My company follows the holiday schedule of the NYSE, which meant that I had Good Friday off for the first time since college. Normally, a day off like this would mean that we’d be spending it in transit to visit our parents, but because Easter falls on a Sunday and therefore requires our presence at one of their houses that day for both church services and the traditional meal, our plans ranged from Saturday until Monday…
…meaning I had a legitimate day off. To paraphrase Cher Horowitz from Clueless: an entire day off on a sunny, slightly unseasonably warm spring day?!? I was beyond excited, and therefore took over the cooking duties for the day.
The plan was simple: go to the Union Square Greenmarket for some supplies, fill in at Whole Foods where appropriate, and make some delicious, unconventional margaritas, all while we re-watched the fourth season of Weeds. It easily ranks among my favorite shows, but it took me some time to warm up to the post-Agrestic/Majestic seasons as they take a decidedly darker, more sordid turn compared to the many sunny and satirical observations made on modern suburban life.
I could easily identify with protagonist Nancy Botwin’s ennui by the end of the third season that prompts her to move in a rather irrevocable way that I won’t get into, but I don’t think I completely understood the jarring culture shock that she goes through until we moved from New Haven to New York. On the surface it wasn’t all that different (and we certainly weren’t escaping little boxes made of ticky-tacky as we lived over the oldest pharmacy in the city), but I felt a palpable jolt that first morning I wandered out to find the M60 stop to get me to the train station–a mixture of excitement and a little wariness of the unknown. Channeling Nancy’s steeliness and her normally unflappable “f-it, let’s roll with this” mentality, I boarded the bus and quickly adapted into my new commute.
Well, once I figured out in which direction to insert the damn MetroCard.
Which brings us to dinner. My initial intention was to get lots and lots of ramps to make a singular green salsa, alas, none were available at the Friday incarnation of the Union Square market and so I had to think on my feet to determine a replacement. I paced the abbreviated length of the market a few times before catching a whiff of fresh spring garlic, and like a moth to a flame I happily picked up a bunch of it along with a bunch of organic scallions and a small red onion. Adding to that some white balsamic vinegar, parsley, cilantro, olive oil and salt and a strange but delicious concoction materialized.
- One medium-size bunch green scallions, sliced thinly
- One small bunch spring garlic, sliced thinly
- One small red onion, diced
- Half a bunch of cilantro, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to taste; add more for greater heat)
- 1/4 bunch parsley, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
Combine first six ingredients into a bowl, and then toss with the olive oil and then the vinegar. Add salt to taste, and serve immediately.
The quesadillas could not have been simpler: a blend of three cheeses (an Australian white cheddar, a California yellow cheddar and a little ricotta salata) spread out on tortillas, baked in the oven at 400 degrees or so for about 5-8 minutes, and voilà: easy first course and a perfect, simple delivery mechanism for the flavorful salsa.
The garlicky shrimp came out of the Antojitos cookbook, and really should be reserved for serious garlic fans only–three heads of roasted garlic are pureed with some cilantro, more minced garlic, some crushed red pepper and olive oil to make a simple sauce and then served over sautéed shrimp.
To wash all of it down I made some Hibiscus Margaritas, made with hibiscus agua fresca. An ounce of dried hibiscus flowers (found in the Mexican/Latin section of your grocery store or possibly in the tea section if it’s a good one, also available online) is steeped for ten minutes in boiling water, strained out into a pitcher, and then a quarter to half-cup of sugar is added to balance the natural tartness. It then needs to cool and you’re left with a delightful, colorful alternative to the traditional summertime iced tea. Michael likes it mixed with some seltzer, and a few splashes of it makes a fun alternative to the traditional margarita, for which the recipe follows:
- 2 oz tequilla
- 1 1/2 oz hibiscus water
- 1 oz triple sec
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- Juice of one lime
In a shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients and shake vigorously. Serve in your favorite glass (I prefer no salt) and enjoy!