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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.

 

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!

Ramp and Pea Quiche

The mad rush for ramps is akin to Black Friday deals. They happen quickly, tend to be hectic and full of elbowing, and if you miss out you’ve got to wait till the next year rolls around. I was walking by the Union Square Farmer’s Market two weeks ago when I saw unusually long lines at some of the booths, and then I saw the signs: “WE HAVE RAMPS!”

If you aren’t familiar with this Allium, a ramp is a wild leek and has a quick season right at the beginning of spring. It’s versatile and delicious. They’re a little garlicky, a little oniony, and cross somewhere between savory and sweet. We love them grilled up with a little olive oil and salt and eat tons while they’re in season.

When my cousin’s girlfriend told me she was going foraging for ramps last weekend and asked if I wanted some, I answered with an emphatic yes! (Also, how cool…foraging for ramps?!)

The most annoying part of a ramp? Just like a leek it needs to be seriously cleaned before using. Especially when they’ve just been pulled up from the ground and still have the dirt attached to them.

Totally worth it, even if it took the better part of a half-hour to get these cleaned!

I’m a big fan of quiche – both for eating and baking. Making your own crust isn’t necessary, especially if you’re short on time. There are so many good frozen and pre-made crusts out there.

Though, I really love making dough and pastry so this was worth the extra time. I also like a thinner quiche. If I’ve got a pie or something in a crust at home, it’s not going to last long. A shorter crust at least helps ensure that I won’t be eating too much at once. ..Cook’s logic?

My friend, who foraged for the ramps (again, foraging, so awesome) proposed a barter for the ramps I was getting. Instead of money she asked for a quiche which is how this post came to be.

I firmly believe we should all be exchanging/bartering more often.

For her quiche, I did a ramp and asparagus version because that felt so incredibly spring-like and perfect. For this post, I realized that I had last posted about asparagus and should probably try on a different veg to pair up with the ramps. I’ve been really into peas recently and for this recipe I grabbed a bag of frozen peas to save on time (and money!).

The combination of cream, eggs, cheese, vegetables, and some basic spices goes a long way. It’s incredibly satisfying, is great warmed or room temp, and can be eaten any time of day. For instance, I had a piece for dinner and for breakfast! See how that works? Quiche: the all day, any day food.

If you’re on the ramp train this season, what delicious things have you been creating with them?

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s lunchtime and there’s a piece of quiche calling.

Ramp and Pea Quiche
Ingredients
  • 1 9-inch pie crust, homemade or prepared
  • 2-3 bunches of ramps cleaned thoroughly and dried
  • 1 cup of peas fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup romano or parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2.5 Tbsp butter
  • ⅛ tsp grated nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F
  2. Blanch peas in salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes (if fresh, blanch longer till cooked). Remove and plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking and cool them. Take them out and let them dry.
  3. Finely chop the ramps (stems and greens included!). Heat up a sauté pan and add the butter. Once hot but not browning, add the ramps and sauté for 4 minutes or so, until the greens are soft and smell amazing. Add the peas, salt and pepper to taste, and cook 1 minute more. Take off the heat and let cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, nutmeg, and cheese. Mix in the ramps and peas until thoroughly combined.
  5. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (to catch leaks) and place your prepped pie crust on top. Carefully pour the mixture in. Any leftover filling can be poured into a buttered ramekin and baked alongside the quiche. That way you get to taste your finished quiche filling without have to cut a slice before you serve it!
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a knife or toothpick comes out clean, the quiche doesn't jiggle, and the top has turned a golden color.

Green Bean and Asparagus Tempura with Blood Orange Aioli

Once all my Passover kitchen things were carefully packed away, I started in on all flour-based products really hard. I’m pretty sure that’s why I had a cold the whole week of the holiday: bread withdrawal. (That could totally be a thing, right?)

Somewhere in between matzah and a couple strangely cold days, Spring showed up. The whole city is buzzing with renewed energy and the promise of warmer weather. The best part of all this is the fresh and local produce starting to appear at farmer’s markets and groceries.

This week I combined the two things I was just so excited to have back in my life: fresh greens and flour!

Tempura is something that I love to eat but haven’t ever made. Recently, I’ve started ordering it more often at Japanese restaurants. It’s rarely overly greasy and usually it’s a great balance of flavor, texture, and acid (in the dipping sauce/vinegar) to start a meal off on the right foot.

For this tempura, I wanted to create a dip to pair well with the fresh greens. I’m a sucker for mayonnaise based sauces with fried foods and went with the gorgeous brightness (in taste and color) of the blood orange to provide the acidity that comes alongside a classic tempura dish. You could also use the citrus of your choosing for similar results!

Normally I would be all about making my own aioli/mayo as the base, but in the interest of saving time to focus on making the tempura, I went with ready-made mayonnaise. It’s so easy to add ingredients to it, to quickly kick it up.

The last year has been the first year that I’ve gotten into frying. The one tool that helped me concur my fear of frying? A thermometer. Seriously. Before, there was no way to know when the oil was hot enough and now I have a clear way of being sure.

While eating tons of fried food probably isn’t the way to go, knowing how to fry is a great tool to whip out when you need to add some punch to your weekly menus. The textures you can create in bubbling hot oil just aren’t replicable through other cooking methods.

Tempura is such a unique texture too. This recipe in particular, results in a thin batter coating, but fried at the right temperature and for long enough leaves the vegetable perfectly cooked with an amazingly light and crunchy exterior.

Since it’s usually just me in the kitchen as I put together the blog, I get to do most of the eating. I was a little hesitant about polishing off most of the tempura for lunch, but it was filling and delicious without that heavy, oily feeling you can get after eating a plate of fried food. I’m definitely going to break this recipe out as an appetizer or snack for large groups of people and maybe experiment with cubes of fish or meat too!

Tempura recipe from Saveur’s Website 
Green Bean and Asparagus Tempura with Blood Orange Aioli
Ingredients
Blood Orange Aioli
  • 1 Garlic clove
  • ½ cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp (scant) Blood orange zest
  • 1½ Tbsp Blood orange juice
  • 1 tsp Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
Green Bean and Asparagus Tempura (This recipe makes a lot of batter! I used about a quarter of it for 10 stalks of asparagus and 20 green beans)
  • Asparagus and green beans
  • 1.5-2 quarts Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • ¼ cup Sesame Oil
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 2 cups Ice cold water + ¼ cup ice
  • 2 cups Flour plus a little extra for dredging (optional) The original recipe calls for cake flour as its low-protein and will help reduce the gluten development. I used AP flour with great results.
  • Salt to finish
Instructions
Make the Aioli:
  1. In a small food processor, chop up the garlic. (If you don't have a machine to mix this in, you can do it by hand but make sure the garlic is crushed very finely.)
  2. Add the mayo, mustard, zest, and juice to the bowl and blend together until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and mix it once more. Salt to taste.
  3. Put it in the fridge while you make the tempura and allow the flavors to meld.
Make the Tempura:
  1. Wash and thoroughly dry your vegetables. Trim the ends. For the asparagus, pick uniformly thick stalks so that they will cook evenly. I chose the thinnest ones in the bunch.
  2. Set up a sheet pan lined with paper towels to drain the tempura on after cooking.
  3. Begin to heat up your canola or vegetable oil in a deep heavy-bottomed pan or cast iron pan to 350°.
  4. While the oil is heating, make your batter.
  5. Mix the two egg yolks with the water in a mixing bowl and add ¼ cup of the ice in with the water and egg. Keeping the batter as cold as possible will limit the development of gluten and help make your tempura crispy.*
  6. Mix in the flour - but do not overmix! The original recipe advised using chopsticks to mix the liquid and flour. I used a fork pointed downwards (so as not to beat) and left the batter with visible lumps of flour still in it.
  7. Once your oil is at the right temperature add in the ¼ cup sesame oil. If the temperature drops, wait for it to come back up.
  8. Optional: Place a little bit of flour on a plate for dredging the vegetables in before frying them to help the batter stick better. I found that the flour stuck to my green beans but not to my asparagus. Ultimately, I didn't notice much of a difference between the two.
  9. Working in small batches, dip the vegetables in the batter and then place into the hot oil. Small batches will help keep the oil temperature consistent. Cooking will be quick- about 2-3 minutes. Make sure to turn them over once when in the oil. You can also dip your fingers in the batter and sprinkle the batter over the frying vegetables to add more crunchy texture!
  10. Let the tempura drain and serve immediately with the blood orange aioli for dipping and eating awesomeness!
Notes
*You can do other things to help ensure low gluten and extra crispy tempura, like chilling your bowl before mixing the batter and also prepping everything else before making the batter so it won't stand for any length of time allowing gluten to develop.

Farro Risotto With Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale

Farro Risotto by Herring and Potatoes

Farro Risotto With Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale

The first time I heard about farro was on a cooking show like Chopped or Top Chef where the contestants are thrown unfamiliar ingredients for their challenge and have to create something brilliant. I remember googling farro then and not finding a ton of information about what it was. Now you can google “farro” and find out way more than a few years ago but it’s still not the most popular of grains.More and more I’m seeing it on menus and on shelves in grocery stores. In the past year, since I’ve started cooking with it, we’ve had it in stuffings, salads, and now (finally!) risotto. It’s a nutty grain that’s toothsome and hearty. It complements fall and winter flavors so well and I have a feeling it will do very well in the summer with light cheeses and fresh fruits. Farro is also high in protein, fiber, and iron, making it a great substitute for rices and other grains.

Most recipes will recommend soaking your farro before cooking it to help soften it and cook it faster. One night, in a stretch of being supremely lazy, I decided to try making a risotto without soaking it first. Not that I mind extra steps, but in order for it to qualify as a quick weeknight meal, it needed to have as few steps as possible. It took a few minutes more to get to the consistency that I wanted it at, but my supremely lazy self was victorious! And then, to celebrate, I ate too much risotto.

Farro Risotto With Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale

Risotto wasn’t a food I was familiar with until a few years ago. I honestly didn’t eat a lot of rice dishes growing up, mostly because I thought rice was super bland. This bizarre prejudice lasted many years, and carried over to Risotto. I thought, ‘Why would anyone want to eat a big bowl of mushy rice?!”. I can’t remember when I had my first taste but it immediately changed everything I thought I knew about the dish. It was cheesy, creamy, and perfectly filling.

Farro Risotto With Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale

The first time I made a risotto I was nervous about how it would come together. I labored over every step and double, then triple, checked recipes to make sure I was doing it right. Would it not get creamy? Would I add the stock too soon? How will I know when it’s done? The final dish was super delicious and since that first stressful experience, I’ve created many risottos on the fly, because as it turns out, risotto is a pretty easy dish to pull together.

Farro Risotto With Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale

Another bonus about making a risotto is that it’s a solid way to use up produce in the fridge. My other two favorite ways are frittata’s and big bowls of pasta. They make great ‘anything goes’ sorts of dishes.But this version – this is my ideal bowl of winter food. Portobello mushrooms, squash roasted until it’s spreadable, dark leafy greens, fresh herbs, and generous amounts of parmesan cheese make it what I want to eat too much of on a cold night.

Farro Risotto With Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale

If you’ve never made a risotto, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t difficult. You will not mess it up. It will be delicious. You don’t need fancy one-time-use ingredients to win at this dish and it won’t take up hours of your time. Once the farro exists in your cupboard start browsing online for all sorts of recipes and tips on how to dress it up differently, or just swap it out where you would normally use rice or barley. I’m seriously crushing so hard on farro these days. After you make this, let me know if you want to start a farro fan club….I have this idea for T-shirts…

Farro Risotto With Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale

Farro Risotto With Squash, Mushrooms, and Kale

Serves: Serves 3-4

Ingredients
  • 1 cup farro
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (1 for roasting, 1 for the risotto)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup white wine (a dry wine, like a Pinot Grigio)
  • 6 cups of stock, I used all vegetable stock for this but a mix of mushroom and vegetable is delicious too
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ¼-1/2 cup roasted squash (if using a sweeter squash like a Butternut use less, I also recommend a less sweet Delicata squash for this!)
  • 1 Portobello mushroom cap, roasted or grilled and sliced into small cubes
  • ½-3/4 packed cup of shredded kale
  • 6-8 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Halve a squash and place on a lined baking sheet, skin side down. If roasting the portobello, clean and place on the baking sheet as well. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over them. After 20 min check on your vegetables- the mushroom will cook faster. Depending on the squash you are using it can take anywhere from 25 min - 1 hr to fully roast. You want the flesh of the squash to be like a puree, and spreadable. You will be mixing it into the risotto later and it needs to be completely soft. You can also blend it up to give it that consistency.
  3. Pour your stock into a pot and get it hot. Once heated through, lower the heat to a simmer and ;eave it on the stove. You'll need your stock hot as you add it to the risotto.
  4. Place a pan (sauté or cast iron or any large pan with higher sides) on medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the minced onion and garlic and sauté 3-4 minutes until slightly softened and fragrant.
  5. Add the farro and continue cooking 3 minutes, stirring constantly. The goal is to lightly toast the farro. If you were using Arborio rice you would keep going until the rice became translucent, but the farro won't do that.
  6. Pour in the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the wine evaporates.
  7. Now you can begin adding your stock. Start with 2 cups of stock added to the pan. Keep stirring constantly until most of the stock is absorbed. Going forward add an additional 1 cup of stock at a time, stirring until mostly absorbed between additions. This is a great time to call your parents. It will take 35-45 minutes of stirring and adding stock.
  8. Taste the risotto towards the end of the stock in the pot. Farro will not lose it's bite entirely, but it will soften a lot. When the consistency is where you want it, lower the heat. I usually have about ½ cup of stock left but it's not an exact science.
  9. Stir in the cup of cheese until it is well incorporated. Add the squash and do the same. It will take a little careful maneuvering but the squash should distribute nicely, and just sort of melt into the risotto.
  10. Add in the kale and carefully mix it in, allowing it to wilt into the risotto. Stir in the mushrooms and sage. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes to your liking and salt/pepper to taste.
  11. Serve and eat immediately; risotto is best when eaten right away. (Which is great if you're like me, and aren't very good at waiting!)

Soba Noodle Soup with Miso Dashi

Coming home to cold NYC from beautiful New Zealand, with temperature highs near 70° and sunset after 9pm, was a little hard. We had the most amazing time and filled our days with exploring, hiking, biking, and, of course, eating. It was wonderful and relaxing, but boy did I miss my kitchen! Sometimes when we travel, we’ll have a “home base” apartment and a complete kitchen. It’s fun to hit the markets and cook in a new place with unfamiliar ingredients. This trip we drove around the country packing up every couple of days to see something new and so it was a few weeks without chopping, roasting, sautéing, or baking for me.

Oh, we did just fine on the food front. So. Much. Good. Food. (And wine!) But towards the end of our trip I was already making grocery lists and planning meals. Now I’ve been back a week, am finally past jet lag, and very happy to be back on the blog.

Right before we left I decided to try my hand at making a soba soup with a dashi base. It’s definitely not hard to make but because I hadn’t ever tried to do it before, it was daunting. I’ve tried my hand at miso soup before but because I didn’t make a dashi it always lacked the depth that I’ve tasted (and crave) at Japanese restaurants.
Dashi is typically made of kombu (dried kelp) and dried fish. Once that broth is prepared it can become the base for tons of Japanese dishes and soups. It has an umami flavor that’s unique to Japanese cooking.

Our kitchen is kosher and it was hard to find a package of kombu that I could use, let alone the bonito, dried fish. After reading a ton about kombu and making dashi I decided to leave off the fish and make it only with the dried kelp. I made the dashi by soaking kombu in water and simmering it with a few pieces of ginger and garlic. After the broth was strained, the miso paste was whisked in and transformed it into a deep, flavorful broth.

Picking out the toppings was loads of fun and this is really a dish that you can tailor to your tastes. I went with shiitake mushrooms, scallions, bok choy, sesame seeds, tofu, seaweed, some Japanese yams that were steamed and sliced, and the all-important soba noodle – star of the dish.
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and there are many different varieties you can buy. They can range in thickness and sweetness but I prefer a simple, thin noodle. I love the nutty texture and heartiness. It’s filling, warm, and does wonderfully in a big bowl of soup. The noodles are cooked beforehand and added to the bowl at the end with the soup poured on top.

I’m so happy to have learned how to make this because I often crave soba soup and usually have to venture far to get a fix. While these aren’t ingredients you might have in your kitchen right this minute, once you buy them they last a long time and will make for many warm bowls of soup this very cold winter.

Soba Noodle Soup with Miso Dashi
Ingredients
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 piece of kombu (You can probably find kombu at your local health food store and it runs about $10 for a bag of around 10 pieces or more)
  • 2-3 pieces of ginger/garlic cut in large pieces
  • 2-2.5 Tbsp of miso paste
  • Soba noodles (or your noodle of choice)
  • Toppings: Whatever you like (I used bok choy, japanese yam, scallion, shiitake mushroom, tofu, seaweed, and toasted sesame seeds)
Instructions
  1. Kombu needs to be gently wiped off before using it. Take a damp paper towel and run in across the top and bottom. Do not scrub or press too hard - you don't want to wipe off all the white powdery stuff. Place your strip of kombu, along with the garlic and ginger, into a pot with 4 cups of cold water and let it soak for an hour.
  2. Turn a burner to a medium-low heat and place the pot. Let it come very slowly towards boiling but immediately remove it as the water starts to boil. If the kombu sits in boiling water it will make your broth bitter.
  3. Strain the kombu broth into a clean pot. I used a cheesecloth for a very fine strain. This is now your dashi.
  4. Prepare your noodles. Cook them according to the package directions, and if you're using soba noodles follow this next step! As your noodles cook, set a large bowl of cold (not ice) water on the side. Once your noodles are done, drain them, and immediately slip them into the bowl of cold water. Now wash your noodles! (Yup!) Using both hands, gently rub the noodles together to help remove excess starch and providing stickiness prevention. This step should take a minute or two at most.
  5. To add your miso, whisk the 2 Tbsp first with a small amount of the kombu dashi in a separate bowl to make sure you won't have clumping in the big pot. Once it's all blended and broken down, add the contents of miso/dashi bowl into the larger pot and stir it together. Taste. If you need more miso add it now by using the same small bowl to big pot method.
  6. Now you can begin adding your toppings. Things like boy choy and mushrooms can go in raw and wilt/cook in the broth.
  7. When you're ready for a bowl of soup, add the noodles first and then pour/ladle soup over. Artfully sprinkle some sesame seeds on top. Admire it. Eat it.

Pan Roasted Chicken with Curry, Grapes, and Rosemary

There are typically two types of NYC renters during cold months. The ones who keep their windows open because there’s uncontrollable heat blasting from the radiator, and the ones who are in epic fights with their landlords to get the heat turned on.I am thankful that our heat goes on at a (usually) comfortable temperature when the numbers drop.  Though our apartment stays somewhat cool because it’s in an old building with lots of big shady trees around it. This means I get to wear loads of layers (which is totally fine by me), and have an excuse to have the oven running and cooking warm and delicious foods at all hours of the day.

This also means: ’tis the season for stretchy pants.

Last week a friend, and guest at one of our EatWith dinners, brought beautiful fresh herbs picked from her garden. Not many people I know have such a green thumb as this friend, and I wanted to make sure her gift was used in the most delicious ways possible. Some went into the easiest and yummiest dinner rolls (recipe to come next week) and some went into this chicken dish.What I wanted to make came to mind immediately. It’s a twist on Deb Perlman’s (of Smitten Kitchen) recipe for Harvest Roast Chicken. Even though you don’t cook with the rosemary, its addition at the end produces the most mouth-watering of aromas and transforms the dish.

I promise this photo isn’t a plug for Fairway (even though it’s a great supermarket) but a instead highlighting this spice that I use heavily in this chicken dish. I haven’t yet found its equal and at the rate we use it, I wish it came in larger containers. It’s the flavor of curry without the heat, which is good if you want to use a lot of it without setting your tongue on fire. We use it on so many things like to flavor rice, in tuna salad, on meats and fish, and roast vegetables.You don’t need to have this exact spice to make the recipe – any curry powder will do (just adjust to avoid tongue fires).

The biggest difference between my version and the original recipe is the amount of spice. Originally the recipe called for only salt and pepper. While it’s a really great recipe, it was lacking in “oomph”. So I set about editing it to my taste. My favorite part about the added seasoning is not only how it affects the chicken but the pan sauce as well. Oh…the pan sauce.
Have you roasted grapes yet? Because if you haven’t yet, please get on that immediately. Under high heat the grapes burst and caramelize, while somehow retaining a crunchy texture. They’re definitely the perfect foil to the savory and salty parts of the rest of the dish.
With a small salad and maybe some smashed potatoes, this makes a phenomenal and easy weeknight meal. Spice the chicken in the morning and throw it together in under an hour when you get home. I would say make it for the amazing smells alone but then you’d be missing out on how ridiculously good it tastes. So make it for both reasons. Soon.

Pan Roasted Chicken with Curry, Grapes, and Rosemary
Ingredients
  • ½ Tbsp mild curry powder (or any curry powder you like)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • A few turns of fresh black pepper (or to taste)
  • 4-6 pieces of chicken with the skin on. I prefer dark meat and used 4 thighs but could have squeezed in a couple drumsticks too.
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup of red grapes
  • 2 small shallots thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp chopped rosemary
Instructions
  1. Make the dry rub by mixing the first six ingredients together and season the chicken very well. I like to take my time when seasoning and making sure to go under the skin. I made it with 4 pieces of chicken and had enough leftover rub for 1-2 small pieces more. Cover the chicken and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or for the day before cooking.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F
  3. In an ovenproof skillet (cast iron if you have it!) warm olive oil over medium-high heat.
  4. If you have a lot of chicken work in batches here. Once the oil is shimmering place the chicken skin side down to brown. Don't move the chicken! The skin will release itself once it's ready and if you want that beautiful golden brown and crispy texture let it be in the pan. Give it about 5 minutes on each side.
  5. Shut the heat under the pan. Place the chicken skin side up back into the skillet and surround it with the shallots and grapes. Place in the oven for 2o minutes or until the juices run clear.
  6. Once finished in the oven, remove the chicken, grapes, and whatever shallots get picked up along the way and place them on a serving plate. Place the skillet back on the stovetop and add the wine and stock to the pan juices and bring it to a boil. Make sure to scrape up all the browned bits and onions at the bottom! Let sauce reduce 15-20 minutes or until a desired saucy thickness is achieved.
  7. Pour the sauce over the chicken and grapes and sprinkle the whole dish with the fresh rosemary.
  8. If eating with other folks, make sure to sit down to eat when the chicken hits the table because otherwise, and I've witnessed it, you might return to an empty serving plate. On your mark, get set....

Adapted from Deb Perlman’s recipe in “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Last week I made butternut squash mac and cheese. This recipe is not about that mac and cheese (but it’s ridiculously delicious comfort food and you should make it too). The squash I used for it was ginormous, so I kept the second half to make butternut squash gnocchi.Which is a little weird for me since gnocchi and I are not friends in the kitchen.

Gnocchi is one of my favorite things to eat…when someone else makes them. I’ve had little success in making these delicious, saucy, pillows of goodness in the past, but I’m a sucker for punishment.

After working with Chef Louisa Shafia this past month I learned two important things. The first lesson is that I am not as fast as I thought I was in the kitchen. The second, is that when you repeat the same action over and over again, you will get better and faster. For the past four weeks I’ve been making Sambouseh (Persian samosa) in Chef Louisa’s kitchen, and this past week, finally, proved the theory.Back to the gnocchi – I’m getting better (and faster) at making it, but there’s a lot of room for growth. I guess that means I’ll be making and eating a ton of it in the near future…who’s coming over for dinner?

These gnocchi are particularly a bit time consuming to prepare. I picked out a perfectly rainy, dreary day to make them. Consequently, a big bowl of gnocchi are also perfect to eat on those perfectly rainy, dreary days.
For me cooking is my zen spot, and one of the few things I do to clear my head. The process of making gnocchi shares a lot of similarity with the process of making bread (bread making being my ultimate kitchen zen), and a nice way to pass an afternoon. If you’re into that sort of thing. Lately, I’ve needed some quiet time in the kitchen. With so much going on in life, it’s important to carve out these moments to refocus.
Making gnocchi is also an excuse to pull out one of my favorite (but underused) kitchen tools, the ricer. It passes the boiled potatoes through little holes, making them fluffier and removing any lumps. Now that we’ve intimately reconnected over these gnocchi, I’m thinking about breaking out the ricer more often for mashed potatoes and the like.
Rolling them on the fork to get the perfect ridges is both challenging and exciting. Challenging in that they stick to the fork and I was constantly worrying that pushing too hard would turn them to mush, but it’s just SO EXCITING when you nail it. Luckily, this recipe makes a ton of gnocchi, giving you many opportunities to nail the ridges.You can also skip making the ridges and use a finger to make an indent in the dough. The end result is the same – an indentation that helps the gnocchi to hold sauce.

This is not a quick weeknight meal. It’s not super difficult, but it is time consuming and if you’re a gnocchi newbie, there’s a bit of a learning curve. There are ways to cut down the time it takes to make them, like microwaving the butternut squash to soften it vs. roasting, but then you miss out on creating the deep roasted and caramelized flavors. This is more a lazy weekend day event.I’m trying to learn how to do this faster in case I’m ever invited to showcase my skills on Masterchef and am challenged to make gnocchi in under and hour. It could totally happen, right? But ultimately, there’s something really lovely in taking the time to go slow and create this soul-warming, belly-filling dish.

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

Serves: 4-6 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 pound of butternut squash (for me it was just the bottom half - weighed after scooping the seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12- to 14-ounce russet potato, peeled and quartered
  • ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1¾ cups (or more) flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (optional) to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Cut squash the long way, if using the bottom scoop the seeds, and place on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over the squash and put it in the oven. Cook until soft and a knife goes through easily, about 1-1.5 hours. Take out and cool slightly before scooping out the flesh and discarding the skin. Purée the butternut squash (I used an immersion blender) and set aside to cool.
  3. While the squash is cooking you can prep you potatoes. Boil your peeeled and quartered potatoes in salted water for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Let cool slightly and then pass through a ricer and let cool fully. If you don't have a ricer you can push the potatoes through the smallest grater holes on your box grater or even on a cheese grater. The goal is to get those lumps out and make fluffy potatoes.
  4. Mix the squash, potato, egg, ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl until combined. Gradually add the flour. When it gets too tough to mix with a utensil begin gently incorporating by hand and kneading lightly in the bowl. You want to make sure to not overwork the dough. (Think light and fluffy thoughts!)
  5. Take the dough out of the bowl and place onto a lightly flour surface. Knead a few times (10-15 times) and add flour only if it's super sticky. The dough might be a little sticky but that's ok. Divide dough ball into 8 pieces.
  6. Line two baking sheets with parchments paper and lightly sprinkle with flour.
  7. Roll the first piece out to a rope about a ½ inch thick. Feel free to go with your own instinct here when shaping. Slice the rope into individual pieces about ¾ inch long (or however long you'd like!) Using a fork dipped in flour (to keep the gnocchi from sticking to the tines), roll a gnocchi from the top to the bottom lightly pressing into the fork as you go. This video shows the process very clearly.
  8. Transfer gnocchi to baking sheets as you go. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. This can be made 6 hours ahead (kept chilled in the fridge).
  9. When you're ready to cook the gnocchi, boil a large pot of salted water and cook them in batches (I did them in 2 batches, it was a large pot) for about 8-10 minutes (until very soft and tender). Transfer them back to the same baking sheets and parchment paper you used to chill them on. You want the extra flour to keep them from sticking. Cool them completely. You can stop here and package them up in the fridge, again lightly covered with plastic wrap, for 8 or so hours before serving.
  10. For the sauce**, melt the butter in a large sauté pan. I cooked mine in 2 batches and used 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of chopped sage in each. Heat the butter over medium-high heat for a few minutes swirling it constantly so it doesn't burn, but rather browns. Once you have a nice toasty brown color add the sage and let it simmer in the butter for one minute before adding the gnocchi. Toss the gnocchi in the butter and sage and let it cook 3-4 minutes until heated through. Toss often. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately!
  11. To garnish, sprinkle with the extra Parmesan cheese and dried red pepper flakes for a good spicy kick.
Notes
**If butter isn't your thing you can toss them in any kind of sauce you want!

Slightly adapted from this bon appétit recipe 

Fried Polenta with Tomatoes and Mushrooms 

This past week I was taking stock of our limited shelf space in the kitchen because I was thinking about buying a new piece of kitchen equipment. I was sitting on the floor trying to create space on the bottom rack of one of my favorite Ikea purchases of all time and playing tetris with an ice cream maker, a food processor, a hot water heater, and all my different sugars and grains. This, of course led to me sorting through all my containers to see what  hadn’t been used in a while and that’s when I saw the corn meal.Typically, I’m buying corn meal to coat the bottom of loaves of bread and also because I’m thinking about how great some hot corn bread would be. (I haven’t made corn bread in years.) It goes like this: buy a package of corn meal, use a little, purge it eventually, and then, soon after, buy a new bag.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been binging on episodes of Chopped recently, but “polenta!” was the first thing I that came to mind about how to put this corn meal to use. Not only haven’t I cooked much polenta but I haven’t eaten much of it either. My only real contact with it at home was buying those logs in the grocery and trying to slice off discs to fry which never really won me over. I set to work scouring my cookbooks and the internet for advice on how to cook it. Turns out…there are so many ways to cook polenta!

This took a few tries to get right. Polenta, like risotto, needs a lot of attention but corn meal might just be fussier than arborio rice. After totally botching the first attempt, it got much easier. The internet taught me some tricks like sifting the cornmeal through my fingers and working really slowly in the beginning. It’s actually reminded me of that challenge when you’re a kid: pat your head with one hand and rub your belly with the other at the same time. This adult-in-the-kitchen version is whisk quickly with one hand and slowly sift in corn meal with the other.

I sampled a bowl of polenta from a less-than-perfect batch and it was really very good (even if it was kinda lumpy). I topped it with cheese and hot sauce. I go through hot sauce at an alarming rate. But for this recipe though I had frying it on my mind so I let the winning polenta cool in a loaf pan and left it in the fridge overnight to set. Lunchtime the next day all I had to do was cut slices and fry.

This is full on savory. The polenta was made with stock and I mixed half a cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese into it. To top it off, since I’m still eating up as many tomatoes as possible, I roasted up some grape tomatoes with garlic, and then sautéed a mix of mushrooms with thyme to go with it. Because in my head cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms all go so well on a pizza so why not a polenta! Mmmpizza…
This was a little time intensive to put together but totally worth it. It definitely got me over my uncertainty about cooking polenta and it turns out it’s easy enough to whisk up a pot of it. I can see myself making this as a quick app before a meal because everything can be made in advance and then brought together beautifully at the last minute. Also if you cool the polenta in a flatter pan (but keeping it thick enough), you can cut out different shapes to serve as edible plates for all sorts of toppings.
Fried Polenta with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Serves: Makes 3-4 larger servings or 6-8 smaller depending on how you cut the polenta

Ingredients
Polenta
  • 1 Cup Corn Meal
  • 3 cups + 2 Tbsp Stock*
  • ½ Cup of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Grated (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Butter or Oil for Frying
  • Cilantro to Garnish (optional)
Tomatoes
  • 1 Pint Grape Tomatoes
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic, Smashed
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Mushrooms
  • A mix of Shiitake, Portobello, and Crimini/Button Mushrooms, chopped into cubes and slices
  • 3-4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 1-2 tsp Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper, and Dried Red Pepper Flakes to taste
Instructions
For the Polenta
  1. Bring the stock to a boil over medium-high heat in a lidded pan. If the stock you're using is not salted, add salt to the water (start with about a tsp, you can always adjust later). Once the stock is boiled sift the corn meal by the handful into the stock very slowly, whisking quickly but gently the whole time (this will help you get fewer lumps). Keep whisking once till it's all incorporated and smooth.
  2. Lower the heat to very low and cover.
  3. Set a timer for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes take the lid off and give it a good whisk reincorporating everything and making sure it doesn't dry out. You might think it looks done but it should ideally cook for 30-40 minutes. Give it a taste now and taste again in 30 min - you'll notice a sweetness and richness that wasn't there before. Keep whisking every 8 minutes and replacing the lid after each session (do this about 4 times)
  4. At the very end whisk in the cheese and salt/pepper to taste. I fried my polenta in a non-stick pan. If you don't have a non-stick the cheese you mixed in might cause the polenta to "melt" a little while frying, making it stick. If you'd prefer not to gamble you can also melt the cheese over the polenta once it's fried and done.
  5. Pour out the polenta immediately into the form you want into to mold to. I used a loaf pan. Let it cool fully, then cover and place in the fridge for at least a couple hours or overnight.
  6. When ready to fry slice or use a shape (cup, cookie cutter...) to make individual pieces. I fried mine in  butter over medium heat-high till each side was crispy and golden (about 3-4 minutes for each side).
For the Tomatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Toss all the ingredients on a parchment lined sheet tray together and roast 18-20 minutes or until garlic is golden and tomatoes are popping open and have a nice brown on them.
For the Mushrooms
  1. Cook everything together in a pan over medium heat until all the water in the mushrooms has cooked out.
To Serve
  1. Mix together the tomatoes and mushrooms and spoon over the fried polenta slices. Optional: garnish with cilantro.
Notes
*I used a meatless/pareve "No Chicken" stock from Imagine because I find it richer and more flavorful than the vegetable versions but any stock would be great here

Herb Packed Turkey Meatballs

Earlier in the summer, a group of friends and I gathered at an epic pop-up white dinner in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. We dressed in white from head to toe and brought along food to share. As one of the table hosts, I wanted to bring something heartier than a salad or cheese plate, easy to transport, not too heavy, and that would be enough for 16 people without breaking my wallet.

While thinking about what to make I remembered this sweet and sour mini-meatball dish that my mom used to make when we had large family gatherings. The meatballs were small and you could eat several without filling up. They made for a great appetizer.

For the past few years I’ve been playing with ground turkey meat on and off. I’m actually not a fan of turkey meat (even on Thanksgiving) but it’s healthier than red meat. We also only use kosher meat in our home and it’s way easier to find ground turkey than it is to find ground chicken. The (fun) challenge with meatballs is transforming the turkey into a dish that’s packed with flavor and not too dry.
I very clearly remember my moms meatballs being teeny tiny and so I tip my hat to her on, what must have been, crazy amounts of patience to make so many. When it comes to meatballs, I didn’t inherit that patience.

For this recipe, and for the dish I made for the popup over the summer, I shaped medium sized balls. When using my hands started to take forever I began experimenting with spoons. Turns out a tablespoon measure makes a perfect two-bite ball.It also keeps the meatballs from getting too dense and leaves things way less messy. I’m typically not the most graceful but somehow meatballs always took me to a new level of gracelessness and I’d find myself disinfecting, as I went along, to clean up bits of turkey from the strangest places.

In taking on the “making turkey flavorful and not dry” challenge, I’ve experimented with loads of different spices/fillings and sauces. This recipe comes out on top. It’s all about herbs and bright lemon freshness paired with fruit and spice.
While these definitely paired perfectly with the summer months there’s nothing about them that wouldn’t be just as great when the temperature drops a few degrees.

So, in honor of heading back to work and school let’s make fun and delicious meatballs. They are truly perfect for a weeknight meal. They can store easily for a few days and won’t dry out if reheated in the sauce. Serve them in a roll, on some rice, or for fast access… just stick a fork in ’em.


Herb Packed Turkey Meatballs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce

Serves: 16-18 meatballs depending on size

Ingredients
Meatballs
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey Meat
  • 2.5 Tbsp Chopped Parsley
  • 2 Tbsp Chopped Mint
  • 1 Tbsp Chopped Dill
  • Zest of 1 lemon or about 1 Tbsp
  • 1 Shallot Minced or ½ of a small white Onion Minced
  • 1 Egg
  • ½-3/4 cup Breadcrumbs (I prefer Panko)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Pepper to taste*
  • Olive Oil
Sauce
  • 1 Cup Fruit Preserves - My favorites are Peach or Apricot
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 3 Tbsp Ketchup
  • ½-1 tsp Dried Red Pepper Flakes
  • ½ Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients (minus the olive oil) in a large bowl and use your hands to bring it all together (this is my favorite part!). If the mixture feels very wet add a ¼ cup more breadcrumbs. Too much breadcrumb and your meatballs won't hold together. Mix till all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  2. On the stovetop, over medium-high, heat enough oil to cover the bottom of an oven-safe heavy bottomed pot or pan. Use your favorite method of shaping meatballs or grab a rounded bottom tablespoon measure and scoop out the meat mixture. Using a second spoon (a regular spoon from your cutlery set is fine), scoop out the meat from the tablespoon by going around the inside curve of the measuring spoon. You should now have a mostly round ball on your spoon. To round it more you can pass it back to the tablespoon and use the curve of the spoon to gently pat the top of the ball into place. Pass it back once more and drop it into the hot oil.
  3. WorkIng in small batches, brown 4-6 balls at a time. Turn them gently in the oil so they have a nice golden crust on each. Each batch should take 4-6 minutes. When done remove them to a plate lined with a paper towel to rest until the sauce is made.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F
  5. In the same pot the meatballs cooked in, mix together all the ingredients for the sauce making sure to scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pot into the sauce. Let the sauce simmer on medium-low for 5-10 minutes. Gently place all the meatballs into the sauce and spoon sauce over their tops if they aren't submerged.
  6. Cover the pot and place on a middle rack in the oven. Let cook covered for 10 min. Remove the lid and let it cook another 10 minutes uncovered.
Notes
*A fun tip on how to taste if your meat mixture is seasoned well: break off a very little piece and toss it into the pan to cook. Taste it and then adjust your seasoning if needed!