Last 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A winner will be picked at random. More details over here. I’m excited for this book—I think you’ll like it.
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.
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
“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.
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
Filed under Baking, Recipe
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.
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 Cathy; Marion 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.
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.
So it’s with great, great pride and joy to share Jarry, Issue 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.
Here’s a salad for these final dog days of summer, one that’s juicy and refreshing and not too much work. It’s not very different from other watermelon salads out there except for the addition of cornichons, those little French pickled gherkins. They add a crunchy, vinegary zing that I never knew was missing from watermelon salads. I first tried it this way at Saraghina, an Italian restaurant in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Saraghina does things like that—adding quartered cornichons to their watermelon salad—tricks that seem obvious and revelatory at the same time. They’re quartered lengthwise, too. Why does that matter—why can’t you just chop them up into little rounds? I don’t know. Maybe it’s that they’re easier to spear with your fork, or that you get the right amount of puckery zing per bite. You just have to do it.
It’s best served very cold—start with a cold, refrigerated watermelon, or allow time for the salad to chill before serving. This might even be the time to chill your salad plates and serving platter, too. Serve it over a pile of arugula or other favorite salad greens, as directed here, or make it into a heartier main by adding a scoop of cooked quinoa to the greens. Most summery, juicy fruits and vegetables are good additions—stone fruits, cucumbers, even halved grapes. In one round for this recipe I added some torn chunks of fresh mozzarella, which made it terrifically decadent. Be creative and let the farmer’s market inspire you, but make haste. September is approaching. Continue reading
I love entertaining, even if I’m not as good at it as I’d like to be. I’m always a little too ambitious, where my guests find me sweating over a few simmering pots and an open oven when they arrive; too adventurous, excited to try out a brainy, untested dish over a failsafe standby; and I hate this but I sometimes I just choke in those crucial last minutes, sending rookie mistakes like under-seasoned or cold dishes out to the table. One reason I like to entertain is that it’s a muscle, and you can develop it, but more than that, hanging out at a dining table with new and old friends is one of my favorite things to do, and if I could do it every night I would.
So last weekend, after a very long dinner party hiatus, I had some friends over. I’d been rereading my Diana Kennedy books and was discovering Rick Bayless ones, so I decided a few Mexican-inspired dishes would be nice on a balmy July day. I made:
- A batch of creamy poblano rajas from More Mexican Everyday, to which I added a sheet pan’s worth of mixed roasted mushrooms; this was taco filling and I’ll write up the recipe sometime soon.
- This corn salad: a hit.
- From a pound of Rancho Gordo Bayo Chocolate Beans—one of the fruits of their partnership with Xoxoc—some vaguely refried beans. I cooked them with bay leaf and onion until creamy, then fried them in a bit of olive oil and garlic and mashed them with some of the bean-cooking liquid until creamy, but still a little chunky. Very good, and great with breakfast the next day.
- And because I’d bitten off more than I could chew, I enlisted the help of two of my guests for the rest of the menu: genius guacamole, from Kristin Miglore’s wonderful book Genius Recipes
- . . . and a platter of ceviche, served cold and heady with grapefruit zest, serrano and fresno chilies, and lots of herbs.
It was quite a feast. There was even a galette for dessert. I should have taken pictures, but—too much to do. Continue reading