Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ottolenghi's Surprise Tatin, Mostly

Over the last two weeks, I've made four different vegetable pies/tarts either directly out of or based on recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's spectacular cookbook, Plenty. Three of them were made yesterday, because I'm a little bit insane. I am actually planning to announce my engagement to this magical book to my family at Christmas. Because... it's just that good. Here's the first of the recipes, and definitely my favorite of the four pies. I made a number of changes to ingredients based on what I had on hand, so if you'd like the original recipe you can find it here. (Note on the photo: I forgot to add the herbs before the potatoes, so they're hiding underneath. It would look much nicer if they were on top.)

surprise tatin modified recipe

2/3 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 lb baby potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for dish
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1 sheet puff pastry
1 small egg, beaten (optional)
parchment paper

Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for about 20 minutes or until softened. Drain and cool. Trim the tops and bottoms, and cut into 1-inch-thick discs. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Sauté the onion in the oil and a bit of salt over medium heat, or until brown. Add the garlic for the last few minutes, and cook until softened.

Pour a small amount of olive oil into the bottom of your pie pan, and use a paper towel or basting brush to wipe it evenly over the inside of the dish. Cut out a circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan.

In a small pot, cook the sugar and butter on high heat until it forms a semi-dark caramel. Quickly pour the caramel into the pan (on top of the parchment paper) and tilt the dish to spread it evenly (you may need to use a spoon to help spread it). Scatter the chopped sage over the caramel.

Place the potato slices close together on top of the caramel, filling the pan. Gently press the onions, garlic, and sundried tomatoes into the spaces between the slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread the cheese slices evenly over the vegetables.

Roll out the sheet of puff pastry until it's a little bigger than the pan, and cut it into a circle. Place this on top of the cheese, tucking the edges down around the potatoes. Brush with the beaten egg if you have it on hand. 

Bake for 25 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and puffy. Remove from the oven and let sit for a couple of minutes. Set a (heatproof!) plate upside-down over the dish and quickly flip them over so that the tart falls gently onto the plate.

The fact that I managed to flip this without damaging it is one of my proudest moments of the year. That never, ever works for me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crisp vegetable stir-fry with peanut sauce

I'm posting this more because it was so damn pretty than because it's a unique recipe, but it was damn tasty as well as being lovely. Nothing even vaguely authentic, just something I threw together because I had lots of vegetables and some leftover peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter
2-3 dashes soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
sriracha sauce to taste

Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, and garlic powder together until the mixture is smooth. You may have to heat it a little to get it to mix, so do the mixing in a microwavable dish or a small saucepan. Add water, a tablespoon or so at a time, until the mixture has a thin-ish sauce consistency. Dip stuff into it or put it on stuff. Will last at least a week in the fridge.

Crisp Vegetable Stir-Fry

1 large carrot, chopped
1 large bell pepper or 4-5 mini ones, sliced
5-10 thin slices of lotus root
4 large radishes, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly shredded
1 package firm tofu, baked/fried or steamed (your choice)
1/3 cup peanut sauce (plus a little more water)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon mirin
soy sauce to taste

Heat the oil in a large wok or pan, and cook the carrots over medium/medium-high heat for about three minutes. Mix in the mirin and a few splashes of soy sauce. The idea behind this dish being 'crisp' is that all the vegetables retain some of their crunch, so don't let anything cook too long.

 Add the peppers and lotus root. Cook for two or three minutes, then add the peanut sauce. Splash in another tablespoon or so of water to help it liquify if it's not melting, and stir to coat the vegetables.

When the sauce is evenly distributed, add the radishes, and cook for another minute. Stir in the tofu, coating it with the sauce. Add the basil and cook another few seconds, until it's just barely wilted.

Serve with rice, sriracha, and black sesame seeds.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sweet Potato Corn Fritters

The basis for this recipe is from the excellent Budget Bytes, but I changed it a fair bit based on what was in my fridge. These things are ridiculously delicious, look reasonably nice on the plate, and only require you to actually be near the stove/oven for a couple of minutes total--excellent summer recipe. Serves two to four people, depending on whether it's a side dish or main course.

2 sweet potatoes
10(ish) chives, chopped small
2 tsp hot paprika
2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup breadcrumbs or panko
2 eggs
1 cup corn kernels (if they're frozen, let them sit out while you mix everything else)
a few tablespoons of vegetable oil
dip/sauce of your choice

Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and bake at 375ºF until the insides are soft enough to scoop out and mash--about 45 or 50 minutes. Or else use the very clever microwave trick from the original recipe, which I can't try because I don't have a microwave.

Let the potatoes cool for a while, then mix in the eggs, chives, spices, and cornmeal. I ended up doing this in my food processor because I got impatient (hungry) and took the potatoes out early and they weren't quite soft enough, but you can just stir if you don't feel like doing more dishes than necessary.

Stir in the breadcrumbs and corn kernels, cover, and refrigerate for half an hour. Take the opportunity to make some sriracha mayonnaise like mine (Recipe: stir sriracha into mayo until it's almost too hot to deal with, refrigerate until needed.) or garlic yoghurt sauce like the original.

Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Form the potato mixture into small patties and fry them for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until they're a little bit crisp. Serve with your sauce. Try not to immediately make three more batches, unless you're inviting a whole bunch of people over to share the magic.

I am still obsessed with the Flower Pepper I bought at Trader Joe's nine months ago. 
It goes on everything.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Tarhonya is a Hungarian egg noodle that seems to be cooked differently by everyone I've asked... but this is the way my mother makes it (quite obviously the superior method). Though it's technically more like a pasta, I usually treat my tarhonya more like rice, mixing it with whatever's on hand in my fridge and stir-frying a bit. On its own it makes a great side-dish for more or less any meat or vegetable course.

Tarhonya noodles are a bit hard to find, but I've had luck at places with a lot of European imports and big grocery stores in neighborhoods with Jewish and Eastern European populations (Fairway had three different kinds when I lived on the Upper West Side, it was great). The different brands are variously referred to as tarhonya, egg farvel, and toasted barley noodles. Unfortunately none of those links are to actually purchasable products at the moment (unless you want to buy in bulk), but they should give you an idea of what to look for in the store and I'll update this post if I find a good seller online. You can also make your own noodles, which looks fairly simple, but I haven't done it yet as I've usually been able to find the pre-made noodles when I need them. I'll let you know if I try it out.

The way I cook tarhonya is similar to the way risotto is cooked. I use a wok, but you can also use a large pot or a frying pan with fairly deep sides. Have a lid or large plate on hand to cover the pan.

1 package tarhonya
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
4-5 cups broth at room temperature (I use vegetable broth)*
paprika to taste
additional ingredients to suit your palate

*A 12 oz package will use four cups or so of broth (I don't really keep track), but if you run out you can use warm water towards the end--broth adds flavor, but water will cook the noodles just as well.

Heat the oil in the bottom of your pan on a medium-low setting. Add the tarhonya and slowly toast until lightly browned (if you're using the Manischewitz kind it's already toasted, but do heat it a bit in the oil). Take your time with this--the tarhonya won't cook right or taste very good if you burn it.

When the tarhonya is toasted, stir in about 1/2 cup of the broth. Continue stirring (like risotto) until the broth has been mostly absorbed, and add another 1/2 cup. Keep doing this until the tarhonya is tender but still firm and all of the broth has been absorbed. Stir some paprika through the noodles.  Put the lid (or plate) on the wok/pot/pan and let the tarhonya and let it sit for ten minutes.

While you're waiting, chop up some onions and sautee them in butter or oil with a bit of paprika and garlic powder (or fresh garlic). Mix this with the tarhonya and serve for a traditional-style dish, or stir-fry briefly with vegetables, sausage, cheese, or whatever you have on hand for an original one. The version pictured at the top of this entry has sauteed onions, chunks of grilled sausage, and daikon greens (my latest food obsession).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

windy day

windy day

windy day by whiskeyinyrshoes featuring slip on shoes

Perfect outfit for a day so windy there's a severe weather warning, isn't it? If I were a Regency lady I'd have been run out of town for all the flashes of ankle (and leg, and knee) I showed as I walked down the street. Except they wouldn't have been able to tell who I was because my hair was blowing all over my face like Cousin It.

Monday, March 19, 2012

vegetable stock

Bonus recipe: Vegetable Stock

Making vegetable stock is basically the easiest thing in the world: put vegetables in a big pot, pour in water, and boil the heck out of them. But here's how I do mine, which is vaguely based on the recipe in Mark Bittman's magic book, heavily influenced by half-remembered advice from my mother, and more or less just made up as I go along. The ingredients on the list are the ones I used on Friday, but you can use pretty much whatever you have on hand. Bittman is a big proponent of including mushrooms, which I didn't have in my fridge.

1 large red onion, chopped but not peeled
2 russet potatoes cut into chunks
5 ribs of celery, chopped
3 carrots, scrubbed but not peeled, chopped into rounds
5 large cloves of garlic, inner peels left on
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
generous splash of soy sauce (optional; Bittman's recommendation)
1 pound (or so) of assorted peels, greens, and scrap, washed.

In a small amount of oil in the bottom of a very big pot, brown these vegetables just as much as you feel like browning them. Then throw in your pile of scraps. Mine for this batch of stock was a bundle of scallion tops and carrot peels left over from making fried rice on Thursday, plus the greens from a daikon radish, and a roasted beet that I'd frozen before spring break and thawed out in the fridge overnight.

Mix the scraps with your vegetables and pour in water until the pot is mostly full (I think Bittman recommends 14 cups? I used about 16). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and keep at a brisk simmer for at least half an hour, or until the vegetables are mushy (Bittman says something like "very tender," which I find amusingly euphemistic). The longer you cook it, the more flavor you'll get.

Let the stock cool for a while and then carefully strain into storage containers, pressing the vegetables to get as much of the broth out as possible. I ended up with about twenty cups of broth, which is a lot. Two four-cup containers went into the freezer, and about four more cups went into ice cube trays (this is a Martha Stewart trick my mother told me about, and great for when you just need a little bit of liquid to add to a dish), and the rest went into a pitcher in the fridge to become the base of my leek and potato soup on Saturday.

St Patrick's Day: Leek & Potato Soup with Soda Bread

As usual, I decided to bake a loaf of soda bread for the St. Patrick's day, substituting actual Irish food for the messy American traditions of green beer and bad sausage. For once, I didn't make the decision at 8 p.m. on the holiday itself, so I had time to plan an actual meal around it. On Friday, I made an enormous batch of stock (see my next post for the recipe). Most of it went into the freezer, but what didn't fit obviously needed to become soup. Something containing potatoes seemed in order, and I had some leeks, and Mark Bittman's magical How to Cook Everything had a recipe, and so... leek and potato soup. I changed up the very basic recipe (which Bittman calls "medieval") for a bit more flavor, but more or less followed his method.

2-3 leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut into thin rounds
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small white onion, diced
2-3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
6-8 cups vegetable stock (enough to cover the vegetables, plus another cup)
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 bay leaf
salt and black pepper to taste
thinly sliced scallions and hot paprika for garnish

Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium heat. Put the vegetables into the pot, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir until they begin to soften (five minutes or so).

Pour in the broth and simmer briskly for twenty minutes or so, until the vegetables are quite soft. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. At this point, you can eat the soup--it's vegan (if you used oil instead of butter), and healthy, and totally delicious. But you can also make it more awesome...

Let the soup cool for at least half an hour, and carefully blend it, using an immersion blender (preferred method) or by transferring to a traditional blender (don't fill it too high or it will attack you, like when I made butternut squash soup). Add the bay leaf and cream and slowly reheat to just below boiling. Take out the bay leaf and serve hot.

Garnish with scallions and a dash of hot paprika (or a lot of hot paprika), eat with dense, crumbly bread.

Sunflower seeds react within the bread for a festive green touch.

Two of us made a dent in the pot of soup before going out for the evening... and the four of us who came back later demolished it completely, along with most of a bottle of whiskey and a stack of poetry books. Overall, a good holiday.

Monday, January 23, 2012

things you didn't ask to see: every shoe photo I've ever taken

Every Shoe Photo I've Ever Taken
or, The Legacy of Black Chuck Taylor Low-tops

I've posted plenty of these before, so it was already obvious I have a tendency to take mysterious, hipstery photos of people's feet. And my own feet. Today in class I decided it would be a good idea to scroll through iPhoto and find all of them, and then post them in chronological order. You're welcome.

Photos by me unless otherwise noted.


(Photo by Mike, or... someone)


(Photo by Mitch)

(Photo by Katelyn)

 (Photo by Mitch)

 (Photo by Mitch)


In 2008, everyone went barefoot.