Archive for the ‘side dish’ Category
I went back to Buvette last week where I ordered the carottes râpées and croque forestière, a grilled mushroom sandwich wrapped in gruyere. As you may recall, I do have a thing for carrot salads from France.
This time, the date showed up but he asked to split the bill. So we’re on to the next one.
Then I spent the weekend downtown, cat sitting or a friend, and took advantage of the new surroundings and colorful cookware to try out a recipe. Buvette’s carrots were on the menu and even though most of my meals took place in restaurants (my parents were in town), I managed to squeeze in a salad and a few fun shots.
Speaking of new surroundings, I’m actually traveling right now. At the last minute, I booked what I’m calling a creative retreat to Bermuda. I’ve wanted to come here since my friends and I were subjected to a emergency landing on the island, trapped for several hours in the airport with only one vending machine, and tortured with a view of pink houses. I know it may seem extravagant given that I’ve just returned from Iceland. And yet, a bunch of projects over the past month have made it nearly impossible to catch up on a pile of writing – both here and over at the Forward. With the Jewish holidays and several upcoming cookbook releases on the horizon, I wanted to dedicate a little time to my “craft.” I’ve also brought my real camera and hope to play around with photographing things that aren’t food.
You can follow my travels over on Instagram. Today, there were bus rides (including an impromptu sunbathing session sitting on a stone wall at the bus stop, my feet mere inches from the cars, trucks, and bikes – but no bus for nearly an hour – winding their way towards me), reading on a beach that slowly disappeared as the tide came in, and a massage by the pool while the sun set. When I finish posting this, I’m taking a night swim.
And now, before y’all hate me, the recipe.
Buvette’s carottes râpées with pistachios and coriander vinaigrette
Adapted from Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food. Jody Williams calls this vinaigrette “an assertive lemon dressing” and it’s bracing in its acidity on its own, but mixed with sweet carrots and salty pistachios, it works. This makes a little more dressing than you’ll need. You can use a food processor to grate the carrots, but I prefer to use a julienne peeler for longer, thicker pieces.
– ¼ C freshly squeezed lemon juice (my lemons were a little sad, so I needed 4; typically you can get ¼ cup juice from 2 lemons)
– ½ C extra virgin olive oil
– 1 medium garlic clove, grated on a Microplane (or finely minced)
– Large pinch sea salt
– Large pinch red chili flakes
– 1 t coriander seeds, toasted
– 4 C grated carrots (approximately 6 carrots hand grated)
– ½ C shelled pistachios (I used roasted salted nuts)
– Handful fresh cilantro leaves
Whisk. Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, and chili flakes.
Crush. With a mortar and pestle (I used the other end of a wooden spoon) or the flat side of a knife blade, gently crush the coriander seeds and add them to the dressing.
Marinate. Pour the dressing over the carrots, pistachios, and cilantro. Allow to sit for at least half an hour before serving.
Chill. The salad will keep, well covered, in the refrigerator for a few days.
It’s T minus six days to Thanksgiving and I’ve got a quick recipe to share: mushroom stuffing made with cornbread. First, I tweaked the cornbread I’ve made here before, mainly upping the amount of corn and sugar. It’s so good that I was worried that my nibbles here and there (and here and there) were going to require me to make up a second batch for the stuffing, but I restrained myself and had just enough left after an overnight stale that the one batch sufficed. But it was touch and go for a while there.
I’ve used the cornbread in a sweeter stuffing before, mixing it with apples, aromatics, and some turkey-friendly herbs. But I think I prefer this year’s version – it’s got the same aromatics (celery and onion) and a whole lot of mushrooms. It takes its flavor cues from how my mom prepares the Pepperidge Farm crouton mix that we traditionally use (and love).
Adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2004 Cookbook and updated an older recipe on this blog. Pureeing corn with water in a blender for a couple of minutes creates a thick non-dairy substitute for the milk that’s normally in cornbread. Baking it in a pre-heated, very hot skillet results in an nice brown bottom crust.
– 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
– ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing skillet
– 1¼ cup water
– 2 eggs
– 1½ cup flour
– 1½ cup cornmeal
– 6 tablespoons sugar
– 1½ teaspoon salt
– 1½ teaspoon baking powder
Prepare. Preheat oven to 450˚F. Place a 9-inch round cast iron skillet into the oven.
Blend. In a blender or food processor, blend the corn, oil and water for two minutes until smooth. Add the eggs and pulse a few times until combined.
Mix. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the wet mixture to the bowl and stir until incorporated.
Bake. Using an oven mitt, pull the cast iron skillet out of the oven and drizzle with oil, swirling to cover the bottom and sides of the skillet. Add the corn bread batter to the skillet and bake until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
Parve Cornbread and Mushroom Stuffing
Adapted from the New York Times. Prepare the cornbread recipe and then crumble and spread out on two sheet pans, allowing to dry overnight or longer or for at least 20 minutes in a 150˚F oven.
– 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
– 2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 medium onions)
– 1½ cup celery (4–5 stalks)
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– ¾ pound white button mushrooms
– ¾ pound cremini mushrooms
– ¾ teaspoon fresh thyme
– Salt and pepper to taste
– ½ cup chopped parsley
– 8 cups crumbled, stale cornbread (see recipe above)
– 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Prepare. Preheat oven to 325˚F. Grease a 9- by 13-inch or similarly sized (12-cup) shallow baking pan.
Saute. In a large, deep skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic. Sauté, stirring for 5–7 minutes, until tender. Add mushrooms and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the mushrooms release their liquid (about 5 minutes) and then resorb it (another 10 minutes). Taste for salt and pepper.
Mix. In a large bowl, combine the mushrooms, parsley and cornbread. Mix in the stock to moisten the cornbread. Transfer to greased baking pan.
Bake. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is lightly browned, another 15 minutes. Serve hot.
How was your Thanksgiving? Your Hanukkah?
This Thanksgiving, with nine of us around the table, we kept things low-key and didn’t go crazy with the food. I mean, we didn’t even have potatoes, sweet or otherwise.
Now, even with a more streamlined menu, there was still that last-minute scramble as we pulled the turkey out of the oven and realized that we hadn’t cooked the broccoli and brussels sprouts. Actually, we hadn’t even decided how to cook those vegetables. While we let the turkey rest, my mom and I rapidly sliced off florets and halved sprouts, spread them on a few baking sheets, doused with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and popped them into the hot oven. You can’t go wrong with roasting.
We started dinner with soup served in mugs. The mugs don’t match the plates. They don’t even match each other. And not in that hip casual-chic kind of way. I love that we start dinner in mugs. It’s cozy – you can’t help but wrap your hands around the warm ceramic, raise it to your face, and blow on the steaming soup until it’s cool enough to sip, spoons reserved for scraping out the last few drops.
After the salad was passed around, my cousin Ben slipped out to carve the turkey (he’s a turkey-carving whiz) and I grabbed the vegetables and stuffing out of the oven.
We took a dishwashing break before dessert.
The next day, we had turkey for lunch and dinner.
Before we get to the stuffing (you know, just in time to start planning next Thanksgiving), here are a few links and thoughts for the week.
Ever put maple syrup in your coffee? Try it. Thanks for the tip, Adeena.
Paula Wolfert – queen of Mediterranean, Moroccan, and clay pot cooking – talks about Alzheimer’s and staving off its progression with cooking. On starting off every morning with a hulk-green smoothie, filled with anti-oxidants and ingredients purported to improve cognition, she says, “It is tough going because it’s not delicious, it’s nutritious. My grandmother told me, during the second world war, we were sitting in the vegetable garden: If you want to win a war, you’ve got to be willing to fight.”
A new-to-me blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co. More photos than words, Yossy Arefi, makes cakes and cookies that make me want to go out and buy pounds and pounds of butter. How about a meyer lemon and grapefruit bundt? Yes, please.
And now, the stuffing.
Cornbread apple stuffing
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Apple and Herb Stuffing for All Seasons. I substituted corn bread (this recipe, which is based on Elisha’s recipe) for the hearty white bread that Deb recommended. I doubled this recipe for Thanksgiving, and our family of nine had enough leftovers for days. When I reheat the stuffing, I sometimes pour a little liquid over top – water works just fine – to keep it from drying out in the oven (or microwave).
Make or buy cornbread a day or two in advance if possible so you can pull it apart and dry it out; otherwise, toast it in the oven for 10-15 minutes. If you do want to make your own cornbread, I’ve modified my go-to recipe to reflect the quantities for this stuffing.
– 1 recipe cornbread (below) or 6 cups of cornbread cut or torn into cubes and crumbs (approximately an 8X8 pan)
– 1 large yellow onion
– 2 large stalks celery
– 1 large or 2 small firm, tart tart apples, such as Granny Smith
– 5 T olive oil, divided
– 1 t chopped fresh thyme leaves
– ½ t kosher salt, plus more to taste
– Freshly ground black pepper
– ¼ C roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
– 3 sage leaves, minced
– 1-2 C turkey, chicken or vegetable stock or broth
– 1 large egg
Dry. Cut or tear the cornbread into small cubes or crumble into large crumbs. Let the bread dry out for a day or two before proceeding, or spread it out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes until pale golden. Keep your oven on.
Sauté. Finely chop the onion, celery, and apple. Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, thyme, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add celery and cook for 2 more minutes. Then add apple and sauté until a bit tender, another 5 minutes.
Mix. Place dried-out cornbread in a large mixing bowl and scrape contents of the skillet on top. Whisk together egg and 1 cup broth and pour over. Stir in parsley and sage. Dig your hands in and mix everything together. The bread should hold its shape but be wet enough to squish when you squeeze it. If the bread seems a bit dry, pour another half cup of broth over it. If it’s still dry, pour in the last half cup. Let the bread soak for half an hour in the refrigerator.
Bake. Use the last tablespoon of oil to grease a 9-inch square baking dish (or another equivalent pan) . Spoon the bread mix into the dish. If you toasted the bread earlier, your oven should already be at 350°F; otherwise, turn it on. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until brown on top and no liquid appears if you insert a knife vertically into the center of the stuffing pan and turn it slightly. Serve immediately, or reheat as needed. If you do reheat, you might need to add some extra liquid before popping into the oven for 10-15 minutes.
(Non-dairy) skillet cornbread
– 1 ½ C flour
– 1 ½ C fine cornmeal
– 2 T sugar
– 1 ½ t salt
– 1 ½ t baking powder
– ¾ C corn kernels (I use frozen and thaw them before use)
– 1 ¼ C water
– 4 T oil (canola or olive), divided
– 2 eggs
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Place a large oven-proof cast-iron skillet on the middle rack.
Mix. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Purée. Place the corn, water and 2 tablespoons of oil into a blender (or food processor) and puree for about 2 minutes until it’s smooth and no corn pieces remain. Add the eggs and continue to blend everything together. You’ll end up with a light yellow liquid that’s a bit thicker than whole milk.
Wait. Wait until the oven is hot before adding the wet ingredients to the dry.
Stir. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Stir until all the ingredients are incorporated (don’t over-mix), scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure you don’t miss any flour.
Swirl. Take the skillet out of the oven (it will be very hot) and pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, swirling so that it coats the bottom and sides of the skillet. Pour the batter into the skillet – is should sizzle as it hits the hot pan.
Bake. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm right out of the pan. If you’re making stuffing, let the cornbread completely cool, then cut or crumble into pieces and allow to dry out overnight or in the oven, as detailed above.
As the calendar page turns from September to October, here’s a recipe I made in August. It’s farmers market fare and there’s still time to get in on it before most of our carrots are plucked from cold storage.
Roasted carrots with carrot top hazelnut pesto
Adapted from Bon Appétit. Carrot tops are the earthier, more bitter cousins of their roots. Which I realize doesn’t sound particularly appetizing. But bear with me here. To mellow the bitterness of the pesto, I added one of the carrots and lemon juice. Rather than using pine nuts as in the original recipe, I chose hazelnuts since I like how well carrots and the Egyptian spice and nut (usually hazelnut) mix called dukkah go together. The leftover pesto is great on vegetables that sweeten with roasting – cauliflower, beets, parsnips, even Brussels sprouts.
Serves 4 as a side dish
– 2 pounds carrots (about a dozen medium) with tops attached
– 2 T + ¼ C olive oil, divided
– kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
– ½ garlic clove
– ¼ C hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
– ¼ C parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
– 2-3 T lemon juice
Prep. Heat oven to 400°F. Peel and trim the carrots, leaving short stems attached. Set aside one carrot and all the leafy tops. Was the tops really well to remove any dirt.
Roast. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. Toss carrots (except for the one you put aside) with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, a few pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally until carrots are golden brown and tender, 35-45 minutes for full sized carrots (less time for smaller carrots).
Crush. Pulse garlic and nuts in a food processor until a coarse paste forms. Add 1 cup of the carrot tops, the carrot you set aside, and parsley; process until a coarse purée forms. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and lemon juice and pulse until combined; season with salt and pepper.
Serve. Serve carrots drizzled with pesto.
Store. The pesto will last up to 2 weeks in a jar in the refrigerator. It should also freeze well.
The first time I liked eggplant was in London. Until then, I was one of the many eggplant haters. The flesh too bitter, too slimy. The skin too rubbery. My mouth too itchy with each bite.
Babaghanoush? No thank you. Eggplant parm? Nope, I make it with zucchini. Ratatouille? I’ll pass.
And then, sitting in the Japanese restaurant a block from her flat, Lau ordered the aubergine that changed my hating ways.
Lau and I worked at the same company, me in New York, her in London. We first met when she was on secondment to our New York office, and I lived a dozen blocks uptown from her, and after late nights in the office, we used to share a taxi home.
Around the time she returned to the UK, I started working with a client in Germany. I’d bookend every trip with a few days in London. You know, to make sure I wasn’t jetlagged for client meetings. Once my project was over, I took advantage of our cross-Atlantic company and worked out of our UK office every few months. I’d stay on Lau’s orange pull-out couch. Each time I visited, there was more framed art on the wall. They were mostly Lau’s paintings. And there was that five-foot piece she’d managed to get past security and onto a plane as her carry-on.
We made good roommates. I’d stock her fridge with groceries and make dinner with her limited appliances. (She had no oven. For real. No oven. I had my work cut out for me.) She’d order in sushi from the place down the street. The same place every time. We’d eat on our laps on that orange couch. After dinner, Lau would make a pot of milky tea. And then usually we’d have to pull out our laptops and work.
For a few years, I thought that the sushi place was take-out/delivery only. When we walked past it on the way to the tube every morning, I never noticed that there were seats inside. One night, with bags slung over our shoulders, we walked in. The little sushi place was long and narrow, at least twenty tables between the street and the kitchen hidden away behind a red and black curtain.
We ordered more sushi than two people should ever eat in one sitting. Those paper lists with the check boxes and the little nubby pencil, they get me every time. Just as the waiter was about to turn away, long list triumphantly in hand, Lau gestured him back. “Oh, and can we have the aubergine?” He nodded.
I looked at Lau head tilted, brows furrowed. “You’ll love it, trust me.” And that was that.
The waiter set on our table two golden sticky eggplant halves, mirror images of each other. Lau scooped out the flesh and took a bite. I scooped out the flesh and took a sniff. Sweet, and a little smoky. I raised fork to mouth and took a nibble. Sweet, salty, smooth, silky. Several scoops later, there was only thin crispy skin left. And there there was just a plate with a few golden brown sticky pools where eggplant had sat just a few minutes earlier.
I turned into an eggplant lover. I’ve never turned back.
I have dreamed about this caramelized salty sweet miso-glazed eggplant since the day I had it years ago, and after a few tries, I got the recipe right. I used the eggplant roasting technique from Ottolenghi’s Plenty and the miso glaze recipe from Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy. Make sure to cross hatch the flesh so the eggplant cooks quickly and evenly, and the glaze seeps into the flesh during the second roasting. You’ll have some extra sauce which would be great on roasted vegetables or with tofu. I’ve been able to find miso in Whole Foods and health food stores.
Serves 2 as a side dish or starter.
– 2 thin-skinned eggplants (small Italian or long thin Japanese)
– 3 T olive oil
– 2 1/2 T sesame oil, divided (1 T for the eggplant and 1 1/2 T for the miso dressing)
– salt and pepper
– 2 T white miso
– 1 t mirin
– 1/2 t white sugar
– 3-4 T warm water
– 2 green onions
– 2 T sesame seeds
Prep. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Put one rack in the middle of the oven and another just under the broiler. Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil.
Cut. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise through the green stalk. Use a small sharp knife to cross-hatch the flesh without cutting through the skin.
Roast. Arrange the eggplant halves, cut side up, on the lined baking sheet. Mix the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a small bowl. Brush the eggplant flesh with the oil mixture, and keep brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Go light on the salt because the miso is pretty salty itself. Roast the eggplant for about 20 minutes. They’re ready when they start to brown and the softened flesh pulls away from the cross-hatch cuts.
Whisk. While the eggplant is roasting, whisk the miso, mirin, and sugar into a paste. Stir in enough warm water (I needed 3 tablespoons) to thin the mix to a smooth consistency.
Slice and toast. Thinly slice the green onions on a bias. Spill the sesame seeds into a small pan over medium-high heat. Shake the pan occasionally and remove from the burner when the seeds are golden brown and smell nutty (about 5 minutes). Watch closely so that the sesame seeds don’t burn.
Broil. Remove the eggplant and brush with the miso glaze. Turn on the broiler. Place the eggplant on the top rack and watch carefully. Within about a minute, the glaze will start to bubble and caramelize. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before eating.
Serve. Sprinkle the eggplant with the green onion and toasted sesame seeds.
It’s been such a long time. I’ve missed this space. I’ve missed you guys. I’m back from Peru and have so much to tell you about the trip.
But first, some exciting news. I started a new job!
Maybe you prepare for a new role by self-reflecting and setting goals for success, researching the company and industry, honing skills that might need, well, honing. I did all those things, but I spent my last days of freedom figuring out how I was going to transition from a home office to an office office: I chose my first-week outfits.
And then I decided to mix and match in the kitchen too. I prepped food over the weekend so that, morning or evening, I could open my fridge and pantry like a closet, easing the scramble to pack lunch or throw together dinner. There were greens and herbs to clean, vegetables to roast, dressings and sauces to whisk, meats and grains to cook, nuts to toast.
A few rules of thumb. The vegetables last a few days, so don’t make too much. Dressings are usually good for two weeks unless they contain fresh herbs. Sauces, meat, and grains are easy to freeze, and toasted nuts stay fresh in a jar for at least a month, so make a lot and squirrel them away.
I started week one with butternut squash, using farro that I made a while back and froze.
Tomorrow is a tabouli-like bulgur salad. More on that later, but, right now the big question is … what shall I wear?
Butternut squash and farro salad with pepitas and ricotta salata
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Farro, wheat berries, freekeh, barley, brown rice, quinoa – use whatever grains you have around. (Yes, I know quinoa is a seed.) I roasted the squash at a slightly higher temperature and used scallions instead of red onions. Don’t skip the pumpkin seeds, and definitely don’t skip toasting them. The crunch is worth it.
While you’re at it, make extra squash (keeps in the refrigerator for a few days), farro (freeze for a few weeks), and pepitas (store in a jar for a few weeks).
Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 for lunch
– 2 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
– 4-5 T olive oil, divided
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
– 1/2 C dried farro (or wheat berries, freekeh, barley, etc.)
– 1 T sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
– 1 T water
– 1/2 t salt
– 1/2 t granulated sugar
– 2 scallions
– 1/3 C pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
– 3 oz ricotta salata or another salty cheese (about 3/4 C crumbled) – a dry feta would work well too
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Roast. Cut the butternut squash between the bulb and neck to make peeling easier. Spoon out the seeds. Cut the squash into pieces about 3/4-inch all around. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the squash out in one layer. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until pieces are browned and tender, about 30 – 40 minutes. Shake the pan once or twice during roasting.
Simmer. While the squash is roasting, make the wheat berries (or other grains or quinoa) according to the package directions and drain. If you have one, use a pressure cooker! Otherwise, this “beyond rice” guide from the January 2013 Cook’s Illustrated is really helpful. Let the drained grains cool a bit.
Whisk. While the squash is roasting and the grains are simmering, prepare the dressing. Whisk in a small bowl or jar the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar. There will not be a lot of liquid. Thinly slice the scallions and add them to the dressing. There will be more scallion than dressing. Let the scallions mellow in the brine for at least 10 minutes.
Toast. In a small pan, toast the pepitas over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Shake the pan a few times while toasting. The seeds will color slightly, puff up, and some will even pop. Once the pepitas are ready, mix with a teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Mix. In a large bowl, mix together the squash, grains, scallions and brine. Toss. Crumble half the cheese over the salad and add half the pepitas and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss again. Before serving, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pepitas.
Today was a salad-for-breakfast kind of day. And a salad-for-lunch-kind of day. And a salad-for-dinner kind of day. Not only that, it was a kale-salad-for-breakfast-lunch-dinner kind of day.
I was pretty late to the kale game. My first ever taste was nearly four years ago when I bought a big bunch of kale to help me decide whether to join a CSA. I had heard that in bad years, even in good years, you can go weeks on end with little more than kale and a few carrots in your weekly vegetable box. So I made a kale soup. I did end up buying into CSA, but the soup was decidedly on the con list, despite what may have I told you at the time).
And then for years, kale disappeared from my blog. It disappeared from my kitchen. It even disappeared from my CSA box (every week, I found some pour soul to trade their tomatoes/chard/potatoes/tomatoes for the prized kale; yeah, you never want to share food with me).
But it’s back, my friends. Kale is back. And with a vengeance. Three times this month. Thrice!
I took baby steps at first, using delicate tender baby kale leaves in a salad and a soup. And then, I dove right in. I skipped over the mild lacinato (dinosaur) variety and went straight for the red Russian. Imagine biting into curly parsley when you’re expecting Italian flat-leaf. That’s the difference between red Russian and baby kale.
But mix some kale with a little oil, a little acid, a little salt, and we’re in business. The leaves wilt just enough to become not merely palatable, but delicious. They absorb the flavors and then hold them in while resisting the wilt that their less hardy brethren are so prone to.
Dress it today, eat it tomorrow. Or, if you’re like me, dress it today, eat it this morning, this afternoon, and this evening.
Kale salad with ricotta salata, walnuts, and bread crumbs
I started this salad with Kim Severson‘s version (also reprinted in the New York Times where Mark Bittman called it The Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad, as if it were the only one worth knowing!) and then added parsley for its fresh flavor and toasted bread crumbs and walnuts for some crunch. Ricotta salata is ricotta cheese that has been pressed, aged, and dried. It is solid, but can crumble. If you can’t find it, a sheep’s milk feta could substitute (I like Pastures of Eden brand).
Serves 4 (or just 1 over the span of a day)
– 3-4 slices stale baguette (for 1/2 C crumbs)
– 1/2 C walnuts
– 1 t + 1/4 C olive oil, divided
– kosher salt and pepper
– 1 large shallot
– 1 lemon for juice (~2 T)
– 1 large bunch red Russian kale (approximately 6 C shredded and loosely packed)
– 8-10 parsley stems
– 1/4 lb (4 ounces) ricotta salata (1/2 C shredded)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Blitz. Break the bread into pieces, including the crust, and then blitz in food processor or blender until you get large crumbs. If your bread isn’t stale, dry it out by placing it in the oven with the walnuts for about 5 minutes.
Toast. Spread the walnuts and bread crumbs out separate baking sheets and toast for about 10 minutes until fragrant and slightly golden. Drizzle the tablespoon of olive oil over the bread crumbs, sprinkle with salt, and mix with your hands.
Whisk or shake. Cut the shallot into several large pieces and mince it in a garlic press (or chop it very fine) into a bottle or bowl. Add the 1/4 cup oil and the juice of the lemon with a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Shake or whisk until emulsified.
Slice. Trim the leaves of the kale above where the stems become thick. Stack the leaves in a pile, roll them like a cigar, and slice it thin crosswise. Chop the parsley.
Assemble. Scoop the kale and parsley into a large bowl and add the dressing (this recipe makes the right amount of dressing for the salad, so no worries about over-dressing). Dig your hands in and toss the leaves with the dressing, and let the salad sit for about a half hour. At this point you can also leave the dressed leaves (and only the leaves) in the fridge overnight – they’ll continue to soften, but are hardy enough not to get soggy. Before serving, sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and walnuts and shave the ricotta salata over the salad. Give a quick toss and serve.
Hi there! It’s so good to be back after a few days off.
How was your Thanksgiving?
My family and I gathered right outside of Philadelphia. We ate a lot (I’m sure you did too) and then the next morning, we ate some more. We stopped by Reading Terminal Market for a non-turkey lunch and a little bit of shopping. And then we had turkey leftovers for dinner.
I took a camera break which was nice, though I did miss the chance to capture the trees dressed in bright red, the oak leaves nearly as large as our thirteen-pound turkey.
But now life is back to normal, and today I’ve made a salad.
Well, it’s a slaw really. It’s from the Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It may seem odd that the first recipe I sample from a new cookbook would be a coleslaw, but this lady knows a thing or two about slaw. The cookbook itself has three slaws – one cabbage-cucumber-dill, one broccoli-almond-cranberry*, and the one I made today. Deb actually calls this one a salad — sugar snap salad with miso dressing — I suspect because half its bulk comes from sugar snaps (“mangetout”). The other half, though, is cabbage which in my mind fits it squarely into the slaw category.
The word coleslaw comes from the Dutch koolsla (kool = cabbage, sla, short for salade = salad) which comes from the Latin caulis (cauliflower stem). Slaw has been around since ancient Rome and was brought to America by the Dutch who planted cauliflower seeds in New York along the Hudson. (As I write, I can’t help but hum a little ditty.) Coleslaw started out as a vinegar-based salad of raw cabbage; the use of mayonnaise is a more recent modification. Let your coleslaw sit for too long (especially out of the fridge), and you’ll be gradually approaching the fermented territory of sauerkraut and kimchi.
While we’re on food history and etymology, the word salad is an interesting one too. It comes from the Latin sal (salt) and refers to dressing, which early on was a salty mild pickling brine. So, salad in essence was defined by its dressing.
Which brings me to back to Deb’s salad, er slaw, and its defining dressing. This miso-sesame dressing is magical and you don’t want to tinker with it. I reproduced it verbatim, and you should too.
The miso gives the dressing depth, earthiness, and a little sweetness – that umami that everyone’s always talking about. Did you know that both umami and miso share the Japanese root mi (味), taste or flavor? (I didn’t.)
Coincidentally**, I went to a lecture tonight entitled Microbes, Miso, and Olives where David Chang and Carles Tejedor talked about fermentation and how microbes create flavor. In addition to tasting Tejedor’s spherified yogurt and olive oil gel, we tried some of the latest goodies coming out of the Momofuku fermentation lab — cashew miso and olive tamari. There was a formula involving refractive index to explain why vinaigrette emulsions are cloudy. A few diagrams of chemical reactions producing glutamate (the main amino acid responsible for the umami flavor). Photos of Aspergillus oryzae (a fungus native to various parts of Asia and used in soy fermentation) under the microscope. And even a joke about a Microbiology lab at Harvard (“we send some of our creations to the professionals to sequence any microorganisms and to make sure nothing will kill us”). But in the end, Chang said he created his lab to “learn how to make things delicious through a study of umami.”
Which gets us (finally) back to the slaw and the dressing. On top of the miso and its umami, there is a double dose of sesame here from both tahina and toasted sesame oil. Make that a triple dose when you sprinkle the whole thing with toasted sesame seeds. The dressing is creamy and light, sticking to the cabbage, but not drenching it. It has the prefect amount of saltiness that mainly comes from the miso (no salt or soy sauce added). Dress everything a few hours in advance so the cabbage can wilt a bit as the miso and vinegar give it a quick pickle. I ate it for dinner, then lunch, then dinner again, polishing off half a cabbage in a day’s time. That’s a lot of cabbage. That’s how good the slaw is.
Deb, if you can make humble slaw shine, I can’t wait to try your flat roasted chicken. And your honey and harissa farro salad. And your red wine velvet cake. Your cookbook is already floating in a sea of yellow stickies.
And you, my friends, to reward you for slogging through this long (though I think fascinating) study of etymology with a side order of science, tomorrow we’ll eat some cookies.
*You can argue with Deb about whether broccoli can technically be a slaw, but let’s give her a little wiggle room here. It is her book. And despite the etymology, I too have used the term slaw to refer to broccoli (and even to collards).
** Seriously, it was a coincidence. I thought the lecture was going to be about dessert. Boy, was I ever wrong.
Cabbage slaw with miso-sesame dressing
I adapted this recipe from the sugar snap salad with miso dressing in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I skipped the sugar snaps and traded carrots for radishes, but kept the dressing in pristine condition (though you could add a few drops of hot sesame oil to finish things off). Dress the salad lightly a few hours before serving to allow the cabbage to wilt and soak up all the dressing, then add more dressing if necessary. I used regular green cabbage, which needs a bit more time to wilt; if you want to use the more tender varieties such as savoy or napa, dress the salad only thirty minutes before serving.
– 1/2 large green cabbage
– 2 scallions
– 3 carrots
– 3 T sesame seeds
– 1 T minced fresh ginger
– 2 large garlic cloves, minced
– 2 T white miso (I use Miso Master brand)
– 2 T tahina
– 1 T honey
– 1/4 C rice vinegar
– 2 T vegetable oil
– 2 T toasted sesame oil
Slice. Slice the cabbage, scallions, and carrots as thinly as you can with a knife or mandoline (I used a knife for the cabbage and scallions, a mandoline for the carrots).
Toast. Toast the sesame seeds for 5-8 minutes in a 300ºF oven.
Shake. Mix the dressing ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake well to combine. You may need to add a little water to loosen up the dressing as the tahina has a tendency to thicken, especially as it gets cold. The consistency should be similar to a thick honey.
Eat. Dress the salad a few hours before serving and toss. If using more tender cabbages (savoy, napa), you’ll only need to do this about a half-hour in advance. Just before serving, sprinkle the slaw with the toasted sesame seeds.
Just a quick post (and recipe) tonight because I’m running out the door and I’m already late for a party.
I fashioned the photographs after the ones in the cookbook to reflect the authors’ cooking philosophy. In their first cookbook collaboration, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, the pair explains, “Like the market vendor, we make the best of what we have and don’t interfere with it too much. We keep foods as natural as possible, deliberately avoiding complicated cooking methods.” Their cooking technique keeps ingredients close to their origins; for example, they eschew tiny brunoise dicing in favor of bite-sized chunks to allow each individual element to shine.
I suspect this approach to food, the analogy to the market vendor displaying his wares, is very much informed by their childhoods in a country where markets remain a significant part of cultural and daily life. We can talk more about this, but I’ve got a birthday to celebrate (not mine – that’s in a few weeks).
See you back here tomorrow morning. Well, actually probably more like afternoon.
Roasted butternut squash and red onion with tahina and za’atar
Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook. The combination of roasting and za’atar give the dish a smoky flavor. Feel free to experiment with other types of squash and pumpkin – just adjust the roasting time accordingly. You probably won’t need all of the tahina sauce – just drizzle lightly and add more if necessary.
Serves 4 as a side dish
– 1 large butternut squash (about 2 – 2 ½ lbs)
– 2 red onions
– 4 T olive oil, divided
– 3 heaping T tahina
– 1 lemon for juice (approximately 2-3 T, depending on your lemon)
– 1 T water
– 1 clove garlic
– 3 T pine nuts
– 1 T za’atar
– 1 T coarsely chopped parsley (optional)
– Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 475˚F.
Cut. Peel and seed squash, and cut into thin (3/4–inch) wedges approximately 2-inches long. Cut the onions into 1-inch wedges.
Mix. In a large bowl, toss the squash and onions with 3 tablespoons of oil, and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Roast. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Spread the vegetables on the sheet and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes. They’re ready when they start to brown and are tender. The onions will probably cook faster than the squash, so check and remove them early if necessary so they don’t burn.
Whisk. While the vegetables are roasting, place in a bowl the tahina, 1½ tablespoon lemon juice, water, and minced garlic. Whisk until the sauce is the consistency of honey, adding water or tehina if necessary. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if you’d like.
Toast. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a small pan over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts with a pinch of salt and cook for 2-3 minutes until the nuts start to brown. Remove from the heat and transfer the nuts into a small bowl to stop the cooking.
Serve. To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter, drizzle with tahina (you probably won’t need all of it), and sprinkle with za’atar, pine nuts, and parsley (if using). I like to eat this at room temperature.