I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Radish Tartine

Summer work days, spent indoors, denying the beauty that waits outside. A necessity at times to get anything done during the long, warm days. Yet there is joy to be found in the quiet of the apartment, the stillness wrapping around the soul like a favorite throw. A solo lunch, simple, somehow elegant. Prepared with only a few deft swishes of the wrist and a quick chop of the knife. Plated on the fancy dishes, a reward for accomplishing the work that must get done. A moment or two of reflection as you chew. Sigh, at peace, renewed, ready to get back to the task at hand.



Radish Tartine
for one
A slice or two of well made bread, just barely toasted
the best butter you can get your hands on
6-8 or so French breakfast radishes, sliced lengthwise
fancy, coarse sea salt, such as Maldon

Spread a good schmear of butter on the toasted bread (you've earned the extra calories). Lovingly layer the radishes over top and sprinkle with the sea salt with abandon. Relax. Take a bite. Enjoy. Repeat. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fig and Olive Crostini

I look at the calendar and it takes my breath away. How is it possible that summer is half gone? That it's been a month and a half since my last post? It seems I step into every June imagining the endless lists of things to do to enjoy and take advantage of the warm, long days yet somehow find myself come August wondering how I spent my summer. With so much to do and so little time, schedules fill up fast and leave me longing for the dreamed-of lazy days draped in the park, on the beach, or at an outdoor movie or barbecue. The endless options available keep me busy and tend to help me avoid the computer and the blog. Some year will I figure out how to enjoy it all while keeping a firm grip on my work to be done? Until then, I'll just keep plodding away, packing as much joy into the glistening days as I can and if some things hit the back burner in lieu of a little fun, I won't let it phase me.


Fig and Olive Crostini
The salty, umami packed bite of oil cured olives contrasts sharply with the smooth, lightly fruity notes of fig, yet somehow the combination just works. Spread onto toast points with ricotta and honey it transforms into a lovely snack for summer afternoons or for a backyard dinner party. 

8" French bread, cut into 1/2" rounds
extra virgin olive oil
1 c. ricotta cheese
salt and pepper
1/4 c. oil cured olives, pitted and minced
1/4 c. honey
 5-6 fresh figs, sliced

Place the bread rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle slightly with extra virgin olive oil. Toast under the broiler until lightly browned, then flip and toast the other sides.
Spread each toast point with a schmear of ricotta cheese and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Mix the olives and the honey together in a small bowl and then drizzle over the ricotta. Top each with a few slices of fig and serve.  


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Spring Garlic Pesto Pasta

The warm weather arriving in New York is like the city opening its doors and saying "come on in." We can finally leave the confines of our tiny apartments without fear of snow and cold beating us down and we take to the streets to rejoice.

As I've wandered the city over the past few weeks it's felt like coming home again. I remember all that is on offer here and rush to soak it up. And this time around my camera is usually slung by my side, waiting to grab little pieces of the city that capture my heart.







Spring Garlic Pesto Pasta
The warm weather also offers up a fresh bounty at the markets. Here's one way to take advantage.

6 stems spring green garlic
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/3 c. walnuts
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/2-3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. pasta (I like strozzapreti or fusilli)
3 TB butter
1/4-1/2 c. pasta cooking water
1 c. ricotta cheese
3 TB Spring garlic pesto
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese

*In the picture you can tell that I used pancetta in my original recipe. It is very tasty with the pesto, but does take away some of the spotlight on the green garlic so left it out of this recipe. If you would like to add it back in, cook it in the pan before adding the butter and pasta. 


To make the pesto: trim the roots and the toughest top parts of the greens from the green garlic (you should be able to use most of the stem and bulb) and chop roughly. Place in a food processor with the Parmesan cheese, walnuts, salt, pepper, and 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil. Process until the mixture is blended and just slightly coarse. If it is too thick, add a bit more olive oil and process again. You will want about 3 TB or so for the pasta recipe. The rest you can freeze in ice cube trays and then wrap in a ziplock bag to pull out when needed.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Before draining, reserve 1 c. of the pasta cooking water. In a large pot (perhaps the pot the pasta was cooked in after it has been drained) heat the butter until melted over medium heat. Add the pasta and toss, then add about 1/4 c. of the pasta cooking water and toss again. The butter and water should start to form a creamy sauce over the pasta. Add the ricotta cheese and about 2-4 TB more of the pasta cooking water and stir a bit more before adding the pesto and the Parmesan cheese. Once coated well and warmed through, the pasta is ready to serve.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Mushroom and Ramp Crepes

Spring conjures images of endless blue skies and warmth, yet in actuality it often brings along rainy, grey days. A peak out the window on one of these mornings reveals a seamless off-white sky, fog hanging around the edges of every building. As I step outdoors on my way to the park for my run the mist immediately coats my skin. Yet there is a warmth hanging in the air, a sense that the rains of spring are bringing me an offering: and then that gift drifts into my nostrils. The scent of green: fresh, new, and bright. Peering through the matte air around an almost empty park, I am enveloped by an emerald city. Shades pale, fluorescent, deep, all mix, mingle, and overwhelm every direction I turn. Seemingly overnight the rain has helped transform the landscape from the barren browns and greys of the long, hard winter, to the sea of new life promising relief.

The wet days also lend their hand in the growth of the season's crops. Ramps and green garlic finally hit the stalls at the greenmarket, leading the way before the onslaught of bounty. I take advantage of their appearance, preparing them simply, an offering of thanks for the rainy days that brought them to me.


Mushroom and Ramp Crepes
crepes: (from Ratio by Ruhlman)
(This will make more crepes than you will have filling for. You could always make more ramp filling, but I like to add a little sugar to the batter towards the end and use the rest for dessert.)
1 c. milk
4 large eggs
1 c. flour
pinch of salt

Mix together all of the ingredients, creating a smooth batter. Cover and rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Heat a 6-8" skillet over medium heat. Give the pan a quick brush with a bit of butter or oil. Pour in just enough batter to coat the bottom of the pan after you have given it a bit of a swirl. Cook until set, about 30-40 seconds, and then flip. Cook the other side for about 20 seconds or so and then remove to a platter. Continue with remaining batter.

filling:
2 TB olive oil
1/2 lb. oyster mushrooms, chopped
1/4 lb. ramps, divided into whites and greens and chopped

Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and once hot toss in the oyster mushrooms. Cook for a few moments then add in the chopped white parts of the ramps. Continue to saute until the mushrooms are browned all over, then add the chopped green parts of the ramps and toss together. Remove from the heat.


tarragon sauce:
4 TB butter
2 TB flour
1 c. heavy cream
1 TB fresh tarragon, chopped
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper

In a small saucepan heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Whisk in the flour, stirring for about 1-2 minutes. Pour in the heaving cream while continuing to whisk. After a few minutes the sauce should begin to thicken. Add the tarragon, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

To serve:
Fill a crepe with a few tablespoons of the mushrooms and ramp filling. Roll up and then drizzle with the tarragon sauce. Serve immediately.

serves 2




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Primavera


The temperatures start to rise, we begin to shed a few layers of clothes that we piled on through the winter. And then we realize maybe it's time to shed a few pounds we added during the colder months as well.

It is easy to put on a bit of weight during the cooler season as we fill up on hearty dishes and comfort food and cuddle up on the couch for hours to stay warm. Luckily spring helps make it easy to drop those unwanted pounds. Sunny, warm days lend themselves to long walks, and spring produce starts to pop up to encourage lighter, fresher eating.

After an over-indulgent weekend trip with friends to Woodstock (think a stop by Sonic, homemade personal pizzas, skillet chocolate chip cookies and far too much candy) I was especially in need of a detox this week. To counter-balance the quantities of bad food I'd taken in it was time to respond with a meal full of veggies. Yet I wasn't ready to give up on the comfort. Spaghetti squash was the answer. After roasting its tender flesh transforms into pasta-esque shreds which are the base for a vegetable strewn dish.

It's so easy to adjust this based on whatever you have on hand: spinach, mushrooms, or cherry tomatoes would make a welcome addition. Regardless of your vegetable mix-in decisions your taste buds will feel indulged as your waste line says thank you.

Spaghetti Squash Primavera
serves 6 or so as entree

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
salt
pepper
1 bundle of asparagus
4 TB butter
2 zucchini, chopped
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped

Heat oven to 425.
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and clean out the seeds. Rub with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast until the flesh is tender and easily shredded with a fork, about 45 minutes-1 hour (depending on size).
Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, toss in the asparagus and boil for 30-90 seconds (depending on diameter of stalks). Drain and drop the asparagus into ice cold water. Once completely cool, chop into 1" pieces.
Once the squash is cooked and cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh.
Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the zucchini and cook until just tender, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and the sun dried tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds more. Toss in the spaghetti squash and cook until heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Roasted Baby Artichokes

How quickly the mind can shift if you give it a chance to be open. Listen, explore, don't take everything you see at its word.

In recent years I've read books and articles that led me to believe one thing about my food and where it comes from and where it should come from. Yet over the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to chat with students, farmers, professors that open my sights to the other side of things and show me a wider angle. Not that what I believed was all wrong or what they say is all right, but I've come to see how the truth must lie down the center somewhere. A thing I must seek out on my own, letting my heart feel its way to its own conclusion.
I won't bore you with the specifics--I'm still figuring it all out for myself anyhow. Yet I urge you that when you read or hear something about the food you are putting into your body, be willing to listen yet don't let it become your personal truth without a little digging first. Be open to both sides, knowing there are personal motivations clouding each angle. One story on the 6 o'clock news or one article in the Sunday paper shouldn't have full sway over your diet with just a whim. Step back and try to take in the full view before jumping down that bunny hole.

Roasted Baby Artichokes
Trying to keep myself open to all sides in a debate--to be well informed before making a decision--carries over to what foods I put on my dining table. I force myself to try things I think I may not like or that I haven't liked in the past. This has opened me up to many ingredients and dishes that would have been closed to me otherwise. One such ingredient is the anchovy. Always touted for being "gross" or "weird" in circles I grew up in, it's come to be one of my favorite ways to add umami and depths of flavor to a dish.I'm thankful for my refusal to deny myself a taste of any sort of food. Here it helps pack a salty punch with capers in a bright topping for crispy, roasted baby artichokes.


serves about 6 as an appetizer
9 baby artichokes
1 t. salt
1 lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
olive oil

1 can anchovies
2 t. capers
juice of 1 lemon
2 TB parsley, chopped
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the baby artichokes. Here's a great guide from Saveur. Then cut the artichokes in half after cleaning and trimming.
Heat oven to 425.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the salt, sliced lemon, bay leaf, and halved artichokes. Boil until the artichokes are tender, around 15 minutes (depending on the size of the artichokes). Drain and then pat the artichokes dry once cool enough to handle.
Place the artichokes cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush each with just a bit of olive oil. Roast until they are slightly browned and crispy, about 25-20 minutes.
Meanwhile place the anchovies into a bowl and mash well. Stir in the capers, lemon juice, parsley, and extra virgin olive oil. Serve the anchovy sauce over the roasted artichokes.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bean and Cheese Taquitos

Sometimes life surprises you with its twists and turns. Yet other times the changes it throws your way were foretold long ago and you just didn't have the proper clarity to see them.

I picked up photography at the ripe old age of 10. Signing up for 4-H for the first time my mom allowed us two choices each for our first year to keep us from getting bogged down and for some reason the camera called my name. Over the years I took classes and workshops, even attended photography camp. I spent hours and hours in the darkroom with fellow 4-H'er Kendra--that time led us to become best friends (a title we hold for each other to this day). I shot for the newspaper and yearbook in high school.

Once college rolled around, however, my focus turned toward theater. Sure, I carried my camera to parties and contributed significant numbers of pics to the annual theater banquet slide show, but I no longer was a student of the form. After college I stopped even carrying a camera most of the time.

Yet last fall as I trudged through the Food Media intensive that I was involved in, my love for photography pushed itself back to the surface. I remembered the thrill I get from capturing a fleeting moment and preserving it for the future. I even realized that I can get some of the same joy out of working in the digital Lightroom as I did the old school darkroom (though I do miss the company). Somehow this old hobby has slowly reemerged as a strong component of my current and future career. It's something I never expected.

As I relearn and continue to evolve my craft, I've embarked on a Project 365 that started on January 1: posting a photo a day to force myself to think with a photographic eye, to make sure I'm carrying my camera more often, and to help capture the moments that make up my year. You can follow the project on my Tumblr or check out all the photos so far on my Flickr.

Bean and Cheese Taquitos
Regardless of changes in life it's always nice to come home to a simple meal. Canned beans get a bump in flavor by cooking with some onions and spices then get mashed and rolled up in tortillas with plenty of cheese. Baking them adds crispness without too much oil. Then they are served topped off with a homemade chunky salsa, whipped avocado, and sour cream.


5 TB cooking oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 large can black beans
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. seasoned salt
1/4 c. stock (or water)
2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c. cotija cheese, shredded
12 flour tortillas

for the salsa:
1 c. chopped cherry tomatoes
1/4 c. finely chopped onions
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2-1 jalapeno, chopped (depending on heat preference)
2 TB cilantro, chopped
1 TB lime juice

for the whipped avocado
2 avocados
2 TB sour cream

Sour cream, for serving

Heat the oven to 400.
Drain the beans and rinse them under water.
Heat 2 TB cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender. Add the beans and the cumin, chili powder, and seasoned salt. Stir together and cook until the beans are warmed through. Add the stock or water and mash the beans slightly. Remove from the heat.

Place the remaining 3 TB cooking oil in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to brush the bottom sides of the tortillas with the oil. Spread a couple of tablespoons of beans on the inside of each tortilla and then sprinkle with cheddar and cotija cheese. Roll up tightly and place on a baking sheet. Bake until browned and crispy, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile make the salsa. Mix together the chopped cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

For the whipped avocado, scoop out the flesh of the avocados into a bowl and beat vigorously with the sour cream.

Serve the taquitos topped off with the salsa, whipped avocado, and a dollop of sour cream.