the street from each other offering nearly identical fare. Like the Yankees and the Mets, everyone is die-hard one team or the other, and thanks to years of visits with his dad, the Scarsdale native and all-out Yankee fan is staunchly on Team Johnny.

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homemade falafel and cucumber sauce.

homemade falafel and cucumber sauce.

Know what’s great about New York? Well, plenty. But one of those great things? You can get some falafel on every corner. It’s a beautiful thing.

And as convenient as that is when you’re on the run or desperately seeking to fala-fill an after-bar craving, regularly shelling out $5 to $7 starts to seem increasingly less appealing for us Starving Foodies of the world. However, making tasty balls of mashed chickpea in the comfort of your own kitchen? Delicious, kinda fun and super cheap.

After we’d passed the 3,291st Halal cart and the subsequent drool-inducing aromas of the Mid East wafted into our passing noses, I resolved to do just that. Fueled by the two-thumbs-up from my zucchini patties, I  announced that I’d try my hand at some patties of the chickpea persuasion. (I’m in a very cheesy mood, bear with me.)

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scallion-ginger broth with shrimp.

scallion-ginger broth with shrimp.

Alas, this post I found in a dusty back corner of my blog’s draft storage room, piled beneath several other incomplete ideas. I thought of it because a lovely fellow blogger requested recipes with fresh ginger, but upon digging into storage to get her a link to this recipe, I discovered I had completed all but the last sentence or two. Ugh.

Nevertheless, I tell myself, as this was a savory treat made early this summer, it’s likely to be a more appealing experience now that the season is tempering and giving way to cooler, breezy nights (at least in New York, anyway).

Note: I’ve left the rest of the post intact to maintain its original integrity… and because I’m lazy.

Despite the steamy weather, I’ve been on a soup kick. My subscription to Everyday Food Magazine was one of the best $10 investments I’ve made in a while. Each issue is chock full of useful tips and practical recipes… and because the issues are pint-sized, you can easily tote one in your purse or back pocket on a grocery run, keep it handy without taking up valuable counter space as you cook and stash it with your cookbooks for future referencing.

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heavenly zucchini patties.

heavenly zucchini patties.

Guess what! It’s been a week of life in the Bronx, and we’ve lived to tell the tale! This may have something to do with the fact that, according to Josh’s Internet research, the neighborhood surrounding the campus is the safest in the borough (listening, ma?). But beyond survival, we’re evolving and on our merry ways to even thriving.

One pleasant feature of this evolution is that we discovered our new go-to grocery stop. It’s a bit more of a hike, but the route is definitely better than walking the sketchy train underpass to Pathmark. Now, we meander west on Morris Park past townhomes with modest side yards, a small garden of fig trees, tomato vines and squash blossoms in full bloom. I found this gem on Yelp as Rosa Frasca Grocery, but the bright green overhang on the building reads BIG DEAL SUPERMARKET. Whoever you are, little market, I’m thrilled you’ve come into my life.

Based on the abundance of pizza and pasta joints in the area (and the parking meters painted to resemble skinny Italian flags), we’ve determined that this new supermarket sits cozily in the middle of one of the Bronx’s Italian neighborhoods, although Arthur Avenue, the tri-boro’s version of Little Italy, we’ve heard has a more affordable, down-home feel than Manhattan’s. Correspondingly, BIG DEAL is smaller and homier than Pathmark and boasts healthy-looking produce, cheeses and even freshly prepared pizza dough (which will hopefully be included in a future post!), as well as a pretty impressive beer selection considering the size of the store. We even walk straight up to the register each time (we were told to avoid Pathmark like the Ebola virus during peak hours) and overall, this locale is much more what we’d envisioned as a grocery home in our new city.

Anyway, the reason for the trip was to pick up some zucchini, mozzarella and breadcrumbs for a meal I’ve had a hankering to make ever since the Allrecipes.com Daily Dish recipe popped up in my inbox: Ms. Sherlie A. Magaret’s Zucchini Patties.

In short: Yummm.

These simple and comforting crispy, gooey rounds will surely make it into your rotation and are a great way to use up a mish-mosh of cheese that’s on its way out.

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nyc eats: a tasty new chapter.

nyc eats: a tasty new chapter.

Yeah, yeah. I know. I fell off the planet.

Got sucked right out of the blogosphere into a frenzied–albeit pleasant–black hole of packing, daydreaming, tying loose ends, and selling gobs of our stuff to strangers. I’ve shirked my food scribbling duties (though I’ve continued to take countless low-quality photos of slightly above-quality dishes and scrawl well intentioned notes on napkins and receipts), and I’m not proud of it, but I’m BACK I tell you. For good. To regale you with gastro adventures galore.

Also, by back, I mean that I’m once again a displaced Texan. This time, however, I’ve side-stepped a return to the Midwest and instead landed in a hustlin’ bustlin’ nabe of the Bronx. That’s right folks. This little foodie scooted off to the Great Big Shiny Apple. It’s been almost a week, and now that we have crappy Internet installed (yes, there is an ethernet cable surging Web life into my MacBook), I figure I’ll jump back in the dining saddle with a whirlwind wrap up of our taste bud travels thus far.

Ready? GO.

After a disgustingly early flight, feeding my kitty tranquilizers (vet-approved, mind you), a connecting flight in Philly, and an anxious taxi ride, we managed to find ourselves on the corner of Eastchester Road and Morris Park on the grounds of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where the male counterpart will continue studying gray matter. We giddily picked up our keys at the security desk (yes, mom, there is a 24-hour security guard on duty) and road the left of two 28-story elevators up to the ninth floor. Ta-DAH! An empty studio with a view of… well, the Bronx isn’t exactly gorgeous, but you can see a ways off. Look below, and there are three or four eateries across the street. Starving, Joshua? Me, too.

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chipotle chicken-and-rice bake.

chipotle chicken-and-rice bake.

When you’re borderline OCD about scouring food mags and cooking sites, ravenously seeking inspiration before locking in on a tempting meal quest, you can’t help but pick up a few gems along the way. Gradually, I’ve developed some sense of what flavors mingle together best, as well as which shortcuts are handy and which are epic fails (despite anything you read online about rice noodles, you will actually need to soak them for an entire day).

Eventually, with a fair share of satisfying wins to balance those devastating fails, you’ll manage to throw something together with confidence that it will likely result in an enjoyable dining experience. The following foolproof recipe was lovingly concocted by yours truly and based on a couple recently acquired gems that fall under the category of handy shortcuts:

 

  1. Canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce make a fantastic, no-fuss marinade.
  2. Lipton, the quintessential iced tea producers, also offer surprisingly tasty boxed rice mixes.

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chilled cucumber-mint soup.

chilled cucumber-mint soup.

As promised, the souping ensues…

Many moons ago, when there was still a chill in the air and scarves were wrapped snuggly around necks, I stumbled upon a recipe that I thought would interest my mint-loving man. I mentioned it to him. Actual globules of drool could be heard dropping onto his iPhone. (Good call on the screen protector.) He’s been bugging me to make it ever since. However, when it’s 45 degrees outside, a cool-as-a-cucumber meal isn’t what I call comfort food.

But now it’s May. And it’s Texas. So it’s already danged hot. Oh, I know. This is nothing to where we’ll be in a couple months, but I’d say it’s certainly warm enough for a summertime treat. Tuck this recipe in the pocket of your cut-offs, and you’ll welcome the face-melting heat as an excuse to cool off with this refreshingly breezy blend of good-for-you ingredients. (Also a great excuse to hit up your local farmers market.)

To whip together this Chilled Cucumber-Mint Soup, brought to you by the Martha Stewart Empire, you’ll need:

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