I have a conviction that good vegetarian cooking means layering flavor into your dishes during each step of the cooking process, and I find that bright herbal flavors, enhanced by olive oil and salt, are a welcome finishing touch to many dishes.Continue reading →
I have a book in which I record, from time to time, the big and small adventures in our family’s life. I mean to write in it every day, just a sentence or two. More often, weeks or even months go by between entries. I try to catch the important stuff, though, when I do sit down to write–milestones and anecdotes from our daughters’ lives, travels we want to remember, loving moments with our extended family. And, of course, what’s happening in the kitchen.Our family’s book begins with applesauce. It was an October when I started the family journal (abandoning, in the process, my girls’ individual baby books) and we had just turned our three trees worth of apples into a year’s worth of applesauce. So in a way, I think of making applesauce as the beginning of each new year. At this time of year I often flip back through the years contained in my book and marvel at how fast life changes. And how each chapter is even better than the last.
Applesauce, though, is a constant in our lives. Every year we lighten the groaning branches of the apple trees in the fall, piling box after box of apples into the house. We sort the apples, setting aside the unblemished best for eating and sharing. We eat and bake and dry as many apples as we can. And the rest become applesauce for the year ahead.Continue reading →
Have you made this tomato sauce? People swear by it. People LOVE it. People think it’s genius. I am completely undecided.
The sauce has only four ingredients. One of them is butter. The sauce was so fine-textured that it clung delicately and evenly to each individual noodle. Its flavor was the summer flavor of the good tomatoes I used, enriched with butter and salt.
With very little effort, this recipe produced a refined and tasty dish. Which made me notice that refined and tasty aren’t necessarily enough for me. Continue reading →
A new dish has come into my life recently. I mean, it’s an old dish, maybe very old, and maybe you’ve been eating it for breakfast or dinner all your life, but I’ve only gotten to know it in recent years. And I’m a little obsessed. It’s called shakshuka.
It’s a Tunisian dish, or an Israeli or a Libyan dish, depending on who you ask. All I know is that I’ve been loving a version from my local bagel shop (which also inspired that caramelized onion hummus recipe). Shakshuka is a mildly spicy stew of tomatoes and peppers, adorned with a poached egg. In this recipe, adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, the eggs are poached right in the tomatoes and peppers, making for a one-pot meal of the most delicious sort.Continue reading →
I would like to write a love song entitled “Five-Minute Sauces That Make it a Meal.” “It” being whatever else you have to put on the table. Whether it’s a salsa or a savory mayonnaise, a compound butter or a pesto, the key components of a great sauce are flavor, flavor, and flavor. And the results are worth singing about.
This Italian parsley sauce delivers. The basic recipe combines parsley, capers, lemon, a shallot, and garlic. Maybe (hopefully) an anchovy. You can vary it a million ways: give it body with day-old bread, add other soft herbs, swap red onion for the shallot and garlic, spice it up with chile peppers, add nuts or vinegar or fancy pickles. Reduce the oil or leave it out altogether (in which case you’ll have more of a sprinkle than a sauce). Whatever ingredients you choose, chop them up and smooth it all together in a slick of olive oil. Serve over anything.We often make this sauce when we grill fish or vegetables, but I hear that it also complements meat nicely. Drizzle it over steamed potatoes. Dunk a crusty chunk of bread in it. Whatever you do with it in the end, it will be worth the five minutes it takes to make. Continue reading →
Or maybe I should have titled this post, “How to Caramelize Onions and Why You Don’t Usually Have To.” Because nine times out of ten, when you want your onions soft and sweet, you can just cook ’em like crazy over high heat and end up with a sweet, jammy mess that will do the trick nicely. There, I just saved you hours of standing over a hot stove. Now you have time to read a good book. You’re welcome.
But, ok, sometimes you want the real thing. You want a more refined result, a whisper-soft bowl of yielding allium nectar. Caramelizing onions is transformative, like grilling broccoli or roasting cauliflower or shaving raw brussels sprouts for a salad. And once you make your first batch and see how little hands-on time it takes, there will be nothing to stop you from making the occasional batch to add to eggs and soups and fancy little toasts and all manner of things.
Make a big batch while you’re at it, of course, and freeze leftover caramelized onions for an easy flavor boost another day.Continue reading →
You know how recipes are just made up? I mean, some people have a lot of good ideas about food, and some people have extensive experience with food, and those people are probably going to make up good recipes. But still, they’re just playing around, asking themselves what tastes good.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to recipes, really, and on some topics there is not even the remote possibility of agreement between any two authorities. Once such topic, I submit, is The Perfect Tomato Sandwich.I’ve tried many. Tomatoes alone. Tomatoes with pesto, fresh mozzarella, and vinegar. I understand that some people like tomatoes with lettuce and bacon. I’ve even tried this sandwich, the tomatoes opulently nestled into a double setting of mayonnaise and butter. Perfection is a slippery thing, ephemeral and ever-changing. Especially when it comes to tomato sandwiches.
My personal current Perfect Tomato Sandwich–which I achieved tonight, just one of many wildly varying Perfect Tomato Sandwiches I’ve had in my life–is pictured above and detailed below. It is emphatically open-faced, with thin slices of avocado and thick slices of tomato on grainy toasted bread. Its crowning glory (or maybe it’s a hidden glory?) is a smear of anchovy-laced mayonnaise.