Paula’s Pesto

purple-basil

Paula’s Pesto
(makes 1 cup)

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (don’t use cheap stuff)
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
½ lemon squeezed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions: Mix all ingredients in a food processor except the olive oil, salt and pepper. Once roughly chopped, slowly add the olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste

Seal tightly in a container. You can freeze pesto by adding a layer of olive oil on top of the pesto mixture to preserve and prevent browning.

sweet-basil

tagged in basil, recipes

Grown Up Ice Pops

mojito ice pops 1

It’s been so hot and humid. The other day I wanted an ice pop so bad but I knew I didn’t have any. Instead, I pathetically stuck my head in the freezer for a minute to cool down.

I remember as kids, my sisters and I would make icy pops at the kitchen table. It gave us something to do and we would anticipate enjoying the cooling treat after the long summer day  playing outside. My mother gave us those small bathroom cups to make our ices with and she pulled out the popsticks from our craft bin. We used orange and cranberry juice for the flavors. If my mother had fruit in the fridge, she would cut it up and we’d include that into our ice pop creations. I remember one time my sister Maria grabbed the Coca-Cola out of the fridge without my mother seeing. We made soda ice pops and also… orange juice Coca-Cola ice pops. That sounds so gross to me now but I remember liking it back then, and the overloaded sugar rush.

I decide this week to make mojito ice pops since I had so much mint growing in the garden and it’s been so hot and… I love booze!

I would’ve used paper cups as a salute to my childhood popsicle-making days but I didn’t have plastic or paper cups in the house. I thought the ice cube tray technique would be too small and messy for an adult pop. I opted to buy the ice pop molds they sell everywhere these days. They’re reusable unlike the paper and plastic cups and I’m definitely planning on experimenting, making a variety of grown-up ice pops during the hot month of August.

I looked for a good recipe online and came across one from realhousemoms.com. I figure, moms make pops with their kids all the time and moms need boozy pops to deal with their kids so this would be a trusted source for the recipe.

mojito ice pops 2

Mojito Ice Pops

Ingredients
(Makes about 12 pops depending on your ice pop mold)

2 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
20 mint leaves plus more for garnish
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup white rum (Use the delicious Owneys brand, Rockaway native, Bridget Firtle’s rum!)

Instructions

1. In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the mint leaves. Cover and let steep until mint syrup is cool.

2. In a bowl combine mint syrup, lime juice and rum. Pour mixture into popsicle molds, adding mint leaves into each one for a pretty pinterest-y effect. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

This was surprising really fast and easy to prepare, it took only 20 min. The pops taste great, zesty minty and boozy. Alcohol doesn’t freeze. The pops are solid but melt fast. No worries though, just “chug the pop” and grab another!

tagged in drinks, recipe

My zucchinis grew out of the blue!

zuquini-ready-to-harvest

I’ve never had much luck with zucchini but this year, the squash gods granted me bounty. I said to myself as I peered down over the plant, “Wow, they look like real zucchinis.”

Have you ever seen the plant? The vegetables grow outwards on an angle. They seem to defy gravity. The fruit is bulky yet the large yellow flowers are so delicate. I recently learned from Pam, the Market Manager of Edgemere Farm that there are male and female flowers. Female zucchini blossoms are directly attached to the fruit. Male blossoms are attached to a long stem. It’s a wonderful Italian treat to eat fried, ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms. You can eat both male and female, just remove the piston or stamen.

Continuing to marvel over my zucchinis, I noticed life living upon its leaves. There was a green grasshopper, and then a flat blackish, matte beetle thing. I googled the insect and learned it’s in the Coreidae family, it was a Squash Bug. I also noticed baby squash bug eggs. These suckers will kill your plant, yellowing and wilting the leaves. The damage occurs when the bug injects a toxin into the plant while sucking out the plant sap. I learned early detection is key to controlling the pest because the adults are hard to kill. They overwinter under leaves so don’t put the damaged zucchini plant into your compost. The best way to combat the bug is by wiping the eggs off with a damp paper towel that has a bit of dish soap on it. Luckily, I only saw two egg clusters on my plant. I felt a little bad removing the eggs… because aren’t we all just trying to survive? Also they were laid so perfectly and they’re deep orange and shiny, very pretty actually.

squash-bug-eggs

I posted a picture on my instagram of my zucchinis and asked. “What should I make with my precious harvest?”  Some people suggested zucchini fritters others said zucchini linguine, otherwise known as zoodles. I’ve been meaning to make zoodles, a healthy pasta alternative with my never-been-used Spiralizer my friend Melissa gave me. Decision made.

Using-the-Spiralizer

I decided to dress my zucchini linguine in a classic garlic and oil sauce with fresh tomatoes, basil and a dash of romano cheese. It was simple but bursting with the rich flavor of seasoned, organic tomatoes. My husband barely left me a mouthful for dinner!

Zucchini-Linguine-Aglio-Olio

Zucchini Linguine Aglio Olio

Ingredients (serves 2):
2 zucchinis
2 handfuls of grape tomatoes – from the garden or organic will taste best
4 cloves garlic
A healthy pour of extra virgin olive oil
Basil, salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tablespoons romano cheese

Directions:
Make your zoodles with a Spiralizer. There are many types, so follow the directions for your specific model.

Spiralizer the zoodles directly onto the serving plate

In a small skillet, heat on low the extra virgin olive oil (I swear by colavita oil)

Half the grape tomatoes and dice the garlic. Add those ingredients to the oil.

Add salt and pepper, letting it simmer for about 5 min. When the garlic begins to lightly brown, remove and let the mixture sit for 2 min.

Pour the oil/tomato mixture over the zucchini linguine. Top with the romano cheese and  chopped basil. Serve right away.

tagged in gardening, recipe

Rockaway Dirty Water Dog

On any beach day here in Rockaway we can enjoy Peruvian specialties at La Ceviche, exotic Hawaiian poke bowls from Edible Island. Also at Lowtide (Beach 97th) we can indulge in the deliciously rich pulled pork sandwiches from Breezy’s BBQ. If you want something lighter, have a fresh fruit smoothie from La Fruteria, among other tasty beach delights. They have the best burgers at Rippers (Beach 87th) and what about the decadent arepas at Caracas (Beach 106th)! In Far Rock on Beach 17th there’s Dreadsurfer. Oh that spicy Jerk Chicken!  We can enjoy our local favorite, Cuisine By Claudette and other beach grub uptown at Riis Park too. It feels like overnight we were afforded gourmet beach eats steps away from our beautiful sandy shore.

But what did people eat at the beach before Rockaway got “cool”? It’s well known that the locals ordered (and still do)  pizzas, delivered straight to the sand. The concessions were around in the 80’s and 90s but they served basic burgers and no frills fries.

The conversation came up and I asked my extended Rockaway family what they ate on those long summer days on the beach, as kids. “Mostly families packed coolers.” Cousin John said. “Sandwiches were made but they would always get smooshed up and the bread would get soggy” my brother-in-law Chris added. My mother-in-law Maureen and her sisters knew that dragging all the kids down to 116th for lunch was more effort than it was worth and eating out was expensive for their large families.

A cooler with ice was heavy to tow with 4 kids, the cousins, chairs, towels and toys. As a resourceful young mother, Maureen tried to consolidate and make her daily beach excursions as simple as possible. She didn’t remember exactly when, but one day she saw the extra thermos lying on the kitchen counter and thought… hot dogs. She filled the thermos with the dogs, added a package of sauerkraut and  poured in boiling water. BOOM.. in the late 80’s, the Rockaway Dirty Water Dog was born.

The trend took off and numerous families in Rockaway Park started making and bringing the hotdog filled thermoses to the beach.  Mothers were thrilled for sheer convenience, this meal feed many people and prep took all of 10 minutes. The hot dogs were easier to eat on the beach, you didn’t even need plates. And no more soggie sandy-sandwiches.

Want to eat like the locals, old school style? Here’s the recipe for the Rockaway Dirty Water Dog

Ingredients:
6-12 hot dogs, depending on the size of your thermos.
1 package of sauerkraut
Boiling water
Buns/Mustard/Ketchup
A fork

Directions
1. Fill a thermos with as many hot dogs as you can fit.
2. Open and add in a large package of sauerkraut. Pour in the boiling water.
3. Tightly screw the top back on the thermos
5. Pack up your condiments, buns and fork (the fork is essential) and your ready for the beach!

By the time you get hungry after swimming,  the hotdogs are hot and ready to eat. Bring an additional thermos for water or iced tea – still so much less to lug than bringing a big cooler weighted with ice.

I-spotted-this-vintage-thermos-at-Zingara-(202-Beach-91st-St,-Rockaway-Beach,-).-It-would-be-perfect-for-Rockaway-Dirty-Water-Dogs! 

I spotted this vintage thermos at Zingara (202 Beach 91st St, Rockaway Beach, ). It would be perfect for Rockaway Dirty Water Dogs!

tagged in community, hot dogs, summer