Book Review, Main Dishes, Sides

Hemsley + Hemsley Green Goddess Noodle Salad

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If you’ve ever made a zucchini noodle, gnawed on refined sugar-free chocolate fudge, or dug a fork into a mason jar salad, give a nod to all the health bloggers and wellness sites out there, but mostly thank the Hemsley sisters. Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley‚ÄĒknown more commonly as Hemsley + Hemsley‚ÄĒlaunched their brand¬†in 2010, focusing on flavor and relying less on¬†gluten, grains and refined sugar. Lovers of cooking and eating, the Hemsleys began as healthy cooks and caterers for private clients and events, but soon proved to be working towards a larger goal.

To improve their clients’¬†relationships with food, the Hemsleys emphasize the importance of digestive¬†health, and are generally on a mission to make eating well a joyful experience. Their first book, The Art of Eating Well,¬†solidified the Hemsley + Hemsley name as a go-to for all foodstuffs related to making healthier choices, without perpetuating a culture of deprivation. The ladies’ sophomore book is¬†Good + Simple, which dives deeper into their aim to “coach people away from fad diets and unhealthy eating towards an appreciation of the power of real food, properly sourced and correctly prepared.”

The ingenuity behind the¬†Hemsley + Hemsley philosophy is that these women understand that in order to maintain any sort of lifestyle, (“healthy” or otherwise) the methodology must be simple enough to participate in not just often, but every day. Jasmine and Melissa do not suggest¬†that their audience throw out all evidence of bread in their kitchens and become spiral-slicing,¬†grain- and refined sugar-free droids. But they do want to advocate that their practice is attainable enough to introduce into anyone’s routine. Yes, there is a green juice recipe in this book, and zucchini noodles aplenty; but flip a few pages and you’ll find¬†pulled pork and plum clafoutis.

Further, there’s a¬†notion to emphasize a¬†deeper thought process behind eating and cooking: The food we put into our mouths shouldn’t just taste good and look good, it should be thoughtfully¬†sourced. Their¬†holistic approach to food is broken down¬†to three simple words‚ÄĒdelicious, nutritious, sustainable. H + H uses a 15-principle guide, which I find to be refreshingly contrary to the plethora of touters of Health-with-a-capital-H that are so easily lumped together:

  1. Gut instinct
  2. Boil your bones
  3. Forget calories, think nutrients
  4. Meat and two veg
  5. Going against the grain
  6. Fat is your friend
  7. Sweet enough
  8. Drink to think
  9. The real deal
  10. Know your onions
  11. Prepare, chew and combine
  12. Be mindful
  13. Stress less
  14. Tune in
  15. The “better than” rule

I won’t go into what each point means, but I hope you read through them¬†if you find yourself a copy of the book. (In fact, read through all the text¬†that doesn’t precede a recipe. They have something to say; something I can’t paraphrase in a short review.) ¬†The very fact that there are so many “principles” affirms that the Hemsleys¬†understand there’s more to¬†eating than one defining term for everything one puts in their body.¬†Relying¬†on food guidelines rather than restrictions is not only more attainable, but makes for happier eaters.

In addition to the recipes, Good + Simple includes advice for stocking a kitchen, two weekly menu plans (and shopping lists!), and suggestions for lifestyle habits like having a nighttime routine, drinking water, and making time for gentle exercise.

Good + Simple¬†is a cookbook you can actually cook from, which can be a rarity these days. The following recipe is the first I cooked from this book, and I strongly recommend it‚ÄĒfor dinner tonight, lunch next week, or for any upcoming potlucks. While I was slightly turned off by the title, (“green goddess” dressing is a¬†thick,¬†mint-colored substance I truly despise) the photos led me to believe I was not going to be pur√©eing anything¬†creamy. It’s a fresh and immensely flavor-packed¬†dish that was as satisfying to put in my mouth as it was to look at. After three servings for dinner, I went right back to the (plentiful) leftovers for the next two days. The recipe is¬†a keeper, as is the book.

Green Goddess Noodle Salad [from Hemsley Hemsley Good + Simple, by Jasmine Hemsley and Melissa Hemsley, serves 4 as main]

SALAD
10 ounces buckwheat (soba) noodles
1 tablespoon extra-version olive oil
10 ounces broccoli florets or purple-sprouting broccoli, asparagus, or green beans
1 medium green cabbage or bok choy, leaves shredded
1 meduim fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out, and flesh chopped
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 large avocado, sliced
2 handfuls fresh greens (watercress, baby spinach, lettuce, leftover cooked kale)
1 small handful of nuts (cashews, peanuts, or almonds) or seeds (sesame, sunflower, or poppy)
4 handfuls fresh herbs (cilantro, mint, or basil), roughly chopped

DRESSING
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1¬Ĺ -inch piece of fresh root ginger (unpeeled if organic), finely grated
2 teaspoons tamari
A pinch of cayenne pepper or chili flakes (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper

Cook the buckwheat noodles in a large pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions (about 7 minutes). Use two forks to tease the noodles apart during the first minute of cooking.

When they are tender, drain and rinse under cold water for 15 seconds. Drain again and then toss in the EVOO in a large serving bowl to stop the noodles sticking together. Set aside.

Using the same pan, after a quick rinse, steam the broccoli (or other vegetable), covered with a lid, in 4 tablespoons of boiling water for 4 minutes until tender.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or shake in a jam jar with the lid on. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then drain.

Add the raw vegetables, spring onions and avocado to the noodles with the greens and steamed broccoli. Pour over the dressing and mix everything together. Top with the nuts or seeds, toasted in a dry pan for a minute if you like, and the fresh herbs.

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NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Main Dishes, Sides, Snacks

Shaved Carrot and Brussels Sprout Salad

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Last week I participated in a Snapchat takeover for feedfeed, a really rad site that acts as a platform for bloggers, chefs, home cooks, and “foodies” alike interested in being a part of a community to share recipes and food photos! The theme of the week was salad, so I made my favorite desk lunch: a shaved carrot‚Äďdare I say, carrot “noodle”‚Äďand Brussels sprout salad with crispycrunchyroasty chickpeas.

I used to make this salad at least thrice a week, if not more, in¬†my apartment last year, which now that I think of it seems like a hundred million years ago. It made the perfect 5pm meal-ish snack before going out for beers and truffle fries and duck nachos at 7 (and pickles and greyhounds at 11.) And better yet, if I remembered to make a large enough batch, I’d pack up the leftovers and take them for lunch the next day. After that overnight soak, the¬†dressing seeps further into the carrots, which you might think sounds gross, but I assure you it is not. It tastes great at room temperature too, so if you’re in a work situation where you either don’t have access to a fridge or are a new employee and too timid to use the team fridge (aheh) you’ll be all set. Watch my snap story below, then check out the recipe below that! And check out the feeds I edit on feedfeed too: Meatless Monday and Overnight Oats.

Shaved Carrot and Brussels Sprout Salad with Tahini-Miso Dressing and Crispy Chickpeas (serves 1-2, depending on how hungry)

5 carrots
~6 Brussels sprouts
1 scallion
1 can (13-15 oz.) chickpeas
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon well-stirred tahini
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 teaspoon lemon juice (you may want more)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
pinch/few grinds red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425¬ļ F. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then use a dishtowel to dry them thoroughly. Spread them out onto a baking sheet and coat with sesame oil. Sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Bake ¬†10-15 minutes, until crispy. If you hear them starting to pop in the oven before the time is up, cover the sheet lightly with foil. When they’re done, let them cool to room temperature on the baking sheet.

Slice the carrots into strands using a vegetable peeler and thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. Toss together in a large bowl.

To make the dressing, whisk together oil, tahini, miso, lemon juice, thyme, red pepper, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust according to your preferences! Toss the dressing with the carrots and Brussels sprouts. If you’re not expecting to finish the whole batch, transfer the amount you’ll be eating to a bowl. Add a few handfuls of chickpeas. Thinly slice the scallion and sprinkle on top. Devour!

Store remaining salad and chickpeas in separate airtight containers for about 2 days. Brighten with more lemon juice and cracked pepper.

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Book Review, Sides, Snacks

Torta (Dominican Corn Bread)

The genius behind Hot Bread Kitchen is threefold. Founder Jessamyn¬†Rodriguez¬†1) decided to create a space dedicated to¬†making bread. This is fairly self-explanatory. Bread is perfection. Chewy, salty perfection. And in a world filled with¬†sad, soft, cellophane-wrapped grocery store bread that can barely stand up to butter, let along¬†sandwich¬†fillings, we need all the real bread we can get. 2) For said bread-making space,¬†Rodriguez¬†hires¬†low-income, immigrant and minority people, often¬†women. HBK then provides these employees with proper¬†culinary¬†skill that they can take on to future places of employment within the food industry. 3) The employees of Hot Bread Kitchen share their own bread making secrets from¬†their heritages and homelands (Moroccan m’smen! Indian naan! Persian nan-e quandi!)

These brilliant aspects of¬†Rodriguez’s company and more are apparent from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook. Unlike a traditional cookbook of recipes with a bit of copy, HBK’s book is more like a coffee table book that happens to teach readers to make breads from around the world.

The book is divided into sections: unleavened flatbreads,¬†leavened flatbreads, tortillas and more, lean breads and roll-ups, Challah and beyond, filled doughs from around the world, quick breads and holiday breads, and (my personal favorite) what to do with leftover bread (a problem I rarely find myself experiencing, but the ideas were so creative!) If you’ve found yourself saying, “gee, my grandma/aunt/mother used to make all her bread from scratch and I never do that, I should try!” this is the book for you. Start with soft lavash and make your way to a Chilean empanada.

As if the book didn’t cover an expansive enough topic, it also includes recipes for culturally appropriate dishes to serve alongside your breads ‚Äďnot that there’s anything “wrong” with putting peanut butter and jelly on a tortilla‚Äď but why not try your hand at chilaquiles? Or make a Bangladeshi-style vegetable dish packed with fenugreek, nigella, black mustard, and fennel seeds to accompany your homemade chapatis? Also, the Challah French toast grilled cheese with peaches hellllo. And once I master Bahn Mi baguette dough, I plan to make the pork belly Banh Mi with “the works” recipe, contributed by HBK’s former farmers’ market manager Thuy Nguyen.

Which brings me to one of my favorite elements of this book: peppered among the recipes are Baker’s Profiles, which detail short stories of current and former Hot Bread Kitchen employees. Women who have baked for HBK have gone¬†on to work for well- known NYC bakeries like Amy’s Bread, larger companies like Whole Foods, and even started their own shops.

The first recipe I made from this cookbook was a torta, a Dominican corn bread baked in a skillet. A sweet, buttery bread I’d just as soon eat with a slick of chocolate frosting for dessert as I would crumbled into chili. This recipe was contributed by Rodriquez’s mother-in-law, and is incredible. I don’t own an 8-in cast iron skillet, so I made my torta in ceramic dish, though I imagine a regular cake pan will work just fine too (it’s just not as fun to plunk that down on the dinner table as it is with a more *rustic* skillet)

Torta (from the Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook, makes 1 8-inch loaf)

1 cup AP Flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons whole milk
9 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350¬ļ F. Put an 8-inch cast-skillet in the oven to get hot.

Whisk together to the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk together the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl.

Warm the milk and 8 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring every now and then, until the butter is melted. While whisking, slowly pour the butter and milk mixture into the flour mixture. Mix until smooth. Whisk in the egg mixture.

Take the skillet out of the oven and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. It should melt immediately. Tilt the skillet to spread the butter over its surface. Pour the batter into the skillet. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Let cool completely before inverting torta from the pan and slicing.

 

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Extras, Main Dishes, Sides, Snacks

Name the Artwork: A Pop Quiz in Famous Food Paintings

I have a deep affinity for quizzes, particularly for those related to food. So naturally, I was thrilled when Food52 decided to publish my article about food in art, featuring (you guessed it) a quiz! Can you name them all? Head over to Food52 for answers and recipes!

ps- check out my new clips page to see other things I write outside of the blog~

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Breakfasts, Food Party, Main Dishes, Sides

Assorted Recipes from a Brinner Party

When it was still a billion degrees out, my friends joined together to eat a lot of food. Brinner food, to be specific. It was the¬†third¬†food party we had this summer, and they just kept getting better. So¬†many of my favorite people were in one backyard and it honestly was¬†hard to keep up. One of my favorite ladies from Smith¬†just moved to Brooklyn, and she actually got on the train and trekked out to Jersey (you rock, Kelsey!) AND another of my best girls¬†from high school was randomly visiting home from D.C., where she’s been living as a real person with a job and apartment and such. Not to mention a whole host of others from Montclair¬†who were back in town for the summer/indefinitely (like yours truly~~)¬†It actually made me waaaay too happy to see so many rad people in one space! As you’ll be able to tell,¬†I was being the paparazzi and taking all these pictures (thanks for not slugging me while I photographed you eating, friends!)

I think my favorite part about being a “grownup” (planning to use the air-quotes until I no longer have to text my parents with questions when filling out a tax form. Not that that happened at work this week or anything. ANYWAY) is the fact that a group of us can get together on a Monday night and drink a lot of beer without a care. No more sneaking sips of tequila/cheap wine out of plastic cups in between slices of pizza in the basement! We now drink cherry-flavored malt beverages out of the bottle in BROAD daylight (hi Eve) and it is pretty darn wonderful. Read on for the inside scoop of the recipes behind the brinner,¬†made by my lovely friends Emily, Rebecca, Eve– and me!

Vegan Zucchini Bread (adapted ever so slightly from About.com)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cups melted coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 scraped vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons extract)
3 1/2 cups grated zucchini

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease four mini-loaf pans with vegan butter  or oil. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside. In another mixing bowl whisk together the sugar, oil, vegan milk, and vanilla for a minute or two or until the mixture comes together (any oil separation is fine!) Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with half the grated zucchini. Mix until combined, then fold in remaining zucchini. Divide batter among prepared loaf pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes, testing with toothpick after 40. You can also bake 2 9-inch loaves at 325 degrees F for 70-80 minutes.  Allow loaves to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before removing from the pans. The original recipe also includes an optional crumble topping, but I found the bread sweet enough on its own! Plus, I tend to slather loaf breads in jam, so the less sweet the better.

Charred Carrots w/ Lemon Mint Butter (recipe by Rebecca Klein)

3 pounds large carrots cut on the bias
1/2 cup butter
1/2 fresh mint
2 lemons
salt to taste
vegetable/canola oil for cooking
1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Chop mint, reserving one tablespoon and set aside. Zest and juice the lemons, separating the zest from the juice. Melt the butter in saucepan over low heat, making sure it doesn’t bubble. Once the butter is very hot, and zest and majority of the mint. Remove from heat and transfer into a bowl large enough to fit all the carrots

In the largest skillet you have (preferably a cast iron,) add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Heat on high until it just begins to ripple or smoke. Add in a single layer of cut carrots. Sprinkle with salt on the top side. Allow the carrots to cook until parts become black and charred, but not so long that the whole side is burnt. Once the first side is slightly charred, flip carrots and repeat the same process on the other side (omitting the salt.) Once they have cooked on both sides, transfer to the large bowl along with the mint-lemon-butter mixture. This way, the carrots acquire a nice charred flavor without becoming too soft, so keep your heat up high, as once you remove them from the heat they will continue to cook. Repeat with remaining carrots. Once all carrots are cooked, add the lemon juice and the honey if using to the mixture, along with the reserved mint, and toss it all together.  Allow to sit at room temperature for twenty to thirty minutes, so. This can be served hot, but I prefer it at room temperature, so you can let it sit until fully cooled.

Frittata

2 white onions
1 bunch chard
2 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper
a solid amount of feta cheese (we recommend buying a block and crumbling it yourself, there’s better flavor there)
1/2 cup dairy (2% or whole milk, sour cream, cr√®me fra√ģche, etc.)
12 eggs

Caramelize the onions in a pan with a few glugs of olive oil. When the onions are done, transfer them to a bowl. Mince the garlic and dice the bell pepper. Wash, chop, and sautée the chard in the caramelized onion pan with the minced garlic and more oil as needed. Add chard to the onion bowl, then sautée the peppers in the same pan, adding more oil as needed along the way. Add to the onion/chard bowl. Crumble the feta. Follow these instructions using the aforementioned add-ins. We used a cast iron skillet because they are perfect.

Vegan Onion and Tofu Quiche (from Another Dinner is Possible; measurements converted from grams, so they are subject to change/standard deviation)

8-inch Crust (aka “flan case”)
¬Ī2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon mixed herbs, optional
¬Ī1/2 cup margarine or 1/3+2 tbsp vegetable shortening, or other solid vegan butter substitute
ice water

Filling
8-10 onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan butter
sprig of fresh thyme
17 ounces extra firm tofu
pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons miso
¬Ī3/4 cup vegan milk
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
yeast flakes (optional)
salt and pepper

Make the crust: Sift flour, salt, and herbs if using in a large bowl. Cut the butter substitute into chunks and cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers until mixture makes coarse crumbs. Add 2 tablespoons of water and blend, then add more water by the spoonful until the dough just begins to come together. Turn out onto a floured work surface and gently knead it to form a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours)

After crust has chilled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch pie or tart pan with vegan butter or oil. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and roll out to form a ~10″ circle. Carefully roll the dough onto your rolling pin to transfer onto greased baking pan, fluting the edges if you so desire. Prick all over crust with a fork to let steam out. Cover the crust in foil and fill cavity with pie wights or dried beans. Bake for 15-20 minutes, removing the foil for the last five to let the crust let a little brown. Remove from oven and set aside. Can be made 1 day ahead.

Assemble the quiche: Thinly slice onions and caramelize in a pan with the vegan butter and oil over low heat for 20-30 minutes, adding thyme halfway through. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Blend the remaining ingredients together in a food processor or blender, tasting along the way for seasoning. Spread onions onto pre-baked crust and pour tofu mixture over. Bake for about 20 minutes, until filling seems mostly set and golden brown. Set aside to set up further for another 15  minutes or so.

Also on the menu
Bon App√©tit’s¬†Plum and Fennel Salad
Jessie Snyder’s¬†Berry Scones
Roasted Potatoes (like these)
Toaster waffles (thanks Sam!!)
Beer
Ice Cream¬†from Emily’s freezer, consumed straight from the container after a few too many of the aforementioned beers

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Main Dishes, Sides

Millet Salad with Turmeric Vinaigrette

Sundays in summer last forever and not long enough. You get up. You rub your eyes, trying to get them to focus. Maybe you had one (or two) more cocktails last night than you’d originally intended to have, but it’s okay. You stumble around looking for socks because you kicked them off in your sleep –how one possesses the ability to remove socks while unconscious remains a mystery– and go on autopilot to the kitchen. Scoop coffee into the pot. Scoop an extra scoop for good luck, like you always do. You like patterns and routine in the morning. Listen to the pot gurgle and hiss and sputter and drip drip drip. Drink a mug of coffee. Drink another. Another. Realize you accidentally drank all six cups and your family will not be amused. Make another pot. Rinse a week’s worth of quinoa because you like to eat it¬†and WHO CARES if people look in the fridge and ask why you made so darn¬†much. It’s your fridge. Spill roughly 1/8 cup quinoa all over the floor and then realize the floor is the same color as the quinoa and finding seven billion grain-beads is not how you wanted to spend the morning. Sweep.

Walk to the park¬†in pjs and birkenstocks¬†¬†becuase running requires too much effort (and a shower afterwards.)¬†Wish you’d remembered to put on sunscreen. Let your mind wander a bit, because that’s okay sometimes. Find yourself smiling again. It feels nice. Notice that it’s getting late (read: 8am) and you have shit to do and people coming over. Get home. Get distracted reading Molly Yeh’s¬†grub street¬†diet. Only be sad for a few minutes that you don’t also have a chicken to share a cucumber with.

Make brunch. Notice that two bunches of swiss chard sautés down to roughly enough to feed yourself. Wash more chard. Remind yourself that everyone always says never to try out a new recipe for guests in case something goes wrong. Remember how you thought this to yourself at the grocery store the other day but then did one of these. Shrug and add more cream to the chard. Cream makes everything better.

Finish cooking with four minutes to get dressed. Drink another cup of coffee. Spend the rest of the day brunching, then having a “business meeting” (because you’re a “grownup” now,) then drink beers on the hammock outside with someone you like to sit next to. Don’t spend all night watching Friends on Netflix because you have work in the morning. And next Sunday will be here sooner than you think.

Salad (serves 3-4 as main, 6 as side)

1 cup millet
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large zucchini, diced
~10 brussels sprouts, sliced very thinly
1 can chickpeas (reserving the water to do crazy shit like this)

2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
~2 teaspoons fresh thyme
lots of freshly ground black pepper
tiny dollop maple syrup or honey
3 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse the millet well and cook according to package directions (when in doubt, go with the ol’ 1:2 grain-water ratio. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 10-15 minutes, then turn off heat and let stand for 5ish minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool.) Transfer to serving bowl. Saut√© onion in coconut oil until tender, then add to millet. Add zucchini, brussels sprouts, and chickpeas to millet. Make the vinaigrette by combining all ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl. Slowly stream in the oil, whisking constantly. Pour over millet mixture and toss well. Serve cold or at room temperature, depending on your preference!

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Winter Farro Salad (V)

Hi guys, it’s Emily, here to share another guest post! I was first introduced to farro last spring while studying abroad in Italy. During the colder months, we had soup for lunch almost every day. It was the perfect thing to warm us up after site visits in the rain (which happened a lot). As the weather warmed up though, we switched to salads. One day, after a long morning of running around Rome looking at all of the antiquity (life was rough, guys), my classmates and I were famished. You can imagine the joy we felt when we had farro salad made with cherry tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella, and basil dressing for lunch that day. It was fresh yet filling, and I have never been so sad to see a lunch end.

When I came home I made it my mission recreate this perfect food. Maybe when it gets warmer out I will share my version of that salad with you (*hint* *cough* hey Becca!). Thus began my extensive experimentation with possibility of grain salads. Farro, wheat berries, wild rice, quinoa, millet, and other hearty grains are perfect for showcasing seasonal vegetables and flavorful dressings. Even better, they only improve as they sit and the flavors get to know each other.During the warmer months, these types of dishes are perfect for barbecues and light lunches. They can be made ahead and are great at room temperature. Once the weather began to cool off though, I stopped making grain salads. I poked around for recipes that utilized winter flavors, but never really found anything that struck me. This was until I was gifted David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen over the holidays. His wheat berry salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate fit the bill. During a season that is ruled by hearty stews and anything with tomato sauce and loads of cheese, this salad is much needed. Now, I love stuffed shells probably more than the average person, but sometimes I just need something a little brighter and lighter. I made this for dinner one night as a side to a roasted chicken. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t eating it out of the bowl with the serving spoon while the chicken cooked. The next day, I mixed some with shredded leftover chicken and brought it to work for lunch. Everyone was jealous.

Winter Farro Salad (Serves 6 to 8; barely adapted from My Paris Kitchen)

1 c. uncooked semi-pearled farro
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 pounds mixed root vegetables (I used carrots, parsnips, and turnips) and winter squash
olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
4 cups coarsely chopped radicchio
1/2 c. chopped parsley
seeds from 1 pomegranate (I use this method to remove them)
fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
1/4 c. olive oil

Cook the Farro: Rinse farro and put in a large saucepan. Add bay leaf and cover with water. Cook until tender according to packaging instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Remove bay leaf and place farro in large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Roast the Veggies: Preheat oven to 375o F. Peel vegetables and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place in ovenproof dish (I used a large pyrex pan). Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until fork tender, about 35 min. Spread radicchio over vegetables and return to the oven for another few minutes, until the radicchio is wilted.

Make the Dressing: Combine all ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake until combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

Put it All Together: Put vegetables in bowl with farro and stir together. Toss with dressing. I like to use about two thirds of it to start, taste, and adjust to my liking. You can always add more dressing, but you can’t take it away. Any extra is good on a salad tomorrow. Gently toss in parsley, pomegranate seeds, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a few grinds of pepper.

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162

Carrot Salad w/ Tahini Dressing and Roasted Chickpeas (V, GF)

Can I tell you about my new all-time favorite thing? Productive¬†procrastination. AKA anything that isn’t incredibly necessary to being a functioning human, but still is very useful/important/meaningful. Taking a walk. Writing a blog post. Making cookies. Doing laundry (okay, that one might actually be a little more essential.) But I am all about it. If I¬†spend all¬†my¬†time doing what NEEDS to get done and letting the stuff that makes me feel good fall to the wayside, it always ends the same way: me lying awake at night, making lists, obsessing over all the things that still need to get done. I’ve been stuck in¬†this pattern for easily the past month. I know, a month doesn’t sound like very long at all in the grand scheme of things. And I do like being busy.¬†But recently, finding a free couple¬†hours to bake or go downtown¬†has been nearly impossible, except for the middle of the night/wee hours of the morning. And the more I do, the harder it is to turn my brain off. And as much as I like to churn out a good pan of midnight brownies, the idea of doing all those dishes after writing a paper until 10 pm is just not the dream. So while cooking might be on the back burner, I’ve really been trying to take¬†at least 20 minutes a day to breathe deeply and do some good old fashioned procrastinating. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I’m so committed to making this happen I’ve actually started setting my alarm earlier. If I’m up earlier, I can get a little bit of homework done and still have some time to write a blog post or read a few pages of something I actually care about.¬† Let’s see if I can keep this up once we Spring forward this weekend?

So anyway, speaking of 20 minute things, this salad. As long as your oven doesn’t take 45 minutes to heat up (ahem, Smith college apartments) you have plenty of time to throw this together! It’s a large recipe, so it can either feed several people for one meal as a side dish, or one person for almost a week! It¬†lasted me for¬†quite a few¬†meals¬†(which is impressive, considering I nearly devoured the whole thing at 7 am while taking pictures…), but just remember if you’re not eating it all in one sitting, add the chickpeas and sunflower seeds right before munching¬†so they stay crunchy!

PS- the Saveur Food Blog Awards are coming up….can you think of anyone you’d like nominate?¬†Heh.

Salad (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained patted dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1  garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2+ tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound carrots
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds (or pepitas)

For the chickpeas: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss chickpeas with oil, salt, and spices until coated. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast until they’re browned and crisp (about 15 minutes) tossing occasionally. Listen for the sound of them popping up out of the pan, and tent the pan with foil if need be. There are more than you need for the salad, so take this opportunity to much on a few, you know you wanna. Set aside remainder.

For the dressing: Whisk all ingredients together, adding a scant 2 tbsp of water first, then adding more as needed. Set aside.

For the salad: Grate the carrots and toss in a bowl with parsley. Add most of the dressing and coat evenly, adding more to taste. Top with sunflower seeds, a handful of crispy chickpeas, and a grind or two of pepper!

 

 

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Sides, Snacks

Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Last semester I had a lot of free time in the mornings (read: first class at 1 pm). I could wake up, casually drink coffee, go through class readings and actually take notes- not just skim and pull out talking points. I could make breakfast at 10, when I truly felt like eating, instead of at 7:30, when anything but caffeine makes me feel icky. Because breakfast happened at a respectable hour, there¬†was no need for lunch until 3 or so, which was just about when I was finishing¬†class, so I would mosey on back to the apartment and figure things out. It was a pretty good deal. This semester is much much busier, which¬†really changes up my food routine. Mornings are less about breakfast quinoa¬†and Joy the Baker’s podcast and more about figuring out how to simultaneously eat yogurt and put on a coat.¬†Don’t even get me started on lunch on the go; I can barely get through¬†salad at a designated eating table without making a mess. Imagine how that works at a desk in an office or classroom or costume/scene shop, which is where I find myself this semester at lunchtime. It’s an issue.¬†Throw in the whole it’s thirteen degrees outside + body craving all the comfort food and we have the perfect storm.

The biggest problem with trying to find satisfying¬†things to eat when it’s freezing and one is pressed for time? Making said enjoyable food not microwaved cookies. At least, not every day..¬†So¬†for those moments when I’m looking for something a little better -while also maintaining a semblance of table manners- I always find myself back at the humble sweet potato.¬†Considering that for some reason I have little desire to eat savory food until it’s dark out (idkidk I’m a nut), but know deep down this is a really poor choice health-wise, I’ve started making sweet potatoes for lunch..and dinner and midnight snacks. I roast a whole bunch at once and then eat half a potato once or twice a day for the next week! They manage to hold their own with pretty much every spice. Sometimes I go cinnamon and ginger; others it’s thyme and dried mustard. But my all-time favorite is a za’atar-dusted (zahtar? zatr? romanization ahhhh) potato with just a pinch of harissa. If I was a really good food blogger, I’d make my own versions of these spices. But alas, I am still a major procrastinator and usually end up looking at Instagram when I could be throwing together a quick batch of za’atar. Someday I’ll get myself together. In the meantime, I recommend this brand! And this harissa spice has done me well. The potatoes do take a while to bake, but you can get so much done in the time they’re hanging out in the oven- plus the kitchen will smell like Thanksgiving, you tell me if that’s a problem. So there’s really no downside. For dinner, I like making these with quinoa or lentils, saut√©ed kale, and half an avocado. For lunch I’ll snack on them with cashews and dried cranberries, so I get my sweet craving out of the way. Don’t get me wrong, it may not seem as satisfying as melted chocolate or mac and cheese, but for a bunch of healthy food it feels pretty darn decadent.

Potatoes (recipe makes 4 halves, easily multiplied)

2 sweet potatoes
olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon za’atar
1 teaspoon harissa spice
black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil. Wash and scrub the potatoes. Slice off the tips of both ends and cut in half lengthwise. Rub the halves in olive oil and salt. Lay potatoes on the baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining spices. Bake 30-45 minutes, depending on how big your potatoes are. Let cool completely then store in the fridge for about a week (good luck lasting that long) in an airtight containter!

 

 

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Breakfasts, Sides, Snacks

158

Challah

With January over and 2015 in full swing, I’m officially back in New England for my *last semester of college*. Unbelievably terrifying. I think the weirdest part is how quickly that happened. Although plz kill me if I¬†become one of those grown-ups that’s all, “four years? that’s nothin’! It just keeps getting faster…” My thoughts on becoming this someday.¬†I can already tell these next few months are going to be insane. I’m designing costumes for a show that goes up in three¬†weeks (SJdnaksjdjkasbdjLBAsJGhb) and then jumping right into sets for a show in April. So we’ll see how that plays out. I’ve decided I’m going to try to make at least one recipe to blog about a week, because honestly, this space feels the most important to me. Which is strange to think about, as it’s just a webpage. But I like having something to really care about; it helps me wake up in the morning almost as much as knowing the sooner I get up the sooner I will have coffee. I’m going to ride out senior spring dealing with a combination of actually important things and things that seem important right now, but don’t really matter in the long run. Examples? I made a chart because that’s more fun than homework.

Did you actually read it? It’s okay if you didn’t, no need to enter the randomness that is the inside of my head. Back to food: I’m so excited to share this post today, as it was a huge personal triumph. Emily and I got together pretty much the moment we got home for winter break to make challah, something we’ve seen¬†Molly Yeh¬†do a million times perfectly. We figured it was about time we took a whack at it. After all, how hard can in be to make the bread of our ancestors? Answer: not as hard as we thought, but definitely time consuming. There are moments where you have to let the bread do it’s thing without bothering it, so there were a decent amount of Netflix/hot chocolate breaks in between creating our masterpieces. We also let the dough proof¬†overnight in the fridge just to break the process up a bit. But then that meant we had to let it return to room temperature for a while right before baking, so that was another lengthy¬†break. So Emily watched me take a million more prep photos and then face-palmed¬†as I changed exposure and tinted shadows. (Side note: I’ve now realized when I’m making something for the blog it takes approximately 2.3 times longer than it would normally because of all the stopping and picture-taking). As we kneaded and braided and egg-washed¬†our breads we kept going back and forth on how we thought they would turn out. Maybe if they don’t rise properly they’ll still taste the way they’re supposed to? If they look this good, it doesn’t even matter if they taste weird! Do sesame seeds add flavor or just look pretty? All in all, it was a very eventful experience. And oh yeah, the bread came out tasting AMAZING. Make it yourself. Make it right now. You won’t be sorry!

Challah (from Food52 with notes from Becca & Emily, makes 2 large loaves)

Note: Challah can be made in an electric mixer or by hand. We did it in a mixer, so I’ve only included instructions for that. Follow the link above for all by hand directions!

1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons instant yeast (we figured that if the packets of yeast actually had pictures of challah on it we were on the right track)
6 cups + extra* all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup honey + an extra tablespoon for eggwash (optional)
2/3 cup vegetable or canola  oil
4 eggs + one yolk for eggwash
sesame seeds (optional)

Put 1 cup warm water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar, sprinkle the yeast over top, mix just to combine, and leave it to proof for five minutes. While yeast is proofing, mix flour, salt, and 1/4 cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend on low speed. In a separate bowl, mix remaining water, honey, oil, and eggs. When yeast has finished proofing, add it to the flour, then immediately add wet ingredients. Mix on medium-low speed, just until combined, about 30 seconds.

Switch to the dough hook and begin to knead on low speed, making sure to incorporate what’s at the bottom of the bowl with a spatula if the dough hook misses it.Knead until smooth and no longer sticky, adding extra flour with as needed, 7-10 minutes *we ended up using a lot of extra flour, the dough was extremely sticky. Add it sparingly but often and you should be golden!

Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Set each in a large oiled bowl, cover both bowls with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size. This should take about 2-2.5 hours. We let ours rise in the refrigerator overnight to break up the process; if you go this route just remember to take it out of the fridge first thing in the morning so the dough can fully return to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Separate each mound of dough into three equal balls (six in total). Roll each ball into a log almost 1-foot long. Braid the logs together to create your loaf. Food52 braiding tip: For the nicest-looking braid, do not pinch the top edges of your logs together before braiding; simply place one log over the next and braid until you reach the bottom, then pinch those edges together. Then, flip the unfinished loaf the long way, so that the unfinished edge is now at the bottom and the loaf has been flipped over and upside down. Finish braiding and pinch these edges together. This way, both ends look identical. Tuck the very tips beneath the loaf when braiding is finished. Repeat with second loaf.

Transfer each loaf to its own parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet and leave to proof for about an hour. Make the eggwash by mixing the extra egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon honey. Brush over loaves. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds (or both! or everything bagel seasoning because dreams do come true)¬†Bake 20-22 minutes, until are golden and baked through. You’ll notice that there are no pictures of the sliced bread. This is because it was SO GOOD the loaf literally did not make it to daylight, there were only a few meager pieces left the following morning when nice photo lighting returned. Use your imagination to see the insides. Or better yet, make one yourself!

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