Category Archives: Recipes

Autumn salad

my baby girl and i spent a bonus  day together in what seems like the last of fall’s brisk and sunny days. there have been so many great afternoons this season and today’s impromptu stroll had us walking through a very autumnal Brooklyn Heights. it really doesn’t get much better than that. solo for dinner tonight, I raided my crisper and found myself eating a two course dinner of salad. the first, created with csa remnants, avocado and tamari dressing finally filled my week old craving for sushi.  the crisp and salty combo so hit the spot, I found myself reaching back in the fridge to recreate it, grating a rind of parmesan and fennel to toss with lemon and oil.  though cooking for one has its pitfalls tonight it looks like a light and healthy salad is just the thing to ward winter off for another few days…

 while a classic vinaigrette is my go to, here are some asian inspired dressings for those nights you’re craving takeout but know better…
cookieandkate a lovely missouri based food blog's tamari vinaigrette is a simple winner
cookieandkate: chopped kale salad with edamame carrot and avocado

This miso tahini dressing is a killer combo. Check out the Hemsley sister's other recipes, Vogue istempting me into cooking with gorgeous photos
vogue uk: hemsley & hemsley salad

Oh Gwyneth, you didn't make my favorite mom blog list, but I do like your recipes.
goop's detox recipe for ginger carrot dressing
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Diner en Noir

DD is back with a vengeance. After a long dry spell on the entertaining front, we held a fabulous (if i do say so myself) ‘diner en noir’, a riff on the Parisienne pop up picnic ‘diner en blanc’, in honor of my old college roomate and BFF’s new book: How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia. I love a theme party and the moody ambiance of the evening was the perfect compliment to the title of Kelsey’s book.  From the inside cover:

“…Kelsey Osgood unpacks the modern myths of anorexia, examining the cult-like underbelly of eating disorders in the young as she chronicles her own rehabilitation.”

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Buy the book, people!

I’m almost done with the book and highly recommend it, particularly for women (or guys) who have gone through an eating disorder or any type of mental illness, and especially for their loved ones. Check out my cameo on page 141, holler!  The book is very well researched, intellectually challenging, dark, funny and overall, uplifting as the author describes her path to recovery.

Diner en Noir was a fabulous ladies night with college friends, and fellow Brooklyn bloggers and artists.  I couldn’t find a black table cloth so I hit up $0.99 Dreams and DIYed a black table runner with shelf lining material, added some velvety textured florals ( brain flowers according to the guests) in small vases,  houseplants, and of course tons of candlelight!

As guests arrived, I tried to create a shadowy and hushed environment ( sleeping baby helped).  We drank dark & stormy’s and nibbled on apps with Fiona on in the background. Dinner was lively, followed by a chills inducing reading by the author and a decadent (dark) chocolate dessert.  The few remaining party girls and this hostess polished off the last bottle of red on the roof with the pitch dark sky above us and the ominous rumble of the train below.

Appetizers
Sauveur’s Black Olives with Rosemary and Orange Zest
Sliced Black Radishes with Rose Salt
Pumpernickel Toasts with Goat Cheese & Smoked Salmon
Mains
Black Kale Salad with Apples and Maple Mustard Vinaigrette ( inspired by Tiny’s NYC)
Miso Eggplant (great two step technique of roasting and broiling here)
Roasted purple Romanesco Califlower and Potatoes with Black Truffle
& the piece de resistance: Deb’s Harvest Chicken with Black Olives and Black Grapes
Dessert
Dark Chocolate Tart
Chocolate covered espresso beans, black licorice & grapes
 

Long Live the Dinner Party!

Much to my domestic delight, I just finished reading the NYT’s article Guess Whose Not Coming to Dinner.  Like Karen Mordechai of Sunday Suppers, I grew up in a home where every Friday night the whole family, friends and neighbors sat around the dinner table for a delicious home cooked meal.  Every Shabbat, before the sun set my mom rushed around the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on a soup, salad, fish and main course. Once we lit the candles, there was nothing left to do (no electricity, no gadgets, no TV) but eat and enjoy each others company.

Back in my studio, I would host little cocktail parties, balancing an assortment of hor d’ouerves on my street scavenged faux marble card table.  Here in Dumbo, my mid century dining table can seat up to 10+ people with the extension leaves inserted and I have enjoyed playing hostess to an assortment of friends and new acquaintances throughout the last several years.   Having people over to dine, lounge and get some fresh air while on the roof sure beats screaming over loud music and mediocre entries at a restaurant.  Like meatloaf which is popping up all over menus in Brooklyn,  hosting a dinner party is the epitome of throw back cool!

While I’ve certainly had my fair share of hosting practice and often try to prepare in advance, I still find myself rushing around to get everything ready before sunset; my mother’s weekly frenzy sure set a great example!   Her salad course, a colorful assortment of delicate Moroccan inspired mezze which now makes perfect use of my CSA carrots, beets and swiss chard, is quite labor intensive but never ceases to impress my guests.  For a dinner party, you can’t go wrong with simple home cooking.  Interesting vegetable and grain side dishes, roast chicken or slow cooked brisket are all great options for a big crowd.

In a departure from mom’s traditional mode of  serving, I like to put out edamame, popcorn, or olives before dinner as my contemporaries can be counted on to arrive (more than) fashionably late.  While the Mr. mans the bar and takes drink orders, I put the finishing touches on dinner and get ready for game time.   One tip that came highly recommended by my Aunt L is setting the table the night before  so there is one less thing to worry about before the guests arrive.  I love when my husband walks in with a fresh bouquet for the perfect touch!

I know they say you aren’t supposed to experiment with new recipes on your guests but sometimes I get overzealous and in over my head!  Last Shabbat, I tried a roasted beet and pomegranate seed salad from The Book of New Israeli Food by Janna Gur. The colors were beautiful, but thankfully I did not pour the dressing on as it was inedible and easily replaced with a simple balsamic one! Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman’s recipes are always foul proof though and last Shabbat Acorn Squash with Lime-Chili Vinaigrette was a hit alongside a roast chicken with braised onions and peppers,  crispy lemon potatoes, a surprisingly easy recipe that packed a punch from prissy Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP newsletter, and a simple salad. For dessert, I was lucky to have my sister over early and micromanaged her as she baked Deb’s Mom’s Applecake, which has an addictive bread pudding type texture and is remarkably similar to our own mom’s oral recipe!

This week we are having a few friends over and I am already planning my menu.  I think lamb chops will make their first ever appearance in my kitchen. Let’s hope I don’t overcook them!

PIZZA PARTY

On a whim I bought a bag of whole wheat pizza dough from the refrigerator of Trader Joes.   All day at work, I thought about the different pie combinations I could try  and when I got home, I was ready for a pizza party.  First, I took the dough and an assortment of cheeses out of the fridge to let them come to room temperature. Then,  I caramelized onions in butter & balsamic vinegar,  sauteed broccoli with garlic, roasted acorn squash with maple syrup, chopped chili peppers, opened a can of tomato sauce and grated smoked gouda, goat and cheddar cheese. With my toppings in order, I was ready to get to the fun part.

I preheated my toaster oven as high as it would go (450), divided the dough into four even pieces and grabbed an empty wine bottle to use as a makeshift rolling pin.  I found this heat diffuser in my junk drawer and decided to use it as a makeshift pizza stone. I left it in the toaster oven to heat up and started rolling out the dough on a well floured counter top.  The hardest part about making the pizza was maneuvering it from the counter top onto the hot ‘pizza stone’ but regardless of a few mishaps involving floppy dough, these pizzas tasted delicious.  After arranging and eating several pizzas solo, the Mr. finally walked in, sampled and praised my handy work.  Here are the top 3 combinations from last night’s feast

Caramelized Onions/Goat Cheese/Acorn Squash

Broccoli/Red Chili Peppers/Chedder

Smoked Gouda/Japaleno
I think this would be a great activity for a group, particularly with some wine involved! Who’s in?

I Feel Like Chicken Tonight

There comes a point every afternoon in the post lunchtime stretch where my mind begins to think about dinner.  I picture the wrinkled vegetables in my empty refrigerator,  envision the dwindling supply of pastas and canned goods in my pantry, and summon the mental list of recipes I’ve been meaning to try.  Will tonight be a pasta and store bought tomato sauce kind of Monday? Or an epic evening where the rice cooker and yellow cast iron play center stage in a new Quinoa salad?

The dinner dilemma is often a question of foresight.  If I remembered to defrost and marinade the chicken thighs, or better yet, saute and braise a brisket in the slow cooker while I’m  at my desk it’s taco night! Most of the time, these recipes are promoted to weekend status as  shopping for the right ingredients and preparing a multi-step recipe is more than I can handle after a mind numbing day in the office.

Last week, a friend asked me where I get my recipes from. When I’m not cooking by heart or calling my mom for ideas, I love Food52, Smitten Kitchen, and the encyclopedic Food Network.   This last week was a pretty good one as far as dinner goes. I tried a great new recipe and practiced an old one.  I thought I’d share two chicken dinner ideas with you and add a few tips I learned along the way.

First up, NYT’s food writer Melissa Clark’s Splayed Roast Chicken with Carmelized Ramps, Garlic & Capers.

This easy recipe employs a unique technique I’ve never seen before,  to turn out some heavenly roast chicken in no time at all. I tried it before an impromptu dinner party and I will no doubt try it again soon!  Don’t fret if you can’t find the evasive ramp.  Sadly, when I went to Foragers, the market around the corner, in Dumbo,  they were all out of the local New York State ramps  they had advertised on Twitter!  What’s a locavore to do?  I got on line with a bunch of scallions instead and watched the woman in front of me get sticker shock over her $200 bill (the artisanal pork chops at $30/lb was the culprit).  When it was my turn, the checkout guy admitted even he gets sticker shock when he rings people up  and apologized that they were all out ramps, which by the way were  foraged by some dude in his backyard upstate!  I began to feel like I  was in my own private episode of Portlandia and quickly got out of there, laughing about splayed chicken, local ramps and foraging.  Please!   If you follow Ms. Clark’s directions — feel free to substitute scallions for ramps (cut on the diagonal and separate the white and green parts), you will hear a loud hissing sound as the chicken hits the pre-heated cast iron! Ahhh. This results in some seriously crispy skin and moist meat, you must try this technique at home, kids.

While Melissa Clark’s splayed chicken is actually easy enough for a weeknight,  my go-to chicken dinner is always Chicken Milanese. Fried chicken cutlets topped with a fresh salad provides just the right amount of consolation after a long Monday.  This is the perfect summer meal as it comes together quickly without having to turn on your oven.  It also happens to be one of the Mr.’s favorite dishes, so whenever I prepare it, my husband is happy for days! Trust me, this is a surefire way to your man’s heart.  The day after I made this with fresh arugula and the beautiful combo of yellow and red tomato,  Joanna from Cup of Joe  posted the recipe. I was in blogger heaven. Chicken Milanese is quite basic but really packs a punch. Joanna’s friend’s recipe uses corn flake bread crumbs which sound great.  I typically use regular panko seasoned with any herbs you have lying around. I also skip the Parmesan cheese. Make sure your oil is really, smoking hot before you put the chicken in, let the chicken rest on paper towels to absorb the grease, top with salad and serve.   Homemade fried chicken and ripe summer tomatoes are a combo that cannot be beat!

A taste of Brazil

Several years back, long before I became domesticated, I took the trip of a lifetime to visit a dear friend of mine who was working at a law firm in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Our small but rambunctious crew of four former college roommates spent New Year’s Eve on the beaches of Rio wearing white dresses, eating copious amounts of street corn, and dodging errant fireworks. It was a glorious week marked by adventure! I vividly remember the desolate bus station where we missed the last bus back to Sao Paulo and the sleezy motel room we stayed overnight.  We played geography on a long ferry ride to a beautiful island, learned tropical fruit names in Portuguese, watched our friend get a sweet goodbye kiss at sunset, danced at an impromptu forro performance and swam naked in the ocean way past midnight.

Sunset in Ilha Grande

Sunset in Ilha Grande

During our time in Ilha Grande (translation: Big Island) off the coast of Rio, a tiny slice of  paradise filled with  pristine beaches, we truly got a sense of Brazilian hospitality. Upon our arrival, a gorgeous local porter met us at the shore of the island, loaded a wheelbarrow with our oversized American luggage and pushed our belongings up a long and winding hill. If this scene sounds like the perfect setting for the next chick lit bestseller, you are picturing it correctly.

Monica's House!

We made our way up the hill and found Monica’s House, a colorful residence with a lush tropical garden,  many cats and a hammock in the suite we were lucky to call home.  After a few days of mediocre urban street food in Rio, and an unfortunate lunch of fried ‘tiny fish’ which came with their heads and tails intact, I was thrilled when we finally agreed on what appeared to be a decent restaurant for dinner. And so it was that I found myself for the very first time, dining on Moqueca, a delicious, traditional Brazilian seafood stew on a moonlit beach in Ilha Grande.

Moqueca or as I like to call it, Brazillian fish stew is made with fish, (seafood really, but I stay away from crustaceans!), onions, garlic, tomatoes and cilantro carefully simmered over a low flame.  My friend Chef Monsta, posted this recipe a long time ago, but after getting rave reviews from the Mr. upon my 3rd time preparing it, this dish has entered the official Dumbo Domestic roster.  I know, fish stew may have an unpleasant ring to it, but I dare you to try it! I assure you, you will be blown away by the simplicity of the preparation and the boldness of the flavors.  If you’re feeling the pescatrian spirit, in the mood for an exotic meal but tired of thai takeout, trust DD, put on some Sergio Mendes and make Moqueca!

Recipe (adopted from Simply Recipes)

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs of fillets of firm white fish such as halibut, swordfish, or cod; you can also use salmon,  rinsed in cold water, deboned, cut into large but bite sized pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped spring onion, or 1 medium yellow onion, chopped or sliced
  • 1/4 cup green onion greens, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, de-stemmed, chopped (or sliced)
  • 2 cups chopped (or sliced) tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp paprika (Hungarian sweet)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped with some set aside for garnish
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk

To prepare:

1. Place fish pieces in a bowl, add the minced garlic and lime juice so that the pieces are well coated. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper. Keep chilled while preparing the rest of the soup.

Some of the veggies you'll need...

2. In a large covered pan (somewhat deep as you will add liquid), coat the bottom with about 2 Tbsp of olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the bell pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. (At least a teaspoon of salt.) Cook for a few minutes longer, until the bell pepper begins to soften. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and onion greens. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

The colorful stew in its first round of simmering...

3. Use a large spoon to push aside about half of the vegetables (or remove momentarily if pan is crowding). Spread the remaining vegetables over the bottom of the pan to create a bed for the fish. Arrange the fish pieces on the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.   (** If you prefer more citrus in your dish, or to water down the coconut flavor, don’t discard the reaminder of the marinade, add it to the stew).  Then add back the previously removed vegetables, covering the fish. Pour coconut milk over the fish and vegetables.

After you add in the coconut milk...

4.Bring soup to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes or longer if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings. You may need to add more salt (likely), lime or lemon juice, paprika, pepper, or chili flakes to get the soup to the desired seasoning for your taste.

5. Serve with crusty bread or rice (for even more flavor, mix lime juice and chopped cilantro into your prepared rice).

Jello Shot redux

Last weekend was glorious and I’d give anything to be poolside by the Parker Palm Springs again! I was asked if I could ever get bored of sunbathing. Being back at my midtown NYC desk, I’d have to answer a resounding NO! Warm sun+bloody marys+great friends= paradise!  Mid tanning session on Saturday, the pool girls came by with a free treat!

Image

photo courtesy of the lovely Chelsea Dubois

It was a pomegranate jello shot cradled in a lemon peel and it tasted divine! The colors were perfectly Palm Springs and that melt in your mouth feeling was so refreshing! We could barely contain our excitement and stalked the pool girl for another round!

Today, I by chance stumbled upon a recipe for Blood Orange Jelly Smiles which provides step by step instructions for creating very similar treats.  I think this technique could be replicated in a number of delicious combinations- imagine a grapefruit/mint or orange/basil shot! The possibilities are endless and by using agar-agar rather than plain old jello, you can truly customize the  colors and flavors and leave behind the night you had one too many green jello shots at the frat house for good!

For more jello shot inspiration, check out Luxiraire’s gorgeous work using Agar Agar! The little peice of celery in the bloody mary shot (middle of the back row) is the cutest!

courtesy of Luxirare.com

Thigh High!

With less than  6 hours to go until my Shabbat dinner party last Friday night, I was sitting in my midtown office, trying to figure out what to do with the chicken thighs defrosting in my fridge in Dumbo! I wanted something easy and  flavorful that would impress my guests and look great on the table.  After browsing my favorite food blogs, I decided on Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Devil’s Chicken Thighs with Braised Leeks which hit the last several marks though they were anything but simple to cook, requiring a marinade, multiple pots and cooking techniques!

So how did I manage to marinade and cook this fabulous dish before my 8pm dinner time?  Enter my new favorite neighbor- my darling sister, who recently moved to the neighborhood and was working from home on Friday. She stopped by with the Vermouth and quickly threw together the marinade’s components and the chicken thighs in a plastic bag. By the time I got home from work at 4:30, all I had to do was clean and braise the leeks, chop and saute several cups worth of shallots, toss together marinade part II, brown the chicken and put the whole dish together…phew!  Luckily, all this manual labor (including both cooking and cleaning multiple pots and and splattered olive oil) was worth it!   The dish was a hit and quite possibly, the best chicken I’ve ever made! There are a few reasons  I’m recommending this dish for your next dinner party.

1. The flava! Because you are braising them in so many components, the chicken thighs truly soak  in the flavor of the leeks, shallots, vermouth and thyme resulting in very moist and savory meat! Make sure you grab a helping of the braised leeks on the bottom of the dish which are tied with the chicken for first place!

2. The crunch! Right before the dish enters the oven for its final round of cooking, it is coated with herb enhanced Panko. This, combined with the browning step results in a great chicken crust. The combination of tender meat and leeks and crunchy bread crumbs is addictive.

3. The presentation!  Deb’s perfect instructions which call for a “gratin dish that can go from oven to table” was a great excuse for me to break out my new blue le crueset! After fussing with this recipe for a few hours, the oven to table step was a cinch!

While I’m  feeling very guilty for my lack of independent food photography,  putting together a dish fit for the devil himself, is enough of an excuse for this post!  I did take one picture after the very first step of browning the leeks!

Proof that I made this dish! Incredible food bloggers out there, however do you cook and photograph simultaneously?

Now, all you have to do is picture Deb’s finished product in my blue Le Crueset! It came out exactly like the photo, I swear!

Deb's Final Product

The finished product! Photo courtesy of SmittenKitchen.com

Food52’s Roasted Carrot Soup

photo credit: food52

It was a rainy Friday night and my better half and I had agreed (thank the lord!) to stay home for a home cooked, Shabbat dinner. Since I like to get a little fancier on the sabbath, I couldn’t just serve the usual one course weeknight meal. I had some beef cheeks braising for the main course but was a bit worried as in my early morning haze, I emptied a very random melange of ingredients into the slow cooker. Somehow the combination of Pom juice and jalapenos sounded acceptable as I rushed to get dinner started before work.

I needed a quick dish to start the meal off right, and possibly be our entire meal! Thanks to our local CSA, I had about 8 lbs of winter storage carrots in my fridge! Enter this carrot soup from food52. While there are multiple steps involved, the whole endeavor only takes about an hour or less! I substituted homemade chicken stock and the flavors were unbelievable. I made sure to water down the soup after I blended so my husband wouldn’t think I was serving him baby food. If you have a few carrots or any other hearty vegetable lying around (i.e. squash, cauliflower) and a blender, this recipe which includes roasting, sauteing and simmering really builds flavor for a memorable and tasty soup. Regarding the beef cheeks, lets just say the flavors were a bit too complex!

Roasted Carrot Soup
Serves 4
Ingredients
6 to 8 large carrots (about 1 3/4 pounds)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt
6 cups vegetable stock (good quality, not too high in sodium)
1 piece ginger, an inch long, peeled
1 sprig thyme, plus more for garnish
1/2 large sweet onion
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
Peel and cut the carrots into 1/2-inch rounds. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the carrots with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt. Set an oven rack 6 to 8 inches from the heat source and turn on the broiler. Broil the carrots until they brown and soften, turning them over with a spatula every 5 minutes or so; this should take 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil, add the ginger and the sprig of thyme and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Put the onion in a medium stock pot with the remaining olive oil. Brown the onion over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, and then add the carrots.

Remove the ginger and thyme from the stock and add the stock to the pot with the onions and carrots. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the carrots are soft enough to puree.

Use an immersion or a standard blender to puree the mixture until smooth. If the soup seems too thick, add more stock or water and reheat gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, garnish with chopped fresh thyme

French Revolution: Artichoke and Green Olive Pantry Tapenade

A few years back I stumbled across French Revolution Food, a fabulous blog by Kerry Saretsky.  While I don’t know her personally, Kerry is a girl after my own heart!  Her conversational writing style, fearless approach to home cooking,  easy to create french inspired recipes and foodie travel anecdotes make me feel as though she is an old friend who I used to hang out with on the Champs Elysee back in the day!  The clincher on our cyber friendship is that Kerry often refers to her Maman- her french Moroccan grandmother as her inspiration.  My very own french Moroccan grandmother, a.k.a, Mami Claudette, is a major motivation in my kitchen laboratory.   Her constant encouragement makes me strive towards culinary excellence and when in doubt, she is always my go-to phone call for the next step or the proper method!

My MC  still whips up stellar salad cuite (slow roasted peppers and tomato salad), Moroccan style fish with lima beans and paprika, and addictive cous cous with roasted vegetables in that tried and true, no recipe kind of way, that keeps us all coming back for more.  Kerry’s liberal use of Saffron and Turmeric, traditional components of many flavorful French, Moroccan and Spanish dishes may be exotic to the American cook, but these herbs no doubt, generate some serious olfactory childhood memories for both of us.  These reflections, along with Kerry’s modern and inventive updates to classic french recipes using simple ingredients, has made me a loyal follower of French Revolution Food.  Last weekend, I needed a taste of (Midnight in) Paris  for my Oscars party and decided to try Kerry’s Artichoke and Green Pantry Tapenade.  All the ingredients were located in my very own pantry, brilliant!  Fast forward to today and I am still snacking on this addictive, easy to make dip that is way better than anything from the supermarket aisle!  Thanks, Kerry!

Artichoke and Green Olive Pantry Tapenade (via French Revolution Food)
serves 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium clove of garlic
  • 3/4 ounce excellent Parmesan
  • 1 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts in water or brine, drained
  • 1 12-ounce jar pitted green olives, drained
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley

PROCEDURE

Blitz the garlic and Parmesan in the food processor until they’re smashed to smithereens.  Then, add all the other ingredients, and pulse for a chunky tapenade, or run until smooth.  Serve with lightly toasted excellent bread.  Or, put in a Panini with fresh sliced mozzarella, or spoon over grilled fish.