Charred Eggplant Dip

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWith temperatures on the rise (finally!) in NYC, I'm looking forward to summery dinners–lots of salads and vegetables, fruit so juicy it doesn't need to be baked into a cake, dreaming of the day when I have a grill...you get the idea. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset I made this eggplant dip the other day for my book club and it would make a perfect start to any spring or summer dinner party (whether or not you have a grill) and is an unexpected alternative to the same old hummus and carrot sticks.

Make sure to char the eggplant thoroughly, it gives it this amazing smoky flavor you don't get from just roasting.

IMG_3273platter c/o Katy Skelton / napkin from Birdkage

Charred Eggplant Dip (adapted from Food & Wine)

One 1 1/4-pound eggplant

2 large shallots, halved lengthwise

3 large garlic cloves

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 tablespoons minced mint

Preheat the oven to 375°. Roast the eggplant over an open flame until softened and charred, 12 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish. Add the shallots and garlic to the eggplant, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper; roast for 35 minutes, until very tender. Let cool completely. Scrape the eggplant flesh into a colander to drain for 15 minutes; discard the skin.

Mince the eggplant, garlic and shallots; transfer to a bowl. Stir in the yogurt, lemon juice and herbs. Season the dip with salt and pepper and serve.

Kimchi Fried Rice

IMG_2122I've spoken before about my love for fried rice as an easy weeknight meal, but lately I've been wanting to spice it up a little. Believe it or not, I had never had kimchi until relatively recently (there aren't a ton of Korean restaurants in Minnesota, unfortunately) and the first time I tried it, I wasn't so sure if I liked it or not. IMG_2117

But after trying it a few more times, I'm officially a convert–plus, fermented foods are supposed to be very good for you. Ari is still a little wary of the funky, spicy fermented cabbage, so I've been making this fried rice in the meantime–you still get all of the spicy goodness of kimchi, but cooking it for a few minutes tones down the taste.

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Kimchi Fried Rice (adapted from Food52)

1 to 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil1 package tofu, drained and cut into small cubes
2 cups mixed vegetables (I used peas, carrots and broccoli)

4 to 5 scallions, whites only, finely sliced

1 1/2 cups kimchi, chopped

2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste)

4 cups cooked rice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 pinch salt, to taste

Fried eggs (1 per person)
Heat canola or vegetable oil in a large, deep frying pan over high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring frequently, until browned on all sides. Add vegetables and sauté until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Add the scallion whites, and cook while stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Next, add kimchi and kochujang, and cook while stirring for 3 to 5 minutes until the kimchi begins to soften.Add the rice and soy sauce. Then mix well until the rice is coated with the kimchi. (You can always add a little bit of the briny liquid from the kimchi jar if it seems like there’s not enough color or spice for all of your rice!)

Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for just a few more minutes until the rice is warmed through. Season with salt, to taste.

Serve topped with a fried egg and sprinkled with scallions greens.

Peanut & Vegetable Stew

_MG_6062Despite the fact that it was officially spring last week, New York is still feeling distinctly chilly. I for one am more than ready to not wear a coat and spend a little time outside, but until the temperatures warm up a little more, I'm sticking with hearty soups and stews for dinner. This recipe came from my mom (through one of her oldest friends), and is a great way to get your fill of vegetables and protein all in one. You can also add chicken to make it a little heartier, but I like it vegetarian to feel especially virtuous._MG_6065 Meanwhile, I'll be dreaming of asparagus and strawberries and all things spring over here. Will this winter never end?_MG_6071

 

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Peanut & Vegetable Stew (serves 8)
1 T olive oil
1 med onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 red pepper, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 c chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1-14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 large sweet potato, peeled & cut into 1/2" pieces
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup or more of peanut butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1-5 oz bag spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground pepper
Heat oil in a large soup pot.  Add onion, bell pepper, carrot & celery.  Saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, ginger, curry powder and saute until fragrant, about 1 min.  Do not brown garlic.  Add tomatoes & bay leaf.  Cook, uncovered until tomatoes are slightly reduced, about 3 min.
Add broth & sweet potato & bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer about 8 minutes.  Stir in garbanzos and peanut butter till combined.  Cook until thoroughly heated, about 2 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and spinach until spinach wilts.  Season with salt & pepper.

Baked Eggs with Mushrooms, Spinach & Bread

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_MG_5631I firmly believe that you can never have enough egg recipes. My personal favorite way to eat eggs is over-easy, atop a piece of avocado-slathered toast with a little hot sauce, but every now and then I like to switch it up a little. This recipe looks impressive, uses one pan, and can be expanded exponentially to accommodate a crowd – really, what's not to love? You could also add bacon for a smoky flavor, or switch the vegetables for other items you prefer. The only thing I really insist on is the croutons and runny eggs. A perfect winter breakfast, if I do say so myself._MG_5637

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Baked Eggs with Mushrooms, Spinach & Bread (serves 2)

2 T. olive oil

1/2 baguette or other rustic bread, torn into bite-size pieces

2 T. butter

1 leek, rinsed well and thinly sliced

10 oz mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced

4 oz spinach, chopped

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil over medium in a sauté pan. When hot, add bread and toast until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a cast-iron or oven-proof pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add leek, and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and season with salt an pepper, sautéing until browned, about 8 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add croutons and toss. Carefully make four small wells in vegetable mixture, then crack eggs directly into each well. Place pan in oven and cook until eggs are just set, 6-7 minutes. Serve immediately.

Mushroom-Gruyère Tart

Happy 2014! Knowing me, I'll continue to write 2013 for the next six months, then just as I'm getting used to the new date it will already be December. _MG_5507My apologies for the silence over the holidays  – I was in Minnesota for about 10 days (which felt so long! In the best way) and Ari came along to experience a real Minnesota Christmas (though he missed out on the lefse-making – photos coming soon). Being home is always wonderful, but this time was particularly lovely because in addition to all of the flurry of holiday parties, I was there for long enough to really relax and hang out with my family and friends. And of course, enjoy lots of good food. What did you do for the holidays?_MG_5509

I made this tart a few weeks ago to bring to my book club holiday party (yes, I'm in a book club. It's the best), and I think that it makes a great appetizer or main course served with salad. You could of course make the puff pastry by hand (or use a more traditional pastry crust), but I was in a bit of a rush, and honestly, the store-bought stuff works very well in a pinch. You might notice our little Christmas tree in the background – it's the first one I've ever had in my own apartment and I love it so much more than I thought I would. It may or may not still be sitting in the corner._MG_5515

Mushroom-Gruyère Tart

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

1 tablespoon butter

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped)

1 lb mushrooms, such as shiitake or baby bellas, thinly sliced

1/4 cup sour cream or crème fraîche

1 cup shredded gruyère cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to about 12x14 inches. Place carefully on a baking sheet (covered with parchment paper, if desired) and prick all over with a fork. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot, mushrooms & thyme and cook until browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and mix in sour cream and gruyère.  Spread mixture over top of pastry shell, and bake until cheese is melted, about 7 minutes. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown-Butter Balsamic Sauce

I'm going to guess that most of you have your Thanksgiving meals all planned out by now. Turkey is defrosting, breadcrumbs are drying for stuffing, and pies are made. (I'm not cooking, so actually none of the above is true for me). If, however, you do not -- or you would like an excellent vegetarian entrée for your Thanksgiving (or other fall) meal, I would highly recommend these gnocchi. I actually found this recipe on Pinterest, which usually I shy away from (I've seen far too many of those "Pinterest Fail" pictures, which while hilarious, are usually not what I look for in a recipe), but when I saw that this recipe was from the amazing Aida Mollenkamp, I knew it would be good. And it doesn't fail to disappoint. I obviously love gnocchi in all forms, and you pretty much only have to mention the words "brown butter" to guarantee that I will want to try it.

On another note, happy Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you all have plans to eat and hang out with family and friends and eat your weight in turkey and mashed potatoes on this most wonderful of holidays. Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown-Butter Balsamic Sauce (adapted from aidamollenkamp.com)

For the gnocchi:

3  sweet potatoes (yams), halved lengthwise 1 Russet potato, halved lengthwise 1 tablespoon olive oil Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 1 egg, lightly beaten 2tablespoons honey 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 1/2 to 2 cups all purpose or white whole wheat flour

For the sauce:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter 12 to 15 fresh sage leaves 2 shallots, quartered and thinly sliced 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cups arugula, spinach, or chard Freshly shaved parmesan, for garnish Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish

Instructions

For the gnocchi:

(Gnocchi can be made through this step up to 1 month ahead. To store, place on a flat surface and freeze until frozen through. Transfer to an airtight container and keep frozen up to 1 month before using.)

Heat an oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil, season with a few good pinches of salt and a few cranks of pepper, place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side down, and roast until fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Set aside until cool enough to handle. Scoop flesh out of skins then pass flesh through a potato ricer (or mash with back of a fork) and stir in egg and honey. Mix in salt and flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms. Taste and add additional salt, as needed. You’ve added flour when you touch the back of the dough and it is damp but not sticking to your hand.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and shape into a square. Divide into 16 equal pieces. Rolling between palms and floured work surface, form each piece into a rope (about 1/2 inch in diameter), sprinkling with flour as needed if sticky. However, don’t add too much additional flour as too much will make for heavy gnocchi. Cut each rope into 1/2 -inch pieces.

Bring large pot of heavily salted water to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, simmer gnocchi until tender and they begin to rise to the surface, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer gnocchi to clean rimmed baking sheet. Reserve 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water and drain the rest.

For the sauce:

This is enough sauce for half of the gnocchi. If you want to cook off all the gnocchi, go ahead and double the recipe. Just a note that I’d recommend you make this sauce through twice as doing twice this amount in one pan would be unwieldy.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it foams, add sage and cook until crisp and fragrant.  Add shallot and, watching it carefully and stirring often,  allow the milk solids begin to brown and the butter becomes fragrant and nutty. Scrape along the bottom to prevent the solids from sticking and burning.

When the butter is brown, immediately remove from heat, and carefully stir in the vinegar (it may sting your eyes). Stir in gnocchi and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water, return to heat, and boil until sauce is thickened, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the arugula, spinach, or chard until greens are wilted. Add a lot of freshly ground black pepper, taste for seasoning and finish with additional pasta water, salt, black pepper, and freshly shaved parmesan.

Zucchini Carpaccio

I know, I know. Two zucchini posts in a row. But this carpaccio is so simple and delicious that I had to post it for you all. There might still be some zucchini left at the farmer's markets, even though it's now been pretty much taken over by apples and squash. I made this for a quick and easy lunch last weekend, but it would also make an excellent first course for a dinner party. Be sure to use a mandolin (if you have one) to make the slices of zucchini as thin as possible; otherwise, use a very sharp knife so that they are almost transparent. ..................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

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Zucchini Carpaccio (adapted from Tyler's Ultimate by Tyler Florence)

1 zucchini, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs, such as basil, mint, and parsley

2 teaspoons capers

Zest and juice of one lemon

1/4 - 1/3 cup shaved parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Layer zucchini in overlapping slices on a plate. Sprinkle herbs and lemon zest over, then drizzle lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle cheese over, then season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for ten minutes or so to let the flavors blend. Serve immediately.

Vegetable Summer Rolls

Though I love ordering them at restaurants, for years I have been too intimidated by summer rolls to try to make them myself. The whole wrapping/dipping sauce thing had me convinced that they were much too complicated. However, the other day at the grocery store I spotted some rice paper wrappers while buying fish sauce (a new staple in my apartment) and decided to give it a try. Though the first one I made was a little wonky, to my surprise I quickly got the hang of it and they weren't too hard to master. A perfect appetizer before Pad Thai, or you could do what A. and I did and just have them for dinner. Vegetable Spring Rolls (adapted from Food & Wine and Tyler's Ultimate)

For chile dipping sauce:

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 small red chile, thinly sliced

For peanut dipping sauce:

3 garlic cloves, minced

1-inch piece ginger, minced

3 scallions, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter

6 tablespoons water

 

3 oz vermicelli

12 rice paper wrappers

3 large carrots, cut into matchstick-size pieces

1 cucumber, cut into matchstick-size pieces

1 avocado, thinly sliced

4 oz tofu, cut into thin slices

Small handful basil, julienned

Whisk all ingredients for chile dipping sauce together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic, scallions, ginger, and red pepper flakes until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, peanut butter, and water until peanut butter melts. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

Place vermicelli noodles in a medium bowl. Pour boiling water over, and let soak until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.

Working in batches of two, soak rice paper wrappers in a shallow bowl of water for 5 seconds. Let soften for 30 seconds, then place a little bit each of rice noodles, carrots, cucumber, tofu, basil and 1 slice avocado on top. Fold up sides of wrapper and roll until sides close (it's kind of like making a burrito). Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately with dipping sauces.

Sesame Noodles with Tofu

I have to be honest. If I were to write down everything I ate, it would be kind of embarrassing. I would love to say that I eat a salad a day and eat my full 6 servings of fruit, but to be honest, sesame noodles would take up an unproportional amount of space. And living in New York, where amazing noodles of every kind are to be had at pretty much any hour of the day or night, doesn't really help this addiction. But usually I make my own, and this recipe, adapted from Tyler Florence's Ultimate cookbook (it REALLY is the ultimate -- I swear, everything I have ever made from this cookbook has been outstanding) is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. I added tofu for some protein, but you could easily substitute that for chicken or shrimp.The sauce would also make a great accompaniment to chicken satay...or raw vegetables. Or just eaten by the spoonful. (But then again, I can never have enough peanut sauce so you probably shouldn't trust me on this one.) Sesame Noodles with Tofu

8 oz. rice noodles

3 tablespoons sesame oil

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated

4 green onions, very thinly sliced

2-inch piece fresh ginger, minced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (less if you aren't a fan of spicy food)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

6 tablespoons hot water

1/4 cup crushed peanuts, to garnish

1 block tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 oz mixed vegetables, such as sliced carrots and sugar snap peas

Prepare rice noodles as directed on box. When ready, coat with sesame oil and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large sauté pan. Add tofu, and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add vegetables and cook until crisp, 5-7 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat remaining vegetable oil over medium heat. Add green onions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes and sauté until beginning to soften, 1-2 minutes. Add brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and hot water and whisk to combine. Add sauce to tofu and vegetables, then add noodles and mix well. Garnish with peanuts, and serve immediately or cold.

Pad Thai

I love Thai food. However, sometimes I find that takeout options can be sickly sweet, or too oily, or not spicy enough. I decided to take matters into my own hands, and after finding out how easy this recipe is, I might never order pad thai for delivery again. It is also gluten-free, an added bonus to its simplicity and great taste. This can also easily be non-vegetarian by substituting the tofu for shrimp. Pad Thai (modified from Bon Appétit)

Serves 2-3

8 ounces pad thai rice noodles 3 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 large eggs 1 block tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes 2 cups bean sprouts 6 tablespoons tamarind water, or 3 tablespoons tamarind paste mixed with 3 tablespoons water (I couldn't find tamarind paste, so I used pomegranate paste to the same effect) 3 tablespoons (or more) Thai fish sauce (nam pla) 3 tablespoons simple syrup 5 scallions, thinly sliced. 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes 6 tablespoons crushed roasted, unsalted peanuts, divided 2 lime wedges
Soak rice noodles in a large bowl in hot water until firm but not soggy, 5-8 minutes. Drain and set aside. Heat oil until shimmering in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Sear tofu until browned on each side, 10- 15 minutes. Add eggs and scramble for 30 seconds. Add noodles, stir for 30 seconds. Stir in bean sprouts, then add tamarind water, fish sauce, simple syrup, scallions, and red pepper flakes. Cook for one minute. Stir in 1 tablespoon crushed peanuts and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with extra peanuts, fish sauce, scallions, and lime wedges.