Behold the last photograph taken on my little Pentax, which decided suddenly to depart this world whilst I was standing on the corner of a street in Chinatown, NYC, desperately trying to take photos of the hundreds of varieties of dried fish and shrimp (please do not be alarmed - this picture is not of the green beans mentioned in this post's title). I confess to having no idea how one would use them as an ingredient, although crushed up or steeped in stock seem like viable possibilities. I didn't buy any in NYC, not being able to face the inevitable argument at customs over what would seem to be an obvious violation of the injunction against bringing animal products etc. into the UK. I also know that buying ingredients like this on a whim most commonly results in their sitting unused at the back of a cupboard before being thrown away when one moves house or something.
I was more brazen in relation to one gift that I lugged home for Mr. F. My friends and I were staying at Hotel on Rivington (recommended), and on our way back from a particularly lengthy shopping and schlepping outing we passed by Bisous Ciao, purveyor of delectable macarons. The shop is all restrained monochrome, though thankfully the staff in attendance have been trained at the US school of helpfulness and charm rather than at its Parisien counterpart. I took home a box of their vanilla and salted caramel macarons.
We had other successful gustatory experiences at WD-50 (where I ate the famous eggs benedict, got shown round the kitchen and met Jon Bignelli) and mambo 'italiano (a red sauce joint on Mulberry Street, where we enjoyed chewy-crusted pizza, nice Chianti and warm but not over-friendly service). Whilst my favourite meal was that which we had at WD-50, my travel companions declared that they had enjoyed our experience at The Standard Grill even more. To be fair, we did eat delicious food there, it's just that I preferred the theatre and technical wizardry at WD-50. The highlight of my meal at The Standard Grill was my starter, a dish of cold french beans, dressed with cinnamon and yoghurt. It was wonderfully grassy and fresh, and although it was and is delicious on its own, I think it would also be excellent with some grilled lamb chops or fish.
My recipe goes something like this:
200g of french or green beans, washed and topped and tailed
75g Greek yoghurt
Half a clove of garlic, smushed or finely grated
Half a teaspoon (or more to taste) of cinnamon
One small onion, sliced into slender half moons
Juice of half a lemon
Olive oil and vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Heat a very generous slug of vegetable oil in a frying pan and add the onion slices. Cook them over a medium heat until they are crispy and dark golden brown. Tip on to kitchen towel to drain away the excess oil.
Cook the green beans in boiling salted water for four minutes. Drain and run the cold tap over them to cool immediately. Dry them between sheets of kitchen towel.
Mix the yoghurt, garlic, cinnamon together and season. Taste and add a few drops of lemon juice and/or olive oil if desired. Add the green beans to the yoghurt dressing and mix well. Garnish the salad with the crispy onions before serving.
I have just returned from an excellent trip to the States, and am bursting to tell you all about the various wonderful meals I had in NYC and to pass on a recipe for an extraordinarily refreshing yet satisfying green bean salad that I ate at The Standard Grill.
But suffice it to say that time is not on my side today, so the salad receipt will have to wait until the weekend for a write up. I hope by then to have replaced my camera, which breathed its last just as I was photographing some tiny silvery dried fish in Chinatown.
Before the weekend I thought I would pass on a brilliant banana bread recipe from Dan Lepard aka The Guardian's baking guru. I've made this twice - once on the day after my birthday as a cure for a mild but longlasting hangover, and once in order to provide Mr. F with a week's worth of breakfasts whilst I was in the US. It is completely delicious and filling smeared with crunchy peanut butter. It also freezes well.