11.17.2017

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I hit the library cookbook shelf pretty hard this week. After flipping through a dozen cookbooks, old and new, I brought two home – Christopher Kimball’s new book Milk Street: The New Home Cooking and Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan. I picked Milk Street because, without cable TV at home, Nick and I end up watching public television’s cooking shows often and both feel like we know Christopher Kimball personally. Taste of Persia is our cookbook club’s new book and I was psyched to see an entire chapter dedicated to flatbreads.

I made two recipes from Milk Street this week – this kale salad and a lentil salad. I have the ingredients for a cauliflower-tahini dish from the book in our fridge that I hope to try today. This kale salad is really good – here is what Christopher Kimball has to say about it:

Kale can make a flavorful and seasonal winter salad, but to be eaten raw it needs to be treated right. Otherwise, the greens can be unpleasantly tough. We started with lacinato kale, also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale. Its long blue-green leaves are sweeter and more tender than curly kale. Slicing the greens thinly was the first step to making them more salad-friendly. Then, to soften them further, we borrowed a Japanese technique used on raw cabbage – massaging the leaves. In this case, we do it with ground smoked almonds, which help tenderize the kale and add crunch and flavor to the finished salad. An acidic shallot-sherry vinaigrette also helped soften and brighten the kale (look for a sherry vinegar aged at least 3 years). Intensely flavorful paprika breadcrumbs, inspired by the Catalan sauce cicada, tied everything together. 

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Kale Salad with Smoked Almonds and Picada Crumbs

Start to finish: 15 minutes / Servings: 6. From Milk Street: The New Home Cooking

2 shallots, thinly sliced

5 tablespoons sherry vinegar

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons honey

8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Ground black pepper

1 cup smoked almonds *I used regular roasted and salted almonds, not smoked

4 ounces chewy white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

2 bunches lacinato kale, stemmed, washed, spun dry and thinly sliced crosswise (10 cups)

1 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, chopped *I left out the mint

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1. In a small bowl, whisk together the shallots, vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 10 minutes. Whisk in the honey, 5 tablespoons of the oil and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

2. In a food processor, process the almonds until coarsely chopped, about 8 pulses; transfer to a large bowl. Add the bread to the processor and process to rough crumbs, about 20 seconds. Add the thyme, the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, the paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Process until incorporated, about 10 seconds.

3. Transfer the crumb mixture to a large skillet over medium and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

4. Add the kale and mint to the bowl with the almonds and massage the greens until the kale softens and darkens, 10 to 20 seconds. Add the dressing and crumbs and toss to combine. Taste, then season with salt and pepper.

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12.05.2016

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What’s happening around here? We cut our tree down / put our tree up, keep making / slurping Heidi Swanson’s Green Lentil Soup, and are playing Town Mountain’s I’m On Fire over and over and over. The winter trifecta. XO

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Green Lentil Soup: Curry Powder, Brown Butter, Coconut Milk & Chives from Super Natural Everyday

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or extra-virgin coconut oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

5 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water

1 1/2 cups green lentils or green split peas, picked over and rinsed

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon Indian curry powder

1/2 cup coconut milk

Fine-grain sea salt

1 bunch fresh chives, minced

Combine the 2 tablespoons butter, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as 50 minutes.

In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When it starts to smell nutty and fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauce until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.

When the lentils are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth. Stir in half of the spiced butter, taste, and add more salt, if needed, typically a couple of teaspoons if you used water instead of salted broth. Serve drizzled with the remaining spice butter and sprinkled with chives.

04.06.2016

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I made this Curry in a Hurry earlier this week for dinner when it was snowing for the second day in a row. I am really good about complaining about the weather, especially when it is winter weather in spring, but then someone (nicely) reminded me that it’s silly to waste our time complaining about the weather when there is so much to be grateful for (like, just scroll down to the bottom of this page and check out the angle face).

And yes, I was very grateful for this simply weeknight curry. Grateful because it was planned (all the ingredients waiting for me in the pantry!), incredibly simple to make, super tasty, and stretched into leftover lunches.

(But really spring, pull it together).

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Curry in a Hurry

adapted from Bon Appetit

1 large shallot

6 garlic cloves

1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, cut into pieces

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons red curry paste

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

18-ounces crushed tomatoes

1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 pound mixed vegetables (I used carrots and broccoli)

Cooked rice noodles, cilantro, leaves, and lime wedges (for serving)

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1. Pulse shallot, garlic, and ginger in a food processor to finely chop. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot mixture and cook, stirring often, until paste is darkened in color and mixture starts to stick to pan, about 3 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often and scraping up brown bits, for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in coconut milk, salt, and soy sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until mixture is slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Add vegetables and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.

5. Spoon curry over rice noodles and top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

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02.04.2016

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Winter salads are kinda sad. I mean, there is only so much kale slaw a girl can stomach. Last week I set out determined to eat a hearty, satisfying, and bright winter salad and this is what I came up with. The base recipe is from a recent issue of Bon Appetit but I slightly adapted the meal by roasting the broccoli (instead of boiling) and tossing in spiced and roasted chickpeas (something I have been making and eating a lot lately). Together, everything was delicious but the standout was the buttermilk dressing. It is one of those sauces that, after pouring over every vegetable in the house, I wonder why i don’t make weekly or even daily.

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Broccoli-Quinoa Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

adapted from Bon Appetit

Buttermilk Dressing:

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

pinch pepper

Do ahead: Dressing can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

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Salad:

1 shallot, finely chopped

2 heads broccoli, cut into bite-size florets

1 cup white, red, or black quinoa

1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley

1/4 cup coarsely chopped tarragon

1/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachios

1 batch Spiced & Roasted Chickpeas – I use this recipe but cook the chickpeas in a cast iron skillet coated with canola oil over high heat until crisp.

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12.01.2015

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We arrived back home last night after five days on the go. Our adventures included ferry rides, long car rides, hotel rooms, hotel pools, cousins, grandmothers, creamed spinach, pumpkin cheesecake, Central Park, and (at the end of it) a very “lived in” looking family car. Off-island trips always make me think and notice things – about where we are but even more about where we come home to. Let me explain. Over Thanksgiving the cousins played a lot of games. One was a take on “red light, green light” but with silly dance moves instead of running. I was wondering why Dylan looked lost, glancing around trying to pick up on the rules. Then it hit me – he has no idea what a red light or, for that matter, a green light is. There are no traffic lights on Martha’s Vineyard, not one. This also explains why, every time we stopped at a red light, Gray would scream from the back seat GOOOO!. At first I took it as general long trip annoyance but there it was again – he is not used to stopping in the car for anything more then a parade of wild turkeys.

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I am not saying that a quiet island life is better or worse then a lively city one. I am just always surprised when I see our home so obviously show itself in our kids. I for one was reminiscing about the beautiful grocery store we visited in New York as I went shopping this morning and found that we (as an island) are out of dill. I’m sure there are dill plants growing somewhere out there but don’t go looking at the grocery store.

Long story short, I think this Smoky Black Bean Chili is a good meal to transition out of last week’s travel and gluttony. It is filling, full of flavor, and fun to make but does not call for any butter or sugar. Although the recipe itself is extremely straightforward it does take time (overnight bean soaking and about 2 hours on the stove) so plan accordingly. The chili’s spice was a bit strong for the kids the day I made it but the next day it seemed to have mellowed out. You can always adjust the chili powder to please your crowd (or double up on sour cream).

Smoky Black Bean Chili from The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon

serves 6

1/2 pound dry black beans

1/2 pound dry kidney beans

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or ghee

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

2 tablespoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

3 to 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, or 1 1/2 pounds fresh, diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 cup cooked brown rice

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Cilantro, avocado, and sour cream for garnish

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

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Pick through the beans, then rinse them well. In a large bowl, cover them generously with water, and soak overnight on the counter. The next day, drain the beans and transfer to a large pot. Cover them with fresh water by a couple of inches and bring them to a boil with the bay leaves. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the beans for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until cooked through. Stir in a pinch of salt at the end and set aside.

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Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Heat the oil in a large pot and saute the onion over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, oregano, paprika, cocoa powder, chili powder, chipotle powder and cook 5 minutes longer. Add 3 cups of the broth, the tomatoes, and the tomato paste, and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the beans of excess water and add them to the onion mixture. Add the rice, stir, and simmer on low for 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with the vinegar, additional broth, salt or spice, if needed.

Garnish each serving with cilantro, avocado, and sour cream. *We ate it with baby arugula, shallots, and sour cream. Chili will keep covered in the fridge for 1 week.

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