Indian-Spiced Cabbage and Onions

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I have found the best ways to interact with neighbors all center around food.

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For example, when I was really little we lived on the bottom floor and my cousins lived right above us in a duplex. Apparently, as a robust three-year-old, I would eat dinner at home and then go upstairs for round two. Very convenient. Also good to know old habits die hard.

wpid460-IndianCabbage-2.jpgIn my last apartment, there was the surprise (shirtless) visitor from downstairs, who emphatically asked if we wanted a gallon of kombucha, since he had just made way too much, oh, and hey we also made some blackberry jam, want some? (Uh, yesplease.)

wpid462-IndianCabbage-3.jpgwpid464-IndianCabbage-4.jpgOh, and once, in a fit of panic, I went around and knocked on all 3 doors of my old building to see if anyone, legit, had a half cup of milk for a cake I was baking. The dingy downstairs boys indeed did, and, after enduring a brief jam session I was invited to witness, were rewarded with cake the next day.

wpid466-IndianCabbage-5.jpgIn my new place, the basement of a brownstone with a family living upstairs, surprise shirtless visitors will be few and far between (I hope) (unless its a toddler). BUT we do share a corridor with the family and at in impromptu hallway meetup the other morning, our new neighbor asked if we were cooking something incredible last night.

wpid474-IndianCabbage-9.jpgYes, yes we were. It was cabbage. And onions. And it smelled like you were transported to the homiest of loving homes in Delhi and sat down for a legitimate feast. Onions, cumin, ginger, and turmeric. The humblest of ingredients create the most irresistible wafting aromas.

wpid470-IndianCabbage-7.jpgOh! And! My old roommate found the cookbook this recipe came from on this side of the street and thought I’d like it. Full Circle.

Indian-Spiced Cabbage and Onions

adapted the smallest bit from Madhur Jaffrey: An Invitation to Indian Cooking

7 T canola oil, divided
½ t whole cumin seeds
½ t whole fennel seeds
½ t whole brown mustard seeds
2 onions, divided
½ a large red cabbage, sliced as thin as possible
2-3 large collard green leaves, sliced into ribbons (optional)
1 t chopped celery leaves (I used this as a sub for whole fenugreek seeds)
2 whole canned tomatoes and their juices
fresh ginger, about 1 inch by 1.5 inches, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ a jalapeno or ¼ a long hot pepper, some seeds removed, thinly sliced in rounds
½ t turmeric
1 T lemon juice
1 t salt
1 t garam masala
Greek yogurt, to serve
rice, to serve

Heat 4 T oil over high heat in a very large pan. Add cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds. Stir frequently for about 30 seconds to a minute, until mustard seeds start to pop. Turn heat to medium and add one and a half onions, sliced (save the last half onion for later.) Cook for 5 minutes.

Next, add cabbage, collards leaves, and celery leaves. It will seem like there is WAY too much cabbage but stir lovingly and be patient, and cabbage will wilt astonishingly. Don’t be afraid to sacrfice a couple cabbage strands in the process. Cover, turn to low, and cook for 15 minutes. After this, take off the cover and cook for another half an hour.

Meanwhile, blend canned tomatoes + their juices, ginger, garlic, and the reserved half onion using an immersion blender (or a legit one).

Heat 3 T oil in a small skillet on high heat. Add blendered spice paste, spicy pepper slices, and turmeric. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened and your neighbor texts to ask if they can come over for dinner.

Once cabbage has cooked for 30 minutes, add thickened spice paste, lemon juice, salt, and garam masala. Stir together well and cook for an additional five minutes to let flavors meld. Spoon over rice, add a dollop of yogurt, and enjoy! I added some quick pan-fried tofu just to make it more of a complete meal, but it was totally unnecessary. Leftovers were AMAZING.

Cheesy Bulgur Risotto with Broccoli and Tomatoes

CheesyBrocBulgurRisotto-3Home is colors and clutter, memories and fantasies. A place to be proud of, to share, to embrace.

Well-read books and paged-through magazines and background music and postcards and leftovers and clean laundry and dirty laundry and scarves and beer and nail polish and lost pennies.

This is home. Not a specific bed, or room, or apartment, or neighborhood.

A feeling, a net, a hug, a soup, a warm shower.

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Changing all that isn’t easy. You can’t just plop a whole van’s worth of boxes and drawers into a different set of walls and expect it to transform.

This time I felt like the luckiest person in the world–moving into a place I already felt quite homey in, with a loving and fantastic person who had already prepared for this transition by buying extra storage boxes, reorganizing furniture, and, thankfully, not even asking me if I wanted to drive the van.

And here we are, a few days later, boxes still scattered and corners still cluttered but I look around while drinking a glass of wine from my vantage point on the couch and see the flowery potholders my mom bought me years ago hanging above the stove, and the elephant hooks I acquired in Nepal already overflowing with scarves, and our reordered dressers so they both fit snugly against the same wall, and I know I’m home.

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And seriously what better way to celebrate that than a reimagining of a homey meal I had growing up: broccoli and cheesy rice casserole. I’m not the biggest fan of broccoli, but cheddar always makes it shine, and the fractal (romanesco) version at least provides visual excitement. I’m having a bulgur wheat moment, as it has recently appeared as a nutty-and-crunchy sub for rice in this risotto, and as a hearty wholesome addition to a salad with apple, radish, quick pickled red onions, cilantro, and poppy seeds. I wonder if in 20 years “risotto” will sound to my children like “casserole” sounds to my generation, but for now it’s a pretty good excuse to combine grains, cheese, and veggies into a quick and delicious one-pot dinner.

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Guys I know these pictures are a bit subpar but a) make this because it’s seriously delicious and b) it’s the last time you’ll see this bowl in a post since it lived at the old apartment

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apple, radish, pickled red onion, bulgur salad. recipe from plenty more!

Cheesy Bulgur Risotto with Broccoli and Tomatoes

created by me!

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
1 large (or 2 small) garlic cloves, minced
1-2 scallions, minced (white and light green parts only)
1 spicy green chile pepper, some seeds removed, chopped small (I used 1/2 a long hot but 1 jalapeno would work too)
1 cup coarse bulgur
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups water, divided
1 large broccoli, cut into florets (I used some romanesco) (and took a lot of pictures of it)
1 tomato, roughly chopped
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
small handful coarsely chopped parsley
s&p to taste

In a medium-to-large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, scallion, garlic, and spicy pepper. Heat until soft, translucent, and smelling good, about 8 minutes.

Lower heat to medium and add bulgur. Toast, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Then, add broth, 1 cup water, and big pinch of salt. Turn heat to high until it boils, then cover and turn heat to low.

Simmer for 10 min. At this point, most of the liquid should be absorbed. Add 1 more cup water (or broth) and broccoli florets. Cover again. 5 minutes later, broccoli should have started turning bright green. Add your chopped tomato and all its juices. If necessary, add more water at this point too. Cover, but leave lid open a crack.

Risotto should be done about 5 minutes later–the tomatoes will be disintegrated, the bulgur chewy, the brocolli cooked through but still crunchy. Add cheddar, parsley, and s&p and serve immediately.

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boxes boxes boxes

Honey and Cinnamon Sautéed Apples with Ice Cream

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A nostalgic weekend away to visit your old college haunts should include:

-A well-loved CD played as many times as you can stand (thank you, Ingrid Michaelson)

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-Gorgeous views, foliage, natural beauty, and deep breaths of untainted air (thank you, upstate New York in general, and Saratoga Springs and Lake Luzerne specifically)

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-The obligatory visits to That Coffee Shop Where We Wrote Lots of PapersThe Bar Where We Met Boys (uh, hi mom), The Brunch Spot To Take Your Parents To, and, of course, the theater building where you spent most waking hours in college

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-The inevitable bumping into old classmates, complete with the understated but boastful (never skewed) recounting of where you live, what you do, how it fits into your goals from college, and why you’re so excited with where you are right now

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-Apple pickingwine tastingbookstore wandering, thrifting, breakfast making, and maybe some salsa dancing.

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What it doesn’t need to include:

-An awkward moment where your boyfriend realizes he ordered a $30 glass of scotch while the rest of the ex theater majors sit there with their glasses of water. Oops.

-A superbly frustrating bout of misinformation from the car rental company, who claims the name on the credit card has to be the same as the primary driver. Why should they care so much where the money comes from, as long ask they get it?!?! It’s Zipcar from here on out.

-Any momentary glimpse or glimmer of a feeling approaching hunger. Every meal had an intro and a follow through. As the Rule says, upstate weekends Don’t shy away from unabashed butter consumption, Dutch cheese frenzies, or frequent pie detours. No shame, people, no shame.

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Honey and Cinnamon Sautéed Apples & Vanilla Ice Cream: The Best Thing to Do Post-Apple Picking (or, Pie Without Crust)

1-2 T salted butter (or unsalted and add more later)
2 T honey
3 apples, any crunchy variety, unpeeled and roughly chopped
1 t ground cinnamon
ground cloves, a sprinkle (or use allspice or nutmeg)
¼ t salt
vanilla ice cream (HIGHLY recommended, but use whatever makes you happy)

Melt butter in a medium pan over medium high heat. After it froths, add honey. Mix together and cook until mixture becomes bubbly, about two minutes. Add apples and stir so all pieces are covered with butter/honey mixture. This should smell amazing. Add cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Turn heat to medium-low and continue cooking for about 10 minutes, or until apples are softened and sweet but not falling apart, and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Serve warm atop vanilla ice cream and swoon.

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Pure joy.

 

Sweet Sesame Cauliflower, Snow Pea, and Kale Salad

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Oh, Brooklyn. You tempt me with your rooftop gardens and skyline views, live music happy hours, and street fairs. You lure me in with your brownstones, cafes, cocktails, and bike paths. You sweeten my day with homemade everythings on every corner. And you leave me shocked at the J. Crew on Wythe (holy, what now?!), the price tag on a cold-brew, and the traffic on the Manhattan Bridge.

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But I never expected you to treat me like this: to throw me into a court house, make me stay there for two week while paying me $40 a day, claiming you are more important than any of my bosses or coworkers, and claiming it is my “civic duty”.

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Brooklyn, I’m just not down with Grand Jury Duty.

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But because I love your bodegas and ethnic grocery stores and general CSA enthusiasm that made this salad possible, I’ll forgive you for today. Cauliflower, you have not wronged me yet. Today, you beat Brooklyn. Choose cauliflower, not fulfilling civic duties.

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Sweet Sesame Cauliflower, Snow Pea, and Kale Salad
adapted from Plenty by Ottolenghi

1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup or so snow peas
1 small bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
½ T olive oil
1.5 cups cilantro leaves, roughly chopped; reserve a couple whole leaves for garnish
2 T sesame seeds

Sauce:
4 T tahini
2.5 T water
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ t soy sauce
½ T honey
¾ T apple cider vinegar
1.5 T mirin (sweet rice cooking wine)
pinch of salt

Bring a salted pot of water to a boil. Briefly blanch the cauliflower until cooked but still firm, about 2-3 minutes. Scoop into a colander and run under cool water. Return the water to a boil. Add snow peas, and cook for just 1 minute. Add to cauliflower.

Heat olive oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the kale and a splash of water and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients together with a fork.

To toast sesame seeds, put in a small dry pan and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until slightly brown and nutty-smelling. Keep a close eye on them; they like to turn too dark while you briefly answer a text message.

Combine cauliflower, snow peas, kale, and the chopped cilantro on a big plate. Drench with the sauce. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and whole cilantro leaves. Eat cool or warm.

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Kabocha and Caramelized Onion Toasts with Ricotta and Mint

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…or how I managed to totally slut up an innocent and slightly aging squash.

…or How To Make You Kitchen Smell, like, the BEST it ever has (note to self: caramelized onions + apple cider vinegar + maple syrup = oniony jam kitchentime nivrana).

….or the post where we use up all the CSA veggies accumulating in the fridge. Side note: I didn’t even try to take pictures of the, shall we say, creative and somewhat gelatinous side of golden beet-tiny potato-peas-pickle-parsley salad. Trust me on this one, tastes about a zillion times better than it looks, and it looks like something you may feed someone named, say, Fido.)

…or the “Daniel went salsa dancing and I have no camera so I took a million sucky iphone pictures” post. Feel free to skip the blurry awkward food pictures and RUN to the grocery store. I don’t blame you. Food heaven.

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Kabocha and Caramelized Onion Toasts with Ricotta and Mint

greedily and happily borrowed from Chez Catey Lou 

1 1/2 (or 2 if you don’t happen to have a half lying around) sweet yellow onions, sliced thin
½ c olive oil, divided
3 t salt, divided
¼ c REAL maple syrup
⅔ c apple cider vinegar
1 medium kabocha squash, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices (easier said than done–just use those arm muscles, friends)
pinch red pepper flakes
½ c ricotta cheese
4 T fresh mint, chopped
4 slices hearty bread (I used thick slices of Bakeri multigrain)

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a medium pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and 1 t salt and saute over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until tender, browned, and amazing-smelling. Then, add maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Continue cooking, stirring intermitently, until thickened and jammy, about another 25 minutes. Turn off heat.

Meanwhile, mix squash, ¼ c olive oil, 2 t salt, and red pepper flakes on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip squash and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Squash is done with it’s soft, lightly browned, and sweet.

Add squash to onion pan and mash with a wooden spoon. Leave some larger chunks; you don’t want a puree but more a coarse mash.

Toast bread slices. Slather with ricotta and top with squash/onion mixture. Drizzle olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and finally add chopped mint. Rejoice and praise the onion jam gods.

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The cutey on the right is the kabocha

(For a delicious and unphotogenic side dish, mix chopped boiled potatoes, chopped roasted golden beets, chopped dill pickles, minced red onion, 1 small can green peas, and parsley with red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a dollop of mayo. Or don’t, and eat another toast!)

 

Spicy Micheladas

The Finished Product

Do you remember the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day?

(Full disclosure: I didn’t really either, except for a vague version of the title. Wikipedia to the rescue.)

The book follows a little boy through a day where everything goes wrong. He doesn’t get the window seat in the carpool, his cereal box has no prize in it, and he must eat lima beans for dinner. Life is tough.

Last week, I had a truly Alexander-esque day. Spilled water on my laptop (hence the dearth of recent posts), went to the Apple store to learn it would cost an exorbitant fee, took the train to NJ for a late rehearsal, missed the first train back, arrived in Brooklyn past midnight to find my brand new bike had been stolen, and walked home, preparing myself to walk to work the next day for a 6:30 am start time.

Not my finest hour. Some tears were shed, some whiskeys were consumed. Some dramatic screams to the sky were contemplated, but not actually followed through with.

But what seems like the End of the World at first, usually isn’t. (In fact, hasn’t ever been yet.) I am lucky to have such a great support system, and now, a week later, I am poised to inherit an old laptop, my waterlogged computer’s hard drive was pried out and backed up (a million thank yous to Daniel), and the credit card company thinks it can reimburse us for the bike.

AND I managed to take a mini-vacation for some much-needed TLC to my parent’s beautiful home, where my sister painted my nails while watching the Food Network, we drank wine while putzing down the Charles at sunset on the parents’ little boat, and made the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten. Not a bad way to regroup.

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Even adults have Alexander days. When we do, there’s family, friends, and spicy micheladas. Make this. Drink to the end of summer and first world problems and supportive family and to the sunshine of tomorrow. Cue end of sappy post.

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Spicy Micheladas

from spoon fork bacon

1ish T honey (enough to fill the rim of a shallow bowl)
1/2 t smoked paprika
pinch cayenne
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t hot sauce (vinegar-based is best)
1 t soy sauce
2 limes worth of juice
1 light Mexican beer (we used Negro Modelo)

Mix together smoked paprika, salt, and cayenne in a shallow bowl/plate. Dip rim of glasses you plan to drink out of into honey. Then dip into smoked paprika/salt/cayenne mixture. (Plastic take-out containers, like from Thai restaurants, are perfect for this purpose!)

Combine all other ingredients in a shaker with a healthy dose of ice. Pour into two prepared glasses, add a lime wedge and a giant ice cube, and enjoy.

BEER

 

Roasted Radish, Blistered Pepper, and Olive Pizza

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Things I’d once assumed crazy and impossible and now know are doable:

  • I successfully only wore 1 pair of shoes (TEVAS iloveyou) for the entire month.
    • Daniel: You’ve been wearing Tevas this whole time?!! Shakes head.
    • Me: hehehehe.
    • Him: Stop googling your sandals at the coffee shop.
    • Me: hehehehe.
      Mom, be so proud.
  • Bike riding from Boston to NYC. My childhood friend Lauren and her lovely manfriend proved me wrong last weekend. Not sure the 180 mile trek is something they’ll try again for a while, but sounds like it was quite the adventure. We loved welcoming them with beer, Thai food, AC, and bagels.
  • Watching all 6 Star Wars movies. Okay, I still haven’t officially completed this one (and in fact fell asleep midway through the first), but I am DETERMINED. It is high time I know what my dorky imeanlovely boyfriend and his friends are talking about.
  • Making sticky dough form the same rectangular shape as the pan you’re putting it into. My mom made pizza all the time growing up, and I had one major success in college, but this was my (our) first Adult pizza-making session. In the middle, Daniel passionately exclaimed “I am never cooking again!” (as he is apt to do in moments of frustration), but then we tried a new tactic and voila pizza making led to pizza eating led to LET’S DO THIS AGAIN NEXT WEEK! An empty threat in the end.

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Roasted Radish, Blistered Pepper, and Olive Pizza

aka Pizza Experiment #1
hand held by Smitten Kitchen’s pizza section in her book or website

  • 2 tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 large clove garlic, quartered
  • ½ t + 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 t sugar
  • 4-5 radishes, cut into thin circles
  • ½ onion, sliced thin
  • 1 small summer squash (yellow or green), cut into small chunks (optional)
  • 1 T olive oil, plus extra for drizzle
  • s&p
  • 2 peppers (I used red but your choice!)
  • dough (I am lucky enough to work at a bakery; my pizza dough came from the day’s baguette scraps. There are a million recipes on the internet to make easy dough, or ask your local pizza guy if they’ll sell you some, or just use the supermarket variety. You can’t really go wrong here.)
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • fresh mozzarella
  • black olives, one can (although most were eaten during prep), cut in half
  • prosciutto (totally optional)
  • fresh basil, torn into smaller pieces (NOT OPTIONAL….just kidding. But Seriously, DO this.)
  • olive oil for drizzle (fine, fine, optional).

Sauce

In a food processor, blend tomatoes, quartered garlic clove, ½ t red pepper flakes (or less), 1 T white wine vinegar, and 1 t sugar. Blend until there are no more chunks of tomato left. If you want to be totally anal you can strain it, but ours was more than smooth enough. This sauce is quite runny (don’t expect pasta sauce) but makes a great pizza base layer. As written, it is quite spicy; feel free to taste and spice as you go.

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Roast Radishes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix sliced radishes, onion, and squash together on a baking tray. Coat in 1 T olive oil and cover with salt and freshly ground pepper. We used rosemary sea salt, but any old salt will do. Roast for about 20 minutes, until radishes are tender and sweet, and onions (and squash) get soft, sweet, and a bit mushy. Set Aside. Turn oven up as hot as it will go to prepare for pizza baking.

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Blistered Peppers

To make blistered peppers, remove grate on top of a gas stove. Cut just the very end off a pepper and spear it with a skewer (or chopstick). Turn one burner to highest flame. Hold pepper in flame (without burning your hand!), turning every so often, until skin gets blackened. This will be a fairly noisy process, as pepper actually emits sound bursts as skin gets charred! Don’t be alarmed. When peppers are totally blackened, set aside to cool. When cool, use your fingers or a small sharp knife to peel off the blackened skin. Don’t worry if some small charred pieces stick! They will just add extra flavor. Cut into thin strips.

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To assemble pizza

Sprinkle cornmeal to cover the bottom of a baking pan. (We used a rimmed cookie sheet.) Take that dough and manhandle it until it covers the bottom of the pan in a basic rectangular shape a preschooler could recognize. Use plenty of olive oil on your fingers and be patient. Gently use both hands to press on dough, inch by inch, starting at lumpy parts and pushing them outwards. If holes form, pinch them closed.

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Once this is accomplished, pat yourself on the back and move on to the fun part. Daniel and I each claimed half a pizza to do with as we wished (his meaty, mine overly cheesy). Here’s my ideal: spoon a bit of sauce over dough. Cover with roasted radish mixture. Next add pepper strips decoratively. Then tear long stringy pieces from your mozzarella ball and cover liberally. Top with halved black olives. (And if you’re Daniel, add proscuitto and hot sauce.) Pop into your super hot (as hot as it gets) oven for about 10 minutes, or until the crust bakes and cheese melts. Immediately out of the oven, cover with torn basil leaves. Devour while hot, perhaps while (finally) watching Star Wars.

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Caramelized Fennel with Dill and Goat Cheese

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Yes I know I’m roughly four years late to the party but…OTTOLENGHI’S “PLENTY”!!!

In the past, I’ve wistfully flipped through the beautiful, vegetable-and-spice laden pages, whispering “someday, I’ll have you” and getting creepy looks from very nice bookstore people. And then last week, due to a fortunate series of events we will from here on out refer to as birthday + boyfriend’s parents, I received my very own copy. No more awkward cell phone pictures of recipes (as the lovely book people look the other way) for me! Hoorah!

Onward to oil-splotched pages, handwritten notes in margins, and vegetarian nirvana!

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To start, Daniel chose two recipes at random. They absolutely didn’t go with each other but no worries, we made a delicious meal of it AND I cooked two new vegetables! Neither fennel nor okra have ever made an appearance in my kitchen until yesterday. I have now officially found my favorite fennel preparation–Ottolenghi’s version tempers the “licorice”-ness, not by hiding it, but by adding a spicy caramel kick and and a fruity dill and lemon zest finish. And THEN you add goat cheese.

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And the okra? Drenched in a homemade fiery sambal sauce and paired with gingery coconut rice, fried shallots, and cilantro (and roasted shredded chicken for the carnivore), it totally stole the show.

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Please refer to book for exact instructions (Fennel on page 172 and Coconut Rice with sambal and okra on page 230) but here’s roughly how I made the fennel. So far, so good, Ottolengz. Two outta two.

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Caramelized Fennel with Dill and Goat Cheese
from Plenty

2 large fennel bulbs, fronds removed, cut into ½-inch thick slices
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 T sugar
scant 1 t whole fennel seeds
s&p
big handful of dill, stems and leaves, roughly chopped (about 1/2 cup)
zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, chopped
3-4 oz creamy goat cheese

Heat butter and olive oil in a large pan over high head. When butter starts to sizzle, add a single layer of sliced fennel. Cook without moving for about 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned. Carefully flip over, using tongs, and brown on the other side (1-2 more minutes). Do this in batches, until all the fennel is cooked. Set fennel aside.

In the same pan, add sugar, fennel seeds, and s&p. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds, or until fennel seeds smell good. Add all the fennel back into the pan and cook for just another 1-2 minutes, stirring to evenly coat with caramel mixture. Return fennel to plate to cool.

In a big bowl, mix chopped dill and garlic. Stir to combine. Add cooled fennel slices, and mix delicately to coat. To serve, put all fennel slices in a single layer on a plate. Place spoonfuls of goat cheese on top. Finish with lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.

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10 Summer Foodie Moments

1. My birthday: always deep in August, when summer is winding down. This year spent on Fire Island, grilling everything possible, going to the beach every day, and winning the local trivia bar night. Which led to free beer koozies, fire ball shots, and maybe some inappropriate ocean usage. Shh.

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2. My roommate had a thriving roof top garden! We ate so many fresh tomatoes and herbs in everything. Herbs make the world go ’round.

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3. My uncle turned 60 and had a surprise birthday! I was commissioned to make a cake, and you can never go wrong with a smitten kitchen classic. 

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4. Daniel and I spent the Fourth of July with his family in Texas. We went to a real bonafide Texan Rib-B-Q! This Northerner Jewish vegetarian was out of her comfort zone. (But I did consume a “cowboy cauldron” rib and enjoy it thoroughly.) (Also please note Daniel’s impressive plate.) We also went on a road trip for kolaches! Aka Czech/Texan baked donuts, either savory or sweet. (Get a really good version in NY at Brooklyn Kolache Company.)

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IMG_12995. Yesterday I ate a pretty awesome bagel, just because. From Black Seed Bagels, a trendy new Lower East Side place. It was after a pretty terrifying audition for a Chase Bank commercial, which happened accidentally by being scouted at my current employment bakery. Everyone else there was a 6′ sexy European model, so I would say my bagel was justified.

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6. In other cooking news, my CSA made me pretty darn proficient at cooking Swiss Chard. Especially here, as part of a complete breakfast. And also rhubarb! As a crucial part of this stewed honey rhubarb and fresh mint ice cream experience.

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7. My mom and sister came to town! A highlight was our dinner at Fat Radish, followed by amazing strange dessert at Mango Mango Dessert (probably the worst website I’ve come across recently and by that I mean BEST). I love nothing more that sticky sweet fruity ricey desserts in the middle of summer. Mmm.

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8. Many mid-day World Cup watching sessions turned into mid-day snack quests. Enter: the macaroni and cheese pizza. Aka the baked ziti pizza. Aka maccheeziti pizza. Yup, that entire slice happened.

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9. At the beginning of the summer, Daniel’s brother and sister-in-law joined us for a week of eating, climbing, and exploring. One highlight was mac and cheese night–we used our favorite recipe from Homeroom in Oakland as the base, and made it our own with smoked gouda, fontina, cheddar, and parmesan. Love any excuse to make mac.

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10. For recent birthday celebrations, my awesome friends joined me for a park picnic. Daniel, (at my request), popped his layer cake virginity with this beautiful creation. We had to even out the bottom layer, and so it became a cake cookie. I made Ottolenghi’s carrot salad, and my amazing friends made tomato quinoa salad, potato salad, nectarine & mozzarella salad, deviled eggs, sangria, etc. I’m a lucky lady. photo 1photo 1

Here’s to hoping fall is just as delicious! Apple-everything: I’m ready for you.

 

 

BBQ Sweet Potato Nachos + Upscale Bar Food Dinner Party

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Imagine: You invite two friends over for dinner. You may have previously bragged a bit about how much you love cooking and recipe planning etc. You chat about blogs, Bon Appetite, restaurants, food trends. You promise to go all out.

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Flash forward to two weeks later, the morning of said pre-planned dinner. You have some frozen corn in the freezer from last week’s CSA. That’s it. You realize that you have roughly nine hours to create a beautiful and memorable meal. You have a minor freak out.

But then coffee was consumed and magazines and blogs were consulted. And so a theme was deliberated over: Bar food? No, Mediterranean. No, fancy bar food. Bourgeois bar food! The barista thinks its a good idea.

Commence brainstorming: some sort of soup, but on toast? something like dip, but in salad form? how much fried stuff is too much? do we need dessert?

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And so, four grocery stores, one bike ride, 4 bottles of vegetable oil, and many hours later, this is what we came up with.

“Spinach Artichoke Dip” Salad

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not pictured: a very healthy dose of parmesan and feta, and lots of lemony vinaigrette

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” 

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Daniel says, “yeah those tasted great but dang were they ugly. I’m not taking no pictures.” And I said “oh okay YOU=CAULIFLOWER.” And its my blog so here’s his picture.

Sesame-Soy (actual) wings

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“Stuffed jalapeno” individual polenta cakes (leftovers amazing with scrambled eggs!)

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a healthy dose of bacon to please the carnivores

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Homemade Sweet Potato Chip nachos, vegetarian and meaty versions

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With beer and whisky. No need for dessert.

We mostly just followed other recipes, tweaking as we went. But, in honor of the blog name, here’s the recipe for those awesome nachos.

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Vegetarian (or not) BBQ Sweet Potato Nachos

adapted from the Food Network

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices with a mandoline
vegetable oil for frying
¼ c salt
⅛ c ground pepper
⅛ c garlic powder
healthy dash cayenne
1 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 jalapenos, one diced and two cut into thin rounds
1 T tomato paste
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ lb ground beef, optional
2 cups shredded cheese; we did half smoked gouda and half monterey jack
½ bunch of cilantro, chopped, optional
sour cream to serve, optional

Make sweet potato chips:

First make seasoning mixture by combining salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. (Keep in mind this makes a ton! Keep leftovers for future chip batches.) Break out a large heavy pot (5 quart if you have it), fill it up to roughly ⅓ with vegetable oil (I’d say about 4 inches depth. You’re going to use a lot of oil here), and heat it until it reaches about 360º (use a candy or deep-fry thermometer). Place enough sliced sweet potatoes in to create a fairly dense surface layer and start actively patting them down under the oil with a slotted spatula. The temperature is going to drop pretty quickly, but if it stays above 180º you’ll be fine. Keep stirring and turning and drowning for 5 to 7 minutes, and just when you start seeing the hearts of your sweet potato chips going brown, start removing them and place them on a thick bed of paper towels. Sprinkle your seasoning mixture and coat to taste. As soon as the oil temperature reaches 360º, repeat. Once your crispy batch cools enough, toss them into a bowl, but keep the same paper towels on the plate for reuse with all cooked batches. As you repeat this process, more and more of the seasoning will rest on the paper towels, so keep that in mind as you’ll need to coat each new batch a little less. Also, feel free to eat as many of these chips as necessary to “test” that you’re doing it right, as well as to revel in how amazing it is that you’re making chips all by yourself.

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Make BBQ beans/meat:

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onions are translucent and garlic smells wonderful, about 5-6 minutes. Add diced jalapeno and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the air smells spicy. Add tomato paste, black beans, and s&p. Mix so tomato paste coats everything. Add BBQ sauce and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so, or until mixture thickens and smells amazing. Add extra BBQ sauce if mixture becomes too thick. If you want a non-vegetarian version as well, heat another medium skillet. Add a small splash of oil and add ground beef, stirring frequently, until evenly browned and cooked through. Add half of bean mixture to beef and simmer together for another five minutes or so.

To make nachos:

On a rimmed cookie sheet, or any other large platter, layer sweet potato chips, bean/beef mixture, jalapeno rounds, and cheese. Repeat. Place in a 400 degree oven until cheese gets melty, about 5-7 minutes. Top with chopped cilantro and sour cream and serve while hot!

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