December 14, 2011

David Leite's Rich Fish Soup

The first taste of this soup was so unexpectedly good that it startled an Mmm! from me.  The magic lies in the fish stock--or the lack of it, in my case.  Leite states that the fish stock will make or break the soup, so use a very light stock.  Anything too salty or overly fishy will overwhelm the other, more delicate flavors of the soup.  I never cared for it myself and used chicken broth instead.

And does anyone else get into a dither buying seafood, specifically, fish?  I live near Chinatown, and every block has a fish market or three.  My trouble is that the fish are all too often unlabeled, and I can tell salmon from flounder, but that's the extent of it.  I almost wimped out and bought a bag of frozen cod filets from Whole Foods, but at nearly $12/pound, I told myself to stop being an idiot.

Still, I visited six or seven markets before settling on an unidentified fish, which I got for a dollar and change, praying that it wasn't something with a million tiny bones--Baltic herring from that one memorable lunch in Turku, I'm looking at you.  I ended up dropping the whole fish into the soup and cooked one side with the heat still on before flipping it and cooking the rest with the residual heat.  It ended up great, but I think I'll still work myself into a lather the next time I visit a fish market.

December 6, 2011

Roasted Aubergine with Saffron Yogurt

This was not an easy dish to photograph.  My admiration to the food stylists who can make unwieldy chunks of fruit look palatable.  I actually decided to reshoot this a second time since I wasn't happy with the ones I did the previous day, which wasn't a pain at all since I got to eat and enjoy the salad again.

The geniuses at Ottolenghi have included some creative recipes in their cookbook, especially their salads.  I made a fennel, feta, and blood orange salad inspired by one of their recipes earlier this year, and this salad is just as bold in flavor.  Who would've thought that eggplants, pomegranates, and basil would equal magic?  The eggplant develops a rich, complex flavor whilst roasting that goes well with the garlicky yogurt and the explosions of sweet/tart from the pomegranate seeds.  The original recipe actually includes pine nuts, but I've decided to omit them because let's be honest: who can afford them these days?

November 30, 2011

Squash Stuffed with Quinoa & Mushroom

A bit of work with this one, but it's worth the effort. Nice and filling for those days when you can't be bothered to cook meat.

August 9, 2011

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Brownies

Hey there, folks! Back from the edge of nowhere, me. Things have been hectic lately with family visiting, so I haven't been able to update this blog in what seems like forever.

The important thing is: these brownies. You must make them pronto! They were surprisingly moist and decadently fudgy, and you definitely can't taste the zucchini at all. I made a chocolate zucchini cake last summer and overbaked it a bit, so it was dry and less than impressive. I'm happy to say I've redeemed myself with this one. They were so good I ended up making a second batch a couple of days after the first one.

That one I kept all to myself.

July 6, 2011

Watermelon Peach Tomato Avocado Salad

I was in the bookstore the other day leafing through Gerald Hirigoyen's gorgeous Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition when his recipe for Tomato and Watermelon Salad caught my eyes. Tomatoes? With watermelon?! The combination seemed so dissonant and yet logical when I thought about it, and I was determined to make some that night. I didn't remember the recipe in its entirety but I still love the end result. I decided to add peaches to this since I had some on hand, drizzled everything with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkles of salt and pepper.

I tried to emulate the photo from the book, but this is a poor imitation. I didn't have the patience to evenly dice everything out. Go check out the book!

June 25, 2011

Spinach Cigars with Tzatziki

I knew I had to make these spinach cigars when I received the email from Tasting Table. I already had the phyllo languishing in my freezer, purchased weeks ago for the bisteeya that I still haven't gotten around to making. This was the first time I've worked with phyllo, and it wasn't as devilishly hard to handle as I thought it would be. You just have to work fast and not panic, even when the edges of the sheets start tearing. Also make sure the cigars aren't crowded together on the baking sheet. Mine were and the parts that touched each other ended up blistering and sticking to each other. Not pretty! I had to strategically arrange them for this photo.

April 12, 2011

Antep Pistachio Kebabs

Ok, so these technically aren't kebabs since I am skewer-less and, more importantly, barbecue-less, but I wasn't going to let details like that stop me from making these. I actually wasn't a fan of lamb the first time I tried it--some tough, overcooked piece I nabbed from a friend's dish at a Chinese restaurant--but I decided to give it another go when I had dinner at a Turkish restaurant uptown. I have to admit, it didn't completely win me over at that time either, but something about it appealed to me since some time after that, I decided to pick up a package of ground lamb when I noticed them at Whole Foods and that's it; that's all she wrote.

April 6, 2011

Oh Fiddlesticks!

April showers are announcing the arrival of spring (though the weather's been topsy turvy, yeah?), which means the arrival of asparagus, garlic scapes, rhubarb, and these gnarly things. I bought some fiddlehead ferns last year since people seem to go crazy over them; plus, they just look wicked cool, and I have a weakness for novelty items. Then the enthusiasm flew out the window the moment I ate a piece. They weren't bad - but there wasn't anything to merit all the fanfare. I vaguely recall boiling them to get rid of any toxins, then sauteeing some with butter and salt whilst tossing the remainder into a risotto. But all you guys out there can't be wrong, which leads me to the conclusion that I'm just not cooking them the right way.

So, anybody know any great recipes featuring these things?

March 23, 2011

Lemon Curd Cakes!

We've surprisingly received some snow here last night--just when we thought spring was here. Why not brighten your day with these gooey, sweet + tart treats? The cake was simple to make, but don't let that fool you: the silky lemon curd and butter gives it a satisfying dense richness. I love the bits where the lemon curd caramelized on the crust.

March 15, 2011

Roast Chicken Diavolo

This recipe calls for an insane amount of black pepper--an entire tablespoon of it--but it was surprisingly not overwhelming at all. It gave the chicken a nice kick, and the roasted pepper and onions balanced out the heat with their sweetness.

This is the third roast chicken recipe that I've tried from Mindy Fox's excellent cookbook, and it's as delicious as the other two. I finally couldn't stand the monotony of roasting chicken the same two ways I've been doing since I've started roasting the damn birds, and I had the good fortune to run across the book one weekend. Not only are there interesting recipes for roast chicken, there are the various side dishes and recipes for soups, salads, sandwiches and pasta that you can add your chicken to. This book is fast becoming a favorite--everything looks relatively simple and delicious!

March 8, 2011

Maple Crème Caramel

If you have a serious sweet tooth, you'll love this recipe. I'm not gonna lie, this was deliciously smooth and I enjoyed every bite, but seriously, it could have used a lot less sugar. I'd recommend lowering the amount of maple syrup for the custard and eliminating the sugar altogether; however, I'm not sure if this will affect the texture of the custard. It could have done without the caramel as well.

February 28, 2011

Tomato Fennel Soup with Fennel Orange Gremolata

For those living in the cold corners of the world, this post is for you. Spring has been flirting with us here in NYC, random warm days coyly flitting about here and there between periods of brutal cold. This soup is the perfect antidote, especially when served with a grilled cheese brioche sandwich. It's also easily thrown together and ready within the hour.

February 22, 2011

Fennel, Feta, Blood Orange Salad

I'm a bit ashamed that I've sadly neglected this blog for almost a year! I hope to redeem myself this year: I recently bought several cookbooks to inject some inspiration in the kitchen. Here's one of the dishes I made based on a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's Ottolenghi.

The original recipe calls for pomegranate seeds, but pomegranate season seems to have passed me by. I substituted blood oranges since they work so well with fennel. And there we go.

I'll give you guys the original recipe since I used it more as a guideline and I haven't a clue how much of each ingredient I actually used. Adjust to taste!