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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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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Buttery Gnocchi with Roasted Cauliflower – 14/67

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a night by myself (weekday version)

Come home from work, fight with Alexa to turn Brandi Carlile on
Leisurely wash kale, leaf by leaf
Spend a while perfectly julienning a red bell pepper
Hover by the stove while the water comes to a boil for gnocchi
No rushing, all peaceful, purposeful knife work
No measuring, just glugs and sprinkles and dashes
My kind of meditation.

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Watch an episode of chef’s table or something else food porn-y.
Ravish a bowl of salty buttery carbs AND a big old green salad.
Balance.

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Force Daniel to eat leftovers when he comes home at 10pm because I really don’t think this will reheat well the next day.
(He obliged, but we still had leftovers)
(They were fine, but coulda used some additional brightness on Day 2)

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~~~
Here’s the recipe for that bowl of salty buttery carbs. In a rare move, I made the cauliflower too salty (and couldn’t blame Daniel). Be aware that each part of this dish is salted, so don’t go too heavy handed on any one part. I’m really excited about this easy, filling, quick dinner. A good one to keep in your back pocket.

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some good kale salads from the archives: kale, sumac, and crispy rice salad, honey mustardy goat cheese kale salad, miso ginger kale salad, kale caesar salad, mustardy kale, potato, and green bean salad. Wow, I’ve posted a lot of kale salads. The version I made myself this particular evening had massaged leaves, julienned sugar snap peas, blistered red peppers, and scallions with a basic vinaigrette.

Buttery Gnocchi with Roasted Cauliflower

thanks to Aunt Ingrid for this one, who can always be depended on for a yummy recipe

Olive oil
Coarse salt
1 big head cauliflower, in medium florets
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 scant cup panko
1 pound gnocchi
1-2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 425F.

Combine cauliflower, a couple glugs of olive oil, and some pinches of coarse salt. Place on a single layer on a tray (or two). Roast until brown, flipping occasionally. For me this took 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up another tablespoon or so of olive oil in a big saucepan. Add garlic cloves on low heat. Cook until you can smell them, about 1 minute. Add panko and a sprinkle of salt and turn heat up to medium-high. Cook until panko is evenly browned and toasty, stirring frequently. Remove from pan.

When cauliflower has about 15 minutes left, start heating up a big pot of water. When it’s boiling, add a big pinch of salt and your gnocchi and cook according to package. (I cooked mine til they floated to the top of the pot, about 4 minutes.) Drain.

Melt butter in the saucepan you used for panko. Add gnocchi and cook til browned, stirring frequently. This will take a couple minutes tops.

Serve with gnocchi on the bottom of your bowl, followed by cauliflower, followed by a shower of garlicky panko crumbs. A green salad is a great accompaniment.

 

Healthyish Strawberry Chocolate Chips Muffins – 13/67

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Picnic season! These adorable, healthyish strawberry muffins were the perfect fruity pop to add to a spread. Although I can’t say they were the first thing gone, as they had to compete with tiramisu and two other cakes. Is that peak Brooklyn? Homemade tiramisu at a picnic? Or maybe it was 7+ things of hummus. If you have a picnic in Prospect Park and there aren’t at least half as many hummus tubs as people, did it even happen??

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And I’m just going to let these pictures speak for themselves today. We broke out the real camera and gave these ruby spring babies a true photo shoot! Mmm.

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Some Notes — I tried to follow the recipe exactly but I kept adding and changing. The recipe below is as it was given to me. Here’s how I modified —

  • Added a pinch or two of salt with dry ingredients. Go for it.
  • Subbed in about ¼ cup of whole wheat flour. This really made it taste healthy. Use at your own risk.
  • I added some crumbled freeze dried strawberries at the end to half the batch. Definitely not worth it. Muddled the yummy fresh strawberry flavor.
  • I sprinkled half the batch with demerera sugar before baking. It did not caramelize the top or add any extra crunch. Wrong batter, wrong oven temp (I guess). Don’t do this.
  • Instead of using all applesauce, I used one of those little cup things and used melted coconut oil for the rest. I think this was fine.
  • I used a whole egg, not just the white. Felt wasteful to just toss the yolk. I think this was fine too.
  • These are on the moist side, and get moister overnight. I recommend toasting or eating on Day 1.

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Four years ago: black bean, mango, corn salad-alsa — another great picnic idea

Healthyish Strawberry Chocolate Chip Muffins

From my friend Katie – thanks! 

1 ¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 egg white, beaten
⅔ cup diced strawberries
⅓ cup mini chocolate chips
Nonstick spray

Preheat oven to 350F. Set out 10 muffin liners in a muffin pan and spray with nonstick spray.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and cinnamon in a big bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the sugar, brown sugar, and applesauce until there are no clumps remaining. Whisk in the egg white.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Don’t overmix! Gently fold in strawberries and chocolate chips.

Scoop into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out cleanish (there are a lot of chocolate pockets — don’t let this fool you.)

Best day of, but can keep in an airtight container on the counter for a couple days.

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Tortellini, Spinach, & “Sausage” Soup – 1/67

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Dear blog followers, all 7 of you, what would you say if I changed this up a little bit?

This past weekend, I was delighted to be surrounded by the wonderful women in my life at my bridal shower. It still seems sorta surreal, the feeling of 35 women from all moments of my life answering Ilanna-related trivia questions and getting to know each other over silly games. There were cousins (flying in from Michigan!), aunts (Vermont!), grandmas (well, they’re local…), generations-old family friends (Toronto!), Daniel’s amazingly supportive family (Texas!), and a smattering of my friends from middle school, college, and life in New York City. The only word I can use to describe the weekend is faklempt — overwhelmed by love and kindness and good wishes. Thanks, mom and sister, for putting this all together.

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The brunch will live on by the recipe book these women put together for me, filled with holiday favorites, easy dinners, and lots of desserts. I’m so lucky to have this collection of recipes (and new kitchen implements and ingredients) to cook from for the next forever. (Although it’s not exactly like I’m a little country Pollyanna who’s never cooked a meal and is now forced to make dinner every night for her new husband, who then scolds her for overcooking the chicken. Actually, to be honest, I probably would overcook chicken if I tried to make it since I have no idea how. Well then.)

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All this to say, Daniel and I want to cook every recipe from this new binder by our first anniversary. By March 16, 2020, we will have made all 67(ish) dishes so lovingly bestowed on us. I’ll try to blog them. We’ll see how quickly this fails (please don’t hold it against me if this is the only one.)

To start, tortellini “sausage” spinach soup! Easy and perfect for this day, the first day I had to break out my giant winter jacket. I took a couple liberties with it. Reminds me of the meals we’d make in college in my senior year apartment 🙂 

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one year ago: tapado (coconut fish stew) (also this totally wasn’t a year ago, but… it was in 2017?)
two years ago: mizuna miso soup (soup theme!!)
three years ago: butternut and black bean stuffed poblano peppers
four years ago: cheesy bulgur risotto with broccoli and tomatoes 

Tortellini, Spinach, and “Sausage” Soup

4-6 servings

Saute one chopped onion in olive oil in a big pot until it’s soft, about 10 minutes. Add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 or 2 chopped carrots, a big pinch of red pepper flakes, some smoked paprika, and some veggie sausage, cut into small chunks. (I did two “sausages”, though the recipe called for a pound, and it was enough.) Cook for another 10 minutes or so, until sausage is browned and carrots have softened.

Add: 32 ounces broth, a 28-oz can crushed tomatoes, a bunch of chopped basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down heat. Simmer for 25 minutes.

Add a 9-oz package of refrigerated tortellini and two big handfuls of baby spinach. Cook for 7 minutes, uncovered, until tortellini is soft. Serve each portion with extra basil and grated parmesan.

Thanks to Daniel’s cousins Michele and Robin for the base recipe and the bowls! 1 down. 66 to go.

 

Gochujang-Roasted Squash Pasta Salad

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Some things that have happened since July 3rd (the last time I posted here… yikes!)

  • I saw the total eclipse on my birthday on a ranch in Idaho, after two days of amazing hikes with my family. Can’t think of a better way to ring in my 28th year. Also, Hanna made me an amazing red wine chocolate cake that I might need every year from here on out…

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  • I made another wedding cake! (Although this one not of the tiered, and therefore uber-impressive, variety.) Despite its’ singular level, it was a giant success and work of love, and I couldn’t be happier to bestow it upon dear friends. Congrats, Michael and Joanna!

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  • And while we’re on this wedding tangent, Daniel and I got engaged! I am the luckiest lady in the whole world. After 4½ years together, he’s not ready to call it quits yet! Thankfully it happened right before the Texan pig roast and not at it, as I can’t believe that would be the most auspicious way to start the next chapter of my life. (But hey, I tried the pig! And didn’t hate it. But no need for any more pig for another 5 years or so.)

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  • Daniel, my adorable fiance, started a new job. He went out to California for three weeks, leaving me by my lonesome. I kept busier than I meant to, but did make some great dinner + leftovers for myself. One week was a giant batch of sweet potato curry, one week featured cauliflower potato soup, but the third week had this salad on repeat: Gochujang-roasted squash pasta salad. Let’s just say it was a week of exciting lunch times. California shmalifornia.

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  • Daniel and I embarked on a gnocchi-making project, a homemade pho adventure, introduced friends to NYC’s best deep dish pizza, had a “battle of the city” (NYC vs SF) pupusa contest (NYCs are cheaper and bigger), discovered the cutest onigiri restaurant near my work, and ate a good many heirloom tomato and white bread sandwiches. I think this is the part of married life I’m looking forward to — the little discoveries we keep finding together, the nightly ritual of sharing a meal, and working side-by-side on projects, big and small. This is how you measure, measure a 5-month-gap. 😉
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Proud of our veggie pho! From Bowl by Lucas Volger

Honestly, when I was making that Gochujang-roasted squash pasta salad I wasn’t really concerned with documenting or taking pictures. But after I ate it for lunch a couple days in a row, I figured it was worth sharing with the world. If you’re looking for something easy, healthy, filling, and cheap, look no further. As such, please allow me a slide for the photos, and use your judgements when following this loose recipe, you talented cooks, you. 

one year ago: key lime pie with salty cracker crust
two years ago: quichon de verdures (Mayan veggie stew)
three years ago: buttermints and mushroom and farro stuffed acorn squash

Gochujang-Roasted Squash Pasta Salad

(squash recipe from Bon Appetit)

1 smallish butternut squash
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (I used black this time but either works)
1 big tablespoon gochujang (Korean pepper paste — could try with sriracha or sambal oelek)
2 tablespoons neutral oil (canola, veg)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 cucumber (unpeeled is fine)
1 red bell pepper
Some big handfuls baby spinach, torn
2 scallions, minced
Bow-tie pasta (I boiled up about a ¼ of a box)

Dressing Ingredients:
Honestly I didn’t measure anything here. I’d start with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ½-1 teaspooon toasted sesame oil, a big squeeze of honey, and some splashes rice vinegar or lime juice.

Step 1: Squash. Preheat oven to 425. Make squash marinade by combining sesame seeds, gochujang, oil, and soy sauce in a big bowl. Peel squash and slice into small disks. Add to marinade bowl and mix so squash is evenly covered. Transfer to a single layer on baking sheets. Roast up for about 25-30 minutes, or until caramelized and soft and nutty and perfect.

Step 2: Salady things. Cut bell pepper into thin matchstrips. And do the same with the cucumber, getting rid of some seeds. Rinse out that bowl you made the squash marinade in and use it to assemble salad ingredients: spinach, bell pepper, cucumber, scallions, cooked pasta.

Step 3: Dressing. Make some dressing! You don’t need much, since squash is already very flavorful. You just want a little something to add some flavor to the greens and pasta. Start with the dressing recipe above and adjust to your liking. (Don’t try adding tahini, it was a total mistake.)

Step 4: Finish and eat! Add cooked, warm squash to salad bowl (it will wilt the spinach a bit). Add dressing. Taste and doctor until you reach your personal Gochujang-Roasted Squash Pasta Salad nirvana.

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Uh, right, not squash pasta salad, you’ve seen enough of that. I wanted to end on a pupusa note. Yum. 

Eggplant Salad and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

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How I Know It’s Almost Summer:

  • I want to buy an ice cold can of ginger ale at every bodega I pass. (So cold! So bubbly! So delightful!)
  • People on other blogs are somehow still non-ironically talking about “getting bikini bodies ready” and other bullshit like that. I mean, really? Do peoples’ bodies really fluctuate that much? Mine is the same literally all the time. Also I’ve had burritos for dinner twice this week. Go me. But, good news, I’ll probably look exactly the same in my bikini as I did last year!
  • (Is that the wrong attitude towards fitness?)
  • I need to find my tire pump. So I can use my bicycle. And get nervous every time I use it that it will get stolen again. Meh, I’ll just walk.
  • What do professional people even wear in summer? Do people who wear panty hose need to wear them in July also? How about people who run a theater summer camp in Midtown? What do they wear? Asking for a friend.
  • Our oven is only getting turned on for Daniel’s every few day need to re-season his cast iron pans. Easy dinner, please, present yourself.
  • Oh, fancy that! Look at this here recipe! Easy dinner personified (no oven needed). It starts with a lazy eggplant salad, like caponata but I feel like that’s something people argue about on the internet so I’m keeping this non-partisan with “salad”. Also my Grandma makes the best caponata and someday I hope to post her recipe here :).  Pile that salad on some soft bread spread indecently with goat cheese, topped with a kerfluffle of fresh herbs, call it a day. 
  • Also, ice cubes (to go back to that original heading). I refill our dumb ice trays so much more when it becomes pleasant in the world! (We’re talking temperature here, not general atmosphere of living in the world right now.)
  • Damnit I should go out on a positive note. SUNDRESSES!

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one year ago: herby sunchoke gorgonzola salad 
two years ago: grilled pineapple and homemade baked bean tacos and ginger coconut rice

Eggplant Salad and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

A Swanky Original

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 eggplant, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, cut in chunks (don’t get rid of juices!)
½ tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried basil
Squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice
s&p

Bread – I used an Italian focaccia-like loaf, cut into big squares
Sliced tomatoes (optional)
Goat cheese, at room temp
Fresh parsley

Heat a big skillet (for which you have a lid) and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook for about 7 minutes, until they’re beginning to brown. Increase heat to medium and add eggplant, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 12 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until eggplant has started to brown and become jam-like. Partially cover the pan for short increments to speed this along.

Next, add garlic and cook for two more minutes. Then add tomatoes, their juices, and the tomato paste. Cook for 3 minutes, or until tomatoes start to break down. Next add the sugar, red wine vinegar, and basil. Give it all a good stir and cook for another 2 minutes, until flavors have combined. Squeeze in lemon juice, and hit with another dose of salt and pepper. Taste it and flavor to your liking.

Take eggplant salad off heat while you prep other ingredients. Cut bread and toast if desired (my bread was super fresh, but on day two it will certainly help!). Chop up your parsley and thinly slice the tomatoes. Spread a thick layer of goat cheese on one slice. Follow with tomatoes, eggplant salad, and parsley. Yum!

**Extra eggplant salad is delicious mixed with spaghetti and olive oil for a quick dinner. Or with crackers for snack the next day…

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Soy-Dashi Simmered Kabocha Squash (Kabocha No Nimono)

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One of my favorite parts about living in New York City is strolling the streets, iced tea in hand, scanning new restaurant menus, popping into little stores, and debating if I should actually buy something this time around. I especially love little delis and specialty grocery stores that cater to another country’s staples. Every time I’m around St. Marks Place in Alphabet City, I have to pick up a bag of my beloved Bamba (peanut butter cheetoh-like snacks!) at the Israeli store Holyland Market (and then force whoever I’m with to share). And when on 1st Ave, I without-fail pick up a bag of the deep-fried curly-q cumin seed crackers I fell in love with in Delhi at the little store underneath the two competing Christmas light Indian restaurants (y’all New Yorkers know what I’m talking about, right?).

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Another favorite is a stroll thru Sunrise Mart, although I don’t yet have a go-to snack in this Japanese wonderland. Usually I get cheap noodles, a rice ball, or something mochi-related. This time around, I was curious about the instant dashi soup mixes. Dashi is soup base, made from simmering kombu (a thick kind of seaweed) with bonito fish flakes. I’ve never made my own, but I’ve long thought it a great option for my pescatarian lifestyle.

So I bought this!

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A google search once I was home told me I got the no MSG brand (sweet!) and that everyone disagreed about how much soup powder you’re supposed to use per cup of boiling water. I ended up using almost one of the pouches, which was about a  teaspoon and a half, with my two cups of boiling water. The powder, or really it was more like tiny pellets, dissolved immediately. A little fishy but fairly subtle. I deem this a nice (and cheap!) flavorful base for soups or simmered veggies like this.

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Also, I am obviously no expert on Japanese food — my recipe was based on reading about 12 similar ones online. My squash definitely fell apart more than I had hoped for but we loved the flavor and scarfed it down regardless. It can be served warm or cold, but I greatly prefer the warmed up version. (And I’ll update you all in a couple months about what this dish is really like in Japan after my trip in November!)

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one year ago (okay fine, last August): maple blueberry beets with balsamic and mint
two years ago: 
roasted radish, blistered pepper, and olive pizza

Soy-Dashi Simmered Kabocha Squash (Kabocha No Nimono)

Adapted primarily from pickled plum 

½ a kabocha squash (abt 1.25 lbs)
2 c dashi (2 cups water plus 1 packet seasoning) (or sub veg broth)
½ tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (though I believe you can substitute sake)

First, prep your squash. Peel some of the skin off (with a paring knife or powerful peeler). It’s fine to eat it, but peeling just some gives a nice texture change. Cut squash into roughly 1-inch cubes (more or less bite-sized).

Next, get out a heavy saucepan you have a lid for. If making dashi, bring water to a boil; add seasoning packet and stir to dissolve. Add squash pieces and return to a boil. If not making dashi, bring veg broth and squash to a boil.  Turn temperature to a slow simmer and cover pan halfway. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar, soy sauce, and mirin and continue simmering for another 10 minutes, uncovered. At this point, squash should be very tender, but hopefully not falling apart. If you’d like a more syrupy sauce, remove squash pieces and continue simmering dashi mixture until it thickens, 3-5 more minutes.

Serve with rice or as a side to any Japanese-style dish. (We ate it with an udon-miso-tofu-mushroom soupy situation. Yum!)

soup

Charred Chipotle Broccoli Tacos

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The Swanky household unfortunately has two extremes for weeknight dinner options. 1) Scour the internet for a perfect recipe, buy every ingredient from the market down the street, and make a big mess in the kitchen. This almost always ends in delicious meals, but isn’t the most practical for everyday eating. The 2) option is, without fail, take-out Thai food.

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I’m very aware I need to incorporate more 1.5s into my life. You know, meals from neither extreme. Dinner you can throw together from whatever is in the fridge, without spending time searching for a recipe or doing a million dishes — ideally, food good enough to encourage others to make too. (And when we get down to it, I have other 1.5s I should incorporate into my life more: just doing yoga on my own without needing to go to a class or following a podcast, or being content to mosey on down the street behind a hand-in-hand couple without internally blasting them for taking up SO MUCH SIDEWALK.)

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I mean, that’s basically why I started this blog in the first place. I needed a space to consolidate recipes, experiments, and ideas from bookmarks on multiple devices, forever-opened tabs on my computer, and recipes torn from magazines. (And, uh, not to rant about slow moving pedestrians.) This is my little online corner of 1.5s and memory joggers and inspiration, regardless of what foodgawker thinks.

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Tacos fill that “1.5” category pretty darn well, and as Daniel craves gringo tacos like his mom made in the ‘80s at least once a month, they make a frequent appearance. He refuses to stray from his beloved ground beef and taco seasoning packet (although the meat this time was locally raised and purchased at the farmers market – small win?). I’ve become pretty good at the art of the non-meat taco. This chipotle broccoli is one of my favorite fillings, with a smoky spicy kicky punch. Also it’s dummy-proof easy: a cutting board, one roasting pan, and 20 minutes later, you’ve got yourself seriously delicious homemade dinner (and don’t have to bat an eyelash over the embarrassing amount of plastic take-out dishes in your recycling this week).

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other swanky veggie tacos: roasted sweet potato, peach, and black bean tacos and grilled pineapple and baked bean tacos

Charred Chipotle Broccoli Tacos

a swanky original
Serves two (or one dinner and adequate leftovers*)

For the filling:
1 head broccoli
2 small sweet yellow or red peppers, sliced into rings (or 1/2 a red or yellow bell pepper, sliced into bite sized pieces)
1 scallion, finely sliced
2 chiles in adobo (from a can*)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice from half a lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
s&p

Non-negotiables:
Tortillas (I prefer flour but your call)
Shredded cheese
Diced tomatoes

Optional Toppings:
Cilantro
Lime
Sliced black olives
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Sour cream
Salsa or hot sauce
Avocado (if that’s your kinda thang)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prep broccoli: Cut florets into bite-sized pieces. Peel the stalk to remove toughest part. Cut stalk into thin slices.

Make filling: Combine all ingredients on roasting tray and mix well. Roast for 18 minutes, stirring once, until florets are charred and stalks are tender. Let cool a bit.

Prepare tortillas by placing them directly on the open flame of a gas burner, about 5 seconds per side. (Or char in a hot dry pan.) Pile on broccoli, cheese, tomatoes, and whatever else your heart desires. Serve with rice and beans.

*two notes:

  • If you want to mix it up the next day, the filling was pretty dreamy stir-fried with leftover quinoa and spicy BBQ sauce, with a fried egg on top.
  • I love chiles in adobo sauce. They’re smoky and spicy and add a burst of flavor to just about anything. Once you open a jar, you can keep the rest in a sealed container in the fridge for a very long time and use one pepper at a time as necessary.
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Daniel’s Plate Number 1 (of, uh, 3?). Boy likes his tacos. 

Sweet&Spicy Chinese-ish Eggplant and Cubanelle Peppers

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My love affair with all food Asian goes far and deep. The night I graduated from high school we went to Minado, an enormous and yet high-quality all-you-can-eat sushi and seafood buffet that’s always packed to the gills (ha). I have brought three boyfriends there, who have all had to gain the stamp of Minado Success before being fully accepted into the family.  My parents bonded over late-night dinners in college at Moon Villa in Boston’s Chinatown. We ate it MINIMUM once a week growing up, and had a lovely relationship with Vanilla, the hostess at our favorite local joint. We are part of the ranks of Jews who consume their beloved sesame chicken and wonton soup on Christmas, albeit in a tiny town in the White Mountains, apres-ski. Heck, my Dad even had Chinese food at his Bar Mitzvah. It runs deep in the veins.

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What I’ve discovered about New York Chinese food is that when it’s good, it’s very good. And when it’s bad, it’s AWFUL. In the suburbs, all Chinese food is fine. It’s not authentic, but you don’t expect it to be. It’s tasty and reliable versions of the same sort of food, usually for cheap, and always plentiful. Here, it’s a different story. You can either go to Chinatown and go to a specific regional restaurant and get fantastic food, or you can go to the take-out joint on the corner and have belly aches all night. Where is the suburban happy medium?! Why do literally all Brooklyn Chinese restaurants suffer from the everything-tastes-like-oil-and-uses-the-same-gloopy-sauce syndrome? It’s so disappointing, time after time. Thank goodness we have Thai, Japanese, Korean (and Turkish, Italian, Israeli, etc) aplenty to fill the void, and Chinatown is just one quick train stop away. On all other nights, there’s bastardized homemade “Chinese-ish” food.

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This pepper and eggplant dish is a freaking delicious version of above mentioned bastardized Chinese. It’s probably not something you’d ever get served in Chinatown but if I ate it at your house I’d be ecstatic. It’s salty and sweet and spicy and oily (but not too much) and crunchy and easy, too! Don’t you dare skimp on the fried garlic&peanut topping, or you’ll have serious regrets. Serve with brown rice and never suffer through gloopy mushrooms over overcooked and oil-shimmering lo mein again. Amen.

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one year ago: spicy micheladas for drowning your autumn-relates woes and kabocha toasts with caramelized onion-maple jam to celebrate them

Sweet&Spicy Chinese-ish Eggplant and Cubanelle Peppers

adapted from taste with the eyes 

2-4 T canola oil
1 small eggplant, cut into small cubes
2 cubanelle peppers (I had them around from the CSA but feel free to use a handful of shishitos or plain old green bell pepper), cut into thin strips
salt
1.5 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 heaping t toasted sesame oil
1 scant T sugar
1 t cornstarch
1 t red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic, sliced as thin as possible
¼ c peanuts, roughly chopped

Heat two medium-sized pans. Add a tablespoon of oil to each. Add pepper strips to one and eggplant cubes to the other. Cook peppers on medium-high heat for 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until blistered and softened. Sprinkle with salt when done and set aside. Cook eggplant on medium heat for 9-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown. Add more oil to eggplants if necessary, as they like to suck it all in immediately.

Meanwhile, make your sauce by combining soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and mixing. Set aside.

When eggplant is done, pour in the sauce. Cook for two minutes on medium high heat until it smells amazing. Add peppers and cook for about five minutes on lowish heat to let all flavors come together.

While that cooks, heat a small pan to medium high heat. Add 2 t canola oil. Add garlic slices and saute, stirring frequently, until garlic is nutty and golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and coat with salt.

Top individual portions of eggplant and peppers with fried garlic and chopped peanuts. Serve with brown rice. Repeat until you wonder where the food has gone…

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