Spring Cleaning

It's official - Spring is here. Was it only a few weeks ago we were wading through knee high moats of sludge just to get the morning newspaper? Almost overnight the city was transformed from a slew of faceless, wool swathed, eskimos into a cool crowd of sunglass donning, lawn lounging, spring trendsetters. The croci are up, the parks are packed and the pretty floral skirts are out - and apparently everyone had gone shopping. 

Saturday night lent some of the best people watching of 2010 - beautiful weather, March Madness and lingering hangovers from St Patrick's Day had clearly encouraged some beloved day-drinking. The streets were littered with scantily clad ladies teetering on sky high stilettos - like a herd of newborn calves tenuously trying out their new legs. Having spent the past four months in fur lined snow boots and bulky sweaters, the transition to spring gear always has it's quirks. This weekend I spotted many a quirk - pasty legs, toes that have been out-of-sight-out-of-mind for way too long, backs that were pining for a date with a wax technician, goosebumps on the morbidly underdressed, stilettos stuck in soggy lawns and many, MANY a skirt blown north by those lingering winter winds (including the skirt of yours truly). Even though I am a veteran subway rider, I have yet to perfect the skirt-controlled stair descent. Either it's my front or my back, but I can never quite get it all under control, regardless of hand placement. For the male readers that have grimaced at the sight of a respectable women holding herself in what can only be described as a cross-vaginal sleeper hold, please understand that it is not due to an inappropriate itch or a sudden, uncontrollable urge. We are simply trying avoid giving Sal the Subway Sketchball a full frontal whilst making our morning commute. Give us a break.

The weekend's warm weather also encouraged a transition in food and drink. Long gone are the hot toddy's, crock-pots of stew and vats of soup. It was time to dust off the margarita glasses and say hello to some old friends, Fruit and Veggie. I can't speak for everyone, but in the winter I can go full weekends without consuming a single piece of fruit. It's sad, not to mention unabashedly unhealthy, but the selection (and cost) of fresh fruit in the city is embarrassing. So as soon as Spring hits, I make a consorted effort to add them to my food and drink in every way possible. Whether it's a gorgeous green salad, an apple on a walk or a pomegranate mojito, it's my form of Spring cleaning. 

My Mother's birthday was also this weekend and my Brother and I, along with a few wonderful sous-chefs, compiled a health-centric celebratory feast. We started with a tried and true tray of antipasta - an easy, delicious starter that requires very little preparation and incorporates a handful of healthy options (usually wrapped in cheese or cured meats - I try).

Some suggestions:
  • prosciutto wrapped asparagus or melon 
  • salami wrapped breadsticks
  • cherry tomatoes served with marinated mozzarella balls (can't wait until beefsteak are in season)
  • bowl of olives (I prefer the tiny Spanish green olives)
  • jars of marinated veggies: artichokes, red or yellow peppers, okra etc.
  • goat cheese piped into endive leaves or onto parmesan crisps
Our second course was a salad of mixed greens topped with seared, thin sliced sea scallops, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and segments of seedless oranges, dressed in a light lemon vinaigrette:

The main course was a fillet of Dover sole served over a white bean puree and dressed with a spicy, green salsa. The fish was baked simply in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon slices, salt and pepper. The white bean puree was a whiz and will show up on my plate many a time this spring - a can of white cannelloni beans, two minced cloves of garlic and 1/4 cup of chicken stock heated for 5 minutes over medium heat and pureed in a blender or food processor - decadent and healthy. The real masterpiece of the night was the green salsa (which can be bought canned if you're in a time crunch).

Corey's 'Jump Out of Your Seat' Salsa Verde:
  • 1.5lb tomatillos (they look like green tomatoes)
  • 2 jalepeno, Anaheim, or serrano peppers stemmed and seeded (more seeds = more spice)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2t. sugar
  • salt to taste

  1. Remove outside husk of tomatillos, slice in half and place face down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Slice peppers in half and place face down with the tomatillos. Add unpeeled garlic to sheet.
  2. Place under the broiler for 5-7 minutes or until slightly charred or blackened on the outside. Remove and let cool. Peel skin off garlic.
  3. Add tomatillos, peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and sugar to a blender or food processor and pulse a few times, leaving the mixture slightly chunky - be careful not to puree.
  4. Chill if serving with chips. Room temperature is great for topping fish, eggs or tacos.

Now spare us all and go get a pedicure,
The Heat


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