Thursday Night Smackdown: Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?

And so, the egg whites have been folded in ANGER!!*

Once again, it’s hot as balls in New York City.

Between that and the Tour De France – as I’m sure you all know today is the first mountainous stage, and the Tour chooses its champions where the mountains bear the snows of winter – I didn’t want to tackle something overly complicated or arduous. But I did want to do something new, something I’d never made before. I was flipping through Chez Panisse Cooking when it hit me:


More specifically, crab souffle with leeks and green onions, with a simple veggie saute on the side. It’s light, it’s French and it’s somewhat risky, like an edible cabaret. And it’s Alice Waters, so I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong.

*I know: this sounds nonsensical (more so than usual).  Please refer to this post and it’s paean to Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett for a full explanation.

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Restaurant Recreations: Le Croque Madame

“And so, the first pedal has been turned in ANGER!”

It’s July. For some people that means summer hours, vacations, weekends at the beach or in the country (at least, for those of us in the northern hemisphere). Around here, July means one thing: le Tour de France.

I’m not really sure when or why we started watching the tour; maybe 5 or 6 years ago? You might think it would be mind-numbing to spend 21 straight days watching men ride bicycles for 4 and 5 hours at a stretch, often in a straight line all bunched together like 5-year-olds playing soccer, but you would be OH SO WRONG. It is complicated and exciting and riveting and we are COMPLETELY HELPLESS ADDICTS. I have a fantasy cycling team. I am not kidding.

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July 2008 First Thursday: The Roundup

Here it is: the first ever round-up, for the first-ever First Thursday event! Nine brave souls took the challenge, followed the recipes, and produced some (mostly) delicious albeit beige food. Thanks to everyone who participated! Pat yourselves on your collective back. To everyone else: FOR SHAME! You know who you are.

Next month, we kick off themes. For August 2008, we combat the scourge of beige with colorful produce. Our theme: A seasonal fruit or vegetable with which you’ve never worked before.

On to the recipes!
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Dining with Ethel

As I mentioned in my smackdown post I didn’t bring a camera or notepad to Babbo, preferring to be a plain old diner enjoying an evening out. Obviously, my dining companions cook eat FRET and Mother of FRET discussed the food for 80% of the evening so I have no shortage of opinions, but there will be no photos, no dish-by-dish dissection of the evening. But frankly, I feel that it’s much more important that you learn about Ethel – Mother of FRET – than about Babbo. Because while there was memorable food, there was nothing more memorable than Ethel.

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Thursday N…afternoon Smackdown: I'm Having Dinner at Babbo, Suckas

At a VIP table, no less. Suck on THAT.

Okay, I know this is bad form. It’s my blog, it’s my inaugural event, and here I am, copping out and making a quick lunch so I can skip out on you to spend a night on the town. But here’s the thing: cook eat FRET is in town. And she’s now total BFFs with Joe Bastianich, co-owner of many of Mario Batali’s restaurants, so she managed to get this fancy-ass table at Babbo tonight. And I am not afraid to send a deluge of whiny emails to internet personages to secure reservations like this one. And her mother will be at dinner, so hopefully I’ll get a stock of embarrassing childhood stories I can use as blackmail to get more invitations to dinner like this. And so the circle of life continues. It’s beautiful, really.

I couldn’t not smack something down, though, so I decided to make a light lunch that would be worthy of the occasion but would be light enough so as not to impinge on this evening’s gastronomic adventure. Therefore: Chilled cucumber-yogurt soup with quinoa timbales, courtesy of Lorena Sass’ Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way. It’s a perfect refreshing summer lunch, or first course at a fancy vegetarian restaurant, the kind where vegans go for special occasions. (“Will you accept this cruelty-free Canadian diamond set in hemp as a gesture of my desire to spend my life with you in monogamous co-equal sustainable partnership?”)

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The Great…e-SCAPE. Get it? You know, because there are scapes in this

You don’t get it at all, do you Steve?

Sometimes I wish I could post in 3-D, because that peanut? Totally looks like it’s poised to leap off the screen at you. That peanut will cut a bitch.

I often bemoan the fact that I am too fucking lazy* to get up early enough to make it to the Greenmarket in time for quickly snatched up, fleeting seasonal delicacies like ramps and garlic scapes. I salivate over other people’s beautiful photos, promise myself I’ll go this coming Saturday and then stay up late on Friday reading back issues of Love & Rockets and sleep until noon the next day (I’m fortunate to have equally lazy dogs who enjoy sleeping in on weekends).

Thankfully, I now have my own personal organic farmer to provide me with fleeting seasonal delicacies. Well, me and the 75 other people in my neighborhood CSA. He grows ‘em, he brings ‘em to the neighborhood, and I pick ‘em up after work and enjoy my beauty sleep guilt-free. So thank you, Farmer John, for enabling me to eat this delicious new potato and garlic scape puree with my pan-seared halibut and snap pea slaw.

*On a laziness scale of 1 to 10, I’m a 17. On a good day.**

**I REALLY like sleep.

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July 2008 First Thursday: Let's get ready to rumble

I know you’ve all been diligently pouring over your cookbooks and magazines to find THAT PERFECT RECIPE, and now it’s time to let loose! Tomorrow is the first Thursday of the month, so whip up that meal and get your post on.

Complete instructions are here.

If you’re one of those folks who likes badge-y type things, this is for you. Now go! Go! Go!