Shroom ‘n Grits

I’ve just returned from a week of eating and boozing in Mexico with five friends. There was a different taco to try at just about every hour of the day. I intend to throw a taco party very soon, to celebrate and exercise my own hand at the new flavors that so captivated us while they’re fresh in memory. But in the immediate aftermath of the trip, there was a group detox to do.

Congee with Shredded Turkey, Shiitake Mushrooms and Ginger Scallion Sauce

Congee, like fried rice, is an essential leftovers vehicle. This soupy sister-meal can incorporate bits of whatever you have on hand—and the week after Thanksgiving is prime time for having somesuch cooked delicacies on hand indeed. No matter what your cravings were for that last Thursday in November, they’re sure to be quite different now, a few days past the holiday, with leftovers to burn in the fridge still. (Especially if you’re fond of collecting others’ leftovers, too, like #Dukarcass.)

Vegetarian Paella

Last summer, ten friends and I kissed the summer goodbye with a beach weekend and a clambake. I wrote afterward that there was no greater communal food activity than this, if you’re by the shore with many people. I take that back just a little. Because for all the seaweed we let sizzle on molten-hot rocks, and crustaceans that reddened atop those before cracking open, there is another awesome group food that should not be overlooked in the summer: paella.

Spinach and Cheddar Cornbread

It’s all about balance. Sweet and savory; healthy and buttery; light and fluffy, and somewhat dense and gritty. That’s what good cornbread is all about. You could see it as a series of contradictions, of too many conflicting elements trying to work together at once. Or you could try to keep it all in check, to each his own place in this small casserole dish, a miniature world that’s really not that hard to govern over, when you think about … Read More

Spelt Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Ras el Hanout

A touch of spice makes everything nice. That, and a lightly fried egg whose richness bathes everything in sticky bliss. The prongs of your fork will be cloying this substance, well after you’re done eating and trying to rinse it free. It doesn’t take much to make one simple brunch so memorable, and linger on in your tastebuds, if not also your silverware.

Tabbouleh Salad with Cherry Tomatoes & Pine Nuts

Most people think of tabbouleh as a grain-based salad, with bulgur (a whole wheat product) comprising the bulk of the dish. But actually, it’s more of a parsley-based salad, with lots of fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, chopped onions and other herbs, too. Its name derives from the Arabic word for “seasoning” (taabil), and purists have scolded my lack of sufficient parsley in past attempts. This got me thinking that tabbouleh is something of a chunky pesto, with some filling grains tossed … Read More

Roasted Hakurei Turnips with Israeli Couscous Salad

Apparently I’ve been mispronouncing hakurei turnips as “haruki” turnips for a long time. This was finally corrected by Keha McIlwaine, who was selling the most beautiful specimens of them I’ve seen at Queens County Farm Museum‘s stand at the Greenmarket last Friday. While shopping there, I witnessed a couple trying to decide whether to buy the turnips, and what to do with them. Keha suggested they could be sliced up and sauteed, along with their healthy, bright greens. But they … Read More

Smoked Paprika Freekeh Salad with Kale, Tomatoes & Garlic Scapes

Crunchy, crispy, sweet, tangy and earthy; I’m never bored eating a grain-based salad. Especially when the other components outnumber the grains, as in this colorful, kale and tomato-enhanced version with garlic scapes and freekeh.

Fried Rice with Asparagus & Peas

I go away for one week and return to find that, not only have asparagus made their annual arrival in local markets, but everyone’s had more than their share of it already. “I’ve eaten asparagus for the past four days,” moaned a friend at the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket Saturday. “I’m over it.” Well, I have some catching up to do, so rather than dawdle on an elaborate preparation of it, whipped up this quick, ridiculously easy go-to favorite of … Read More

Spelt Risotto with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms and Parsnips

I’ll be the first to say that there is no risotto without rice. And a very starchy rice at that, such as Arborio, which thickens its cooking liquid like pudding. Whole grains such as spelt, wheat berries and oat groats just don’t do this, you see, and they take much longer to cook. But this time, for me, it was well worth the wait. Whatever you want to call it, this “risotto” with the nutty-tasting ancient grain spelt was even … Read More

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