Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekend Bits

An old Miu Miu necklace that always gets me in the mood for Montauk

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope all of your weekends were fantastic. I did a little bit of everything--went to the greenmarket in search of elusive rhubarb (failed, again), wandered around Chelsea aimlessly, spent a few hours at the wonderful Chris Chase salon getting my hair done with Jenna, made my very first chicken adobo (which is absolutely delicious), and went out for a bit on Saturday night to check out a friend's new bar/restaurant, Randolph Beer (very fun). I also did a thorough cleaning-out of my make-up bag, getting rid of anything that hadn't been used in a few months, and rediscovering some treasures that I love (i.e. the Claudio Riaz blush pictured here and the genius Rodin lip balm). Spring cleaning extends to your cosmetics bag, too. xo

Claudio Riaz blush palette--one of the best blushes I've ever used. At Barneys.

Burned the very last bit of my Astier de Villatte Cambridge candle this weekend--love the scent.

I've got a thing for rabbits--so I picked this little mug up at a store in Brooklyn.

I love everything Rodin makes, including this pretty lip balm.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Split Pea Soup

When it comes to soup, I veer strictly towards the "hearty" end of the spectrum. There's a time and a place for thin broths (i.e. chicken soup for when you're sick, duck broth when you're in the mood for soba), but there's not much out there in soupland that can beat iterations like beef barley, Portuguese kale and potato soup, and one of my personal favorites, split pea with ham.

I love the smokiness of the soup, which comes from adding in a thick ham steak and some bacon and letting the meats simmer with the broth for a good, long time. It's just the thing for a nice, relaxing evening at home with the person (or people) nearest to your heart. There's something about a simple, hot bowl of soup for dinner that feels cozy and intimate the way nothing else really does. Bonus: this soup is equally delicious heated up in the microwave the next day. All pictures by Mark Iantosca. xo

Split Pea Soup 
Serves 4
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 large onion, chopped fine 
Sea salt 
3 medium garlic cloves, minced 
7 cups of water 
1 ham steak – about 1 pound, cut into 4 pieces 
3 slices of thick cut bacon 
2 cups split peas 
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves 
2 carrots cut into 1/4″ dice 
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4″ dice 
Black pepper

Over medium high heat, melt the butter in a big, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook 4 minutes, stirring. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add water, ham steak, bacon, split peas, thyme and bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring soup to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until peas are tender – about 45 minutes. 

Remove the ham steak and put on a plate. Cover with aluminum foil to keep it from drying out. 

Add carrots and celery to the soup and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes more. 

While the soup is simmering, shred the ham with two forks, removing and discarding skin. Remove thyme sprigs, bay leaves, and bacon slices and discard. After 30 minutes, stir the ham into the soup and serve immediately. The soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If it gets too thick, it can be thinned with a few tablespoons of water.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe

If there's anyone out there who has given up on broccoli rabe due to it's tendency to be bitter unless you know how to expertly coax it into relative sweetness (which can be a very hit-or-miss situation), I've got news for you. Spring broccoli rabe is a whole new ballgame, sister. I've taken to picking up bundles of the stuff at Lani's Farm at the Union Square greenmarket every weekend, and then missing it acutely the second I've run out.

Technically, the broccoli rabe that you'll find at the markets right now isn't a spring vegetable, but one that is "wintered over," meaning that it grew out of what was left in the ground at the time of last fall's final harvest. It's sweeter and milder than the kind harvested at other times of the year, which makes all the difference in the world. Usually, with broccoli rabe, you'd have to tame the bitterness by going through the annoying process of boiling it for a minute and then dunking it in a bowl of ice water before getting to the sautee part. But because this spring version of the healthy veggie is so much sweeter, that step becomes obsolete. Time saver!

Also, the bunches you'll find now are sprouting tiny yellow flowers, which are pretty and fun to eat. And lastly, this is a 10-minute supper. All you do with it is wash it, remove the stems, chop it up, and saute it in a little olive oil, garlic, and salt. You can have it as a delicious side to anything from pork chops to roast chicken, or you can do as I've done several times over the last couple of weeks and eat it as is, with just a bit of brown rice to accompany. xo

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe
Serves 4 
1 lb broccoli rabe, washed, stems removed, and chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Cook garlic in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli rabe and cook, tossing to coat with oil, until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Toss broccoli rabe with a bit of salt to taste.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekend Bits

Pretty peonies at Marie Robinson.

This weekend was filled with lots of my favorite activities, including another trip to the farmers' market to pick up more collard greens and broccoli rabe from Lani's Farm (the greens these guys produce are quickly becoming an obsession of mine), an apple pie from Terhune Orchards, and some sweet Italian sausages by a darling old butcher who demanded that I "report back" to him next weekend after I'd tried his wares in a few different preparations. (Incidentally, they were as delicious as he claimed.)

I also spent a morning at Marie Robinson salon with their fantastic make-up artist Landy Dean, who showed me a couple of new blending techniques and gave me a fresh color palette to use for spring. I adored him and the whole hour and a half I spent with him playing with make-up. Highly recommend. xo

Yummy jarred heirlooms.

Landy Dean gave me a make-up tutorial at Marie Robinson--so fun.

Signs of spring--the first asparagus spears at the farmers' market!

The apple pies that Terhune Orchards turns out are out of this world. They're at Union Square every Saturday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Whoever invented quesadillas should be sainted. The hot, melted cheese, bits of chicken or shrimp, mushrooms, peppers, and whatever else you fancy sandwiched in a crisp, toasted tortilla--it just doesn't get much better. Also, it's a ludicrously easy dish. Just chop up your choice of ingredients into little bits, toss them into a fresh tortilla, fold said tortilla in half, and toast the whole thing in a hot pan until everything is all golden and melty and delicious.

You can't really go wrong with quesadillas, but this particular ingredient combination happens to be especially good. I love queso fresco, a mild, crumbly, nutty cheese that happens to work really well with lots of diced up peppers and cilantro. Perfection. All pictures by Mark Iantosca. xo

Serves 2 
2 (8-inch) flour tortillas
2/3 cup crumbled queso fresco
1 tablespoon chopped roasted red pepper from a jar, drained and patted dry
1/4 teaspoon fresh cilantro, chopped
Vegetable oil for brushing tortillas
Kosher salt

Heat 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Place 1 tortilla in skillet and toast until soft and puffed slightly at edges, about 2 minutes. Flip tortilla and toast until puffed and slightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Slip tortilla onto cutting board. Repeat to toast second tortilla while assembling first quesadilla.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese and half of peppers over half of tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Fold tortilla in half over filling and press to flatten. Brush top generously with oil, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside. Repeat to form second tortilla.

Place quesadillas in skillet, oiled sides down. Cook over medium heat until crisp and well-browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Brush tops with oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Flip quesadillas and cook until second sides are crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer quesadillas to cutting board. Cool for a couple of minutes, halve each quesadilla, and serve.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pappardelle with Rabbit, Ramps, and Spring Garlic

This was my first year making ramps, and after cooking with them and eating them in various dishes all weekend, I have no idea why I waited so long. Ramps are a member of the lily family, which also includes garlic, onions, and leeks, and they've got a bit of the sweetness of leeks mixed in with some garlic bite. Also, they're beautiful, with their big, elegant green leaves, rich purple stalk, and thin white bulbs. And more importantly, they taste like pure spring, which is quite exciting after many long, winter months of icy weather and root vegetables.

When I first got home from the farmers' market, three full bunches of ramps in hand, I stood in my kitchen, scrolling through recipes on my laptop, and wondering what I should do with my bounty. You can do a lot with them, it turns out. I made two pastas, both recipes from Martha Stewart, but I also prepared them alone, coated in good olive oil and some salt and pepper, and seared in a scalding hot pan until a few charred spots on the leaves appeared. They were delicious every which way, but I think this may be my favorite way to eat them--braised for a good long time with rabbit and wild spring garlic in wine and chicken stock, and tossed with pappardelle noodles. It may actually have been one of the best pastas I've ever made. I highly recommend trying this one out before ramps disappear from the markets--their season only lasts until June. xo

Pappardelle with Rabbit, Ramps, and Spring Garlic
Serves 6
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 rabbit (about 2 pounds), cut into 6 pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
14 ounces wild (spring) garlic (about 8), white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
6 ounces ramps (about 14), leaves and bulbs separated, bulbs halved lengthwise
1 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 1/2 cups dry Riesling
1 pound pappardelle

Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Dredge rabbit or chicken in flour mixture, coating all sides. Shake off excess.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter with the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add meat pieces. (Work in batches if necessary.) Cook until dark golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium, and add garlic and ramp bulbs. Cook, stirring, until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.

Return meat to pan. Add stock, wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and cover. Place in oven, and cook until meat is very tender, about 1 hour. Transfer meat pieces to a plate. Cut meat from bones in large chunks. Discard bones.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Place the pan with the cooked garlic and ramps and their cooking liquid over high heat, and boil until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add meat and ramp leaves. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat.

Drain pasta, and add to meat mixture. Toss gently, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Bits


Hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was all about relaxation. I skipped going out in favor of early bed times, early morning runs, some movie-watching, lots of cooking, and one absolutely gorgeous day spent at the farmers' market. Sometimes I find that after my insanely busy work weeks, I need a bit of time alone for some introspection--it's important to pause once in a while and take stock in how you're feeling about work, relationships, friendships, projects, and anything else that happens to be going on in your life. It's an effective way to stay self-aware and avoid burn-out. Plus, how else would you discover amazing TED talks like this one, otherwise? xo
From a meats purveyor at the Union Square farmers' market.

 My all-time favorite navy Celine bag, which makes a perfect cradle for my new Canon DSLR camera.

 Ramps! These guys have such a short season--get them while you can!

One of the things I made with my ramps--Martha Stewart's pasta with ramps.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed bell peppers could possibly be the ultimate in old-fashioned comfort food. Think about it. Those compact packages of goodness contain all the best things in life: ground beef, garlic, tomatoes, onions, cheese, rice. How could it get any better? Before a couple of weeks ago, though, I had never tried to make them myself. They always seemed like impossible little pieces of edible art; pretty and neat, each pepper portioned for exactly one. How could assembling something like that be easy? I would ask myself, staring at pictures of perfectly baked peppers with precisely melted cheese and bits of rice peeking through. Won't the peppers break and fall apart all over my oven? I often wondered. Well, I'm here to tell you that no--no, they will not break apart and screw up your clean oven. The flesh on those peppers is downright sturdy. And yes--yes, they are easy to assemble, easy to bake, and they disappear in about 2 minutes flat. They also have a tendency to make everyone around you very, very happy. Reason enough to whip up a batch asap, in my opinion. All pictures by Mark Iantosca. Recipe down below. xo

Stuffed Bell Peppers
Serves 4
4 large red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, 1/2 inch trimmed off tops, stemmed, and seeded
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
12 ounces 85 percent lean ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, with 1/4 cup juice reserved
1 1/4 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup ketchup

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add bell peppers and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook until peppers just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain off excess water, and place peppers, cut side up, on large paper towel-lined plate. Return water to boil, add rice, and boil until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain rice, then transfer to large bowl; set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking beef into small pieces with spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl with rice, stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine ketchup and reserved tomato juice in small bowl. Place peppers, cut side up, in 9-inch square baking dish. Using a spoon, divide filling evenly among peppers. Spoon 2 tablespoons of ketchup mixture over each filled pepper and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Brothy Beef Short Ribs

Over the weekend, I decided that I wanted to cook something soothing and restorative, something hot and cleansing. I wanted whatever I ingested to be the equivalent of a "chicken soup for the soul," but without the boring "chicken soup" part. Also, I didn't particularly feel like putting any effort into it. Sounds like a tall order, I know, but as usual my little collection of cloth-bound Canal House Cooking books provided the answer in just a few page flips.

This brothy short ribs recipe is one that I had looked at before, longingly, but for some reason, had never gotten around to making. My mistake. It requires six simple ingredients and a long afternoon of boiling time and that's about it. The chopping doesn't even come in til the very end, when you'll take all of 20 seconds to haphazardly cut up some scallions and cilantro to toss into your broth before devouring it whole. And while your big soup pot is on the stove transforming the short ribs into meltingly tender, falling-apart pieces of heaven, and the healthful ginger is turning water into something resembling a golden, seductive aphrodisiac, your apartment will fill with the most comforting, delicious smells known to man. Not an exaggeration. So take a day this weekend to try this out. It's a beautiful dish, clarifying and simple. xo

Brothy Beef Short Ribs
Adapted from Canal House Cooking, Volume No. 6, by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
Serves 4
3-4 pounds beef short ribs
1 hand-size piece fresh ginger, unpeeled, halved crosswise
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2-3 scallions, chopped

Put the short ribs, ginger, and garlic into a large, heavy pot and add enough cold water (about 12 cups) to cover the meat by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently until the meat is tender, about 5 hours.

Remove and discard the ginger and garlic and any loose bones. Skim as much of the visible oil from the surface of the broth as you can. This may take a good 10 minutes of skimming. Be patient! You'll be rewarded with a beautiful, clear broth. Trim any fat and gristle from the meat and return to broth. Season the broth with salt. Serve the meat and broth in deep soup bowls, garnished with lots of cilantro and scallions. Pass salt around the table for seasoning the beef.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Weekend Bits

Last week wasn't exactly the greatest. By the time Friday came around, I was ready to pack it in, crawl under my big, white comforter, and sleep for around 48 straight hours. Instead, I decided to take care of myself with a myriad of little things that make me happy. I bought myself a gorgeous new perfume, finally nailed Beethoven's Sonatina in F, scattered fresh flowers all over my apartment, did some cooking, went for two very long runs, and spent tons of quality time with the Monster, who never fails to make everything seem that much brighter. xo