It’s super easy! You need:
1 big onion, very thinly sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped or thinly sliced
1 lb mixed greens (or kale, or collards, or mustard, or whatever you like)
can o’ chickpeas
ton of cracked red pepper
1 can veggie stock
EVOO
3-4 lemons
honey (or maple syrup, brown sugar, agave, whatever you use)
black pepper, salt, maybe a little cumin or whatever other spices you like
whatever grain you like (brown rice, couscous, quinoa if you don’t hate yourself for buying it, whatevz you want. wild rice would be nice! or orzo or some other small pasta.)
sliced toasted almonds. or pine nuts, or whatever crunchy things you like.
Slice the onion, throw it in a large deep pan/cast-iron/whatever you got.  No oil yet.  Sautee that shit on high until it all starts to brown and caramelize (makes the whole thing sweeter + tastier.) Don’t burn them, you just want them sorta clear and a little bit golden, maybe a little brown on some of the edges. They’re gonna stick a little, that’s okay.Lower the heat, add a lil’ olive oil, toss in your garlic and as much red pepper as you like and sautee for a little bit.  (I use a lot of red pepper, cuz I like things SPICY.) Add a little water and with a wooden spoon deglasse the pan, aka scrape all that burn-y oniony goodness off the bottom of the pan from when you cooked those onions before. Add a can of veggie or mushroom stock, some salt, lots of black pepper, a few teaspoons of honey. Bring to a slow boil.  Go ahead and put your water on for your grains now as well, assuming they’re of the variety that takes about 20-30 minutes to cook, and do whatever that requires. Toss in all those greens and then squeeze the lemons over top of them, sprinkle a little more salt and pepper.  (Strain the lemon juice to keep the seeds out, duh.)  Cover the whole thing with a big lid for like five minutes, remove, marvel at how much smaller that pile of leaves is after it’s wilted.  Stir a little.  Add water if necessary, but probably not.  The greens continue wilting down and getting darker and should be just barely covered with water, not drowning, but definitely not dry.  Keep it at a low simmer for 15-20 minutes (or longer, depending on your pan/green of choice) until things start to look tender and done.  Dump those chickpeas in there, stir, simmer for a few more minutes.  If you like raisins, those can be a tasty addition at this point too.Serve over grains and sprinkle with almonds. Voilá! If you eat cheese, some parmesan or other hard cheese (maybe manchego?!) would be nice grated on top as well. If you eat meat or fish, would be tasty under some grilled salmon, chicken, or even a pork chop. Makes a lot, but just mix all the leftover grains and greens together and then nuke the whole mess for lunch the next day and eat with some tomato soup. A+.

DUTCH BABY WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE

Because really decadent brunch is super important once in a while, and it’s the only time I will surrender my kitchen dictatorship to squirrelfriend, who rules forever at Dutch baby pancakes and has de-pescetarianized me by finding out my SECRET CRIPPLING BACON WEAKNESS OH GOD APPLEWOOD SMOKED UNCURED BACON AGGGHGHGHGGHGHGHGH UNFFFFFFFF. Needless to say, unlike most of my food posts, this is not vegan, gluten free, or even marginally containing any sort of nutritional value other than perhaps hangover curing properties. And it RULES.

YOU NEED and probably have in your house already:

  • butter
  • flour
  • salt
  • milk
  • eggs
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • regular sugar
  • a lemon
  • bacon
  • fresh berries
  • vanilla extract or some flavourful booze
  • a cast iron pan, a cast iron griddle, and a saucepan
  • goofy apron (see below) and handsome assistant to cook bacon for you.

Got it all? Cool, here we go.

Perfect Fried Rice

Why so many food posts lately?! I have no idea. Deal with it. Today: Fried rice, but you know, minus the gut bomb and growing regret part afterwards, and with way more veggies than the few wrinkly peas you see sometimes.

Fried rice always feels like a.) kind of a cop-out to order takeout and b.) the unhealthiest thing ever to eat, and attempts to make it at home (at least for me) always seem to end in…. a greasy disgusting mess of overly-salty rice mush.  Gross.

HOWEVER. This is not always how it has to be! You are totally allowed to mess with concepts, like “what fried rice is.” Forget your notions of $3 greasy takeout and failed attempts to re-create it! Fried rice can totally be a meal in and of itself.

Like that huge coconut lentil stew I posted last week, wok-fried rice with plenty of tofu and veggies is another great, cheap way to feed a shit-ton of hungry people or just yourself for a week straight. And honestly, it’s surprisingly healthy, especially if you add a ton of veggies, use brown/wild rice, and keep the oil and sugary/salty sauces to a minimum. (Garlic and ginger go a long way for flavor, seriously.)  And once you’ve stocked up on the seasonings (most people might not always have soy sauce and sesame oil and cilantro on hand, but, uh, I do) it’s super cheap and easy.  It’s also really easy to adapt to vegan or gluten-free diets, or you can replace the tofu with shrimp, chicken, pork, or steak for your meat-eating friends.

The secret is all in the prep, which is also super easy and fast once you get the hang of it.  As usual, sharp knives (and a perverse enjoyment of, say, “julienning peppers”) help a ton, and a really awesome nonstick/well-seasoned wok is absolutely necessary.

You’re gonna need:

  • Rice (preferably leftover/a lil stale - mine was fresh, hence the sorta sticky appearance in above photo, but I kinda like it that way too.)  Long grain white is probably what you’re expecting, but I find wild rice/brown rice blends work really nicely here, or even brown basmati. Different rice will yield different texture — sushi rice, for example, will likely become a nightmare risotto-esque mess, but firmer varieties will get all nice and firm and crispy.
  • Firm or Extra Firm Tofu
  • Eggs (if you eat them)
  • Veggies of your choice that require cooking (mushrooms, onions, zucchini/squash, eggplant, asparagus, broccoli)
  • Veggies of your choice that are tastier almost-raw (bell peppers, carrots, bok choy, sugar snap peas, soybeans)
  • Pineapple, if you want. Canned and chopped or fresh and chopped is fine.
  • Nuts, if you like them (cashews, peanuts, or almonds are nice)
  • Enough garlic to kill an army of vampires
  • Green onions
  • Cilantro, if you are, like me, of the “no such thing as too much cilantro” school of cooking
  • Sesame oil
  • Hot sauce (SRIRACHA 4LYFE)
  • Some sort of marinade (either pre-made teriyaki type sauce, or just use the recipe below.)

Ready? OK, cool. Let’s go.

Coconut Lentil Curry with Quinoa

I like to pretend like every day I plan some amazing meal and go all-out to cook it, but the truth is most of the time I’m excruciatingly lazy and like, whip something together out of whatever is in my house. (Or just eat omelettes. I eat a lot of breakfast for dinner. I won’t tell if you won’t.)  I was a little low on basics last week and as I desolately stared at the leftover vegetables, lentils, and coconut milk in my pantry, I remembered that Caroline posted a tasty-sounding lentil curry soup recipe a while ago, and I’d been all about some really tasty curried lentils I had at a dinner party a few weeks ago.  I was also craving Indian or Thai takeout, but all the options that deliver to my house are super oily and not great. I figured I’d wing it and try to come up with something similar to all those things, with whatever I had in the house. Miraculously, it turned out to be maybe one of the tastiest things I’ve ever made (despite the rather unflattering photo) and is definitely going to become a staple.



It’s also vegan, for those of you who care about that kind of stuff, and is super healthy and full of protein and fiber and other good stuff, and even my super-carnivorous other half (“Meg, all the food you make is basically vegetable mush, I want a steak”) admitted that it was damn good.  It’s also relatively cheap, and the huge pot that this recipe yielded fed me for like a week.  

SO! Onward! You will need:

  • Lentils (I cheat sometimes and get the already cooked ones from Trader Joe’s, so either those, or dry ones that you’ve already prepared/soaked.)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger root
  • 2 onions
  • lots of garlic (about half a bulb, or a whole one if it’s small)
  • oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • spices you like: curry, cumin, pepper, cinnamon, garam masala, etc
  • vegetables: I used zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, and spinach.
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 large bunch fresh cilantro

feel like i’m kind of ‘bad at blogging’ lately and maybe i should just ‘make this more of a tumblr’ like it used to be
IN OTHER NEWS, I MADE PHO FROM SCRATCH YESTERDAY and while I’m sure it wasn’t quite ‘authentic’ it sure was delicious, and a hell of a lot easier than I’d been expecting, actually.  I combined bits of this recipe and this one for the broth, then soaked some rice noodles, dry-fried some soft tofu (let me tell you, dry-frying tofu will CHANGE YOUR LIFE, why this isn’t more commonly known as the way to make it not suck is a mystery to me) and then let it sit in soy sauce/garlic/scallions for a lil’ bit while I chopped up some carrots, onions, peppers, and broccoli. Then I dumped the noodles and tofu and veggies in a bowl and then poured the still-boiling broth over the whole mess with a bunch of scallions, cilantro, mint, lime, sririacha and hoison.  And I still have a few litres of broth frozen to pour over noodles and veggies for super-fast cold-curing soup amazingness in days to come!feel like i’m kind of ‘bad at blogging’ lately and maybe i should just ‘make this more of a tumblr’ like it used to be
IN OTHER NEWS, I MADE PHO FROM SCRATCH YESTERDAY and while I’m sure it wasn’t quite ‘authentic’ it sure was delicious, and a hell of a lot easier than I’d been expecting, actually.  I combined bits of this recipe and this one for the broth, then soaked some rice noodles, dry-fried some soft tofu (let me tell you, dry-frying tofu will CHANGE YOUR LIFE, why this isn’t more commonly known as the way to make it not suck is a mystery to me) and then let it sit in soy sauce/garlic/scallions for a lil’ bit while I chopped up some carrots, onions, peppers, and broccoli. Then I dumped the noodles and tofu and veggies in a bowl and then poured the still-boiling broth over the whole mess with a bunch of scallions, cilantro, mint, lime, sririacha and hoison.  And I still have a few litres of broth frozen to pour over noodles and veggies for super-fast cold-curing soup amazingness in days to come!

WOULD YOU LIKE US TO ASSIGN SOMEONE TO BUTTER YOUR MUFFIN?

FOOD POST TIME Y’ALL.  Mixing sweet and savory is kind of my jam, and while my usual breakfast is pretty modest (yogurt with some almonds, fruit and a protein bar, toast with peanut butter and honey, etc) I actually have a huge weakness for breakfast pastries and muffins and sweetbreads and so on.  These muffins — with no butter but full of omega-3’s from olive oil, and fiber from apples and whole wheat flour — let me pretend that there’s some sort of vague nutritional value in something so tasty.  These seriously are delicious — you’ll be amazed at how light and fluffy they are and at how well the flavor of the olive oil comes through.  They’re amazing right out of the oven spread with some fig jam or mascarpone cheese or apple butter, but keep pretty well wrapped in foil for a few days as well.

BLACK PEPPER AND OLIVE OIL APPLE MUFFINS
recipe after the jump, adapted from here

It’s halfway through October, which means that my “ALL SQUASH IN EVERYTHING ALL OF THE TIME” phase of gastronomy is about to commence.  But before “roasting things and by things I mean every vegetable in my fridge and throwing it over some quinoa and calling it dinner” takes over my life, I needed to cram in one last Slightly Autumnal But Still Summery salad.
Like many people I also tend to buy the same ingredients over and over: my produce runs inevitably involve some peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, a cucumber, carrots… There are just so many options that I’m either slightly intimidated by or haven’t used enough to think of them as a staple.  Radishes and fennel are two such strangers to my pantry — which is why I forced myself to use them here.  Surprisingly, the result wasn’t as extreme as I was expecting — there were no really new flavors here, just ones that I for some reason never churn out of my own kitchen. 
Thinly sliced fennel, radishes, and red onion are tossed with chickpeas, orzo, and feta cheese, with a simple dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, plenty of mint (I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT), and salt and pepper. (I add a little bit of cayenne too because the tanginess brings out the sharpness of the radish and fennel, but then again I want everything to be spicy.)  Grapefruit segments would be a nice addition here as well, or even thinly sliced granny smith or gala apples.

LENTILS WITH COUSCOUS AND MINT

I’ve been trying to make an effort to cook at home and bring lunch to work more often,  and as a result I’ve been spending my Sundays preparing giant bowls of salads that I can grab and go in the mornings.  This lentil salad is one of my favourites — it’s spicy, sweet, refreshing, filling, and ridiculously easy to make (well, if you like chopping, which I totally do, OH GOD YOU GUYS I COULD JULIENNE PEPPERS ALL DAY THE BEST STRESS RELIEF EVER IS DICING CELERY I LOVE KNIVES.) We also already know about my near-obsessive ongoing love affair with fresh mint — and this is just another option for it before summer’s over.

Blame me not, oh dear readers, for the recent proliferation of food-related posts! Blame instead the untimely demise of the only lens for my camera which was capable of fitting all six feet two inches of me-in-heels within one frame when one is limited to a tripod, a remote, and an 8x10 foot room. Also the fact that summer salads REALLY EXCITE ME, and that recent investments in things like “furniture that is actually not from Ikea or Target” have left me “trying to save money by cooking at home as much as possible.” 
With this, though, comes exciting new discoveries. Such as: PARSLEY IS OKAY. That dreaded, useless garnish always shoved awkwardly through a lemon or an undercooked disc of half-steamed carrot? Turns out this shit is pretty tasty. Considering its relation to cilantro, which I could probably just eat fistfuls of alone/would put in everything if I could, it’s a surprise I always turned my nose up at its relegated-to-wilting-garnish-for-poultry cousin. But apparently, when you chop it and mix it with some other things which dilute that acrid parsleyness, it’s actually really, really good.
A few weeks ago I had this delicious spring-pea-and-ramps-and-parsley truffled risotto at my fancy birthday dinner (!) at Le Barricou, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Complications: I’ve no desire to invest the time and heat required for risotto in this weather; I don’t really want to drown everything in cheese and cream; I don’t have truffle anything.  Things I do like and which are at my disposal: mushrooms, milder cheese like swiss used as a garnish, peas, some other green vegetables, things similar to ramps which are not ramps such as garlic and a huge bunch of chives I bought last week, a huge bunch of parsley, grains other than arborio rice which do not require risotto-ing.  SO: couscous with peas, parsley, and cremini mushrooms!
SO. I cooked a bunch of finely chopped sweet onions and garlic (use plenty of ramps or even shallots instead, if you have them) in a big cast iron pan/dutch oven over medium heat for a bit, until the onions were clear-ish and soft.  I added thinly sliced cremini mushrooms, and a little later dumped in a bit of chopped spinach and plenty of peas (frozen’s fine.)  I cooked those a bit, seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper, and then added a cup of finely chopped parsley and a lot of chopped chives. Add 3 cups of water (or broth if you’re fancy), bring to a slight boil, dump in 1.5 cups couscous, turn off heat, stir, then cover for 5 minutes.  (Minimal time standing over stove! Burner is on for 15 minutes max!)  Uncover, fluff, dump in a can of beans for added protein, add olive oil and a tiny bit of lemon juice and a little more parsley, and voila! I grated some baby swiss cheese over the top of it for extra flavor without making it too heavy.  It was awesome hot, and even better cold and over some lettuce and cucumbers for lunch today. 
If you can tolerate asparagus (BLECHGHCK), that would probably be great in this too, or haricots verts. If you eat meat, I bet this would be a stellar side dish or base for scallops, a white fish, or even just chicken.

marinated shrimp and confetti orzo salad

More in summer dinner favourites: shrimp, marinated for a few hours in a Caribbean-ish mixture of soy sauce, olive oil, ginger, garlic, scallions, lime, cilantro (buy it fresh! not frozen! it’s life-changing!), and hot pepper, then grilled (or sauteed, depending on what you have available: we know grills are hard to come by when you live in a 350 sq foot walk-up in a 52-unit building in Brooklyn, cough cough) then served over a chilled confetti orzo salad, garnished with more lime, scallions, and cilantro.

I’m a huge fan (if this wasn’t obvious already) of all things sweet-and-spicy, and of using fruit unexpectedly in savory dishes.  Here, cubed grilled pineapple and mandarin orange wedges (from a can, to save time) add a summery kick to a colourful salad of orzo, red and green bell pepper, red onion, chickpeas, black beans, and corn, with a dressing made of lime juice, olive oil, ginger, tons of garlic, scallions, hot pepper, and again plenty of fresh cilantro.

Fresh mint is by far one of my favourite things to cook with during summer, and Memorial Day weekend calls for summer food and drinks if nothing else.  Above, gin cocktails with muddled cucumber, mint, lime, and club soda (almost dangerously refreshing, considering that each one more than two shots of gin…) and below, one of my favourite salads (seriously, I make this almost weekly from June to September): watermelon, feta, mint, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.

And totally not involving mint, but we all basically know I can’t help myself from baking for every possible occasion… So, ginger & black pepper spice cookies with dark chocolate chips as well — to be made into mini ice-cream-sandwiches with vanilla or pistachio ice cream for dessert.

Oh shit! A food post! I always forget about these and you guys always comment and ask about them and blahdyblah, I cook like it’s my goshdarn job, blahdyblahblah.
Dinner last night was a twist on taking apart the usual Niçoise salad, minus the totes groce stuff, like anchovies and eggs, and letting the tuna and potatoes hold their own. So: Pan-seared tuna marinated in EVOO, apple cider vinegar, fresh rosemary, herbes de provence, garlic, mustard, and pepper; a chopped salad of most of the usual Niçoise vegetables with a wholegrain spicy mustard vinaigrette; and smashed roasted potatoes with garlic, rosemary, and fontina cheese. F’yeah.

holidaze

…and we all know what that means by now.  LOTS OF PHOTOS OF FOOD. And festivities, and, you know, that GIANT FUCKING BLIZZARD that stranded me for one extra day in the suburbs of New Jersey.

More after the jump….

sea salt toffee

It really amuses me when things which are actually relatively simple to make - for example, sea salted caramel/toffee/chocolate - become trendy in a way which seems intimidatingly gourmet.  Toffee (and other sugar-based candies like marshmallows and butterscotch) are suprisingly easy - and the addition of a dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt makes for an impressive-looking gift.  It does take a bit of patience and probably a few botched batches before you perfect it, but when I say simple, I mean simple.

What you need for a basic butter tofffee is:

• 1 cup butter
• 1 cup sugar
• a stove, a saucepan, a wooden spoon, and a large piece of aluminum foil on a hard heatproof surface