Sweet Potatoes with Scallion Miso Butter (and a Giveaway!)

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With recipe ideas bouncing around into my brain on a pretty much constant basis (and demanding to be tested immediately, of course), I find that I rarely have time to try anyone else’s recipes these days. Our fridge is covered with stickies on which I’ve scribbled various meal ideas and flavor combinations (legible only to me). But on those days when the culinary inspiration doesn’t flow so easily – or I’m simply bored with my own cooking style – I am so grateful to have a carefully curated selection of great cookbooks on hand.

So I was elated when Kate Winslow and Guy Ambrosino offered to send me a copy of their recently released, allium-focused cookbook, Onions Etcetera. I am a self-professed alliumphile; it’s a rare dish that emerges from my kitchen without a good dose of onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, chives, shallots, and their pungent brethren. As soon as the cookbook arrived I stopped in my tracks, plopped myself down on the sofa and pored over its pages for an hour straight, drooling and dog-earing recipes along the way.

Kate and Guy are enormously talented, and their cookbook is filled with gorgeous photos and a nice balance of recipes in which alliums are the star of the show, along with dishes where they play more of a supporting role. I love that the recipes are divided into allium-themed sections that roughly correspond to the seasons, so in winter I can easily flip to the sections on yellow and white storage onions, sweet onions, and shallots and leeks, and come spring (I am counting the days… seasonal allergies be damned) I can get right to the recipes featuring green garlic, spring onions, ramps, scallions, and chives.

All of the recipes are creative and inspiring, and also super accessible for the home cook — pretty much the cookbook trifecta, wouldn’t you say? So far I have made the roasted sweet potatoes with Scallion Miso Butter and also the French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toasts (so good!). Also on my list are the Farro and Vegetable Salad with Charred Onion Dressing, Winter Caprese, Green Gazpacho with Almonds, Grilled Delicata Squash with Shallot Agrodolce, and many more.

 

 

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But let’s get back to that swoon-worthy scallion miso butter. Have you tried miso butter yet? If not, you need to get on this ASAP! The savory, umami-rich miso paste and sweet, creamy butter combine in a magical synergy, and in this version the addition of finely chopped scallions provides the perfect amount of onion-y bite to balance the richness and take this combination over the top.

There is no better topping for a tender, sweet-earthy, roasted sweet potato; and for that matter, this miso butter would be great melted over corn on the cob, green beans, grains or lentils, stirred into a pot of mashed potatoes, or simply slathered on a slice of good, crusty bread and topped with a soft-cooked egg. Once you’ve tried this stuff there is simply no.going.back. So get ready 🙂

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And, I am so excited to be giving away a copy of Onions Etcetera! To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment here or on my corresponding Instagram post (posted today, March 16th) by Sunday, March 19th at 11:59 PM. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Monday, March 20th. Good luck and happy cooking!

Sweet potatoes with Scallion Miso Butter

Miso butter recipe reprinted with permission from Onions Etcetera, by Kate Winslow and Guy Ambrosino

For the miso butter (makes about 1/2 cup)

6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter

1 tablespoon sweet white miso paste

4 scallions, finely chopped

Mash together butter, miso and scallions until combined. Place mixture in a ramekin or roll into a log and wrap with waxed paper. Keeps for about 1 week in the fridge.

For the roasted sweet potatoes:

Serves 4 to 6

4 medium sized sweet potatoes (I used a variety of types/colors, including regular orange sweet potatoes, red-skinned white Japanese sweet potatoes, and purple Stokes sweet potatoes), scrubbed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon fine-grained Celtic sea salt or kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment.

Prick each sweet potato a few times with a sharp knife. Rub the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle all over with salt. Bake until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning the potatoes and rotating the pan halfway through.

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and smear each with a spoonful of softened miso butter.


Chocolate Chip Honey-Orange Bundt Cake

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We were expecting the arrival of an epic March snowstorm today, but overnight the blizzard lost some of it steam, dropping just a few inches of snow and then evolving into that good old “wintry mix” that we’re oh-so-familiar with in the northeast. Even though we didn’t wake up to a foot of snow, the winds are howling and it’s quite a mess out there. Definitely a day for comfort food. I’m thinking turkey chili, cornbread, maybe a cake.

We’ll see on that last one, because I just remembered that I have a few slices of this honey-sweetened, orange-crumbed, chocolate-chip-studded bundt cake squirreled away in the freezer precisely for days like this. And all those thick slices need is a few minutes in the toaster oven to bring them back to life. Freezer cake for the win!

Simple loaf cakes are usually my thing, but a bundt always feels a bit more festive so that’s the shape I went with this time around. This cake brings together my all-time favorite flavor pairing, orange and chocolate, in a moist and tender crumb that’s rich with coconut oil, yogurt, and vanilla.

I added an orange glaze and dark chocolate shavings to fancy this version up a bit, but the cake would also be lovely finished with a dusting of powdered sugar. An homage to this almost-blizzard of almost-spring.  Read More


Coconut green curry soup with brown rice noodles and greens

 

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This winter just will not stop messing with us.

The latest trickery: March came in like a Lamb (73 degrees on March 1 here in NYC), and then immediately went into Lion mode; the temperature plunged 40 degrees in 36 hours and we’re back to full-on winter. I don’t know about you, but my body cannot handle 4 seasons in less than a week.

Right on schedule, I was knocked down by a head cold, and for the last few days I’ve been on a regimen of bone broth, soup, and turmeric ginger tea (this one’s my favorite – all of Organic India’s holy basil-based tea varieties are wonderful). I’ll just consider it a ‘seasonal cleanse.’

For years I’ve been making my own bone broths, buying pastured chicken’s feet, necks, and backs from a farm stand at my local greenmarket. And although I love the rich flavor and freshness of homemade broth, I don’t love turning my cozy NYC apartment into a meat sauna. So I was thrilled when a new butcher shop opened in my ‘hood and started selling housemade, 48-hour simmered bone broth that’s so gelatin-rich it passes the upside-down test with flying colors.

A couple of thoughts on bone broth. Although I eat a largely vegetable-focused, meat-sparing diet, I’m an omnivore. I try to listen to my body to find out what it needs at any given moment in time. Sometimes that means animal protein, but more often it means getting in a cup or two of nutrient-dense bone broth, or a bowl of bone broth-based soup.

Bones and cartilage, and by extension bone broth, are amazingly rich in collagen, gelatin, and minerals like calcium — nutrients that most of us don’t get enough of in our modern diets. A long-simmered bone broth is healing for the gut, the immune system, the skin – you name it. It also takes advantage of animal parts that have been largely wasted in a food system that has come to value easy-to-prepare muscle meat over more nutrient-dense (but less aesthetically pleasing) organ meats and bones.

Okay, so there’s my bone-broth spiel. Having said all that, if you’d prefer a plant-based version you can of course substitute homemade or packaged veggie broth for an equally delicious version.

Now onto something to do with that magical broth, other than sip it from a mug (which is also quite nice) — soup, of course.

I threw this little pot of soup together with some of my favorite immunity-boosting foods: garlic, ginger, chili pepper (jalapeño in this case), carrots, and leafy greens, adding silky and soothing brown rice noodles to bulk it up. Coconut milk and green curry paste infuse the broth with sinus-opening, belly-warming flavors. I always crave Asian flavors, particularly Thai curries, when I’m under the weather, hence the focus here.

With a simple, brothy soup like this I am all about the garnishes, so I pulled out all the stops for this one: pickled ginger, radish slices, avocado, gomasio (a homemade version based on my Two-Tone Gomasio, with dulse and dandelion leaf), purple basil microgreens from Good Water Farms, hot sesame oil, and lime wedges. So good.

So get that soup pot ready, winter’s not over quite yet.  Read More


Roasted hake with potatoes, fennel, white wine and chile-garlic broccoli rabe

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Potatoes, fennel, lemon, garlic, olives, a mild, flaky white fish, and greens — it’s pretty much my dream dinner. Ultra-thin slices of potatoes and fennel turn tender and silky in their bath of white wine and olive oil, the fish turns out perfectly tender and sweet, and the top layer of lemon slices browns around the edges becoming crisp and fragrant  — like lemon chips — too good to leave on the plate, trust me!

This is a classic, super-balanced, Mediterranean-inspired meal that I’ve made in countless iterations over the years, and it feels good to finally commit a recipe to paper…or I guess to pixels would be more accurate.

For the fish, I always start with a bed of thinly sliced potatoes and fennel, shallot or onion, and garlic. This roasts until the potatoes begin to brown around the edges, and then I add lemon slices and a seasoned filet of fish (wild hake, wild cod, and halibut are favorites), more lemon slices, and a drizzle of olive oil.

When the fish is about two-thirds done I add a nice pour of dry white wine for the latter part of roasting, which fills the kitchen with wonderful aromas and helps bring together all of those wonderful flavors. This time I also threw in a handful of kalamata olives for a touch of brininess to complement the sweet, mild fish, savory potatoes, and herbaceous fennel.

As for the accompanying greens, I tend to rotate through sautéed kale, chard, escarole, broccoli, or just a simple raw green salad. But peppery, bitter, succulent broccoli rabe is my favorite and that’s what I did this time around. I trim the bottoms and peel the stalks so the rabe is less stringy (I just started doing this recently — it really makes a difference). Then I blanch the greens in salted boiling water, drain, and finish in a skillet with olive oil, garlic and chile flakes so the rabe can absorb all of their wonderful flavors.

Trimming and blanching the broccoli rabe ahead of time, in addition to using a mandolin to thinly slice the vegetables and lemon, help to make this a weeknight-friendly meal. But I love that it’s also special enough for the weekend or for a festive gathering. Just scale up the size of your fish fillet, the amounts of vegetables, and the size of your roasting dish.

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Sesame-crusted sea scallops with coconut ginger cauliflower rice and bok choy

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I know I should be sharing something pink, chocolate-y, and/or sugar-saturated today, but as usual I’m in a savory mood.

In that spirit, if you happen to be making a romatic dinner for you and your sweetie tonight, may I suggest these succulent, sesame-crusted sea scallops with gingery cauli rice and bok choy? It’s a super-easy (one-skillet!), feel-good meal that’s satisfying but also light enough that you’ll still have some room for dessert. A win-win.

For the scallops, my newest favorite seasoning method is to dredge both sides in a small dish of my Two-Tone Gomasio so they get a hit of salt and toasty sesame goodness all in one. Then I sear them in a nonstick pan so that the seeds remain adhered to the scallops rather than sticking to the pan. The sesame seed crust is salty, savory and crunchy — the perfect flavor and textural foil to the tender, sweet scallops.

And let’s talk about cauliflower rice. I’ve made it before and honestly I didn’t love it. It always ended up a bit soggy in my experience. This time, rather than blitzing the cauliflower in a food processor, which releases a lot of the its water, I grated it on the coarse side of a box grater. Game changer! The grated cauli releases much less liquid, and the cauli shreds stay perfectly al dente after a quick saute over high heat along with garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and scallions. Finished with cilantro and toasted coconut this is such a bright winter side dish and makes a great pairing with the savory-sweet scallops.

And for the final component – because I always like some greens on my plate! – baby bok choy seared in coconut oil, then quickly steam-braised with mirin (Japanese rice wine), which adds complex sweetness that’s lovely against the peppery bite of the bok choy. So good!

And perhaps the best part about this meal? It’s festive and kinda fancy, but only requires one (nonstick) pan! Toast the shredded coconut first, then cook the bok choy, saute your cauliflower rice and, finally, sear the scallops. Simply wipe out the pan between stages so you’re starting with a clean surface each time.

I made everything in my new favorite ceramic nonstick pan, which I’ve mentioned before — but honestly I love this pan so much I feel like I need to give it another plug (and I’m not being paid to do that … I just love to share the tools I love with you guys 🙂

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One-skillet wild salmon with coconut curried vegetables

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This one-skillet wonder is one of the easiest and most delicious dinners I’ve made lately. It takes advantage of whatever vegetables happen to occupy the crisper drawer plus a few of my go-to pantry staples: canned coconut milk, dried turmeric and coriander seed, and coconut aminos. All that’s needed is a stop on the way home for a fillet of wild salmon and dinner’s ready to roll.

It really doesn’t get any easier: saute your veggies in coconut oil, add coconut milk, nestle your salmon fillet into the mixture, cover and steam until the fish is cooked through (12 minutes or so). Season with coconut aminos and a big squeeze lime juice – that’s it! Add steamed jasmine rice (or cauliflower rice, if you prefer to go grain-free).

Everything cooks on the stovetop so there’s no need to crank up the oven or broiler, which I really love, and the fish cooks gently in the coconut milk so it’s tender and moist.

And a bonus: if you use a good, nonstick pan (I’m in love with my new ceramic nonstick GreenPan), clean-up takes about 60 seconds.

You might have gathered that I like recipes that are highly flexible and customizable: don’t have (or don’t like) kale? Use collards, bok choy, spinach, or mustard greens. No celery? Go with fresh fennel. You can also change up the type of fish (Arctic char, cod, or halibut would be great) or throw in a couple of handfuls of peeled, de-veined shrimp as a variation.  Read More


Creamy baked penne with kale, fennel + herbed breadcrumbs

 

 

 

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Creamy, luscious pasta strewn through with tender kale, sweet caramelized fennel, onion, and garlic… Are you into this? What if we added a bubbly, browned cheesy top and crunchy herbed breadcrumbs? Are we there yet?

It’s the ultimate winter comfort food!

I’ve lightened things up a bit by incorporating a lemon + garlic-infused cashew cream as the luscious, saucy element that binds all of the good things together, rather than a sauce based on heavy cream or roux (a toasted butter and flour mixture).

My version is both cashew “cheeze-y” as well as actual (dairy) cheese-y because I add shredded fontina and Parm to the mix, too. This might sound odd — why go to the trouble of making a non-dairy cream sauce if you’re going to add cheese to your pasta?!, you might be wondering. But hold on…

My reasoning is two-fold: (1) raw cashews are much easier to keep on hand than heavy cream (and quicker/easier to make than a roux) and (2) this is a “dairy/cheese-sparing” approach. The cashew sauce replaces the cream/butter in the sauce, and it allows me to use less cheese in the overall dish (about 2/3 cup vs 1-1/2 cups or more in the typical cheesy baked pasta scenario). So, the idea here is to lighten things up a bit rather than create something that’s entirely dairy-free.

However, if you prefer, you can very easily make a completely vegan, non-dairy version of this — simply use the vegan cheese of your preference (Daiya, Kite Hill, etc). Just choose a cheese that melts reasonably well, such as a mozzarella-style variety.

And when you’re in the mood for an even easier, no-bake version, simply toss the pasta and veggies with the cashew cream sauce, add some nutritional yeast to increase the cheezy factor or stir in a couple of handfuls of shredded dairy or non-dairy  cheese (such as a Parmigiano-style). Garnish with leafy herbs and toasted breadcrumbs, and you’ll be well on your way to creamy pasta heaven. Read More


Barley vegetable soup with lemon herb pesto

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Another delicious dish inspired by a random pantry find – in this case, the forgotten remains of a bag of pearled barley. Yay for pantry discoveries that turn into easy, tasty meals!

Loaded with satisfyingly chewy grains of barley, winter veggies, tomato paste for added richness, and green peas and spinach for green goodness, this soup is hearty, earthy, and perfect for a cold winter night. A spoonful of bright, lemony herb pesto stirred into each bowl makes for the perfect finish.

I love that this recipe is flexible and can be customized around the ingredients you have on hand: use brown rice or farro as the grain, add cubed sweet potato or winter squash for a sweet and starchy element, use veggie stock or homemade bone broth as the liquid (or water plus a cube of good veggie bouillon, such as Rapunzel), sub in shelled edamame or frozen corn kernels for the green peas – you get the idea! I had about a cup of leftover cooked vaquero beans in the fridge, so I added those in for extra protein — cooked lentils would also be a nice addition.

The lemon-herb pesto is more rustic in texture than the usual pesto — it actually leans in the direction of a gremolata, but with the addition of olive oil. Rather than use a food processor or mortar & pestle, I finely chopped the leafy herbs and used my microplane to finely grate the garlic clove and zest the lemon into a small bowl, then stirred in a couple of glugs of olive oil to bring everything together.

You might want to consider making a double portion of this pesto-gremolata hybrid, since it’s amazing as a bright finish for any wintry soup, and would also be perfect slathered on crostini and topped with crumbled chèvre, added to a veggie sandwich or used to enrich a dressing, vinaigrette, or dip (I’m thinking hummus – definitely!). Feel free to use the fresh, leafy herbs of your choice: I imagine it would be delicious with dill, basil, or a bit of marjoram or oregano (and since those last two are quite pungent I would use just a teaspoon or so as a flavor accent, along with another herb).  Read More


Crispy chickpea salad with roasted beets, watermelon radish + herbed tahini-yogurt dressing

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I love this salad. It makes a quick and easy weeknight dinner when you’re in the mood for a light meal, but it’s also festive enough to serve to guests or bring to a potluck.

Earthy-sweet roasted beets, crispy spiced chickpeas, chewy currants, and crunchy pumpkin seeds make for a delicious and satisfying plant-based combination, and the creamy herbed dressing is the perfect complement. It’s a dish that comes together into something greater than the sum of its parts.

And if you can get your hands on a watermelon radish (I’m lucky that one of the farms that sells at my local greenmarket grows them year-round), slice it up and add that, too – instant cheer on a cold winter night!

If you’ve never made crispy roasted chickpeas before, they really are a revelation. Perfect as a cocktail snack, they’re also one of the best salad toppers around. Nutty and rich in protein, the humble chickpea is the perfect vehicle for flavor.

I love a combination of curry powder with spicy chipotle pepper, and some other favorites are garam masala, lemon zest + black pepper, and smoked paprika + cayenne. You can take these crispy little guys in basically any flavor direction. And be warned: you might want to make a double batch, because they are extremely snackable right from the sheet pan.

This creamy herbed tahini + yogurt dressing is one of my go-to dressings. It’s great on a leafy green salad, and also makes the perfect drizzle on a grain bowl, sandwich, or veggie burger. I use Seed + Mill’s Green Tahini, which I buy at Chelsea Market (they sell online as well), but if you only have plain tahini in the pantry add a pinch of dried herbs (such as an herbes de Provence blend) or a tablespoon of minced fresh herbs (such as parsley, dill + cilantro). This might be one to make a double-batch of, too, since it stores well in the fridge for several days, and once you have some on hand you’ll think of a million ways to use it. Read More


Smoky lentil and zucchini chili with Jalapeño-cheddar olive oil cornbread

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Chili and cornbread: is there a more perfect combination for Sunday night football watching (or pretend-football-watching, if you’re like me)?

I don’t think so.

Multi-bean chili is one of my favorite winter meals, but I haven’t been making it as often as I’d like to because (a) I always seem to forget to soak and cook my dried beans in advance, and (b) I hate lugging canned beans home from the grocery store, making my odds of spontaneous chili-making close to zero.

Then last week my NYC foodie friend Jill, an amazing cook who is always coming up with interesting new recipes and flavor combinations, posted her lentil chili on Instagram.  And it hit me – of course! – quick-cooking, no-soaking-required lentils were the answer to my chili conundrum. Why hadn’t I thought of this before?

Inspired, I set about creating my own version, combining French lentils with lots of aromatic veggies, red bell pepper, tomatoes, and zucchini, classic chili spices (cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, sweet paprika), along with smoked paprika and dried chipotle pepper for heat and smoke.

From start to finish this chili takes only about an hour to prepare, but it tastes like it’s been simmering on the stove for hours. It’s thick and rich, with deep flavor and mellow sweetness from the red bell pepper and tomato taste, wonderful smokiness from all the spices, and satisfying texture from the hearty lentils and tender chunks of zucchini. I like to finish my bowl with lots of lime juice, diced avocado, scallions, cilantro, and sometimes a dollop of Greek yogurt and shredded raw cheddar.

As with any chili the flavor just keeps getting better for several days after this is made, so it’s a perfect dish for Sunday batch-cooking that will enable easy meals throughout the week.

And, if we’re having chili we really should make cornbread to go with it, yes?! Read More