Posted on June 5, 2009
I just burned my mouth and I have no regrets. Trust me, if you pulled this pie out of the oven, you’d need a fire extinguisher and then an air-conditioner blazing in your mouth. Oh! how it blisters and turns violet when cooked and spritzed with lemon juice!!!
As you know, I’m of the school that baking should be full fat or get out of the kitchen, however, I thought I’d opt for a little virtuosity in the kitchen (considering the recent dumpling indulgences as of late). So what I’m looking for is a pie without all that dreaded heaviness. Something light. A topping that is a vehicle for the fresh local berries. I recently made a pie with a marzipan crumble, but while delish, not light. So I turned to one of my favorite foodies, Heidi Swanson. She recently posted a recipe for a peaches and plum crumble and the topping seemed perfect (a great mixture of textures and suitably sweet, but not overwhelmingly so), and a little on the lighter side, courtesy of the yogurt rather than dumping in a stick of butter (I only used 3 tablespoons and, in retrospect, I think I could have gotten away with less). So a marriage was in the making. My pie from July 2008′s Bon Appetit combined with Heidi’s crumble, and voila! light! delish!
If you want to go even crazier, you can nix the pie crust on the bottom and roll with crumble.
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (or more) sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
5-6 cups fresh wild or regular blueberries (32 ounces) or 32 ounces frozen wild or regular blueberries (do not thaw) or 2 pints from your local market
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Crisp (adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Plum & Peach crisp recipe):
3/4 cup rolled oats (I used toasted oats because I couldn’t find rolled oats in my local market)
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1/2 cup natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
big pinch of salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup yogurt (I used low-fat yogurt)
Whisk 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and cornstarch in heavy large saucepan to blend. Stir in blueberries and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens, frequently stirring gently, about 13 minutes. Chill filling until cool, about 1 hour (I shoved this in the fridge and it cooked in 1/2 hr, just fine).
For the topping
Combine the oats, flour, and sugar together in a medium bowl. Stir in the butter, and then the yogurt and mix until everything comes together in a dough-like texture. Sprinkle the crumble evenly over the blueberry mixture.
In a 9inch pie dish (please do not use aluminum or one of those pie crust pans as this will be a disaster), add a rolled out pie crust (i use store bought, because no way am i making dough until autumn). Add filling. Add topping, ensuring you distribute evenly. In a pre-heated 400 degree oven, place pie on rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust and topping are golden and filling bubbles thickly, about 25 minutes.
Serve lukewarm/chilled with gelato!
Posted on May 22, 2009
Yesterday, I treated my best friend’s fiancÃ©e to a delectable midday feast, courtesy of Son Cubano, in New York’s meatpacking district. A creature of habit, I ordered my old-school favorite – arroz con pollo. I love arroz con pollo. It’s home food, it’s earthy, and while it’s not necessarily haute cuisine, it’s flavorful and beyond delicious. And what a terrific one-pan meal to make at home for family, or, if you’re single like me, it’s incredible as leftovers.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken thighs*
4 chicken drumsticks
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 ounces cured, smoked chorizo
1 small Spanish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 3/4 cups canned tomatoes, drained and chopped*
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 cup rice, preferably long-grain
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Add the paprika and chili powder. Make sure the chicken is patted dry in order to prevent broiling, rather than getting that divine sear. SautÃ© the chicken on all sides, until well browned (the skin will caramelize), about 8 minutes in all. Remove cooked chicken and set aside on a rack. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the chorizo, onion, and garlic to the pan and sautÃ©, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften (it’ll turn translucent), about 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers and stir occasionally, until they start to soften, (3 minutes).
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, and the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and bring to a simmer. Stir in the rice and add the chicken in an even layer. Simmer, partially covered, over medium-low heat until the chicken and rice are cooked, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Shower with fresh parsley.
Posted on May 20, 2009
it starts with Ina Garten, but doesn’t it always? Ina Garten is my go-to chef for recipes that won’t make me tear my hair out, and trust me, I’ve had breakdowns over roasts and three-layer cakes and oh, there was that episode with the tartin…but we really needn’t go there. really.
Although this recipe is for a curried cous cous, I have to be honest and say the cous cous doesn’t work for me. The grains are too tiny and don’t really hold up best to the vigorous dressing. I prefer orzo (which is a rice-shaped pasta) and I’ve used mini penne for this iteration, which elevates this dish from an appetizer to a main course. Although you’re seeing the veggie version here, for leftovers, I tossed in some cold chicken breasts with a little more olive oil and it was divine. And honestly, I’ve only just become comfortable with tinkering with the original recipe because I’ve cooked this recipe over 20 times. And it’s always, ALWAYS been a hit. Minimal effort for maximum pleasure, as Nigella Lawson says. You can view the original recipe here, but below is my version.
Notice, I do use all organic/local ingredients. This is just how I roll and I find the food simply tastes better. But if you don’t have all organic, don’t fret, I would just opt to use local/organic for the veggies. First off, start boiling the water for your pasta. You’ll come back to this when the water comes to a boil.
On to the dressing. Your main ingredients for the dressing: 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff, not just cooking oil), 1/4 cup plain yogurt (i use lowfat), 1 tea of curry powder, 1/4 tea of cumin (the recipe calls for tumeric, but who has that? forget it, man. and cumin gives this dish, i find, a smokier flavor), 1 1/2 tea of salt (i use coarse or kosher salt, and trust me there is a difference between this and table salt), 1 tea of ground fresh pepper, 1 tea of white wine vinegar (you could use champagne vinegar if you want to get all fancy about it). Now that you’ve got all your wet ingredients well-combined (there is no magic to how they all should be added, i just lump them all in a large mixing bowl, because ultimately, this is where the pasta will go. I always find bringing the pasta into the dressing in this fashion makes it, for some reason, infinitely more flavorful), set the mix aside.
You might notice the water is boiling. Add the pasta, salt the water (this is the ONLY time you get to season the pasta, so do it now. It makes a HUGE difference.) and stir the pasta so it doesn’t cling. Some chefs advise putting olive oil in the pot. Ina got this tip from Martha Stewart and while I think they both speak the gospel, I think this is crap and you’ll waste good olive oil. Just stir the pasta every once in a while and you’re fine.
While the pasta is cooking (al dente, or “to the tooth”) and the dressing is set to the side, get rocking on your veggies. On my bamboo cutting board, I cut up 1/2 cup of fresh flat leafed parsley (none of this curly business), 1/4 cup of red onion (yellow onions are way too acrid for the salad and will ruin the dressing), 2 scallions diced thin, and although the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of shredded carrots, it’s rare that I have shredded carrots on hand, so I either opt out or drop in another veggie (zucchini has worked).
But honestly, if I worried about exact measurements, I’d have a nervous breakdown. While precise measurements are crucial in baking (as there is chemistry involved), it’s not required here. I love parsley, use a lot more of it and I keep it lean on the onion side. I also have 1/2 cup of dried cranberries (I use them more than currants, which are more expensive) and 1/4 cup of sliced, blanched almonds. I think the almonds are crucial for crunch – a nice texture variation to the softer pasta and greens.
Ah, the pasta is done! Drain the pasta, but don’t overdrain as I always love mixing in some of the pasta water. stir the pasta into the dressing so it’s coated and then I toss in the veggies, cranberries and almonds. I keep mixing until all the ingredients are well incorporated and then I set to cool (although this is so damn good I’ve eaten it warm). And the coolest thing? This keeps for a week and I’ve added tofu and chicken to spice it for brown-bagged lunches.
Posted on May 10, 2009
I finally feel as if I’m no longer living in Antarctica, so the warmer months usher in virtuous eating and an abundance of color. Last week I attended a fabulous cherry blossom brunch, and my friend Angie went wild with the homemade Korean fare (sesame bbq wings = AMAZING!), and she also dished out this incredible soba salad that I just had to replicate. Although I wasn’t able to get a mango, I promise you that the salad is equally delicious without. The one warning I should impart is that although my buckwheat soba noodles are loaded with potassium and protein, it also registered sky high in sodium. I didn’t realize this until I got home and nearly screamed. So, opt for a low-sodium noodle if you can.
Ingredients (Recipe courtesy of epicurious.com)
3/4 cup rice vinegar*
1/4 cup sugar*
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 red jalapeÃ±o or serrano chile, seeded, chopped*
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice*
1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel*
12 ounces green soba or chuka soba (Japanese-style) noodles*
1 large English hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise*
1 large ripe mango, peeled, halved, pitted, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup chopped fresh basil
1 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup chopped toasted salted peanuts (you can forgo the peanuts)
Warm vinegar, sugar, and salt in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Stir in garlic and jalapeÃ±o. Cool. Mix in lime juice, sesame oil, and lime peel.
Cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. And although my packet said 6-8 minutes, my noodles cooked in three, so I would advise to keep checking the noodles. Drain well. Rinse under cold water; drain again. Transfer noodles to dish-towel-lined platter to drain. Transfer noodles to large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Add cucumber, mango, basil, and mint to noodles and toss gently. Arrange salad on platter. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Garnish with lime wedges. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
*Notes: I used brown rice vinegar, cutting out refined carbs; I always use organic cane sugar – it really indeed makes a difference; I used a green jalapeÃ±o; 3 tbsp is roughly three small limes; 1.5 tea is roughly 1.5 limes; I used buckwheat soba; I used a seedless Holland cucumber and I actually sliced it with a veggie peeler after cutting lengthwise as I liked the visual affect.
I’m eating this as I type and the salad is shut-up and a pony delicious!
Posted on May 5, 2009
A month ago my best friend and I had a conversation about the ubiquitous waffle truck. We spoke as if it were some ominous creature poised to undo all that we’d accomplished at the gym. We decided that Wafels & Dinges was the road to ruin. We resolved to walk on the opposite side of the street of said yellow truck because who could result hot maple syrup and velvety nutella? WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD TURN DOWN A WAFFLE? We needed to be disciplined.
When I tell people I’m a “foodie,” I feel like I have to always clarify the noun, because I’m unfazed by the new haute restaurant that offers a slice of beef for a princely sum; I’m fascinated by good food, delectable and surprising flavors for a decent price. When I talk about food, my eyes grow wide as I think of my friend’s soba noodle recipe replete with fresh mango and cucumber slices, tossed with mint and basil, dressed in a lime sauce. Million dollar decor bores me – I get more excited by finery out of a truck, cuisine out of a shack. I’m evangelical in my quest to find good, affordable eats, and I’ll rush home and try to reinvent the recipe (aside: we’re going to talk about my arugula and mint pesto very soon!).
But back to the waffle. On a rainy Saturday, when my guard was down and I was clutching a very thin umbrella, I stumbled across the truck in question. I sampled a brussels waffle (the portion size is forgiving; you won’t fret over this minor indulgence), $4 and a liege, and both were mouthwateringly delicious. I couldn’t get over the light, airy texture inside the waffle and the crispy topping – I’m mad for juxtaposing textures. And much like how I adore the Eton dumpling, it’s always good to see your food prepared fresh right before your eyes. That gastronomic connection is oddly satisfying to me.
So, if you find yourself in need of a waffle fix, check out their schedule (they’re always moving!).
Posted on May 5, 2009
This is my current state of affairs: I’m mainlining orange juice; I’ve got the undertaker on hold; I’ve gone through four outfit changes because I’ve managed to shiver and sweat through a pile of shirts. And you know it’s a precarious when I’m forcing myself to eat food. In short, I have a fever (and no it’s not of the swine variety) on the week of my donor party. The week where I’m closing on a consulting project. The week when I have to be on my A-game.
When I look back, maybe it wasn’t so wise to run all those errands in the pouring rain (you THINK, FELICIA?!) and perhaps it’s really true that I am indeed one person not five superhuman people. But what good is it to be angry now? Yesterday was criminal, and when I was in a meeting with a president of a company and three principles, answering strategy questions on the fly, I did everything I could to not pass out. And to answer everyone’s question, again, no, I don’t have the pig flu.
So after four hours of back-to-back meetings where I had to present myself as this shiny marketing genius, I said forget that chump change and I trekked twenty blocks in the rain (sound familiar?) to Delicatessen on Prince Street, a favorite spot of mine that has knock-out burgers and the best chicken paillard you’ve ever laid your eyes on. Granted, I’m a simple girl when it comes to a burger – I don’t need those newfangled truffle fries or haute toppings. I’m often most comfortable in burger joints where it’s all about flavor and a toasted patty against a juicy, seasoned burger. But if you’re looking for a little fancy, I can’t recommend Delicatessen enough. The portion sizes are thankfully not outrageous, and every dish has an extraordinary amount of flavor. Michael Ferraro of Mercer Kitchen and The Biltmore Room is bringing savory international comfort food classics with the volume turned up. And the succulent cheeseburger spring rolls? To die. The deli sandwiches? You’ll maw your way all the way down to the table. And although the atmosphere is thunderous with noise, the food, friendly and speedy service more than makes up for it. And did we mention that the cheeseburgers calmed my fever shivers, albeit for a little while.
Posted on April 30, 2009
So I’ve gone a bit mad today, delirious over the fact that temperatures crept past fifty degrees. The cashmere scarf and wool hat? Shoved deep into my bag. And daylight at 5:30pm? Be still, my rapidly beating heart. It’s all I can do to not throw open the windows, heat up the oven, and mix myself some tarts and blisteringly beautiful pie. Luscious deep blue and red berries nestled on a cloud of white cream, with only the slight crunch of the crust to make the complexity of flavors and textures complete. I make a mean berry pie, but I feel the tart deserves its due. So I’m pulling out all the stops by fixing a mixed berry tart recipe this weekend, but I wanted to give you the recipe NOW.
pie weights or raw rice/dried beans for weighting shell
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold, cut unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (please! use a fresh lemon)
2 1/2 tablespoons chilled water
Filling: uncoooked pastry cream
1 cup mascarpone cheese (about 8 ounces)
1/3 cup well-chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups assorted berries (I use blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries)
2 tablespoons apricot marmalade
2 tablespoons dark berry liqueur such as blueberry, blackberry, or cassis (if you don’t have liquor in your house, you can disregard this. you can either add the heated marmalade to the fruit, or feel free to go without and simply add the fruit sans topping)
1 9-inch tart pan