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.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Vegetable Tortilla Soup

My little sister got married last week. It's still hard for me to believe. Despite the fact that we are both grown ups and I have been married for 5+ years myself, I think I still see her a bit as a kid. But it fills me with so much joy to see her settling down with a man who makes her laugh and who is brimming with love for her. I've been smiling all week with remembrances of moments from the wedding and the busy week leading up to it. It was lovely to pass the time with my sister and mom checking off all of the little last-minute tasks. I even got to sleep in the same bed as my sis for a couple of nights--something we haven't done since the night before my wedding--and talk and catch up as we drifted off to sleep. The quality family time was just the peaceful jolt my soul needed.
My beautiful little sister and her husband.

Joe and I arrived back from Austin to an extra rainy, dreary week here in NYC. To settle back in and to waste away a relaxing Monday off together, we whipped up a batch of tortilla soup. This is my favorite version we've made to date, so I'm sharing it with you even though I didn't get any pictures to go along with the recipe. I hope you get the opportunity to prepare this comforting soup and share it with your own loved ones soon.

Vegetable Tortilla Soup
serves 6-8
2 TB cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 stalks green garlic or green onions, whites and greens chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 c. frozen corn
1 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
1 c. water
32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 c. sliced kale
10 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 t. seasoned salt
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin

1 avocado, sliced
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
tortilla chips

Heat the cooking oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven. Add the onion and cook until slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Add the green garlic and bell pepper and cook until these are also slightly tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the frozen corn and stir for a minute, then add in the enchilada sauce, water and chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Then add the cremini mushrooms, kale, kidney beans, seasoned salt, chili powder and cumin. Cook until it all comes to a boil and the mushrooms are slightly tender and the beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as you please.
Serve in bowls topped off with the sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, a good handful of cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Deep Dish French Bread Pizzas

Last week over on Pine Tar Press I created a simple version of deep dish pizza for the Royals series with the Chicago White Sox. Instead of laboring over a crust, I used club rolls and hollowed them out to create "bread boats" to fill with the hearty pizza toppings. These were so good I plan on making them again and again (but be forewarned: they are gut-busters!).
Deep Dish French Bread Pizza

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tomato and White Bean Tartine

I have been out of school now for almost eight years. Yet somehow, every time May rolls around I start to feel that hopeful zeal of summer approaching. Out in the real world my schedule doesn't change once summer hits, yet I still experience that light, exciting rush as the seasons change. It's the promise of days in the park lounging in the grass, cook-outs, weekend trips, outdoor concerts and movies. The smell of the leaves and that something warm in the air. Especially enticing are the foods that come along with it--the overflowing gardens and farms that will spill their way into the greenmarkets. How well we will eat!

Though tomatoes haven't yet made an appearance, I needed to eat a summer-like meal and it came together in this simply rustic tartine. The ingredients (the freshest you can find!) piled on top of crusty halves of bread and broiled until it all just barely comes together. A summer full of flavors in every bite.

Tomato and White Bean Tartine
serves 2

1/4 c. ricotta cheese
1/4 c. small white beans, like cannelloni, cooked (or from a can, rinsed and drained)
2 TB chopped rosemary
2-6" halves of good quality, crusty bread (an Italian loaf, perhaps)
3/4 c. spinach, chopped
1 c. tomatoes, chopped (perhaps chopped cherry heirloom tomatoes)
extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the broiler.
In a small bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, white beans and rosemary. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.
Spread the white bean mixture onto the halves of bread. Top off each with half of the spinach and half of the tomatoes. Drizzle each with a bit of extra virgin olive oil (I would probably add a bit of salt and pepper here, too). Sprinkle the gruyere cheese on top. Now place the tartines onto a baking sheet and place under the broiler until the cheese has melted and the toppings are just barely warmed through, just a minute or so. Allow to cool for another minute or so and then enjoy!

(maybe you serve these alongside some barely blanched asparagus topped with hollandaise and bottarga. I wouldn't fault you for this)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Food Book Fair

Many days I have to pinch myself to make sure it's all real that I am here and living well and happy in New York City. How lucky am I to live in this place with such a bounty of opportunities. Especially with an abundance of food culture. Not only are there countless restaurants of innumerable cuisines, but there are a large, growing number of food artisans and specialty shops. There are also many food conferences. Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of the days of the Food Book Fair, held at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg.

Straight from the website, The Food Book Fair was "the first ever event bringing together food publications from around the world alongside a dynamic set of events celebrating food writing, reading, and activism." There was a small bookshop set up in the lobby of the hotel filled with cookbooks and food publications, along with a table set up for book signings. Then there were series of panels occurring all weekend long with food personalities discussing everything from food and science to food and art to food and technology. I was able to attend three of the panels. The first discussed food studies with four food studies professors/teachers. This was a very interesting discussion, but unfortunately it covered such a broad spectrum of topics that I never felt like we were able to delve in as deep as I would have liked on any of them. I left feeling intrigued and excited, but wanting more.

Next up I sat in on a conversation with April Bloomfield and the co-author of her new cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig, JJ Goode. This was such a great talk about how these two worked together to write a book that was truly from April's voice and heart. I was excited about the cookbook before, but once the panel was over I really couldn't wait to get my hands on it. And, thanks to the bookshop, I didn't have to! Not only could I pick up a copy of the book, but I also got the opportunity to meet April and JJ and have a short chat while they signed it for me. Looking forward to spending lots of time curled up with this one!

The final panel of the day featured Harold McGee (author of On Food and Cooking) and Maxime Bilet (co-author of the tome Modernist Cuisine) discussing food, science, and modern gastronomy. This is another conversation that I wish could have gone on much longer. How can you discuss all of this plus the process of putting together Modernist Cuisine in just one hour! I was definitely disappointed to not get more time to listen to Mr. McGee speak but grateful for the short opportunity, as well as the chance to also get his autograph in my own copy of On Food and Cooking.

Overall I felt like I had an inspiring, thought-provoking day in my food life. And on top of it all, I was in Williamsburg on a Sunday which meant some time wandering around the Brooklyn Flea (and all of the yummy food vendors), an afternoon snack at Bakeri, and dinner at Marlow and Sons. Not a bad way to end the weekend!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Garlic Mustard Pesto and Gnocchi

In April I spent part of one day wandering around off the trails in Prospect Park gathering up a few wild edibles. I go through a phase almost every spring where I want to go out and round up the free bounty in the park and use it to create dinner, but never actually get around to it (besides picking a bit of wild garlic here and there). This year, driven I think mostly by the belief that I would for sure stumble upon a patch of ramps, I went out and spent an hour or so finally carrying out my plans. I never did find that patch of ramps I was hoping for, but came across some other greens for dinner.

I decided to take the garlic mustard and wild garlic bulbs and blend them together to form a pesto. Since the garlic mustard was pretty young the flavor wasn't terribly strong, but I hear that as it gets older it gets much more intense. I think that is why it is often cut with parsley in pesto recipes. I took this sauce with a kick and tossed it with one of my favorite ricotta gnocchi recipes from Steamy Kitchen (it includes lemon zest and chopped parsley in the recipe to give it a bright bite and is fried before tossing with the pesto so it is nice and crispy).

Garlic Mustard Pesto and Gnocchi
3-4 servings

1 recipe ricotta gnocchi*
1 c. parsley
1 c. garlic mustard
3 wild garlic bulbs
1/4 c. almonds
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnishing
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

*Make the gnocchi based on Steamy Kitchen's recipe. I find that after cutting the gnocchi into pieces it will hold up better during cooking if you place them onto a parchment paper covered sheet pan in the fridge for an hour or so. After frying you will not toss the gnocchi with chili flakes as in her recipe, instead you will toss it with the garlic mustard pesto and then top with a bit more Parmesan before serving.

To make the pesto: place the parsley, garlic mustard, wild garlic bulbs, almonds, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice into a food processor. Process briefly and then add the extra virgin olive oil in a stream as you process until the mixture comes together and is just barely loose (you want it to toss easily in the pasta). Taste it and add salt and pepper as needed. Toss the pesto with the fried gnocchi to serve.