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.

Showing posts with label Appetizers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Appetizers. Show all posts

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.  


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




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.



Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creamy Lobster Pasta and Lardo Bruschetta

Weeknight meals may seem overwhelming after a long days work. Hungry before even walking through your door, preparing something to eat can feel like an impossible task. Yet having quality ingredients on hand makes the job less daunting. They don't need your help to taste delicious. Well-made bread just needs a quick toast, a special olive oil drizzled on top will elevate almost anything, Parmesan cheese adds saltiness as well as umami. By understanding the basics of fresh, true flavors I feel like I spend much less time creating recipes and more time enjoying the results. 

Take a trip to your farmers' market and specialty foods store to pick up a few things to see for yourself. In-season veggies taste fuller than their shipped-in-from-other-countries-supermarket counterparts and need much less time in the kitchen to make tasty. Dropping a bit of extra money on high quality extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or sea salt can save you money in the long run since a little bit goes much farther than the cheap stuff in the flavor department. A special spice (such as fennel pollen or piment d'esplette) can take many dishes up a notch with just a pinch. Cured meats can be appetizers or can flavor salads or pastas. Canned anchovies surprisingly can do the same. Keeping a few of these things on hand ups your kitchen game while often cutting down on your effort.  

Creamy Lobster Pasta and Lardo Bruschetta 
An elegant dinner can be possible in no time at all if you let your ingredients work for you. A pre-steamed lobster picked up from the fish counter cuts out time, hassle, and a bit of the guilt (at least for me). The sauce mostly just needs measured and poured. Cured lardo? Just a few quick slices to a decadent appetizer. A fancy dinner ready from start to finish in about 30 minutes.

for the bruschetta
ciabatta or French bread, cut in half and cut into 3" pieces
extra virgin olive oil
clove of garlic
sea salt
cured lardo, very thinly sliced

Drizzle the bread with extra virgin olive oil. Toast until browned under the broiler. When cool enough to handle, rub each piece with the clove of garlic. Drizzle with just a bit more extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and then top with a slice or two of lardo. Place into just barely warm oven for a few minutes to help melt the lardo over the toast. Serve immediately.

for the pasta
1 (2 lb.) lobster, steamed
12 oz. strozzapreti pasta
3 TB butter
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
3 TB parsley, chopped

Crack open the lobster and pull the meat from the shell and coarsely chop. Reserve the tomalley. 
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook as directed.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and once melted, the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, after about 30 seconds to 1 minute, add the heavy cream to the pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring often. Add the salt, pepper, and tomalley to the sauce. Continue to cook until the cream thickens, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the sauce along with the lobster meat and parsley. Stir until well mixed and lobster meat is just warmed through and serve.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Orange Hazelnut Salad

In the dark, cold, short days of winter, there's something so encouraging about the arrival of seasonal citrus fruit to the supermarkets. Though the brightly colored treasures aren't local I don't deny myself the juicy treat of artificial sunshine. Their burst of summer-like flavors guide me through the gloomy months.

This salad can help lighten up a hearty cold-weather meal. I served it in contrast to a spicy and hearty orrechiette with sausage and broccoli rabe but I can see it matched up nicely with braised or roasted meats as well.


Orange Hazelnut Salad
serves 3-4 as appetizer
3 TB red wine vinegar
3 TB olive oil
1/4 t. seasoned salt
pinch of paprika or piment d'esplette
1/8 t. fresh ground pepper
3 large oranges
pinch of sea salt
extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts
micro greens

Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, seasoned salt, paprika (or piment d'esplette) and pepper until well mixed.
Peel the oranges and trim away any excess white pith. Cut the oranges into 1/2" slices and layer these onto a platter. Sprinkle with pinch of sea salt and drizzle with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Pour the red wine vinaigrette over top and then scatter the hazelnuts and micro greens over top as garnish.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sweet Potato Wedges with Dill Creme Fraiche

Once summer hits, the number of things to do in New York City rises exponentially. The city that never sleeps is pumped full of exciting things to do, see, experience and I get overwhelmed at the thought of trying to fit it all in before the cold sets in again come fall.

The summer, just beginning, already seems to be slipping away too quickly (especially as I will be out of town for a full month towards the end of it. Details on this to follow). However, I have been able to check a few items off of my should-do list: a concert with friends, margaritas sipped by open windows, a trip to the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg, long walks along Brooklyn Bridge Park and through my favorite neighborhoods, the Big Apple BBQ, mint juleps while cooking dinner, and trips to 2 exhibits at museums that I didn't want to miss.

First up was a trip to the Rain Room at the MOMA. Basically it is a giant black box that has a huge square of rain inside, but the technology used makes it stop raining where you are standing. So you are surrounded by the rain but have your own personal "umbrella" of sorts that follows you around (as long as you move slowly enough--little kids do not seem to have this ability when judged by my visit here :). I wasn't quite sure if it would be worth the long wait in the hot sun to get in, but once finally enveloped by the cool, black room with it's single spotlight I felt refreshed and invigorated. And I wanted to dance.



After exiting the Rain Room we made our way up to the Park Avenue Armory (with a quick side trip for lunch to the King of Falafel's Street cart for the best falafel in the city) for the Paul McCarthy exhibit "WS."

Close to a week later and I'm still not quite able to put into words the effect that the exhibit had on me. I'm not sure I liked it, but it definitely left me thinking. The overwhelming experience of sounds, videos, environment left me feeling more wiped out than I have in a long time. It took hours (and a few cocktails) before I was able to feel back to normal again. Though I feel this is a sign of good art, I'm not quite sure I could ever go back.

The mental workout that this exhibit gave me left me with the need for something uncomplicated for dinner. Something that wouldn't require excess thought but would comfort me as well. Luckily the husband had begged to pick up some sweet potatoes from the greenmarket last weekend. So after a quick wash and a few slices, into the oven they went while I whipped up a simple dipping sauce out of dill and creme fraiche. These are hearty enough to hold up as an entree if served with a simple side and a bit of bread but are excellent as a starter or side dish as well.


Sweet Potato Wedges with Dill Creme Fraiche
serves 3
3 large sweet potatoes
2-3 TB olive oil
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. piment d'espelette (or paprika)

4 oz. creme fraiche
2 TB fresh dill
1 clove garlic, finely minced
zest of 1 lime

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the sweet potatoes length-wise into 8 wedges each. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil on all sides. Sprinkle half of the salt, pepper, and piment d'espelette on the potatoes and then flip and repeat on the other side. Roast until tender, about 25 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, place the creme fraiche, dill, garlic, and lime zest into a small bowl. Stir together. Dollop onto cooked potatoes to serve.

Monday, April 29, 2013

French Goat Cheese Salad

Sometimes I think it is difficult to talk about a vacation when you first arrive back home. All of the emotions, memories, experiences are piled up on top of one another in your head and seem to be too much to process in a way that would make sense to other people. It takes some time to really let it all sink in, and for the truly memorable pieces to achieve focus so the stories can be told without all of the superfluous details.

And thus, I have not yet been able to discuss our trip to Paris/Dijon here on the blog. There were too many things to say. Now after being back for close to 2 weeks I am finally feeling the ability to put it all into words for you, so will be covering some of the important bits over a couple of posts.

To begin, I mostly want to discuss how truly lovely the French are. Almost every restaurant, bar, grocery store, shop, etc. that we walked into felt like our local neighborhood joint thanks to the warm welcome we received  The shopkeepers would ask us questions, talk about our day, give us suggestions on things to eat or drink. Certain places felt so comfortable that you it was as if we were passing the evening at a friend's home. I can't get over the sense of warmth that the French seemed to constantly exude. How wonderful to feel so welcomed despite my dreadful attempts at their home language.

This warmth carried over to all of the food we were served: how can something not taste delicious when you truly feel that the proprietors of the establishments are so happy to have you there with them. The sense of pride in French food doesn't hurt, either.

There were many dishes that you would see on multiple menus throughout the city, but one that seemed to be on every single menu we saw was the goat cheese salad. Basically the French bread was sliced (and oh, god, the French bread really is that much better than the bread anywhere else in the world) and topped with goat cheese and then baked. This warm, cheesy "crouton" was then served on top of a salad. Simple as that.

When we returned home I knew this easy to prepare yet complex tasting salad must grace our table. My version was also inspired by our side trip to Burgundy by flavoring the dressing with sweet yet tart creme de cassis and Dijon mustard. The sweet and spicy dressing pairs so nicely with a rich goat cheese and figs over top of mesclun greens. I've come back a bit of a cheese snob and knew I didn't want the too mild, boring grocery store goat cheese, so bought a little Le Chevrot which had a little age and more depth. However, I won't judge if the grocery store variety is all you have on hand.


French Goat Cheese Salad
serves about 3-4
8-10 slices French bread
7 oz. Le Chevrot cheese or other goat cheese
6 c. mesclun mix
9-10 figs, thinly sliced

4 TB creme de cassis
2 TB Dijon mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice the goat cheese and place slices on each piece of French bread. Place the bread onto a baking sheet and bake until the cheese has become gooey and melted a bit and the bread is slightly toasted, about 4-5 minutes.
Meanwhile place the mesclun greens and figs into a large salad bowl.
To make the dressing mix the creme de cassis, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Then toss the dressing with the salad. Top with the goat cheese toasts to serve.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sauteed Giant Prawns

There are days when I head to the market with no real dinner direction in mind. I hope that something I come across will speak to me and help me to create a delicious, soulful meal. At times I am lucky and inspiration strikes: the meal comes together thanks to one gorgeous bunch of kale or a perfectly red cut of beef calling my name. Other days I am stuck--wandering back and forth between the aisles, pulling out items that could be tasty, but unsure of how to bring them cohesively together. Those times when I go to the store completely starving without a list are definitely the hardest: I crave almost every other thing I see and the hungry/foggy brain can't distinguish between real inspiration and just the need to eat something right away.

Luckily this particular trip to the store revealed to me these absolutely gorgeous, massive prawns. They were longer than my hand and so plump: I knew immediately they would be the star of the show.

Though these beauties didn't really need any accompaniment besides a bit of salt and pepper and a minute in a hot pan, I wanted to dress them up just a bit. I created a marinade with meyer lemons and garlic with fresh herbs that complimented without overpowering the shrimps' flavors.

I served these tapas style (a perfect fall-back when you aren't quite sure what to do for dinner), with a bit of bread and cheese, huevos rellenos, and sauteed mushrooms on the side. But they were so decadent that I think next time I'll just pair them with a simple salad and bread to sop up all the juices.

Sauteed Giant Prawns
serves 2

1 lb. extra large prawns
1 meyer lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 TB chopped fresh parsley
1 t. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. sea salt
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper

Zest the meyer lemon into a small bowl, then mix in the garlic, parsley, oregano, paprika and extra virgin olive oil.
Clean the shrimp: Slice along the back of the shrimp about 1/8" thick and then rinse under running water to remove the black vein running along the back. I then like to remove part of the shell, leaving just the tail and the head part on.
Pour the marinade over the shrimp. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Cover the shrimp with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once it is almost smoking add the shrimp in a single layer (you may need to work in batches to not overcrowd the pan). Sear on both sides until the shrimp is just barely cooked through, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove the cooked shrimp to a platter and squeeze the meyer lemon juice all over top. Serve immediately.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cauliflower Steaks with Anchovy Caper Vinaigrette

As spring ever so slowly inches towards us, I increasingly feel the need to fill my body with healthy food. I believe it is the body trying to shed any excess winter pounds to be ready to move and be active in the warmer months (and the media washed brain's desire to not look horrifying in a bathing suit). There's also the body craving those summer garden foods that it has had to go without all winter long.

I'm also trying to do a bit of a detox in a way before our trip to Paris. Cutting out some of the crap, not eating too much cheese, not drinking quite as much...all to get ready for eating too much cheese and drinking too much wine while on vacation.

Our meal last night felt exceptionally healthy (aside from the buttery garlic bread served alongside): these hearty, almost-meat-like cauliflower steaks served alongside a simply dressed arugula and dried plum salad. After a nice long run during the day, ending the evening with this food made me feel that I would wake up the next day full of energy and ready to conquer all.

The cauliflower steaks come from Dan Barber and Food52. This is one of those dishes where you really don't miss the meat: when the cauliflower is seared and browned like this it has an almost meaty flavor. I topped mine off with a salty, bright anchovy and caper vinaigrette for added variety and depth. Instead of using the rest of the cauliflower as a puree, I went ahead and chopped it up and sauteed it after the "steaks" were finished. You really could just saute the whole head of cauliflower instead, but the steaks do make for a gorgeous presentation and feel a bit more formal (and a bit more like a main course instead of just a side dish).

Cauliflower Steaks with Anchovy Caper Vinaigrette
adapted from food52
serves 2

1 head of cauliflower, washed and dried, green leaves removed
cooking oil
salt and pepper

5 anchovy fillets
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 TB capers, drained and rinsed

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the cauliflower in half. From the middle cut one 1" "steak" from each half of the cauliflower (the stem will help keep the whole thing in one piece). Chop the remaining cauliflower into florets (you can use these as a puree as in the Dan Barber recipe linked above or saute them in the pan after cooking the steaks).
Rub each cauliflower steak with just a bit of the cooking oil. Heat another tablespoon or two of the cooking oil in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot and almost smoking, add the cauliflower steaks in a single layer. Sear until browned and crispy on the bottom (about 2 minutes or so) and then flip over and cook another 2 minutes. Then place the whole pan into the preheated oven. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.

In the meantime make the vinaigrette. Place the anchovies in a small bowl and mash well with a fork. Add the lemon juice and whisk together. Continue to whisk as you add the extra virgin olive oil, creating an emulsion. Stir in the capers and set aside.

Once the cauliflower is baked and tender, remove to a platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette and capers to serve. If you would like, now add a bit more oil to the pan and return to the stove top at medium high and saute the cauliflower florets until browned and tender, about 4-5 minutes. Place these around the steaks and drizzle with a bit more vinaigrette to serve.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pine Tar Press Round-Up

Prepping for Turkey Day has kept me busy and away from the blog. Promise I have some posts on the way for you soon! Until then, check out what I've been up to over on Pine Tar Press:

Pumpkin Muffins

Radishes in Miso Butter

Cheesy Dip

Edamame Dip

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Heirloom Tomato Salad

I grasp onto the last dregs of summer every year. It's not that I don't look forward to fall--I love the cooler temperatures while running, the sweaters, pumpkin everything, braising and baking away. But I know that it means the end of my favorite produce of the year. Especially tomatoes. I dread having to live through the months and months without fresh tomatoes.
With the threat of disappearance of my favorite fruit, I stocked up last week at the market. So I'm bringing you a recipe to use up the final tomatoes you have coming in at the markets or your gardens. It's a little sweet, a little salty, and perfectly fresh.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
3-4 servings as appetizer

3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/8 c. capers
olive oil
3-4 large heirloom tomatoes
3 TB basil, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. feta cheese
1/2 t. coarse sea salt

Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until it has reduced to 1/4 cup, about 8 or so minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the capers once the oil is hot (be careful because they will pop a little bit). Toss in the oil for a couple of minutes until they are crispy and then remove them to a paper towel.
Slice the tomatoes about half an inch thick. Layer them onto a platter. Drizzle with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and some of the reduced balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with sea salt, feta, basil and the fried capers. Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Chorizo and Manchego Croquettes

Last week I realized that it has been 10 years since I spend a semester in Ronda, Spain studying Spanish. It's hard to believe it's been so long. I posted about it on Facebook and many of the friends I made while there started reminiscing together about our favorite haunts, people, and memories of those days years ago. It was wonderful to rehash the moments with the people I shared them with.

I still consider that semester one of the most important parts of my life. Obviously I discuss it's influence in my culinary life often on this blog but its implications on my personality come through me almost daily in my wanderings. I love to continuously remind myself of Spain and the experiences and people I met there every time I pull out a recipe for a Spanish dish. Despite time continuing on those memories stay close at hand when these scents fill the air and the flavors hit my tongue.


Chorizo and Manchego Croquettes
makes about 13-15 croquettes
3 TB olive oil
1/3 c. chopped onion
4 TB flour
1 c. milk
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. shredded manchego cheese
1/3 c. finely chopped Spanish chorizo
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
oil for frying

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour flavor has cooked out a bit, about 3-4 minutes. Pour the milk into the pan and whisk until the mixture has thickened quite a bit, about 4-5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper. Place the mixture into the fridge and allow to cool for at least an hour.

Once cool, stir in the manchego cheese and chorizo to the onion mixture. Form into tablespoon size balls and place on a platter. Once you have formed all of the mixture into balls, place in the freezer for a few minutes to allow them to cool down again while you get everything else prepared.

Heat at least 3 inches of oil in a saucepan over medium heat for frying. While this is heating up, beat the eggs with about 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in another bowl.

Once the oil is just about ready dip the chorizo balls into the eggs and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Once they are all coated they are ready to be fried. If you are using a smaller saucepan for frying work in batches so as to not overcrowd the pan. The time to cook will vary depending on the temperature of your oil, but you will want to cook them until the breadcrumbs are toasty brown and the filling is cooked through. Once fried, remove to a paper towel lined platter. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Latest Over at Pine Tar Press

With football season now is swing, it's the perfect opportunity to head on over and check out what I've been posting on "Batter Up and Fry: Tailgating Treats" for Pine Tar Press.

Panzanella Salad

Fried Zucchini Blossoms

Baked Clams

Chicago Dog Spread

Baked Beans

"Beaver Nuggets"

Tailgating Gear

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Corn and Bell Pepper Salsa

Did you see this brilliant video that PBS put out to celebrate Julia Child's 100th birthday?


I think it is impossible to watch Julia or read about her without feeling infected by her passion for food and cooking. It just flows out of her with pure joy. Do you ever feel that way when  you are cooking? I've found that I'm constantly in awe of how a certain technique will turn random ingredients into something completely different--sugar melting into a rich caramel or flour becoming bread. Or how the addition of just a pinch of an ingredient, say red chili flakes or lemon juice, can completely make a dish. The way science and art combine in the kitchen always surprises me and makes me happy. It helps make the act of preparing a meal a relaxing, enjoyable endeavor.

It wasn't always so. If you remember, I recently discussed how before I discovered the art of mis en place there was a lot of profanity being thrown about while dinner was cooked. Part of that anger/frustration also came from the lack of knowledge. I think anyone who spends much time in the kitchen remembers the time before it was second nature--when you worried over every detail and were never quite sure how a dish would turn out. Often times people who don't cook much don't realize that everyone who does started out at this place and that practice, practice, and more practice is the only way to move past it. It's wonderful to now be at that level where more or less I know a dish will turn out thanks to all that time spent screwing up in the past. This knowledge also leads to the comfort of preparing dinner. It's almost like playing an instrument at a concert--the movements just come out of you naturally as you beat out the rhythms of the recipe. It flows through your body without a thought, even when preparing a dish that is new to you.

This corn salsa is my own invention and I had made it once before, but didn't have a recipe to follow the second time around, a couple of years after the first batch. The memory of how the dish tasted was still there, however, and the ingredients and quantities came together without hardly a thought. It seemed natural that this was the way this salsa was supposed to come together.

Now I will finally get it down "on paper" and share it with others in hopes that they will enjoy it as much as I have, and perhaps one day prepare it from their own taste memory and experience.
Bon apetit, indeed!


Corn and Bell Pepper Salsa
3 ears of bi-color corn
2 small to medium purple bell peppers
1/4-1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c. chopped onion or shallot
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Shuck the corn and clean well. Cut off the kernels and place into a medium mixing bowl.
Cut the purple bell peppers in half and remove the stems, seeds and ribs. Chop into small cubes. Toss into the bowl with the corn. Add the chopped cilantro, onion, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss all of the ingredients together and taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed and more jalapeno if you want a bit more heat. Keep chilled until ready to serve with tortilla chips as a dip or on top of tacos.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Inspiration from around the Web

The world has been offering up some truly inspiring recipes these days, so I thought it was high time I passed on a few recipes from others that I've loved lately so you can get in on the delicious action. These are all foods that will find their way onto my table again and again.

April Bloomfield's Oyster Pan Roast (from John Dory Oyster Bar)--if I died today, I would be happy that at least I had gotten the chance to eat this. One of the best dishes I've had, perhaps ever. This recipe from the NYT gets you pretty close to the actual dish served at the restaurant. I'd add a bit of butter at the end to finish it off.
Honestly, though? Just buy A Girl and Her Pig already. There's not a bad thing I've tried from this one and it is all simple, lovely fare that you can't get enough of (yes, even the veal kidneys. No lie.).

While we are on the subject of cookbooks--please also pick up a copy of Plenty from London's Ottonlenghi. You won't ever struggle with eating vegetables ever again. One of the best cookbook purchases I've ever made.

Corn with Miso Butter and Bacon from Savour Fare. She takes a slightly complex David Chang recipe and simplifies it so it is a breeze to prepare and let me tell you--you will be buying every ear of corn you see from here on out to make this again and again.

So, so easy refrigerator pickles from A Way to Garden. For some reason the husband and I have been on a pickle binge and these may be the best ones yet.

Brown Butter Tomatoes from food52. Can you even call this a recipe? Somehow, though, the caramel notes of the cooked butter coating the fresh tomatoes will make this one of the greatest simple treats you've tasted all summer long.

What have you been loving lately?