Agenda: 4/25 to 5/1



Brooklyn Pigfest
The seventh annual edition of this festival of swine, presented by Brooklyn Brewery, will feature slow cooked barbecue, beer, and live music (performed by the Cobble Hillbillies). The event will take place on Saturday, May 12, from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., at the Tobacco Warehouse at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Tickets are $75/person in advance at or $85/person at the door. Beer and food are included with the price of admission, and all proceeds from the Pigfest will go to benefit the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. 

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Chill Out


Eva Solo's Fridge Carafe evokes the shape of a milk bottle and is designed to fit inside your refrigerator door compartment. A flip-top lid keeps unwelcome flavors out of your chilled water while stored, and a neoprene insulating jacket -- available in multiple colors -- zips up the carafe to keep its contents cool from refrigerator to table.


Straw and Hay Fettuccine Tangle


Writer/blogger/photographer extraordinaire Heidi Swanson has a new book out, Super Natural Cooking, which bills itself as both a cookbook and a guide to incorporating more whole and natural foods into your diet. (Heidi is a friend -- and one of only a handful of other food bloggers I've actually met in real life -- so don't take this as an unbiased review.)

The book is clearly aimed at those cooks, myself included, who have never used sweeteners like agave nectar or whole grain flours like amaranth flour. But, don't fear: It's not your mother's natural foods cookbook. With recipes ranging from farro with green onion sauce, toasted walnuts to thin mint cookies, the book doesn't hit your over the head with the "all natural" regime. Instead, it's more of a gentle nudge in the direction of whole grains and nutrient-rich ingredients, using recipes that look delicious (thanks to Heidi's luscious photography).

I decided to make the recipe for "Straw and Hay Fettuccine Tangle with Spring Asparagus Puree," egg and spinach pasta tossed with a pesto-like puree of asparagus, spinach, toasted pine nuts, and parmigiano-reggiano. The recipe is bereft of whole grains (though you could certainly use a whole wheat pasta). The emphasis here is on the folate-rich main ingredient, asparagus. It's a quick, easy dish for warm weather cooking (which has finally arrived in these parts) and a welcome change from basil pesto.

Kitchen Notes: You may need to season the puree with a little more salt and lemon than indicated. Just do so incrementally so you don't overwhelm the sauce. There will be plenty of leftover puree when you're done cooking. Heidi recommends slathering it on bread or as a topping for pizza. I used it in a simple risotto, stirred in right at the end of the cooking process.

Straw and Hay Fettuccine Tangle with Spring Asparagus Puree
by Heidi Swanson
From Super Natural Cooking

Serves 4 to 6

1 bunch asparagus spears, trimmed and halved crosswise
3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for topping
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
4 ounces dried spinach fettuccine or 6 ounces fresh
4 ounces dried egg fettuccine or 6 ounces fresh

Bring 2 pots of water to a rolling boil, one large and one medium. You'll use he large one to cook the pasta and the medium one to blanch the asparagus.

To make the asparagus puree, salt the asparagus water and drop the spears in the pot. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the spears are a bright green and barely tender. Drain and transfer to a  food processor (preferably) or a blender. Add the spinach, garlic, the 1 cup Parmesan, and 3/4 cup of the pine nuts. Puree and, with the motor running, drizzle in the 1/4 cup olive oil until a paste forms. It should be the loose consistency of a pesto; if too thick, thin it with a bit of the pasta water. Add the lemon juice and salt, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

Salt the pasta water well and cook the pasta until just tender; you'll need less time for fresh pasta, more fro dried. Drain and toss immediately with 1 cup of the asparagus puree, stirring in more afterward depending on how heavily coated you like your pasta. Serve sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, a dusting of Parmesan, and a quick drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Recipe reprinted with permission from the author.


Ergonomic Eating


The odd-looking flatware by CurvWare is ergonomically designed to function as a natural extension of the hand (that's a fork in the photo). But, the "ErgoChic" utensils come at a hefty price. One three-piece set will set you back $99 at CurvWare. Via bookofjoe.


Agenda: 4/18 to 4/24


Battle of the Briskets
The New Shul will play host to this brisket showdown, which features a "Golden Schmaltz Award" presented to the top dish (the judges include Gail Simmons of Food & Wine and "Top Chef," Joel Siegel of ABC News, and food writer Ed Levine. The beefy banquet, benefiting the New Shul, takes place on Sunday, April 22, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, 519 Hudson Street. $100/person (RSVP to [email protected]).


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Heirlooms at Home


Ever so satisfying is the fruit or vegetable picked from your own garden -- or windowsill, or front porch. sells many varieties of heirloom tomato plants that thrive in just about any bright, adequately sunny spot. The site also offers helpful tomato growing tips to help keep you making stunning caprese salads all summer long. Heirloom plants from $8.99 at


Agenda: 4/11 to 4/17


Beer and Cheese
The Artisanal Premium Cheese Center is offering a series of tasting events pairing artisanal cheese with handcrafted beer. Coming up on Thursday, April 12, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., is a tasting of cheeses with brews from the Ithaca Beer Company (upcoming tastings will feature beer from Kelso of Brooklyn and spiced beers imported from Europe and Japan). The event will take place at the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center, 500 West 37th Street, 2nd Floor. $75/person (877.797.1200).


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Cuisine from a Can


A Twist of the Wrist, the latest book from master baker and chef Nancy Silverton, gets into Rachael Ray territory, promising 30-minute meals made with jarred, canned, boxed, and bagged ingredients. The book "green-lights prewashed salad, canned peas, jarred mayonnaise, boneless chicken breasts and more," says the New York Times. $17.97 at


Passover Postscript


While Passover is, of course, still in effect, my observance of the holiday has been lackluster save for the traditional egg matzo with whipped butter for breakfast. For last Monday's seder, I did make Joan Nathan's recipe for almendrados, almond macaroons with a hint of lemon, and they came out successfully (though I almost risked over-baking them). Bake the cookies too long and they'll harden up by the time you're ready to eat them. They're incredibly easy to make, as long as you leave time for the dough (simply almonds ground with lemon zest, sugar, and an egg) to sit overnight in your refrigerator, and they're a huge, huge improvement on store-bought coconut macaroons.


Built for Beer


In collaboration with the firm of Tiax, Samuel Adams has designed a beer glass that promises a "full sensory drinking experience." According to the company, the curvaceous container is designed with features that collect and enhance aroma, sustain a foamy head, and retain proper beer temperature. $30 for four glasses at the Samuel Adams E-Store. [via Mouthing Off]