Thursday, September 7, 2017

pasta with kale sauce.


About 3 years ago I made a completely on the fly kale pesto recipe.  (I measured nothing which is typical of me.) Instead, I threw a bunch of ingredients in the blender, pulsed a couple of times, and magically created a pretty great pasta sauce.   

This pasta sauce is slightly infamous because one of my close friends has been asking for the recipe for about 3 years.  This past week,  I finally got around to making it again.  

This is different version then the original and I actually think I like it better.  It uses more kale (1 pound!) and no pricey pine-nuts.   Instead it made up of staple ingredients.  The simplicity of the sauce is what makes it shine.   

We've eaten it a handful of times over the last couple of weeks.  I like the fact that I can make a batch and simply cook-up some pasta whenever we need a quick and easy lunch or dinner.   It's a flavorful and (pretty) virtuous sauce that tastes way better then you would imagine.   

Pasta with Kale Sauce
Recipe adapted slightly from Six Seasons

This makes enough sauce for about 1 pound (if not a little more) of pasta.   You will only use half the sauce for the below recipe.    Keeps in the fridge for a couple of days!    

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1 pound kale (any variety but I like lacinato), thick ribs removedd
1/2 pound pasta
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to water to a boil and add salt until it tastes like the sea.

While the water is coming to a boil, put the garlic and 1/4 cup of olive oil in a small heavy pit or skilled over medium heat and cook until the garlic begins to sizzzle.  Reduce the heat to low and cook until the garlic is light golden, soft, and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes.   Pour the oil and garlic into a bowl so it can cool quickly.

When the water is boiling, add the kale leaves and boil until they are tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes.   Pull them out with ton gs and transfer to a blender.  It is fine if they are wet.   

Add the pasta to the still-boiling water and cook until al dente.   With a ladle or measuring cup, scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the noodles.  

Process the kale in the blender with the oil and garlic. adding just a bit of the pasta water to help the process alonmg and to make a nice thick puree.  Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.  

Transfer the drained pasta back to the pot and pour in about half of the kale puree.   Add half of the Parmesan and toss well.  Add a touch more pasta water and toss until the pasta noodles are well coated with a bright green, creamy textured sauce.  Serve right away with a drizzle of olive oil and the rest of the cheese.   


Thursday, August 17, 2017

buckwheat poppy seed jam biscuits.


I didn’t think it was possible to make a biscuit better but apparently it is.

You do it by subbing some of the traditional all-white flour for buckwheat or spelt.  This provides some nuttiness and a toothsome quality to the biscuits that I find addicting.  

And then you add a dollop of jam to the crater you create with your thumb in the middle of the biscuit.  This crater of jam ensures that that the biscuit is a singular dish, a portable handheld treat that can be eaten for breakfast as you are walking to work.  

This is my dream breakfast biscuit. 

Buckwheat Poppy Seed Jam Biscuits
Recipe from Apt. 2B Baking

Yield 10-12 biscuits

12 ounces all-purpose flour
8 ounces buckwheat or spelt flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
8 ounces cold butter, cut into cubes
1 ¼ -1 ½ cups buttermilk
About 6 ounces jam

Preheat oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and poppy seeds.

Add the butter and cut it in with a pastry cutter or your fingers. Keep mixing until the mixture looks mealy with a few pea and lima bean sized hunks of butter remaining.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add in 1 1/4c of the buttermilk. Gently mix the dough together, making sure that all of the flour mixture gets moistened. If the dough is dry or crumbly continue to add the additional buttermilk 1T at a time until the mixture mostly comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, it's okay if the dough comes out of the bowl in a few pieces, and pat it out into a circle 1 1/2''-2'' tall. Cut the biscuits with a floured 2 1/2'' biscuit cutter or drinking glass. Gently pat the scraps together and cut one more round of biscuits. Place the cut biscuits on a lined baking sheet.

Use your thumb to gently make a tablespoon sized indent in the middle of each biscuit, then very gently, while supporting the sides of the biscuit, use your thumb to push down and make the hole deeper. Aim to make the hole a little wider at the bottom than the top and push down almost to the bottom of the biscuit. Fill each indentation with a tablespoon of jam.

Bake for 35-40min or until the biscuits are golden and crisp on the outside.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

zucchini parmesan.


Should you decide (like me) that because the weather feels remarkably fall-like for July (was last week perfect or was last week perfect), that you want to go all in and just consume comfort food, might I suggest this dish.  An excellent way to utilize that summer produce (notably zucchini which everyone is bored of by early August) in a way that feels remarkably rich and comforting.   

While it is comforting, this is not particularly rich.  It is not loaded with cheese (though there is some), its not filled with oil or eggs.  It's a simple baked dish filled with layers of roasted zucchini and tomato sauce.  I don't know how it happens to taste so decadent (but not in  a I can only eat one bite kind of way) but it does!  And it's awesome.   

Zucchini Parmesan
Recipe adapted from the NYTimes

The original recipe called for making fresh tomato sauce with farmers market tomatoes.  Normally I'm into that thing but when I make fresh sauce, it's an all weekend affair involving 20 pounds of tomatoes and a lot of cursing.  I wasn't going to do that for this dish.  I used canned tomatoes and it was great.  Though if you want to use fresh, by all means do so.    

For the Sauce

1 28 oz can tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste)
Salt and pepper
⅛ teaspoon sugar
2 sprigs fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 cup ricotta (optional)

For the Zucchini Parmesan

2 to 2¼ pounds zucchini
 Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (pepperoncini), to taste
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan

To make tomato sauce, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add 
garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute, and add tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar and basil sprigs. Increase heat to medium-high. When tomatoes are bubbling briskly, stir and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until tomatoes have cooked down and are beginning to stick to pan, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on consistency. Remove basil sprigs; taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in chopped basil and ricotta (if using).

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment. Trim ends off zucchini and cut in half crosswise, then into lengthwise slices, about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. Season on both sides with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange zucchini slices on baking sheets in one layer and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Roast for 12 minutes, until lightly browned and easily pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees.

To assemble the dish, oil a 2-quart gratin with olive oil. Spread 1/4 cup tomato sauce over bottom of dish. Arrange a third of the zucchini in an even layer over tomato sauce. Spoon a third of remaining sauce over zucchini and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat with 2 more layers, ending with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Drizzle on remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until bubbling and browned on the top and edges. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


Monday, July 24, 2017

swiss chard fritters.



These are not going to win any beauty contests.   But what they lack in looks they make up for in taste.  And isn’t that all that matters?  

I’ve been revisiting a lot of my cookbooks over the last couple of weeks.  With the farmer’s markets practically bursting with produce, they’ve become a good resource for inspiration.  And the pages I have marked serve as reminders of the dishes that previously called to me but have never been made.   It’s fun uncovering recipes that called to me but I never got around to making.

These fitters were one of those dishes.  Something that I thought could serve as a good veggie side to poultry or fish dish (we actually ate them with these turkey zucchini burgers ) but also stand alone as a vegetarian main if served with an egg on it and a tomato salad on the side.   They are incredible.  Very earthy (in a good way!) with a nice flavor punch.  The addition of the herbs provides a nice level of brightness and freshness that I can’t get enough of.  

So yes, they aren’t pretty but we love them.   

Swiss Chard Fritters
Recipe from Jerusalem 

400g (14oz) Swiss chard leaves, stalks removed
30g (1oz) flat leaf parsley
20g (3/4oz) coriander
20g / 3/4oz dill
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 eggs
80g (3oz) feta, crumbled
Olive Oil or Grapeseed Oil for cooking
Lemon wedges, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the chard & simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze until the chard is completely dry.  Place the chard in a food processor along with the herbs, nutmeg, sugar, flour, garlic, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and pulse until you have a somewhat smooth green batter. Crumble in the feta & gently fold it through.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Spoon in 1 heaped tablespoon of the batter for each fritter. Press down gently on the fritter to flatten it to about 2 1/2 inches wide. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown or rather green. Transfer to some kitchen paper & keep warm while you fry the rest of the fritters in batches. 

Serve warm, with lemon wedges and/or yogurt sauce.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

blistered green beans with tomato-almond pesto.


I made this dish on a whim earlier this week  and I am very glad I did.   

We buy most of our produce on at the Saturday farmer’s market and during the week before leaving for work, I perform a mental checklist of what’s in the fridge and what needs to be used-up and from there I build dinner.   If I’m feeling un-inspired or particularly bored with whatever I think I should be making I perform a Google search consisting of “NYTIMES or Bon Appetit + INSERT VEGETABLE HERE” and see what pop’s up.  Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t but whatever the outcome it usually helps me to come-up with some kind of game plan.    

This time it worked!


This is my new favorite way to eat green beans.   Cooked in a cast iron skillet until blistered in spots and tossed in a smoked paprika and tomato laced “pesto” that tastes like a combination of Romanesco and gazpacho.   It’s a bright, punchy, and the perfect side for grilled meat or fish.  

Blistered Green Beans With Tomato-Almond Pesto
Recipe from Bon Appetit

2 pints cherry tomatoes
¼ cup unsalted, roasted almonds
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 pounds haricots verts or green beans, trimmed

Preheat oven to 450°. Roast tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, turning once, until blistered and lightly charred, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly. Finely chop almonds in a food processor. Add garlic, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, cayenne, and half of tomatoes; pulse to a coarse pesto consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1½ tsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add half of beans; cook, undisturbed, until beginning to blister, about 2 minutes. Toss and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until tender, 7–9 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Spread beans out on a platter; let cool. Repeat with remaining vegetable oil and beans.

Toss beans with pesto; season with salt and pepper if needed. Add remaining tomatoes and transfer to a platter.

Do Ahead: Dish can be made 3 hours ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature. Toss and adjust seasoning just before serving.


Friday, July 7, 2017

blueberry-buttermilk pie bars.


Now that we are in the throes of summer (and the proud owners of a balcony) we’ve been eating a lot of meals outdoors.  We bring Jackson’s dog bed outside so he can join us.  Jackson sits quietly and watches his surroundings.  As the meal nears the end he gets up to rest his head on my lap; waiting for the opportunity to lick the plate clean or get a some scraps of whatever it is that we are eating.   Being able to eat outdoors makes weekday dinners feel like a mini-vacation.  

Our new surroundings has also encouraged me to prepare meals that feel like picnics.   I’ve always had a fondness for meals composed of assorted things but in the summer it feels all the more appropriate.  Some kind of quick and easy salad with whatever produce is new that week (snap peas with radish and tahini dressing has been our recent favorite), a couple of cheeses from our local cheese shop, a piece of a baguette, and perhaps some sausage, leftover chicken, or prosciutto.   Depending on our mood and the day of week, we round out the meal with a beer or a glass of wine.   Meals like this are how I love to eat.   

We finish these meals with dessert (this is me after all).  The farmer’s market fruit has been out of control good this year and I’ve been eating so much of it – a lot of it by the handful but an equally large amount has been baked in crisps, crumbles, and pie bars (my favorite).   These blueberry-buttermilk pie bars have been a favorite around here.   More tangy they sweet and perfectly portable – they are the dream dessert for lazy July days and nights.     

Blueberry-Buttermilk Pie Bars
Recipe from Dorie's Cookies 

I don't doubt these would be really good with halved cherries instead of blueberries.   

For the Crust

3/4 cup (102 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (67 grams) sugar
1/4 cup (33 grams) cornmeal (not coarse)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

For the Topping

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) buttermilk
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (1 ounce; 30 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (150 grams) fresh blueberries (though I nudged this up to 1 1/2 cups)

To make the crust: Have an 8-inch square baking pan at hand.

Put the flour, sugar, cornmeal, cornstarch and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Drop in the chunks of butter and work in long pulses — about dozen or so — until you have a moist dough that forms curds. Turn the dough out into the baking pan and use your fingertips to press it evenly into the pan. Put the pan in the refrigerator while you preheat the oven (it needs a short chill before baking).

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F.

Bake the crust for 23 to 25 minutes, until it’s golden brown. Even though the crust will be baked again with the topping, it needs to be thoroughly baked now, so err on the side of more golden rather than less. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the crust to cool completely.

If you’ve turned off the oven, return it to 350 degrees F.

To make the topping: Spoon the cornstarch into a small bowl and pour over 1/4 cup of the buttermilk. Stir until the cornstarch dissolves; this is a slurry, which will thicken the custard.

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until foamy. Add the sugar and immediately start whisking vigorously (you must beat sugar and eggs together quickly, or the sugar will “burn” the yolks and cause a film to form). Whisk in the salt and vanilla, then whisk in the slurry. When the slurry is fully incorporated, stir in the remainder of the buttermilk, followed by the melted butter. Scatter the blueberries over the crust and then pour on the topping. The blueberries will shift — they’ve got nothing to hold on to — so try to even them out by poking them with your fingers or a spoon; but give up if it’s not happening.

Bake the bars for 42 to 45 minutes, until the topping is puffed all the way to the center, brown around the edges and firm everywhere. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 20 minutes. Carefully run a table knife around the edges of the pan, place a piece of parchment paper over the pan and unmold the bar onto a rack. Remove the pan and invert the bar onto another rack to cool to room temperature; chill if you’d like. Just before serving, slide the bar onto a cutting board and, using a long, thin knife, cut 2-inch squares.

Storing: Covered and kept away from foods with strong odors, the bars will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator. However, like “real” pies, these are best the day they are made.