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.
[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
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 email@example.com. A winner will be picked at random. More details over here. I’m excited for this book—I think you’ll like it.
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
Do you have a bottle of mirin in the back of your fridge or cupboard? Do you remember what you bought it for? I used to forget about my mirin until a recipe like Heidi’s Black Sesame Otsu came along, and then afterward I’d let it get pushed back into the shadows all over again. Thank goodness it takes a very long time to go bad. But over the past year I’ve been reaching for it a bit more frequently and experimenting with it in some less obvious ways.
That’s right: More! Salad! I eat at least one salad a day. I love an elaborate, unusual one like Crack Salad or a Salad Treat, but most often it’s something simple, just some greens topped with whatever vegetables, nuts, and crumbles or shavings of cheese I’ve got lying around. Thus it was a pretty obvious subject when I started organizing the next issue of my digital magazine, Feast by Lukas. “Season’s Salads” has a melon salad spiked with ginger and fresh chilies, a smashed cucumber salad with a nubby sesame dressing, a pear and greens salad topped with savory granola, a torn tortilla salad with tomatoes, avocados, and a chili-lime vinaigrette, and several more.
This is the 4th issue of Feast by Lukas, which completes the first volume! It’s been so much fun and I feel like it’s starting to click. I hope you’ll check out Season’s Salads issue—the app is free to download in the iTunes store, and within it subscriptions and individual issues are available for purchase ($3.99/issue, or $13.99 for a yearly subscription). And if you’ve read it and like it (or don’t like it, that’s fine and fair), would you…. I hate asking for this, but…. give it a rating and/or review in the iTunes store?
Last time we did kimchi, 2 years ago (every day, week, month, and quarter—it’s been a quarter of a year since I wrote anything here—just picks up more and more speed, snowball style), it was a quasi-traditional, vegetarian, napa cabbage one, and I live-tweeted the whole process. This one is similar, but a little quicker and therefore arguably a little easier. Scallions are one of the easier-to-get-your-hands-on spring vegetables, available in abundance, so I thought it’d be a good thing to highlight here. Farmer’s market scallions—you can pick up some purple ones!—are thinner and have longer, bushier tops than the grocery store varieties do. They’re also grittier and need a more rigorous cleaning, in several changes of water.
This recipe comes from the latest issue of my digital magazine, Feast by Lukas. In this issue, called “Building Blocks,” kimchi functions as one of those little accessories that makes for easy, tasty, component-style meals. I’ll add kimchi to lots of things—sandwiches, rice and noodle bowls, savory pancakes, in soup, as a topping for crostini, and right out of the jar with a fork. Other dishes in this issue include a “slaw starter,” primers on the #putaneggonit egg, some excellent vinaigrettes, a recipe for “nut muffins” (saying that out loud still makes me chuckle), and more. Also, I’m proud to share that photographer Cara Howe collaborated with me on this issue, and her gorgeous photos—that’s hers up top, and on the cover of the issue—are such a huge improvement to the project I still can’t even believe it. You can download the Feast by Lukas app in the iTunes store, and within that you can subscribe or purchase individual issues. Continue reading