What a delight to find zucchini so early in the season at the Greenmarket last weekend. There was just one small crate of them at Grand Army Plaza early in the morning, and I snagged two ripe ones with shiny, lizard-green skins that appeared to be stretched across their juicy flesh like balloons. With such prime, squeaky-fresh zucchini like this, I don’t even want to cook them. I just want to slip a knife through them, and toss the lime … Read More
I was seeking advice for a gumbo I was to bring to a fundraiser cook-off last weekend. I’d wanted it to have lots of densely packed greens, like a traditional gumbo z’herbes, but also seafood, okra and perhaps some bacon. “Why don’t you do something like Hoppin’ John?” my friend Karol, a Southern food expert, suggested. This was one of her famed dishes, and one time, she’d added some greens like spinach to it as a variation. It was really … Read More
It’s very easy to hide a great deal of things in a pot of black beans. Good things, bad things, all kinds of things — and no one may notice. Cooked to a velvety sauce, with strange lumps that once used to be part of a bean suspended throughout, the soup is thick as tar and opaque brown-black as fudge. You don’t know what’s hiding in it.
Sometimes a food becomes so iconic for one dish that it’s rarely seen in preparations otherwise. This is certainly the case for split peas, which I’ve seldom eaten, seen, heard about, nor read about being used for anything else than soup. And that soup carries the stigma of being cooked with a ham bone, most commonly. This is still a soup-y dish, but it doesn’t adhere to the status quo for split peas. Because there’s really no need to.
I had guests over for dinner last weekend and came up with a five-person entree on the fly. I’d zoomed through the Greenmarket, picking up a pint of multi-colored cherry tomatoes, a firm eggplant, and a couple small, pattypan squashes. These all went into a pasta with a hearty portion of Italian sausage from Flying Pigs Farm for the meat-eaters in the crowd. We all loved it. Loved how the dish was colorfully studded with well-sized chunks ‘o stuff. Loved … Read More
I’ve been eating in the style of mezze a lot lately — a small pile of sauteed snap peas here, some roasted beets there, etc. So many vegetables are suddenly in season, and piling up thanks to my CSA share, that preparing them all in some congruous fashion can get taxing — and somewhat self-defeating, as most are so good on their own. So rather than plopping a big, messy pile in front of me, I like to scatter a … Read More
In the summer, beans were for dressing in a gloss of olive oil, tossing with a confetti of crisp, chopped vegetables, and having as salad. In the winter, we simmer them with rich fats, sometimes with finely chopped (less colorful) vegetables, which dissolve into the resulting soup or baked casserole. While it’s definitely winter, I tried to make a compromise between these two polar opposite ways to eat beans. Starting with the king-size fava (or “broad”) bean, dried.
If the fashion sensibility “peasant chic” were translated to food, this would be a runway highlight. It’s a melange of the penniless pantry, but manages to come out vibrant with flavor, and chock full of nutrition. A little funky, offbeat, and very magenta (is that an “in” color?), it’s what I call making the best of the least — and the cheapest — ingredients. It’s also filling enough for a one-dish dinner alone, but plop in a poached egg and … Read More
Last Halloween, Dave introduced me to a dish that involves baking stuff inside a hollowed-out pumpkin. He explained that he’d taken it from a Ruth Reichl recipe in Gourmet. This past Halloween, I hosted, and I copied Dave’s (or Ruth’s) dish to a T. (Only mine was in a white heirloom “ghost” pumpkin, and I served a side of beet-and-tomato “blood” soup.) It’s sort of like French onion soup, inside a pumpkin: you stuff stale bread cubes and pour chicken … Read More