Chestnut and roasted cauliflower soup with lemon-parsley oil

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Am I the only one who waits to buy their chestnuts until they go on post-holiday sale in January? I love Williams-Sonoma’s steamed French chestnuts that are packaged in a jar, but they are SO expensive (most of the cheaper packaged chestnuts you’ll see in stores are imported from China). And living in NYC, sorry but I’m not about to roast a bunch of chestnuts over an open fire. Just not gonna happen.

So this year as usual I stocked up on my half-price WS chestnuts a few days after Christmas. Even though the holidays are over it’s not too late — there’s still a long stretch of winter ahead of us, and chestnuts are wonderful in so many wintry dishes, from stuffing to soup to cake to the famous marrons glacé (candied chestnuts — which I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to making, but the possibility is always there…).

For my first chestnut cooking adventure of 2017 I went with a soup, pairing the sweet, nutty chestnuts with earthy roasted cauliflower, the usual aromatics (onion, celery, garlic), and a pinch of herbs de Provence. The soup is rich, earthy, hearty, and very satisfying on a cold winter day. For a bright, punchy element I swirled each bowl with parsley-lemon oil, and a scattering of crispy sprouted pumpkin seeds and my two-tone gomasio adds crunch and a savory-salty finish.  Read More


Wild rice salad with tahini-roasted butternut squash and creamy pomegranate dressing

 

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Like so many of my favorite meals, this hearty winter salad started with a chance pantry encounter — I accidentally knocked a half-full bag of Rancho Gordo wild rice off the top shelf while trying to reach a can of coconut milk (luckily the attempt ended with neither the rice nor the coconut milk bouncing off my head). Rather than lug over the step-stool to reposition said bag of rice in a more favorable spot, I tossed it (minus the bag) into a small pot of salted boiling water to cook for a while, assuming that a plan for what to do with it would come to me later. Because since when is having a batch of cooked whole grains in the fridge a bad idea?

A little later the idea of a simple, warm salad arrived, and going with what was in the pantry and refrigerator I decided to pair the chewy, nutty wild rice with earthy and tender tahini-roasted squash, crisp sprouted pumpkin seeds, rich and resiny toasted pine nuts, sweet currants, briny salt-cured capers, verdant fresh parsley, and juicy pomegranate jewels. A fantastic combination of flavors and textures to wake up those winter-dulled taste buds!

Drizzled with a bright dressing featuring tangy pomegranate molasses, tahini, and grainy mustard, this is an entree-worthy salad I’m going to be returning to again and again. It makes a delicious plant-based meal on its own, and would also be a perfect side with the protein of your choice. And while you’re in the kitchen it might be a good idea to make a double batch of that dressing — it keeps in the fridge for several days and is wonderful on salads of all kinds. Read More


Chocolate chunk tahini banana bread

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Snowy January Saturdays — that’s when the baking tends to happen around here.

Just when I think the last thing I need is another banana bread recipe in my life (because we already have this one, and this grain-free one, oh and this brown butter one, too), along comes an idea for a new iteration that just demands to be tested. And I guess for us tried and true banana bread aficionados there can never be too many options, right?

On this particular blustery morning, bumping into a few bananas tucked away in the freezer (while searching for something wholly unrelated, of course) provided just enough motivation to get the oven going and the loaf pan greased. My latest vision was for a loaf that would be not overly sweet, enriched with tahini for nutty richness, yogurt and almond flour for extra protein, and studded with chunks of dark chocolate for good measure. And less than an hour later that’s exactly what emerged from the oven (yay!).

This banana loaf is pleasantly dense-crumbed and less cake-y than others I’ve made recently (like that brown butter one linked above, which I’m pretty crazy about and makes more of a dessert-appropriate cake). I actually like this new version best toasted on the day after it’s baked (and just a note that if you’re going that route, set a piece of aluminum foil under your slice lest you end up with burnt chocolate dripping all over the bottom of your toaster oven!).

Said toasted slice is wonderful for breakfast, slathered with tahini or nut butter and sprinkled with gomasio, and is particularly satisfying as an afternoon snack alongside a cup of tea or hot chocolate, preferably after an invigorating walk in the snow during which you are dragged along by a 14-pound personal trainer who will not take no for an answer.

The recipe is flexible, so tweaks are always welcome: leave out the chocolate if you like, add toasted walnuts, pecans, pumpkin and/or chia seeds, coconut flakes, even a couple of handfuls of crispy granola. It’s all yours. Read More


Turmeric chicken and brown rice soup

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This seems to have been the holiday season of getting sick. Everyone I know, including me, has been under the weather lately. This simple, delicious and super-healing turmeric chicken soup is for all of us dragging around with the sniffles right now (and also for those of us who want to avoid coming down with the sniffles — or worse). It’s the easiest chicken soup I’ve made in a while, mainly because it uses chicken parts, rather than a whole chicken, doesn’t require making or buying broth (though you could use if for an even richer soup), and doesn’t require any real-deal straining of broth.

I begin by simmering on-the-bone chicken parts (I’ve made this with chicken breasts alone and breasts + thighs, both with good results) in water with aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, fennel tops, garlic, ginger) for about an hour to create a light and flavorful broth. Then I fish out the chicken and vegetables with a spider (or slotted spoon), discarding the vegetables and reserving the chicken to be added back in towards the end.

Next to assemble the soup I add chopped veggies, ginger, garlic, jalapeño, turmeric and a few other spices, a Parmigiano rind (because always a Parm rind!), and cooked brown rice to the broth. (I like to use cooked brown rice so it doesn’t soak up too much of the broth and leave me with something more like risotto than soup.) After this mixture has simmered together for about 30 minutes I add the shredded chicken, cook for a few minutes more and then finish the soup with lots of lemon juice and chopped fresh parsley. Delicious!

The brown rice creates a rich, velvety broth and makes the soup more hearty and satisfying; ginger, garlic and turmeric are ultra-soothing, antiviral and immunity-boosting; and lemon is the perfect zesty finishing touch and adds a boost of much-needed vitamin C. I like my soup with a spicy kick from jalapeño and red chile flakes, but you can tone it down to suit your taste. This soup gets better over the next couple of days after it’s made, and freezes well. Make sure to stock a few servings in the freezer for a snowy day — winter’s only just beginning!

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Turmeric chicken and brown rice soup

2 large onions, one cut into quarters and the other diced (divided)

2 large carrots, one cut into chunks and the other diced (divided)

4 celery stalks, 2 cut into chunks and the remaining stalks diced (divided)

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced (if stalks are attached save them for the broth)

10 large garlic cloves, 5 peeled and left whole, 5 peeled and sliced (divided)

5 slices of fresh ginger + 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped (divided)

2-1/2 pounds chicken parts (bone-in breasts and/or thighs)

1 jalapeno, chopped

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed

pinch of red chile flakes (optional)

2 bay leaves

Piece of Parm rind

2 cups cooked brown rice

juice of 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving

olive oil

chopped fresh parsley

salt and black pepper

To make the soup base, combine quartered onion, carrot chunks, celery chunks, fennel stalks and trimmings, whole garlic cloves, ginger slices, and chicken parts in a soup pot. Add water to cover (about 8 cups) and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour. Remove chicken pieces with tongs and set aside. Remove vegetables, garlic and ginger with a spider or slotted spoon and discard.

Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, turmeric, coriander, chile flakes, bay leaves, Parm rind and brown rice to the pot. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones from chicken. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces and add to soup. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and lemon wedges.


Garlicky polenta with fennel seed + sesame roasted butternut squash

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On these chilly days of early winter, when the holidays are approaching fast and everything seems to be moving at a million miles an hour, my cooking is all about simple comfort food.

In particular I have been loving polenta-based, one-bowl meals lately. Creamy, soothing and satisfying — it’s almost like having a cozy bowl of oatmeal for dinner, but better! Polenta, or coarsely ground, Italian-style cornmeal, is one of my favorite grains because it’s quick-cooking, full of flavor, gluten-free, and can go in a sweet or savory direction.

One of my favorite ways to prepare polenta is in the aglio, olio, peperoncino style (i.e., with garlic, oil & chile pepper), which infuses the cornmeal with loads of wonderful flavors while it’s cooking. Finishing the polenta with chopped fresh parsley, butter, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano takes it to another level entirely. It’s delicious on its own, but even better topped with sautéed or roasted vegetables.

This time around I roasted cubes of butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a couple of big pinches of Fennel Seed Gomasio (which you can find in my shop) until the squash was tender and caramelized.

The creamy, savory polenta and tender, earthy-sweet squash are a divine pairing and exactly what I want to eat when I return home after a long winter day. Add a drizzle of olive oil, a little more freshly grated Parm and some toasted nuts or seeds for crunch and it’s the perfect one-bowl meal.  Read More


Borlotti bean, escarole and wild rice soup (and a simple technique for a perfectly cooked pot of beans)

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Soup’s on!

Soup season is here and I couldn’t be happier about it. Somehow as I get older my love of soup continues to grow exponentially. Nothing makes me happier on a cold fall or winter evening than a big, warming bowl of slowly simmered soup brimming with tons of veggies, satisfyingly chewy grains, and creamy-tender beans in a super-flavorful broth infused with herbs and aromatics. Yes, please!

And when the start of soup season coincides with a delivery from Rancho Gordo, even better. If you’ve never ordered from NorCal-based RG you must try their wonderful heirloom beans (they also carry unique grains such as black quinoa, as well as dried herbs and spices, etc) — varieties you can’t find anywhere else and so much fresher than anything you can find at a grocery store or even specialty market.

This time my order included cranberry (aka borlotti beans) and wild rice, which I decided to bring together into this soup. If you haven’t cooked with borlotti beans before they are a wonderfully creamy bean, relatively quick-cooking, and with a thin skin so they create the most delicious pot liquor. They are delicious simply simmered with garlic and herbs and finished with olive oil, and they also make a fantastic soup bean. Read More


Candied Maple Pecans with Cayenne + Flaky Salt

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These one-skillet, sweet and spicy pecans have earned the name ‘Crack Pecans’ among my family and friends. And, if you make them, too, it’s likely they’ll acquire a similar moniker amongst your clan.

Because these things are addictive, in that way that only crispy-salty-sweet-spicy (and buttery) things can be.

On Thanksgiving we like to keep the pre-dinner snacks simple and light. A bowl of these pecans and a plate of sliced, raw fennel and that’s about it. Perfect for whetting the appetite but not so filling that we spoil the main event. And these crisp, buttery pecans with the crunchy, herbaceous fennel are a match made in heaven.

I make the candied pecans in a skillet on the stovetop; it takes all of 10 minutes, and you can easily scale up the recipe if needed to feed more people. Cooled completely and stored in an airtight container they’ll keep for up to 3 days, so I often make these a couple of days in advance — one less thing to do the day-of.

And if you need another reason to make a batch — they also make the perfect soup or salad toppers. So don’t wait for a special occasion to make these delicious nuggets of goodness.

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Roasted sweet potato lettuce wraps with black beans, turmeric rice + green goddess dressing

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These crunch and satisfying lettuce wraps are the perfect fix when you want a burrito-style wrap but not the heavy, floury tortilla. (I don’t know about you, but whenever I eat a burrito the only thing I can think about is a nice, long nap.) They’re hearty but not heavy, loaded with nutrient-dense, plant-based ingredients, and a great light meal or snack during the holiday season, when we’re all looking for lighter, healthier meals to rebalance in between all that festive fare.

After a visit to Gotham Greens’ incredible Gowanus, Brooklyn, greenhouse a few weeks ago, I came home with a container of GG’s super fresh and gorgeous Tropicana Green Leaf lettuce. The big, frilly leaves are tender and succulent yet sturdy, making them a perfect wrap lettuce.

As usual I went for a fully loaded version, piling on black beans, turmeric rice, jalapeños, quick-pickled onions, local goat’s milk feta, roasted veggies and my creamy (and dairy-free/vegan) superfood-spiked green goddess dressing.

These wraps are a great way to make tasty use of leftovers or items that you’ve previously batch-cooked: the roasted sweet potato (tossed with coriander and turmeric before going into the oven – so good!) and dressing were leftover from my recent roasted veggie Buddha bowls, and the cooked rice was kicking around the fridge so all I needed to do was reheat it in a little olive oil to which I’d added turmeric to imbue a golden hue.

In this case the beans came from a can (I buy Eden Organics, which packages their beans in BPA-free cans). I threw together a small jar of quick-pickled red onion for these wraps, and have plenty of extra to use in sandwiches, salads, etc – because what savory dish can’t benefit from a few slices of sweet, vinegary, crunchy onion?

You can customize your wraps to use up whatever bits and pieces you might have around: roasted or steamed broccoli or cauliflower, sautéed peppers and onions, cooked lentils or chickpeas, pickled hot peppers, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack, etc etc.

These wraps would also make a fun build-you-own-lettuce-burrito spread for a crowd: simply set out a platter of lettuce leaves, arrange your toppings in individual bowls, and let your guests do the assembly work.

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Purple potato and yellow carrot tian

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This fall I have become obsessed with Adirondack Blue potatoes. This is the first year I’ve seen this heirloom variety, sold at my local greenmarket by Down Home Acres Farm, and every time I walk by them I can’t resist bring home a pound or two. The skin and flesh of the potatoes are a beautiful purplish-blue color, which fades somewhat with cooking, and when baked whole or roasted as wedges or cubes its flesh becomes super tender and creamy, and the skin takes on the richest cocoa-y flavor. Needless to say these have become my favorite tubers of the season.

I wanted to do something special with my latest batch of Blues, and so when my friend Christine announced her tian party, I knew exactly what to happen. A tian is basically a casserole consisting of thinly sliced vegetables (traditionally potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes) baked over a bed of sautéed alliums (such as shallots, onions, leeks, garlic). Toward the end of baking cheese is often added to give the casserole a browned, bubbly lid.  Read More


Roasted broccoli and sweet potato Buddha bowls with moringa green goddess dressing

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With holiday meal and travel planning, shopping, and all the general busy-ness that accompanies the final month and a half of the calendar year, I have been all about the simple suppers lately.

A Buddha or bounty bowl is basically a big ol’ bowl of goodies piled high atop steamed whole grains — or greens, or cauliflower rice for that matter — and so named for its plump “Buddha belly” appearance. The Buddha bowl is my favorite weeknight meal or homemade to-go lunch, and it’s a perfect example of the genius of batch cooking: roast, bake, steam, and/or blanch your veggies in advance, cook a grain, make a quick sauce — when you’re ready to eat all that’s required is a quick assembly.

These types of “everything bowls” are also the perfect clean-out-the-fridge meal to use up those veggie odds and ends that are looking less than pretty but are still perfectly good to eat. And that’s exactly what I did on a rainy afternoon a few days ago; I took a quick inventory of the crisper drawer and roots bowl, plucked out the items that were beginning to look a bit past their prime, and cooked them all.

This time around I decided just to roast all my veggies to keep things extra simple: beets were sprinkled with salt and roasted whole, broccoli tossed with lemon zest and olive oil before going into the oven, and Japanese sweet potato cubed and seasoned with coriander and turmeric. While the veg were in the oven I cooked a pot of short-grain brown rice ( my absolute favorite because it turns out chewy and nutty and toasty – so delicious) and blended up a batch of creamy cashew-based Green Goddess dressing amped up with moringa powder. That evening all I needed to do was pile some rice and veg into a bowl and drizzle everything with that gingery, garlicky, luscious green sauce and I was all set.

And, with my leftover sweet potato, brown rice, and dressing I made another delicious and easy lunch recipe that’ll be on the blog soon, too.

The lovely folks at Anima Mundi Apothecary recently sent me some of their superfood products to try, and this dressing is my first recipe incorporating their moringa powder. Moringa leaf has a mild flavor and is rich in vitamins and minerals (including vitamins A, C, and E, as well as calcium), and antioxidants, and has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory properties. Moringa has been used in traditional cultures to treat conditions ranging from heart disease and diabetes to skin and digestive disorders, and is a wonderful superfood to add to smoothies, elixirs, and dressings on an everyday basis. Read More