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…
What an exciting few weeks it’s been! Thank you for supporting Bowl—the reception has really blown me away. I apologize if I’ve already inundated you with these news items on other social media channels, but if you missed any of it, check out this New York Times article that still has me feeling faint, and bowls in Vogue, and then a few pieces I wrote for Food52: on Dashi, and Vegetarian Pho Broth, and, finally, The Anatomy of a Broth Bowl. (All these links have recipes.) Lastly, if you live in or near Seattle, I hope you’ll stop by Book Larder next Friday.
In spring I always crave kimchi, in part because the dismal farmers market offerings leave me wanting color and assertive flavor, and in part because spring cleaning and probiotics seem to go hand in hand. You probably know that kimchi is a whole category of fermented foods beyond just Napa cabbage, and this carrot version—inspired by the nubby little carrots I did find at the market, though they’re likely the dregs of last fall’s crop—is one I’ve been tinkering with for a few weeks. Continue reading
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 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.
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