I first fell in love with this chutney at my favorite Indian restaurant in Northern Virginia, Raaga. There, they serve the stuff on their lunch buffet in a huge punch bowl with a ladle that just sings to me to scoop to my hearts content. I would have sold my soul for the recipe and called it a day. Continue reading Cilantro Chutney
Tortilla soup has become a standard of tex-mex menus here in the states, becoming another pillar of the glorious international chicken soup pantheon. While its origin is shrouded in mystery, food historians can pinpoint its arrival to America somewhere around the 1890s. The combination of slow simmered chicken, tomatoes, and fried tortillas is a simple blend of flavors that seem as if they were always meant to be together. Crazily, the myriad chicken tortilla soup fails come in the way of people bastardizing this formula, inundating the soup with unnecessary toppings (or worse, using cheese to cover up a watery broth or lack of chicken and vegetables). Continue reading Mexican Chicken Vegetable Soup (Caldo Tlalpeño)
One of my absolute favorite aspects of food blogging is being able to float down the rabbit hole (a la Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, and not the more macabre connotations of the expression) of food histories. Maybe I get the desire from my mother, an expert etymologist and language expert. Or from my father, the history buff with a memory like a steel trap for facts and figures of all kinds. For whatever reason, I seem to approach all of my posts similarly – dig through my personal recipe book for dishes that I’ve been cooking for years, wade through the memories that accompany them, and then circle back on the actual history and general origins of the dish. It always leads me to these tangential thoughts that are as much a delight for me as I hope they are for you, dear reader. Continue reading Lemony Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt with Cucumber and Mint)
Despite my undying love for New York City and all of its glories, I hate that sunshine there is at a premium. With much of the year swathed in gray, there’s something endlessly appealing about the 364 days of sunshine that Phoenix has to offer. I’ll probably never truly fit in here on the left coast (I’m an out-and-out East coast ex-pat, who bleeds 100% DC love when cut), but lemme just say that when Cali kids speak of their junkie-esque need for light on the regular, I kind of get it. My move out here to the lawless desert has provided me with blissful sunshine and true blue skies that could cure the seasonally depressed in an instant, and I’m totally hooked.
Nothing speaks more to my adjustment to the bright perfection out here in AZ than my urges to whip up all sorts of cold salads. From chilled pastas and crisp veggies sopping up vinaigrettes, to a simple toss of fresh berries, splashes of liquer and a chiffonade of mint, these chilled dishes keep my kitchen cool and my mood light. Tabbouleh is a favorite of mine – this herby salad is a quick accompaniment to grilled meats, a homey companion on a mezze platter of hummus and olives, or a throw together potluck favorite that pairs up with any and everything on the buffet line. Best of all, it’s a throw-together dish that is forgiving in terms of time – you can prep it ahead or even serve it right away. Arabic for “little spicy,” tabbouleh is the marriage of tart, spicy, savory and sweet – all that you want for a cool summer supper. Continue reading Simple Tabbouleh
Seriously, ginger scallion sauce, just stop. You have definitively rocked my socks. And all to the point that I say bad words when I see you. You. are. greatness. When Escoffier sang the praises of his transcribed mother sauces, he missed the mark with you. If bechamel and hollandaise and and velouté rule the roost, you built the roost from ashes and sheer will.
It’s no secret that I’ve always been enamored with ginger, but this sauce paints it in the finest of lights. Grated ginger and minced scallion are barely cooked in hot oil, taking away all of the bite from the aromatics and leaving behind a condiment that can make the most stubborn palate sing. This sauce is BFFs with poached chicken as the dynamic duo, “Ginger Scallion Chicken”. I don’t limit the stuff, though – string beans, skirt steak, steamed fish, my fingertips. I’ll attack this sauce with calculating ruthlessness. It’s mine, and I don’t want to share. Ok, I’ll share, but you bring the ginger and scallions next time.
This sauce isn’t hard to make, but it’ll seem a little scary the first time you make it – don’t fret. You’ve got this. When you add hot oil to wet ginger, you’re gonna get a bit of sizzle. This subsides quickly, and if you make this expecting a science-fair baking soda volcano, you’ll be underwhelmed rather than shocked. This is a good thing. Just make sure to use a heat-proof bowl or 1-qt saucepan for the ginger-oil reunion and you’ll be golden. Continue reading Ginger Scallion Sauce
Everybody knows that I’m a fan of mushrooms. And yes, I just said that in my best Phaedra Parks voice. I’m amazed by folks who aren’t down with fungus, but that emotion is quickly replaced with, “If you’re not gonna eat those, I’ll take care of ’em for you.” In addition to the plebian (but ever so delicious) market staples of white buttons, portobellos and cremini mushrooms, I’m a huge fan of those mushrooms that are literally found off the beaten path. Maitakes, enoki and chanterelles are all beloved, and pricey morels are a necessary splurge during their short spring season. Even the funky ones that are more chewy than spongy, like the wood ear mushrooms or black trumpets.
I particularly love the versatile ones that hold up to all sorts of cooking and cuisines, and oyster mushrooms are no exception. Royal oysters (sometimes called King Trumpets) are fabulous in that after a little cooking, they still retain all of their flavor and their texture. So much so that you can actually marinate them and grill them, treating trumpets like a protein rather than a vegetable. If you see these guys at the market sometime, give them a whirl – they’re a simple side and will sway even the most skeptical mushroom eater. Actually, sway or no, who cares. I want to eat these and not share with anyone. I’m not kidding.
Grilled Trumpet Mushrooms
8 trumpet (royal oyster) mushrooms, halved and bottoms trimmed
1/4 c. of white balsamic vinegar
6 tbs. of olive oil
1 tsp. of kosher salt
1 tbs. of chopped rosemary
1/4 tsp. of coarse ground black pepper
Mix balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary together in a small bowl. Pour over mushrooms and toss to mix. Marinate for 20 minutes.
Heat a grill or a grill pan and oil lightly. Place mushrooms on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until the mushrooms are slightly browned. Serve.
Summertime has always meant trips to the farmer’s market – from the dripingly ripe tomatoes to the sweetest ears of corn, I couldn’t help but swoon over access to ingredients as flavorful and delicious as these. Despite my dependence on the convenience of grocery stores, shopping at the market was a reminder of the fact that we can all make a commitment to using the freshest ingredients possible. Summertime meant easy access to the most incredible veggies, and took the focus off of planning before shopping. You could go with a blank slate and a lack of a menu, and just resign to be inspired by what was available. It was liberating, really.
This salad is a winner for the spontaneous and the planners alike – during the summer, heirloom tomatoes are readily available and simply begging to be tucked into. Green beans are crisp and sweet and ready to snap the ends and crunch away. You can even access buttery heirloom potatoes for use in this salad that come in just about every shade. The entire salad is held together by a basil vinaigrette that manages to brighten and highlight all of the flavors of the veggies. It makes a gorgeous potluck and the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats, but it’s nourishing enough as a main course and absolutely vegan. Like I said before, the perfect summer celebration.
Summer Salad of Fingerlings, Heirloom Tomatoes and String Beans
1 lb. of haricots vert or string beans, snipped of stems
1 lb. of fingerling potatoes
1 c. of heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 c. cubed tomatoes)
juice of half a lemon
3 tbs. of red wine vinegar
2 cl. of garlic
1/2 c. of basil leaves
1/4 c. of olive oil
1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1 tsp. of salt
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt heavily. Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain with a slotted spoon and cool with running water. While the water is still boiling, plunk in the haricot verts and blanch for 1 minute. Drain and cool with running water. Add chilled potatoes and green beans to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes to the bowl and set aside.
In a food processor, add the garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Blitz to mince finely. Add the lemon and vinegar and blitz again. While the motor is running, stream in the olive oil. Turn off the food processor and pour dressing over the vegetables. Toss and chill for at least 15 minutes. Serve.
The legend has is (ha!) that the reason this recipe took so long to post is because my darling husband ate the entire first batch before I could photograph it. He gives an alternate version of the story, so who can you believe? Continue reading Strawberry Frozen Yogurt