VITAMIX.

Ohmygodness!

The shiny, new, and very large eagle has landed. Possibly the best housewarming gift ever, the Vitamix (hereafter to be referred to as “my baby”) is currently sitting on the counter top and is partially buried in a whole bunch of boxes yet to be unpacked. When that finally happens, though, get ready for lots and lots and lots of recipes for silky-smooth blended treats!!  Eeeeeee!

 

vitamix 5200

My baby.

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Momofuku Milk Bar’s very, very decadent Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookie

Don’t get me wrong- I love to cook. But give me a free afternoon, a stocked kitchen, and someone to do my dishes, and without fail you’ll find me in my own little cloud of culinary bliss, baking up a storm. Cookies, cakes, muffins, and the like are what got me started in the kitchen in the first place and will always hold a special place in my heart (and belly). I’m a sucker for complex recipes—baking projects that take a day or weekend to complete and involve lots of frosting and decorating. The more icing swirls I get to make, the better. Actually finding a whole weekend’s worth of cooking time, though… well, that’s a whole lot easier said than done. Not to mention that sometimes, you really just need a ridiculously rich, delicious dessert, STAT.

That time came this past week, on a particularly dull Tuesday with no evening plans; that dessert was Momofuku Milk Bar’s Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow cookie.  To be fair, these cookies certainly took a lot more time and effort than, say, your standard batch of recipe-off-the-back-of-the-bag chocolate chip cookies, but the extra time they took was well worth the effort. Case in point: there are sadly no food pictures with this post because almost all of these gooey, caramel-y, crunchy cookies had been devoured within 12 hours of their preparation. Also, my camera was out of batteries. You’re just going to have to trust me that they’re as delicious as they sound.

As for the recipe itself: these cookies are essentially two separate recipes stuck together- Cornflake Crunch and Chocolate Chip Marshmallow cookies. You’ll need to make the Crunch before starting the Cookies, but not only is it surprisingly simple (I’m always wary of recipes within recipes), the cereal treats can stand on their own as an alternative to chex mix, rice crispy treats, or pretty much any other sweet/salty excuse for eating cereal you can think of.

Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies

Makes 12-15; recipe adapted from Scarletta bakes’ Milk Bar Mondays: Cornflake Cookies

For the Cornflake Crunch:

5 cups cornflakes

½ cup powdered milk

4-5 tablespoons Sugar in the Raw (or regular granulated cane)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Cookies:

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups Cornflake Crunch (see above)

2/3 cup mini chocolate chips (make sure you get the mini size! Your cookies will be overwhelmed by full-size chips)

1 ¼ cup mini marshmallows

What to do: Cornflake Crunch

Preheat the oven to 275°. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, measure out the cornflakes then crush them in your hands to roughly 1/3 their original size. Add the powdered milk, sugar, and salt, and then toss everything together to mix it. Pour in the melted butter, then toss some more, making sure the butter is evenly distributed throughout the cornflake mixture.  Line a baking sheet with parchment, evenly spread out the now-buttery cornflakes, then bake for about 20 minutes (or until they are nice and crunchy, look toasted, and your kitchen smells of butter (in a good way)). Make sure the Cornflake Crunch is completely cooled before using it in the cookies.

What to do: Cookies

Combine the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl if you’re using a hand mixer). Cream these ingredients together by mixing on medium-high (speed 6 or 7 on a KitchenAid) for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, then beat at the same speed for another 7-8 minutes. Duration of mixing is important here, so use a timer if you have to.  Now, reduce the mixer speed to low, scrape down the sides of the bowl again, and add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix ON LOWEST SPEED until dough just “comes together—”when 80-90% of the flour has been incorporated into the egg/butter/sugar mixture. This took me about 20 seconds or so. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect and homogenous just yet; you’re going to mix the dough a bit longer when you add the chocolate, marshmallows, and cornflakes so it’s ok for now. Whatever you do, though, DO NOT MIX FOR LONGER THAN 1 MINUTE MAXIMUM—lest you run the risk of over-mixing the dough and winding up with leaden slabs of marshmallow-y chocolate cornflakes instead of cookies.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl again, mix in the cornflakes and chips until just incorporated (about 20-30 seconds), then add the marshmallows and mix another 20-30 seconds.

Preheat your oven to 350 and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a ¼ cup measure, scoop dough out onto the pan, then pat down the tops of the dough balls to make little hamburger patty-shaped portions. Wrap your pan of cookie patties in saran wrap, then refrigerate for at least one hour but up to one week. If you’re short on time, you can also stick the patties in the freezer for 30-40 minutes, instead.

When you’re ready to bake your cookies, arrange the chilled dough patties on parchment or Silpat-lined cookie sheets with AT LEAST 3 inches of space between them. This sounds like a lot, but the cookies have so much (delicious) butter in them that they spread out quite a bit in the oven. I was only able to fit four cookies on a sheet at a time. Bake your cookies for 13-15 minutes, or until they’re deep golden around the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. The longer you bake these cookies for, the more the sugars in them caramelize and the more like chewy candy wafers they become—I like my cookies a little soft in the middle so I didn’t cook them quite as long, but Ryan preferred the more crunchy, well-done ones that took 15 or more minutes to cook. Beware, though: these cookies can go from not-quite-done to crispy critters in less than a minute thirty, so keep a close eye on them.

Let the cookies cool completely before attempting to move them; they’re quite fragile when hot. These puppies’ll keep for 4 or 5 days at room temperature or up to a month in the freezer, but good luck keeping them out of your belly for more than 24 hours.

Summer Squash Galette with Ricotta and Basil

Before we get into the meat of this (meatless) recipe, I feel it should be known that this dish bears the distinct honor of having received the title of “nomnomnomTHIS IS THE BEST THING YOU’VE EVER MADEnomnom.” I use caps not to indicate the significance of such recognition, but because I feel only they can come close to conveying the passion with which these words were uttered. Do I agree with this bold statement? Although the galette was good, it’s missing what I believe to be the key ingredient in any truly wondrous dish: rainbow sprinkles. Or figs (obviously). One or the other, but definitely not both… simultaneously, at least. Now, I realize that limiting my nomination for “best dish ever” to sprinkle-bearing items is not really fair considering you can’t really put them on much outside of the ‘dessert’ category, but hey: my blog, my rules. Besides, that’s where the figs come in. Anyway, regardless of its sprinkle-and-fig-based shortcomings, the galette was pretty amazing.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get into something a little more topical: precisely whata galette is. First, what it is not: a galette is not a fashion designer, French socialite, hair accessory, type of fish, or Impressionist painter. What it sort of is or could be:  a cake, pie, quiche, pizza, glorified cookie, or boat. What it most definitely is: a galette is a freeform, flaky tart with sweet, savory, or savory-sweet filling that’s baked not in a pie dish or tart shell, but hand formed, slapped on a baking sheet and baked in the oven until its golden and delicious.

We’ve established what a galette is (and is not), but what about summer squash? Although sometimes used to describe the bright yellow gourd shown below, the term “summer squash” actually defines a whole subset of the squash family that—you guessed it—flourishes in the summertime.

yellow summer squash

Yellow Crookneck Summer Squash

Besides the afore-mentioned yellow variety, zucchini and the scalloped, flower-shaped Patty Pan squashes also fall into this category. Thanks to an impressive selection in this week’s CSA box, I was able to use not only Zebra (striped) zucchini, but also Zephyr (looks like someone dipped the tip of your archetypal yellow summer squash into bright green paint) and Cousa (a Middle Eastern zucchini-like variety) squashes, too. The unique coloring of each of the varietals’ skin made for a very pretty end product.

Cousa, Zephyr, and Zebra squashes, sliced and ready to drain.

If you actually want to make the Summer Squash Galette with Ricotta (and I recommend you do), here’s how to go about it:

For the crust:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes

¼ teaspoon salt

1 stick of butter, cut into ½ inch pieces then put back in refrigerator to re-harden

¼ cup sour cream

2 teaspoons lemon juice

¼ cup + 1 teaspoon ice water

1 egg yolk

For the filling:

2 medium or 3 small summer squashes

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium garlic clove, minced

¾ cup ricotta cheese (I used Calabro brand part skim- you could play around with the fat content of the ricotta you choose, but I definitely recommend sticking to Calabro. It’s the best I’ve found that you can buy at regular grocery stores.)

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup grated mozzarella cheese

At least 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, finely sliced

What to do:

First, make the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Grab your cubed butter out of the fridge and add it to the cold flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter (or, if you’re like me and haven’t gotten around to getting one yet, a fork), cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine gravel.

pastry dough texture

This is aquarium gravel. This is also what your butter/flour mixture should look like, except not rocks.

This took some muscle and time using the fork, but I promise you, mixture will eventually come together. If at any time while you’re cutting together the mixture you notice the butter starts to melt into the flour and form a paste instead of remaining as discrete bits, stick the bowl in the freezer for a couple minutes (or as long as it takes) to let the butter to solidify again.

Butter/flour mixture, almost ready for sour cream.

During these re-chillings, take the opportunity to whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, and water. Once you’re satisfied with the consistency of your butter/flour mixture, add in this thinned sour cream and mix until large lumps of dough form. Don’t keep mixing until the lumps coalesce into homogenous dough–once you start to see the dough clumping, simply pat it into a ball and let that be that. Keep in mind that ideally, you want to mix this wetted flour mixture as little as possible. Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. First, cut whatever variety/varieties of squash you choose into ¼ inch thick slices. Spread out these slices on several layers of paper towels, sprinkle them with ½ teaspoon salt, and let them drain for 30 minutes.

Squash slices, salted and draining.

While the squash slices are draining, combine the olive oil and minced garlic in a small bowl; set aside. In another bowl, mix together the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and one teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil you just made.

After the dough has sat for an hour and the squash drained for 30 minutes, it’s time to assemble the galette. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, then flour your work surface and roll out the dough into a 12-inch round. If you’re having trouble visualizing how large your circle should be, grab a sheet of letter-size paper: the long side measures 11 inches, so the diameter of your round should extend just a little past the ends of the paper when it’s laid lengthwise across the center of the dough. Transfer this round to either an ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Spread the ricotta mixture evenly across the dough round, leaving a 2-inch border (2 inches is roughly equivalent to the width your pointer, middle, and ring finger when they’re held together) around the edges.

Galette dough, rolled out into a rough 12-inch round and ricotta mixture spread on top.

Blot the tops of your now-drained squash slices with dry paper towels, then lay them out on your ricotta’d dough in slightly overlapping concentric circles.

It’s a squash flower!

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of garlicky olive oil over the squash, and then fold your 2-inch dough border up over the outside edges of the filling to make a crust of sorts. You might have some trouble getting the dough border to lie evenly or smoothly over the filling, but don’t worry- just try and make your crust as even as possible and it’ll be delicious.

Beat the egg yolk with the teaspoon of water and brush the crust with this glaze, and then in the oven the galette goes!

Bake the galette until the cheese is uniformly puffed, the squash is slightly brown around the edges, and the crust is a rich golden brown- about 35-45 minutes. When the galette is done, take it out of the oven, sprinkle it with the sliced basil, then let it stand for 5 minutes.

(Time passes)

The finished galette, cooling before we devoured it.

Five minutes has never felt so long, but finally it’s done! The galette is done! Congratulations! Now, eat the entire thing in under an hour… we did.

YUM.

Enjoy!

Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta, and Mint

This week’s CSA box contained, among other things, a whole boatload of carrots. Not being a huge fan of them, I was at a bit of a loss for what to do with the pound and a half of the orange roots buried deep in the box, under mountains of kale and bok choi.

carrots

Carrots. So many carrots.

I dedicated a couple days to hunting down a recipe for something to do with ’em all, but turned up more or less empty handed. It was only when I’d given up and was looking for another recipe on the fabulous blog Smitten Kitchen that I accidentally stumbled across this one. I’m a sucker for anything with exotic spices, mint, and (obviously) cheese, so finding something that wrapped up all these ingredients into one easy, healthy package was definitely a win.

This salad recipe calls for several spices- some relatively common, some more off the beaten path. Cumin, paprika, and (for some) caraway should be staples in most kitchens, but the chances you’ll have a bottle of harissa hanging out in your pantry are probably more slim. Although this North African staple’s main ingredient is ground chilies, the spice blend also gets its flavor from various combinations of cumin, coriander, caraway, garlic, red pepper, mint, and lemon juice. A quick google-ing yields more than a couple recipes for a homemade versions of this “chili powder” (I love Saveur magazine and would trust theirs the most),  I was in a bit of a time crunch so just bought my harissa at Whole Foods. All I could find on their shelves was a “harissa rub,” but except for the addition of salt, this seemed to be more or less equivalent to the standard formulations of the spice.

harissa

Whole Foods harissa (rub)

The most important step in this recipe is also the one that seems the most pointless/tedious/superfluous: toasting the spices in oil. I’m right there with ya–why would you possibly want to dirty yet another pan just for the sake of heating up some powdered nuts and berries for a couple minutes? Because you like your food to be flavorful- that’s why. Although the toasting step seems a bit frou frou, heating spices before using them is absolutely key to ensuring they’re as complexly flavored and aromatic as they’re supposed to be. Most commercially bought spices and seasonings have been sitting on a shelf (either yours, the grocery store’s, or both) for quite a while–heating them up releases their oils and exponentially increases their tastiness–and thus the deliciousness of whatever you’re making. So don’t skip the toast, people!

toasting spices

Spices, ready to get their toast on.

Without further ado, Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta, and Mint

Note: I adjusted the originally posted recipe (which was in itself an adaptation) to suit our tastes (and supplies on hand).

Serves 4 as a salad or 2 who really love carrots and want an entirely orange entree.

1 pound carrots
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika (I used sweet; in the future I’d use smoked Spanish paprika instead)
1 teaspoon harissa (adjust quantity according to how spicy of a salad you’d like)
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh feta, crumbled

What to do:

Peel, trim, and grate the carrots. Watch your fingers; I grated off almost all the nail polish on my thumb. Set the grated carrots/nail polish aside.

Next, mince the garlic then add it to a small saute pan along with the cumin, paprika, harissa, sugar, and oil. Heat this mixture until it’s very fragment–about one or two minutes. Remove from heat, then add the lemon juice and, if you were able to find honest-to-goodness harissa (and not the rub like I used), a pinch of salt. If you also couldn’t find the real thing, the rub is already salted so unless you have really low blood pressure or have just run a marathon and are desperately in need of electrolytes, don’t add any more. Pour the lemon juice/oil/toasted spice sauce over the carrots and toss until it’s evenly distributed. Add the mint, make sure everything is really well mixed together, then let the salad rest for one hour.

carrot salad with harissa, feta, and mint

Carrot salad: she’s a beaut.

Add the feta to the spiced carrots and mint just before serving, then go to town on your creation. Yum. FYI: this is one of those dishes that gets better with time- the leftovers we had the next day were almost better than the freshly-made recipe itself.

Enjoy!

Image

Roasted Turnips with Ancho-Spiced Honey Glaze

I was making kale and goat cheese frittata for breakfast and was in search of something starchy and filling-ish to serve alongside. In an attempt to make a somewhat healthier, more interesting version of breakfast potatoes and use up as much of the afore-mentioned CSA spoils as possible, I hauled out a roasted roots recipe I’d discovered a year or two back. Although this recipe, published in a 2010 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, originally contained 3/4 a pound each of roasted parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips, a pound or so of latter is all I had on hand (and was in season) so I just adjusted the quantities of its other ingredients accordingly.

Roasted Turnips with Ancho-Spiced Honey Glaze

(serves two as a side)

1 + 1/2 tablespoon melted butter

2 1/2 tablespoons honey

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

heaping 1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chiles

heaping 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 lb turnips, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Make the ancho-honey glaze: melt 1 tablespoon butter, then add to it the honey, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, ground ancho chili, cumin, cinnamon, and pinch of cayenne. (To make measuring the honey a little easier, try first coating the measuring spoon with a little of the melted butter. This’ll make pouring the sticky honey out of the spoon much, much easier.) Mix the glaze well, then set it aside to let all the flavors blend. DO THIS FIRST- you want the glaze to sit at room temperature as long as possible (ideally, 45 minutes to 2 hours) before use so as to let all the flavors meld together.

After you’ve prepared the glaze, wash and chop the turnips into bite-size pieces. Line a baking sheet with parchment (this makes cleanup waaay faster), then spread out the chopped turnips. Melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter in the microwave, mix it with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, then pour over the turnips. Season with salt and pepper, then toss to make sure all the veggies are evenly coated. Stick the pan in the oven to roast until the turnips are soft and browned in spots–approximately 30-40 minutes.

Once roasted, remove the turnips from the oven and toss them with 2-3 tablespoons of glaze–or, enough to make sure they’re all really well coated and saturated with the honey-chili goodness.

roasted turnips, glazed and about to go back in the oven

Roasted turnips, glazed and about to go back in the oven again. These are a little more done than I’d have liked for this stage, but they still turned out fine in the end.

Spread the saucy (he he he) turnips back out evenly across the parchment and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until they’re deep golden brown and the glaze looks bubbly and caramelized.

caramelized turnips with ancho-spice honey glaze

Done! Caramel-y and delish.

Serve warm and ENJOY!

As I mentioned, the original recipe was for roughly two and a half pounds of vegetables. If you want to make this larger recipe, it can be found here. In my version, I significantly reduced the amount of butter, pretty much cut out the olive oil, and increased the amount of spices and honey. You can play around a fair bit with the flavor of the glaze, though- just taste it as you go along and add more or less of its components as you go along.

 

rachel goodman

 

Vegetable Bounty, C/O a 7-Year-Old

Ryan’s family has been out of town for the past couple weeks, so we’ve had the luxury of using their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) veggie goodie box in their absence. CSAs enable collaboration between farmers and consumers by charging patrons a seasonal fee (usually between $400 and $1000, depending on the length of the growing season and how bountiful the spoils) which funds the farm’s upfront growing costs. In exchange for their money, the farm’s benefactors receive regular installments, or shares, of high quality field-fresh produce at prices much lower than those at your local Whole Foods. Granted, it’s pretty hard to justify dropping $1000 on veggies (let alone scrounging up the cash!), but considering you’re getting 10-15 lbs of organic produce up to 24 times per season, it’s actually a pretty good deal.

The shares we’re working our way through for the next couple weeks are from Siena Farms in Sudbury, MA. Run by Chris Kurth, husband of chef Ana Sortun (of Oleana and Sofra fame) and named after their seven year old daughter Siena, the farm is the main supplier of super fresh, sustainable, organic, and all-around delicious produce to many of Boston’s most notable restaurants. Besides Oleana and Sofra, Siena Farms also count O Ya, Menton, Sportello (really, all of Barbara Lynch’s esteemed empire of eateries), Beacon Hill Bistro, Hungry Mother, Market by Jean-Georges, and others as customers.

…All of this is essentially a long-winded way of saying Siena Farms has good veggies. Liiiike, really good. Here’s a peak into this week’s box:

CSA veggies

CSA green goodness: greens, beans, and herbs

The above bok choi, green leaf lettuce, fava beans, and parsley were only the tip of the leafy, legume-y iceberg- below the surface and deep into the cardboard depths, our box also contained a whole rainbow of beets, fennel root + greens, hakurei turnips, broccoli, kale, FRESH garlic, bagged mesculin mix and peppercress (like arugla but, as expected, more peppery), summer squash, sweet carrots, shelling peas, and two miniature cucumbers. Quite the spread!

beets and carrots

Sliced carrots + golden, red, and candy cane beets

Although having all these fresh vegetables is quite the luxury, here’s were the CSA’s weakness comes to light: I’m really not sure how we’re possibly going to use all this produce before it wilts and/or shrivels up into soggy nothingness… not to mention before picking up next week’s box. Well, time to get cookin’!

 

rachel goodman

Summertime Salad: Peach, Mozzarella, and Basil

If you’ve never used/seen/overheard conversations about Pinterest (I’m not sure who you are, but get your act together), it’s treasure trove of culinary, lifestyle, fitness, style, beauty, and nature-focused content. Pins, or thumbnail images (usually) linked to websites where the content is originally hosted, are organized into differently categorized pinboards. Depending on what board you’re looking at, the site can read like a cookbook, fashion magazine, travel guidebook, National Geographic, or anything in between. I originally signed up to pin clothing, accessories, homewares and gifts I wanted to keep track of, but soon got sucked into the hundreds of thousands of do-it-yourself projects and recipes the site contains. I’ve made a couple of my pinned recipes to varying degrees of success, but have at least a hundred more meals-to-be waiting in the wings for the months to come.

I’d pinned this Peach, Mozzarella, and Basil salad, originally published in a 2006 issue of Real Simple magazine, a couple weeks back, and now seemed as good a time as any to make it. The whole thing took less than 10 minutes to prepare and was flavorful, fresh, and surprisingly filling. Although I served the salad as an accompaniment to dinner, you could easily pile it on top of some grilled crusty bread to make a very summery, very delicious bruschetta. Two quick notes: first, I generally prefer nectarines to peaches (I’m not a huge fan of eating anything fuzz-coated and am definitely way too lazy to peel them), so used them instead. Second, the 1 cup of basil this recipe calls for sounds like a lot, but don’t skimp! Fresh basil leaves have a much more delicate flavor than the dried stuff in the grocery store spice aisles, and the herb almost does double-duty as lettuce in this salad.

peach, mozzarella, and basil salad

The finished product!

Peach, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad (from Real Simple)

3 ripe peaches or nectarines (peeled if you want, but definitely not necessary)

1 cup torn fresh basil leaves

8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1-inch chunks (I used Ciliegine, which is the fancy name for the little balls of fresh mozzarella that are packed in water. You could also use one of the larger balls and chop it down, but just make sure whatever you use is FRESH mozzarella and not the dried kind you put on pizza.)

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

What to do:

Wash and dry the peaches/nectarines, then cut into six or seven wedges and remove the pit. If the fruits aren’t completely ripe removing the pit will range from tricky to near-impossible, so just cut around it and salvage the wedge shape as best you can. Everything will get tossed together in the end, so you don’t need to be exact. If necessary, cut your wedge shapes in half again to get roughly 1 to 1 1/2 inch long pieces.

Drain the mozzarella. I cut my Ciliegine in half to make more bite-size pieces, but this is not necessary.

Combine the fruit, torn basil, and mozzarella in a large bowl. Drizzle the whole thing with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss. I covered and refrigerated mine for an hour or so before serving to let all the flavors meld together a little bit, but this moderate boost in flavor was at the cost of the basil wilting slightly. I guess I can’t have my cake and eat it too. Serve cold or at room temperature.

peaches, mozzarella, basil

Peaches and mozzarella and basil, oh my!

Enjoy!

rachel goodman

Eggplant + Buttermilk. Happiness.

We were supposed to go out to dinner tonight but after not sleeping well the last couple evenings, I decided I’d rather stay in and make something easy(ish) than stay up past my bedtime (which, if I had my druthers, would be 10 pm) waiting for a check. Boston’s on the verge of all-out summertime, and it’s been in the 80’s and 90’s for the last two weeks. When it’s this steamy out, the only meals that truly appeal to me are fresh, cool, and preferably (relatively) light. Bearing those criteria at least somewhat in mind, I decided to make Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce–the cover recipe of English chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s AMAZING cookbook, Plenty. The “buttermilk sauce” sounded a little odd to me, but a couple weeks prior I’d made the cookbook’s  pistachio-and-mint-based couscous salad and that turned out great, so I had high hopes.

plenty cookbook, yotam ottolenghi

Plenty. Get it. Disregard my 50,00 post-its marking all the recipes I want to try. Also, a picture of today’s recipe.

Forty-five minutes, a roasted eggplant, and some whisking later, the dish was ready. What had so recently been a rather motley crew of fruits, veggies, and, dairy products came together into this gorgeous meal:

buttermilk sauce, pomegranate seeds, eggplant, roasted

Mmm, dinner…

Creamy, velvety, and a little nutty, the eggplant was perfectly complemented by the buttermilk sauce. I’d expected the sauce’s taste to be more in the neighborhood of the slightly acrid odor of raw buttermilk than something tangy and fresh, but the sauce was delicious and akin to a thin yogurt- creamy without being rich. The fresh pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top provided a bright hit of sweetness, and the za’atar added another layer of spicy complexity while simultaneously managing to tie the many flavors of this dish together. Although it could definitely stand alone, I served the eggplant with some crusty french bread and thought that made the perfect complement to its somewhat dip-like texture. You could probably also use pita or naan. EDIT: “my amazing boyfriend purchased the perfect bread to complement my cooking,  jumping out of the shower in a minute’s notice and hustling to the store like a scurrying beetle…but sexier.” (credit: said BF)

Long story short, Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce was a hit. Easy to prepare, healthy, and super tasty, I’d definitely make this dish again. Here’s the recipe, as taken from Plenty and slightly adapted by me:

Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce (from Plenty)

(Serves two as a light dinner)

Eggplant:

1 large, long eggplant

1/6 c olive oil (use more or less depending on how rich you want your final product to be)

The leaves to 4-5 sprigs thyme, plus a few whole sprigs for garnish

Sea salt to taste (I used Maldon)

Pepper to taste

1 pomegranate

1/2  tsp za’atar (see below for what this is)

Sauce:

9 tbsp buttermilk

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1 small garlic clove, crushed

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the whole eggplant in half lengthwise, then use a sharp knife to make four diagonal, parallel incisions into each side of the eggplant (make sure to not puncture the skin!). Make four more diagonal slices at a 45 degree angle to the original ones, so that you now end up with a diamond pattern. Place the eggplants, cut side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush them with olive oil–keep brushing until all the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. (Here’s where I “diverged” from the original recipe…the first time I read this, I thought it said “brush them with olive oil until all oil is absorbed by the flesh-” meaning, just keep dousing it with oil until it won’t absorb any more. I’d probably surpassed the 1/4 cup mark before I realized my mistake. I did my best to dab off any extra oil after the eggplants came out of the oven and they didn’t taste greasy at all, but they definitely ended up being a whole lot richer than originally intended…..) Sprinkle them with the thyme leaves and some salt an pepper, then put them in the oven to roast for 35-45 minutes. They’re done when the flesh is soft, fragrant, and a nice (I aimed for deep) golden brown. In my oven, this took about 45 minutes, though I started checking every 5 minutes after the 35 minute mark.

roasted eggplant

Eggplants: post-roast, pre-sauce.

While the eggplants are cooking, remove the seeds from the pomegranate and set aside. Make the buttermilk sauce by whisking together all the ingredients, then season it to taste. I didn’t add anything to mine as the buttermilk already contained a fair bit of salt, but if you find you under-salted your eggplants, you might want to add some extra to the sauce. Keep the sauce in the fridge until ready to use.

Once the eggplants are all golden and roast-y, let them cool a bit then spoon a generous amount of buttermilk sauce on each (I used about 1/3 a cup per eggplant half). Sprinkle them with a whole bunch of pomegranate seeds, the 1/2 tsp (or more) za’atar, and some fresh thyme leaves/sprigs. VOILA! Its done! And delicious! Yay time to eat!

Q: What is this za’atar of which you speak?

A: Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice made of ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and sumac. It is great on pita and thick yogurt, meats, as well as hummus. I get mine at Sofra Bakery and Cafe, which is pretty much my version of heaven. 

ENJOY!

rachel goodman

Ready, Set, Go

My name is Rachel and I’m addicted to food.

(All: Hi Rachel)

Actually, before we go any further, I feel like I should be a little more clear about what I mean by “food.” Sure, I love to eat. Often. A lot. Many things. But I also love to cook, bake, simmer, saute, and pretty much everything that one can do with a handful of ingredients, some creativity, and a little luck. I grew up in a household where someone was always cooking, and I like to think a little teeny bit of my parents’ culinary aptitude rubbed off on me. I’m not really sure how well this is working out, but I figure if I amass enough fancy pots, pans, blenders, and kitchen do-dads, something mildly delicious/appealing/pretty/edible is bound to result at some point.

One of the first things I did when I moved here two years ago was to make a list of all the restaurants I want to try. Although I love to cook and create in the comfort of my own kitchen, sometimes, I’m lazy. Sometimes I want to do something special or celebrate an occasion (be it real or made up). Sometimes, I’m just really tired of my own cooking. Regardless of the reason, when my fridge is bare, feet sore, or I’m in the market for some variety, I break out the restaurant bucket list. Although I’ve eaten my way through a fair number of the original restaurants listed, new places to try, dishes to sample, and beverages to sip keep popping up and the list just keeps on growing. I’m going to try to chronicle some of these future drinking and dining escapades here in these pages.

This blog will, hopefully, accomplish several things:

  • Keep score of my cooking and baking shenanigans
  • Ramble coherently about recent local dining experiences
  • Serve as an excellent way to kill several minutes of your day
  • Document my attempts at do-it-myselfing non-food-based miscellany
  • Maybe, just maybe, detail my never-ending quest to eat/be healthier
  • Probably other stuff, too

Those, dear reader, are my lofty goals for the posts and pages to follow. I hope whatever lies herein you find informative, amusing, inspiring, motivati……err, really, I just hope you like it.

rachel goodman