A few years ago, when I was doing my final tests of this recipe—one of my favorites from Bowl—it was peak August. My poorly ventilated apartment was very much a sweat lodge, and the last thing I wanted to do was bring a pot of liquid to simmer. But I had no choice. I was on deadline. I’d learned in my research about the principle—popular throughout many East Asian cuisines—of battling hot food with hot weather, but as I sat over this bowl of steaming “summer” ramen, my hair, face, and clothes matted with sweat, I didn’t buy it.
Then I took a taste. It was so good! So clear with summeriness, such a glorious, fresh way to show off those juicy, late-summer gems. Did it help to make the heat more bearable? Perhaps. At the very least I was temporarily distracted from it. Nonetheless, I was excited to make it this year, and I’ll look forward to it next, too. Continue reading
This week I shared a new recipe for tofu burgers on Food52. Back when I wrote Veggie Burgers Every Which Way I wasn’t as enthusiastic about tofu as I am now, now that I’ve spent a lot more time enjoying it on its own and in the myriad of delicious ways that it appears in dishes across many Asian cuisines. So I revisited the tofu burger with the intent of making the tofu shine, and incorporated a few great tricks like grating it for a lighter, less tacky texture. Head over to Food52 for the write-up and the recipe, as well as for photos by the excellent Spencer Starnes.
And after the jump, my easiest and favorite way to quick-pickle onions and cucumbers, which will be a welcome accompaniment to all of your Memorial Day ‘que spreads this weekend and through the summer. Can’t believe it’s here already…
Over the weekend I shared a story on Medium about a “luncheon” that my mom threw, and her favorite cookbook Bound to Please. In that story, the quiche I describe is Mom’s go-to quiche—a quiche Lorraine, made with ham of course, but also with a Pillsbury pie crust and two different kinds of pre-shredded cheese. Here’s the one that I made myself on Mother’s Day.
There was a time when I thought it was a good idea to try to make quiche a little less dairy rich, more egg-oriented—”healthier.” But that might have been the last time I made quiche (it’s been a while). Since then I’ve come to recognize it for the decadent dish it is and rather than trying to tweak it to be marginally less rich, I think I’d rather just eat it less often, reserve it for special occasions.
Here’s a quick recipe for a style of meal I’ve been eating a lot lately. It’s one of those “component” bowls, a cousin of a Korean bibimbap, that I make so often that I rarely think it merits a recipe. If I were to post a photo like the one above on Instagram and someone asked me for the recipe, it would seem sufficient to just say: Fried egg + soy-glazed tofu + sautéed greens + hot sauce, over mixed grains.
But there are a few tricks and details that elevate a rice bowl from a patchy mishmash to the kind that that you’ll crave. As with most things in the kitchen, it comes down to details: tasting along the way, cooking with care, making sure that each individual component is something you’d want to eat on its own. Here I’m sharing my favorite method for tofu—the results are slightly sweet, a bit caramelized and crispy around the edges—and it requires no time pressing or marinading. Continue reading
Martha Rose Shulman, the prolific author of some of my very favorite, whole foods-oriented, weeknight friendly, never boring recipes, has written a few times about her habit of using up the lingering odds and ends of her dry goods—beans, pulses, grains—before the end of the year. This makes for a clean slate in January, and prevents any of those items from going bad while hidden up in the corner of a top shelf for a few years. It’s always seemed like a good idea to me, but I’ve never really made a point of doing it. But this December, we’re on. I began with this perfect, post-Thanksgiving meal.
This recipe is really more of an idea. I thought about going the soup route with my lingering black beans and farro, but instead I landed on something like “dry soup,” or a “black bean and farro soup bowl,” or—bingo—”deconstructed soup.” The idea is to take the elements of the soup I might have made, strip it of its broth, and amp up the garnishes. Furthermore, when I combine beans and grains in a soup, one or the other often turns to waterlogged mush as the leftovers sit, and this method eliminates that.
I’ve been spending a lot of time at the grocery store. Not shopping, but standing there behind a little sample table, proselytizing my Made by Lukas veggie burgers. I walk into the store and press play on the soundbite that’s tattooed into my brain—”Care to try a fresh vegetable veggie burger? Here, have a taste! These are Made-by-Lukas fresh-vegetable-veggie-burgers! The orange one is Carrot-Parsnip, the red one is beet. Yes, absolutely please do try both! Eighty percent fresh, locally sourced vegetables—our kitchen is up in the Hudson Valley—and quinoa, seeds, millet, and spices make up the rest! No soy! No wheat! Right over there in the cold case next to the tofu!” Repeat a thousand times.
And when I walk out, it takes about an hour before I can turn it off. Don’t get me wrong. I like—I love—these veggie burgers, and I’m proud of the product and even the spiel. It’s incredibly exciting to introduce them to the eaters who are going to get them and love them as I do, and gratifying when that happens. And while it’s occasionally exhausting, it’s mostly amusing when I step back to assess: So this is where my life has taken me. How interesting.
Last week at R&D Foods in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, I got a quesadilla that was just perfection. These types of assembled lunch meals can seem so simple—R&D has a creative, flavor-forward menu and is very mindful about ingredient sourcing, but the set-up is loosely based on the same model as a sandwich shop or deli, where all the sauces and fillings are prepped and pre-made, so that sandwiches only need to be assembled and heated up to order—but it’s so easy for things to go wrong.
When the ingredients are fresh, flavorful, and used in balance; when the sandwich (or in this case, quesadilla) is heated properly to create all the right crisp and gooey textures and isn’t flecked with the burnt bits of fifteen other meals that were cooked on the same sandwich press; and when it hasn’t been sitting in a paper bag for very long, so that when it’s unwrapped from the parchment and eaten out of hand on a park bench, in a patch of some of the last of the hot, early-afternoon sun for the year . . . In other words, when every little detail is exactly right, it can make a person pretty happy to be alive. Such was my Friday afternoon.