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Cabbage is an especially unsexy food. It’s sounds even less alluring than kale, though I admit to loving kale with abandon. But when I got an enormous (and I mean ENORMOUS) head of cabbage at the farmer’s market for $2, I realized maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

Braised cabbage with a bit of butter and fresh ginger is pretty darn good, which is how I used half of it. But that other half has been sitting in my fridge for nearly a week now, taunting me. Yesterday I subsisted almost entirely on cheese and cheese-related things (like bread, with melted cheese), and so I decided dinner should be light and healthy tonight, and darn it, I would use the rest of that cabbage.

And so, voila, cabbage slaw and miso-ginger cabbage soup!

The cabbage slaw inspiration came from here. I weirdly happened to have both celery and radishes (just 2 stalks & 3 radishes respectively, but the perfect amount to add to 1/4 of a head of cabbage). I modified the dressing a bit, as I did have blue cheese and did not have chives (I had a couple of scallions, which I scattered on top instead). This dressing would be good on any bowl of very crunchy things — creamy dressings only appeal to me in contrast with toothsome veggies. And, crap, I just realized I used cheese in this. SO CLOSE.

Buttermilk (Blue Cheese) Dressing

1/2 c. buttermilk, well shaken
1 T. mayonnaise or sour cream
1 t. sugar
2 T. apple cider vinegar
2-3 T. crumbled blue cheese (opt.)
healthy pinch of salt

The cabbage soup doesn’t so much deserve a recipe — basically I simmered a bunch of coins of ginger in 6 c. water, added a couple of big tablespoons of white miso paste (a brilliant pantry item, definite must-have), and then the shredded cabbage. A bit of soy sauce and scallions to finish and you’re done!

It has been just over one year since my last post. I won’t bore you with a lengthy explanation for why I stopped — let’s just say it’s been a hectic year. But lately, more and more, when I cook something, I want to share it. Even if for the sole reason of documenting meals as proxy for documenting the rest of my life (which I certainly don’t want to immortalize on a blog). As I scroll back through old posts, memories flood back — and isn’t that the greatest gift of food? That the senses of smell and taste are a conduit to other emotions, remembrances, places and people.

I don’t mean to get all sappy in my first post back…and I can’t promise I’ll continue posting with any regularity. But I recently read Tamar Adler’s fantastic book An Everlasting Meal, and had the privilege of meeting her at a small reading. Her approach to food is profound, poetic, and yet humble. It has been inspiring me anew to cook and record it here. Read her book, as soon as you can.

I bought leeks and potatoes last week in order to make leek & potato soup, which just never came to pass. So I decided to make a tart instead, for a small Golden Globes get-together. I also had a hunk of roasted cauliflower left over, which I chopped up and included, lest it go to waste. Mustard and thyme seemed like nice supporting players, so here’s the tart, recipe after the jump.

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It has been way too long since I’ve made a pizza! Trader Joe’s pizza crust makes it too easy not to, and it’s also really fun and easy to have a pizza party. I had half a bunch of kale left over from my Thanksgiving quiche, and was looking up recipes for inspiration. I came across a pizza recipe on epicurious with mozzarella, goat cheese, and kale. I threw on some capers (because I will never say no to a caper on a pizza) and lots of red pepper flakes. Delish! Plus, all the greens mitigate the damage from the cheese. Trust me.

Sauceless pizzas are the best, just brush a slick of olive oil on thinly rolled out crust, and top as you please. I sauteed the kale until nice and tender with just a bit of salt, and used about 8 oz. of mozzarella and 2 oz. of goat cheese. Added a tablespoon of chopped capers for tang. Cooked at 450 on just a regular cookie sheet (look, I’d love a pizza stone but I only have so much room in my kitchen) for about 20 minutes and it was good to go.

Happy Thanksgiving! This is my favorite holiday (do you wonder why?). I was literally dreaming of cooking Thanksgiving last night — although in my dream I was making Empanadas. Random. Right now I’m drinking coffee with Charlie Brown on in the background, soon I’ll put on Home for the Holidays, by far my favorite holiday movie. I think I’ve watched it approximately 50 times by now, but somehow it never gets old.

Anyway, Gemma and I are about to be cooking up a storm — here’s what’s on the menu for our (Vegetarian) Thanksgiving:

Appetizers
Baked Brie (wrapped in crescent roll dough with caramelized onions. this one’s a tradition for us.)
Rosemary Cashews
Roasted Fennel Dip with Parmesan

Main
Leek and Swiss Chard Tart

Sides (it’s all about the sides, let’s not even pretend otherwise)
Mashed Potatoes
Brussels Sprouts two ways – roasted with hazelnuts & hashed
Arugula Salad with Pomegranate Seeds, Goat Cheese and Pickled Red Onions
Angel Biscuits with Cranberry Butter
Stuffing with Mushrooms, Sage and Chestnuts
Cranberry Relish

Dessert
Spiced Pumpkin Pie
I’m also debating whether to make these Cranberry Curd Bars because they sound SO GOOD.

Have a wonderful day everyone!

This is one of my favorite tricks for leftover risotto, which can be sort of gluey and unappetizing the next day. Not so much a recipe as a method. If you have a deep fryer (uh…I don’t know anyone who does) that’s probably easiest, but otherwise you can just fry these in 1/4″ or so of oil in a cast iron skillet. Roll the risotto into balls, then take a hunk of mozzarella or other melting cheese and push it into the center of the ball. Close up completely. Then roll in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs (makes a nice crispy crust) and fry until deeply golden brown all over. Don’t make them too large, or your cheese won’t melt in the center. This one is a crowd pleaser!

I’m slightly ashamed to admit two things: this is the first and only batch of summer corn I’ve bought so far from the farmer’s market, and that I got inspiration for this recipe from Rachael Ray. I don’t have a problem with her the way some people do, but I will admit that when I watch her show I can’t look away — I find her sort of horrifying yet mesmerizing. Most of the time I think her recipes are pretty clunky, but when she made a combination of corn chowder and pasta, I was listening.

So I took it one step further and made it into a risotto. Red peppers, bacon, fresh corn, a little bit of cream, topped with parmesan cheese and basil. It was smoky, sweet, and creamy…and then I made the leftover risotto into risotto balls! (you’ll have to wait for that post). Make sure to serve it with something light and crisp and tangy — this is extremely rich. You could easily leave out the bacon, and actually next time I think I will. Although it’s a classic combination, I felt the smokiness overshadowed the sweetness of the corn a bit too much, and really, you want the corn to be the star.

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So, y’all — I had to go to Houston at the last minute on Wednesday. (Was that yesterday? Also, see how I fit in here already?) Anyway, here I am trying to make good on my claim that I would actually post something. I’ve picked the easiest thing to write about so as to facilitate that attempt…

I have never been a fan (I almost typed “phan”) of Philly Cheesesteaks, probably because I don’t like steak, or whatever that meat is that they put in Cheesesteaks. But my dad used to make vegetarian sandwiches with peppers and onions on a roll that I’m pretty sure he called “cheesesteaks” (which made no sense as there was no cheese or steak involved), and I swear they were as good as the real thing. I wanted something dumb simple to make and the memory of those sandwiches came to me in a moment of inspiration, so I decided on sauteed fennel, peppers and onion on a roll with some chicken basil sausage.

Then I pan roasted some tiny baby potatoes with garlic and olive oil and added a mustard vinaigrette (just spicy mustard, cider vinegar, olive oil, salt & pepper) and fresh fennel fronds at the last minute. I am pretty sure those descriptions suffice as a “recipe”, which is also to say that I made this last week and couldn’t really be more specific. The only reason I roasted the potatoes on top of the stove is that my oven doesn’t work right, so I’d recommend roasting them with some olive oil and salt on a sheet pan at 400 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes (depending on the size) or until nice and tender. The peppers, onions and fennel take almost as long to get them really soft and caramelized so the timing works out perfectly. I got some really tasty sundried tomato baguettes and the chicken sausage to finish off the sandwich. Delish!

This is soooo not even funny anymore. My electricity bill is probably going to hit quadruple digits and going outside is actually like baking in an oven. Do people in hot climates drink to excess as much as people in very cold climates? I’m thinking it’s possible, because looking at a 10 day forecast with no relief from the insane heat is depressing indeed and I’m thinking several cold beers might do the trick.

Hopefully the second air conditioner on its way to the apartment now will provide some relief. Otherwise, I may just subsist on cold cubed fruit for the rest of the summer. It’s about the only thing I’m enjoying eating right now. So whatever possessed me to make anything involving actual cooking yesterday, I can’t say. I guess compared to turning on the oven this wasn’t so bad. If you have central air: go for this recipe right now. If you are suffering like I am, I may recommend waiting a couple of months.

Think of this recipe like the healthier version of mac & cheese — it’s got the nice, crunchy breadcrumbs (if that’s how you roll when you make mac & cheese) and some cheesiness, but in the healthy column it’s also got asparagus. I used anchovy paste in the breadcrumbs (sssh! don’t tell anyone you are doing this. they’ll never know and will love it) and if you wanted to forgo the asparagus or swap it for another vegetable, that would be totally doable. I mean it’s your life, who are you to let me tell you what vegetables to eat?!

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Thank you, New York, for being as crappy in the weather department as I always complain you are. I know it could be worse, but we are experiencing some serious August weather in June, and I’m just not prepared for it. The next couple of days have 90+ degree weather and thunderstorms in store for us, which if you have not experienced, consider yourself lucky. The subway is like an armpit, everything (and everyone) stinks, and my kitchen in particular will not be a friendly home to those seeking shelter from the heat. Now that I live in a 2 level apartment (it’s like a 1 bedroom but split into two levels, lest you think I am fancier than I am) I see the down side of having just one air conditioner. At least I can sleep at night, but I certainly can’t stand any prolonged heat in the kitchen.

So this taco salad last night, which I accompanied with quesadillas filled with some leftover vegetarian taco filling I made over the weekend, was just right. Crisp, cool, citrusy, and requiring little to no heat to create. I have a feeling I’m going to be getting very creative with no heat meals in the upcoming months. Perhaps I should try a raw diet….on second thought, that sounds terrible, and I think Brian would finally revolt.

This salad consisted of chopped romaine, hunks of jicama (key in a taco salad, in my opinion), tomatoes, red onions, quickly sauteed fresh corn, avocado, cilantro, and a simple vinaigrette of fresh lime & orange juice with cumin, a pinch of salt and olive oil. Black beans would round this out without the need for quesadillas, but who doesn’t love melted cheese??

It’s amazing what a week of not walking will do to your system (or I should say, not walking the absurd amount most New Yorkers do…). Getting back from Oregon, I felt sluggish and bloated. Now, that may have had more to do with the red-eye flight than anything else, but I wanted to have a fresh dinner to combat that memory of having eaten a bag of Doritos snack mix on the plane. Gross.

I cooked two boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a nonstick pan (flattened a bit to be a more uniform thickness), just with a touch of oil and salt & pepper to season them. After they were done, I put them on a plate and tented foil over it to keep them hot. I added about 1 1/2 T. of butter to the pan, browned it (careful to not burn!) and then threw in some capers, fresh thyme, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. This was a fantastically nutty, tangy quick pan sauce to top the chicken with, and I served it with some brown basmati rice cooked in chicken broth with garlic and shallots. At the end, I stirred in some chopped spinach and basil for greenery and herbage.

This won’t fix jet lag, but it’ll make you feel pretty good otherwise. I still have at least one more Oregon-related post in me, but photo editing has taken a back seat to unpacking, running errands, and alas, working.

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