Vegetarian

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Miso and Harissa // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Miso and Harissa

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Miso and Harissa // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Make this. Tonight. Now. I don’t care when. But make it. The sooner the better.

I’m not sure when I discovered this recipe on 101 Cookbooks, but it has quickly become a favorite. I imagine you could roast any winter vegetables with miso and harissa and they would be just as wonderful as the potatoes and squash I made. I haven’t tried the full on recipe with the kale yet, but I’m sure I will soon enough. Once I get over these vegetables. My goodness. This recipe is incredibly flavorful, the miso gets beautifully caramelized, and the harissa adds a perfect hint of spice. It’s so comforting but not boring or familiar at all. So make it.

Roasted Winter Vegetables with Miso and Harissa

Note: I bet this would work beautifully with lots of winter vegetables. Sweet potatoes? Turnips? Broccoli? Fennel? Parsnips? Winter squash? Let me know what you try.

Note 2: If you think miso and harissa are some of those ingredients that you’ll use once and never again, you couldn’t be more wrong. The other night Jonah made me this incredible clam miso soup from The Family Meal, and this squash and tofu with miso and molasses is one of my favorites. As for harissa, try adding it to anything for a little heat, especially shakshuka.

Ingredients

1/2 pound fingerling potatoes
3/4 pound delicata squash
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white miso paste
1 1/2 tsp harissa paste (more if you like spice)

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If your potatoes are larger, quarter them, half them, or cut them as you choose. You want the pieces to be about the size of your thumb. Half and seed the squash, and slice into 1/2 inch half-moons. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, miso, and harissa. Add the vegetables and toss to coat evenly. Spread on a baking sheet, and roast for 25-30 minutes. You want everything to be nicely browned and tender – I recommend tossing the veggies halfway through.

Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes. Good luck not devouring these within minutes.

Corn Salad // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Corn Salad

Corn Salad // Serious Crust by Annie FasslerCorn Salad // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Guys, it’s September, and I have a few summer recipes, like this corn salad, to get to you before the season slips from our fingers. At this point, it feels like summer might never end in Portland – it cooled off a bit last week, and this week hit a high of about 98 degrees (get it? like the band? ok. I’ll stop.). But this weekend, it’s supposed to rain, and the temperature is supposed to drop, and I am feeling strangely ready for that to happen.

I usually mourn the end of summer, but lately I have been craving heartier dishes and squash, specifically butternut and acorn. I’ll take peaches and tomatoes, but the hankering for those fall dishes is starting to nag at me.

But while it’s hot and there are still things like corn and nectarines, you should eat things like this corn salad. Inspired by a few different recipes, this is one of those dishes that uses corn as a base, but you can really toss in whatever you have around. Quickly cube and cook up some zucchini and throw it in, or add in some chopped tomatoes (seed them first), or chop up some basil. Here’s what I used.

Corn Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

3 ears corn, lightly cooked (boiled), and kernels cut from the cob
2 nectarines, cubed
1 bell pepper, cubed
1 jalapeño, seeded, chopped
1-2 limes, juiced (start with one, see how you like it)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Combine ingredients in a bowl, stir it up, add more of anything you like, and eat with friends as the hot day starts to cool off, preferably accompanied by grilled chicken or fish or something like that, as well as some cold beers.

Risotto with Fava Beans and Corn // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Risotto with Fava Beans and Corn

Fresh corn and fava beans ready to go into the risotto // Serious Crust by Annie FasslerRisotto with Fava Beans and Corn // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Wowee! What a whirlwind it has been lately. A few weeks ago, Jonah and I were in Chicago for the 4th of July holiday, and it seems like from there, things got crazy. The night we left for Chicago, we applied to rent a house, and the night we got back we found out we got it! We are now living in NE Portland, within walking distance to Porque No?, Tasty n’ Sons, and countless other places. Mississippi and Alberta neighborhoods are a stone’s throw away, and I’m discovering a part of the city of which I had only scratched the surface. It’s pretty sweet. Be on the lookout for reviews of some spots in our new hood.

It has been a while since I gave you guys a recipe. This is one I made a while back, but it is just as perfect for right now. This past weekend, we went out to Sauvie Island to go berry picking – we have blueberries coming out of our ears! As well as raspberries, peaches, and a few ears of corn. The corn reminded me that I STILL hadn’t posted this risotto recipe! I’ve discovered that risotto is such an easy meal to make and you can really throw in anything you have around. Saffron? Sure. Squash? Yup. Mushrooms? Why not. But this was a great spring & summer risotto with fava beans and fresh corn.

Risotto with Fava Beans and Corn

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs of fava beans, shelled and shelled again (to learn more about shelling favas, go here)
2-3 ears of sweet corn, the kernels cut from the cob
~4 cups of chicken broth (can easily be replaced with vegetable broth to be made a vegetarian dish)
1/2 cup white wine (Alice Waters told me (in her book) that if you don’t have any white wine, you can also use a light beer – I didn’t have any wine or nice beer around, so I used PBR… it worked just fine)
2 Tbl olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Instructions

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the broth to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low.

In a separate saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook them until the onions are soft but not browned, about three minutes. Add the arborio rice and stir to coat it in olive oil. Add the wine (or in my case, beer, because I’m classy like that) and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and evaporated, stirring constantly.

Now add the broth, one cup at a time (or one ladle full at a time). Stir the rice frequently after each addition, and only add more broth when the previous broth has been absorbed. When you have added half the broth (after about 15 minutes), add the fava beans and corn. Continue adding broth and letting the rice cook and absorb, until the rice is tender but still has some bite to it. You may not need all of the broth. When the texture seems good to you, add about 1/4 cup of broth, remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Stale Bread Soup // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Stale Bread Soup (Ribollita)

Stale Bread Soup // Serious Crust by Annie FasslerStale Bread Soup // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I realize that at this point you might be sick and tired of hearing us harp about how great Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal is. But hear me out one more time. Everyone has stale bread. Or at least everyone who has bread at some point and does not eat it all eventually has stale bread lying around. And most of the time it gets thrown away, or responsibly composted. If you are culinarily educated, dear reader, you may already have known of stale bread soup; but as I read Tamar’s book, I was astounded to find out that not only does such a thing exist, but there is a long and ancient tradition of creating soup from leftover bread (Ribollita in Italian).

There are a few things that should be said about stale bread soup. First, it is not a soup in the same way that chicken noodle is a soup; stale bread soup is usually much thicker and feels more like a hearty chili. Second, stale bread soup is more of a general idea and a starting point than a recipe. It is meant to be made with whatever is around, provided you have some stale bread (otherwise, you will be making whatever-is-around soup – which could turn out to be vegetables-in-water “soup” if you don’t have any broth lying around).

The recipe below is adapted slightly from Tamar’s recipe for Ribollita in An Everlasting Meal. In usual Tamar fashion, you will use A LOT of olive oil in this recipe. We have made stale bread soup twice now, so I’ve noted the different things we used.

Stale Bread Soup (Ribollita)

Ingredients

Olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
Celery, if you have it (I did not)
salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs like parsley or rosemary or thyme (if you don’t have fresh, maybe do 1/4 cup dried?)
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
Tomatoes in some form, if you want (3 peeled fresh tomatoes, or I used 1 can diced. Made it once without tomatoes as well)
1 bunch leafy greens (I used kale once and cauliflower greens once; other ideas are swiss chard, collard greens, radish greens, etc)
1/4 cup water
2 cups cooked beans (I used a can of black beans both times, Tamar suggests chickpeas or cannellini beans)
2 cups broth from beans or chicken/veggie stock or cans of tomatoes (I used a combo of all three, and you can make up any shortfall with water)
1 piece of Parmesan rind (Do this if you can, because it makes the soup soooo tasty and rich. Also, what else are you going to do with your Parmesan rind?)
2 cups stale bread, crusts removed, torn/cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Instructions

Heat 1/4 inch olive oil (this is just the beginning) in a big-ish soup pot. Cook the onion and garlic (and celery if you have it) until they soften. Add the herbs and chile flakes and a little bit of salt. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes over medium heat.

Chop the greens (and remove from the stems) then add to the pot, and add the water. Cover and cook over low heat until the greens are wilted. Put in all your broths/waters/juices and the beans, plus the Parmesan rind.

(If you have a bunch of Parmesan left, make sure to cut the rind from the rest of the Parmesan. Otherwise, just save the Parmesan rind for when you will next make bread soup. Make sure your Parmesan is big enough that you can keep track of it, because you’re going to take it out later.)

Bring to a simmer, then add the bread and more olive oil (Tamar says to add 1/2 cup, but I was not brave enough and probably added about a 1/4 cup at this point). Cover and cook for 1/2 hour on low, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn. The bread will soak up the soup and then liquify into it.  Taste it, add more broth or salt or whatever you want, and then take it off the heat.

Add in another 1/2 cup olive oil (Tamar, are you crazy!?!? I probably added 3 tablespoons here) and take out the Parmesan rind. You can grate Parmesan on top and add some pepper to serve.

This soup is perfect for a windy, rainy, cold, or dark winter/fall night.

Saffron Risotto with Mushrooms // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

Saffron Risotto with Mushrooms

Saffron Risotto with Mushrooms // Serious Crust by Annie Fassler

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Jonah and I recently purchased The Family Meal by Ferran Adria. As soon as we got it in the mail, Jonah proceeded to look at the whole book, page by page, cover to cover. Which was really adorable. He was pretty excited. Anyway, a couple days later, I finally got it out and flipped through it, and I too got really excited. There are so many awesome recipes in this book, and the layout is great. It tells you the timeline of your meal (2 hours before, you can start doing task #1, 1 hour before, you can start doing tasks #2 and 3, 40 minutes before… you get the idea), it tells you how much of each ingredient you will need to make the meal for 2 people, 6 people, 20 people, and 75 people. So we can perfectly cook for just the two of us, or we can cook for us and a bunch of friends. Lastly, the recipe itself is in photograph form, so you know exactly what each step looks like, which is such a big thing for a lot of people. And it has super specific instructions, i.e. instead of saying “cook until lightly browned” it says “cook for 16 minutes.” Which is so nice.

Anyway, while flipping through it for the first time, we marked a bunch of the recipes we wanted to try first, and then went to the store to pick up ingredients for a couple meals this week. The coolest thing was that because we had bought a chicken at the farmers market a couple weeks ago, cut it into pieces, frozen the pieces, and made broth out of the carcass, we had almost all of the ingredients we needed for these meals. First up was saffron risotto with mushrooms. I have never made risotto before, and was a bit nervous about it, because it’s one of those things that seems like it might be easy to mess up – overcook, undercook, underseason, overseason… etc. But because the instructions for these recipes are so specific, I had no fear!

Saffron Risotto with Mushrooms

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chicken stock (can be replaced with vegetable stock)
1 pinch saffron strands
1 1/2 Tbl olive oil
1/4 white onion, finely chopped
2 Tbl white wine
1 cup risotto rice, also called arborio rice
2-6 white mushrooms (it all depends on how big your mushrooms are and how many you want on your risotto)
1 tsp butter
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp (maybe more) fresh lemon juice

Instructions

Put all of the stock into a sauce pan, cover, and bring to a simmer.

This is the weird part, where I wish you could see the cookbook so you could see the photos. Make a little envelope out of tinfoil, put the saffron threads in it, and toast them in a pan over medium heat for one minute. Don’t le it burn! Remove from the pan and let it cool.

In a large pan or pot, heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onions. Once they’re soft, but not browned, add the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When most of the wine has cooked off, add the rice and let it cook for 3 minutes, stirring all the while. Add one ladle-full of stock, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often to keep it from sticking. Pour the rest of the stock into the pot. Quickly chop the saffron and add it to the pot. Cook the rice for 16 minutes (what precision!), stirring frequently.

While the rice is cooking away, wipe the mushrooms clean with a paper towel, and slice them as thin as you can. You can use a mandolin if you’ve got one, or just a sharp knife. Put them in a bowl and set aside.

When the rice has absorbed the majority of the liquid and is a little al dente, add the butter, and then the parmesan. Stir until the rice is nice and creamy, and season it with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Spoon the risotto onto plates and top with mushroom slices, and enjoy!

All-in Pesto by Serious Crust

All-In Pesto

All-in Pesto by Serious Crust

A few weeks ago, my dad and Darla came down to Portland for my cousin Lia’s oral thesis defense. I really wanted to go to the farmer’s market before brunch, and Dad came along. My dad is a lover of produce. I cannot tell you how excited he got about the range of items available at our market (and how decently priced everything was compared to his fancy Seattle market). I’ve never seen someone so excited over nettles before.

Anyway, between the two of us, we bought 3 bunches of radishes. My dad, needing to drive back to Seattle with a large dog in the car, was trying to minimize his load as much as possible, ripped the radishes from the greens, and left the greens to me. A la Tamar, I knew I could use them, I just had to figure out how. And then it hit me: pesto.

I have since made 2 batches of the stuff, and people LOVE it. And you can use greens other than radish tops: kale, kohlrabi greens… anything green and leafy. The other beautiful thing about this recipe is that it’s not really a recipe – it’s more like guidelines. Use whatever you’ve got around (ergo the all-in title: you can put it all in), and put it on anything and everything. We started with pasta and went from there: we used it as a rub for a whole chicken and potatoes that we roasted, ate it with cheese and crackers and charcuterie, and (my favorite) topped some crusty bread with fromage blanc, the pesto, and a soft boiled egg.

All-In Pesto

Ingredients

Radish tops, stems picked off, and rinsed
Basil, rinsed
A hard salty cheese, like pecorino romano or parmesan
Pine nuts or shelled pistachios (or any combination of the two)
Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Olive oil
Salt

Instructions

In a food processor combine all ingredients. It’s best to start with all of your greens, but about half of everything else, so that you can adjust flavor and texture to your liking. Pulse until smooth, and enjoy!

Fried Baby Artichokes

Fried Baby Artichokes

Fried Baby ArtichokesFried Baby Artichokes

We have been hitting up our local farmers market like crazy. If you live in Portland and you don’t go to the PSU Farmers Market on Saturdays, you are seriously missing out. Especially when the weather is beautiful and there is SO MUCH PRODUCE everywhere to be found. It’s really incredible.

Lately, Jonah and I have bought chanterelles, fennel, fiddlehead ferns, rhubarb (so much rhubarb), strawberries, a chicken, radishes, leeks, lamb steaks, sunchokes, spring onions, cheese… the list goes on. There is so much delicious local food to be found, it’s like being in heaven. And these mounds of food and people walking around in sundresses and shorts with bouquets of flowers are all so beautiful.

Anyway, one of my favorite things we’ve found at the market is baby artichokes. Have you ever had fried baby artichokes at a restaurant? It’s a common Italian dish. The leaves get crispy and a little burnt and it’s really yummy. So when we brought these home, we knew we wanted to make that dish. We found a simple recipe on Martha Stewart’s website, and Jonah took over the making of these little guys. We bought 8 of them to cook, but the recipe is obviously variable depending on how many you want to make.

Fried Baby Artichokes

Ingredients

8-12 baby artichokes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus some for serving
4 cloves garlic (or more, if you want), lightly crushed
lemon for serving

Instructions

Prepare the artichokes by removing the tough outer leaves, cutting off the top third of the , and peeling the tough dark green layer from the stems with a paring knife. I know, it seems like you’re losing a lot of artichoke here, but you’re really just getting rid of all the really tough parts that would make this whole thing harder and far less pleasant to eat.

Pour the oil and 1/2 cup water into a medium sized, deep, heavy pot and add the artichokes and 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Turn the heat on to medium-high, and let them cook, turning them over occasionally (you don’t want them to get burned on one side). Cook them until the water has evaporated and the oil starts to spit, which, trust me, it will. This will take about 8-10 minutes.

When the water has cooked off, add the garlic to the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pot with a spatter screen or an sieve turned upside down (Nice tip Martha! Sadly our sieve wasn’t big enough for our pot… I’m thinking it’s time to invest in a spatter screen). Continue cooking the artichokes and turning them occasionally, until they’re tender and golden brown all over (should be another ~10 minutes). Now take some tongs and put them upside down (or cut-side down, however you want to think about it) in the pan, pressing them down and wiggling them around to kind of loosen up and separate the leaves. Leave them upside down and let them cook like that for another 5 minutes, until the leaves/edges are dark and crispy. Using your tongs, transfer artichokes and garlic from the pan to a plate covered in paper towels. Put the artichokes cut sides down at first, if you can, so they can drain a little bit.

Sprinkle them with salt, squeeze some lemon over top, and serve!

Kale, squash, and a runny yolk

Kale, Squash, and a Runny Yolk

Kale, squash, and a runny yolk

Sometimes you just need an easy dinner. You need to comb through your fridge, scrounge what ingredients you can, and stand there, for a minute, gazing at your collection, trying to figure out what you can make with all of this. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or even graceful, but tasting good and mildly cohesive would be nice. You’ve got a bunch of kale that you really should use soon, a small, friendly looking butternut squash, and a jalapeño. And eggs. Luckily, the roommates always keep lots of eggs around. And do you know what brings a dish together with ease? A runny yolk.

So you slice up the butternut squash, drizzle with olive oil and salt, mix in some chopped garlic, and lay it out on a baking sheet, laying a couple rosemary springs atop it all, sliding it into the oven to roast. You sautée up the kale with more oil, salt, and garlic, and even some jalapeño. And then, to finish it all off, you soft boil a couple of eggs (one for you and one for the tall fellow you eat dinner with). Simple as that, you have dinner.

Kale, Squash, and a Soft Boiled Egg

Ingredients

A small butternut squash, olive oil, and salt (and anything you’d like to roast with it)
1 bunch of kale, garlic, olive oil, and salt
Eggs

Instructions

Peel and cube or slice the butternut squash into whatever shapes you like to eat. Slide into the oven at about 375 and roast until easily pierced with a fork. Sautée kale with a tsp of olive oil, chopped garlic, and a sprinkling of salt. If you want the kale to steam and wilt a little more, you can add some water to the pan (no more than 1/4 cup) and cover with a lid. After letting the kale steam for a bit, remove the lid and let the water cook off.

To soft boil the eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop the eggs in, allow to cook for 6 minutes (this can be adjusted depending on how you like your eggs). After 6 minutes, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, run under cold water, and peel.

Put your egg on top of your kale and squash to let the yolk run over the veggies a bit. It adds a nice rich creaminess. Enjoy.

Rice Cakes

Rice Cakes (using rice gone wrong)

Rice Cakes
Rice Cakes

Rice Cakes

Sometimes you’re in the kitchen and you have a lot going on and you miss something going wrong. Maybe you accidentally over-salt your pasta or you burn your veggies. There’s a whole (albeit little) chapter in Tamar Adler’s book all about how to save your mistakes. For example, turn those burned veggies into a smoky veggie salad. Or take that over-salted pasta, mix it with some herbs and butter, and make a frittata. The possibilities are endless.

A while ago, Jonah and I made these rice bowls. We doubled the rice recipe, and I must’ve done some math wrong and put in way too much liquid. So, while the rice tasted good, it was definitely a little mushy. After sitting in the fridge sadly for a week, I was thinking of using it to make rice cakes. Jonah reminded me about the “Further Fixes” chapter in An Everlasting Meal, so to the book I went. It kind of told me what I was already thinking of doing, so on I went.

Rice Cakes

Ingredients

roughly 3 cups of overcooked rice
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 leek (if I’d had a whole one, I’d have used it), thinly sliced
salt, pepper
garlic powder
parmesan cheese
olive oil for cooking

Instructions

I heated up the rice in the microwave, drizzling it with water to kind of re-steam it. If your rice won’t stick together (perhaps it’s not quite as mushy as mine was), feel free to stir an egg into the mix. Stir together the rice, shallot, and leek, and add any seasoning you like. I added a few shakes of garlic powder, probably 1/2-1 tsp salt, and probably 1/4 cup grated parmesan. But none of this has to be exact. Put a bunch of stuff you like in there. I bet chopped sage would’ve been good, as would onion and garlic.

Heat some olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat, form the rice mixture into patties, and cook on each side until golden brown, roughly 3-5 minutes. Add more oil as you need it. You want them to have a nice crispiness on the outside to add some texture.

We ate them alongside some delicious panko-crusted tilapia and roasted broccoli. They would make a great appetizer for a fancier dinner. Also, they would make a delicious breakfast had I put a fried egg on top. Or melted a slice of cheddar. With some breakfast sausage on the side. See, there are so many uses for botched food! Now go mess up some rice.

beet tart

Beet Tart

beet tart

OK people – I know we read a lot of food books and talk about them all the time, but if there is ONE book you are going to read from our suggestions, let it be An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler.  It is amazing book that changed my life, and is sure to make you think and act differently around food.  If you have not read it yet, go read our blog post on her book, and then continue below.

This beet tart is a perfect example of Tamar’s philosophy and grace: if you attacked this beet tart recipe from start to finish in one cooking session alone – it would take most of your day; first you would have to roast the beets (which takes a long time anyway), then make tart dough and chill it for an hour, then bake the tart dough, then put together the filling, bake some more, add the sliced beets, and bake once again.  Sounds daunting! I would never have done this recipe if it wasn’t spread out over many days and incorporated in the general meal preparations for the week.  However, the manner in which it was made made it feel like I was just throwing leftovers together in a very creative way, rather than a labor intensive ordeal.

Here’s what happened: A few days before, Annie and I roasted a whole bunch of veggies for dinner (or was it lunch?).  We filled the whole oven and roasted lots of different veggies with olive oil and salt.  I fit the beets in a small pan with a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom, covered them with foil, and let them roast for a long time (probably too long, I may have forgotten about them).  We ate the other roasted veggies as part of our dinner that night, but we had no intention of eating the beets that day, so we didn’t have to wait around for them to roast.  We let them cool and then peeled them and put them in the fridge before bed.  Now we had roasted beets peeled beets in the fridge.  We had no plan but we had ideas: beet salad, beet pasta, or beet anything; they were simply a nice starting point.

A few days before roasting the veggies, we had made a different veggie tart using the Olive Oil Tart dough recipe that can be found in Tamar’s book, so we had some leftover in the fridge.  A few days later, I looked in the fridge and saw that a perfect storm had brewed for a beet tart.  There, sitting in the fridge waiting to be used, were roasted peeled beets, tart dough, and some leftover ricotta cheese.

If you want to make this recipe from start to finish, more power to you.  However, I would suggest at least making the tart dough a day ahead, and then looking through your fridge to find any vegetables that would work, roast them, and put them on top of the tart in place of beets.

Beet Tart

Note: You’ll want to roast your beets or other vegetables before you make the tart dough.

Ingredients

Olive Oil Tart Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ice water
1 teaspoon salt

Beet Tart Filling

1 1/2 cups ricotta (fresh)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tb. cream (I think I just used leftover creme fraiche)
1/2 t. salt
2 egg yolks
a pinch of fresh thym or rosemary

Instructions

Olive Oil Tart Dough

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. If its too dry, add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough in half and roll into balls, then put them in the fridge to chill.

Take out one dough ball (you get to save the rest for another day!) and roll it out on a floured counter until its about 1/4 inch thick. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan and dust with a bit of flour. Lay the crust in the pan and trim the edges. Prick the bottom a few times (this dissuades bubbles from appearing in your tart dough). Cover the crust in aluminum foil and put some dried beans or pie weights in to fill the tart and hold down the dough. Bake for 20 minutes.

Beet Tart Filling

Whisk together filling ingredients. Pour into the pre-baked tart dough (remember to take out the dried beans and aluminum foil!) and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Now lay your beet slices (I cut mine into half-moons) on top of the ricotta filling in a single layer and bake for another 10 minutes.  Let it cool and eat at room temperature.

It is very filling and great for lunch the next day and many days after!

Soba Noodles with Mango and Eggplant

Soba noodles, eggplant, onion, mango, cilantro, basil, and dressing all tossed into a bowl.

Jonah slices and dices all the colorful ingredients for the soba noodles.
It feels very weird to spread a pile of noodles on a dish towel to dry... But I'll do pretty much anything Ottolenghi tell me to.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Jonah and I made dinner for my mom and her boyfriend back in December. Now I believe I have told you of my love for Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Plenty,” yes? This meal was no exception. The meal was all vegetarian, and 2/3 dishes were from that cookbook. The meal was light, refreshing, and packed with flavor. Not to mention the great company.

I fear that I am reaching a point where I cannot keep posting variations of these recipes, I just need to tell you to please, please, please go buy this cookbook. Even if vegetarian food isn’t your thing, even if the photos don’t make your stomach growl, even if the lists of ingredients leave you with questions swirling around in your hear. I beg you. Just go buy it. And then, please proceed to make everything in it, even if it doesn’t jump off the page. Every single dish I have made from this book (as well as his other book, “Jerusalem”) has been so lovely and flavorful that I wish I had tripled them all so I could enjoy the leftovers or share with a bunch of my friends.

Back to the dinner. These room temperature soba noodles are one of the few recipes in the book that did jump off the page for me. But somehow, I still hadn’t made it. While it’s a little prep-heavy, trust me, it’s worth it. Packing a lot of flavor and lots of little bites with different tastes (onion, eggplant, peppers, mango, the list goes on…), this recipe is bound to be a crowd pleaser. I can see it being especially good for kids. What kids don’t love noodles and mango? That’s what I thought: none.

Soba Noodles with Mango and Eggplant

Ingredients

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbl sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 of a red chile, finely chopped
1 tsp sesame oil
zest and juice of a lime
1 cup sunflower oil (we used canola)
2 eggplants, cut into ~1 inch cubes
a bag of soba noodles
1 large ripe mango (let’s be honest, more than one probably couldn’t hurt…), cut into ~3/4 inch cubes or thin strips
1 2/3 cups fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (think paper thin, if you can)

Instructions

In small pot, warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar just dissolves. Remove from heat, then add the garlic, chile, and sesame oil, and, once it’s cool, the lime zest and juice.

In a large saute pan, heat the oil and fry up the eggplant. You’ll probably need to do this in a few batches. But you want the eggplant to be nice and golden brown. After all the eggplant is cooked, put it in a colander in the sink, sprinkle (“liberally”) with salt, and leave to drain.

While cooking the eggplant, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the soba noodles in the boiling water – you want them to be soft, but still a little al dente. Drain the noodles and rinse them under cold water to stop them cooking. Spread them on a dish towel to dry.

Now the fun part: throw the noodles, dressing, mango, eggplant, onion, and half the basil and cilantro in a bowl and toss to coat/combine everything. You can make this a couple hours ahead of serving, and stop here, letting it sit to absorb flavors and come to room temperature. When you’re ready to serve it, add the rest of the herbs. Enjoy!

Mom's dinner prep activities: playing tug-of-war with Lulu while Jonah and I chopped and sauteed in the kitchen a few feet away.

Latkes (and Belated Happy Hannukah)

These latkes get 2 thumbs up.

Yes, I know. By the time this post gets published, Hannukah and the time for latkes will be over. But if there is anything I’ve learned from the past week, it is that latkes should not be a “once a year” dish. They make a great little side dish, or a base for eggs benedict, or even just a fried egg on a Saturday morning. This is especially true once you’ve found a recipe you really like. And I have. After doing some hunting around and even trying another recipe I found, I made the latkes from “Jerusalem,” a cookbook I have previously written about, by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Now this recipe is what made me really want this cookbook. I thought it was interesting that there weren’t onions in it, and I also had never tried latkes with parsnips, although I know it’s not an uncommon thing. And here’s what I liked about these: Not too salty (an issue with the first recipe I tried this season), I liked having the chive flavor in there (although I halved the chives, because one of the people I was cooking for doesn’t like them), and the parsnip and very dried out potato made it extra crispy. Also, the fact that you fry them in a combination of butter and oil didn’t hurt.

Potato & Parsnip Latkes

Ingredients

5 1/2 cups peeled and grated waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold
2 3/4 cups peeled and grated parsnips
2/3 cup finely chopped chives
4 egg whites
2 Tbl corn starch
Butter and oil (preferably canola or sunflower) for frying
salt and pepper
sour cream and applesauce to serve

Instructions

For all of the grating, I recommend the grater attachment for a food processor, but if you haven’t got one, a box grater will work just fine. Then maybe you’ll have done enough physical activity to justify the fried potato goodness you’re about to eat.

Squeeze the grated potato out in a clean dishtowel (make a little satchel, twist the ends, and squeeze!) into the sink. Some recipes reserve the juice, let it separate, and then add the starch back in. This one doesn’t call for it, but if you want to, go for it. After you’ve squeezed out the potato, spread it out on a clean kitchen towel to dry as completely as you have time for. In a large mixing bowl, combine the potato, parsnip, chives, egg whites, corn starch, 1 tsp salt, and as much pepper as you’d like.

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, and in the oven place a rimmed baking sheet with a cooling rack on it. Also prepare a plate or baking sheet with a couple layers of paper towel.

In a (preferably non-stick) pan, heat enough butter and oil so it’s ~1/4-1/2 inch deep over medium-high heat. To see if your oil is hot enough, drop in a little chunk of your potato mix. It should sizzle and bubble a bit without spitting violently. If it isn’t hot enough, take out the potatoes and keep heating and try again. When it is hot enough use a spoon to scoop about 2 Tbl portions of the potato mixture, squeeze out some of the juices, and shape into patties and carefully drop into the oil. Or, you can use my tried and true method: squeeze out the juices, drop into the oil, and then quickly use your spoon to spread and press the mixture into a patty. Fry for about 3 minutes a side, or until they are as dark/cooked as you like them, then flip and cook the other side. Remove from pan to the paper towels, then keep warm in the oven. Serve with sour cream, applesauce, and holiday cheer 😉 Enjoy!