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Lunch, Mains, Salads, Uncategorized

Roasted Winter Salad.

February 16, 2017

After entering a new decade of life at what felt slightly faster than the speed reached at the event horizon, and a whirlwind holiday season capped off with a planned-but-not-so-soon move, YA GIRL IS BACK ON THAT BEAST COAST!  It was not without it’s turmoil, least of which was needing four locals (one of which had only two teeth), to help my front wheel drivin’, snow-virgin of a car up a tundra-whippin,’ iced over hill a mere 50 miles from my destination. Now that I’m semi-settled, I am at once thrilled and terrified, comfortable and yet out-of-water, and OHHHHH SO READY to rejoin the ranks of my NYC-based tribe, though I’ll be hanging this side of the Hudson until I can plant my roots deeeeeep in the soils of it’s valley.

Leaving the land of perpetual spring has my palette a bit confused, however. In the Bay I tended towards brighter flavors that us northerners look forward to in the warmer months; it was never too cold for them and the scene abounded. Now that I’m back in thick sock and bean boot country, I’m feelin’ those hearty, earthy flavors that warm you from the inside. Thus, when an impromptu dinner party arose along the trek, I dreamt up a salad that suited.

The resulting Roasted Winter Salad is warm, smoky and satisfying, great as a stand-alone lunch, a dinner side, or a dinner salad if you added a protein (I’d go with flank steak or a tempeh-portabello mix for my vegans).

Roasted Winter Salad

[recipe id=”708″]

Appetizers, Mains

Spring Flatbreads.

June 2, 2016

Sometimes I don’t have much to say about a recipe, or what inspired it. Sometimes it’s just driven by an experimental spirit. I certainly don’t want to try to squeeze blood out of a stone in an attempt at a fully fleshed out post, because whenever I do that I wind up with something infuriatingly trite. In this case I got excited about spring vegetables, read Local Milk’s newest post on flatbreads, and decided to try my hand at it.  Really it was an exercise in styling a food shoot, in which I learned that morning overcast is the best light ever if you don’t want to spend loads of time in Lightroom, and that I’m hopelessly addicted to abundance and curated messes, try as I might to navigate the ever-enticing minimalism of todays design and decorating musings.

So, with that, I say give these a go while the ingredients are still available (a painfully short window when considering they are baby plants from first-thaw), invite some friends over for a mise-en-place-party, pour some rosé, and enjoy the first few days of al fresco opportunities!

Garlic Scape, Oyster Mushroom and Fiddlehead Flatbread   Flatbreads 2

Asparagus, Ramp, radish, flatbread

Asparagus, Ramp, Oyster Mushroom, blossom, radish, egg flatbread

 

[recipe id=”595″]

Brunch, Lunch, Mains, Salads, Sides

Fennel & Citrus Salad.

March 25, 2016

Easter weekend is upon us and this year I’m choosing to celebrate by 1. Thanking our resurrected savior that I don’t have to attend yet another recipe-recycled brunch buffet at the club, eyes scalded by the omnipresence of Lilly Pulitzers overstated prints, and 2. By bringing an unassuming salad to a friends’ pot luck (to which I’ll be wearing a Mara Hoffman frock that immediately contradicts my disdain for Lilly’s designs in color saturation though not form).

I dreamt the dish up for a job interview ages ago and was subsequently offered the job. It’s secured me a couple of jobs, in fact.  I don’t know anyone else who’s been hired for a salad, but for someone who is determined to resurrect salads from the doldrums of caesar and spring greens, I hold that fact in high regard.

This salad is the freshest, brightest version of winters vegetables I’ve ever known, and satisfying as all getup when accompanied by seared and sliced duck breast. Plunk it on your table as a refreshing departure from the crouton-box salads we’ve played out, or, if you’re as over ham as I am, make it as a bed for a platter of duck breast.

Fennel Salad 2

Fennel Salad 3

Fennel Salad 4

 

[recipe id=”552″]

Lunch, Mains

Vegetable Sesame Pancake.

February 25, 2016

It is no secret that I miss New York. I left it at the perfect time for myself, with tears in my eyes and not a middle finger to the rearview mirror.  I’ve traveled to so many places, and it’s the only place outside of the town I grew up in that is so inextricably of my being and mentality, so quintessentially home to me. It’s a beautiful shitstorm of a town, but it’s the town that taught me to love a thing not despite its faults, but rather for its faults.  I love the grime that makes me nervous about rockin’ nice kicks, the subway rats just trying to live their best life off of our dollar slices, the slush puddles on every corner this time of year that usher forth your best ballerina leap, the way I can have a quick squabble with a stranger whose sidewalk flow is an embarrassment and be completely over it by the next block. Warts and all, that town has my heart under a bell jar.

But this is a blog about food so let’s talk about food. New York is about that grub life. They’ve got Michelin starred restaurants next to trendy boozy brunch joints with a street meat vendor on the sidewalk between.  They’ve got random basement places that allow anonymity to celebrities, and celebrity chef run places whose dishes unfailingly grace your Instagram feed at a grating frequency. There are neighborhood mainstays come burger destinations and empty shipyards come food truck paradises and wherever you move, the first thing to figure out about your neighborhood is where those mainstays are, whether they deliver past midnight because we don’t do dinner before 8, and which destinations are worth coaxing your friends to. I had four mainstays and a slew of destinations in my old neighborhood, but one will always stand out above all others, and its humble name is M Noodle.

M Noodle is a hole in the wall off of the Lorimer L stop that has served as a noodle soup mainstay for broke artists, then hipsters, and now yupsters. But soup is not my jam. We’re actually here to talk about their vegetable sesame pancake. The M Noodle vegetable sesame pancake is my favorite food. Of all time. Ever. And it stinks. To high heaven. I was embarrassed to walk past humans on the street as I darted home with my takeout, double bagged to no avail (remember how I mentioned loving things not despite, but for their faults?  This is the best possible example). But you should definitely still make it because I’m very anti-hyperbole and as such, do not say things like “love” or “favorite” or “best thing I ever ate” with reckless abandon. I mean that shit.

But enough with the lead-in.  It’s a griddle bread, shoabing, with scallions mixed into the dough and a toasted sesame seed crust, stuffed with pickled carrot and daikon. The savory warm bread is a perfect contrast to the crisp, cold, sweet and acidic pickled veggies, and with a bit of sriracha I become my most content self. This, coupled with their fried vegetable dumplings, was the cheap eat I went for at least once a week, along with every taxi ride home from La Guardia, and most boozy late nights on the town. This was the one thing that was hardest to let go of coming across the country, but I was coming to California to learn how to cook so I figured I could trial-and-error my way to it, and so trial and error I did.  It took me 2 years to discover the correct pickled vegetable recipe, and almost 3 years to figure out the bread, but here I am and far be it for me to keep that from you all.

With a bit of prep (you’ll want to pickle the vegetables two days to a week in advance), we can all be eating the stinky Brooklyn delicacy that brings me right back to my happiest years of reckless singledom in my chicest crumbling old apartment.

VSP 1

VSP 5

VSP 3

VSP 2

 

[recipe id=”546″]

Brunch, Lunch, Mains

Chanterelle Quiche.

October 29, 2015

I recently went on a jaunt up to Seattle and Olympic National Park with Babs.  Not only did I embrace all the drip droppity draps of rain that fell from grey skies like the pluviophile I am, but my eyeballs soaked in the most vibrant greens in the blankets of moss dappled with mushrooms on every trail, and soaked in tubs sans drought-guilt, and slept like a bump on a log every exhausted night.

While I favored the trails and trees to the city, I will say that Pike Place Market puts all others to shame, and it is my favorite tiny nook of the tiny bit of Seattle that I saw. It had me feelin’ itself so bad that I suggested we cancel the only nice dinner plans we had so we could buy some local mushrooms and pastas and play around in our tiny airbnb kitchen.  Babs was not into it. But that did not stop me, no ma’am.

On our way to the airport, I made a game-time decision as we passed the market that she needed to let me out of the car and circle the block.  I’ll call when I’m ready.  It’ll only take a sec.  Once more into the breach I went, like a bloodhound on the scent, to where I remembered a pile of golden-glowing, fresh foraged chanterelles for many, many dollars less than anywhere else on this parched coast. And so, I requested that the shady looking vendor, whose hooded shadow made this mission feel even more covert than originally anticipated, keep filling up the bag until I tell him to stop (which was an arbitrary-but-hopeful estimation of how much room I had left in my carry-on).  I paid, ate a persimmon sample, and made the call for the pickup.

We went to the airport, TSA made the TOTALLY REASONABLE AND NOT AT ALL LAUGHABLE DECISION to confiscate my Tasmanian leatherwood honey but not bat an eye at the 2lbs of unmarked mushrooms in my bag.  And so I was off (2 hours earlier than I needed to be – Babs gets stressed over the weirdest things like unloading the rental car and taking the shuttle to the terminal), back to California, with some gametime ‘shrooms that I could experiment with.

I did some crostini for a friend’s birthday party, which were great, but right now I’m really feeling quiche, so here’s a quiche, it’s so quiche (hashtag Ja’mie private school girl).

 

Chanterelle Quiche No2 3

Chanterelle Quiche No2 2

 

[recipe id=”518″]

Mains, Salads, Sides

Kale, Delicata & Farro Salad.

October 8, 2015

I wore a beanie all day yesterday without overheating and that was, in the words of my heart-song homie PJ, MAJORAAAAAAH. But it also triggered something in my lizard brain that said “mac and cheese, down this gullet, now.” (lizard brain, ovaries, WHO’S TO SAY). Luckily, I got a hold of the situation before it spiraled into the nutritionally-void abyss that I typically save for post-spin, when I already look like a stray dog who rolled around in the nearest puddle so what’s an embarrassing meal on top of that? Instead, I made a roasted, toasted salad that I can’t seem to get enough of.

We have a tendency to pack it on for the colder months in preparation for our altered hibernation state, unable to reconcile our evolutionarily engrained drive with the inception of Patagonia and Pendleton. I try not to let that take a sturdy foothold by telling myself that I’m welcome to gorge, so long as it’s a guiltless gorge, and I’m welcome to indulge, so long as I don’t overindulge. A big salad of kale, delicata squash, faro and parmesan seems like a relatively guiltless gorge, and so it has become something I regularly make to stave off other cravings (until I inevitably relent, enjoying every bite like a 21-day-fix’er on day 22).

This salad, despite being a “salad”, is hearty, toothy, and filling, as well as being easily adaptable to vegan/carnivorous/gf/df/tgif/idgaf by either leaving out the parmesan or farro, or adding sliced steak or roasted pulled chicken. It’s ideal for those I know with a split-diet family, or those of us who are sick of the kale caesar.  GORGE ON, GOURMANDS!

Kale Delicata Salad

Kale Delicata Salad-2

Kale Delicata Salad-3

Kale Delicata Salad-4

 

[recipe id=”503″]

Mains, Sides

Ratatouille.

September 15, 2015

To say that ratatouille is a contentious topic at culinary school is to drastically underestimate its importance to the French identity. To say that Ratatouille is a movie I wish people would stop asking me if I saw when I tell them I’m a cook is to drastically overestimate my patience level (also among those topics:  what is my favorite thing to cook, did I read Kitchen Confidential, did I watch SLASH did I try out for the latest season of Top Chef, and when am I opening my restaurant).

I developed a passion for cooking from my mother, but I honed those skills with chefs whom I endearingly refer to as “Frenchies”. Four out of five of my instructors were citizens of France, though all from different regions, and all with a regional concept of what ratatouille is and how to prepare it.  Despite what was supposed to be a standardized curriculum, regional biases seeped out like the liquid of a disgorged eggplant, sometimes leading to highly difficult to follow, heavily accented arguments that inevitably digressed into French. The point being: I STILL DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT RATATOUILLE IS SUPPOSED TO BE. But I know that I like it and I know that it is the season for it, so I’m going to make it fancy-style, aka neatly-fanned-out-slices-style, aka Parisian-style, aka Chef Udo-style, aka Disney-Pixars-animated-sewer-rat-style.

The trick to making it this way successfully is in getting amazing vegetables of relatively the same girth, and the trick to that is starting with the zucchini and building from there. The other trick is a cartouche – a parchment paper “lid” with a hole cut in it’s middle for a controlled release of steam.  I won’t convolute the visuals of this blog doing a step-by-step-pictorial here, but this is a good video on how to do it, just snip the tip off as well as the edges so you get that controlled release steam hole. (I also REALLY enjoy this chefs anal retentive nature about folding paper, though I do not enjoy that he cuts the paper with a knife. Like, use scissors you nihilist why are you uselessly dulling your edge GOD).

Truthfully though, I glazed over a very serious aspect of the success or failure of this dish which is: amazing vegetables. Ratatouille, as all Frenchies will concur, is a dish of purposeful simplicity.  It is meant to showcase incredible vegetables at the peak of their season. It can be incredible or forgettable based entirely on where and when your produce is from, so don’t make it in february, and don’t source it from the same place you stock up on your secret stash of boxed mac ‘n’ cheese (just me? Whatever, DESPERATE TIMES). Find it now and find it at the farmers markets that are exploding with amazing produce this time of year, I’ve tried it both ways and I promise it pays off.

Assembly

Assembled

Served

 

[recipe id=”295″]

Mains

Shrimp Tacos Wrapped in Collards.

August 20, 2015

“I mean…tacos are ok I guess.” – no one we need to know.

If you can make it a week without eating Mexican food I’m not sure whether I want to high five you or slap you (and neither of us will know until the moment of contact, I’m guessing).  I, for one, cannot (read: will not). It’s the singular cuisine that can satisfy all of my cravings in a single dish, because a single dish can possess hot, cold, rich, bright, sweet and salty components in a single bite and in a manner not at all as confusing as it sounds. That being said, please do not let your mind drift to Chipotle, T-bell or Chili’s as I wax poetic. In fact, if you’ve gone there, you probably took a wrong turn on the way to this blog because HOMEGIRL AINT ABOUT THAT LIFE.

When I think of Mexican food, I think of local authentic holes-in-the-wall run by Abuela and staffed by her descendants, or time running around the markets of Mexico City tasting EVERYTHING while marveling at entire intact chicharrones. That’s where the NSFG (not safe for gringas) SHIT IS . I’m learning slowly through cookbooks how to cook authentic Mexican cuisine, mystified at how it all melds together to create a whole momentously greater than its parts.  Alas, when I don’t have the time or resources to do that, my regulars are fairly SFG, and really easy to make on a lackluster weeknight.

Specifically, I’ve been leading up to the shrimp tacos I’ve been insatiably craving since I dreamt them up in the early spring. They’re healthy, filling, full of the seasons best fruits and vegetables, entirely gluten free, easily dairy free, and the shrimp have ZERO IMPACT on the water supply that California is struggling to rebuild*.  At this point I’m turning to this recipe on a weekly basis.  It’s a little different each time, but I’m giving you all what I think is its best iteration to date, so NOSH ON, NOSHERS!

*Note: Check out this article I wrote for Edible East Bay to better understand what our countries reliance on current terrestrial protein sources is doing to the California water supply. Whether you turn to the suggested alternative source, or to the oceans, or even just stop relying so heavily on protein in your diet, you would be doing this state a GIANT MITZVAH, because it simply cannot sustain the current demand.  Monterey Bay Aquariums Seafood Watch is an INCREDIBLE resource for discovering the best options in your area for sea or fresh water food.

Shrimp Mise

Salsa Mise

Assembly

Assembled 3

[recipe id=”429″]

Mains

Heirloom & White Nectarine Galette with Herbed Ricotta

August 12, 2015

Things we know:  I love tomatoes in a fashion that can be described as “viciously and unabashedly”, and I’m also into galettes this summer.  Things we (you) did not know: I’m also into anything that is traditionally sweet but has had a contrasting savory component added in, like tomatoes and white nectarines with herbs. Why not, pray tell, combine this best-of-both-worlds and knock out the need for dessert?  If you have a reason, you must be one of my best friends, Dr. Totters, who hates tomatoes (it is a major point of contention in our relationship, but also the only point of contention in our relationship.  Oh, wait, nope, she hates cilantro too, guess we’re actually SWORN ENEMIES).

Regardless, this would be the perfect thing to bring to any outdoor gathering of humans.  Or indoor gathering of humans.  Or somewhere in between like a doorway while you cower from an earthquake.  This is the PERFECT earthquake snack. Eat it while you wait for the aftershock.

Galette dough

Rolled out

Folded

Baked

 

[recipe id=”333″]

Mains

B(low-Your-Doors-Off)LT.

August 6, 2015

I love sandwiches.  I think they’re the best delivery system in the world, sorry Fedex, sorry UPS, NOT SORRY USPS.  I think the only people in this world who love sandwiches more than I are George Kostanza, and Megan and Air Marshall Jon. My adoration is unwavering, albeit ever-evolving. At 4, if I opened my lunchbox to find anything other than cream cheese and raspberry jelly on white bread, Babs was gonna hear it on the car ride home (and then I was gonna be sent to my room, still counting that as an argumentative win because HELLOOOOO my toys are here). At 8, nothing made me happier on a rainy day at sleep-away camp than grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch (and lightning so we could escape the frigid plunge of the days swim session).  At 12, sausalito turkey with lettuce, tomato, mayo and a side of Saved by the Bell on the kitchen tv, endlessly adjusting to get comfortable on those awful wooden stools to zero avails, was my after school jam.

But, of this unwavering love of a FDS (food delivery system), there has always been a single unwavering favorite – the BLT.  Of all of my sandwich creations, throughout the entirety of my sandwich evolution, the BLT is the only one with it’s own evolution-within-an-evolution, or, metalution for the techies out there.  I digress.  The point is, we’ve come a long way together, and I think that I need to share where I’m at with the moves to be made for a blow-your-doors-off BLT:

1. Get a good, fresh baguette and some pate.  Whether you buy it or make your own, I promise, the P is door No.1 to the blow-your-doors off BLT, the Baguatte is door No.2. (FYI, this is a 4-door)

2. Always fry your bacon up crisp but not too crisp, let the fresh bread be the crunch.

3. Slice your tomatoes while the bacon cooks up and sprinkle them with salt and a crack of fresh pepper, this is door No.3. 

4. I don’t say this lightly:  you absolutely must save the rendered bacon fat in the pan, slice your baguette down the middle, turn the heat to medium, and sautee the bread until it is crispy and golden brown. This is door No.4 and not-arguably the most important door. 

Mise cropped

Pate'd

Bacon'd

LT'd

Sliced

Bitten

[recipe id=”36″]