Thursday, June 28, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower

Lately, when I'm trying to come up with something to eat on a whim, more often than not, I end up simply throwing whatever veggies I have laying around into the oven and roasting them until they're hot and toasted and charred at the edges. Sometimes, after they're done roasting, I'll toss some pasta or brown rice into the mix. Or if I'm feeling particularly lazy, I'll just pile the veggies on a plate and munch on them slowly just as is. Here's my go-to recipe for roasting cauliflower, which is popping up at the markets in all sorts of fun colors right now. But you can really use this recipe as a basic workhorse that will perform beautifully with just about any vegetable out there. Photos by Mark Iantosca. xo

Roasted Cauliflower
Serves 4
1 medium head cauliflower (2 1/2 to 3 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch-wide florets (8 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

Toss cauliflower with oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Spread in one layer in a large baking pan and roast, stirring and turning over occasionally, until tender and golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

I always hold out for as long as I possibly can before buying my first batch of summer tomatoes. Maybe it's a fear of disappointment; after all, I wait for that moment for months of long, cold winter. Or it could be that I like savoring the deliciously drawn-out anticipation. Or maybe it's just because I know tomatoes get sweeter and juicier as the summer days get longer and deeper.

Whatever my underlying reasons may be, the end result is always the same. Once I get that first heaving bag of tomatoes home, I go with the purest possible way to enjoy them--in a simple, seared tomato sauce with spaghetti cooked just under al dente, stacked between two slices of good, old-fashioned white sandwich bread in a tomato and mayo sandwich, or paired with creamy, luscious slices of fresh mozzarella and the barest sprinkling of torn basil. In this case, I bought exactly four perfect Jersey tomatoes from the TriBeCa greenmarket, stuffed them with rice and parsley, and blasted them in a hot oven for 45 minutes. Simple, fresh, and lovely--just the way a summer lunch should be. xo

Baked Stuffed Tomatoes
Serves 4
4 medium tomatoes, stemmed
3 tablespoons Arborio rice
Handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice off the bottom quarter of each tomato and set the 4 pieces aside. Working over a large measuring cup to catch all the seeds and juices, use a small spoon to carefully scoop out the interior pulp without piercing the walls of the tomatoes. Arrange all the tomatoes cut side up in a baking dish just big enough for them to fit comfortably.

Lift out the large pieces of tomato pulp from the measuring cup and chop finely. Return the chopped pulp to the cup and discard all but 3/4 cup of the pulpy liquid. Add the raw rice, parsley, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Fill each tomato with some of the seasoned rice and juices. Place one of the reserved tomato bottoms on top of each filled tomato. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil all over the tomatoes.

Bake the tomatoes until the rice is tender and the tomatoes are soft, 40-50 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool to room temperature before serving them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fried Soba Noodles with Tons of Veggies

Something about this summer has put me into a veggie craze. I've developed more of a taste for vegetables in recent years, but I've always been a bit more of a protein and carbs (and sugar) girl (think steak and roasted potatoes, spicy Indian curries with lots of basmati rice, lasagna bolognese, etc.). I don't know if my tastes are changing with age, or if I'm just more excited about all the delicious warm-weather produce cropping up at the markets this year, but I've never been more into and experimental about all things green.

This super healthy dish was inspired by a recipe for Fried Udon Noodles I found in the Superhero Recipes section of Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Life. It's ease lies in the fact that you can really be flexible with it--throw in your favorite veggies, or just go with the ones that are on their last leg in your fridge. Use udon noodles, or do as I did and use up a package of soba noodles (which, incidentally, are packed with antioxidants and essential amino acids--so much better for you than regular pasta). Anything goes here. xo

Fried Soba Noodles
Serves 2
1 (8-ounce) package soba noodles
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups bok choi, chopped
1 sweet bell pepper, any color
6 medium radishes, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the soba noodles and cook until just al dente, according to package instructions; drain and keep warm.

Meanwhile, place the bell pepper and radishes in a small roasting pan, drizzle with a couple of glugs of olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, and roast for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are nicely browned and soft, maintaining a little bite. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute just until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bok choi and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 10-12 minutes. Add the roasted veggies to the pan and stir to combine. Add the drained noodles and toss together until heated through. Serve hot.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Market List: Early Summer

Hope everyone's enjoying these first few weeks of summer! The sun finally came out for an extended period of time this weekend, and although I spent most of it at home taking care of a sick puppy, I did manage to make a quick run to the TriBeCa farmers' market for some veggies to munch on all week. Here's a look at what's good at the markets now (in order from top to bottom): garlic scapes, Jersey tomatoes (my first batch of the season), summer garlic (so, so good right now), sweet bell peppers, and bok choi (specifically from Lani's Farm). xo

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese

Brunches are one of my favorite meals to host. The requisite dishes are usually simple, quick, and easy, leaving you plenty of time to relax with your guests, and there's just something great about starting the day off with good, home-cooked food and lots of friends around you. Also, brunch drinks are the most fun alcohol category around--sparkly champagne mixed with fresh OJ, a tomato-juice-drenched Bloody Mary with lots of spice--how could you go wrong?

This no-fail scrambled eggs dish from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook is a total crowd-pleaser, and takes about 10 minutes to whip up. All pictures by Mark Iantosca.

P.S. The StyleMint shirt I'm wearing is the comfiest thing around--I wear one of their tees at least a few times a week. They're giving my readers 20% off their first purchase on their site--code is MILK. Click HERE to peruse! xo

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese
Serves 4
8 organic large eggs
Splash of milk
Big pinch coarse salt
A few fresh grinds black pepper
Big knob unsalted butter
1/3 pound smoked salmon, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup cream cheese
2 teaspoons finely sliced fresh chives, for serving

Whisk the eggs together with the milk, salt, and pepper. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs, let them sit for 1 minute, turn the heat to medium-low, and push them gently with a wooden spoon for 1 1/2 minutes, or until very soft curds form. Fold in the salmon, dot with the cream cheese, turn the heat as low as it can go, and cover the skillet for 1 1/2 minutes, or until cheese begins to get oozy. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wild Mushroom Pasta for MyHabit

I am so excited to be working with MyHabit for their brand new Home Sale launching today! They've got some fantastic things up for grabs for seriously great prices, so click on over HERE to check out all my picks, including the best chopping block I've ever had the pleasure of using, a beautiful saute pan, and a hot pink pepper grinder that's been brightening up my kitchen lately.

I also developed a recipe for Wild Mushroom Pasta exclusively for them using these very same tools--you can get it HERE. Happy cooking, happy shopping. xo

Monday, June 11, 2012

Apartment Touches

One of the quickest ways to make a house feel like a home is to flood it with living things--plants, flowers, trees, and the like. And so I went about doing just that as soon as I moved into my new apartment. I popped into Adore NYC next to my office and picked up a baby fig tree, a baby palm, a fern, and a succulent called a "pepperoni plant" (how could you resist a plant with a name like that?). I'm admittedly completely new to the art of keeping houseplants alive, but I'm hoping with a little luck and a touch of my mother's unbelievably green thumb, it'll all work out. xo

Friday, June 8, 2012

Favorite Things: 6.8.12

Since I just moved into a new apartment, and my sole focus has been on making it feel like home for the past week, this edition of Favorite Things is dedicated to all the knick-knacks I've picked up (or plan to pick up) in pursuit of that mission. Happy Friday, everyone! xo

A few pieces I love:

+ more favorite things:
*Kyle Miller--greatest yoga teacher and my favorite part about Fridays*

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ian Knauer's Blueberry Belle Crunch

One of the best parts of this dessert--which is an old family recipe of Ian Knauer's--is the name of it, wouldn't you say? Blueberry Belle Crunch. It just sounds like summer and sunshine and country state fairs. Like the strawberry cake I made the other week, this preparation is deceivingly simple and incredibly tasty. It really lets the blueberries shine. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to take it to even greater heights. All pictures by Mark Iantosca. xo

Blueberry Belle Crunch
Serves 6 to 8
For the berries
12 ounces fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the crunch
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Ice cream for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle. Generously butter a 9-inch pie plate.

Make the berries: Toss the blueberries with the sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt. Transfer the berries to the pie plate.

Make the crunch: Stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Blend in the butter with your hands until well combined. Crumble the topping over the berries in large clumps.

Bake the crunch until the berries are bubbling and the crunch is set and browned in places, 25 to 35 minutes. Let the crunch cool slightly before serving. Serve with ice cream, if you like.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Entertaining Tips for MYHABIT

I wrote out all my favorite entertaining tips (plus a couple borrowed from the likes of my friend Julia Bainbridge of Bon Appetit and the Vena Cava girls) for MyHabit, and they've got the post live now! Check it out HERE. xo

Monday, June 4, 2012

Warm Asparagus Salad

I spent the weekend unpacking and settling into my new apartment (pictures to come!) with a few breaks in between to finish the last 200 pages of Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night, play Bach's Minuet in d minor for a group of my piano teacher's fellow students in a mini piano recital/brunch, and get a seriously fantastic facial with Diana from B Spa Bar at the Soho Grand Hotel. It was a full weekend, but a very rejuvenating one.

This asparagus salad (adapted from Food52's recipe) is the first meal I prepared for myself in my new kitchen and as I stood at my counter, nibbling on the delicious mixture of market asparagus, bacon, and leeks, and sipping on an ice cold glass of Gruner, my apartment finally felt like home, unpacked piles of boxes and all. I guess that's the power of home-cooked food. xo

Warm Asparagus Salad
Serves 4
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
1 1/4 cup leeks, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1-2 tablespoon flat Italian parsley, chopped or torn
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large non-stick pan, sauté pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan. Add asparagus pieces and leek and sauté until asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

Add garlic, lemon and orange zest, toasted pine nuts and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer Strawberry Cake

Nothing says "summer" quite like a ridiculously easy strawberry cake. And this one, my friends, is the strawberry cake to end all strawberry cakes. It's got a rich, buttery, sugary crumb that heaves with the weight of a full pound of farmers' market strawberries melting into sticky puddles of jam in your oven. It's list of ingredients is short, the assembly simple, and the time it'll last sitting on your kitchen counter infinitesimal. In fact, I polished the whole thing off in two days flat by myself. You can file that under "things no one should admit to on a public forum." Don't say I didn't warn you. xo

Summer Strawberry Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart and Smitten Kitchen
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup barley flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch pie pan.

Whisk flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter (save for some gooey strawberries), about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.