Good-For-You Soba Noodle Soup with Miso, Broccolini, and Charred Shitakes

RECIPE: Good-For-You Soba Noodle Soup with Miso, Broccolini, and Charred Shitakes

So Good For You NoodlesI always want to eat everything. Fondue? I’d swim in the pot! Steak. Butter! Cake. Nests of pasta that I could curl up in. But the truth is, as I get older, some the foods I love just don’t love me. It’s a head-heart battle. My head says, Kerry, stop. You’ll be sick. My heart says, this is what you love. Love trumps all.

I think some part of every one of my New Year’s resolutions is to grow up. Is growing up using your head more than your heart? It sounds sad, but actually, maybe it’s just wise (and maybe that’s why wisdom is always tied up with long beards and gray hair). This January, my mom and I resolved to grow up by doing one month “vegan + fish”. There are a number of reasons for this.

  1. Some people go dry in January to prove to themselves that they control alcohol, and that alcohol doesn’t control them. I need to do the same – but with my appetite.
  2. I was vegetarian from the age of six to 18, and ever since then I’ve been experimenting with various combinations. I feel best when I cut out dairy (or cut down), and when I add in a little bit of lean protein. Hence, vegan + fish. The same is true for Maman.
  3. And because I often find a lot of creative freedom in restriction. Necessity is the mother of invention.

I’m notoriously easy to tempt, but I’m going to do it for one month. If vegan + fish makes you feel good too, I hope you’ll do it with us. Deprivation is always easier together.

I was in Whole Foods and I saw in the boxed broth section a miso broth – I’d never seen it before, and I immediately thought, I’m going to like that. I love Japanese noodle soups, so I simmered the broth and added a few simple things: buckwheat soba, grassy broccolini, crispy baked shitakes, and crumbly steaks of tofu. A few scallions and cilantro leaves on top. I subsequently sat down to three bowls. What I especially love about this recipe is I can make all the components on a Sunday night, then just simmer my broth any night during the week when I want to eat it, and go from there. Would make a brilliant dinner for when Mr. English is away.

Good For You NoodlesBon app!

Good-For-You Soba Noodle Soup with Miso, Broccolini, and Charred Shitakes
serves 3ish

INGREDIENTS

1 box of fresh shitake mushrooms, stems discarded (about 10 – 15 mushrooms)
1 14-ounce block extra firm tofu, drained on a paper towel and sliced into 8 slices
Olive oil
1 bunch broccolini, ends trimmed
1 8.8-ounce package soba noodles
1 32-fluid ounce box miso broth (4 cups – I buy this in a carton from Whole Foods)
2 scallions, finely sliced
1 small handful cilantro leaves
Soy sauce for serving (optional)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Bring a pot of water to a boil.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchments and place the mushrooms and tofu slices on the sheet. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Use your hands to distribute the oil and salt on both sides of the mushrooms and tofu. Bake for about 10 minutes – this doesn’t need to be exact – you just want the mushrooms and tofu to be just cooked through and beginning to go golden at the edges.

Meanwhile, salt the boiling water. Blanch the broccolini for one minutes, then remove to a strainer and run under cold tap water to keep it bright and crunchy. Boil the soba according to package instructions – mine takes 6 minutes. Drain and run under cold tap water so the noodles don’t go mushy.

In the same pot add the miso broth and bring to a boil. Add in the noodles and broccolini to warm through, and arrange the tofu and mushrooms on top. Mound the fresh scallions and cilantro on top of it all, in the center of the pot. Serve piping hot!

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Soup, Soup & Salad, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

(Frozen) Peach and Almond Crisp

RECIPE: (Frozen) Peach and Almond Crisp
Peach Crisp

Sorry for the iPhone shot!

On Sunday night, I had my family over for a holiday dinner.  My New York family – uncles, aunts – is rarely together for the actual holiday days, so I wanted to be sure to do something warm and festive – to match the alarmingly warm but festive atmosphere these last few weeks in New York.

I definitely subscribe to the old adages about entertaining – serve at least one thing that you buy and another thing that you make ahead.  And, I know I say it over and over, but I love American holiday meals because we are so adroit at mixing tradition with personal history.  Which is just what I did – a bite of Brooklyn with a pinch of Provence.

The appetizer was pure New York – I bought potato pancakes at the historic German grocer up the street – perfect silver dollars that I just threw in the oven to crisp up.  The whole apartment smelled like memories of my great-grandmother.  And to go with them, sliced sable from the bagel shop around the corner.  With that, I stirred together a cup of Greek yogurt (my go-to substitute for sour cream, which I never have) with three spoonfuls of prepared horseradish with salt and lots of pepper, and this cucumber salad from Bon Appetit.

The main course, my “thing that you make ahead” was a gorgeous brisket recipe – also very great-grandmother.  But it is in fact from one of my favorite food writers, the incredibly modern and fresh Donna Hay, that I discovered while living in London (she’s Australian).  It comes from her book The New Easy, and I can’t recommend it enough.  So simple, braised together with rosemary, pancetta, red wine, and tomatoes.  Making it ahead means you can skim away the fat, which I personally prefer, and the flavors penetrate and tenderize the meat.  It was the best brisket I ever made – so juicy, soft, collapsing under the fork.  Bright and tangy from the vinegar despite the inherent richness.  And with the wintry, woodsy pine perfume from the rosemary that matched the bouquets of pine bough scattered throughout the apartment in giant glass vases.

With that, I took a page out of my French travels, and served buttered whole wheat elbow macaroni.  That’s right!  I always see beautiful French stews and daubes served with little elbows, baby shells, or ditalini, and I am captivated by how unpretentious it is!  The whole wheat part may be a little pretentious – but I just prefer it, and I love the heavier flavor and texture with meat.  With that, a green salad with my favorite new dressing – a very light take on Caesar that I will post soon.  (For those near New York and Chicago, have you tried Gotham Greens?  I really love them – particularly the “Queens Crisp”.)

For dessert, I stayed in France, by way of England.  In the south, I always see peaches or apricots mixed with lavender, or verbena, or almond – I always order it.  But Mr. English loves his crumbles and crisps – and it is winter.  So I started with frozen organic peaches, and tossed them with a bit of cornstarch and almond extract – just a dash to give it that drunk-on-marzipan flavor.  Amaretto would have worked too, had I thought of it.  The crisp mixture was a combination of whole wheat flour, almond meal, sugar, butter, olive oil, and sliced almonds.  I threw the whole thing in the oven, and the fruit collapsed from frozen-solid rocks into a soft, thick, bubbling, sweet, psychedelic orange mess that was topped by this hearty flavored and delicately textured crumb.

My father brought vanilla ice cream, which proves that he is a man of good sense.

(Frozen) Peach and Almond Crisp
serves 4 to 6

INGREDIENTS

For the peaches:
30 ounces of frozen peaches
3 tablespoons corn starch
¼ cup granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
½ – ¾ teaspoon of almond extract (depending on how much you love marzipan) (optional)

For the crisp topping:
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup almond meal
½ cup granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, straight from the fridge, cubed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup sliced almonds

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a buttered baking dish, toss the peaches with the cornstarch, ¼ cup sugar, pinch of salt, and almond extract, if using. Set the baking dish on a baking tray lined with foil (it makes cleanup easier), and set aside.

In a food processor, whiz together the flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt until combined. Then add the butter and olive oil and run until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add the sliced almonds and pulse a few times until just distributed, but not broken up. Pour the mixture evenly over the peaches, and bake until the fruit is bubbling and the crisp is golden – an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Vanilla ice cream, heavy cream, or crème fraiche is encouraged.

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Categories: Desserts, Easy, Eat, Fruit, Recipes, Vegetarian
 

Leftover Turkey Salad with Lemon and Tarragon

RECIPE: Leftover Turkey Salad with Lemon and Tarragon
Turkey Salad with Tarragon

Turkey Salad with Tarragon and Lemon

I have to admit, until this year, I have been terrible about Thanksgiving leftovers.  It’s as if the glory of the main event is so great, that I don’t want to tarnish its memory with seconds — second bests, second servings.  I never could understand what everyone is raving about.  I find turkey sandwiches crammed with cranberry sauce to be dry and completely un-enticing.

But I am also an obsessive bargainer, and there is no better deal for feeding a houseful of family that what’s already bought and paid for in the fridge.

What I didn’t want to do was to make things that were a sad recreation of the great feast.  Instead, I went off-piste.  Turkey salad is nothing novel, but I wanted to do away with the traditional Thanksgiving flavors.  I peeled off the turkey skin that was coated in autumnal herbes de Provence, and Mr. English and I shredded the white meat with our fingers.  In a large bowl, I whisked together an olive oil-based mayonnaise, the zest and juice of a lemon, a finely chopped shallot, and copious amounts of fresh tarragon leaves, that smell like mint and licorice got married.  It feels fresh and bright — the opposite of warm, woodsy Thanksgiving flavors, which, as much as I love them, had been sufficiently represented for the time being.

I brought the turkey and tarragon salad to the table for six with warm whole wheat pitas and salads of fresh cherry tomatoes with olive oil and salt, and a fennel cole slaw.

Dry leftover sliced turkey has been a hard sell; this time, we had nothing left.

Try whole wheat baguette or croissants, too!  Bon app…

Turkey Salad with Tarragon

Leftover Turkey Salad with Lemon and Tarragon
serves 6

INGREDIENTS
½ cup mayonnaise
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
½ cup whole tarragon leaves
Salt
Pepper
4 cups shredded leftover cooked turkey meat (I like the white meat for this!)

METHOD
In a large bowl, whisk together everything but the turkey. Then fold in the turkey, so it is completely covered with the sauce. I serve in warm whole wheat pitas, or with multigrain baguettes, or even, if that’s where we are that day, on whole wheat croissants!

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Bread & Butter, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipes, Sandwiches
 

What’s for Thanksgiving dinner?

Everyone around the office is asking each other where they’re going and what they’re making for the big day tomorrow.  In case you’re looking for some last-minute inspiration (or you’re my relative!), this is what I’ll be doing.

To Start

Last week’s Mushrooms “à L’Escargot”, of course!  Done family style, in the center of the table, in a big gratin dish.

The Turkey

I’m still deciding on whether it will be fresh or dried herbes de Provence, but I will steam the bird in a rack in a roasting pan, wrapped in foil, with a bit of white wine and stock, and then will uncover it and rub it with an herb compound butter.  I will then be finishing the gravy with cloves of roasted garlic that baked along with the bird.  Yum!

The Sides

Outdoor grilled Brussels sprouts from my mother’s garden, tossed with this Sherry-Thyme vinaigrette (thank you to my friend Julie for the vinaigrette recipe!)

We never have Thanksgiving without haricots verts.  I’m trying this recipe with tomato-almond pesto from Bon Appetit this year.

We usually do potatoes au gratin, but I have triumphed this year, and am sneaking in some potatoes boulangères for a change.  I’m still fine-tuning my recipe, but if you want a guide, this one from Jamie Oliver looks good.

I will be experimenting with a cranberry mustard.  Hopefully I’ll have the recipe for you next year, but I’ll be bubbling down some cranberries and sugar, and mixing with two types of Maille mustard: classic Dijon and whole grain.

The Cheese

Mr. English has insisted on a cheese course.  We’re doing a trilogy, along with thinly sliced apples, clusters of grapes, and walnuts.  Plus more cranberry mustard, and a giant boule.

Dessert

I usually love to make apple cider sorbet, but this year, we are going deep on pies, because no one can agree on which pie is acceptable.  Pumpkin for the Americans.  Pecan which seems to be more acceptable to the French.  And then coconut cream, because we have lost all sense of propriety and self-control.  I will be attempting a brûlé top on the pumpkin pie, and will be serving it with a freshly whipped maple-whisky cream.

I hope you have a beautiful, bursting Thanksgiving.  In my family, we go around the table with a a Champagne toast.  Everyone says what he or she is thankful for.  It is sobering at times, ebullient at others.  I am certainly thankful to be able to share food and conversation with you all.  So, merci and bon app!

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Mushrooms “à l’Escargot” (or the secret to a French Thanksgiving)

RECIPE: Mushrooms "Escargot Style"

Escargot Mushrooms 1

I really love Thanksgiving, and all the traditional cinnamon and spice and everything nice that goes with it.  But I love even more when those flavors are accented with the influence of “wherever you come from”.  Because most of us come from somewhere.

Our Thanksgiving always presents with a French accent.  Usually it’s potatoes au gratin (although this year I am making Boulangère potatoes!).  Haricots verts.  Apple cider sorbet.  It always concludes with a heated debate on whether pumpkin pie is, and I quote, “edible”.  As far as I’m concerned, Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat pie”.  Cake is for losers.

This year, Thanksgiving finally gave me the excuse to test a recipe I’ve been ruminating on for years — which was silly, because it’s so simple, I could have done it years ago.

I was at my favorite restaurant in Paris with some Canadian and American friends.  My friend Parker, another real gourmand, ordered the escargots.  He said something along the lines of, Kerry, you’re French, you must love these — have one.

I have to admit, I can’t think of anything more disgusting than eating a snail.  Maybe one or two things, but it’s definitely down at the bottom somewhere.  But I was never going to let him know that!  I put it in my mouth, and while I will never, ever do so again, I was kind of envious of Parker with his parsley-enrobed, garlic-bejeweled little morsels, and his hunks of baguette soaked in sauce.  I wanted the experience, just not the snails.

So these are mushrooms!  Earthy (just not that earthy) cremini mushrooms stuffed with the same kind of persillade butter used on escargots, punched up with some chives and thyme and lemon zest.  It is so easy to make.  Just whiz together some room temperature butter, garlic, parsley, and the rest until it’s blended, then smear into the upside down mushroom caps.  I arrange them in escargot plates for effect, but you could use any oven-safe dish.  They broil, and become tender.  The butter pools and bubbles into a heady sauce.  The baguette comes out, and wipes the plate.  It’s so good.

I love these as an individual appetizer for a more formal dinner, but I also love the idea of a whole baking dish full of them as something to peck on before dinner, with a glass of Champagne, as you go around the couches saying what you’re thankful for.

I, for one, have been thankful lately for Paris — for how much it has taught me not only about the value of life, but also so, so much about how to live it.  Merci.

Escargot Mushrooms 4
Escargot Mushrooms 3Escargot Mushrooms 2

Mushrooms "Escargot Style"
serves 4

INGREDIENTS
24 cremini or baby bella mushrooms, stems removed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
½ cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
10 chives
The leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
Zest from ½ lemon
Salt
Pepper

EQUIPMENT
An oven-safe escargot dish or gratin dish

METHOD
Preheat the broiler. Using the butter wrapper, lightly grease the escargot dish. Arrange the mushrooms, one per divot, top-side-down so they are like cups you can fill.

In a small food processor, blitz together the remaining ingredients until completely incorporated and finely processed. Divide equally among the mushroom caps.

Arrange the escargot dishes on a rimmed baking sheet, and slide under the broiler. Cook until the mushrooms are just tender, and the butter is bubbling and starting to create a light crust. Every broiler is different, but in mine, it takes 10 minutes.

Eat hot with tons of fresh baguette. I actually really like a whole wheat or multigrain baguette with this, not only because I prefer heartier and healthier breads, but it just goes with the earthiness of the mushrooms. Bon app!

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Categories: 15 Minutes, Appetizers & Hors D’Oeuvres, Cheap, Easy, Eat, Individual, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian
 

Saffron Risotto with Zucchini Blossoms and Crème Fraîche

RECIPE: Saffron Risotto with Zucchini Blossoms and Crème Fraîche

Saffron Risotto with Zucchini Blossoms and Crème FraîcheI promised a few weeks ago that I would make a zucchini blossom risotto with saffron and crème fraîche – and I did!

I had my dad over for dinner. Growing up, I spent every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night out to dinner with him. Sometimes it would be Steve’s pizza on Second Avenue – garlic bread, a pie, iceberg salad with lots of dried oregano and red wine vinegar. Occasionally, it would be lobster. He taught me how to eat in New York. And he continued to treat to me to such outings – well, he still does! But more and more now, I try to have him over for our dinners. He can’t boil water, so I think a home-cooked meal is as exotic to him as dinner out is to most people.

Last time he came over, I made this risotto. Shallots, butter, Arborio rice. Marigold-bright zucchini blossoms, torn into ribbons. White wine, steeped with saffron. So good! And to finish it off, instead of cheese, tangy, rich crème fraîche. It’s just so good. And golden and beautiful.

Saffron Risotto with Zucchini Blossoms and Crème Fraîche
serves 2 to 3

INGREDIENTS
8 large zucchini blossoms
1 ½ cups vegetable broth, mixed with 2 cups of water
¼ teaspoon saffron
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled, but otherwise whole
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup crème fraîche
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

METHOD
To prepare the zucchini blossoms, slice off the stem, and remove the stamen. Then tear into petals. Set aside.

In a small stockpot, heat the vegetable broth – water mixture with the saffron over medium heat.

In a wide braising pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and add the shallots and garlic. Sauté until translucent. Add the rice and zucchini blossoms, and toast for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce. Then, ladle the saffron broth into the rice, one ladle at a time, stirring and adding more as the rice absorbs the liquid. After 20 minutes, the rice should have absorbed all the broth, and should be tender. Stir in the butter and the parsley. Spoon into bowls, and top with a dollop of crème fraîche.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Eat, Main Courses, Recipes, Sides, Starches, Vegetarian, Vegetarian
 

Whole Wheat Orecchiette with Sausage and Caramelized Fennel

RECIPE: Whole Wheat Orecchiette with Sausage and Caramelized Fennel

Whole Wheat Orecchiette with Sausage and Caramelized FennelEveryone who knows me knows I hate summer.  Now, I have to admit that it’s growing on me.  The office slows down.  We travel.  The fruits and tomatoes are in explosion.  But really, once August rolls around, I’m done.  After Labor Day, when the rest of the world stops drinking rosé and starting mourning the end of summer Fridays, I am celebrating the return of pumpkin pie-everything and starting discussions (negotiations!) about Thanksgiving dinner potato options.

Now, while the air is turning fresh and crackling with possibility, the sky feels blue and unlimited, I am quietly rejoicing in the return to fall cooking.  Hearty.  Harvest.  Whole grains.  Meats.  Vegetables that don’t spoil if you look at them the wrong way.

I love this pasta dish.  I have to confess – I loved it so much that when I had leftovers, I ate it for breakfast before work and didn’t need to eat again until dinner.  It starts with red onion and fennel – sweet and hearty.  I caramelize them until they become nearly a jam, and then add in fennel-studded pork sausage, and white wine, and a little bit of broth.  I finish it all off with a mess of lacey fennel fronds and crème fraîche.  It’s rich and tangy from the sausage and crème fraîche; sweet and earthy from the onions and fennel; bright and airy from the fennel fronds.  I toss it all with whole wheat orecchiette that traps the sauce and bits of sausage.  It is so good!  I am dreaming up a version with turkey sausage and Swiss chard as I write this.

Happy fall, and bon app!

Whole Wheat Orecchiette with Sausage and Caramelized Fennel
serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage (about 4 links, with fennel inside)
1 red onion, very thinly sliced
½ fennel, very thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
½ cup crème fraîche
1 pound whole wheat orecchiette
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fennel fronds (or parsley)
Salt and pepper

METHOD

In a heavy-bottomed, wide pan, add the olive oil. Remove the sausages from their casings, and add to the oil. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onion and fennel to the pan with the drippings from the sausage. Season with salt and pepper, and add about 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over medium heat for 20 – 25 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized. If the pan ever starts to burn, add a spoonful of water. Add the garlic and warm through. Add the wine and reduce by half, scraping the good brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the vegetable broth and the reserved sausage into the pan. Bring to a boil, and stir in the cold butter. Finally, stir in the crème fraîche.

While the onion and fennel cooks, cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente.

Add the cooked orecchiette on top of the sauce. Top with the Parmesan and the fennel fronds. Then, toss to coat, finishing the pasta in the sauce. Add up to ¼ cup of pasta water if the sauce seems too dry. Devour!

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Eat, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Sides, Starches