food

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.

How to Fix those #bakingfails.

These croissants came out very dense, but will be cut, frozen and used for a decadent bread pudding!

Baking requires a lot of invested time and it can be really easy to get frustrated when it doesn’t work out. Instead of taking failure as a reason to give up, stop and consider what went wrong. It could be the temperature of your ingredients, your technique could need refining, it could be something as simple as your mood.
This baking-fail was a result of impatience on my part, and while I wish I was able to enjoy some homemade croissants this morning, I’ll have to settle for some from the boulangerie on the corner.

Remember that when you begin to bake, your failures can sometimes outnumber your successes. Don’t be discouraged, and above all, if they still taste good, do not throw out your failures!

Food waste is a huge problem. In 2016, The Atlantic reported that not only does the U.S. lead the world in the most food wasted, Americans waste about 50% of food that is produced. While a huge portion of this waste is the result of supermarkets throwing out undesirable products, consumers also have a responsibility to make sure they use the food they buy. Throwing out baked goods that still have a good flavor is completely unnecessary. Just because you didn’t get the result you wanted, it doesn’t mean that it needs to end up in the trash, unless you’ve made the grave mistake of confusing salt for sugar.

Here are a few tips on how to give your own baking failures a new life:

  1. Freeze your failures: If you don’t have time to use up your baking-fails right away, prepare them for use later by freezing them. Since you do not plan on using the baked goods as is, you don’t have to worry about the freezer drying them out. Frozen baked goods usually keep for 1-2 months. When you’re ready to use them, just defrost overnight for use the next day.
  2. Cookie dough: If you are making a cookie dough for the first time, test a small portion to see how it turns out. Cookie dough that spreads out too much can be spread out in a pan and made into cookie bars, just bake at 350 degrees F until set. Alternatively, already baked cookies can be crumbled and mixed with melted butter to make a cookie crust for pies and cheesecakes.
  3. Cake/Quick-Breads: If a cake or quick-bread comes out too dense, or crumbly, fear not! Crumble the failure and toast it in the oven for about 5 min at 350 degrees F to use on top of ice cream, or as a way to decorate the sides of a cake (you can also do this with cake trimmings). Toasted cake crumbles can last for about a month if they are stored in an air-tight container. You can also take un-toasted crumbles and use them to make a bread pudding, or cake pops.
  4. Yeasted Breads: If your bread is savory, you can cut it into cubes and use it for a savory bread pudding. This is a perfect breakfast dish for large groups! If the bread is on the sweeter end of the spectrum, it is a perfect candidate for a dessert bread pudding.
  5. Pie: Did your pie filling ooze out, resulting in a soupy mess? Just serve it in a nice bowl with a scoop of ice cream, pie is delicious in any iteration. If you want to up the plating game a bit, you can always place individual servings in oven-safe ramekins and top with meringue.

Do you have any baking-fails that you were able to save? Comment below with your own tips!

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.