Categories
Savories

Pasta Puttanesca

As a child, my favorite snack was licking a pile of salt out of the palm of my hand. So it makes sense that puttanesca is my pasta sauce of choice — it’s an ode to the wonders of salt.

The recipe takes basic tomato sauce and revs it up with anchovies, garlic, chili flakes, capers, and olives. I add beans to mine, which I recommend). The whole dish can be made with non-perishables, making it an excellent quarantine meal. But feel free to throw in any fresh veggies that are lying around.

Fun Fact to Impress Your Friends During Virtual Happy Hours: “Putta” is italiano for prostitute. Some say the name comes from its pungent aromas ?. Others say it was a staple served after services rendered at Neapolitan brothels. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound pasta (I like rigatoni for this sauce)
  • 1 12 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked white beans, such as cannellini (cook dried beans or use canned. Be sure to rinse canned beans of their goo.)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 anchovy fillets (optional, but you really should…)
  • handful of olives, roughly chopped
  • palmful of capers
  • red chili flakes
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • honey (or sugar or maple syrup)
  • optional: cooked veggies like green beans or broccoli
  • optional: fresh basil and/or dried oregano
  • optional: parmesan

Step-by-step

  • In a pot large enough to fit all the pasta, warm a glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic. Once it starts to smell fragrant — but well before it turns brown — add anchovies , a generous pinch (or three) of red chili flakes, and a generous pinch of dried oregano. After another minute or two of sizzling, add the crushed tomatoes. Turn heat up to medium high. Add a glug of honey and a small pinch of salt. Be conservative with salting, as the other ingredients will add plenty of saltiness to the sauce. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken over medium heat while the pasta cooks.
  • To cook pasta, bring a large pot of water to boil. Once it boils, add enough salt to the water so that it tastes like the ocean. Cook pasta until al dente. Strain, saving 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
  • Stir in to sauce the pasta cooking water, olives, and capers. Allow to cook for a minute of two. Taste and adjust as needed (Too acidic? Add more honey. Too salty? More pasta water). 
  • Add beans, pasta, and veggies to sauce. Stir and cook for a few more minutes, so the pasta absorbs the flavor of the sauce.
  • Serve with freshly grated parmesan and torn pieces of fresh basil.

Notes

Hot tip: have some crusty bread on hand to sop up extra sauce.


Categories
Savories

Savory Bread Pudding

I need comfort food right now, which for me means carbs and cheese. Also, I want to make every little bit count, as who knows what I might have access to in the coming weeks. Earlier this week I had a mountain of stale bread and too much leftover French onion soup in the kitchen. Craving something to soothe my soul and stick to my ribs, I made a savory bread pudding. It was an excellent reminder that I should eat more bread pudding.

Ingredients

  • 2 baguettes or 1 loaf of nice crusty white bread (stale is great; whole wheat breads will likely be too dense)
  • 1 bunch of greens of choice, roughly chopped (kale, collards, chard, arugula, spinach, etc)
  • 3 cups grated cheese or choice
  • a handful of assorted chopped herbs
  • a few cloves or garlic, chopped, and/or a half an onion, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk or half and half
  • 2 cups stock (I used French onion soup, which is basically stock with onions)
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • optional: other cooked veggies like sauteed mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, or roasted squash)

Step-by-step

  • Saute onions and garlic in a glug of oil over medium heat until soft and beginning to brown. Add greens to a pan along with a splash of stock or water and cook over medium-high heat until soft (if using spinach, leave uncooked).
  • Rip bread into irregular pieces, no larger than 2 inches.
  • Lightly oil a 9×13 pan. Add bread, onions and greens, cheese, herbs, and any additional veggies and mix together.
  • In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, stock, a 5-fingered pinch of salt, and a generous amount of pepper. Pour over bread mixture. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes in order for the bread to soak up some liquid. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until egg custard is set.
Categories
Savories

Grilled Star Fruit with Peppergrass and Cilantro

There  are two gigantic, too-prolific star fruit trees at the Rauschenberg Residency that have already set fruit three times in the nine months I’ve been here. Even if I picked and processed star fruit for 40 hours a week, there might still be rotten fruit on the ground. And sadly, star fruit is not a popular choice in fruit baskets. It’s musty and chalky and just kind of boring (besides their super cool shape). So I’m always wracking my brain trying to figure out what to do with it. 
I make a lot of star fruit vinegar. I’ve been dehydrating thin slices marinated in lemon juice and chili, which makes for a nice snack. Recently I tried throwing them on the grill, and I was pleased with the results. I paired them with peppergrass, a mustardy weed that grows rampant during South Florida winters. You probably have some in your backyard right now! Serve this with some simply prepared fish for a very classy, very Floridian dinner.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 ripe starfruit (they should be yellow with brown edges and not a hint of green)
  • A spoonful of nice mustard
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2-3 peppergrass plants (just rip’em out of the ground! And if you don’t have access, just substitute any green you like.)
  • A few sprigs of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Basic vinaigrette of your choice (see recipe below)
  • Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Step-by-step

  • Cut star fruit into half-inch slices. Using a paring knife, pop out seeds. Marinate star fruit in lemon juice and mustard with a pinch of salt and pepper for about 20 minutes or  while the grill heats up.
  • Preheat grill to medium heat. While the grill heats up, chop cilantro, make the vinaigrette, and strip peppergrass leaves and seeds from the stalk.
  • Using a cloth, oil grill grates. Grill star fruit, about 5 minutes per side, until they are juicy and there are pretty grill marks.
  • Toss star fruit with peppergrass leaves and seeds, cilantro, and a generous squeeze of vinaigrette. Finish with salt and a few grindings of pepper.
Basic Vinaigrette
  • Basic vinaigrette: In a dressing bottle or mason jar, add equal parts olive oil and acid (lemon juice or vinegar). Add a spoonful of mustard, a squeeze of honey, a minced garlic clove, a few grindings of pepper, and a pinch or two of salt. Cover tightly and shake well. Now taste it. It should be bright and zingy – noticeably sour with just enough salt and sweetness. 
    Adjust until you’re happy with the vinaigrette. Too bland? Try another pinch of salt. Too sour? A bit more olive oil or another squeeze of honey. Store in the fridge, where it will keep more-or-less forever.
Categories
Savories

Herb-Packed Falafel

Back when I lived in London and also stayed up past 10 p.m. — before I’d board the long night bus back to my flat — I ended many a night out at the kebab shop. Nothing is more satisfying than a warm pita filled with hummus and falafel and pickles, dripping in yogurt and tahini and hot sauce. Especially at three in the morning. When feeling a little bit tipsy. After having just burnt a jillion calories on the dance floor. Don’t you want some falafel right now? Well pitter patter.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry chickpeas
  • 1 cup fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, garlic chives, scallions, mint)
  • ¼ of an onion
  • A few garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour (all-purpose flour also does the trick)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Neutral oil for frying

Step-by-step

  • Soak chickpeas overnight in triple the amount of water (six-ish cups). Drain and rinse before use.
  • In a food processor, blend herbs, onion, and garlic until minced. Add remaining ingredients besides the oil and process until everything is well-combined into a rough paste.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment. Smoosh and roll the mixture into ping pong-sized balls to form the falafel. Place on parchment and freeze for at last 30 minutes, or until ready to fry.
  • On medium-high heat, fill a small saucepan with at least three inches of oil. A smaller surface area means less oil.*** Be patient and let it heat up sufficiently. When dropping the falafel in the oil, it should immediately begin to sizzle. Fry falafel in batches (don’t overcrowd the oil) until golden brown.
  • Serve with whatever delicious fixins your heart desires!

Notes

I save and reuse frying oil 2-3 times. After use, let it cool down. Strain it through a cloth-lined sieve to remove any fried bits. Store in an airtight container in the pantry until frying again. I discard once the oil gets too dark or too smelly.
Categories
Savories

Fettuccine with Roasted Mushrooms in Lemon-Miso-Cream Sauce

My dream career would be running a restaurant in which I make one giant bowl of pasta for a dozen or so people four nights a week. While there may be a few financial holes in that particular vision for my future, I must say that I truly excel at making big bowls of pasta. It’s the nonna in me! 

This particular bowl of pasta is a dream. It’s got all kinds of umami (the fifth taste, which captures savoriness) – featuring darkly roasted mushrooms, garlic, miso, and a healthy shaving of parmesan. Buon appetito!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta
  • 1 lb mixed mushrooms
  • ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts (toast in oven at 350 for 12 minutes for extra deliciousness)
  • Small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • a couple tablespoons of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan for grating
  • Olive oil

Step-by-step

  • Prepare mushrooms. Preheat oven as high as it will go. Quarter the mushrooms and toss with a healthy glug or three of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven until brown and a bit crispy, about 15-20 minutes. To amplify the flavor, mix with a splash of lemon juice once roasted. 
  • Cook pasta. I recommend amply salting the water (Samin Nosrat says it should taste like the ocean) to properly flavor the pasta. Before draining, reserve 1/4 cup of the starchy pasta water.
  • While pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Heat a large sauté pan — enough to eventually hold all the pasta — on medium. Add the butter, and once melted, add the heavy cream. Once the cream comes to a boil, lower heat and add garlic and miso. Season as needed with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice, zest, and reserved pasta water to the cream sauce. The pasta water’s starchy goodness will give the sauce its body and help it stick to the pasta. Taste once more and adjust seasoning.
  • Return heat to medium, add drained pasta to sauté pan, and mix for about two minutes, so the pasta absorbs the flavors of the sauce.
  • Toss pasta with mushrooms, walnuts, and parsley, and top with a healthy amount of freshly shaved parmesan.
Categories
Savories

Shakshuka

Florida tomato season is finally here (sit on it, northerners) and Farmer Danny of 12 Seasons Farm is keeping me well-stocked with beautiful heirlooms. A simple lunch of shakshuka with whole grain flatbreads made a perfectly satisfying lunch for anyone enduring this week’s cold snap.

Shakshuka — an egg dish cooked in spiced tomatoes — is excellent comfort food found across the Middle East and North Africa, not to mention every chichi brunch menu in the United States.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 nice tomatoes, roughly chopped, or 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • A few garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1-2 eggs per serving
  • Additional veggies for added bulk — peppers, eggplant, zucchini, last night’s green beans, whatever sounds good to you
  • A large pinch of cumin, ground coriander, and chili flakes
  • A large pinch of dried herbs like thyme and oregano
  • A handful of fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, and parsley, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Yogurt and/or feta to finish

Step-by-step

  • In a medium saute pan, heat a glug of olive oil over medium heat. Add spices and dried herbs. Once they begin to sizzle, add onions. Cook onions until they soften, then add garlic and cook until just soft. 
  • Add in any raw veggies like peppers or eggplant. Once they begin to soften, add tomatoes and at least five-fingers of salt. Let the mixture cook over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes. Taste along the way, adding more salt, spices, or perhaps a glug of honey as needed. If adding already cooked veggies (I added leftover green beans from Thanksgiving and it slayed), throw them in now. 
  • Once you love the way the tomato mixture tastes, crack the eggs directly into the tomatoey goodness . Cover with a lid and cook until the whites have solidified. Garnish with fresh herbs, yogurt, and/or feta. Eat over grains of choice or with flatbread. Reheat leftovers for a luxe breakfast the next day!
Categories
Savories

Curried Eggplant, Mango, and Chickpea Salad

This recipe is a mashup of two different recipes by deli counter artiste and king of my heart, Yotam Ottolenghi. If you’re looking to bulk up your cookbook collection, start with one of his exquisite tomes like Plenty or Sweet.

You’ll see I’m not too keen on exact measurements. And that’s because they’re a waste of time, and they’ll hold you back from learning the ropes, trusting your senses, and cooking with confidence.

Obviously if you’re cooking for yourself you shouldn’t use 20 eggplants and 1 whole head of garlic. Didn’t add enough salt or vinegar? Taste it and add more! Start with conservative quantities, especially of condiments and spices, and continuously taste as you go. And if you do use a bit too much of something, A. it’s probably not inedible and B. what a great learning opportunity to think critically, develop your sense of taste, and adapt for next time!

Makes: 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 or 2 cups chickpeas (dried or canned, also known as garbanzo beans)

  • 1 ripe mango, cut into smallish chunks
  • 1 small eggplant (or maybe half of a big one)
  • ¼ onion
  • a handful of some fresh, bright herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, and chives
  • Whatever salad greens seem nice (lettuce, arugula, kale, collards)
  • A few cloves of garlic, minced
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • curry powder (link to make your own below!)
  • maybe some seeds and nuts to top, like black sesame and pistachios!

Step-by-step

the Chickpeas
  • If using canned chickpeas, simply drain and rinse all the goo off. It tastes gross in my opinion.
  • If using dried chickpeas, soak them in water the night before you plan to use them. Make sure there is enough space in the container and water for them to expand to two or three times their size and still be covered in water. Add a palmful of salt, swish it all around, loosely cover and leave out on the counter. Skip this step at your peril! Soaking the chickpeas helps breakdown some of the harder-to-digest carbohydrates, relieving pressure on your gut and significantly decreasing farting!
  • To cook, drain and rinse your chickpeas, throw them in a pot with plenty of water, maybe a bit more salt if you weren’t generous enough last night, and bring it to a boil. Cook until chickpeas are soft but not mushy, maybe 45 minutes. Just keep tasting. You’ll know when they’re done. You can also do this in a pressure cooker much faster! 10 minutes on high pressure. Drain your chickpeas and let them cool on the counter. 
the Eggplant:
  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • Chop up your eggplant into chunks. Don’t worry about all that jazz with salting it and letting it sit in a colander for hours to sweat. Modern varieties of eggplant have had the bitterness bred out of them, so unless you’re time traveling, this shouldn’t be necessary. Just toss the eggplant with plenty of salt and lots of olive oil; like more olive oil than you think seems correct. There should be a thin but noticeable coating on the bottom of the pan.
  • Roast in the oven until the eggplant are super duper soft, about 30 minutes.
the Everything Else:
  • Thinly slice your onion and let the pieces sit in lemon juice for 15 minutes or so. It takes away the bite.
  • Roughly chop your herbs. Be sure to include the stems of parsley and cilantro, unless they are very woody. 
  • Combine chickpeas, mango, eggplant, herbs, greens, onions and garlic, and seeds or nuts in a bowl.
    Splash on a couple glugs of olive oil, the onion-y lemon juice, two or three big (use all five fingers) pinches of curry powder (here's a link to make your own!), and mix. Add salt too. Enough so that the food tastes bright and exciting and zings on your tongue. Maybe start with a small palmful and go from there.
Categories
Savories

Savory Multi Grain Pancakes

Out of everything I make, these simple, healthy pancakes are my mother’s favorite. They are versatile and serve as the perfect canvas for a summer slaw, some sautéed veg, or a green salad. I like mine slathered in honey and sriracha.

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups flour of choice (I recommend using a mix of whole grains- whole wheat, buckwheat, spelt, rye, amaranth. But of course all purpose is fine too)

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • Large pinch of salt

  • Small handful of seeds of of choice (sesame, flax, chia, hemp, etc)

  • Zest of a lemon or lime

  • Small pinches of cayenne, cumin, coriander, or whatever spices sound nice

  • A handful of chopped herbs (parsley, chives, and cilantro are great) (optional)

  • A handful of crumbled up dried seaweed (using tongs hold the sheet over an open flame to make crumbling much easier) (optional)

Wet Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups liquid of choice (Dairyish: milk, buttermilk, yogurt, nut mylk; or Savory: pickle juice, veggie stock or just plain water)

  • Half a stick of melted butter or coconut oil

  • Drizzle of toasted sesame oil (optional)

  • ¼ cup discarded sourdough starter (optional)

  • 2 cups cooked grains of choice (brown rice, quinoa, barley, etc)

Step-by-step

  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients. Afterwards, add the wet ingredients and the cooked grains (after they’ve had time to cool a little) to the dry bowl. Gently stir the mixture until there aren’t any noticeable clumps of dry flour remaining. The batter is now ready to go, but it can also be stored in the fridge for a few days.
  • To cook the pancakes, heat a pan on medium high heat. After a minute or so, put your hand a couple inches over the pan and if it feels hot, add a glug of cooking oil or butter. Ladle a scoop of batter onto the pan. After a couple minutes, once little bubbles form throughout the top of the pancake, flip it. Let it cook for another minute or so, until both sides are nice and brown and the interior is cooked through. About 3 minutes per pancake.

Notes

I adapted this recipe from the most excellent cooking blog 101 Cookbooks. She adapted it from somewhere else. There are no new ideas.
Categories
Savories

Cornflake Crusted Avocado

Guacamole is a treasure. Avocado toast, while overplayed, is undeniably satisfying. But what you should really be doing is battering and frying that big, green mama!

I get that some people consider Florida avocados to be the ugly stepsister to Hass avocados (which are grown in California and Latin America, but sadly don’t do well in Florida), but I do my best to avoid avocados from outside the state for a few reasons: 1) I try to limit consumption of fresh foods that need to be shipped thousands of miles because the gas it takes to fuel those journeys contributes to climate change in a major way. 2) The avocado industry in Mexico produces most of the world’s crop and their “blood avocados” cause massive deforestation and line the pockets of drug cartels. 3) Florida avocados, while less dense and creamy, are still super delicious (especially when you can find exceptional varieties like Black Prince or Choquette). 

I do want to be upfront that I still get guac at Chipotle, lest I sound like I am making a value judgment against those who eat avocados willy nilly. I am far from a perfect eater and it’s difficult to forego the things you love. But still, it’s good to have the intel.

Makes: 1

Ingredients

  • Avocado
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Corn flakes (or bread crumbs if you don’t have breakfast cereal lying around. Or potato chips if you’re feeling decadent.)
  • Frying oil (choose something with a high smoking point. If you’re looking for a regionally appropriate option, go for Oliver Farm’s sunflower oil)

Step-by-step

  • Prep batter ingredients: Throw some cornflakes in the blender and pulse until they look like bread crumbs. Pour on a plate. Put some flour on another plate. In a shallow bowl, lightly beat an egg or two with a fork. Quantities depend on how many avocados you’re frying up.
  • Slice avocado into fat wedges and scoop them out of the skin using a spoon.
  • Batter like so: Coat each wedge with flour, then egg, then cornflakes. Make sure every square inch of the avocado is covered before moving on to the next coating.
  • Heat oil over high heat. This is a shallow fry, so fill up the pan with about a half inch of oil. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a piece of the batter that got stuck on your fingers into the oil. If it immediately starts to sizzle, it’s ready. Try not to let the oil heat up long enough to start smoking, which will make it taste yucky and maybe set off the fire alarm.
  • Fry until they are a color brown that looks good to you, turning and moving each wedge as needed, so that every part gets its moment in the oil.
  • Remove from oil, sprinkle crunchy salt on top, and consume!
  • Cover with Sriracha, ranch, or stick it in a taco. The world is your corn tortilla!
Categories
Savories

Gazpacho

It’s still brutally hot here in southwest Florida. But with the start of the veggie-growing season, I can finally fight the heat with a favorite refreshing recipe — gazpacho. Gazpacho is a classy crowd-pleaser. Once comfortable with the tomato-cucumber variety, branch out! I love me a strawberry gazpacho or an almond-garlic-bread number. The world is your bowl of ice cold soup.

Ingredients

  • An assortment of cucumbers and tomatoes, roughly chopped (poblano and bell peppers work too); enough to fill a blender about 2/3 up
  • Half an onion, peeled
  • A few cloves of garlic, peeled
  • An assortment of fresh herbs of choice (cilantro, dill, mint, basil, parsley, chives, etc)
  • Vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste

Step-by-step

  • Add all the herbs and veggies to the blender. Pour in a small handful of salt and a healthy glug or two of vinegar. Blend until happy with the consistency. Taste to determine if the gazpacho is acceptably zingy. Add more vinegar, salt, and pepper as needed. 
  • Feeling fancy? Top with chopped herbs and veggies, yogurt, and a swizzle of olive oil.