Monday, July 04, 2011

Light, Easy, and Seasonal: Crimini Mushrooms with Shallots and Wine

A quick and tasty dinner (I often use brown-rice pasta - Trader Joe's makes a good one - as an alternative to the wheat).

Makes 2 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter, divided
2 medium shallots, sliced into thin sauté slice
1 lb. crimini mushrooms, stems removed (keep these in your freezer for stock!), sliced thinly
approx 1/2 cup dry white wine
4 oz. whole-wheat pasta (I like spaghetti)
sea salt + freshly ground black pepper

Heat a 12” skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon butter and all the olive oil, as well as the shallots and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring, until softened but not browned.

Add mushrooms, several generous pinches salt, and several grinds black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms get very brown and reduce a lot in volume (see photo). Remove mushrooms to a plate, add wine, and turn up heat; scrape browned bits from pan and reduce by half.

Cook and drain pasta according to package instructions, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Add remaining teaspoon butter to mushroom pan over medium heat; when melted, add mushrooms, pasta, and as much reserved pasta cooking water as needed to moisten, and toss to combine well. Serve immediately with additional freshly ground pepper.

Champagne Punch with Cherry, Ginger, and Cognac

You should probably double this recipe, if your friends are anything like mine.

4 cups sour cherry juice*
6 tablespoons fresh ginger juice, from about half a hand-sized piece of ginger**
6 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup agave nectar
200 mL cognac (I used Courvoisier)
1 bottle dry white wine
4 bottles well-chilled Champagne or semi-dry sparkling wine
Additional lemon slices for garnish, optional

Mix the first six ingredients up to several hours before serving; keep chilled. Mix in Champagne just before serving and garnish with lemon slices. I prefer not to ice this punch, so I made mine in two batches, dividing up the punch base and combining with two bottles of chilled Champagne each time.

*I used Red Jacket Orchards’ Tart Cherry Stomp; if you can’t find sour cherry juice, try unsweetened cranberry or pomegranate juice, but you’ll need to up the agave nectar quite a bit to taste.

**Make ginger juice by squeezing grated ginger through cheesecloth or a jelly bag.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Two bring-along lunch ideas for warm weather

Here are a couple of my favorite lunch ideas for hot days that are easy to make ahead and don't require reheating once you're in the office.

This cheese-free frittata is loaded with vegetables and is tasty served cold:

Note: Bacon fat or butter make for a much cleaner release from the pan, and both fats add wonderful flavor to this dish, but if you are particularly averse to them both, refined coconut oil or olive oil will work—you’ll just have a messier cleanup and a less neat serving appearance.

3 eggs
Sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or bacon fat
1 spring onion, diced
1/2-1 cup cut-up asparagus spears
1/2 medium bunch lacinato kale, cut into ribbons (about 2 cups)

Heat broiler. Beat eggs lightly with several generous pinches of sea salt and black pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon fat in a medium skillet over medium heat; add onion and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, about five minutes. Add asparagus and cook about 2 more minutes. Add kale and a splash of water and cook until kale stems are almost tender and additional water has cooked off. Add remaining fat and allow it to melt. Turn heat down to low, add eggs, and stir occasionally as if making scrambled eggs. When eggs are half cooked, place under broiler for about 2 minutes, or until cooked through. Immediately remove frittata to place and serve, or cut into slices to cool.

My lighter version of tuna salad (with an olive oil/vinegar dressing - no mayo required) is great with lettuce leaves or crackers: one can of olive-oil packed tuna, drained; 1/2 red bell pepper, diced; zest and juice of 1/2 lemon; about a teaspoon of capers and a few splashes of brine; a small handful of rough-chopped olives; a pinch of cayenne and plenty of freshly-ground black pepper; a glug or two of extra-virgin olive oil. Mix everything together and add sea salt and vinegar to taste.

RIP Readymade, + my radish slaw recipe

By now everyone's heard that ReadyMade is no more, and while the site continues to stand, I have no idea how long that will remain. So I'll be reposting my best fruit- and vegetable-related recipes from my tenure at RM here, mostly so I'll have a record of them.

Sad news for sure, but a recent wonderful development in my vegetable life has been my membership in Garden Of Eve's CSA, which picks up downstairs from my office in Brooklyn Fireproof, and has gotten me excited about trying and re-trying all sorts of vegetables. My last ReadyMade post (below) was my reintroduction to radishes, which I've never liked; but when chance and seasonality forced them on me, I learned.

Also, the Rick's Picks staff (of which I am an occasional member) is currently underging its Eat Local Challenge; handed the task of choosing one of the pickles in the line and one of a short list of local ingredients, I chose Handy Corn and cucumber, and devised this chilled, briny cucumber-dill yogurt soup. I was so happy with the way it turned out that now I'm trying to turn as much of my CSA haul as possible into cold yogurt-based soups.

Here's the radish slaw. And here's to more posting now that the summer growing season is well underway, and I'm inspired to create new vegetable dishes for the first time in ages!

Pickley Radish Slaw

1 small bunch radishes, sliced into very thin rounds (use a mandoline), about two cups
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon capers, drained

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, agave, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until thoroughly blended. Add olive oil and whisk to blend.

Toss radishes, capers, and dressing together in a large bowl until coated; allow to sit several hours at room temperature or refrigerate overnight before serving.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You might call it phoning it in, but I call it I love The Awl

I just found this great Awl post from last fall about farmer's market fruits and vegetables "tasting like themselves." I felt the exact same way when I first tasted local New York State grapes - nothing short of revelatory. And the grape jelly I made from them! Lordy.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Inexplicable spinach cravings.

Since I've mostly given up cheese, I no longer love spinach (nutrition-dork brain wonders if it's because of my body wanting dairy to counteract the calcium-infringing action of the oxalic acid), but this non-gratin gratin from Smitten Kitchen makes me want both.

And while I am not a fan of the "creating chips out of greens" trend, I like the idea with spinach, which wouldn't be fibrous or chewy or weird - and these look lovely.

Usually, spinach just seems noncommital to me - it cooks quickly, but it's bland. When I want a quick-cooking green, I generally choose mustard greens, whose antioxidant compounds fairly scream to make their presence known in its spicy flavor. But maybe it's time to rethink spinach?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Steady Diet of Nothing: The Road to Health

The wonderful and amazing Molly put together this SXSW panel, and invited me to be involved! I'm honored to be in such great company. Word to the Austin-bound: be there Thursday! I'm also going to blog photos of every taco I eat in Austin.

Monday, March 07, 2011

The green smoothie, 2011 style

Whether it was Mercury in retrograde, the continuing depressive contribution of an especially trying winter, or turning 31, the first few weeks of 2011 were rough, people. The energy was that of scratching one’s way through an increasingly narrow tunnel through the dirt.

Worse, I ended up with crippling late-night abdominal pain, the result of an infection, and took antibiotics for the first time in about seven years. To me, the girl who prides herself on an immune system of steel, this was a bit of a wake-up call. I re-quit coffee, decided to go on a two-week alcohol-free vegan diet, and dusted off the old Vita-Mix to reintroduce green smoothies into my life.

But these are not the yogurt-and-berry breakfast-in-a-glass concoctions of the past – these are lean and streamlined, for someone who doesn’t fear the grassiness of raw greens or the grainy texture of flax. One cup of local apple juice or cranberry-apple juice, about a cup of raw kale leaves, a half-cup of parsley, and one tablespoon freshly-ground flax seed, liquefied in my darling machine.

Raw kale we know: it’s full of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, etc. Parsley is the overlooked nutritional powerhouse in this equation: astounding amounts of vitamin K in addition the expected A and C, as well as good levels of iron and folate; and the volatile oils and flavonoids that give parsley its vibrant, grassy piquancy are especially anti-carcinogenic and blood-cleansing. And, of course, the flax provides yet more fiber and most of a day’s worth of omega-3 fatty acids.

I’m not exaggerating to say that bringing green smoothies back into my life felt like coming home again. While I’ve cleaned up my act in other ways (though I've gone back to coffee), I can trace my morning exuberance directly to that cup-and-a-half of chlorophyll-laden freshness. Green smoothie for president!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

New love: purple potatoes

Until recently, I’d never given purple potatoes much thought. I don’t regularly buy potatoes, and when I do, I (naturally) tend toward yellow-fleshed carola, “the potato-lover’s potato”.

But something struck me the last time I was at the market, that somehow I’d failed to realize: purple potatoes are full of anthocyanins! That’s what makes them purple! Since I’m a sucker for phytonutrients, I’ve decided it’s "all blue" all the time, for me. Their flesh is a bit on the dry side, but since I use them exclusively for olive-oil soaked oven-roasted potatoes (with plenty of sea salt, pimentón, and a dash of cayenne), that doesn’t matter.

Mostly, it makes me feel better than usual about eating potatoes. Because…anthocyanins! Preventing cancer! By eating potatoes!

Friday, March 04, 2011

What have I been doing all these months, anyway? (A roundup)

Let’s see: happy hour, going to the gym, eating fried chicken, and general idleness. Oh! And, as I've mentioned, writing for the ReadyMade food blog.

Here are links to some of my favorites of the vegetable-related posts I’ve written for them:

In which I resolve to eat greens for breakfast, and share ideas for same.

A double-quick, light dinner: pasta topped with crimini mushrooms in shallot and wine sauce.

Fridge-pickled cabbage slaw – this stuff is great.

Party menu!

I love tacos the most.

And a few ideas for one of my very favorites, broccoli rabe.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Toward the perfect beet slaw

While I've discussed my affection for beet slaw in the past, my relationship to the stuff has since escalated into somewhat of an obsession. For the past month, I've been whipping up a huge batch of slaw every week, and eating a good helping every day with lunch or dinner; the vinegar, salt, and spices ensure it keeps well in the fridge, and the flavor improves with time. (On a related note: remind me never to go back in time to before I had a food processor, k?)

This slaw is especially great to have on hand in the winter, when tasty raw vegetables can be few and far between. And if you happen to have an overnight guest (don't judge me), serve this slaw alongside the obligatory omelet for an impressive late breakfast.

Now that I've made half a dozen or so batches of the stuff, I've finally got a recipe I think is good enough to share. This slaw is a little spicy from the mustard, naturally sweet from the beets, with a great puckery tang from the lemon and vinegar. Don't be tempted to omit the raw shallot/red onion - it's key to keeping things interesting here.

This isn't a good recipe to attempt if you have a hand-modeling gig later in the afternoon, but it would be totally fine to make the same day as you're planning to dye your hair with Manic Panic, or possibly work on your car.

NB: This isn't one of those "serve this to the beet-haters in your family - it'll convert them!" recipes. You should seriously like beets to go down this road. My mom and President Obama: this isn't for you.

Best Beet Slaw

2-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup mild extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion or 2 shallots (will yield 1/2 cup sliced)
3-4 large beets, peeled (will yield 6-7 cups shredded)
agave nectar to taste, optional

1. Put on an apron, preferably a full apron, but if you wear a cute half-apron like I do, cinch that thing right up around your natural waist for maximum coverage (plus: flattering!)
2. Whisk together mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, pepper, and salt until thoroughly combined. Pour olive oil into vinegar mixture slowly in a thin stream, and whisk until emulsified. Set dressing aside.
3. I'm serious about the apron thing. Do it. Things are going to get seriously messy.
4. Cut up beets into manageable pieces and shred on the larger shred side of your food processor. Do that thing where you futilely try to get it to shred those weird pieces that get stuck on the top of the disc a couple of times, then give up on them.
6. Ok, fine, go ahead and make the Macbeth joke, we know you're dying to.
What, will these little hands ne'er be clean?

5. Slice onion/shallots in half around the equator and slice on your mandoline's thinnest setting. Totally use the hand guard, because you always do, right? Safety first, that's your motto.
6. Toss shredded beets with onion slices in a large bowl. The onions tend to clump when sliced so thinly, so use your hands for this.
7. Give the dressing a quick stir to make sure it hasn't settled, and pour over beet/onion mixture. Fold until evenly distributed.
8. Let slaw sit for an hour or two (during which time: clean up! - sorry), adjust seasonings (adding agave to taste if your beets aren't quite sweet enough), and serve.

The aftermath

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


You should follow erstwhile Minimalist Mark Bittman on Twitter, less for his recipes (which I've never loved) than for his well-curated up-to-the-minute links highlighting food political issues.

Yesterday, he posted this link to a Reuters piece about plant pathologist Don Huber's recent "emergency" warning to Ag Secretary Vilsack about a newly discovered pathogen affecting fertility in animals, that he's linked to a primary ingredient in Roundup. Fingers crossed Vilsack pays attention...I suppose it's too much to hope the mainstream media will.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Why, hello there

What's six months between friends?

I'm currently wrangling a relaunch of this dear Produce Stories, and I thought, what better time to start than when I can self-coerce into following the horrifically named NaBloPomo?

But meanwhile, here's a link to a series of Ready Made posts, in which I made all my meals for a week out of the same 12 ingredients. (I got really good at listing them off the top of my head as people asked, and now I've got this, sadly useless, memorized: eggs-bacon-lentils-collards-broccoli-onions-carrots-apples-almonds-mushrooms-brown rice-sweet potatoes).

The best product of the whole experience was this recipe for sweet potato/green apple/coriander soup - it's one of the tastiest, simplest recipes I've concocted in some time: the tart apple complements the potato's vegetal sweetness, and the freshly-ground toasted coriander lends the whole thing a floral, citrusy backdrop. It's almost refreshing, but it's creamy and filling. This will definitely be in regular rotation.

Oh! And I've added a link to all my ReadyMade posts in the sidebar, just to be thorough.

More soon...tomorrow, even!