Fennel Orzotto with Roasted Baby Eggplants (or Chicken) – 25/67

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Today (well, Friday, when I wrote this), the sky is blue, the sun is shining, and the weather feels like it should for September. This morning, students all over the country went to climate strikes, and let the world know they aren’t afraid to use their voices. Earlier this week, Elizabeth Warren held a rally in Washington Square Park and talked about how she’s here because of women’s work. And she took selfies with the crowd for 4 hours. And she had people in the crowd introduce themselves to their neighbors (the best way to quickly form community, imho). I can’t help but be excited. (Feel free to listen to this episode of The Daily and then talk about it with me.) Change and plans and revolt are in the air. 

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Also today, I had my first rehearsal for a new kid’s puppet show I’m directing. It felt like the right group of humans in the room, and we joked around about Ritz the Rat (“The name’s Ritz, Puttin’ on The”) and silly songs. It was goofy and fun and optimistic. Today I’m marginally hung over from drinking two carafes of wine last night with friends over pizza and burrata. Today I have happily consumed leftovers from Daniel’s last night solo cooking adventure, a rice-bean-veggie instant pot affair, even though it includes some little pieces of chicken. I have come to accept I am more flexitarian than vegetarian these days. I will not go out of my way to order or buy meat. But if someone has already purchased it and made it, I don’t have to be as strict, especially when it means free lunch. I’m still not particularly interested in cooking chicken (and that’s really the only meat I’d broach the subject about), but please don’t get mad at me for eating a soup dumpling and still calling myself mostly a vegetarian. (Nobody actually does this, everyone I know is quite even-keeled and open-minded, I’m just putting it out there as a generality.) I realize the earth doesn’t need more meat eaters, and I never want it to be a regular part of my diet. But also, meat dumplings taste better than veggie dumplings. 

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All this to say, I don’t mind a couple Daniel-made chicken-adjacent ingredients. A cup of chicken broth goes far in an otherwise vegetarian dish, and usually makes Daniel more excited to eat whatever it is we’re cooking. I was okay eating this orzo, even though it was browned in chicken fat. I know this isn’t the case for real vegetarians, and apologize if I’ve offended you or lead you astray. So I give the caveat of this delicious recipe — I’ve only made the meaty version of the orzotto (which is, uh, orzo cooked like risotto). And I loved it. So much flavor! However I’m sure it would be equally delicious as a purely veggie main, using just butter or some olive oil in the early steps. The eggplant was a wonderful chicken replacement. Let me know if you try it. 

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three years ago: miso mizuna soup
five years ago: spicy micheladas

Fennel Orzotto with Roasted Baby Eggplants (or Chicken) 

thank you Molly for this delicious dinner recipe! (that I totally hacked to make it more veg-adjacent)

Baby Eggplant – a riff on this real simple recipe 

2 baby eggplants
1 lemon, half in slices, half juiced
Herb sprigs such as thyme, oregano, or rosemary
A couple sliced garlic cloves
Olive oil
s&p

Preheat oven to 450F. Make a slit in your eggplants, and stuff with lemon and garlic and herbs if you got them. Drizzle with half a lemon’s worth of juice and some olive oil. Liberally salt and pepper. Place in a small dish and cover with foil. Roast for 40ish minutes, flipping occasionally, until puckery and soft and tender. Take foil off for last 5 minutes of cooking.

 Chicken and Fennel Orzotto 

2 tablespoons butter
3 chicken legs, bone-in and skin-on (This recipe originally called for 6 pieces of chicken, but I decided the eggplants were a good sub for half the chicken. All other amounts from Molly’s original recipe have remained) 

1 fennel bulb, chopped small (fronds chopped and reserved for garnish)
1 leek, white and pale green parts, in half moons
1 cup dried orzo
⅓ cup dry white wine
2½ cups broth
Zest and juice from half a lemon, plus extra wedges to serve
Chopped fresh parsley
s&p

(This is the part about Chicken)

Preheat oven to 400F. 

Melt butter in a biggish cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper your chicken legs. Place chicken in pan, skin side down. Make sure chicken is in a single layer. If it doesn’t all fit, nestle in new pieces when old ones have slightly shrunk. Cook until meat is opaque around the edges and skin is deeply golden, about 6-7 minutes. Turn chicken so the skin side is up, and transfer skillet to oven, where your eggplant may already be cooking. If so, turn oven down to 400 for this part. Bake until chicken is cooked through, 10-15 minutes. Or until a sticky pokey thing says 160F. Transfer chicken pieces to a plate. Turn oven back up to 450F if roasting eggplant. 

(Start here for Veg Orzotto)

Return skillet to medium heat. (If veg version, add EVOO or a nub of butter.) Add fennel and leek, sprinkle with salt, and saute for about 5 minutes. Veggies should be starting to turn golden brown. Add orzo and toast for a couple minutes, or until evenly browned. 

Deglaze the pan with wine and cook for some moments, until absorbed. Add broth in half cup increments, stirring fairly frequently. Wait until each dose is mostly absorbed before adding the next half cupful. Don’t let the pan get too dry. Taste around 2 cups of broth to see if orzo is cooked, if not, keep adding broth until it’s al dente. This process should take 10-15 minutes. 

Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to your liking, and lemon juice and zest. Place chicken and/or eggplant on top. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds and parsley. Serve with lemon wedges. 

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great leftovers!

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A Pile of Apple Cake – 24/67

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The problem with claiming you’re good at baking is that people expect you to be good at baking. Ugh. I’ve been setting expectations too high. Nothing good can come of that! 

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So okay, I admit, this cake did not come out of the bundt pan as I would have wished. But! It still tastes amazing. Amazing enough to publicly share on the internet and admit to my vast readership. So, as they’d say on the Great British Bake Off, flavors and texture wonderful, looks like absolute shite. (Do they say that? I haven’t watched it in a couple seasons, but it seems more or less right…)

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We brought this cake pile to a housewarming party. Daniel thought I should dump it into a bowl and call it a crumble, but I insisted on the cake carrying case, with a sad pile of cake roughly in the shape of a bundt. You could still see a couple layers of cake – apples – cake, after all. We definitely got some funny glances from passersby, who looked expectantly into our cake carrying thing (I feel like you have to be pretty proud of your cake to schlep it through the streets of New York usually), expecting to see a masterpiece. And they were instead greeted by a crumbling tower of artfully placed could-be-cake. I made Daniel carry the case. I was too embarrassed. 😦 

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However! The cake was delightfully consumed! And no needs for plates when it looks like this, everyone just dug in with forks or fingers, as if it was pull apart bread. And the hosts even wanted to keep leftovers! I had my leftovers the next day microwaved with ice cream. Could’ve been way worse. So! Make this. But grease TF outta that pan. 

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one night ago: the amazing pasta alla norma from vegetables illustrated was last night’s really really good dinner 
another thing I’ve been cooking: caramelize a shredded zucchini with garlic and olive oil, mix in parmesan, put on pumpernickel toast, top with a fried egg OMG SO GOOD
three years ago: soy-dashi simmered kabocha squash
four years ago: tomatillo peach salsa 

Apple Cake

from my lovely cousin (in-law?) Heidi. Sorry for messing up something beautiful!

6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ( a mix of varieties is nice)
5 tablespoons + 2 cups sugar
5 teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral oil
4 eggs
½ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour (I used spray and IT DID NOT WORK!) a bundt pan. Use a non-decorative bundt pan, for gods sake. Or a tube pan, which I’ve never used, but I think would be perfect for this. Don’t skimp!!

In a big bowl, mix together apple slices, 5 tablespoons sugar, and the cinnamon. Set aside.

In another big bowl, mix together the flour, remaining 2 cups sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the oil, eggs, OJ, and vanilla. Mix everything until well blended. A wooden spoon worked great for this task. 

Spoon ⅓ of the batter into your prepared pan. Add half the apples. Then another layer of batter, the rest of the apples, and finish with batter. (I couldn’t fit all the apples!)

Bake for an hour and a half. Cake should be brown but not dark. Let cool in pan for at least half an hour before removing from pan. Good luck. 

 
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Israeli Salad – 23/67

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This salad encompasses many of my favorite things. 

1. My CSA. Yes yes, I know, I have waxed not-so-eloquently on here before about the joy I get from receiving a local fruit and veggie haul each week. This year’s CSA, in our new neighborhood, is even more bountiful than previous versions. We have been loving their tomato varieties, pepper assortments, greens, corn, beans, squashes, herbs, melons, and more all summer. This salad, though this time around not fully comprised of CSA goodies, is indicative of the type of salads I’ve been loving all summer. (team #nolettuceinsalads) If you let me ramble about vegetables, I will.

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2. My obsession with Yotam Ottolenghi. I have also droned on on here ad nauseam about my adoration of celebrity chef Ottolenghi. I have 3 of his cookbooks, which I regularly look through and which often end up open in the middle of our living room. I follow him and his hashtag on Instagram. We saw him talk a year ago-ish, which was a highlight of the year. He has a basic chopped tomato salad recipe in Simple, where he says “The addition of tahini paste to a familiar tomato and cucumber salad is a revelation.” Okay, hyperbolic much, Mr. Ottolenghi? But, uh, he’s right. It’s so good. I added tahini to this one and don’t regret a thing.

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3. New shiny technology. This if my first post written on my shiny new computer! I haven’t had my own new computer since at least 2012, and that one unfortunately met a quick demise a year or so later by cup of water 😦 Since then, I’ve been cycling through Daniel’s hand-me-downs. It feels so nice to have my own, brand new computer to set up and get to know. Hopefully it lasts for a good long while because apple has enough money. (I also just got a new phone, so I’m enjoying fast internet connection and RAM speeds (am I using that word right?) all over the place.)

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4. My grandma! Love you! Truly one of my favorite cooks, who always knows how to bring community together through food and care. I have had this salad, or a variation, at a hundred casual dinners and gatherings. It’s so homey, yet the dressing is bracing and assertive. I wouldn’t have expected it’s a mixture of lemon juice and regular old white vinegar. But it’s going to be a go-to from here on out. Glad to have this version in my repertoire. 

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one and two years ago: nothing of note, but I made this cheesy zucchini orzo from half baked harvest for dinner the other night and dang that was a great dinner
three years ago:
chopped summer salad with feta, mint, and lime (made this for dinner a couple nights ago)
four years ago: roasted green pepper and smoked gouda pasta
five years ago: roasted radish and pepper pizza and caramelized fennel with dill and goat cheese (another Ottolenghi-inspired dish!) 

Israeli Salad

A la my grandma, plus Ottolenghi 

Salad
2 cucumbers, peeled, quartered the long way, some seeds removed, and chopped small
3 tomatoes, chopped (I added extra baby tomatoes because yum they’re my favorite)
1 red onion, diced (Vidalia would also be good)
1 bell pepper, chopped (red is sweeter than green, and looks pretty!)

Dressing
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup white vinegar
juice from 1½ lemons (¼ cup)
generous portions of salt and pepper and dried oregano
Small handful freshly chopped parsley,
1 ground up large garlic clove (or garlic powder)

Put all salad veggies in a big bowl.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine all dressing ingredients thoroughly with a whisk. Taste and adjust as needed.

Add dressing to salad veggies and toss toss toss. Now this is a perfect side dish! To bulk it up a bit:

To make it extra
Add feta. Top with za’atar and a swirl of tahini.
OR boil up about a cup of orzo. Add to veggies. Lemony Israeli Pasta Salad!
OR both! 

Zucchini Bread – 22/67

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I just had a major milestone birthday, and I have to say, I’m feeling pretty darn good about it. I am finally, for the first time, in the same decade as my husband. I am finally the age that all the cool women who have their shit figured out seem to be. I realize I have been saying I’m “almost 30” for the past three years. It’s about time this happened, right?

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I wonder if this mindset is because I will always be that much younger than Daniel. I will always be the young one in our relationship, and also in our group of friends. I also remain the youngest person in my office by some years. So although I am excited about hitting this milestone, I’m also aware that I’m still relatively young, and that won’t be changing anytime soon. Phew. 

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So while the Amazon burned and people lost their minds over a fast food fried chicken sandwich, I slipped into the next decade. There were midnight nachos, the most perfect yoga class, and a dinner in which I got to accidentally-eavesdrop on the other Ilana (squee!). This weekend there was perfect cake, drinks galore, crab rolls, karaoke, and dancing. Dear friends, delicious food, and cooperative weather. If this is 30, then I am very very happy about 30. 

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I made this zucchini bread a couple weeks ago, as part of a thank you brunch I threw at my home for my camp staff. What a way to feel like a grown-up, welcoming the younger counselors who think of me as their boss. (I mean, I am their boss, but they feel more like friends than anything else!) In this decade, I’ll welcome these moments, when I get to embrace leadership, create community, and open my home to others. The 30s are going to be the beeeeest!

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And this zucchini bread is hella good too. Thanks for the recipe, Katherine! 

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no previous years, but looking to use up your end-of-summer zucchini? May I recommend, from the archives: veggie curry, zoodle latkes, or easy garlicky tomato zoodles

Feel Like an Adult Zucchini Bread

thanks to my friend Katherine for the recipe!

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 ¾ cup sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups flour (I ran out so used about 1 cup regular flour, 1 cup whole wheat, and 1 cup bread flour. It was still delicious)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Optional mix ins: chocolate chips, raisins, dried cranberries, nuts (I did mini chocolate chips in the muffins but kept the loaf plain)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 2 loaf pans or line 24 muffin cups with liners (I did one big loaf pan and 6 muffins)

In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk or fork. Whisk in oil and sugar til incorporated. Add zucchini and vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, mix together flour(s), cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and any mix-ins. Add this combo to the zucchini bowl and mix until just combined. 

Divide batter into pans. Bake for at least 60 minutes (took me a little longer), or until a tester in the center comes out clean. Muffins will cook more quickly — start checking at 25 minutes. Let cool in tins. Leftovers stayed moist for daaaays. 

 

Cosmopolitan Curry – 21/67

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…named as such because it comes from everywhere and nowhere, according to Hanna. I love that description. And so fitting for my generation, who was born in a place, moves somewhere else for college, another place for a first job, and grad school after that. We’re all the combos of so many places. So cosmopolitan.

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This was another “no-recipe” from the book (see the first one here), where Hanna walked us through her method of making a very basic and infinitely adaptable pot of dinner. The basics are: “Cook onion and other alliums. Add spices or spice paste. Add vegetables, maybe a protein. Add coconut milk and tomatoes and simmer. Add something a little sweet. Garnish and eat.” From that basic formula, which of course I know quite well but never feel I have the ability to create anew from, Daniel and I collaborated on this wonderful dinner. We also used up 5 (!!) CSA veggies, perfect before I went out of town to celebrate the bachelorette party of the lady who gave us the courage to experiment.

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Be like Hanna, feel no need to stick to this recipe. Change the veggies, the proteins, the spices. Serve with rice, or not. Also, just be like Hanna in general, foraging berries on your hikes and not shying away from the vegetable temporary tattoos. By being fully, proudly yourself from an early age and following your whims. By leaning into unicorn beverages and their aftermath. Also by cultivating an amazing Girl Gang across the country who are so excited to wear neutral dresses in the mountains in a week. It was a pleasure to do bachelorettey things with you all. And cooking and eating together. We are a cosmopolitan group, hailing from all corners of the country and moments from your life.

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one and two years ago: who can be expected to cook in August in NYC?!
three years ago:
 just kidding, this is just a link to the amazing Sichuan-style eggplant I made for dinner tonight 
four years ago:
 maple blueberry balsamic beets
five years ago: barbecue sweet potato nachos 

Cosmopolitan Curry, or Thai-ish Veggie and Egg Curry

very loosely constructed from Hanna’s suggestions. PS more egg curry from the archives here

1 tablespoon fat (I used ghee)
1 onion, chopped small
3 cloves of garlic, diced
3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
2 cinnamon sticks
Big pinch red pepper flakes
1 eggplant, in small chunks
1 kohlrabi, peeled and cut in smaller chunks
1 zucchini, in half moons
Big handful of chopped tomatoes (or a can)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1 tablespoonish of sambal oelek (chili-garlic sauce)
4 eggs, hard boiled
1 bunch swiss chard, stems diced and leaves roughly chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
Small handful peanuts, chopped

Heat ghee (or butter or oil) in a big pan. Add onion and a big pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until they’re translucent and starting to brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add cinnamon sticks and curry paste and saute for a minute or two, until paste smells a little roasty.

Add eggplant, kohlrabi, zucchini, and swiss chard stems and saute until veggies start to brown. (Kohlrabi will remain a little crunchy in final dish — it’s quite pleasant, but if you’d like it softer, roast first. Or use something else!) Once veggies brown a bit, add tomatoes and cook until they start releasing their juices. Next add coconut milk and sambal oelek, and give it a good stir. Add some broth or water if it seems like it needs more liquid. Peel and score your hard boiled eggs, and nestle into the sauce. Simmer, with lid on, until veggies are tender.

When everything is cooked, take the lid off and add your greens. They will wilt very quickly.

Season to taste — at this point you could add salt, sugar, lime juice, hot sauce according to your preference. Remove cinnamon sticks. Cut eggs in half. Serve over rice, with lots of cilantro and crushed peanuts.

 

 

Capusta (Hungarian Cabbage Noodles) – 20/67

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A couple years ago I hosted a dinner party where everyone made something that represented their heritage. It was a small group of us, but I was nervous that I was going to be seriously out-cooked. I mean, of Indian, Brazilian, Californian (it was a bit of a stretch but we let it slide (she made beet salad)), and Eastern European, I don’t think my Ashkenazi ancestors are the stand-out culinarians. My offering to the evening was my grandma’s Hungarian capusta, which literally translates to cabbage. And the dish itself is really just cooked green cabbage and egg noodles. With salt and pepper. And a little fat. That is literally it. It’s the most humblest, cheapest, simplest of dishes, yet it is so much greater than the sum of its parts. It’s shockingly good. At that dinner party, everyone kept asking me what could possibly be in this delicious dish. They were amazed to learn it was literally just noodles and cabbage.

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This is the dish we would always look forward to at holiday dinners. My grandma always had leftovers pre-packed for us before the meal so we wouldn’t feel like we needed to hold back at dinner. She said in the notes for this recipe that this dish is a traditional peasant food but now has become a treat because, even though it’s so easy, it’s a little time-intensive. Each batch of cabbage has to be browned fully. It also makes your kitchen smell a little cabbagey for the rest of the day. But, I promise you, these are small trade-offs for the final product. (She would also make pounds and pounds of it at a time — it’s much more doable with a single cabbage-worth.)

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So when I found myself with friends coming over for dinner recently and a giant CSA cabbage taking up space in the fridge, I decided to make capusta. I was afraid it was not as fitting at a summer potluck than on a Rosh Hashanah spread, but it worked just the same. From humble roots to star of the holiday table to a new potluck go-to, here we are.

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Capusta 

from my giant-hearted Grandma Evy, who has made this one of her specialties, even though it comes more directly from my grandpa’s lineage

1 head green cabbage
1 bag medium-wide egg noodles (I used extra wide because that’s all the store had)
Salt and pepper
butter/margarine/olive oil

First, grate your cabbage. You can do this using a box grater, food processor, or fancy knife work. I used a box grater; next time I’ll use my mandoline (which I just used to make a shredded salad and omg it was so fast.) 

Heat a big saute pan (I used my Le Creuset braiser) over medium heat. Add a bit of fat — my grandma uses margarine so the dish stays dairy-free (and hence servable with meat), but I used a combo of butter and olive oil. I probably used ¼ – ½ a stick butter in total. Regardless, cook cabbage in batches so each piece gets good browning time. Add a little salt and pepper as it cooks. Add more olive oil or small pieces of butter if it seems like it’s sticking a lot. Cook until cabbage has darkened and wilted and smells great. Once cooked, place in a big bowl. Repeat with remaining batches. 

Meanwhile, boil your noodles. Add warm noodles to cabbage, add more salt and pepper and a couple small pats of butter, and mix mix mix. Taste — it will probably need more salt. Then your capusta is done! It’s most delicious alongside stuffed cabbage rolls and tomatoey green beans. 

 

 

Peach Blueberry Cobbler – 19/67

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How I did the heatwave on Saturday:

  • Woke up early to bake cobbler 
  • Blasted the AC
  • Until Daniel tried to vaccuum at the same time and we blew a fuse and then couldn’t find our fuse box and our landlord was on the West Coast and also didn’t know where our fuse box was and finally we found it in our downstairs neighbor’s apartment, unlabeled. It was eventually fixed. (By my husband.) (He wanted me to add that). 
  • Also made caponata (similar to this recipe), capusta (coming soon!), a cucumber salad, and sangria. Daniel made amazing spicy caramel peanut brittle. Busy kitchen day.
  • Took the train to Queens to see the play I directed in a festival
  • Hosted 10 people at our apartment for a potluck party
  • Bought and consumed lots of ice cream

It was a great day but it was not ideal heatwave activities.

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So, how I did the heatwave on Sunday:

  • Sat inside, ate leftovers, washed dishes
  • Consumed lots of ice cream

Sunday was a good day.  

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This is the dessert you need to make tonight. It’s so fast, so bright, so perfectly summery. And it seems incredibly adaptable, though I’ve only made it this once. The recipe calls for two cups peaches — I used three peaches, which was a little more. And then it called for one cup of blueberries, which didn’t feel like enough blueberries so I just kept adding a couple more at a time, until I think I ended up doubling it. Oops. It was still perfect. 

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Olivia gave me this recipe with the comment “the bestest dessert”. She is not lying. This thing won the potluck last night. It’s totally worth turning on your oven for, promise. 

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other blueberry desserts: simple lemon blueberry cake with lemon cream + celebration blueberry cake with ginger cream cheese frosting

other peach things (tis the season): peach tomatillo salsa + peach black bean sweet potato tacos

four years ago: collard greens tomato sauce with spaghetti
five years ago: cilantro quinoa soup with seared shrimp and corn

Peach Blueberry Cobbler

thanks to Olivia’s grandma, who seems like a pretty amazing lady, for this one. thanks for sharing your family recipes! 

¾ cup sugar + 2 tablespoons, divided
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or potato starch)
½ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice (from about half a lemon)
2 cups fresh peaches, sliced and peeled if you want to (about 3 peaches)
1 cup blueberries
1 cup flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter, softened and cut into chunks
½ teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated is best!)

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a medium saucepan, combine ¼ cup sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about two minutes. Take off of heat and add lemon juice, peaches, and berries. Stir well to coat. Tip into a 2 quart baking dish (is what the recipe said. I used a 9-inch square baking pan.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Give a quick mix. Add milk and softened butter. Use mixer to mix everything together at medium speed for about 4-5 minutes, until fluffy and few butter chunks remain. (This would be fine with a hand held beater too.) Dollop spoonfuls of this cookie dough over the fruit. 

Mix together remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle on top of cookie dollops. 

Bake in your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until top is browned evenly and fruit is bubbling. I served with vanilla ice cream and 9 people devoured it in the blink of an eye. 
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Cornbread Salad – 18/67

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I have a deep appreciation for a cheeky salad. You know, the kind that consists of no veggies, only pretzels, jello, and dairy products. Never mind the fact I’ve never actually tried one of these cold casserole competitors, I just love the audacity of it. Like, sure, call it a salad, that makes it dinner-appropriate! We don’t need to add any other nasty nutrient bombs! For a celebratory meal, what a genius workaround. 

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This salad is not that. There are no chunks of squishy jello masquerading as the health component, no sad pretzels approaching unfortunately soggy. And there is a whole bell pepper! A tomato and celery stalk! Vegetables aplenty. 

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There is also a whole tray of freshly baked salty sweet cornbread, crumbled up and ready to be doctored. And oh my, is it good.

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This is the kind of dish that I have to remind myself is mostly-carb, not mostly-veggie, because I would easily fill ¾ of a picnic plate with it. I would never remove the salad part from the name, because a) it accompanies other things so well and b) it really does taste fresh. All those small-chopped veggies mean it feels like you’re eating a mouthful of salad, just the sweetest and saltiest mouthful ever. Not a mouthful of cornbread, which is what you’re actually doing. Audacious, bold salad, accompaniment to the stars. 

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Anyway, I’m eternally grateful to Linda, Daniel’s mom, for introducing this one to my repertoire. However it has made its way to you, through CT and Texas and back, I’m happy to proliferate it in Brooklyn. 

one year ago: spanish-ish baked eggs with spinach
two years ago: tapado (caribbean coconut fish stew)
three years ago: spaghetti squash lettuce wraps, asian style
four years ago: mustard greens with oyster sauce and garlic oil
five years ago: tofu banh mi sandwiches

Cornbread Salad

from Daniel’s mom Linda

1 9-inch pan of cornbread, cooled (from 2 boxes of Jiffy mix)
1 red bell pepper, chopped small
½ a red onion, chopped small
1-2 celery ribs, chopped small (optional, but I recommend!)
3-4 jalapenos, partially seeded, chopped small
1 cup mayo
1 big tomato, chopped small

Crumble cornbread into a very big bowl. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, and jalapenos. Stiry to combine. Add mayo until just moist — you may not need full cup, or may need a bit extra. Stir in tomatoes last, so as to minimize mush. Refrigerate and serve cold. I added some chopped parsley at the end just to make it look pretty, but ended up liking what it added! 

Leftovers great as is, or pan fried in a little olive oil in little “cakes” with a fried egg on top. 

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Greens on Toast with a Lacy Fried Egg – 17/67

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Do you smell that? The summer heat, fighting in through the window cracks and landing on your skin? It’s some combo of pollen, sweat, musty summer clothes unburied, overheated floors, dusty ACs, melted ice cream, iced everything, sunburn memories. I was brushing my teeth the other night when it swooped in and hit me. It smelled like unfair moments in 3rd grade, when my siblings got window ACs in their rooms, but I didn’t, because I had three windows and could get a good cross breeze. (Time for a reckoning, parents. I’m an adult now and I know a cross breeze doesn’t hold a candle to real, manufactured, cold air. Hmph.) And it’s only June. We have two, long, slumpy, heat-laden, memory-scented months before us here. 

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I don’t hate it. I mean, we have 3 things of ice cream in the freezer right now. That’s a good summer perk. Also, CSA season! My favorite time of year, as you may know if you’ve been a longtime reader. Greens and more greens, and this is only a half-share. Also still taking suggestions for what to do with my half a gigantic kohlrabi. It doesn’t lend itself as easily to breakfast as greens do. 

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This recipe is fairly similar to another eggs and spinach one I’ve blogged before. But this variety you see before you is definitely the version that happens on a more regular basis around here. I’m not sure if it’s noteworthy or bloggable on its own accord, but Hanna said one of her favorite no-recipe meals is a lacy fried egg on greens. So here’s a typical breakfast for me, and it counts as one of my binder recipes, and it uses up a CSA bundle! Win, win, win. 

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one year ago: best kale salad” (as it has goat cheese, dried cherries, and a mustardy vinaigrette that is really, really good)
two years ago: nothing of note, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t the best use of turnips I’ve encountered yet
three years ago: vaguely Lebanese un-stuffed eggplant
four years ago: roasted beets and their greens with mint sauce (psych! this was also from five years ago!)
five years ago: rhubarb cake

Greens on Toast with a Lacy Fried Egg 

A swanky favorite, inspired by Hanna 

Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1 bunch spinach, some stems removed, roughly chopped
Smoked paprika
Juice of ¼-½ a lemon
s&p
3 eggs
toast
Shredded parmesan, hot sauce, fresh parsley 

To make greens: Heat a touch of olive oil in a small pan. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute on low-ish heat, until you can smell the garlic. Add spinach all at once. Sprinkle immediately with a couple dashes of smoked paprika, some lemon juice, and salt and pepper before it wilts. Stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until spinach is lightly wilted.

Meanwhile, make toast. 

I was lazy and wanted to use the spinach pan for the egg too. Be like me! When spinach is wilted to your liking, remove and put directly on your toast or aside for tomorrow morning. (This will make enough for three mornings-worth of breakfast for one person, especially good if your partner dislikes cooked spinach for some reason *eye roll emoji*.) Now make a fried egg. I did this one in too much olive oil, spooning oil over the whites to cook them a bit further. Bon Appetit/Jose Andres and Smitten Kitchen go into more detail about this crispy, lacy egg “phenomenon” (my words, not theirs) if you care about such things. Any fried egg will do. 

Layer toast, spinach, and egg. Sprinkle with parmesan, another glug of good olive oil for good measure, and your fancy sea salt. Hot sauce doesn’t hurt. Parsley is also nice. Mmm. 

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Shrimp and Grits – 16/67

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I’ve always said that I know I still love living in New York because when I get off the plane after a trip, I’m excited to be here. Well my friends, this past arrival is really throwing my brain for a loop. I just had the most magical weekend celebrating my friends’ marriage in Vail, Colorado. Vail is unfairly beautiful. I was there a few years ago for a ski day, but I don’t think the extent of the beauty hit me til this weekend. Snow covered mountains! In June! Trees in every shade of green that literally made me want to take up painting! Glorious aspens, framing a lake, framing a mountain! Adorable old-timey Main Streets. I mean, how is this fair?? NYC doesn’t have any of these things 😦

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Man, weddings are the best. It felt like a band trip or college reunion — all these people I love and who live across the country all of a sudden staying in the same hotel and having a bunch of meals together. Such a treat.

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Meg and Jonny put together a truly beautiful celebration, complete with their ring bearer pup and a rainbow gracing cocktail hour (that part was unplanned). Meg’s Gypsy Kings dance with her dad brought me to giddy tears. We all fell down attempting the lift in the Dirty Dancing song. We enjoyed the effects of open bar + altitude (well, until morning appeared, rudely and painfully). Daniel and I were so glad to bear witness to it all, and also happy we got to sneak in two hikes, some drone activity, an absolutely amazing lunch in town, a brewery visit, and a catch up with an (unrelated) friend while we were out there. Three days well spent. But I could’ve used an extra one or two before returning. It was too brief a flirtation to make me miss home.

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Meg made Daniel and me her version of shrimp and grits forever ago, when we all lived in New York. I remember loving them and being really impressed I didn’t get a stomach ache afterwards. Because usually shrimp and grits are a cream and butter bomb. But not Meg’s version! Hers is full of veggies, lemon juice, and garlic. There’s a little butter and a good handful of parm, which both go a long way, but won’t weigh you down for the rest of the night. And it’s so good, and so quick. I’m in love with this recipe. Apparently Meg’s family adapted it from their local favorite restaurant, Palm Valley Fish Camp, in Jacksonville, Florida. Thank you, Meg and family, for this gift! And for bringing us to the mountains for this joyful weekend. Happy, happy wedded life! 

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four years ago: kale caesar salad – one of my fav salads, which I crave about once a week. And it’s perfect for CSA season!
five years ago (squee! 5! I never even updated that silly background picture that was supposed to be a placeholder!): rhubarb, chickpea, and spinach stew with lemony yogurt sauce

Shrimp and Grits

From Meg, via her family, via Palm Valley Fish Camp

Serves at least 3

1 cup grits (the quick cooking kind)
2-3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
⅓ cup red onion, very finely diced (about half an onion)
⅓ cup red bell pepper, very finely diced (about half a pepper)
1 stalk celery, very finely diced
3 cloves garlic, very finely diced
1ish pound of jumbo shrimp, cleansed and shells removed (about 2 cups)
1 big tomato, seeded and very finely diced
2-3 tablespoons very finely chopped parsley + extra to garnish
Juice from 1 lemon
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and white pepper (Meg’s recipe called for Penzey’s White Sarawak Pepper, but I used the grocery store brand I had around, and use black pepper if that’s what you’ve got)
Hot sauce

Cook grits according to package directions. This should entail something like — bring a bunch of water to a boil. Add grits and a bit of salt, turn heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring frequently, until water is absorbed and grits are creamy, about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoonish of butter and cover. (Meg’s recipe said to use smart balance, but I didn’t want to buy it for just this. Butter was, as you can guess, delicious.)

In a big pan (we used our Le Creuset braiser), melt 1 tablespoonish of butter with the olive oil. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook for 4-8 minutes, or until veggies have softened. Add shrimp, tomatoes, parsley, and a sprinkle of kosher salt, and cook until shrimp are done, about 4 minutes. Liquid should have evaporated a bit. Stir in lemon juice. Take pan off heat and stir in parmesan. Add salt and white pepper to taste.

Spoon grits into a bowl, top with shrimp and sauce, and decorate with extra parsley and hot sauce. What a dinner.

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