Cheddar and Jalapeño Skillet Cornbread

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Since writing my last recipe, I began a new (full-time) job! It’s been an all around super-exciting and awesome life move. With my focus shifted outside the kitchen, it’s meant far less time experimenting, photographing, taste-testing, and updating the blog. So, to make this happen, I blocked out time on my calendar, put the gate up so the puppy wouldn’t come in for scraps, and got to work. Some people have yoga or running, I have my kitchen. Though, after all the cheesy cornbread, I really should have yoga or something…Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

With less time on my hands, I’m really a fan of one-pot cooking. Technically, this is a skillet plus a bowl (and a whisk, cutting board, knife, and maybe a spatula) but it’s still easy on the dishwashing. Even though winter is slooowllly beginning to ebb away, I’m still craving hearty, warm dishes that fill stomachs and souls. You could bake this up with some chili, slather it with honey butter, or spread a jam or chutney on it for breakfast.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

I made a few iterations of this recipe and I can say that having everything prepped in advance will be a HUGE time and sanity saver. The longest bit of prep is mincing up the jalapeño. Make sure you don’t swipe at your eyes after. Ugh. Or don’t be like me, and wear gloves.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Once you’re passed chopping and grating it’s just bringing together a bunch of ingredients in one bowl. I know I’ve sung of my love of butter before – the way it tastes, the way it makes everything better, and the way it smells when it’s melting into the pan. Ari, does not love those things. But even a butter hater got down with this bread. I particularly love browning butter for a deeper and nuttier taste. I read many cornbread recipes and tried different techniques, but it was Melissa Clark’s recipe in the NYTimes, with her browned butter, that I couldn’t ignore. Pieces of the recipe changed in iterating, but the brown butter stayed.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Cornmeal is one of the ingredients in my kitchen that sticks around for long periods of time. It’s usually what I find when I’m sorting through half-empty bags of flour, behind the corn starch, probably balled up with the bag of chia seeds. I was really happy to find this particular bag, so I’m showing it off! It reminds me of warmer weather and shopping at the Union Square Farmer’s Market (where I got it last fall).

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

As an experiment, since I know many of my friends don’t have cast iron cookware, I spooned the batter into a silicone mini muffin tray and holy hell, these were fantastic!  So if the idea of cheesy, spicy, cornbread goodness inspires you – know that you don’t need fancy kitchen equipment to make it. I only experimented with two version but I have a feeling this could be done in anything bake-able.

Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

If you do love the idea of the skillet, the perfectly cooked edges and bottom, and be able to cut your bread into slices, then get on it! I’m really into being able to crumble up the cornbread into whatever I’m eating it with (vegetarian chili here) to ensure perfect ratios in each bite. It’s the simple things. Cheddar and Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread by Herring and Potatoes

Cheddar and Jalapeño Skillet Cornbread
Ingredients
  • 3-4 jalapeños, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1½ sticks of unsalted butter
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup or agave
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1½ cups cornmeal
  • 1½ Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1½ tsp kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Prepare the jalapeños and cheese, and set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. I love to brown it but you don't need to. I think it's worth an extra 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the melted butter into a bowl and let it cool for a minute. Don't wipe the pan - you've now greased your baking dish!
  5. Whisk in the buttermilk, sour cream, and honey (or syrup, or agave).
  6. Whisk in the eggs.
  7. Whisk or stir in the jalapeños and cheese.
  8. Whisk in all the dry ingredients until the batter is mostly smooth. Some lumps are ok!
  9. Pour the batter into your skillet to about ¾ full. If your skillet cooled off while you were gathering ingredients, warm it back up by placing it in the oven or over a flame. Anything extra batter can be baked in muffin tins or other baking vessels.
  10. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. If you find yourself needing significantly more time, cover the top with foil and continue baking.

 

Hibiscus Poached Pears by Herring and Potatoes

Hibiscus Poached Pears

Hibiscus Poached Pears by Herring and Potatoes

I wish I had something cooler to say about why I haven’t written a blog post in so long, but the truth is life has been nonstop with different good, challenging, and exciting things…and even some travel. (We spent an awesome week in Georgia, the country, and if anyone wants tips we definitely have them!)  I’m happy to be back at the computer putting together blog posts and dreaming up new recipes.

I’ve been in the kitchen a ton over the last few weeks cooking for clients, guests, and even for us. Yesterday, I bought myself a Hanukkah present of a whole rack of lamb and had a lovely afternoon breaking it down and preparing it for dinner.

Hibiscus Poached Pears by Herring and Potatoes If you’re also in the holiday spirit (whatever holiday that might be) then you’ve probably begun the crazy eating. It’s a six-week meal that starts at Thanksgiving and goes until New Years…at least. If you are anything like me then you’ll be eating until the weather is warmer and it’s time to come out of hibernation.

Hibiscus Poached Pears by Herring and Potatoes

In honor of my first post in awhile, and in honor of the season of stretchy pants, I wanted to share one of my favorite desserts in the whole wide world. I don’t know if we’ve had this conversation before, but I’ll always opt for the cheese plate or the savory desserts before I choose something with chocolate or icing. Not to say I don’t like the idea of dessert but my sweet tooth doesn’t kick in after a meal.

This dish has a sweetness which most people want in dessert but also so many savory elements. It’s an amazing blend of flavors and perfectly balanced. Keep in mind, I hate hyperbole.

Hibiscus Poached Pears by Herring and Potatoes

What’s also really neat about this dessert is that it looks and tastes so much more complicated than it actually is. I didn’t know until recently how gosh darn easy it is to poach a pear. Poaching always came across like a technique reserved for master chefs and people with incredible amounts of patience and savvy. It’s truly really so easy to nail it.

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I love hibiscus in this recipe not only for its color but also for its tartness. It plays so well with the natural sweetness in the pears. The addition of honey to the poaching liquid as well as over the final dish ties it all together with the warm spices, nuts, and creamy labne (strained yogurt).

Hibiscus Poached Pears by Herring and Potatoes

It’s also such a nice dessert to have during this season because A. it’s festive and B. it’s a nice break from all the heavy meal-enders we tend to get this time of year.

Look below for the recipe to this knock-your-socks-off dessert. Which is good timing because I bet someone in your circle is getting you a new pair of socks this year anyway.

Hibiscus Poached Pears by Herring and Potatoes

Hibiscus Poached Pears
Ingredients
  • 4 Bosc Pears, ripe but firm
  • 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers*
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4-6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp orange peel granules
  • ¼ cup or ½ cup honey, plus extra for serving
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup sugar (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp labne* (per serving: 1-2 pear halves)
  • Pistachios, toasted and rough chopped
Instructions
  1. Place all the spices*, hibiscus flowers, and honey (use ¼ cup here if you plan to make a syrup, see below- or ½ cup honey if you aren't making the syrup) into a pot with the water. Boil, then lower to a simmer while you prepare the pears.
  2. Peel the pears and either core and leave whole with the stem intact or slice and scoop out the center with a melon baller or measuring spoon. Some people take out the soft stem that runs through the whole pear but I found that if the pear is cooked enough it isn't a problem. You might cut it out for aesthetic reasons more than anything else. After making these many times, I vote for halving them in advance for 2 reasons: 1.It cuts down on the poach time and 2. It is really difficult to take out the core (and make it look pretty) after you cook them if you decide that you want them in halves. The color will not seep all the way through the pear so you'll still have a nice contrast either way.
  3. Place the pears in the simmering poaching liquid. Cooking time will depend on the ripeness of your pears. I turn them over in the liquid every 4 minutes and begin checking to see if they're done 12 minutes in. I check with a toothpick; if the toothpick slides in fairly easily I know it's done. If there's resistance I turn them and let them cook another 4 minutes before checking again. When you serve them, you want a spoon to cut into it easily.
  4. Remove the pears to a shallow dish to cool.
  5. Strain the poaching liquid and pour a ½ cup of the strained liquid over the pears.
  6. Optional: If you used ¼ cup honey in the poaching: Take two cups of the liquid*, ½ cup of sugar and reduce together on the stove to make a syrup. It won't get too thick but thicker with the perfect sweetness to tart ratio. Reduce about 15 min over medium-high heat.
  7. Serve the pears at room temperature. To assemble the dessert: spread the labne on the plate and place a pear half (or 2!) on top. Drizzle the hibiscus syrup if you made it, sprinkle some pistachios, and finish with honey over the whole dish.
Notes
*You can buy dried hibiscus flowers from most health stores, gourmet grocers, online, or if in NYC: Kalustyan's. If you can't get them you can use 2-3 hibiscus tea bags instead.

*Feel free to edit and play with the spices to match what's sitting on your spice rack!

*Labne is a thick, strained yogurt that you'll find at Mediterranean and/or Middle Eastern markets. If you can't find it, you can substitute Greek yogurt for Labne.

*The leftover poaching liquid and syrup (if you have any left) are great in different cocktails and drinks. Mix it with gin and something bubble for a holiday cocktail or with mint and lemonade for a delicious drink.

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

I eat lots of flour products. I bake bread on a weekly basis and pasta is often the center of a meal. But I also eat (and love!) veggies. Once upon a time, I probably would have scoffed at someone trying to pass off cauliflower as a classic pizza crust substitute. But A. the times and general population eating habits have changed. B. Just because this is called pizza doesn’t mean other pizza doesn’t exist (Oh. Wait. Be right back…need to confirm the truth of that last statement) …

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Yup. It’s true. {Wipes crumbs off mouth}
And C. There is no better name for this, that I can think of, than Pizza.

One of the many cool things about cauliflower is that it is a bit of a chameleon. Cauliflower’s texture is easily manipulated and it is a fantastic canvas for all sorts of flavors.

Take for instance the photo below:

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

You can stop after you toss the cauliflower into a food processor and make this into a “couscous” or “rice”. You can quickly steam the cauliflower in a pan to release some moisture and then sauté it with other veggies and herbs or nuts and dried fruit to make a delicious (and unique!) side dish.

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

If you’re going the full pizza route, you need to get as much moisture out as you can. I’ve made the crust before and even though it’s still delicious when you make it without squeezing it within an inch of its life, it won’t hold its shape as well after baking. Plus this is a great de-stress activity (or a fun activity for little hands!).

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Once the cauliflower is prepped it’s smooth sailing to the finish line.

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Go all out on toppings. These guys can stand up to them. In honor of fall, I roasted some butternut squash and added goat cheese, pepitas, and little strips of kale for one pizza and went classic mushroom and mozzarella with a tomato sauce for the other.

Let me know what other amazing flavor combos you come up with that make this pizza shine!

Cauliflower Pizza by Herring and Potatoes

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Ingredients
  • 1 small cauliflower (about 1 pound)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ⅛-1/4 tsp cayenne (depending on how much heat you like)
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Chop cauliflower into florets. Remove all core pieces and the largest stem pieces.
  2. Place the florets into a food processor in small batches so that you won't end up with large untouched chunks. Quickly process until the cauliflower resembles couscous or rice (about 10 seconds). Place the cauliflower into a large bowl once it's been processed.
  3. Pour the ¼ cup of water over the cauliflower and tightly cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap.
  4. Using your microwave (you can also quickly boil the pieces or steam then in a pan with a little water) microwave for 4 minutes. Let it stand, still covered for another 2 minutes.
  5. Carefully remove from microwave and let it cool (enough that you can work with it, but you need it to still be warm) about 10 minutes.
  6. While waiting, preheat oven to 400°F
  7. Remove the cauliflower from the bowl onto a clean kitchen towel, wrap tightly, and squeeze out all the water you can. This will help ensure crispy and strong crust later.
  8. Place the cauliflower into a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Mix until well combined.
  9. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. With a 1lb cauliflower, you can make 4 individual size pizzas or create larger shapes (they will be a little more difficult to flip, but can be done!) Using your hands portion out the cauliflower onto the baking sheet into the shape you want - it will hold together! Make sure it maintains a consistent thickness all the way around.
  11. Bake 10 minutes on one side and then flip. Bake another 10 minutes, or until golden, on the other side.
  12. Remove and add toppings. Bake again until your cheese is melted and/or you can't wait any longer to eat it.

 

Honey Cake with Coffee Glaze

Honey Cake by Herring and Potatoes  Every year for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year), my mom makes an amazing honey cake. It’s bursting with warm spices mixed with honey and dark coffee and whiskey flavors. We eat as much as we can after the big holiday meal (which is never so much) and then save the rest for breakfasts and desserts the following week. We eat it slowly so it will last and we enjoy every bite.

HoneyCake2

This year while rationing/eating my take-home honey cake care package, I thought about how this lekach (Yiddish for sweet cake) deserves a place in your fall (and winter) baking rotation.

When I asked my mom for the recipe she sent me a document and I could hear her voice in what she had written. I can hear her dislike for the raisins that she shares instructions for. They’re complete with “optional” and “I don’t usually use them”. She also shares her favorite instruction which is “prepare cake a day or two before eating”. This is the best instruction because it’s true. The cake is good when it first comes out of the oven, but it’s best 24-48 hours after baking.

HoneyCake3

HoneyCake4

I thought for sure this recipe was something handed down through generations of women, brought from the old country and surviving in the new. In truth, this recipe has only been in play less than a decade (it’s not even the original honey cake of my youth!). Many honey cakes share the same bones and I’m not sure what drew my mom to it in the first place, (mental note made to ask her) but I’m glad she picked it and made it her own. It’s awesome.

I will say the second most important step is in greasing your pan. I’ve looked at a dozen recipes for honey cakes that cook in bundt pans and the directions ranges from “generously grease” to “lightly grease” to “use greased parchment paper”. I greased something between generous and light and still had my cake break on me…mountains of sadness. Next time I’ll be inserting a piece of greased parchment paper on the bottom.

Honey Cake by Herring and Potatoes

Oh, kitchen mistakes.

Thankfully the rest pulled out pretty easily and I was able to have an almost level cake (at least for photos!) but many delicious crumbs to munch on.

Honey Cake by Herring and Potatoes Honey Cake by Herring and Potatoes

Also, because it was in pieces I couldn’t pour the coffee glaze over the cake on top of a wire rack (which is what I would normally do to keep it neat), so instead there are glaze puddles. Definitely, not the worst thing.

Here’s to sweet beginnings!

Honey Cake by Herring and Potatoes

This is a very slight variation on my mother’s recipe which is a variation on Marcy Goldman’s Epicurious Recipe

Honey Cake with Coffee Glaze
Ingredients
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¾ cup canola oil (or any neutral oil)
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar (dark or light is fine, I used a dark)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup warm, strong brewed coffee
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ tsp grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup whiskey (I used a bourbon)**
For the top
  • ¼ cup slivered and toasted almonds (optional)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brewed coffee
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Grease your pan of choosing. I used a 10-inch tube pan, but you can use a bundt pan or loaf pans. Line the bottom with greased parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Once combined, make a well in the dry ingredients add in all the wet ingredients. Using a strong whisk or an electric or stand mixer, bring the ingredients together into a thick batter. Make sure there aren't lumps of flour or dry ingredients stuck to the bottom.
  4. Pour the batter into your prepared pans.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes for a 10-inch tube pan and maybe 10-15 minutes less for loaf pans. You can test for doneness with a toothpick.
  6. Let the cake sit in its pan for 15 minutes after it comes out. After 15 minutes, invert it on a wire rack to cool completely. When it's almost fully cooled, make the glaze if you plan to serve it right away. Otherwise, wait to make the glaze until the cake is ready to be eaten. (Mom says: 24-48 hours after it's first baked is when it's best!)
  7. Combine the confectioners sugar and 1.5 Tbsp of coffee in a small bowl. Mix well. If you need to, add a little more coffee to thin the glaze.
  8. Place a wire rack on top of a sheet pan. Put the cake on the wire rack. Pour the glaze over the cake, letting any excess drip on the sheet pan.
  9. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve!
Notes
**If you don’t want to use alcohol, increase the coffee or orange juice by ¼ cup

 

 

Balilah Salad

Balilah Salad with Bulgur

Balilah Salad with Bulgur by Herring & Potatoes

There’s been a lot of awesome recently. A few of the good stuffs: Rosh Hashanah meals and family gatherings, fall weather slowly rolling in, and an updated blog! After a year of writing recipes, taking photos, and putting together posts it was time for some changes. I’m shouting out a million thanks to Ari who created the new blog and transferred everything other for me.

He heard my groaning over lack of functionality on the last site and did all the things that I don’t know how to do to build this new site. Amazeballs. Thank you.

Balilah Salad with Bulgur by Herring & Potatoes

Now that I have this shiny new blog, it’s time for a shiny new recipe.

I first read about this salad in Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem, and really liked the simplicity but heartiness of it. Many middle eastern salads satisfy that possibility: simple to make and a substantial side dish.

Balilah Salad with Bulgur by Herring & Potatoes

In reworking this recipe, I added even more to it by introducing bulgur as part of the mix. Often, when I’m cooking for just us during the week, I’m not making multiple salads and side dishes. A side dish like this allows me to add a piece of protein to it and call it a meal.

Balilah Salad with Bulgur by Herring & Potatoes

This salad is also really flexible and doesn’t demand that you follow it exactly. Add a new ingredient like red onion or arugula or throw in more or less cumin or lemon juice. The ingredients aren’t expensive and it doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare; a recipe like this is great because it can help home cooks to build confidence in their taste buds and cooking abilities!

Now I’m going to finish off the last of my apple-raisin challah and take some time to reflect on the most excellent way this new year is beginning.

Balilah Salad with Bulgur by Herring & Potatoes

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Recipe

Balilah Salad with Bulgur

Serves: 3-4 Servings

Ingredients
  • ½ cup of bulgur
  • 4 scallions in thinly sliced rounds
  • ¾ cup parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup cooked (or from a can) chickpeas
  • 2½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Fresh pepper
  • 1.5-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Boil 1.5 cups of water on the stove. Stir in the bulgur, shut the heat, cover, and let sit 12-15 minutes or until most of the water has been absorbed. After 12-15 minutes drain the bulgur, fluff with a fork, and let it sit out uncovered.
  2. Roughly chop the parsley. Add it and the sliced scallions to a mixing bowl.
  3. Supreme the lemon (see the photo above) by slicing off the skin and pith and removing the sections. Chop up the lemon flesh (make sure you don't have any seeds in it) and add it to the mixing bowl. Reserve the rest of the lemon for juicing later.
  4. Over medium-low heat, warm a little olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the chickpeas, 2 tsp cumin, ½ tsp salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper and toss until all the chickpeas are coated in the spice and warmed through. You don't want to cook them again.
  5. Add the chickpeas and the bulgur to the mixing bowl with the scallions, parsley and lemon.
  6. Drizzle the olive oil, add a ½ tsp more cumin, and squeeze the rest of the lemon juice over all the ingredients.
  7. Toss well and taste for seasoning.
  8. Serve warm or room temperature.

 

Eggplant Involtini

Eggplant Involtini with Pistachios and Currants

Things you should know about me: I didn’t like tomato sauces until a few years ago and cheese and I are waaay too close of friends. Like Liz Lemon close.

I’m not sure what came first last week, a craving for melty cheese or a desire to highlight some of this season’s most delicious ingredients. Suffice it to say I ended up here, with eggplant involtini, and that’s not a bad place to be.

Involtini means “little bundles” in Italian and I only recently discovered their magic. This is an excellent substitute for making a big, heavy, eggplant parmesan in the middle of summer. It’s a perfect serving (or two) without the weight of a traditional parm. Unless you’re like me and you throw tons of mozzarella over the top. Then it’s really not so different, except that it’s prettier.
I wanted to lighten up the flavor profile and had some pistachios that needed to be used up. Typically eggplant involtini calls for pine nuts but you might remember (from way back when) that I don’t use pine nuts often because of a bad case of pine mouth (and their price!). The currants were for a bit of sweetness and texture and the basil ties it all together. Also tomato, basil, eggplant…whattup summer.

Usually I’ll call out a recipe for being simple and I really want to say this is but I think many might disagree. So let me clarify – there is nothing difficult in this recipe but there are a few more steps than the label “simple” would allow.

This is where the practice of Mise en Place comes in handy.

Mise en Place is French for “putting in place” and translates to having an organized, clean, and prepped work space so that when you’re cooking you aren’t also chopping garlic, zesting lemon, and hunting for spices while trying to saute, stir, and prepare things at the same time. By lining up all your ingredients beforehand – fully measured out and prepared- you can just add things as necessary without making yourself crazy.  

Once all the components are prepared this dish comes together in no time! It’s a great dish to share (if you’re into that sort of thing) and just so perfect and seasonal.
Eggplant Involtini with Pistachios and Currants
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of tomato sauce (either store bought or make your own)
  • 1-2 medium sized eggplants
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tbsp pistachios, toasted
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 8 oz part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp dried currants (optional, you can leave them off and the dish will still be delicious)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ¾ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Mozzarella to top (optional, unless you're like me and there's no such thing as "optional" cheese)
Instructions
  1. If you're making your sauce set it aside and let it cool while you prepare the involtini.
  2. Set broiler to high.
  3. Slice your eggplant lengthwise to about ¼ inch thickness. Try to get 8 -10 slices. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let sit for 10 minutes. Place on an aluminum foil-lined pan and brush olive oil on both sides. Place in broiler and cook 5 minutes on each side but make sure the eggplant doesn't burn or get too browned. After the eggplant is cooked, set aside and let cool.
  4. Place garlic in food processor and process until it's in small pieces. Add panko and toasted pistachios to the garlic and run the machine till you have coarse and well-blended crumbs. Then add the zest, ricotta, and egg and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the currants (if you're using), basil, and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Preheat oven to 375° F
  6. Take a pie or baking dish and pour 1½ cups of sauce into the bottom of the dish.
  7. Take a slice of eggplant and spread 2 heaping tablespoons of the cheese mixture over one side of the eggplant. Roll up the eggplant and place, seam side down, into the sauce. Repeat for remaining eggplant.
  8. When finished rolling up your involtini, pour the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese and (if you're using) some mozzarella slices.
  9. Bake 20-30 minutes until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbling. Serve hot!

Roasted Carrot Hummus

Being somewhat home-bound these last few weeks because of an ankle sprain has been little fun. It’s also (mostly) kept me off my feet in the kitchen for long stretches of time with the exception of a private birthday dinner I had the pleasure of cooking for a client ( a meal 2 months in the making). That was going to happen regardless of this sprain or not. Thankfully, it did happen and  it was delicious and successful.

So for this week I got to thinking about what I could share on the blog that wouldn’t require my standing for prolonged periods of time. For inspiration, I dove into Instagram to see what other were doing with local, seasonal produce. It was there I saw the James Beard Foundation asking for people to share images of what they do with their food scraps, to help raise awareness and conversations around food waste.

I’ve never actually made carrot hummus before but I did recently learn (from Chef Sara Jenkins) of a delicious way to use up carrot tops which is to fry them. I’m beginning to think that the “everything is better fried” adage has a lot of truth to it.
The other thing I thought about were the carrot skins and how it shouldn’t make a difference once they’re roasted and blended up as to whether the skin is on or not. Verdict: doesn’t make a shred of difference.
It felt really good to not have a mound of food bits and pieces next to me, ready for disposal. We don’t compost here in our NYC home  (maybe one day we’ll be more adventurous) and it doesn’t feel 100% when I’m preparing a big meal and half the garbage can is full of produce ends, stems, and skins. Sometimes I can salvage some of that waste for making stock but more often than not, it just gets taken out at the end of the night.

Warning about the fried carrot tops: they are ridiculously addictive. You probably wouldn’t think so, but they’re these fresh green lightweight “chips” that are impossible to stop eating. What you see in the photo is probably a quarter or what I made. And yes, I ate them all.

One of this recipe’s most winning attributes is that it’s so easy to pull together. It’s hearty in flavor but light in texture and is a delicious twist on (what’s a staple) in our home. Also, if you know me you know I like to eat with the seasons and I love a dish that can live across them all.

Roasted Carrot Hummus
Ingredients
Hummus:
  • 1 lb. carrots
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ cup cooked chickpeas
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ½ cup tahina
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (edit to taste)
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt (edit to taste)
  • 3-4 Tbsp cold water
Fried Carrot Tops:
  • Reserved carrot tops, thicker stems pulled off
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • Sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Prepare the carrots to roast by cutting them into 1-inch chunks (you can totally keep those skins on!) and reserve the carrots tops for frying later. Toss with olive oil and place on a parchment paper lined tray into the oven. Roast for 15 minutes and then turn the carrots. Roast for another 10-15 min or until carrots are fully cooked but not burned. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. If you're using canned chickpeas make sure they're rinsed and drained. Add chickpeas and carrots to food processor and process until it's at a coarse consistency. Add the garlic, tahina, lemon juice, and spices and keep the machine running until it's well combined. Slowly drizzle in the water (while it's running) until your hummus reaches the desired consistency.
  4. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover, and set aside for at least a half hour. If not eating right away, wait till it cools and then leave it covered in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  5. When you're ready to serve hummus, wash and fully dry your carrot tops. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan to about 350°F. Only fry 1-2 pieces together at a time so they don't clump together. They will crisp up very quickly, about 30 seconds or when the bubbling dies down. Take them out and lay them on a paper towel to drain. Lightly sprinkle sea salt over the pieces as they come out of the oil.
  6. Use the fried tops to garnish the hummus along with any other seasonings and oils you'd like! I used a chili olive oil and sumac along with the carrot tops on mine. Dip away!

Key Lime and Strawberry Icebox Cake

The boycott against my stove is still going strong. It’s actually resulted in some pretty tasty and fun meals, and has even got me planning dishes to do on the grill out back. And that’s a bigdeal because our grill is down two flights of stairs, around the building, and down another flight of stairs to a mosquito filled backyard. More on that later.

Last week I found some key limes for sale and couldn’t resist buying them. I’ve always wanted to use them for a pie but couldn’t bring myself to actually bake (aka: turn the oven on). This came to me through some intense Instagram photo hopping one afternoon when I saw a photo of a gorgeous icebox cake. I understood the fundamentals – that you layer crackers or cookies and they will absorb the moisture of whatever filling you choose and transform into a cake-like consistency in the icebox (refrigerator) overnight – but hadn’t actually made one yet.

Graham crackers (a popular icebox cake ingredient) and key lime are meant to be.

I really love the simplicity and lack of bells and whistles for this cake. It’s too hot for bells and whistles. And sometimes, you just really want to make something that doesn’t take half a day to create.
It was actually a ton of fun to be a little sloppy and I’ve been trying to let my self-critic side take some time off. When I started layering the crackers with the filling oozing out everywhere there was a lot of cringing. It wasn’t until I realized that A. it could easily be fixed with an offset spatula and B. IT STILL LOOKED DELICIOUS that I stopped all the worrying and just went with the ooze.
I would normally use the stove top to make the strawberry sauce (or coulis)  but I felt it would be fun to make a cake that required no added heat whatsoever. So that’s what I did. And that’s what you should do. For everything, seriously. All breakfast carbs (pancakes, waffles, french toast), fruit salads, ice cream sundaes, yogurts…they all need fresh fruit sauces that you can make in five minutes.
So you remember the stairs to get to the grill in the backyard that I mentioned earlier? I’m feeling particularly bitter about those stairs because over the weekend as Ari, Jax, and I were carrying out leftover Key Lime and Strawberry Icebox Cake and some other goodies to the backyard to share with friends, I missed a step. Totally thought I had reached a landing but wasn’t quite there and my foot kept going and resulted in a sprain. The good news though is that I didn’t drop anything. A small but important win because while I’ve been recovering there’s been a lot of really awesome snacks to munch on. 

My careful not dropping the cake as I was in the process of hurling myself off stairs should serve as a pretty powerful testimonial to how awesome this recipe is. And if you don’t believe everything you read you’ll just have to try it out for yourself. Mmk?
Key Lime and Strawberry Icebox Cake
Ingredients
For the Cake:
  • 21 sheets of honey graham crackers
  • 12 oz (1.5 bars) of neufchâtel cheese (like cream cheese but with a lower fat content, it can be found in most grocery stores next to the cream cheese)
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 2.5 tsp lime zest (key limes if you can get them or regular ol' limes will do the trick)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice (same note as above but if you're using regular limes taste the mixture after 2 Tbsp of juice)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp confectioners sugar
Strawberry Coulis
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2-4 tsp sugar (I added two tsp because my berries were sweet and I wanted to keep the sauce a little more tart)
  • 1 Tbsp (scant) fresh lime juice
Options For Topping the Cake:
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Lime zest
  • White chocolate shavings (easy to do with a baking bar of chocolate and a vegetable peeler)
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer, whip the neufchâtel  cheese till it's creamy (about 1-2 minutes). Pour in the condensed milk and whip until smooth and blended. Add the lime juice and lime zest and whip together once more.
  2. In a separate bowl whip the heavy cream and confectioners sugar until you have whipped cream. (Tip: Using cold bowls and whisks/attachments will make this go much faster).
  3. Using a silicone spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture.
  4. Using a baking dish or a sheet pan begin to build your cake. Spread a little of the filling on the bottom to help hold the first layer of graham crackers in place. I built it as 7 layers, 3 sheets across. Feel free to do it any configuration! Spread generous amounts of the filling between layers as a lot of it will get absorbed overnight. Reserve a little of the filling for touch-ups the next day. Using an offset spatula or a knife, even out the edges and the top.
  5. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the cake. Don't worry if it pulls a little of the top off the next day, you have extra filling to make it look great before you serve it!
  6. Refrigerate overnight. Plan to serve it within 24 hours of making. It's still delicious over the next few days, but for the best texture serve it as soon as possible after making it and letting it sit in the refrigerator.
  7. Before serving make your strawberry sauce by blending together the strawberries, lime juice and sugar. You can strain it to remove most of the seeds (I did), or leave it as is.
  8. Remove the cake from the fridge and transfer it to your serving dish. Pour your strawberry sauce over the cake and garnish with fresh strawberries, lime zest, and white chocolate shavings.

Grilled Apricots with Cardamom Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

Dear Oven,

It’s not you, it’s me. I’m not saying we should fully break up, but maybe just take a little time off? Perhaps see other appliances?

You’re really awesome and I have so much fun with you, but recently things have been tough. Every time we come together I get all cranky and sweaty and you kind of just sit there, pushing all that heat into an already hot room.

I know there isn’t much you can do about that so maybe we’ll just come back together in the fall when we’ve each had some time to cool off?

Let me know,

Sarit

It’s too hot. Or at least it was this past week. And all my cooking plans melted away as I lay around wishing for a cold pool to magically appear. (It didn’t)

Instead, I turned to the stovetop to grill up these amazing farm-fresh apricots.

Grilling fruit is always a good idea. It caramelizes the surface and transforms the texture. Peaches, plums, pineapple…seriously everything.

I wanted to create a perfect summery bite that was savory and sweet. I’ve been experimenting for different dinners and events coming up, and I’m happy to report this recipe is a keeper.

What I love about this recipe is that it straddles the line between salad/app and dessert. The pepperiness of the arugula and basil meet with the sweetness of the fruit and honey. The cheese makes it hearty and creamy and the nuts add texture and the bridge between savory and sweet. You can tell, I’ve thought a lot about this.
In making this, I had one of those really great neighbor moments. When I was pulling my ingredients together, I couldn’t find my cardamom pods. I turned my kitchen inside out, but they didn’t surface. I texted Ari who replied “I don’t remember ever seeing cardamom pods”. Then I wondered if I made them up. So I reached out to my friend and neighbor asking her if she had what I needed, and she did! I popped over and fell all neighborly as I borrowed her jar of cardamom.

Of course, later that night when I was cleaning up the kitchen I found the pods hiding in a bowl I would never have checked. Maybe it’s time to get more organized?

Speaking of neighbors, the honey I used for this came from a friend (and sort of neighbor…in NYC at least) who keeps bees in Brooklyn. It’s so cool (and delicious) to use “homemade” honey. High fives for awesome friends!

These bites are perfectly summery and would go with anything. Fo reals.

So have you been to your farmer’s market recently? What have you bought and what summery foods are you making?

Grilled Apricots with Cardamom Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

 
Grilled Apricots with Cardamom Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts
Ingredients
  • 6-7 apricots
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • 4 oz goat cheese, left at room temp for half an hour
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1.5 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup of hazelnuts/filberts, toasted, peeled, and crushed
  • Basil (8-10 leaves)
  • Arugula
Instructions
  1. Fire up your grill or griddle (I bet a George Foreman would work too) to a medium heat.
  2. Slice apricots top to bottom and remove pits. Brush the cut side with olive oil and lay on the griddle cut side down. Let it cook 8-10 minutes. It will release itself when it's done. If it's done but won't come off the grill use a little more oil on the next batch. As they come off the heat, sprinkle a little sea salt over them. Set aside to cool.
  3. Place your goat cheese in a large bowl and, using a hand mixer, beat it for a couple of minutes until it breaks down and becomes creamy. Add the cardamom and ½ Tbsp of honey to the cheese and blend together well.
  4. Using a teaspoon measure, scoop out little balls of cheese and stuff the apricot halves. Crack a little fresh black pepper over each half.
  5. Tightly roll up the basil leaves together and cut thin ribbons.
  6. Place arugula on a plate and arrange the apricot halves with cheese on top. Sprinkle the hazelnuts and basil over the apricots and arugula. Drizzle remaining honey over the dish. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you refrigerate these, let them come to room temp before serving otherwise the goat cheese will be more crumbly and less creamy.

Summer Cherry Salad

Things that come from the ground are my friends. All year round I’m steaming, frying, roasting, chopping, and devouring tons of fresh produce. Salads however I have a complicated relationship with. I rarely crave a simple salad unless it’s over 90 degrees outside. I’m a little envious of the people who actually look excited while in the lunch line for their custom salad creations.

But when it gets hot, all I want are salads.

Total side note: Mark Bittman put something together years ago that’s still my summer salad bible. Behold: 101 Simple Salads for the Season

Cherries have arrived, and as my favorite summer fruit (well, they tie for first with blueberries), they get plenty of special attention.

When Ari and I visited Turkey a couple years back we got to know cherries through new eyes. They were used in so many recipes, drinks, and candies and even as fresh fruit chasers after downing a shot of raki. Many of my favorite Turkish dishes were perfectly crafted combinations of sweet and sour, or sweet and tart. Cherries fit that profile so nicely and this salad is a twist on a Turkish one.

The salad also has pomegranate molasses in it, which if you haven’t read many of my posts, is one of my all-time favorite ingredients (which I first learned about in Istanbul).  I really recommend stocking your pantry with it, you’ll find so many delicious uses for it!

Something else you might have heard me sing the praises of is a cherry pitter. Once upon a time I thought it was a silly kitchen tool that I didn’t need cluttering my precious drawer space. Oh how I was wrong! This little tool has come in so handy both with cherries and with olives. It keeps whatever you’re pitting intact and beautiful. Trust me. Get it. You’ll use it.
The original recipe calls for a chili that I’m not familiar with (and can’t find), so I’ve substituted jalapeño’s which add a good heat to what’s already sweet, tart, savory, and fresh. (Is fresh an ok word to describe cilantro? Only answer that if, to you, cilantro doesn’t taste like soap.)
I’m adding this salad to my list of good things for outdoor eating. Well, maybe not for the White Picnic (my grace+cherries = irreparably stained clothing), but for all other gatherings in parks and backyards. Happy Summer Salad Season to all!
Summer Cherry Salad
Ingredients
  • 1lb cherries, pitted
  • ⅔ cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped
  • ⅓ of a bunch of cilantro
  • ½ a jalapeño, minced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix together the cherries, walnuts, cilantro, and jalapeño in a large bowl.
  2. Add the dressing components directly to the bowl and stir together.
  3. Chill for an hour before serving. Restrain self from eating  the whole bowl.