The upside of seasonal eating has gotten enough play. Today we turn to its darker side. To the part of eating seasonally where summer ends and I am supposed to set aside perfect peaches for pumpkin soup and root vegetables. What kind of solace is that, I ask?
This jam is equal parts peaches and tomatoes by weight, but the result is more sweet than savory; the umami notes of tomato and balsamic add just a whisper of intrigue. As you’d expect, it’s most at home alongside a soft cheese or spooned over a piece of salmon, but it’s no slouch in a sandwich or vinaigrette either.
I like my friend Knox for lots of reasons, one of which is that everything he cooks (and bakes, and preserves) is divine and he always shares his recipes. He always has good ideas, and several projects up his sleeve at once, so you won’t be surprised to learn that among his many accomplishments, Knox is the granddaddy of Soup Swap. (What, you haven’t held a soup swap yet this year? It’s not too late! The rules are here.)
And I think it was at Knox’s first soup swap, more than a decade ago, that he made us The Best Tomato Sauce for the first time. There were lots of us, and lots of frozen soup, packed into Knox’s tiny house, and in characteristic fashion he breezily served steaming bowls of pasta to all of us crowded onto the couch and floor and standing in every corner and doorway. The sauce was incredible. I squeezed after him into the arms-width kitchen and wrote down his instructions on a now-battered-and-stained recipe card.Continue reading →
Oh, but I’ve never been one to play by the rules. At least not always. Well, at least not that one rule that I just made up about the acceptable frequency for discussing oatmeal. In any case, I give you one last savory oatmeal to get you through the winter.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present the next contender in my happy lineup of drab-looking-but-crazy-tasty soups. Oh, what’s that you say? The soup doesn’t look half bad with those perky green bits on there? Well, those are little kale specks that I sprinkled on for the photo because I had no dill or parsley in my fridge. For you, friends, a splash of color, since I have a feeling that all-brown soups, even if deserving, are not adequately appreciated by the food-blog-reading public. (Oh, I crack myself up. It’s hard to take my perceived obligations as a food blogger seriously sometimes. Most times. I mean, I can’t even get into Pinterest.) And those little green specks just scream, “this soup is deserving!”…don’t they? (Do they?)
I understand the impulse, believe me. It took me thirty-some years (ahem) to come around to the idea of trying a version of saag paneer, my favorite Indian food, with tofu instead of cheese. It just seemed wrong, too ascetic, the wrong place to skimp. Saag tofu sounded worse than no saag at all. (Kale saag paneer, on the other hand, is amazing.)Of course, you already know how this story is going to end.
This is a dish that a friend first made for me and now I make it for friends. It’s fancy-looking but easy enough for quick weeknight cooking. Serve it with a nice salad and a dinner is ready in half an hour.
The big flavor here belies the ease of preparation, though. That’s always the best kind of recipe, wouldn’t you say?
In fact, I should ask all of you, my favorite home cooks: what’s your favorite little-work-big-reward recipe?Continue reading →
I have a soft spot for those unreasonably large Greek “gigantes” beans. They’re lima beans, maybe? They’re fat and meaty and they make their presence known. Here they nestle into a soft bed of pasta and roasted vegetables. Small white beans could be fun too, though, especially if you use a shell pasta shape and let them get lost in the pasta swirls. Either way, the beans and pasta are elevated one step beyond peasant food by the sweet, flavorful roasted vegetables. Serve with a bracing, crisp, lemony salad for a nice flavor and texture contrast.
This is a soup with a story. It’s essentially a minestrone, so you might think that our tale is going to start in Italy, with a grandmother tending a simmering pot for hours—and you’d be partly right. Except that this story is about my good friend’s great-grandparents, and the pot was simmering on a stove in a bar in Sacramento, California.
Now, Sacramento has a long history as a drinking town. So from the first days of the California Gold Rush, to the speakeasies of prohibition, to—I can only imagine—the indulgences of today’s state government bigwigs, there has been a steady stream of drinking establishment clients in need of a little something to help them sober up.
Our story, this soup’s story, takes place in the respectable post-prohibition era. So it’s the 1930’s, maybe, and later the 1940’s. The bar is remembered in family lore only as “The Joint,” which may or may not have been its name. It resided within what was, at the time, the oldest standing building in Sacramento. A watering trough waited outside the door for customers arriving by horse and buggy. And my friend’s great-grandparents, the proprietors, always kept a pot of this minestrone soup behind the bar. The recipe, needless to say, has been passed down through the generations. Continue reading →
At this time of year, I have chili on the brain. It’s is basically everything I want in a winter meal: hot, filling, a little spicy, and a perfect vehicle for avocado. I know that in the meat-chili world, there is a beans-or-no-beans question. That question does not exist in my vegetarian chili world. Yes, there will be beans (or, in this case, lentils). Continue reading →
The mise en place, to me, is a creature that exists in fantasy only. Here’s how dinner happens in real life: I cook and chop at the same time. It’s revolutionary, I know, but I suspect that many (most?) home cooks join me in rising up against French tradition in this regard. First we chop the onions, and then once they’re in the pan we chop the next thing. I’m not alone here, right?
But here’s the thing about on-the-fly prep when you’re making what’s essentially a stir-fry: you have to work fast. So be prepared to let your knife fly—or get all Martha and chop your ingredients in advance.Continue reading →