Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Leek and Gruyere Frittata

Frittatas are the unofficial workhorse of hosting brunches. They're super quick to throw together, pretty much fool-proof, and since they're delicious served at room temperature, they can be made a couple of hours before your guests arrive, freeing you up to do other things, like bake biscuits or compose a complementary green salad or play with your puppy or take a quick nap. You know, whatever makes you happy.

This particular frittata combines eggs, leeks, and gruyere cheese, which happen to be three of my favorite foods. Can't go wrong. xo

Leek and Gruyere Frittata
From My Father's Daughter, by Gwyneth Paltrow
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 large organic eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the butter and oil over medium heat in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Saute the leek slices until soft and just barely browned, 6-8 minutes. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and milk to combine in a mixing bowl. Pour over the leeks. Sprinkle the top with cheese. Let it cook for about 5 minutes, or until just set on the edges (it will still be very runny in the middle). Stick it in the oven for 8 minutes. It should be just set throughout with crisp, golden, toasty edges.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Best Stir-Fried Chicken

One of my biggest pleasures in life is Chinese food. Particularly when it comes from Great NY Noodletown, and particularly when I happen to be nursing (otherwise known as a monster hangover). Their pan-fried noodles and salt-baked shrimp are out of this world, as is their no-nonsense, lightning quick service. Chinese waiters get a bad rap for what is perceived as their brusqueness, but I think it's kind of refreshing sometimes, especially after a string of 2-hour+ dinners where, after the 5th course, you're looking desperately around for the waiter so he can maybe bring you your check before you pass out face first in the remains of your dehydrated pear with salted caramel and saffron ice cream dessert.

But as much as I love Chinese food and all it's trappings, I very rarely indulge in it. I'm talking maybe once every two or three months. Lo mein noodles and General Tso's chicken are awesome, but let's be real--the aftermath is a world of grease and regret. Not so fun. This recipe, from Gwyneth Paltrow, the queen of good food decision-making, mimics the taste and texture of the best Chinese stir-fried chicken dishes without the MSG hangover. It's my new hero. xo

Best Stir Fried Chicken
From My Father's Daughter, by Gwyneth Paltrow
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup peeled and minced garlic
1/4 cup peeled and minced ginger
1/2 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)
Pinch red chile flakes
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Toss the chicken with the cornstarch, a large pinch of salt, and quite a bit of pepper. Heat the oil in a large nonstick wok or nonstick pan over medium-high heat (this is a gentle stir-fry). Add the garlic, ginger, scallions, and chile flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar, and about 6 grinds of black pepper. Boil on high for 3 minutes, or until the sugar has really caramelized, the vinegar has mellowed a bit, and the whole mixture is dark brown and sticky and lovely. Add the soy sauce, cook for another 30 seconds, and serve immediately, topped with a sprinkling of the cilantro.

Serves 4.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Food for Thought

I was taking a class at Yoga Vida with Dominic last week, and he had us start practice by closing our eyes and breathing deeply and evenly. "With each breath in," he said, "think 'I am calm.' And with each breath out, think 'I am happy.'" And after a few minutes of this--of listening to my own breath and the collective deep breathing of everyone in the studio--a calm really did settle over the room.

I've thought about this idea of "what you think, you become" off and on for years, but sometimes, I would get annoyed and dismiss it as spiritual fear mongering. I tend to be pretty impressionable and the last thing I need is some concept making me paranoid about every passing thought in my head. But recently, I've started to look at the words in a slightly different way. I think what that phrase means, at it's heart is this: Pay attention to the stories you're telling yourself everyday. What are you thinking about yourself? Is it that you're not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, ______ enough? Is it a story from your past that just keeps looping? Be careful. Tell those things to yourself enough times, and they're bound to manifest themselves in one way or another. Your thoughts are powerful things.

So be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Know that it's okay to be exactly who you are. And when things get a little stressful, just stop for a second. Take a deep breath in. Take a deep breath out. Breath in and think "I am calm." Breath out and think "I am happy." What you think, you become.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Favorite Things: 01.16.13

Butter London nail polish in Teddy Girl--the perfect pale pink

I'm in Hawaii this week for some long overdue family hang time. The weather is pretty much perfect here right now, which is really taking the edge off the freezing NYC winter I just escaped. But for those of you in not-so-sunny environs, here are some of the little things that were making the grey days a bit cozier. xo

Recently discovered Shino Takeda's perfectly imperfect pottery and my new goal in life is to collect as much of her work as I can get my hands on. Etsy shop HERE. Read about her HERE.

The company is called Teapigs and the tea is called popcorn tea. And that's an actual piece of popcorn in the bag. Need I say more.

The two cookbooks that are getting the most play in my kitchen these days--Canal House Cooks Every Day and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

This extra virgin olive oil is really good and really affordable. Plus I love the ballsiness of putting "world's finest" on your label. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Hope everyone's 2013 is off to a great start! This is always the month during which gyms are packed, yoga studios see a significant uptick in practitioners, and juice cleanses are in full force. We all know that this stuff will see a bit of drop-off in the weeks to come (thank goodness), but I love all the inspired, live-your-best-life attitude while it's here. And so, I thought it would be appropriate to start the year off with a healthful, vegetarian dish.

Middle Eastern food has a special place in my heart (all those colorful spices!) and this mujaddara is apparently a staple in Israel. It's absolutely delicious with lots of different textures and flavors mingling together--crisp onions, fluffy jasmine rice, plump lentils, all topped with a super easy mint yogurt that is out of this world. xo

Mujaddara with Spiced Yogurt
From Food52
For the Mujaddara
3/4 cup Puy lentils (aka French lentils)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup jasmine rice
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups onions (about 3 medium onions), halved and thinly sliced

For the Yogurt
1/2 cup whole fat Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon spicy paprika or aleppo pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Juice and zest of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer lentils until soft  but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside. Rinse pot.

Add rice, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups water to the pot, set over medium heat, and bring to a boil. When the water begins to boil, cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 17 minutes (the tried-and-true Amande Hesser method!) until perfectly cooked. Remove from oven, uncover, and fluff with a fork. Set aside.

While rice cooks, set a wide, deep saute pan over  medium-low heat and add butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter has mostly melted, add onions and toss to incorporate with butter and oil.

After 5 minutes, onions will have softened slightly and started to release their liquid. Raise heat to medium and cook 10 to 12 minutes more, until onions are very soft and browned. Add water by the tablespoon if pan gets too dry or if onions start to stick. When onions are well browned, add last tablespoon of olive oil and raise heat to high. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until bottom layer of onions has charred and crisped; try not to stir too much, or onions won't crisp up.

Combine rice, lentils, and most of the onions in large serving bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes, to marry the flavors together. (Truth be told, this dish improves with age.) Taste, and add more onions if desired. Meanwhile, make the yogurt: mix all ingredients together in a small bow.

If mujaddara has cooled significantly, reheat in a low oven or even in the microwave for a couple of minutes. To serve, plate a big scoop of mujaddara and top with a dollop of yogurt.