I was nervous and excited to teach my class last week at Ger-Nis in Brooklyn, hosted by Kitchensurfing. I felt both under-prepared and over-prepared at the same time, and was just praying my timing turned out OK (as in, we weren’t sitting down to eat at 11pm). But my worry was, as usual, unjustified, because the most fantastic group of people showed up ready to have fun. It didn’t hurt that Mark was making delicious drinks!

Melissa, my lovely assistant, took some photos throughout the night. We made some vinaigrettes, some mostly no-cook salads (watermelon, feta and mint salad; corn & jalapeño salsa with cilantro-lime vinaigrette; tofu, avocado and tomato salad with citrus-soy dressing; and a quinoa salad with roasted cauliflower and cumin-paprika dressing), talked about cooking and vegetarian food and whatnot, and at the end we all sat down to eat. What a fun evening! I really hope I’m able to teach another class soon. I’m already devising the topic: vegetarian via Italy — frittatas, pastas, and bitter drinks!

Anyhoo, enjoy the pics after the jump, and follow me on Skillshare for next time!

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I am pretty sure I’ve been cooking non-stop for the last month since leaving my job. It has been incredibly fun — making lunch for the Sir Kensington’s office, official and unofficial catering, creating recipes for Turtle Bay CSA, hosting a potluck, and lots of home cooking. For each of the recipes I post on the site, I probably make ten things I don’t post. At least. In the past few weeks I’ve made, in no particular order: sour cherry jam, mushroom blue cheese quiche, hummus, baba ganoush, pasta with basil and corn, plum cobbler, and countless other things that either I can’t remember or aren’t worth mentioning, but that I prepared and ate nonetheless.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m tired.

I was making the aforementioned cobbler last night and my oven was smoking a bit. What did I discover upon cleaning the oven today? This little piece of broccoli that escaped my sheet pan a week ago…essentially transformed into charcoal, through and through. I like this little piece of broccoli. It has a sort of odd beauty, and apparently my cat likes it too.

Tomorrow I’m cooking a full, real shift, at a commercial kitchen, starting at 7:30 am (!). I have my knife kit and my embarrassing clogs and silly hat all set to go. But tonight I’m going to relax, watch some Olympics, and enjoy the leftovers.

I have been so remiss, what with catering a giant birthday party (more on that later), suffering through a summer cold, and getting sunburned in Southern California. But I have news! I am teaching a class (with Mark doing cocktails of course) on the basics of a vegetarian pantry and how to build not-boring salads. We’ll finish with a no-cook meal that highlights a ton of amazing seasonal produce and I am so excited.

The awesome folks at Kitchensurfing are hosting at the Ger-Nis Culinary and Herb Center, a totally amazing teaching kitchen space in Gowanus. So basically what I’m saying is, take my class! Click here!

These salads are both a kind of preview and explanation for the theme of the class…they were both satisfying, hearty salads that I made with stuff I had laying around. Very summery and vegetarian. You could of course make these on purpose, but in my case they were a fridge clean-out kind of situation.

In the first, I made rice and mixed it with a chunky pesto / chimichurri / herb concoction. If you ever have multiple bunches of herbs laying around and no clue what to do with them, I highly recommend this solution. This particular version was mint + parsley + cilantro in generous amounts, blended with lots of lemon juice, olive oil, jalapeño for kick, and pistachios. I mean, I wanted to eat this stuff with a spoon it was so piquant. It literally justified using the word piquant. Imagine! It would be so good on grilled corn, or grilled fish, or really anything at all. In this case I mixed it with rice and topped the whole thing with a raw veggie salad, mixed with some extra lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

The second salad is a kind of healthy taco salad I suppose. Romaine hearts topped with a veggie tofu scramble — zucchini, corn, crumbled tofu, and spices like cumin and cayenne. Top with crunchy tortilla chips and some cotija cheese and you’ve got yourself a salad. Love the hot + cold, soft + crunchy going on in this salad.

So in conclusion, take my class if you’re interested, and I hope it’s the first of many to come.

I imagine many people have terrible memories of eating green beans as children. Green beans from a can, mushy green beans, green bean casserole… these were never dishes foisted upon me, and for that I am grateful.

My mom’s method for cooking green beans is awesome. They have lots of garlic and soy sauce, and they’re cooked in a pan until crisp and tender but nowhere near mushy. I remember helping to snap off their little ends before she would cook them.

I don’t make green beans all that often at home and I’m not sure why. But I was at a barbecue recently and someone brought green beans, which I cooked in this manner, and was inspired to do it again at home. So this is another “method not a recipe” kind of post. You just rinse your green beans, remove the root ends, heat some olive or neutral oil in a large saute pan and toss in a bunch of chopped garlic. Cook it just a little bit but careful to not let it brown. Then toss in the green beans. Add a splash of water, cover the pan, and let them steam for 3-4 minutes. Remove the lid, add a few tablsepoons of soy sauce, and let them continue to cook a few more minutes until any remaining liquid has boiled off. Taste for doneness and seasoning. Add some toasted sliced almonds for a nice crunch, if you’ve got them.

I broiled some tofu slathered in miso, soy, and rice vinegar and made some rice to go along with the beans. But this is a great side dish for your repertoire, and definitely try it if you don’t think you like green beans. It might just change your mind!

I’ve started to come around to this idea of being paid in trade. Walking out of the Turtle Bay CSA on Tuesday night, after a lovely evening of chatting with members and just hanging out, I was able to take a share of the produce as well. I grabbed some carrots, broccoli, lettuce, squash, purple basil, green garlic, eggs and yellow plums. Phew! What a great haul.

I hope I’m not getting redundant here but PUT AN EGG ON IT is a real thing. And I employ it frequently, as you can tell.

And there is actually a salad under that egg, using the lettuce, carrots, broccoli and green garlic from the CSA. Recipe after the jump!

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A friend of mine runs the Turtle Bay CSA, and asked me to stop by during their distribution tonight and share some recipes. I was thrilled, in part because of the reality TV-like challenge of it: I found out what was going to be in today’s share box last night, and came up with these recipes in the meantime. The stress! The pressure! OK, not really. Here’s the beautiful thing. Seasonal veggies are so easy to cook with. You know they’re going to be the ultimate tasty versions of themselves, so why mess with them too much?

Beets and carrots make a great raw salad, and what I realized was that I could make a second recipe out of the beet greens and carrot tops. So: beet & carrot salad and beet green & carrot top frittata (with zucchini). Done and done.

Recipes after the jump!

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Anyone who knows me well knows I have an unabashed love for tennis. Not so much playing it (I suffered the humiliation of being the worst player in a summer tennis class when I was 12 and never recovered), but watching it. I’m not actually sure how this love even came about. But I know I used to set my alarm for 6 am (in the days before DVR) so I could watch Pete Sampras play Wimbledon.

So what better way to watch Wimbledon 2012 than with scones, strawberry jam, and deviled eggs? (Not sure that last one is super traditional, but give me a break — another test recipe for Andrew’s party!). I’m just glad we had something to mitigate the heartbreak over Andy Murray losing. And I am extra convinced I was rooting for the right person after the speeches. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll win at least one major” from the guy who has 17 is not exactly what I call sportsmanlike. Andy, your day will come.

But I digress.

These scones, in fact, mark my first foray into gluten-free baking. It seemed a shame to bake scones if everyone couldn’t partake, so I bought some Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour, some almond flour, and set off to find a good-looking gluten-free scone recipe. This, plus strawberry jam, after the jump!

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After I pulled these peaches out of the oven Mark’s sister said, what is that? And I said, roasted peaches, with thyme and a bit of honey and butter. And she said, so you just added honey and butter and thyme to those peaches and put them in the oven? And I said yes, and she laughed and said, so many things are so easy but I just wouldn’t think to do them!

I think those are the real hurdles to overcome if you want to cook more. Assuming everything is hard or best handled by the “professionals,” or just being able to step outside the boundaries of what you’ve made before and think about what you have eaten. If you ate it, it was made, and unless you’re the type to eat at Per Se every night of the week (or Applebees on the other end of the spectrum, which truly can’t be classified as food), chances are it can be replicated pretty well at home.

So where did the roasted peaches idea come from? I’m cooking for a friend’s birthday party, and one of the menu items I thought of was crostini with ricotta, topped with roasted peaches with thyme and honey. I actually had never eaten this before, but I wanted to capitalize on the amazing summer fruit right now and it sounded yummy in my head. I can confirm: yummy. And yet, this is why recipe testing is important! Learnings: thinner & smaller crostini, remove the peach skins and chop the flesh up like a chutney (it’ll stay put that way), increase the amount of delicious, delicious fleur de sel. Crunchy flaked salt makes everything better — particularly mild cheese and sweet/savory combos.

Onward!

This is the kind of sandwich you have to eat alone.

This is a finger-licking sandwich, a vow-to-never-buy-mayo-again sandwich, a stacked-too-high-for-human-mouths sandwich that requires some privacy in which to devour it. Luckily, I’m swimming in privacy these days.

Ingredients proceed thusly: thick, sturdy bread, toasted. (I made this loaf from a Bittman recipe for simple Italian bread. Very dense crumb, so perfect for piling high with toppings). Generous slather of homemade aioli. I learned this really cool trick from Serious Eats, in which you dump all ingredients for aioli into a cup, add a stick blender, push the on button, and 30 seconds later: aioli! It was miraculous. I used 1 garlic clove grated on a microplane, 1 T. water, 1 dollop of dijon mustard, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, a pinch of salt, 1 egg yolk, and 1 cup of vegetable oil. BOOM. I mean, this is beyond ridiculously tasty. I don’t even LIKE mayonnaise. You can of course do this by hand with a whisk. There are many great tutorials out there but if you have a stick blender, praise Zeus, use it. Crispy lettuce. Thick slice of tomato (or if you’re feeling frisky, avocado). Sliced hard boiled egg. Chopped capers and pickles (I was gifted some lovely pickled ramps and fiddlehead ferns, which I used here with great delight). Black pepper. Sprinkle of salt. Squeeze of lemon. 

Proceed with caution, because trust me, this will get everywhere, but it will be so, so worth it.

Today was my first day officially “unemployed”. I suppose technically I’m self-employed, or a freelancer, or whatever you want to call it. But I no longer have a single, full-time job. I no longer have the obligation to be somewhere at 9 am every weekday. And it feels pretty weird.

To say I’m a planner is the understatement of the century. I don’t like leaving things to chance, and I don’t like uncertainty. I suppose an aversion to change is part of the human condition — we fear that which is different and unknown. But despite my nature, something compelled me to make this particular change. Maybe it was the idea that I’d be staring at a computer screen for 9 hours every day for the rest of my life that scared me. Or that I was building things for other people but not myself. Or that most days, I’d just be fantasizing about what I could make for dinner instead of being truly engaged in what I was being paid to do. Not because I was killing time, but because I really, really love thinking about making dinner.

Whatever the reason, I left my job, and here I am. I still exist, I didn’t die. I still have to eat lunch, which is really what this post is about I suppose. In all of this change another unfathomable thing happened to me. I learned to love quinoa. Now I really do believe in miracles.

This is my new favorite salad, hands-down. It’s not even about the specific ingredients so much as the “formula”: crunchy lettuce (in this case, romaine hearts), soft quinoa (better yet, still hot from the pan), a variety of veggies (here, cooked eggplant and raw radishes), feta cheese, and the world’s most flavorful oil to bring it all together. I based it on Heidi’s “magic sauce” from 101 Cookbooks, but with my own spin. Crushed cumin seeds toasted in olive oil, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika instead of sweet, garlic, thyme, lemon juice, and the secretest secret ingredient of all time (lest you want people to run from you) — anchovy paste. Drizzle that on top of your salad (or literally anything edible) and pinky swear you’ll be hooked. I can’t promise your salad will come with the accompanying sense of freedom and fear and excitement and anticipation as mine, but you never know.

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