Carrot Socca

I have spent most of the last few months trying to combat this dreadful winter with citrus. Our kitchen is filled with bowls of mandarins, grapefruits, blood oranges, tangerines, and oro blancos. But, as the winter has continued in an unrelenting stream of gray days, I’ve moved my fruit fixations on to even warmer climates and started stocking mangos. It’s possible I should buy carbon offsets for my fruit bowl.

Last night, as I mulled over the fact that we were going North–NORTH– for “spring” break next week and as I stared at a weather report that suggested yesterday’s 50 degrees was going to disappear into rain and snow, I decided enough was enough. I was going to turn one bowl of citrus into something delicious. Having just seen Molly’s recipe for lime curd, my thoughts drifted to a tangerine-lime curd smeared on cookies and toast, layered with whipped cream and cookie crumbs for a trifle, or, to be honest, eaten furtively from a spoon every time I walked into the kitchen.

It totally failed. I juiced my tangerines and limes; I whisked them with sugar and butter. But, I whisked a few minutes too long, turned the heat just slightly too high, and all of a sudden it curdled. Bits of egg floated in melted sugar and butter along with some no-longer bright lime zest. It was gross. To add insult to injury, when I decided I had to taste it before dumping it down the drain, I burnt my tongue. Also there are splatters of tangerine juice and melted sugar all over our kitchen. It’s very sticky. (Cue “this would never happen to Robin” moans now.)

I decided it was all punishment for my globetrotting fruit bowl. “This is New England, Suzanne,” I said. “You should be eating root vegetables.” And so, as penance, I’m here to share with you a recipe for carrots. Luckily, my penance is your gain because this recipe is pretty tasty. And, let’s face it, at this point in the winter, you probably have some carrots sitting in the bottom of your refrigerator. Also, if you’re lucky enough to have citrus, you should not try to mess with it by adding butter and sugar.

This is a recipe for chickpea flat bread–socca–which is really more of a big flat pancake made of chickpea four, water, and a little oil. I discovered socca shortly after going gluten-free and for a while ate it at least once a week because it is so simple to make. Eventually, it fell out of rotation, but I made it recently and remembered how simple it is. Upon rediscovery, I decided that carrots would be an excellent addition to socca. My first attempt, however, ended in another kitchen disaster. I had roasted the carrots and then poured the socca batter around them. When I shook the socca loose from its pan, I ended up with mangled socca and a pile of roast carrots. They were quite good together but not exactly what I was aiming for.

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This time, I grated the carrots, sautéed them in a little butter and garlic and then stirred them into the batter before it went into the pan. The result was a cross between a socca and a carrot latke. It was crisp, sweet, and savory. At this point, I would definitely rather be sipping juice straight from a coconut but this is pretty good too. (And, as you can see, I ate it with a side of citrus anyway.)

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Delicata Squash with Spicy Za’atar Dressing

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Noah hates squash. While I generally try to keep Noah’s like and dislikes in mind when I’m cooking, I’m not so nice that I don’t sometimes view his dislikes as challenges rather than prohibitions. I am determined to convert him. Then we will move on to cauliflower.

This recipe did not make Noah an avowed squash lover, but he did ask for seconds. It’s inspired by what I believe is one of the great squash recipes of all time: Smitten Kitchen’s Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette. If you haven’t made it, you should.

Here, I used delicata squash because it is easier to cook and eat. (I’m actually not convinced we should ever eat any other squash.) I took the dressing in a middle eastern direction, filling it with Parsley, Za’atar, Sumac, Smoked Paprika and a smattering of Cayenne Pepper. The resulting recipe: it’s easy to make, easy to scale up for a dinner party, and makes great leftovers the next day. I have made it twice in the last week and would happily make it two more times next week, I think it is so good. Enjoy!

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Rosemary “Frites” with Yogurt Parsley Dip

I have been busy. There have been lots of train rides back and forth to New York and lots of weekends away, tramping up mountains through crunchy leaves and squishing through mud looking for mollusks. There have been too many applications to fill out, and more than a few pages have been written. Meetings to go to and tours to give. There has not been a lot of inspired cooking.

But, if you are looking for a dead simple meal that is satisfying and delicious, this what I recommend. Make Amanda Hesser’s baked eggs. Roast some Brussels sprouts. Cut some potatoes up so that they look like french fries and roast those too, maybe with rosemary and olive oil. Squeeze some lemon juice on the sprouts. Make a yogurt sauce for your potatoes.

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Let’s talk more about the potatoes. As many of you know, for many years, New Haven had a fantastic dive bar, Rudy’s, that specialized in Belgian style frites with a long list of sauces. It is, somewhat unfortunately, not an exaggeration to say that I spent at least one night a week eating those frites during my last two years of college. Rudy’s has since upscaled and my metabolism has downscaled. I haven’t actually had any frites since moving back to New Haven. But, when I saw this recipe on Sprouted Kitchen, I decided that I had permission to make a slightly healthier version of Rudy’s frites for dinner.

A yogurt sauce is not the same as samurai sauce, these potatoes are not double fried, but, they are a tasty dinner nonetheless.

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Rosemary “Frites” with Yogurt Parsley Dip (inspired by this Sprouted Kitchen recipe

– 2 fairly large russet potatoes

– 1 teaspoon Rosemary

– 1/2 cup yogurt

– 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

– 3 cloves of garlic, smashed

– Olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

* Slice potatoes into long and thin strips, french fry sized.

* Drizzle potatoes lightly with olive oil, pinch of salt, and 1 teaspoon Rosemary. Toss to coat. You don’t want the potatoes dripping in oil, just lightly coated.

* Arrange on a baking sheet so that widest, flattest part of each potato slice is against the pan.

* Bake for 30-45 minutes, tossing after about 15 minutes so that all the sides get browned. Remove when potatoes are crispy and brown, but not burnt. (This may take more or less time depending on how thin your potatoes are. Just keep an eye on them.)

* Meanwhile, combine yogurt, parsley, garlic, salt and a teaspoon of olive oil into a dipping sauce for the potatoes.

Enjoy!

Radicchio, Eggs, and Potatoes with Anchovy-Rosemary Aioli

I think this is my new perfect summer meal.

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I have long read descriptions of aioli feasts in Provence where the entire meal is boiled vegetables, fish, and eggs with a side of aioli dipping sauce. I’ve always thought that sounded lovely. Once I even tried to make it. But at the end of the day, I don’t love boiled vegetables and I’m very picky about how and where I like my mayonnaise. I still like the principle behind it though.

This weekend, as we were trying to drum up ideas for dinner, I mentioned a recipe I had seen in Saveur for radicchio with a rosemary-anchovy dipping sauce. So many of my favorite ingredients at once! We decided to try and make a meal of it by roasting some potatoes and boiling some eggs.

Since we lack a mortar and pestle I ended up using a blender, which transformed the olive oil and anchovies from the dressing I was imagining into something with the texture of aioli.

We ate it on our roof deck with roast potatoes, radicchio and hardboiled eggs. I wrapped radicchio leaves around some of the eggs before dipping. We washed it all down with wine. It was, indeed, lovely.

Radicchio, Eggs, and Potatoes with Anchovy-Rosemary Aioli: (Lightly adapted from this Saveur article

– 4 hardboiled eggs

– 4 yukon gold potatoes

– 1 head of radicchio

– 2 oz tin flat filet anchovies

– Juice of 1 lemon

– 2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves (fresh would also probably be nice too)

– 1/3-2/3 cups olive oil

* Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

* Slice the potatoes width wise into rounds. Drizzle with olive oil (but do not salt) and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake potatoes until they get crispy and brown, about 30 minutes.

* Roughly quarter and core radicchio and separate the leaves.

* Combine anchovies, lemon, and rosemary in a blender and pulse until roughly chopped. While blending, slowly drizzle in olive oil. We ended up using close to 2/3s cups of olive oil, but taste it after the first third of a cup to see what you think. After the first 1/3 we added oil to make it less strong.

* Serve sauces with potatoes, boiled eggs, and radicchio.

Spelt Bread

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Growing up, I spent a lot of time in Home Depot. My parents love nothing more than a good kitchen renovation, except maybe gutting a barn to turn it into an office or laying their bathroom tiles, so I spent a lot of time waiting for them to pick tiles or wood. Unlike the time I spend in our big suburban grocery store, where they stocked Babysitters Club books that I could read while my mother bought dinner, at Home Depot there was no children’s paperback aisle.

This was a great disappointment to me, but fortunately trips to Home Depot were not a total loss. Right next store there was bread bakery. It may seem like this should not have been that exciting for someone who grew up with a constant supply of homemade sour dough, but this bread was nothing like my mother’s crusty, tangy, almost spongy boules. That bread, which formed the basis of almost every piece of toast or sandwich that I had during my formative years always seemed so wholesome and virtuous. It was the bread of educational science projects at school.

The breads at this bakery on the other hand were soft, nearly crustless loaves made with yeast from packets not the air. And the loaves were packed with raisins, sun-dried tomatoes, or other indulgent ingredient of the ’90s. The bakery always had a big cutting board lined with open loaves of bread and you could  pick your flavor and have a sample slice smeared with soft butter from a huge tub. Basically, these loaves were the bread equivalent of the The Babysitters’ Club: a treat to buy off whiny-kids, but not virtuous enough for everyday consumption.

I had not thought about that bread in years, but last weekend I made the first loaf of bread I’ve made since my elementary school science project days. It’s a spelt bread and it reminded me immediately of the bread shop next to Home Depot, because its texture is so similar to those special slices of bread that bought my limited patience as a child.

Unlike sourdough, this bread does not have the makings of a science project. Frankly, it’s barely a cooking project. It’s one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever seen. The dough comes together in minutes, and then suddenly you have had what turns out to be the deeply satisfying experience of making your own loaf of bread.

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It’s a spelt bread, so very low gluten and it’s packed with seeds and raisins. It’s excellent buttered out of the oven or toasted the next day. I ended up slicing up half of it and freezing. From our freezer it has toasted up nicely into the base for many tartines.

Spelt Bread:

This recipe comes from The Guilt-Free Gourmet by Jordan and Jessica Bourke. I was recently given the book as a gift. It was the perfect gift because I never would have bought a book with that title myself, but the pictures are beautiful and if this recipe is any indication it’s got great recipes for reliable standbys. I’m sold. 

 

– 3 2/3 cups spelt flour

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– 1 teaspoon baking soda

– 1 teaspoon sea salt

– 1/3 cup golden raisins

– 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

– 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

– 1 tablespoon molasses

– 2 1/3 cups warm water

* Butter an 8-inch loaf pan

* Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

* Mix together all dry ingredients including raisins and seeds.

* Dissolve molasses in warm water.

* Stir water and molasses mixture in to dry ingredients until well combined.

* Pour into prepared loaf pan.

* Bake 1 hour, until tester comes out clean.

* After 10 minutes, remove from pan and allow to cool on rack.

* Serve warm with butter, as toast, or as open face sandwich. (Thus far I’ve had one sandwich with white beans, red pepper and egg and one grilled cheese with spinach. Both were delicious.)

 

Moroccan Carrot Spread

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I lied when I said my only food rule growing up was “no Japanese desserts.” I had one other, not insignificant, food aversion: carrots. There were other foods I did not much like–chocolate, grapefruit, beets, any recipe where a fish-head was used to make broth–but my dislike of carrots became a strange part of my identity. So, while I regularly crossed other food dislikes off my list and now eat chocolate, grapefruit and beets with sometimes-unfortunate-abandon, carrots remained a non-starter.

In the last few years, however, that dislike has broken down bit-by-bit. This hasn’t been easy. “If I don’t like carrots, who am I?” I often wonder. I blame Noah’s father for this identity crises. The Moroccan Carrots he serves annually at Passover are where it all began.

At first, I thought I only liked those carrots on that night, yet another reason it was different from all other nights. But after a year or two of that, I went home and made myself a big bowl of Moroccan carrots to keep eating even after Passover ended. From there it was a slippery slope. I made these carrots at least six times this fall. I have added carrots to roast vegetable mixes by choice, and fished them out of the bowl and on to my plate deliberately. Perhaps most incriminatingly, I  have since driven not insignificant distances to purchase Sofra’s Moroccan Carrot spread.

But, my semester in Cambridge is over, and driving 2 1/2 hours to restock on carrot spread is, I suppose, insane. So, last night I decided to figure out how to make it. We brought the results to a poker game where it was declared a success.

Moroccan Carrot Spread: 

– 1 pound carrots

– 3 cloves garlic

– Juice of 1/2 a lemon and its zest

– 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

– 1/2 teaspoon cumin

– 1/ 4 teaspoon hungarian paprika

– 3 tablespoons olive oil + more olive oil for roasting carrots

– 1/2 teaspoon honey

– Salt to taste

* Heat oven to 450 degrees.

* Peel and slice carrots in to small slices.

* Toss carrots with olive oil and roast until soft and slightly browned, about 15 minutes. I would check and toss them after 7 minutes.

* Combine roasted carrots with other ingredients in food processor and or blender until smooth. Add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time as you blend.

* Serve with pita, chips, celery, or other tools for scooping up delicious things.

Chickpea Soup with Broccoli (or an extremely smooth hummus)

If it seems like this blog is fast becoming a list of things you can do with broccoli intermingled with the occasional cake, all I can say is, I’m sorry. I’m pretty sure, when I look back on this year that is one of the ways I will remember it. I will think of stalks of broccoli chopped into a salad or dunked in hummus eaten in hotel rooms or on a bench outside an archive somewhere in America. And, I will remember the cakes I cooked in New Haven as I tried to reestablish my presence in the kitchen.

Today though, I have a recipe that unites those two instincts. It’s both an easy lunch and a recipe that let’s you make your kitchen smell good. It turns out that when you winterize hummus and broccoli you get something much steamier, pun intended. This soup is a little boozy, velvety in texture, and seems like it deserves to be eaten with enough care to require utensils. I found it in the February issue of Bon Appetite on my flight to California and I ripped it out immediately. Since I got home last Sunday, I have eaten it every day for lunch.

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One more thing about this recipe: I know that when people write lists of 10 ways to be a successful food blogger, picking a fight with Smitten Kitchen is not at the top of any of them. But, if, like me, you recently learned that you have to peel your chickpeas to make ethereally smooth hummus and thought, “Well, I guess I’ll never have that,” I have your answer. I have been slyly dunking crackers into my refrigerated pot of  this soup all week. Seriously, it turns out that cooking your chickpeas in wine and broth makes for a dreamy, creamy hummus.  It may not be “ethereal” but is extremely smooth. You will notice that when you puree the soup at the end of this recipe you add water to get it to the consistency you want. I see no reason why, if you wanted to skip the soup phase of this recipe, you couldn’t just skip adding water to the puree and go straight for the hummus. That said, it’s gross out. Make soup.

Chickpea Soup (Adapted from Bon Appetite, February 2013) 

– 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas

– 3 tablespoons olive oil

– 2 yellow onions

– 4 garlic cloves

– 1 sprig thyme 

– 1 cup dry white wine (The Bon Appetite recipe calls for only 1/2 a cup; I thought that looked off when I added it to the pot and was happy I doubled it.) 

– 4 cups chicken broth. (Bon Appetite also called for vegetable broth, which I’m sure would be fine.)

– 1 bunch of broccoli

– Red pepper flakes

– Salt to taste

* Soak the chickpeas. (I always quick soak my beans because, you know, I don’t plan ahead. Also, I don’t see any argument for doing the longer soak.  To quick soak your chickpeas add your dry chickpeas to a pot, cover them in water, bring to a boil, let the beans boil for three minutes, and then turn off the heat and cover for an hour. After an hour, drain the beans. Then you’re ready to go.)

* Roughly chop the onions and smash the garlic.

* Heat oil in pan over medium heat and add onions, garlic, and thyme sprig. Cook until onions are soft and starting to brown, stirring often. This took me about ten minutes.

* Add chickpeas to pot and toss with onion-garlic mixture thoroughly.

* Add wine to pot and turn up heat so it boils quickly. Boil for about 2 minutes until the wine is reduced by half. (I always have trouble telling if a liquid is reduced by half. Here, I don’t think it matters that you get this exactly right.)

* Add broth and bring to boil.

* Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chickpeas are very soft, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

* Puree soup with immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth. Add water as you go to get it to the thickness you want. (Or don’t add water and go straight for hummus.)

* When you’re ready to eat, cut your broccoli into florets and steam quickly, until tender (about 4 minutes). Serve garnished with broccoli, olive oil, salt, and red pepper flakes.