It’s the season of no recipes needed. In winter, we might pore over splatter-pocked cookbooks, braising a stew or simmering a ragu just the right way. In the summer, things get a lot more loosey-goosey: we unsheathe the barbecue, dig into dirt, invent salads from overflowing refrigerator crispers and lounge around barefoot catching seafood, perhaps. All this fun and the peak quality of seasonal ingredients leads to a quick and effortless cooking session, if you can even call it that.
Over the winter, I had fun making long-simmered pots of chicken paprika and goulash, Eastern European dishes that pull at my childhood memories. You see, my next-door neighbors growing up, an elderly couple from Poland the Kieslowskis, would often make these in their home and it filled my backyard with delicious scents as I scurried about in the yard, sometimes playing tetherball with my brother, sometimes helping my parents with yard chores like weeding, or sometimes wandering into the Kieslowskis’ own backyard … Read More
The tournament is on! The contenders? You versus Harvest Season, in a game of you trying to cook and eat up CSA veggies, garden veggies, or veggies that looked too good not to pick up at the farmers market before the next batch swarms into your kitchen. Because it’s summer, and that means everything looks good, and is plentiful (and relatively cheap). So it’s easy to have too much of a good food during summer harvest season.
I’m not much of a granola-eater unless I get around to making it myself. Something about most store-bought granolas, crackling with sugar like crisp toffee, makes the whole eat-healthy endeavor seem fruitless. But I do love some oats, nuts and other whole grains and whatnot in the morning. And the fact that you can use any combination and ratio of them when you’re making granola yourself.
Recipes are a lot more flexible than you may think. Soups are especially welcome to additional ingredients, adaptable to changing seasons, and open to subtractions in the case of allergy or just preference. I’m of the opinion that in most cases, a recipe is a mere guideline for a certain idea rather than a strict set of instructions. And as such, I usually don’t follow them too closely. But to indulge one early-morning’s random obsessions about vichyssoise, I cracked open Julia Child’s Mastering … Read More
Good winter carrots are like a good idea left alone for a while as it silently, snugly, digs deeper. At least, I think this is what happens with ideas that I leave beside for a whole season—or year perhaps. They develop and grow more legs—or roots—as time goes by, so that when you’re ready to finally pull them up, they’ll be more matured and robust. Even if you did not consciously think about them.
Blooming heads of brassica make such a large, lovely impression that I’m not sure why they’re not kept intact when serving more often. They do take a while to cook—especially in the case of dense, crunchy cauliflower. It’s like a small planet of fiber. You can save an hour by cutting pieces down to equal size before roasting (and that is the preferred thing to do with cauliflower, to bring out its natural sugars and crisp its peaks with texture). But, … Read More
This week marks the publication of my friend Chitra‘s cookbook, Vibrant India. If you’ve been reading this blog a while—or if you just like home cooking as much as I do—you may have found that cheap, healthful, and seasonal are some essential beacons to guide everyday recipes. And Chitra’s home cooking—and, hence, her cookbook—have these traits in spades.
The taste and scent of celery root offends some, and this I had not known before. To me, the cleaned bare root looks, smells and tastes fairly innocent at first, then slowly creeps more complexity. The herbal, vegetal nuances are beguiling, surprising and intriguing to me. And combined with the sweetness of apple and the dairy richness of butter, it’s pure harmony.