Dinner

Summer Veggie Salad

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Asperge Sauvage, absolutely stunning both visually and in taste

I came across some wild asparagus at the green grocer’s this weekend and I couldn’t help but buy it. Wild asparagus tastes vaguely of the kind that is usually found in stores, but it is much more delicate, and needs to be prepared carefully so as not to mask the flavor. If you aren’t lucky enough to get your hands on wild asparagus, young asparagus stalks will work perfectly in this recipe.

This bright summer salad goes great as a side with seared fish, chicken or as-is for a vegetarian/vegan meal. The recipe is very versatile and can be done with a variety of ingredients. The lightness of the salad means that the flavors of the vegetables stand on their own, so be sure to select the freshest ingredients you can. I usually don’t make measurements for my dressings, so don’t hesitate to add seasonings to taste as you need, you can also make a bigger batch of dressing to keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Summer Veggie Salad Recipe:

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Dressing:
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ lemon juiced
2 tbs whole grain mustard
4tbs of good quality olive oil
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1-2 tbs basalmic vinegar (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

Veggies:
2 large zucchinis peeled into strips*
1 bunch of asparagus cut into 1” pieces, blanched
2 cups fresh fava beans or English peas, blanched
½ 14 oz can of garbanzo beans**
Crumbled feta***

  1. Mix together dressing ingredients, and set aside.
  2. Peel zucchini into long ribbons with a vegetable peeler, and place in a bowl.
  3. Blanch asparagus and fava beans or peas for 1-2 min in salted water, drain and shock in ice water in order to maintain a vibrant green color.
  4. Mix everything but the feta together and let sit for 30 min.
  5. Toss in feta and serve as is, or over a bed of greens.

*In place of zucchini you can also use any summer squash variety

**I always keep homemade garbanzos ready for use in salads. To make your own check out this recipe.

***To keep the recipe vegan, omit feta and make sure you use a plant-based mustard.

Mushroom Risotto

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Photo Credit: Emily Chao

Exciting news everyone! I am working with my friend Emily Chao to put some videos up on the blog. She is an incredible editor and you should definitely check out her website to see some of the amazing videos she’s shot and edited. If you’re in New York for the Tribeca Film Festival, be sure to check out one of the more recent projects she has worked on called Lemon.

We wanted to try something simple just to see how the lighting was in the kitchen, so I wasn’t super careful when I was making this risotto. Some of the more culinary savvy among you may notice that I added the wine before the rice (Quelle horreur!), but the risotto turned out quite nice anyway.

I used morel mushrooms in this dish because they were so beautiful at the green grocer, but any assortment of wild mushrooms will do. If you make this dish with vegetable stock, it can very easily become a great vegetarian dish, and I would even suggest adding some asparagus or fresh peas to the mushrooms while sautéing to make an even heartier meal.

You may not need all the liquid in this recipe, and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out the first time. Risotto is one of those dishes that you need to practice. A good risotto is slightly soupy and the rice grains should be distinguishable with a good bite to them, like pasta cooked al dente.

Mushroom Risotto
serves 3-4

8oz ariboro rice, rinsed
24 oz chicken or vegetable broth
4 tbs butter
2 shallots, minced
½ c dry white wine
1 c grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese, plus  more to finish
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced (I didn’t have any, but it really could have used some garlic)
Parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring broth to a simmer and leave covered over low heat to keep warm.
  2. Over medium heat, melt 2 tbs of butter in a large sauce pan.
  3. Cook the shallots with some salt and pepper in the butter until they are translucent.
  4. Bring up heat to medium-high and add the rice, stir for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the wine and mix until it is mostly absorbed.
  6. Bring the temperature down to medium-low hear and add the broth one ladle at a time. Stir the mixture occasionally and wait until the liquid is mostly absorbed before adding more, this should take about 30 minutes. Taste as you go to see if the risotto needs more seasoning.
  7. As the rice gets close to being done, sautee the mushrooms and garlic over high heat with the remaining 1 oz of butter until they are browned.
  8. When the rice has a nice texture, add the grated cheese and mushrooms. mix in and serve warm with a drizzle of good olive oil, a dusting of cheese and chopped parsley.

 

White Bean Stew

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As a kid, I hated leftovers. I knew that as soon as I heard the ding of the microwave, I was sentenced to a bowl of a sadder, soggier version of the dinner I had eaten the night before. The flavors were sure to be muted, and the center of the bowl was most certainly going to be just lukewarm. I was a child with very high standards.

I wasn’t picky, I would eat almost everything (except Chicken Cacciatori, sorry mom). I just valued food diversity. So, when my mom told us that it was “fend for yourself night,” I would experiment in the kitchen to avoid leftovers. This meant that I only had the contents of the fridge and pantry to work with, and really forced me to be creative.

As an adult, I don’t have the same aversion to leftovers, because no one truly has the time or energy to cook a full meal every day. So, I have learned how to make dishes that actually improve with age. I have found that braising is the best technique to produce a dish like this, and although it takes time to cook in the oven. It can always be made the night before, and be gently reheated in the oven for a relatively quick weeknight meal. This dish is one of my favorites, and is a perfect alternative to the more traditional braised dishes that tend to be very heavy and hard to eat as the weather gets warmer.

I also like that I can make this as a vegetarian meal, but I usually add swiss-chard, spinach or kale. This recipe is pictured with a saffron tagliatelle that I found at a local Italian market, but it can be served with your favorite pasta, or some crusty bread and a light green salad. The dried white beans can also be substituted for 2 14oz cans of white beans if you are in a rush, but I really urge you to use dried beans.

White Bean Stew
with Garlic Sausage, Fennel, Onion and Carrots

8 oz dried white beans (preferably Cannellini or Great Northern)
1 clove garlic, whole
1 bayleaf
4 tbs olive oil
1 lb Italian or Toulouse sausage*, crumbled
1 onion, sliced ¼”
1 bulb fennel, sliced ¼”
2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1″
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c dry white wine
3 c bone broth and 1 c water**
salt and pepper to taste
Parsley, chopped (optional)

Soak Beans:
Boil 4 c water with whole garlic clove and 1 bayleaf Rinse dried beans and add to boiling water. Turn off and cover for 1 hour.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°f, with rack in the middle.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a dutch oven until it is shimmery and add the sausage, cook until just browned. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, and add the onion, fennel, garlic , and carrot. Cook until the onion is just barely translucent.
  4. Add the wine and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, reduce heat to low.
  5. Drain beans and discard the garlic clove, be sure to keep bay leaf. Add soaked beans and bay leaf to the pan, mix together.
  6. Add the sausage, or greens if you are making a vegetarian version.
  7. Pour in the broth, water, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  8. Place dutch oven in the middle of the oven, and let cook uncovered for one hour.
  9. Stir and let cook another 30 min- 1hour, or until the beans are finished.
  10. Serve with chopped parsley over buttered pasta or crusty bread.***

To reheat: place in a 350°f oven until warmed through (about 30 minutes) or bring to a simmer on the stove.

*To make the dish vegetarian omit the sausage, and coarsely chop 1 bunch of spinach, swiss chard, or kale

**For vegetarian version use 4 cups vegetable stock. If you don’t have bone broth use 4 cups chicken broth.

***Try quinoa or brown rice pasta for a gluten free alternative or use a nice olive oil instead of butter to keep the dish vegan.

Simple Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables.

So, the new year is upon us, and my husband and I are trying really super hard to kick our delivery habit. The other day, I drooled as I watched an UberEATS cyclist go around my block 5 times before they finally delivered my lukewarm Lebanese food. It was, honestly, not worth it.

So, this morning I woke up late and thought, “Well, rough start to those resolutions, but we’ll pick this up by the end of the day.” I shook off the defeat and decided that I was going to make dinner tonight.

I coaxed the slumbering lawyer out of bed and we went on a walk with our dog to the local butcher. It was great. The sky was grey, per usual, the snow turned to rain, so we put the dog’s ridiculous raincoat on him, which was hilarious, and it wasn’t as cold as it was yesterday.

We got to the butcher, and I was like “Oh, I have to speak French now.” Which I totally did, and I even learned how to ask the butcher to disembowel my chicken, which I promptly forgot, but I will ask again. Then, with disemboweled chicken in hand, I went home and got ready to make this beautiful dinner.

Unfortunately, the outdoor market wasn’t open, and the Monop’ has a sad selection of produce, so I wasn’t able to find parsley, but I love this recipe because it is easy to make, and is easily adaptable to everybody’s tastes.

 

Simple Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

4-5 lb Chicken
4 tbs Butter, melted
1 tbs Dried herbs (optional)*
2 tbs Kosher salt
1 tsp Cracked black pepper
1 Sweet onion (red, or yellow)**
2 cloves Garlic
Assortment of Root Vegetables, peeled
(parsnip, beets, and carrots are really nice)
3 medium-sized red potatoes
2 tbs olive oil
Chopped parsley

  1. Pat your chicken as dry as you can, this helps the skin get crispy.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 F
  3. Mix together the salt, dried herbs, and pepper. Sprinkle this mixture all over the chicken and rub inside the cavity of the bird, you may have some left over. Allow the chicken to rest on a rack in a roasting pan until it comes to room temperature, about 1 hour.
    Note: You can also leave the chicken like this overnight and uncovered in the fridge for an even more flavorful chicken tomorrow!
  1. Cut the peeled root vegetables and potatoes into 1-2” pieces.
  2. Mince the garlic, dice the onions and add to root vegetable mix. Mix this with the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  3. When the chicken has come to room temperature, arrange vegetables in the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour any liquid over the chicken.
  4. Rub the butter into the skin of the chicken, and inside the cavity. Place the chicken breast side up, and put in the middle of the oven.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes and then flip the bird over, so it is breast-side down. Bring the temperature down to 375 and roast the chicken for another 30 minutes.
  6. Carefully flip the bird over one additional time and roast for another 10 minutes, or until done.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Carve the chicken, and toss the vegetables in the roasting pan so that they are dressed with the pan drippings, add the chopped parsley.
  9. Serve with a light green salad and maybe some cornbread!

 

*Fresh herbs can also be used, but chop them finely. I used thyme on my chicken, but rosemary, sage, or any herb blend you like will work.

**You can also use young green onions but, if you do, use spring onions not scallions. The green onions will have a larger bulb. Use 4, cut off the dark green parts (save to make Bone Broth)and halve the onion lengthwise.

Edit: I forgot to tell you guys the best part about this recipe! The leftovers make a great lunch just shred the remaining the meat (save those bones for Bone Broth too) and mix it with the leftover veggies. Wrap butter lettuce around a 1/4-1/2c of the mix with any sauce of your choosing. I prefer mustard, but I know there are weirdos out there with a vendetta against it. These are perfect to brown bag to the office, or send with the kids to school! 

 

I volunteered to make Thanksgiving dinner, now what?

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Dessert Spread from last Thanksgiving. I really like making pie.

Did you accidentally tell your friends and/or family that you wanted to make Thanksgiving dinner? Do you now realize that you’ve made a horrible time-consuming mistake? Don’t fear, I did the same thing, we’ll get through this together.

When I started my own custom-order baking business, I decided to take on the task of pie orders a few years in a row. This involved two weeks of ingredient gathering, pumpkin puree making, spending hours elbow deep in pie crust and pie filling, bribing my sister and best friend to help me, all in a tiny kitchen. I would show up at thanksgiving dinner, haggard, my arms fresh with new exhaustion-related carelessness burns, and a feeling of accomplishment. Despite the fact that I would have compromised my immune system by exhausting myself and ended up in Urgent Care on Christmas Morning each year, I still get the urge around November first to do it again. In recent years, I have successfully talked myself out of this desire, but the season just feels ripe for cooking, and so I have taken on the task of Thanksgiving dinner.

The trick is to treat your kitchen like a professional kitchen for the next week. If you are prepared you can pull that dinner together, with time to shower and change, and still get dinner on the table on time. How, don’t worry, I’ll tell you.

  1. Make a detailed menu.

If you haven’t made your menu yet. Make it today. I cannot emphasize this enough, if you do not do this, you will be going to the store blind. Write out each dish, what you will need to buy for each one, and whether or not it needs to be made the day of. Remember that Thanksgiving is probably not the time to try a recipe you are not familiar with, make things that you know you can make or at least make sure you aren’t overloading your menu with complicated recipes.

  1. Delegate, delegate, delegate.

I’ll admit, I am not good at asking for help in the kitchen. This is partially because I’m a little bit of a control freak when it comes to watching the way other people cook, but it is also because I can generally do it faster. This being said, I have to remember that I am just one person, and it is nice to have help with the dishes, prep work like slicing and dicing, setting the table, and running to the store. Ask your guests to bring beverages, or things like bread, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts (I always make my own desserts, but that’s just because they’re my favorite thing to make).

  1. Start your pies now.

So, you didn’t delegate the pies, don’t fret, you have time to get ahead. As soon as you are done reading this, make your pie crusts. You can freeze them, thaw them Sunday night, roll them out and put them in the tins on Monday. I freeze my crust like this until I am ready to bake off the pies on Wednesday. On Tuesday, make all of your pie fillings (if you are doing your own pumpkin puree, make it today, and freeze it until you’re ready to use it). This way you avoid spending all of Wednesday focused on making the pies, and you can just put them in the oven. I always think that pies should be made the day before, the filling benefits from sitting for a day, and you’ll need that oven space on Thursday. Cream pies should go in the fridge, but I leave my pumpkin, pecan and fruit pies out at room temp overnight, the refrigerator ruins the crust.

  1. Plan your schedule for the week, and the oven.

Do your last minute shopping this weekend. Yes, this weekend is last minute. Gather up all of the ingredients you need, this gives you plenty of time to look for harder to find ingredients, or change your menu. Consider how long everything needs to be in the oven and how long it needs to rest before being served. Write out a schedule for when you plan to bake off each item, consider which items can be baked off in the morning and then warmed over right before you serve.

Monday: Finalize your menu, that specialty item that you wanted to use on your sweet potatoes is a lost cause, save that dream for next year. If you are making stuffing from scratch, dry out your bread.

Tuesday: Brine the Turkey if you are planning on doing so. Cut any veggies that need to be diced, like onions, carrots and celery, trim the ends of your green beans, do all the little prep things that should be ready before you begin cooking

Wednesday: Make your salads, but do not dress them. This can also be done on Thursday morning if you find yourself short on fridge space. I also would get any casseroles prepped so that you can just pop them in the oven at their allotted time. Boil your potatoes so they are ready to be mashed on Thursday. Set your table and do any cosmetic things you need to do around the house.

Thursday: Get that turkey out of the fridge ASAP. You want your turkey to be room temperature before you put it in the oven, so get it out an hour before you intend to roast it. Keep to your schedule, and don’t fret if things don’t turn out perfectly.

  1. Take a spa day on Friday.

Seriously, do it. You’ll need it. At the very least, don’t get out of your PJ’s and watch a bunch of Netflix.

Hope this helps with the holiday madness! Feel free to comment below with any further questions, or tips I may have forgotten.