June didn’t like the scallion flavor in the peas, so next time, I’ll be leaving the scallions out. I like it either way.
Set out three shallow bowls. Put a large, heaping spoonful of flour in the first, the egg in the second, and a large, heaping spoonful of panko in the third. I didn’t measure the flour or panko, and I think you can safely eyeball it. Beat the egg well with a fork.
Season the cutlets with kosher salt.
Working with one cutlet at a time, dredge in flour with one hand, shaking off excess. Transfer to the egg dish, turning the cutlet with your other hand to coat both sides. Lift, allowing excess egg to drain off. Transfer to the panko bowl. With your first hand, scoop panko on top of the cutlet and gently press to adhere, taking care that the whole thing is coated. Transfer to a clean plate. Repeat with remaining cutlets. If this is done properly, your first hand should touch only dry ingredients, while your second hand should touch only wet, and ideally it’s not too messy. If it is, oh well.
Pour oil into a 10-inch skillet to a depth of ¼ to 1/3 inch. Place over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers and runs loosely around the pan when you tilt it (around 350°F), gently lower the cutlets into the pan, laying them down away from you to prevent splashes of hot fat. Don’t crowd the pan; cook in batches if necessary. Cook cutlets until the bottom side is set, and then flip and fry until the second side is set. Continue cooking, flipping occasionally for even browning, until the cutlets are golden brown – fried-chicken color – and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. I use a Thermapen to test for doneness, pulling cutlets from the pan around 155°F. They will rise to 165°F (the USDA safe temperature) as they rest. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the peas and scallions and a generous dash of salt, stir to coat, cover, and cook until tender. I didn’t time this. Maybe 10 minutes?
Serve everything hot, the buttery peas spooned over the cutlets.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings
Charlie Brigham used Swanson canned chicken broth, fideo vermicelli, egg, and Kraft parmesan cheese – the green‑canister kind that keeps for a small eternity. Today, you might swap in organic chicken broth (homemade or not), capellini and freshly grated parmesan.
Crack the egg into a small bowl, and beat well.
In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook according to package directions, until just tender. Drizzle in the beaten egg, stirring constantly with a fork so that the egg breaks into feather-like pieces rather than clumps.
Divide the soup between two wide, shallow bowls. Top with grated cheese and black pepper. Serve with a fork, for twirling noodles, and a spoon.
Yield: 2 (light) servings
Kafka calls for egg noodles, but I used fusilli, because it’s what I had. I do love egg noodles, though.
Also, about lemon sizes: I find it troublesome to call for “2 lemons,” because lemons vary in size and juiciness. If I were you, I would measure out the juice before you use it, and start with no more than 1/4 cup. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles, and stir to separate. Cook for 8 minutes (or whatever time is indicated on the package), or until tender. Drain, then return to the cooking pot.
Just before noodles are done, combine the lemon zest, cream, salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, or until cream comes to a boil.
Pour the hot cream mixture over the drained noodles, and add the lemon juice. Stir to coat. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until all the liquid is absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with additional pepper, if desired, and divide among bowls. Top with freshly grated Parmesan.
Yield: 6 servings
I made the dough first thing on Wednesday morning, while June was watching Daniel Tiger – real talk – and it was ready to roll out an hour later, when our friends arrived. I highly recommend making the dough ahead, since waiting for dough to chill is not easy for kids. And if you can, go ahead and measure out the frosting ingredients while you’re doing the dough.
Once we were ready to get started, I took charge of rolling out the dough, and then the girls went to work with their chosen cookie cutters. (The original recipe below calls for using round cookie cutters, but we used alphabet shapes.) I helped ease the dough shapes from the cutters onto the baking sheet, and I rerolled the dough scraps as needed. But mostly, I let them do their thing. While the cookies baked and cooled, June helped me beat up the frosting, and then each kid got a small knife and their own bowl of frosting for spreading on the finished cookies.
To make the cookies, combine the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat, first on low speed and then slowly increasing to medium, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until the flour is just absorbed. Add the vanilla, and beat well to incorporate. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on the countertop, and turn the dough out onto it. Gather the dough into a ball, and press it into a thin, smooth disk. Wrap well, and refrigerate for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
On a clean, lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 3/8 inch. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into any shape you like. (My friend Jimmy uses a heart-shaped cutter when he makes these cookies; I usually use a 2 ½-inch circle.)
Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 ½ inches apart. Bake them one sheet at a time, keeping the second sheet in the fridge until the first is done, for about 16 minutes, or until the cookies look set and are just pale golden at the edge. Do not allow them to brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and allow the cookies to cool completely on the pan. Repeat.
To make the frosting, put the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, and beat on low speed to incorporate. Then raise the speed to medium, and beat until there are no lumps, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Add the kirsch and a couple of drops of food coloring, and beat well. The frosting should be pale pink, ideally, though June wanted it darker than that, so we added some more coloring. Spread the frosting generously – this is key! lots of frosting! – onto the fully cooled cookies.
Stored in an airtight container, the frosted cookies will keep in the fridge for a few days, and they’re delicious cold. You can also freeze them.
Yield: 10 to 12 (3-inch) cookies, or more smaller cookies
Put the ham, bay leaves, and water in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a very gentle simmer, and cook until the meat is tender and pulls away from the bone, 2 to 2½ hours. Remove the ham meat and bone from pot. When the ham is cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces. Discard the bone and any excessive fat.
Add the split peas and thyme to the ham stock. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently, uncovered, until the peas are tender but not yet dissolved, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables give off some moisture, that moisture evaporates, and the vegetables begin to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the butter, garlic, and sugar. Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, until golden brown, the color of honey, about 30 to 35 minutes. Set aside.
When the split peas are tender but not yet dissolved, add the cooked vegetables, the potatoes, and the shredded ham to the pot. Simmer until the potatoes are tender and the peas dissolve and thicken soup to the consistency of light cream, about 20 minutes more. (Remember that the potatoes will continue to cook slightly as the soup cools down.) Taste for salt, though you won’t likely need any, since ham is salty. Serve hot, with freshly ground black pepper.
Yield: Food.com says 6 cups, but that's wrong; both Matthew and I get nearly 4 quarts
I’m no fan of the liquid in cans of beans – it’s just so… slimy – but this is a recipe where it really is useful. Take a deep breath, and dump it in.
As for butter, Katie doesn’t measure it, but she told me that she probably uses two tablespoons for four cans of beans. I prefer mine with more butter, ideally with a tablespoon per can. Brandon also suggests adding garlic, pressed or minced, and that’s very nice, too. It adds a faint depth of flavor. But I defer to you.
Also, note that this recipe can be scaled down as needed. When I made it with black beans last week, I only had one can in the house, and it worked just fine – and in less time.
Pour the beans and their liquid into a medium saucepan. Add the butter, maybe ten or fifteen shakes of hot sauce, and the garlic (if using; see above). Stir to mix. Place over medium-high heat, and bring just to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has thickened and looks creamy and the beans are very tender, maybe even falling apart. For pintos, I let mine go for about 1 hour, though Katie says hers only take about 30 minutes. You can cook it as long as you like, really. Cook it to your taste. (And keep in mind that the beans will thicken further, and get creamier, as they cool.)
Serve hot, with seven-minute eggs and any other toppings you like: hot sauce, avocado, cilantro, grated cheese, etc.
Yield: dinner for 2, plus 3 or 4 breakfasts, depending on how you serve it
Melt the butter in a large (5-quart) pot over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and onion, season with a couple good pinches of salt, and cook, stirring often, until the carrots are softened, 15-20 minutes. Stir in the broth, 1 ½ cans of the coconut milk, and 1 tablespoon of the sriracha. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 45 minutes. Puree in small batches (remember: hot liquids expand!) in a blender. (Or, my preference: puree right in the pot, with an immersion blender.) Check for seasoning, and add more salt and/or sriracha, if you like. (I usually add 1 more tablespoon sriracha.) If you’d like more richness, stir in the rest of the coconut milk, and then reheat as needed.
Serve with a generous squeeze of lime in each bowl, and top with cilantro, if you have it.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
One word of caution: don’t slice the onions too thinly here, or they’ll be more likely to burn. I’d aim for ½-inch-thick slices, if I were you.
Preheat the oven to 425°F, and line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment.
Place the cauliflower on a cutting board, and slice it top-down into roughly 1/3-inch slices. Some of the slices will crumble, and that’s fine. Scoop all of the cauliflower into a large bowl, and add the onion, thyme, garlic, and olive oil. Toss well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Arrange the mixture in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower is mostly tender, golden brown, and caramelized at the edges, 25-30 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, and grate a generous amount of Parmesan over the vegetables. (The original recipe calls for ½ cup, but I didn’t measure mine; I just eyeballed it.) Return the pan to the oven, and continue to roast for another 5 or 10 minutes. You’re basically cooking it to eye: you want the cauliflower to be nicely caramelized, but you don’t want the onions to burn.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
Deb’s recipe calls for browning these meatballs in a pan and then finishing them in the oven, and while that certainly yields a stunner of a meatball, both in flavor and beauty, I regularly take a lazier route: I only bake them. Then I can basically walk away, and ta da, the meatballs cook themselves. Cleanup is also very easy, thanks to the parchment on the sheet pan. Do what you will.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. If you plan to skip the stovetop browning and only bake these, line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment.
Put the sesame seeds in a small skillet, and place the skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the seeds smell toasty and are beginning to turn golden. I never pay attention to exactly how long this takes, but it’s not terribly long.
While the sesame seeds toast, put the lamb through cayenne in a medium bowl. When they’re ready, add the toasted sesame seeds. Mix with a fork (or with your hand, my preference) until evenly mixed. Form the meat mixture into 1½-inch, or golf-ball-sized, balls. (This is easiest to do if your hands are wet; that will help to keep the meat from sticking to you.) If you plan to brown the meatballs on the stovetop, arrange them on a tray or large plate; if you plan to only bake them, arrange them on the prepared sheet pan.
At this point, if you’re lazy like me, put the sheet pan in the oven and walk away. After about 10 minutes, pull out your thermometer (all hail the Thermapen! Possibly my single favorite kitchen tool!) and poke one or two of the meatballs: when they’re ready, the internal temperature will be between 160 and 165 degrees. If they’re not hot enough, slide them back in, and check again shortly. Again, I never seem to keep track of how long they take to cook. Somewhere between 12 and 15 minutes, I think?
If you’re a better person and plan to brown your meatballs as Deb directs, heat a generous slick of oil in a large ovenproof skillet or sauté pan. Brown the meatballs in batches, taking care not to crowd the pan or nudge them before they’re good and brown. Be gentle as you turn them: they’re soft! Transfer the meatballs to a paper-towel-lined tray or plate, and continue cooking in more batches until they’re all browned. Then discard the oil, wipe all but a little of it from the pan, and return all of the meatballs to the pan. Slide into the oven, and bake until a thermometer reads an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees, or about 10 to 15 minutes.
Note: These meatballs freeze beautifully. I like to cook about half of them right away and then freeze the remaining half on a sheet pan lined with parchment. When they’re frozen solid, I transfer them from the pan to a plastic storage bag. They thaw quickly – and actually, I’ve even baked them while they were still slightly frozen. It took a bit longer, but no harm done.
Yield: about 4 servings, or roughly 25 meatballs
These muffins come together quickly, especially if you mix up the dry ingredients the night before. I once managed to make them at 7:30 am while wearing a wiggly 14-month-old in a sling. FIST BUMP! (Or, TERRORIST FIST JAB! Uggghhhhh.)
Also, for the record, I like these best with walnuts and bittersweet chocolate as my add-ins. I used a ¼ cup of each: that’s about 30 grams of walnuts, chopped, and 45 grams of Valrhona 64% Manjari chocolate discs, chopped.
Preheat the oven to 400°F, and grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and add-ins.
In another bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the oatmeal to the egg, and mash with a fork to break up clumps. Add the milk and the butter, and stir or whisk to combine.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and stir briefly to just combine. Divide the batter evenly between the wells of the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. The muffins won’t brown much on top and might even look a little anemic, but that’s okay. Serve warm, ideally.
Note: These muffins are best when they’re fresh from the oven, or on the day that they’re made.
Yield: 12 smallish muffins
What makes this soup different from one that uses, say, ham hocks, is that the marrow in the ham bone melts into the soup, bringing extra richness and body. So if you have a ham bone, use it! You will be rewarded. If not, a ham hock will also be good. My ham bone fit easily into the pot I used, but Melissa Clark suggests that, in general, you ask your butcher to cut it in half or thirds for you, so that it’s guaranteed to fit and also has some marrow exposed.
As for beans, you could probably use any light-colored bean you like. I had a bag of Rancho Gordo’s yellow eye beans in the cupboard, so I used those. (Rancho Gordo beans make a great holiday present, by the way.) Also, I find that adding a little salt when I soak dried beans makes them turn out better when I cook them, and here’s a video from America’s Test Kitchen that explains why. I don’t tend to use the full amount of salt that’s called for in the video, but I have, and it worked beautifully. (I don’t use that much because I tend to forget to rinse the beans after soaking, and then I wind up with salty beans. Using less salt still seems to help, and then there’s no need to rinse.)
Twelve to 24 hours before you plan to start the soup, put the beans in a bowl and cover with plenty of cold water. Add a generous pinch of salt. Set aside at room temperature. (Or, if you don’t have that much time, you can instead use a quick-soak method: put the beans, lots of cold water, and a generous pinch of salt in a pot, bring it to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain, and then proceed with the recipe.)
Warm a large (about 5-quart) pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, and cook until crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate, and save for garnishing the soup. Add the carrots, celery, and onion to the bacon fat in the pan. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more.
Put the ham bone and bay leaf into the pot, and add 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat; then add the beans, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and simmer for 30 minutes more. At this point, fish out a bean and taste it: it should be nearly done. If it’s still pretty firm, let the soup simmer a bit longer before continuing. Then stir in the kale and simmer until the kale is soft but still bright green, about 15 minutes. Remove the ham bone and bay leaf. If you’d like, you can pull the meat from the ham bone, chop it up, and stir it back into the soup.
Serve with freshly ground black pepper and a dash of hot sauce, and more salt, if needed. (Oh, and crumbled bacon, if you want.)
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Put the olive oil in a large (ideally, 12-inch) skillet, and add the garlic. Warm over medium heat, turning the garlic cloves occasionally, for about five minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant and just beginning to turn golden. (Do not, under any circumstances, allow the garlic to burn.) Remove and discard the garlic. Add the zucchini to the garlicky oil, along with a generous pinch of salt, and stir to coat the slices with oil. Cook gently over medium (or even medium-low) heat, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is very soft – no longer creamy-white on the inside, but rather a pale shade of yellowy green. (For Rachel, this took 15 to 25 minutes, but for me, it takes closer to 45 minutes.) When the zucchini is ready, remove it from the heat. Tear the basil leaves, and stir them into the zucchini, allowing them to wilt in the heat.
Serve warm or at warmish room temperature, with fresh mozzarella and bread.
Yield: 2 generous servings
You could use any sweet-ish white wine here, though I particularly love the flavor of apricots with an off-dry riesling. (I’ve been using Memaloose 2012 Idiot’s Grace Riesling.) I’ve also used Dolin Blanc vermouth and Cocchi Americano, and both have yielded great results. You’re also welcome to try a drier white wine, or a rosé, and if you do, please report back.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Measure the sugar into a saucer or a small plate. Press the apricot halves, cut side down, into the sugar: each one should wind up with a nice sugar crust on one side. Arrange the apricots, skin side down, in a baking dish that will comfortably hold them all in a single layer. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the baking dish – don’t worry if they clump – and wiggle the vanilla bean down between the apricots. Pour the riesling into the dish, taking care to pour it between the apricots, so that you don’t wash away the sugar.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the apricots are tender. [Alternatively, you can do this all on the stove, placing the apricots in a large skillet with a lid and cooking them very gently over very low heat, covered, for 35 to 40 minutes.] Sometimes they start to fall apart, and that’s okay, but I like them best when they maintain their shape and barely resist the fork. Allow them to cool, and then carefully layer them in a jar, and pour the syrupy juices over the top. Chill thoroughly. They’re best eaten icy cold, and as long as they’re covered in syrup, they’ll keep for more than a week.
Serve the apricots with a drizzle of their vanilla-flecked syrup, or with a scoop of ice cream (salted caramel is very good) or a spoonful of plain yogurt.
Yield: many tiny snacks or breakfasts, or dessert for 4 people
The original version of this recipe calls for conchiglie, or shell-shaped pasta, but you could use any small pasta shape you like: orecchiette, penne, farfalle, and so on.
If you have some exotic type of dried chile, like Urfa chile, Aleppo chile, or Kirmizi biber, you lucky lucky dog, this is a great place to use it. If not, you can use regular red pepper flakes. I happened to have some Aleppo chile, and though it was ground, not in flakes, and probably a few years old, it worked beautifully. Oh, and if you’re worried about the amount of heat, consider starting with a little less of the chile than what is called for – or just don’t put much chile oil on your pasta.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the yogurt, 6 tablespoons (90 ml) of the olive oil, the garlic, and 2/3 cup (100 g) of the peas. Process to a uniform pale green sauce, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it until tastes like pleasantly salty seawater. Add the pasta, and cook until it is al dente. While the pasta cooks, warm the remaining olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and chile flakes, and cook for 4 minutes, or until the pine nuts are golden and the oil is deep red. Also, warm the remaining peas in some boiling water (you could scoop out a bit of the pasta water for this); then drain.
Drain the cooked pasta into a colander, and shake it well to get rid of excess water that may have settled into the pasta’s crevices. Add the pasta gradually to the yogurt sauce; adding it all at once may cause the yogurt to separate. Add the warm peas, the basil, feta, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss gently. Serve immediately, with pine nuts and chile oil spooned over each serving.
Yield: 6 servings
I’ve made this oatmeal a few times with walnuts, as described below, but I also like to make it with almonds or pecans, either whole or coarsely chopped. It’s nice to toast the nuts beforehand – and it’s easy: just a few minutes on a sheet pan in a 350°F oven, until they smell fragrant – but I often skip it. No harm done.
I’m a big believer in whole milk, and I think this recipe needs its fat and richness. (I’ve had it with 1% and was disappointed in the result.) Actually, the next time I make this oatmeal, I might try replacing a cup of the milk with coconut milk. That could be exciting. I might also throw in a half-cup of unsweetened shredded coconut. I’ve added coconut before – about a quarter-cup, or 25 grams – and though I can’t say that I was aware of its presence, Brandon and I both agreed that the baked oatmeal was especially good that morning.
As for the fruit, you could use any berry, including frozen ones. I don’t even worry about thawing them first. I suggest a range of amounts for the berries below, one that’s very berry-y and one that’s less so.
Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the top third of the oven.
In an 8-inch square baking dish, mix together the oats, the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. (This part can be done the night before, if you like, to make things easier in the morning.) Scatter the berries evenly over the oat mixture.
In another bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, about half of the butter, and vanilla. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple of thwacks on the countertop to make sure the liquid moves down through the oats.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the top is golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes. If the remaining butter has solidified, rewarm it slightly; then drizzle it over the top of the oatmeal. Serve.
Yield: about 6 servings
I’ve found farro in Seattle at Whole Foods, PCC, and some grocery stores, or you can get it from ChefShop. I like the farro grown by Bluebird Grain Farms of Winthrop, Washington. Farro should be soaked briefly before cooking, although Matthew often uses Trader Joe’s quick-cooking farro – done in 10 minutes! – and says that it’s great. In any case, I give instructions below for cooking standard farro, and hey, feel free to scale up and cook an even bigger batch, if you’d like. From one cup of uncooked farro, I wind up with enough cooked farro for three or four servings of this salad.
Also: among types of feta, I like French feta best.
Put the farro in a medium (2 ½- to 3-quart) saucepan, add cold water to cover, and set it aside to soak for 30 minutes. Then drain the farro, put it back into the saucepan, and add 3 cups of cold water and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until tender but still a little chewy, about 45 minutes. It’s up to you, really, how “done” you want your farro. At 30 minutes, mine is usually too tough, but a few minutes later, it’s just right: al dente, but not exhausting to chew. When it’s ready, drain it, and either use it while it’s warm or transfer it to a storage container for later use. (Covered and chilled, cooked farro will keep for a few days, easy.)
To make the dressing, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of the water, the garlic, and chile in a small bowl. Whisk well. Taste: if it’s too pungent, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. If you’d like a little more sweetness, add more brown sugar ½ tablespoon at a time. (Covered and chilled, the dressing will keep for three days to a week.)
To assemble a portion of salad, scoop out a couple of large spoonfuls of farro – maybe 1/3 to ½ cup – and put it in a wide bowl. If the farro is cold, you might want to microwave it for 45 seconds or so, to warm it. That’s what I do. Or you could put it in a small ovenproof dish, covered, and bake it for a few minutes to warm it. Or you can just leave it cold. Add a large spoonful of chickpeas, a good handful each of escarole and radicchio, and maybe half of a carrot, sliced. Top with a generous amount of feta, and then drizzle some dressing – maybe a tablespoon? Or to taste – over the whole thing. Toss, and eat.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt, whisking to blend. Add the butter, and use your fingers, pressing and squeezing, to work it into the oat mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the yogurt until a soft dough forms. (If your yogurt is on the thick side, you may need to add a tablespoon or so of milk, just enough to bring the dough together.) The dough should be a little crumbly. Lightly flour a work surface, and turn the dough out onto it, rolling or patting it to a ¼-inch thickness. (I found that the dough was a little too sticky to roll cleanly, but it worked out alright.) Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out oatcakes, and transfer them to the prepared sheet pans. (A bench scraper comes in handy for transferring the oatcakes to the sheet pans and cleaning the counter afterward. I found that I could comfortably fit about 15 oatcakes on one pan and the remainder on the second.) (I am really into parentheses today.) It’s okay to gather and re-roll any scraps of dough.
Bake the oatcakes for about 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Yield: about 25 oatcakes
A few notes: I used homemade chicken stock to make this soup, but you could also use good-tasting store-bought chicken or vegetable stock. To me, the best brand is Better Than Bouillon. And if your celery comes with leaves still attached, save them: toss in a small handful when you add the cabbage, toward the end. Oh, and instead of parsnips, try peeled, cubed rutabaga.
Warm the olive oil in a Dutch oven or small stockpot. Add the onion, celery, parsnips, carrots, and leeks, and stir to coat with oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until softened. Do not allow to brown. Add the garlic and thyme leaves, and cook for a few minutes more. Then add the stock and a couple of good pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Then stir in the pearl barley, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Savoy cabbage or Brussels sprouts, and simmer for 5 minutes more. Taste, and add salt as needed. Serve hot, with freshly ground black pepper, if you like.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
I pick up kimchi whenever I’m near a Korean market or Uwajimaya, but Ballard Market, my neighborhood grocery store, also carries it. They sell a couple of different brands, but I usually buy Island Spring. It’s made about half an hour away, on Vashon Island, and it has good flavor and heat. Matthew, however, makes his own kimchi, and it’s fantastic. Maybe he’ll teach me how someday. David Lebovitz also has a recipe for it.
As for rice, the best type for this recipe is Calrose, a medium-grain, Japanese-style white rice from California. But I’ve also used Thai jasmine rice, which is nice – though when you fry it, it tends to stick aggressively to the pan. Whatever you use, cook it a day or two ahead, cool it, and chill it. If possible, allow it to come to room temperature before frying.
About the pan: if you have a well-seasoned wok, use it. Or, if you’re stuck with just a heavy skillet and an electric range, as I am, that’s okay. I use my largest cast-iron pan. It’s nicely seasoned, but the rice still sticks a bit. It’s annoying, but not annoying enough to keep me from making fried rice. (Just put some hot water in the pan when you’re finished, soak briefly, and the stuck rice will come right out.) One word of warning: I wouldn’t use a nonstick pan. The coating isn’t safe for use over high heat.
Oh, and if I were you, I might fry two eggs per person. But it’s really up to you.
Put the bacon in a large skillet or wok, and place over medium heat. (I find that by starting the bacon in a cold skillet, I can get it to render more fat than it does when I start it in a hot skillet, and that’s helpful for this recipe.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is cooked through but still tender. Add the kimchi, and cook for several minutes, until the kimchi is hot and maybe even beginning to brown in spots.
When the kimchi looks right, raise the heat to high, and add the rice, stirring well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for several minutes, until the rice is hot and beginning to brown. (If the rice is wanting to stick to the pan, it’s going to be hard to brown it properly, but don’t worry. Just make sure it’s nice and hot. It’ll still taste very good.)
Meanwhile, in another skillet, warm some butter and fry as many eggs as you’d like, seasoning with salt to taste.
When the rice is ready, stir in the butter and sesame oil, and season with salt to taste. Divide between two or three bowls, and top each with a fried egg or two. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.
Yield: 2 generous or 3 moderate servings
The original recipe called for white button mushrooms, but because I like crimini mushrooms more, that’s what I chose. And for the mayonnaise, I used Best Foods (also sold as Hellmann’s). Homemade would be terrific, but there’s nothing wrong with Best Foods.
Also: the flavor of this salad really deepens with time, so consider making it a day (or even two) before you want to eat it.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a 10” or 12” skillet over medium-high heat, and add the mushrooms. (If they don’t all fit in the pan at once, let the first panful wilt down a bit, and then add the rest. It’ll work out fine.) Cook, stirring often, until lighly browned, 14-16 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to soften; then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until lightly caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the dill and eggs, and stir to mix.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice. Add a couple of spoonfuls to the mushroom mixture, and toss until evenly combined. Taste, and add more dressing as needed. (All in all, I used only about two-thirds of the dressing.) Season with salt and pepper. Depending on how deeply browned the onions are, you might also want an extra squeeze of lemon.
Pile on lightly toasted bread – preferably sourdough rye, if you’ve got some – and serve open-faced.
Yield: about 2 cups
It doesn’t get simpler than this, so be sure you start with fresh, firm parsnips and decent-tasting vegetable stock. Homemade is nice, but honestly, I use Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, and the results are great.
Peel the parsnips, trim and discard the ends, and cut into ½-inch pieces. Put in a large pot, and add the vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the parsnips can be easily pierced with a fork, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Set a fine-mesh strainer over another large pot. Working in batches, puree the parsnips and stock in a blender, tossing in a couple of pieces of butter with each batch. (And remember that hot liquids expand, so never fill the blender more than a third.) This amount of stock should yield a somewhat thick soup, and you will likely need to add a little additional water or stock as you blend, until the soup reaches your desired consistency. As you finish pureeing each batch, pour the soup through the strainer into the pot, stirring and scraping as needed with a rubber spatula to push the puree through the mesh.
When the soup is entirely pureed, stir in the cream. Rewarm gently over low heat. Taste for salt, and serve hot.
Yield: I can’t remember exactly, but I would guess 6 servings
These are terrific with jam or, of course, honey.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (If you don’t have parchment, leave it as it is, ungreased. The parchment is just for easy cleanup.)
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a mixing bowl, and stir with a fork to blend. Slowly add 1 cup of the cream, stirring. Gather the dough together gently: when it holds together and feels tender, it’s ready to knead. If it feels shaggy and pieces are dry, slowly add enough cream to make the dough hold together.
Place the dough on a lightly floured board and knead for 1 minute. (You don’t want to overwork it.) Pat the dough into a square about ½ inch thick. Cut into 12 squares. Brush each with melted butter so that all sides are coated. Place the biscuits 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve hot.
Yield: 12 biscuits
My host mother used regular orange carrots, but I like to use purple and yellow ones, too, when I can find them. They keep their color when cooked, so they make the dish especially handsome. Whatever carrots you use, make sure that they taste sweet in their raw state: a dull, bitter carrot cannot be fixed. I don’t bother to peel my carrots, but I do wash them well.
Also, for this recipe, I like to slice my onions from stem end to root end, like this, so that they keep their shape and integrity as they cook. When you slice onions the other way – across their equators, you could say – they tend to fall apart during cooking.
Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add a good amount of olive oil, enough to film the bottom of the pan. Add the onions – they should sizzle – stir to coat with oil. Salt lightly. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened but not browned. Add the garlic, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for a few more minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the carrots, thyme, and a couple of generous pinches of salt, and stir to mix. If the carrots look dry, add a little more oil to lightly coat them; this dish needs more oil than you might think. Cover the pan and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender and the onions are very soft. (I never seem to pay attention to how long this takes, but I would guess that it takes somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes.) Remove the pan from the heat, and discard the thyme sprigs. Sprinkle the vinegar over the carrots. Stir gently to incorporate: the vinegar should subtly brighten the flavor of the carrots without being discernable itself. Add more vinegar, if needed, and salt to taste.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Without really planning to, I’ve played around quite a lot with this recipe. I’ve only made it twice, but each time was in a different kitchen, with different ingredients and tools. Both times, the cookies came out beautifully. Here are some thoughts:
– A friend who had made this recipe suggested that I try making it with white whole wheat flour, so I bought a fresh bag and used it in my first batch. I loved the resulting flavor – lightly wheaty, almost bran-like – and I highly recommend it. For my second batch, I used a local brand of whole wheat flour, and it was plenty nice, but the wheat flavor was darker and heartier. If you’re after that digestive biscuit flavor, I would use white whole wheat flour.
– Because I am apparently getting ornery with age, I ignored Boyce’s advice to use cold butter. I honestly thought it was a typo, because I’ve always had a hard time creaming butter that’s even a little bit too cold. Instead, I used softened butter. (I left it at room temperature until it was still cool to the touch but took the imprint of a finger when I pressed it. Perfect for creaming.) It worked just fine, as you can see. But I’ve now done some poking around online and see that the recipe is indeed supposed to use cold butter, cubed for easier creaming. Oops! So, uh, never mind me. Do whatever you want.
– The original recipe calls for chopped bittersweet chocolate, and I tried it once that way and once with bittersweet chips. (I used Ghirardelli 60% chocolate in both cases.) I preferred the chopped chocolate because the pieces were smaller, so it gave the sense that there was more chocolate. But if you want to keep it quick and simple, chips will do the job.
– I made this dough once in a stand mixer and once with handheld electric beaters. The poor beaters had to labor a lot, and I wound up recruiting a sturdy spatula to help out, but it’s good to know that you can make do with whatever tools you have on hand.
– Boyce says that this dough is designed to be baked without chilling first. (This, I think, is linked to her use of cold butter. The cold butter likely keeps the dough cool and helps it spread less in the oven.) But I apparently am not only ornery; I also can’t follow directions. I scooped my dough, put it on a sheet pan, covered it with plastic wrap, and chilled it before baking. Some of the dough was chilled for about 1 hour, and some stayed in the fridge for two days. Chilling dough generally results in a thicker cookie, and mine were certainly nice and plump, which I like. So I recommend chilling the dough. And hey, I also noticed that the cookies that stayed in the fridge for two days were particularly flavorful. So “aging” the dough a bit isn’t a bad idea, either.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. (If you have no parchment, you can butter the sheets.)
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to blend.
Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate, and mix on low speed until evenly combined. (If you have no stand mixer, you can do all of this with handheld electric beaters and/or a large, sturdy spoon.) Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then use your hands to turn and gently massage the dough, making sure all the flour is absorbed.
Scoop mounds of dough about 3 tablespoons in size onto the baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between each cookie. (I was able to fit about 8 cookies on each sheet, staggering them in three rows.)
Bake the cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly browned. Transfer the cookies, still on parchment, to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
These cookies are very good while still warm from the oven, but I find that you can taste the wheat more – in a good way – once they’ve cooled.
Yield: about 20 cookies
Contrast is what makes this tart work: the crust is quite sweet, and the plums should be quite tart. Look for plums that are both sweet and tangy, especially the ones that make you pucker a little when you bite into the flesh closest to the skin. I’ve made this tart with some unnamed red-skinned, yellow-fleshed plums that I found at the farmers market, and also with Flavor King pluots. Medrich recommends Santa Rosa, Friar, Laroda, and Elephant Heart plums, and she advises against the small, oblong plums often called Italian prune plums. They’re not tangy enough.
Also, I make the dough for this tart in a food processor, but you can make it by hand, so I’m including instructions for both. The food processor makes it especially quick and tidy, but either way is easy.
Finally, for the tart dough, you don’t want ice cold, rock-hard, straight-from-the-fridge butter. You want it to be a little softer than that, but not as soft as it gets at room temperature. You want it to be firm, as it is when it’s pleasantly cool.
Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter a 9 ½-inch tart pan with a removable bottom – or, barring that, a 9-inch springform pan also works nicely.
To make the dough by hand, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the egg and butter, and use a pastry blender, a large fork, or a couple of knives to cut the mixture together, as though you were making pie dough. The dough is ready when it resembles a rough mass of damp yellow sand with no dry flour showing.
To make the dough in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse to mix. Add the egg and butter, and pulse just until the mixture resembles damp yellow sand and is beginning to clump around the blade.
Press the dough gently but evenly over the bottom but not up the sides of the pan. You’re not trying to pack it down; you’re just lightly tamping it.
If the plums are very small (under 2 inches in diameter), cut them in half and remove the pits. Cut larger plums into quarters or sixths, removing the pits. Leaving a margin of ½ inch around the edge of the pan, arrange halved plums cut side up over the dough, with a little space between each one. Arrange wedges skin side up – they look nice that way after baking – and press them lightly into the dough, so that they won’t turn onto their sides in the oven.
Bake until the pastry is puffed, deep golden brown at the edges, and a lighter shade of golden brown in the center, about 50 to 55* minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then loosen and remove the rim of the pan, and cool further. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: This tart keeps at room temperature for a few days, but its texture is best on the first day.
* UPDATED on November 3, 2010: A number of readers have reported that 50 to 55 minutes was too long in their ovens, and that their tarts were burnt. To be on the safe side, set your timer for 35 to 40 minutes, and keep an eye on it.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
I had some Aleppo pepper in the spice drawer, and I decided to use it in place of the cayenne. It’s not as spicy, but it brings a lot of fragrance, and it was a good match for the flavors of this soup. So if you’ve got it, use it.
I should note, too, that I forgot to stir the cilantro into the soup, and instead I used it as a garnish. I liked the look of it, though I might try stirring it in next time, since that’s what Melissa Clark intended.
In a large pot, warm the oil over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook until golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add the broth, 2 cups water, the lentils, and the carrots. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Using an immersion or regular blender, puree about half of the soup. It should still be somewhat chunky, not completely smooth. Reheat if necessary, then stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve the soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted very lightly with cayenne, if desired.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
I’ve written this recipe with wiggle room on the quantities of vinegar and mustard, and you should feel free to tweak it to your liking. It’s hard to go wrong, and anyway, your vinegars, oils, and leeks may taste different from mine. Whatever you do, it’s important to use a good, strong mustard for this dressing. I like the brands Edmond Fallot, Roland Extra Strong, and Beaufor. Keep in mind, too, that once a jar of mustard has been opened, it slowly loses its potency, so if you’ve had your jar for a while, you might want to invest in a new one.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon mustard, and salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, mixing until emulsified. Taste. This dressing should be fairly bright, and the mustard flavor should come through, but not too powerfully. Adjust as needed with vinegar, mustard, and/or salt. When you’re happy with it, add the shallots, whisking to blend. Set aside. Be sure to taste it again later, just before tossing it with the leeks, so that if necessary, you can adjust it according to their flavor.
Lay a clean kitchen towel on the counter near the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it well. It should taste like sea water.
While the water comes to a boil, prepare the leeks. Trim away the hair-like roots, but take care not too cut in too far; you want the leek to stay intact. Cut off and discard the dark green leafy parts, leaving just the white and pale green stalk. Starting about 1 inch from the root end, so as to keep the white part intact, cut lengthwise down the middle of the leek. (If you were to splay the cut leek open, it should look like a stubby Y.) Wash the leeks well under running water, flushing any dirt from between the layers. Boil until they are very, very tender and yield easily to a knife. Their color will become muted, and they may be falling apart a little. That’s okay. To be sure they’re done, taste one: it should taste sweet, with no trace of raw flavor. The amount of time that this will take depends on their size, but it will probably take longer than you think. Ten minutes is a good bet.
Draining the leeks as well as you can, transfer them to the kitchen towel on the counter. Blot and press them dry. (Don’t burn yourself!) While they’re still hot, put them in a bowl, and toss them with a generous amount of the dressing. Allow to cool at least slightly before serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with more dressing spooned on top and a pinch or two of salt. If you want to make it a little fancier, garnish with bacon and/or chopped egg.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings (as a side dish or first course)
The original version of this recipe calls for fresh peas, but I used frozen instead. If you choose to use frozen, I recommend buying the kind labeled “petite peas,” which tend to be smaller and sweeter. If you think of it, try to defrost them slightly before using them here. But if not, just bang the bag around on the counter to break up any big clumps.
Melt about half of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook slowly to soften. Do not allow to brown. Add the peas, stir to combine, and then add the remaining butter. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender and sweet, about 10 minutes. Add the prosciutto, and stir to mix. Then turn off the heat, cover the skillet, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Taste, and season as needed.
Yield: about 4 side-dish servings