Thursday, August 3, 2017

Making magic spontaneously, the recent story of my life


This year has been so busy, that in a search through my archives for a recent project I realized I've been playing catch with food in my fridge on repeat, for months. Catch. Toss. Repeat.

It is true that sometimes I am able make space in my schedule and a grocery run for a deliberate drool-worthy dish (hello peach and squash blossom pizza, 2x!). Usually though, with the juggle of work projects and my abomination of waste, I eat all the leftovers - giving them new leases on life for our daily sustenance.

Really, there are no complaints. Especially fortuitous is that this method has at its foundation, refined my "let's-spontaneously-create-something-amazing" muscle. Lucky for husband and me, we like eating this way.

Last Sunday's breakfast is a perfect example. Freshly harvested squash blossoms from a neighborhood volunteer and the community garden, some plump shiitakes, and things-needing-using-up frittata. The weather was still quite hot so I opted not to turn on the oven, and instead cooked the thing using just the stovetop.

It turned out gloriously. There was a slight crust on the bottom from the hard seared greens + mushrooms, and soft eggy top studded with delicate flowers.

Scroll down for the recipe......

With a much-needed moment of pause between projects - its own sort of vacation before the momentum of fall kicks in - I thought with all the recent Instagram requests to share a few more recipes from the last week or two. These creations happily passed through the kitchen and our bellies, and they are each worth making for yours.

Crunchiest summer salad
Plump buttery scallops with Meyer lemon, peaches, and fennel

Wild blues, blacks, and wineberry galette








Squash blossom - shiitake frittata
Serves 2-4

1 large handful (or what you have) fresh squash blossoms, brushed of debris and any clingy insects
5-8 shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)
1/4 cup heavy cream
3-5 pasture raised eggs
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating
extra virgin olive oil, for sautéing
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Add to the foundation your mix of "needs-using-up" greens or other support veggies
I had:
a small gem lettuce
wilting arugula
a handful of parsley
the tops from a bunch of amaranth
a few sprigs of thyme
there were also some wayward pepitas and purslane tips (leftovers from a composed salad)

Whisk eggs and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until frothy. Set aside.

In a medium heavy-bottomed enameled or cast-iron skillet over medium high heat, brown the shiitakes in a small glug of olive oil on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Add gem lettuce or other greens/veg and hard sear without disturbing, for 3-5 minutes.

Lower heat to medium, drizzle olive oil around the perimeter of pan and lean so that pan sides get a light coating in oil. Use tongs or a wide spatula to prevent the cooked veg from spilling out as you do so.

Pour beaten eggs into pan and arrange mushrooms and greens to your liking. Nestle squash blossoms into mixture, followed by thyme sprigs. Season with s+p.

Tilt pan to one side to allow beaten egg to seep to pan edge and repeat on opposite side, until only a very light surface liquid remains. In a circular gliding motion, use the blade of a silicone spatula to separate egg from inner edge of hot pan. Once that is done, after another minute, give the pan a good jostle to ensure frittata is not stuck to pan bottom. If any portion remains stuck, gently glide spatula under frittata to free it.

Drizzle cream over frittata, followed by grated Parm. Lower heat to medium-low and cover, leaving pan lid slightly askew. After 3 minutes longer, frittata should be just-done. Check, cook a couple minutes longer if needed, then remove from heat.

Give a final shower of Parm - to your liking - and cut into wedges. If you are using soft herbs (dill or chives, for example) add them just before serving. Serve warm or room temperature.


Crunchiest summer salad
Serves 1 hungry body 

1 corncob, shucked and silk removed
2-3 small zucchini
pickle brine - I pickled field garlic back in spring and used the brine from it
good olive oil
1 large handful sugar snap peas, ends trimmed and seams removed
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1-2 thin scallions, finely sliced
finely grated zest from 1 organic lemon
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
flake salt, for serving

Make zoodles - I use a mandoline placed over a bowl. Dress zoodles with the pickle brine and a glug of oil and carefully toss to coat. Season with s+p.

Cut kernels off the cob. Use the freshest available as you won't be cooking the corn, and the juicy sweetness fades over time (leaving only starchiness). Slice snap peas on the diagonal and toss with corn. Season with s+p.

For presentation, shape zoodles into nests on a serving dish and spoon corn-snap pea mixture on top. Add as much freshly cracked pepper as you like, and a sprinkle of flake salt. Scatter parsley and scallions, drizzle all with a little more olive oil and another spoonful or two of brine, and serve at once.


Scallops with Meyer lemon, peaches, and fennel
Serves 2

6 large day boat scallops
1 small fennel bulb
2 tree-ripened peaches
1 Meyer lemon
1 tbsp grain mustard
1 tbsp butter
good olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Remove scallops from refrigerator, pat dry, and allow to come to room temp. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

Trim top and bottom from lemon and place a flat side onto cutting board. Working along the curve, slice skin-pith layer from flesh in strips, turning as you go. Squeeze any juice in the strips into a large bowl then discard. Cut lemon into supremes into the bowl, then squeeze the juice from the membrane.

Cut fennel in half lengthwise. Use a mandoline placed over the bowl to shave fennel, reserving the fronds. Add a drizzle of oil and the mustard, and season with s+p. Gently toss the mixture to combine.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until near smoking. Add a glug of olive oil and quickly swirl, then place scallops into pan equidistant from one another. They should immediately vigorously sizzle. After a minute or two - do not disturb them - add 1 tbsp butter, dragging it in between each scallop.

Sear for 3 more minutes, tilting pan once or twice to keep the hot fat flowing around them. Turn scallops over and baste their caramelized surfaces with spoonfuls of the hot fat. Repeat basting as you sear for one minute longer, then remove scallops from heat, transfer to a plate, and pour pan juices over.

Cut peaches into slices. On two plates, divide fennel mixture and layer with peach slices and reserved fennel fronds, and nestle scallops on top, pouring the pan juices over all. Add a final sprinkle of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, and eat at once.


Wild berry galette
Serves 6-8

for the filling
2-2 1/2 cups mixed berries, rinsed and drained - I went foraging and Nature provided this gem-mix of wild black and blueberries, and wineberries
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp tapioca flour
3 tbsp organic cane sugar

for the dough
1 1/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup Honoré Farm+Mill Sonora wheat flour
1/2 cup Farmer Ground rye flour
8 oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, freezer-cold
1/4-1/3 cup goat milk plain yogurt
1 tsp organic cane sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper for subtle spice, to your taste (optional)
1 egg, for wash
demerara sugar, for sprinkling

I am a huge fan of mixing dough by hand but truly have not had the time in recent day-to-day work. If you prefer to make dough that way, bravo. Click here for a bit of guidance.

Pulse dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse in 3 second intervals until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with numerous pea-sized bits. Drizzle in the yogurt with the machine running at 3 second intervals until the dough holds together. Be careful not to over-mix. To test: remove processor top and if when squeezed, it holds together, it is ready. If not, add a small drizzle more, pulsing as you do so.

Empty dough out onto cellophane laid onto your work surface, into two equal piles. Work all the bits in one pile together into a cohesive ball, then flatten into a disk and wrap securely. Repeat with the second pile. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes for the dough to mellow, up to 3 days in advance. If you don't have another galette waiting in the wings for the second disk, it can be frozen (wrap in a layer of foil and then a resealable plastic bag) for up to 3 months.

For the fruit filling, combine all ingredients and gently toss to coat. You can do this step a day in advance.

Remove the dough from refrigerator 10 minutes before you plan to roll it out. On lightly floured parchment, roll dough, making a 1/8 turn with each pass of the rolling pin. Be deliberate - if dough is too cold it will split as you roll. If it is too warm it will smear. Transfer dough to a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate if too warm, or give it another minute or two sitting on your work surface if too cold.

When ready, dough should be 1/8-1/4 inch thick, about 14 inches across. Leave a 3-inch border all around and make a shallow pile of the fruit mixture in the center. Reserve most of the liquid for just before baking.

Fold pastry onto fruit, gathering and pleating as you go. Seal creases together with a light paint of water and pressure from your fingers. On the baking sheet, transfer galette to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to overnight, or freeze for 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Before placing galette in the oven, whisk together the fruit juices/tapioca/sugar mixture and carefully spoon it over the fruit. Beat egg, paint eggwash all over pastry, then sprinkle Demerara sugar for a light, glittery coating.

Bake for 30 minutes until golden, checking after 20 for even browning. Reduce the temperature to 375 once the crust has become golden brown, baking until the juices bubble, about 10-15 minutes more.

Cool galette completely on a wire rack. Slice and serve plain, or with ice cream or crème fraîche.

Now I want to make each of these again and relive the delight they provided me the first time 'round....

........................

For some of my recent work out in the world:

amazing wild salmon and fried sage gremolata with this season's Driftersfish sockeye and La Tourangelle walnut oil

The New York Times butteriest fish all-Amatriciana, watermelon chaat, and namoura semolina cake

Cover beauty for the newest Edible magazine on the block

Kid Chef minty lamb burgers in the latest Cooking with Kids, Where Women Cook

New best-selling Instant Pot book cover and new Air Fryer cover

Food styling, Knorr selects Pinterest campaign - here, here, here, and here 


Follow my daily adventures in food over on Instagram for round-the-clock inspiration. Make something delicious for yourself this weekend. :)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rhubarb Upside-down Cake, California Dreaming



Three cheers for Spring! I'm one of those people who doesn't really go for winter, but understand that I live in the northeast and so do what you do - prepare for it, get cozy, eat soothing foods, embrace the shorter days with more at-home enjoyment. But by February every year, I feel kinda hateful. All that grey - on top of the chill - just gets me down. 

So when I saw the first stalks of crimson rhubarb at my local specialty market I seized on them. At home, I lingered on how I could give them best expression and when I landed on this upside-down cake, it was a done deal. It is pretty amazing. Worth doing on repeat. I've even been thinking about using the basic recipe towards stone fruit such as plums when they come into season, as well as grapes. If you make it, I'd love to hear how you like it too.

To the grey, happily moving (mostly) along by now... a dear friend was set to get married in March, out in California. I hadn't been there in years - good enough reason to go - never mind that I couldn't miss her most special day. So sweet husband and I decided to make a layered experience of the trip... and we did that in spades.

To our good fortune, the onslaught of rain the previous month made for some of the most epic, abundant blooms we've ever seen. I can recall a few instances where we had to pick our jaws up off the ground at how beautiful it all was. And the sunshine! So abundant and warming, just when we needed it most (we escaped NY on a 39 degree very rainy day). 

Here are some favorite moments. You'll pardon me that there are so many, I hope. It was all of a dream - so good in fact, we've talked since about moving there. Time will tell, but the winds of change are definitely a-blowing...

(Scroll to bottom for cake recipe!)

a moment from the absolutely breathtaking Big Sur

Gjelina Take Away leftovers - happy next-day breakfast

Santa Monica farmers market - sent off with bags and bags of JJS Lone Daughter Ranch goodies

First thing I did with the market bounty...

The. Cutest.



Died and went to heaven with the grain bowl at Sqirl


roaming Silver Lake



I mean. 

Casual but amazing Santa Barbara beauty


Cocktail hour at the Biltmore with friend Betty

Betty went to market and so I whipped this up. Eaten al fresco on a lazy Sunday.
Northbound...

taken with my phone from our moving car with audible gasp

Next destination, lazing the afternoon away with old friends

poolside cocktail hour

Making my hosts my favorite breakfast


being on the road was almost as much fun as being someplace...





Carmel Valley retreat

fragrant lupines


sea baubles



Point Lobos


Barnacles waiting out low tide

Lovely - but wary - little crab

If I had more time I would have harvested some for dinner



breathtaking Big Sur

searching for a good picnic location....


we settled on a formidable cliff edge for picnic, only to realize we both felt vertigo

found a way down to the beach and then rolled out this feast





last moments before our flight home, shot by Jim Lafferty back in LA, 'gramming

    Now you know....

    So much beauty. Time to book another flight out and see it all again!



    Perfectly spring rhubarb upside-down cake

    1 ¼ cups butter, at 
room temperature, 
plus more for the pan
      ½ lb rhubarb (more if you have more available), cut on a diagonal into 2 to 4-inch segments
    ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar 
      1 cup organic cane sugar
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1¼ tsp baking powder
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    1 healthy tsp grated lemon zest (from 1 organic lemon)
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    4 pasture raised eggs, at room temperature
      ½ cup whole milk kefir

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment. Butter the parchment and sides of pan.
  2. Toss the rhubarb and the brown sugar together in a bowl. Arrange the rhubarb segments into a radial shape at the bottom of the pan. Scrape any sugar left in the bowl into the pan amidst the rhubarb.
  3. Using a fork, stir the flour, baking powder, and salt to incorporate. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of
 the bowl. Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Stir in the kefir on low speed (the mixture may look curdled, which is fine). Gradually add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Spoon the batter over the rhubarb and spread to even out.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a thin knife along the circumference before releasing springform collar. Invert cake onto a platter. Peel away parchment paper and cut cake into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.