Monthly Archives: June 2016

Keep Calm Cucumber Sandwiches

The Brexit has happened!

Regardless of your feelings on the momentous decision made yesterday by the Brits to leave the European Union, we can still all do as the Brits do:

Keep Calm and Carry On (And drink tea). 

high teaPausing your afternoon for tea and a snack is indeed a very civilized activity and, I believe, quite good for one’s peace of mind. If you want to step up your game, here is my own cucumber sandwich recipe–easy peasy and great for impressing guests. You can also add some scones, cakes, clotted cream, jam, and/or biscuits and make for a truly fancy high tea (guests optional).

If you have never had a cucumber sandwich, you are in for a treat. They are filling, refreshing, slightly sweet and slightly tangy, and great for breakfast or whenever you set your tea time. I recommend using a mandolin for even, thin slicing. I also suggest peeling the cucumber, unless it has a very thin rind as in the case of hydroponic cucumbers (a tidbit I recently learned!).

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Emily’s Cucumber Sandwiches

1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh mint, diced (alternatively, you could add a dash of paprika)
dash of salt and pepper
1/2 cucumber, thinnly sliced
4 slices bread of your choice

Mix first six ingredients thoroughly until you have a smooth texture. Spread on bread slices and assemble cucumbers for even distribution. Slice off crusts for extra fanciness, if you choose, and cut sandwiches into triangles. Serve with your favorite tea.

 

 

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On Idyllic Sleepy Hollow Summers

As I sit here wilting in the Nashville heat (Good Lord, it’s only June), I think back to my idyllic childhood summers in Sleepy Hollow, New York. We had it good. Real good. And now I sigh thinking of that golden afternoon light, those humidity-free days, the berry picking in the woods, the comforting sound of river waves lapping against the shore, and the sandwiches. Yes, sandwiches are very important.

If you’ve never been to the Hudson Valley, I highly suggest arranging a sojourn. In Sleepy Hollow, the Hudson spans a whopping three miles in width, making for an excellent vista and a spacious watersports playground. The view is in fact so good that when the Rockefellers built their Rockwood Estate, they also bought the bluffs across the river to maintain an unadulterated landscape. Along with the Rockefellers, those of us on the east side of the river enjoyed the daily treat of watching the sun set itself down in swirls of purple and orange glory behind the Palisades. Then, the next morning, we greeted the sun again as it illuminated every green and blue crevice of the cliff face. I tried to paint it once, but the colors changed so fast I couldn’t keep up.

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Growing up, the river was a refuge, a place for breathing freely and remembering the important things. My other refuge was the woods. The extensive Rockefeller properties have long since become a state park complete with carriage trails, grandiose stone bridges, babbling brooks, and towering oaks and hemlocks. The last two weeks of July were my favorite. The entire forest would erupt in delicious red berries. We called them red-caps, but I don’t know why. They looked like bright red raspberries, but were juicier and fell apart in your fingers. I would stay in the woods for hours walking and feasting on berries. Sometimes my siblings and I would manage to pick enough for pies, and then sometimes we would even leave enough uneaten to actually make the pies.

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Between the enticements of playing in the woods and swimming, kayaking, and windsurfing in the river, summer days went by fast. I think longingly now of capping off those days with dinner at the beach. My family would pack up the picnic basket, either with homemade goodies or our favorite local take-out fare, and set up for an elegant though rustic dinner at the beach. I like to think the setting made the food taste even better. I like remembering how all of my family enjoyed this time together. I like thinking about dining with my toes in the sand.

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There is so much to say of that near-perfect summer locale, what with trips into the city to see a show or visit a museum or eat in Chinatown, or treks up to the Shakespeare festival at the Boscobel estate, or vacations in the Adirondacks—a mere five-hour drive to an ancient, wilderness paradise. But for now I will explain about the sandwiches. Growing up in New York I took sandwiches for granted; every corner had a deli and every deli had fresh ingredients served up on fresh, fluffy, crusty bread. I have since learned that the rest of America does not adhere to this same reverence for sandwich craft, and it saddens me greatly. I salivate now thinking of the best local deli, Rocky’s, where they even fried up homemade kettle chips to accompany your Italian Combo or Chicken Parmesan. What makes New York sandwiches so special? Many things, but mostly the bread. No New York establishment would ever dream of serving old bread, let alone lifeless, tasteless hoagie rolls or whatever concoctions Subway and the like manufacture. New York delis  employ fresh kaiser rolls, or fresh baguettes, or classic New York bagels, or hearty multi-grain, and all of them perfectly match the ingredients they house. My kingdom for a decent sandwich.

For the record, Potbelly is the best sandwich chain if you are in a pinch.

Anyway, summer in Sleepy Hollow…those were the days.

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Swan Lake, Rockefeller Park

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Babbling Brooks

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Climbing Mt. Marcy, Adirondacks

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Fourth Lake, Adirondacks

 

 

 

 

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Four Under-the-Radar Foodie Paradises in Nashville

Nashville has no shortage of Southern cuisine, whether you’re looking for meat and three or haute. But less well known are the bustling international food experiences to be enjoyed all across the city. As my husband and I continue to explore all Nashville has to offer, I thought I’d share some of the more recent findings from some tasty forays into less mainstream parts of town.

  1. Kirin Sushi 
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    Image credit to Valorie from Yelp

    This new sushi restaurant seems to be getting decent reviews without help from me, but as it is new and located in Antioch, I wanted to give it some love. We were looking for dinner near the $2 movie theater before our show, and I was craving sushi (when am I not?). Low and behold just off of Bell Road is the new Kirin Sushi offering a wide range of Japanese favorites from sushi to hibachi to udon soup. The restaurant provides a welcoming interior great for dates. We ordered several rolls and a bowl of Udon. I kept a menu on the table in case we needed more, but the rolls were bursting with seafood goodness and the bowl of Udon turned out to be bigger than my head! We ended up taking most of the soup home, along with a large plate of tasty tempura, and it was just as delicious and umami-packed the next day. We will be returning.

  2. So Gong Dong Tofu House Restaurant
    So, apparently, this place is a chain. We found out about it from our cousins from Chicago who came to visit and wondered if their favorite Korean restaurant had a location here. Lucky for us, rich soups and hearty bibimpab and seafood pancakes are just down the road. You wouldn’t know it to look at the questionable strip mall in which it sits, but stepping inside you discover a lovely, homey restaurant that feels worlds away from the nearby busy Harding Road. Seriously, I have never had tastier Korean food. Ever.
  3. Goha Ethiopian Restaurant 

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    Another Yelp Photo

    A bit out of the way (unless you already live in Antioch), this charming Ethiopian restaurant is located in a converted house. You dine in the living room or on the front porch, whichever you choose. The menu is extensive and the food comes fast and flavorful along with piles of spongy injera. This place is great whether you are novice to the cuisine or a long-time connoisseur. There are only a handful of Ethiopian restaurants in town, but so far this one is the overall winner for flavor, service, and ambiance.

  4. The Shawarma Sandwiches at Newroz Market 
    There is a string of Kurdish markets along Nolensville Pike that serve the needs of Nashville’s substantial Kurdish population. They also serve the rest of us delicious shawarma sandwiches at Newroz Market, made to order on your choice of freshly baked breads, with chicken or beef or mixed, and any veggies or sauces that tickle your fancy. Best of all, you can stuff yourself full of tasty shawarma for only $4! Everyone inside is very kind and willing to explain all the choices available. While you are there, you can also pick up bucketloads of dried chickpeas, homemade tahini paste, and date syrup for your Mediterranean cooking adventures.

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