Ginger & Coconut Braised Cabbage

FullSizeRender (42)Cabbage is a vegetable that puts up with a lot. You can project onto it. You can say, “You’re a sweet and crunchy, refreshing condiment,” and it says, “That’s me!” Or you can say, “You are a spicy, funky, perfect example of what lactic fermentation is good for,” and it says, “Exactly.” Or you can appreciate it for being a nuanced, velvety decadence, say to it, “Gosh, you’re an classy brassica,” and it responds, “I’m yours.” Maybe cabbage is a little too tolerating.

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[Quick interruption: There’s still time to preorder Bowl—which was recently picked as one of the most exciting new spring cookbooks by Epicurious!—and win a set of excellent, handmade Jono Pandolfi bowls.]

As a classy brassica, cabbage is one of those vegetables that responds well to near-overcooking. Braised cabbage is just delicious. It turns silky and sweet, and is so good topped with lots of black pepper and flaky finishing salt. The Molly Steven’s recipe is one that I return to periodically, especially in the winter when it’s slim pickings at the farmer’s market. I’ve adapted that recipe a bit here, giving it some gingery, garlicky fragrance and extra richness in the form of coconut milk. Continue reading

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Chili and Bowls

FullSizeRender (30).jpgLast weekend, while it was still unseasonably warm here in New York, I bought a bag of mixed soup beans at the farmers market and set out to make chili. (I found the beans—beautiful beans!—through a great new initiative called the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project.) I wondered if it was too warm, that chili was the wrong thing for the weather. But then a cold, icy front blew in on Monday and it turned out that chili was a smart move.

My go-to recipe, which was on Buzzfeed a while ago, is like most chili recipes in that you can approach it with loose attention to the rules (well, don’t quote me on that, because I know there are strong opinions on this subject). I always grind up the vegetables, which makes for a luxe, velvety consistency because of caramelized goodness, and use chunks of squash that offer some nice juicy texture against the beans. This time I used a combination of ancho and guajillo chilies that go into the garlic-ginger paste, and left out fresh ones (didn’t have any), and went with red wine instead of beer. It’s a very good batch. I’ve posted my slightly revised recipe at the bottom of the post.

My book Bowl, which will be out in March, began several years ago because of a transformative bowl of vegetarian ramen at Chucko here in Brooklyn. It featured a rich, complex, steaming broth that fogged up my glasses, a tangle of fresh wheat noodles, chunks of sweet and juicy vegetables like squash and cabbage, and a soft egg that gloriously melted into the whole thing. That inspired me to start making ramen at home, which in turn, led me to some of the other classic, similarly comforting dishes of Asia like bibimbap and pho. These were such wonderful recipes to be immersed in and at some point I realized that the commonality was the vessel itself, as I was also making some of the grain-based all-in-one bowls that are currently in vogue.

So with a book called Bowl, that celebrates the vessel and the comforting and healthy meals that can be enjoyed from it, it seemed obvious to team up with a maker of bowls! I’m pleased to announce that ceramics designer Jono Pandolfi, who makes some of the most gorgeous ceramics I’ve ever seen (for many of New York’s top chefs and for Food52’s exclusive line) is offering a set of four bowls to one lucky person who preorders Bowl! All you need to do is order the book before March 7, 2016 and forward the order confirmation to bowlthecookbook@gmail.com. A winner will be picked at random. More details over here. I’m excited for this book—I think you’ll like it.

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Reset: Spinach Soup

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I avoid making resolutions, but the new year is a always good time to “reset.” After the holidays, and all the excess of excess, it feels right to return to a healthy baseline normal. This is a roundabout way of advocating “manageable expectations” if you’re the goal setting-type. Find the healthy habits that work for you and bump them up a notch: eat the foods that taste best and make you feel best, look for the kinds of exercise that you actually enjoy. For example, as much as I’d love to have the physique, Crossfit just isn’t ever going to be my thing so I’ll spare myself the disappointment of that not working out. Instead, I’ll get back into my soup game, beginning with this bright green, spicy, clean spinach soup, and stick to the forms of exercise I have less difficulty keeping up with.

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Looking ahead to 2016, there’s a lot of exciting stuff on the immediate horizon. You might have noticed that new book cover on the top left corner of this home screen: My next cookbook Bowl comes out in March! I’ll be announcing a very cool preorder giveaway in the next couple days, and then have been brainstorming some events around it. And my Made by Lukas burgers are now shipping direct, all across the country! And we’ll have a new issue of Jarry out in the spring! The most current place for these kinds of announcements is my Instagram—I hope you’ll follow along if you don’t already. Continue reading

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Celery Salad with Pears and Hazelnuts

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My friend Lesley and I drove up to Narrowsburg, NY, a few weekends ago and had dinner at the culinary draw there, a restaurant called The Heron. We ate rich, decadent, dare I say “Brooklyney” fare that hit the spot on that first bracingly cold night of the season.

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The celery salad was the highlight for me. It’s rare to see celery treaded so simply yet elegantly, and as a refreshing winter salad it struck me as just perfect. Rather than burying it in cream and cheese, celery’s texture and flavor are showcased—a perfect balance of crunchy and juicy, sweet and saline. I went home to make it. Continue reading

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S.L.S.C. Almond Cake

FullSizeRender (19)“I brought you a cake!” Is there ever a time when that isn’t a nice thing to hear? This cake is that offering, for your friends and loved ones and hosts and hostesses. It’s something of a “little black dress” (LBD) cake, but in my case more of a “slick little sport coat” (SLSC) cake: perfect for any occasion, quick to throw together, and effortlessly flattering. Think Amanda Hesser’s mother-in-law’s almond cake, which I love as much as the rest of the internet—but quicker, and without ingredients like almond paste and sour cream, which I rarely have on hand. It’s rich and buttery, with prominent almond flavor, a deep caramelized crust, and sturdy structure so that you can eat it out of your hand. It also keeps for several days (is even better by day two or three) and travels well.

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The recipe comes from my most favorite desserts cookbook, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich. I realize now that no one on the internet needs another gift guide, but for the cook in your life, this cookbook is the one to give them. I’ve been an evangelist for Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts since I bought it a few years ago. It contains no duds—it’s full of SLSC recipes. One of my favorite things about throwing a dinner party is that I get to pick something to make from this book. It’s a title that I refuse to loan out—you need to get your own copy, I say. Continue reading

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Friendsgiving Greens Galette

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Now is the time to put  your Friendsgiving on the calendar. I suppose Thanksgiving is coming up, too, but Friendsgiving is so much fun. If you, like me, enjoy cooking and also control (over the menu, and every other detail), you may have found that for a holiday so devoted to food, Thanksgiving can fail to satisfy. That’s where Friendsgiving steps in. No need to travel, no mandate for sticking to traditions . . . risks are encouraged. I treat it as a food-lovers co-opting of Thanksgiving.

Today’s greens galette is a contribution to the #jarryfriendsgiving “virtual potluck,” and I hope you’ll join us!  We’ve got lots of recipes and inspiration over on the Jarry website, including a favorite side dish of mine: Grilled Raddichio with Sharp Cheddar and Toasted Hazelnuts.

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In July or August, when we shot a Friendsgiving feast for the first issue of Jarry, it was hot outside, and months away from the appropriate time for the holiday food. Fun, but not quite right. So last weekend I had a Friendsgiving in earnest. A potluck-style feast, with no marshmallow-topped casseroles or, come to think of it, even stuffing, or mashed potatoes, or gravy—but so many exciting vegetable dishes: cardamom-and-coconut-spiced mashed sweet potatoes by Crista; a salad of shaved kohlrabi and apples, chocolate mint, and hazelnuts by Andy; pomegranate-spiked kabocha squash salad by CathyMarion Cunningham’s First Prize Onion Casserole by Noah; a medley of purple carrots, acorn squash, and cauliflower by Paul; slow-cooked sweet potatoes topped with garlicky labneh and chives by Ben. Then we had braised chicken in place of roasted turkey; applesauce cake instead of pie . . . and somehow a lot more food. This greens galette was one of my contributions.

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Introducing Jarry + Tomato-Watermelon Gazpacho

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Two things, and I’ll try make them quick. First off, that, above, is a magazine that I’m incredibly excited to share. Ever since I read Jessica Pressler’s hilarious send-up of the (straight) male foodie, which she calls a “doodie,” I wondered about what might make gay men’s approach to food unique. It seemed like a good idea for a magazine, and I left it on the back burner of my brain until I met Alex Kristofcak, and then Steve Viksjo, and we decided to go ahead and make it happen. What would it look like? What kinds of articles would it contain? We didn’t really know, but we wanted to see it, and we wanted to read them.

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So it’s with great, great pride and joy to share JarryIssue 1, with you. In 128 pages, we explore the issue’s theme, “What Is Jarry?“: Jarry is James Beard Award-winning writer John Birdsall’s investigation into why there aren’t more publicly out chefs in restaurant kitchens. It’s artist Levi Hasting’s short comic about the peculiar relationship he has with his mother-in-law, via the kitchen. It’s recipes by popular writers and photographers Nik Sharma, Beau Ciolino, Adrian Harris, and Jonathan Melendez, as well as a night spent with Diego Moya, Miguel de Leon, and Zach Ligas of Brooklyn’s Cure Supper Club. It’s a long interview with Anjelica Huston’s personal chef, cover guy Blake Bashoff, as well as an A+ recipe for his fruit galette. It’s cabaret artist-turned-private chef Daniel Isengart and his longtime friend, international icon Joey Arias, spending an afternoon in the kitchen. And so much more. In short, what it is, is super exciting. Check out the website for article previews and more information, and to order or subscribe.

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