Friday, June 8, 2018

anthony bourdain. thanks for being you.

The death of Anthony Bourdain really hit me.  I ready Kitchen Confidential what feels like a decade ago (now I think about it it most definitely was a decade ago).  The book was shocking but I loved its honesty when it came to the underground world of the restaurant industry.  Anthony Bourdain was a badass, fearless, and completely unapologetic about who he was as a person and as a chef.   He was forthcoming about his struggles with drugs, alcohol, and depression and in a world where so many people try and constantly paint an unrealistically rosy picture of their life, Anthony was a breath of fresh air.  He told it like it was.   

My dad, like Anthony Bourdain, taught me to seek out off the beaten path food no matter the location.   BBQ restaurants that look like shacks on the side of a highway in Delaware, hole-in-the-wall empanada spots, BYOB fish-fry restaurants in former dark wood-paneled bars.   Anthony Bourdain made it cool to travel far and wide in search of food that told the story of a place.   He taught you to be adventurous and daring and above all to live fearlessly with an open mind and an open stomach.   I will miss him and his voice.   

Monday, June 4, 2018

strawberry-rhubarb pandowdy.

I know social media gets a lot of crap for being the worst thing that's ever happend to society - it's rotting our brains, disrupting out sleep schedule, tracking our every move, blah blah blah, but if I am being honest, I love (like really love) Instagram.  

I love Instgram for the sheer fact that it has afforded me the opportunity to discover/meet/become friendly with a whole world of really amazing cooks.  Women who are cooking the kind of food I always want to eat (i.e. in-season produce filled one pan salads and pastas, lots of fruit desserts, cookies!).  In a lot of ways Instagram has replaced my cookbooks when it comes to weeknight cooking.  I basically run through my feed and from there come-up with an off the cuff dinner plan solely based around someon

e's beautiful picture.  I'm really digging this on the fly, being inspired by whatever crosses my path kind-of cooking.  It feels really liberating.   

I got this recipe from one of those uber-talented women that I follow on Instagram.  Emily is a mom who somehow manages to get her kids to eat all sorts of really exciting foods that I am 100% sure I wouldn't have touched when I was 8 (fiddlehead ferns and rhubarb?!).  She posted this recipe and I was extremely excited about it - a cross between a cobbler and a custard but with a hilariously funny name, it's basically a dream June dessert.  I made it over Memorial Day weekend and we all loved it (I really love it for breakfast the next day).  It would be amazing come August filled with peaches.   

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pandowdy
Recipe from Emily C. at Food 52

To make the rye crust

1 cup (120 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 grams) rye flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, pulse flours and salt to combine. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture, then pulse until the butter is the size of large peas, about 6 to 8 short pulses. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over mixture and pulse a few times, then repeat with 1 tablespoon of water at a time, or just until small curds start to form and dough holds together when pinched with fingers. It’ll look kind of crumbly but that's okay. (Alternatively, you can do this by hand.) 

Empty dough onto clean counter or piece of wax paper. Using bench scraper, gather dough into a rough rectangular mound about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide. Starting from the farthest end, use the heel of your hand to smear about one sixth of dough against your work surface away from you. Repeat until all of your dough has been smeared. Using bench scraper, gather the dough again into a 12-inch long and 4-inch wide mound and repeat smearing of dough with heel of hand. The dough should be smooth and cohesive at this point; if not, repeat smearing process again. 

Form dough into 4 inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm about 1 hour. The smearing process creates long layers of butter in the dough, which translates to long flaky layers in the cooked crust.

To make the filling and assemble pandowdy

1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled (leave small berries whole; halve any large berries)
1 pound rhubarb, chopped
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca (sometimes called granulated tapioca or tapioca pearls)
Pinch of kosher salt
Finely grated zest + 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from 1 small lemon
1 large egg, separated into white and yolk (egg white lightly beaten with a fork)
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 400° F. 

In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, tapioca, and pinch of salt until well integrated. 

In a 10-inch cast-iron or ovenproof skillet, gently toss the strawberries with the sugar-tapioca mixture, lemon zest, and lemon juice. 

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a 12-inch round, dusting with flour as needed. (Don’t worry if your dough isn’t perfectly round.) Gently lay round of dough atop the fruit filling, tucking and folding the dough edges around the fruit, leaving a small rim that sticks up against the side of the skillet. Brush with egg white and then sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar. Poke a few small holes in the crust so steam can vent. 

Bake pandowdy for about 30 minutes (place a foil-lined baking sheet underneath the skillet to catch any fruit juices that spill over), then remove the skillet from oven and break the dough into large pieces with a sharp knife to “dowdy” its looks. Return to oven and bake until the crust is golden and firm and the fruit juices are bubbling up through the crust pieces, about 20 minutes longer. 

Meanwhile, whisk together the cream, egg yolk, and vanilla extract in a measuring cup with a spout. Remove the pandowdy from the oven and let the juices settle for a minute or two. Slowly begin pouring the cream mixture into each of the cuts; use the back of a spoon or a knife if needed to help with the flooding, working your way around the entire pandowdy. Some of the cream will go under the crust and much will pool on top. This is okay (and expected)! 

Return the pandowdy to the oven and bake until the cream just sets but is still a little jiggly, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Even when fully cool, the pandowdy will have lots of juice, part of its charm, so serve in bowls with spoons. It's best on the day it's baked, but it's not bad at all on Day 2 straight from the fridge (breakfast, perhaps?!).

Thursday, May 10, 2018

potato pizza.

I am not much of a potato person.  To be honest, if you look at the recipe history of this blog, it's fairly devoid of potato recipes. 

To me, if I'm going to eat a starchy, carby, food, pasta will always win and for that reason, I tend to overlook potatoes.  But when the farmers market returned 2 weeks ago (hip hip hooray!) and they were selling what they referred to as "Fancy Yukon Potatoes" I felt I was doing myself a disservice by not buying them. 

I brought them home, looked at them and thought they were adorable and very fancy looking, and I had no idea what to do with them. That was until I made a lunch pitstop at Sullivan St Bakery and saw the potato pizza and realized combining your favorite thing (bread) with something you love less (potatoes) may result in a very tasty dinner.  

This is my ode to that in-between weather.   When you are aching for BBQ's but the weather isn't quite there yet so you make a pizza thats perfect for sharing with friends.   It's good with rose, it's good with beer, and it's even better the next day with an egg on it.   

Potato Pizza 
Recipe tweaked from Jim Lahey 

4 teaspoons fine sea or table salt
6 to 8 (1 kilo) small to medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
4 pieces of spring garlic, white and light green parts thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino 
1 recipe Pizza Dough (see below)

In a medium bowl, combine the 1 quart lukewarm water with salt, stirring until the salt has dissolved. Use a mandoline or your best sharpest knife to slice the potatoes very thin (1/16 inch thick), and put the sliced directly into the salted water, which prevents oxidation and also helps soften them so they cook up nicely. Let them soak for 1 1/2 hours or up to 12 in the fridge overnight.

Heat your oven to 500°F with a rack in the center. Brush a 13×18-inch rimmed half-sheet pan with olive oil. Use your fingertips, oiled or dusted with flour, to pull, stretch, nudge and press the dough across the bottom of the pan. The dough will be thin and imperfect. If holes form, just pinch them together. It’s all going to work out, promise.

Drain the potatoes in a colander and use your hands to press out as much water as possible, then pat dry on paper towels. In a medium bowl, toss the potato slices with the onion, spring garlic, parmesan and olive oil. Spread this potato mixture over your dough, going all the way to the edges so that there’s no uncovered edge; put a bit more topping around the edges of the pie, as the outside tends to cook more quickly. Usually the salt the potatoes were soaked in is enough, but you can sprinkle more on if desired.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping is starting to turn golden brown and the crust is nicely bronzed underneath. Serve pizza hot or at room temperature.

Jim Lahey’s Basic Pizza Dough

2 cups minus 1 tablespoon (250 grams) all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons (5 grams) instant or active dry yeast
A heaped 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
A heaped 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
2/3 cups (150 grams) room temperature water

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until well blended, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Continue using instructions above.

Monday, April 30, 2018

paris, france.

Two-ish weeks ago I came back from a quick Paris trip with my sister.   The first time I went to Paris I was 20, a junior in college, and about 3 weeks into dating Tyler.   It was a magical first experience and my most vivid memory from that trip involves drinking champagne (though in hindsight I don't think we actually splurged on anything remotely as nice as champagne) with a handful of my good friends underneath the blinking Eiffel Tower.  I was so young and carefree and wearing a coat much to thin for the January weather.  It was great. 

This trip was different but just as memorable.   Hayley and I rented an apartment in the Marais.  We criss-crossed all across Paris walking 10 plus miles a day.   I ate some really good croissants and basically explored the city in a way I've never done before.  Most of the trips I take are to places I've never been, but there is something nice about visiting a place you've been before.  You don't need to stop and see all the major sites because you've done that.  You can instead spend your days walking down little streets and getting lost.  Stopping in stores that interest you or restaurants that seem quaint.  It's very liberating.   

So here's a list of places I visited.  I didn't hit everything but I did hit a lot of places.  I did not eat badly on this trip.  

Mokonuts - I came here for a chocolate chip cookie that was unlike any chocolate chip cookie I've ever had.  It is very much the French version of an American classic and I literally can't stop dreaming about it.  I wish I had had time to eat a full meal here.  

Septime - The one must-go on my trip.   It was a truly magical meal (4 courses and 2 glasses of wine!)   I plan on re-creating the asparagus dish with pistachio pesto and yogurt.   

Au Passage - A menu that rotates on a daily basis.   Lots of vegetables.  Casual but very French and a staff that is extraordinary friendly and accommodating.

Du Pain et Des Idees -  I could write 1000 words just about the pistachio chocolate snail but I wont (I will say I brought two back in my suitcase).   Everything (and I mean everything) is good.   Get as many things as you can and eat them outside while drinking an Americano.

Jambon Beurre - I stumbled across this one while we were walking through the Louvre area.  A very good ham and butter baguette sandwich with cornishons!  (All ham sandwiches on a baguette should include cornishons.)   

La Bourse et La Vie - Neo-bistro French food.  (It doesn't get much better then this.)  I had an incredible fish and fennel dish and text-book perfect creme caramel.  Also the restaurant is gorgeous.   
Poliane - For the most incredible apple tart you will ever (and I mean ever) have. 

Jacques Genin - Passionfruit-Mango Caramels.  I could eat 100 of them.   Buy a bunch and bring them home (they keep well in the fridge).   

And for non-food things...

Museum of Hunting and Nature which is totally absurd and also amazing.  

Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen - You have to walk through a lot of crappy vendors but once you do, you are rewarded with all sorts of beautiful antiques that you wish you could shrink down and fit in your luggage.   

Any Churches - I love old European churches.   

Monday, April 2, 2018

coconut, almond, and blueberry cake.

The snow will just not stop.   I always imagined that I could live in a place (like Alaska or northern Maine) where winter truly existed for 6 months of the year but I've come to realize after I am not cut out for that life. It takes a truly special kind of person to live there.  Someone who is capable of not wanting to burn their snow jacket by the end of March.   

SO! If you're in need of a little bit of summer sunshine and looking for a remarkably easy cooking project on this snow day, this is the cake for you (especially if you are blessed with a freezer stash of last summer's blueberries).   This cake bakes up with a pudding-like consistency that makes me feel as if I am getting the best of two deserts in one.   The edges of the cake are firm but as you move towards the center it's soft and almost custardy with pockets of jammy blueberries throughout.   The coconut is not a typical addition but it really adds a nice textural punch and flavor to the cake.  I couldn't help but tweak and add some ground ginger because I love nothing more then the combination of lemon+ginger+almonds.   It's not necessary but it adds another flavor dimension that works.   

Here's to spring (hopefully) coming.   

Coconut, Almond, and Blueberry Cake

The original recipe called for 1 1/4 cups of sugar which seemed like more sugar then needed.  I dialed it back to about 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons and think I could go to 3/4 cup next time.  I've listed a range below.

I also dialed back the butter to 3/4 of a cup (from 3/4 + 2 tbsp) because I hate having random amounts of butter left.  There didn't seem to be any ill-affects from doing this so feel free to do the same!

12/3 cup /180g ground almonds/ almond flour
2/3 cup / 60g desiccated coconut
3/4 -  1 cup /150 - 200 g granulated sugar  
½ cup plus 1 tbsp/70g all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
4 large eggs
¾ cup/173 g unsalted butter melted and cooled
1½ tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 
1 1/2 cups/225 grams blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup/ 20g flaked almonds

Grease and line a 23cm/9-inch spring form cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

In a mixing bowl add he almonds, coconut, sugar, flour, ginger, and salt and whisk to aerate and remove the lumps.

In another bowl add eggs and whisk lightly. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract and lemon zest and whisk again until well combined. Pour this into the dry mix and whisk to combine. Fold in 1 cup of the blueberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and then top with rest of the batter.  Scatter the remaining blueberries on top.   

Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Keep a close eye on it towards the end of cooking.

Set aside for 30 minutes before inverting out of the tin, removing the baking parchment and placing the cake the right way up on a serving plate. It can either be served warm with cream or set aside until cool.

This will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container or wrapped in aluminum foil. It also freezes well for up to a month.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

pasta with roman broccoli sauce.

Jackson otherwise known as our dog otherwise known as our child is my sous chef.   By sous chef I mean he stands under my feet when I'm cooking for dinner waiting for something to drop.   He is a lover of people food and has a real affinity for crunchy vegetables most notably carrots and broccoli stems.   

We've been on a bit of a broccoli kick as of late and for the most part I give him the broccoli stems since everyone knows that broccoli florets are really the best part of the plant.  But a couple of weeks ago I stumbled across this pasta recipe and now I'm pretty sure I will never share my broccoli stems with Jackson again (kidding!). 

This is pretty much the most amazingly wonderful weeknight pasta recipe you can find.   It's a one pot meal that combines everything you need in a single dish.   Broccoli stems are cooked until they are fork tender.  They get thrown in the blender with lemon zest, olives, garlic, red pepper flakes, butter, and pasta water and blended together to form the most luxurious (yet somehow healthyish) pasta sauce you've ever met.  Toss over pasta and with the broccoli florets and you have a dinner.   

Pasta with Roman Broccoli Sauce
Recipe from Christopher Kimball's Milk Street 

I really, really like this sauce with chickpea pasta.   I'm actually a pretty huge fan of chickpea pasta because of how nutty it is and I think it pairs really well with such a green vegetable sauce.    Also, this tastes like spring and I think everyone could use a taste of spring.   

1 pound broccoli, stems and florets separated   
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1½ cups packed baby spinach
2 medium garlic cloves 
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter cut into 4 pieces 
1 tablespoon capers or green olives 
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes 
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest 
12 ounces rigatoni pasta 
1 ounces Pecorino Romano or Parmesan finely grated plus more to serve 

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil. Peel the broccoli stems, reserving any leaves, and cut crosswise into ½-inch rounds. Add the stems and leaves to the boiling water and cook until fully tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender; reserve ½ cup of the cooking water. Keep the water at a boil.

Cut the broccoli florets into 1- to 1½-inch pieces. Add the florets to the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using the slotted spoon, transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water until cooled. Again keep the water at a boil.

To the blender, add the garlic, butter, capers, pepper flakes, ¾ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon of the lemon zest and the reserved broccoli cooking water. Puree until smooth and bright green, about 30 seconds. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Stir the rigatoni into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain. Return pasta to the pot and add the broccoli florets, the broccoli puree, ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water, the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon zest and the cheese. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly and the pasta is well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.