Archives for category: Cookbooks

IMG_3543

You know when it’s hot and muggy and you can’t decide if you want cold food or hot food or no food at all? Real food or just, like, watermelon for dinner? It wasn’t even that hot last night here in NYC but I had dark chocolate sorbet for dinner (the kind from Ciao Bella Gelato—it’s dairy free and has this weird chalky texture I like).

But the thing I like about this dish—adapted from Plenty/Yotam Ottolenghi—is it’s excellent cold, warm, or room temperature. It’s the perfect dish to pack up for lunch, bring on a picnic, or eat in front of your computer (where, let’s be honest, I eat more of my meals than on a picnic blanket). Now, it does require a little bit of heat because you broil the eggplants in your oven or char them on your gas burner. Of course, if you have a real grill (but I live in an apartment in Brooklyn with no such luxury) you could probably put the eggplants right in the coals to do this. Whether you grill over your burner or broil in your oven remember to prick the eggplant multiple times with a knife to prevent the flesh from popping through the skin when it gets hot.

In addition to the lentils and the eggplant you can toss in any number of vegetables you may have, adapting to what’s in season. I picked up some beautiful radishes at the farmer’s market on Saturday that would be great in this, or any combination of fresh herbs.

Lentils with Broiled Eggplant
adapted from Plenty

2 thin, long eggplants
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and black pepper
1 cup small dark lentils (small green or Puy), rinsed
3 small carrots, peeled
2 celery stalks
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
1 small onion, white or yellow
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
2/3 c cherry tomatoes, halved (about 12-15)
1/3 tsp brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped herbs (such as parsley, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill)
1 cup chopped salad greens or spinach (optional)
2 tbsp yogurt or crème fraîche

Cook the eggplants: the best way to really char the eggplants is to grill over the open flame on your burner, rotating with metal tongs and taking care to ensure they don’t catch on fire. I put the vent on high to trap any smoke that’s produced. You may want to first line the area around two burners of your stove with aluminum foil to protect them from splatters. Now it’s key that you buy thin eggplants as opposed to the more common fatter eggplants you see in American grocery stores. These wider ones (I learned the hard way) don’t cook through all the way. So if you have the thin kind they should blacken on your stove in 12 to 15 minutes. If you only have the standard wide ones, like I did, grill over the burner for 12–15 minutes and then transfer to your oven on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish, set the broiler on high, and cook for additional 10–15 minutes to cook all the way through. Alternatively you can broil them like this in your oven for the entire time, approximately 1 hour for wide ones, turning them a few times. The eggplants should deflate completely and the skin should burn and break.

Remove the eggplants from the heat. If you used your oven change the setting from broil to 275F. Cut the eggplants in half and let the steam escape. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh (avoiding the blackened skin) into a colander and let any liquid drain off for about 15 minutes. Then season with salt and pepper and 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice.

While the eggplants are broiling, place the lentils in a medium saucepan. Cut one carrot, one celery stalk, and the onion each in half and toss in the saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water, and add the bay leaf and thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are cooked but not mushy. Drain the lentils and discard the onion, carrot, celery, and herbs. Transfer the lentils to a mixing bowl and add the remaining lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cut the remaining carrot and celery into small pieces and mix with the halved tomatoes, remaining oil, sugar, and some salt. Spread in an ovenproof dish and cook for about 20 minutes, until the carrot is tender but firm. Add the cooked vegetables to the lentils, followed by the herbs and greens (if using). Taste and adjust for seasoning (I had to use quite a bit of salt to get it just right). Spoon the lentils into your serving dish, followed by a spoonful of eggplant, then the yogurt or crème fraîche, and a drizzle of olive oil.

IMG_3523

Advertisements

IMG_3414

I love tiramisu. Made of mostly mascarpone and eggs it’s light and satisfying and surprisingly easy to make. The strong coffee gives it its name, which means “pick-me-up” in Italian. I got a craving yesterday so I biked to the Park Slope Food Coop where Vermont Creamery mascarpone is only $3 for an 8-ounce container (you need two of those for this recipe).

I made tiramisu back in March for my birthday with the very simple, straightforward recipe from The Silver Spoon. (Ingredients: eggs, sugar, mascarpone, lady fingers, coffee, chocolate. That’s it.) I liked it but found the lady fingers weren’t spongy enough, it was a little too sweet, and it lacked the taste of a liqueur like rum or cognac. I rarely have liqueur in my kitchen so I used vanilla extract which isn’t quite the same but was an improvement. I’ve tweaked the recipe here and am pleased with the results.

IMG_3224

Tiramisu
Serves 8

2 egg whites
4 egg yolks
2/3 c powdered sugar
16 oz mascarpone cheese
7 oz lady fingers
1 c freshly brewed strong coffee, cooled
2 tbsp rum or cognac, optional*
2 oz unsweetened or semi-sweetened chocolate, grated
cocoa powder, for dusting
*If you don’t have any you can also add up to 1 tbsp good quality vanilla extract.

Brew the coffee and make sure it is room temperature or colder. Stir in the rum or cognac if you’re using. Set aside.

Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until they form stiff peaks. In a separate, large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and fluffy.

Place the mascarpone in a separate bowl and whisk with a fork until it’s a little lighter and fluffier. Then fold the mascarpone into the egg-yolk-and-sugar mixture. Then gently fold in the egg whites.

In a small rectangular or square serving dish (8 x 8 inches is good, or thereabouts) place a layer of lady fingers and soak with half the coffee mixture. You can spoon or brush the coffee on. Spoon on a layer of the mascarpone mixture then sprinkle with the grated chocolate. Place another layer of lady fingers on top then soak with the remaining coffee. Add another layer of the mascarpone and finish by dusting with cocoa powder. Chill in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before serving.

IMG_3407IMG_3410

IMG_3193

I was up in Vermont this past weekend extending my birthday celebrations with old and new friends and, of course, delicious food. I hesitated before posting because I didn’t get the best food shots (cooking in the evening) but one dish in particular was so tasty I wanted to share. AND it makes use of those preserved lemons you made after reading my recent post. It’s so addictive, and easy to make, this will go into my regular rotation.

IMG_3218

March in Vermont. You can hardly call it spring. It’s either mud season or maple sugaring season, depending on how charitable you feel. These are some shots taken in the surroundings of my parents’ house, including the not-quite-frozen pond and hardy grasses that survived the winter. Check out the cerulean sky!

IMG_3220

One reason I haven’t posted too much lately — aside from concussion recovery — has been wanting to focus more on vegan and vegetarian food and less on meat-centered dishes, not that that was ever my focus. A goal of mine this year is to move more gradually in the direction of an animal-free diet. I’m about 80% there already but it’s that last 20% I find challenging. This spicy carrot salad is vegan (if you omit the optional Greek yogurt) and goes great with a number of main dishes.

This weekend I served it with a very non-vegan leg of lamb, the recipe of which came from the cookbook Jerusalem. The meat was from Duclos’s Sheep Farm in Weybridge, which I mentioned here last summer. From “mostly food” to “mostly vegan!” It’s a gradual process…

Ok, carrots. I love this dish because it’s richness comes from the onion and spices and not from butter or dairy or lots of oil. You can adjust the level of spiciness to your liking, but the recipe below is fairly mild. You could serve this with a warm freekah salad, which I should probably post about next. You cook the freekah just as you would brown rice and add to it caramelized shallots, scallions, and lots of fresh parsley. Dig in.

IMG_3228

Spicy carrot salad
Adapted from Plenty

Serves 4–6

2 lbs carrots
1/3 c olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp maple syrup
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium jalapeño, finely chopped
1 scallion, green and white parts, finely chopped
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped preserved lemon (recipe here)
salt
2 1/2 c cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 c Greek yogurt, optional

Peel the carrots and cut them into semicircles 1/2 inch thick. Place in a large saucepan covered by cold salted water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until tender but still crunchy. Drain in a colander and leave to cool and dry out.

Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for 12 minutes on medium heat until soft and starting to brown. Add the cooked carrots and all the remaining ingredients, apart from the cilantro and yogurt. Mix well. Remove from heat. Season with salt, stir, and leave to cool.

Before serving, stir in the cilantro, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or, to keep it vegan, drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with a little more cilantro.

Below is Wolfgang Laib’s installation at MoMA which just ended on Monday: hazelnut pollen in the main atrium. Beautiful, meditative, and beckoning spring.

IMG_3049

%d bloggers like this: