Matthew Kenney's Big City Cooking: Recipes for a Fast-Paced World
by Matthew Kenney and Joan Schwartz (Chronicle, 2003).

2004_09_food_seviche.jpgMan, it was hot last weekend. So Gothamist was pleased to find that Matthew Kenney's second cookbook is basically organized by how hot each recipe will make your kitchen (or, if you have a small apartment like Gothamist, your house). Rather than the traditional divisions, soup, salad, fish, meat, dessert, the cookbook starts out with raw or barely cooked food, goes to seared food and food grilled outside, and finally roasting and simmering, which we were already doing just sitting around. Gothamist has no grill (yet!) and although Kenney gives sauteing as an alternative we really didn't want to eat any hot food.

So, Gothamist decided to make Shrimp Seviche with Fennel & Pomegranate, with Sashimi of Avocado with Lime and Almond Oil on the side. There weren't any pomegranates available, but heirloom tomatoes were, so, in the spirit of taking advantage of good local ingredients, we served them alongside the avocado.

In addition, Kenney has written the book with the tiny, sparely- (or barely!) equipped kitchen in mind, and it totally works. For this recipe we used the stove for about a minute-not long enough to heat up the apartment-and the only other equipment we used was a cutting board and a knife. A lot of the other recipes look good too, and like the ones we prepared, they are supposed to be able to be finished in under an hour and are based around clean flavors and seasonal ingredients. Gothamist can't recommend this cookbook enough.

Matthew Kenney's NYC restaurants have included Matthew's, Mezze, Monzu, Canteen, and Commune. Joan Schwartz is the author of Macaroni & Cheese: 52 Recipes from Simple to Sublime, which contains several mac & cheese recipes from New York restaurants, including Canteen's, which is a certain blogger's favorite (Big City Cooking includes Commune's Truffled Macaroni & Cheese). Gothamist plans to write about Macaroni & Cheese: 52 Recipes from Simple to Sublime when it is cold outside!

The Recipes
2004_09_food_avotom.jpgThe fennel in the seviche lends it a richer taste than is ordinarily expected from seviche, and is brightened up by the mint. The avocado-tomato-basil combo is as good as it sounds. Either of these recipes could be easily made for a large group. Hint: to julienne the herbs, just roll a stack of them up like a cigarette and cut lengthwise.

Sashimi of Avocado with Lime and Almond Oil
(serves 4)

2 ripe Haas avocados, halved lengthwise, pitted and peeled
1 large tomato, halved lengthwise, sliced (Gothamist's addition)
Juice of 3 limes
1/4 c. almond, walnut, or hazelnut oil
fleur de sel, sea salt, or coarse kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
8 basil leaves, finely julienned

Slice the avocado halves lengthwise about 1/8 inch thick, and brush the avocados lightly on both sides with about half of the lime juice. (The recipe says to put them on another plate for this but Gothamist fails to see the point.) Halve the tomato slices. Divide the avocado and tomato slices among 4 chilled plates. Drizzle with the remaining lime juice and almond oil. Season with salt & pepper and top with the basil leaves.

Shrimp Seviche with Fennel & Pomegranate
(serves 4)

1 Lb (16-20) large peeled & deveined shrimp (You can have the fish store do this for you. Gothamist's does it for free.)
1/2 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2t kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1 small fennel bulb, julienned lengthwise
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and about 3 inches of green)
2T julienned mint leaves
2T Pomegranate molasses
(alternative: you can boil some Pom down for this)
2T Pomegranate Seeds (optional)

Fill a large bowl with ice water & set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the shrimp, and remove them from the heat. Let stand for 1 minute, then drain the shrimp and immediately plunge them into the ice water to stop the cooking. Cut the shrimp into small dice & set aside.

In a medium nonreactive bowl, whisk together the citrus juices, olive oil, salt, & pepper. Add the shrimp, fennel, & scallions, and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes or an hour. Drain off most of the marinade, and toss the seviche with the mint.

Divide the seviche among the serving plates and drizzle with 1T of the molasses. drizzle the rest around the edges of the plates, sprinkle with
pomegranate seeds, & serve.

-- girlynyc