All I want, all winter long, is a big bowl of body-warming, soul-soothing soup. And usually I want it instantly, with next-to-zero work on my part. Ramen is the magical concoction that satisfies both of these desires.
I make it a little differently every time, depending on what veggies and toppings we have in the house. It is delicious in its simplest form – broth and noodles – but I love it even more when we have greens, mushrooms, sprouts, soft-boiled eggs and other fixins to add for flavor and texture.
Feeling a little chilly and also a little lazy? Go fix yourself a steaming bowl of broth, noodles and veggies. You deserve it.
Soak mushrooms in warm water until they soften (20-30 minutes); rinse and drain. Slice mushrooms.
Heat sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook garlic and ginger for 2 minutes, then add miso and cook for another minute. Add broth, a splash of soy sauce and Sriracha, 5-star spice (optional) and mirin (optional).
Stir in mushrooms. Bring the broth to a simmer and season to taste.
While broth is heating, boil water in a separate pot and cook noodles until al dente. Drain and rinse with warm water; set aside.
Add greens to the broth and cook for a few minutes until wilted.
Put a serving of noodles in each bowl, ladle soup over the top, and garnish with toppings.
It’s that time of year when I get a little more homesick than usual. We haven’t lived in the U.S. for six years, and it’s been even longer since we’ve spent Thanksgiving with family. I miss that a lot – but we are cultivating our own Friendsgiving tradition that I also love. We host and make the staples: turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce; our friends bring sides, desserts and many bottles of wine. This past Sunday, we celebrated our third Thanksgiving since moving to Barcelona (a little early because tomorrow is just another Thursday here).
Our first year, we prepared a 5 kg. (11 lb.) turkey for a large crowd; it was the biggest bird we could find, and I don’t think we could have fit anything else in our modest stove. Everyone had enough to eat, but we had no leftovers… which made me very, very sad.
So last year we made two turkeys. One in the oven and one on the barbecue. Problem solved! (Also, grilled turkey is amazing). We did the same this year, and now we have an abundance of leftover turkey.
Which brings me to these leftover turkey pot pies. Aren’t they adorable?
You should make them with your leftover turkey this Thanksgiving. They are the definition of comfort food. They’re individually sized, so you don’t have to share. And the crust-to-filling ratio is so much better than a regular pot pie. Everyone wants more crust.
For this recipe, I used four ceramic baking dishes that hold 8 oz./1 cup. You could use ramekins or any other small, ovenproof dishes.
Pot pies with double crust always seem like a lot of work … until I take a bite and I remember that single-crust pot pies are not even worth your time. I use Joanne Chang’s easy and tasty pâte brisée recipe from her Flour, Too cookbook (do yourself a favor and buy it immediately); one batch is perfect for four mini pot pies. Or buy pre-made pie dough. Whatever it takes to get this deliciousness in your belly.
Pie dough, enough for 2 regular pie crusts (store-bought or homemade)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups diced veggies (I used a mix of carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms and leeks)
2 1/2 cups chopped leftover turkey
4 Tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock
A few splashes of whole milk or cream
Salt, pepper and herbs (poultry seasoning, thyme, oregano, etc.)
1 egg, beaten
Prepare the dough
Roll out chilled pie dough and line each baking dish with a round of dough that extends about 1/4 inch beyond the rim. Press the dough gently onto the bottom and sides of the dish. Refrigerate the baking dishes for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Line each of the pie shells with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and cool.
Make the filling
Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add chopped veggies and cook until they start to soften, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add leftover turkey.
Stir in flour until everything is evenly coated. Gradually add broth while stirring; cook for a few minutes until the filling has a thick, stew-like consistency. Add salt, pepper and herbs to taste, as well as a few splashes of milk or cream.
Put it all together
Divide the filling evenly among the baking dishes.
Cover each dish with another round of pie dough, trimming any excess and crimping with your fingers around the rim to seal.
Brush the top of the crust with the beaten egg. Poke a few small holes in the center to let steam escape.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool slightly, and enjoy.
Unless I’m making chocolate-chip cookies or brownies, I find baking stressful. I like to experiment when I cook, even when I’m following a recipe. But apparently “winging it” and baking don’t mesh well.
Nevertheless, I want to bake around the holidays. You can’t have Thanksgiving dinner without a homemade pie, right? My mom always made amazing pies for holidays, and she insists it’s not that tricky. I can totally make a pie! All of the pies!
So my annual pattern is:
Attempt a new and complicated recipe the day 15 people are coming over for dinner
Fake confidence and refuse help
Freak out when something goes wrong
Swear profusely and insist the holiday/the dessert are ruined
Halfheartedly eat the slightly mangled finished product anyway
It’s fun. For everyone. Happy Thanksgiving!
This year, we asked several other people to bring dessert so I could start step #1 without as much pressure. And with wonderful pep talks and troubleshooting advice from friends who are better bakers than I am, this pumpkin crumble tart experiment turned out surprisingly well. I wanted the creaminess of traditional pumpkin pie, along with the crunchy texture of a crumble, and this checked both boxes.
Before I dig into the recipe, here are some caveats:
This is a quick and dirty recipe; I didn’t plan to write it up until I had made it a few times and had taken more photos. But tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and this is top of mind. (Just like I always say, “Better done than perfect.” Hahahaha, just kidding, I would never say that.) The picture above Brian snapped with his phone, and I’ll update once we’ve polished the recipe and made it a second time.
1 cup (100g) pecans (or almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts)
1/4 cup (50g) packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, chilled and cut in rough chunks
Make the dough
Let butter soften out of the fridge for about 5 minutes before you use it. Add it to the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, then add the sugar. Mix until there are no large chunks of butter.
Add the egg yolks, then flour and sugar. Pulse the mixer a few times until the dough is sticking together.
Grease a 9 1/2-inch (24 cm) nonstick springform pan, and place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan (cut to fit). Use your fingers and the heel of your hand to press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan, and about halfway up the sides.
Put the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Line the chilled crust with parchment paper and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove pie weights and set aside.
Make the filling*
Whisk together pumpkin puree, eggs and brown sugar. Add the cornstarch, salt, spices, cream and milk. Mix well until everything is combined.
Pour filling into the crust; it will likely go past the edge of the crust.
Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes; it may jiggle slightly but appear mostly set.
Make the crumble
Pulse the ingredients in food processor (or chop the nuts and mix ingredients by hand)
Place the crumble ingredients in a thin layer in a second pan. When the tart has been baking for about 20 minutes, put the crumble pan in the oven alongside the tart to start browning. Add the crumble topping to the top of the tart toward the end of the tart's baking time, when the filling is almost set (about 10 minutes before it's done).
Take the tart out of the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife along the inside edge of the pan. Let it rest for 30 minutes before removing the springform pan.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
* I had a difficult time working with the Trader Joe's organic pumpkin puree. It seemed to have a more watery consistency than Libby's, making the filling super thin, and I ended up using two cans of the TJ's puree – but it did set correctly in the end. If your filling seems very watery, use 1 1/2 to 2 cans of filling.
We met two years ago, and my love borders on the obsessive. It’s apparently called a “doughnut peach” or a “Saturn peach” in English (or a “squashed peach” as I affectionately called it until I learned its real name).
I feel compelled to buy a bag at least once a week during the summer because I know come fall, I will go through withdrawal when they disappear from the markets.
But this year I’m planning to enjoy a little bit of summer in the middle of December. I made a small batch of simple paraguayo preserves and canned them for a rainy day.
I used paraguayos because they’re my current fave. But regular peaches would follow this same approach.
Brian and I have experimented with different kinds of homemade preserves over the last few years, including cherry and fig, but we usually add a lot less sugar than is called for in traditional jams. Sugar helps jams gel and act as a preservative, but the 1:1 ratio of sugar to fruit is too sweet for my taste. We haven’t had any issues with our jams going bad before we open them (but we generally eat them within a few months anyway).
This summer we’ve been adding pectin to our jam to give it a bit more gel without adding a ton more sugar; it’s still on the softer, preserve-like side, but I like that consistency. We couldn’t find any packaged pectin at our neighborhood grocery store, so Brian made some with this recipe; basically by boiling down tart green apples, water and lemon juice, then straining out the solids. We canned a few jars of it and froze an ice cube tray of it as well to use later.
This is a loose recipe because our process is pretty low-key and unscientific; cook, taste, add a bit of pectin and sugar, see how it coats a spoon, adjust.
To can the preserves using heat-processing: Ladle preserves into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch space at the top. Poke a chopstick around between the food and the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth. Screw on a hot, sterilized lid until you get medium resistance. Place the filled jars on a canning rack in a pot full of hot water. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a full boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and let jars sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars with jar-lifting tongs and let them cool on a towel for 24 hours. You’ll hear the jars pop as they seal; the next day, check the jars (a sealed lid will be concave and won’t move when you press down.)
If you don’t have canning equipment, you could make a smaller batch of this recipe and eat it within a few days (or freeze half).
Yield: Makes about 2.5 to 3 cups of thick preserves
2 kg (about 4.5 lbs.) very ripe fruit (yields about 7 cups of chopped fruit)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup homemade liquid pectin or 1 package commercial pectin
¾ cup sugar
Use your fingers (and a sharp paring knife to help, if needed) to peel fruit.
Remove cores and roughly chop, cutting off any bruised pieces. Set fruit aside, coating with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
Put fruit, pectin and sugar in a large pot (adding a little water if the mixture looks too dry), breaking the pieces of fruit up with a potato masher.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Cook down until it reaches the consistency you like (anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour – because I keep the heat on the conservative side and use very little sugar, I end up with a longer cook time, closer to 1.5 to 2 hours).
People have lots of opinions when it comes to chili. Texas style. New Mexico style. Cincinnati style. Kansas City style. (I’m from California, so I have no real loyalty to any one doctrine.) I love a big hearty bowl of chili when the weather cools down, but until recently, I was convinced that I didn’t much care for vegetarian chili. It seemed like most I tried were just poor imitations of the real deal – more like watery bean soup than something you’d have a cook-off over. But I’ve been trying to make more veggie-rich meals lately, and I’ve made it my mission to put together a vegetarian chili recipe that can stand up to the meat version. This is it. It has a good balance of earthy beans and sweet winter veggies, but for me, the success is in its satisfying spice and thickness. A few notes on this, in case the recipe looks annoyingly complicated:
I’m a huge fan of Serious Eats’ J. Kenji López-Alt, and I based my blend of dried chiles (and some other ingredients) on his Serious Eats recipe. This approach takes a little more planning and cook time than just throwing in some chili powder, but it makes for a really nice, complex flavor. If you don’t feel like doing this, you can obviously ignore me and use cayenne, chili powder and a couple chipotles in adobo sauce, and it’ll still be pretty darn good.
The rest of the ingredients are also flexible and forgiving. Use fewer vegetables or different kinds of beans if you like. Leave out the bourbon or masa harina or whatever you don’t have on hand; as long as you have some beans, veggies, spices, tomato and enough liquid to tie it all together, you win.
Make this for a crowd, and no one will miss the meat.
2 dried mild to medium chiles (ancho, pasillo, Anaheim or mulato)
2 dried sweet chiles (New Mexico, ñora, choricera or costeño)
2 dried spicy chiles (chipotle or arbol)
2 canned chipotles in adobo (seeds removed)
2 cups water
2 T. vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 small carrots, peeled and diced
2 small red bell peppers, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. + 1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 cans black beans (liquid reserved)
2 cans garbanzo beans (liquid reserved)
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
4 T. tomato paste
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. unsweetened cocoa
2-3 T. bourbon
2 T. masa harina or cornmeal
Fixins: sour cream, cilantro, cheese, lime, hot sauce, tortilla chips, etc.
Remove seeds from dried chiles. Saute them without oil in a Dutch oven for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Place them in a glass liquid measuring cup; add canned chipotles and 2 cups of water. Microwave for 5 minutes. Puree in a blender or carefully pulse with an immersion blender.
In the Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots and bell peppers until they start to get tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in sweet potatoes, squash, beans and tomatoes. Add tomato paste and 1 cup reserved bean liquid. Gradually add chile puree, stirring and tasting for spice. Add soy sauce and cocoa powder, plus more water or bean liquid if mixture is too dry.
Bring to a light boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer, stirring often, for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Add more water or bean liquid during cooking if needed. Stir in the bourbon and the masa or cornmeal. Garnish with your favorite fixins.
We love our CSA. Every Tuesday we get a basket full of produce, and most of it we know how to cook. Some other items require a bit of research, and some of it I’ve never even heard of (I’m looking at you kohlrabi).
I’ve written about beets beets beets before, but they showed up again in our basket this week and I had to take to the interwebs to figure out something new to do with them.
The recipe is roughly this: 1) grate beets 2) cook in butter 3) add sage, cooked pasta and cheese. That’s it!
Grating the beets definitely speeds up their cook time as compared to baking them whole, and the butter and sage give a really rich flavor without investing a lot of time. Also, visually it’s just a beautiful dish.
Fingers crossed that some beets will turn up in our basket this week so we can make this again!
Something must be done, and thankfully, our past selves put a healthy stock of nonperishable foodstuffs in our cabinet. In this particular case, little crusty bread, canned cooked beans and assorted fishies in cans.
With these, a little olive oil and salt and very little work, we were able to throw together this tasty little snack, and live to fight another day (the hangries, that is).
We’ve been on a grain-based salad kick for a while, combining couscous, bulgar, farro or whatever we have in the cupboard with vegetables, nuts, legumes, herbs and spices for new combos. I think this started because:
Green salads can get pretty grim during the winter months.
Whenever we serve simple salads to guests, no one eats it and we end up with a neverending bowl of wilting lettuce in our fridge.
I like these heartier salads because they have endless variations, and they are a blank canvas for all the spices we have been collecting. I made this one for our last EatWith event and loved the contrast of the different textures and flavors (I think the cinnamon is a must).
We hosted our first big EatWith event last night and had an absolute blast. We had more than 20 guests, and it was such a great mix of interesting, cool people from all over.
Brian made his amazing slow-cooked BBQ pork, setting up the grill on our wee balcony and tending to it lovingly all day. We also made crudité, tzatziki, bulgar salad, coleslaw, bourbon-chipotle BBQ sauce and a new version of mac and cheese we’re experimenting with.
True to my American roots, I love mac and cheese in all its forms, and I’m always looking for my new favorite recipe. This one turned out really well. A few people asked for the recipe, so here it is! You can be flexible with the kinds of cheese you use – feel free to play around with combinations and see what you like. I’m not sure there’s a wrong way to make delicious cheese sauce.
1 1/3 lb. cheese, grated (about 600 g) - I used aged white cheddar, Grana and a semi-curado Spanish cheese that reminded me of Monterey Jack
1 egg, beaten
6 yellow onions, sliced thinly
Panko bread crumbs
Grated black truffle (optional)
Salt, pepper, other spices/herbs to taste
Heat a small amount of olive oil and butter in a non-stick pan on medium-low.
Add sliced onions and cook until golden brown and caramelized, stirring frequently, about 30-40 minutes. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a generous handful of sea salt.
Cook macaroni for a few minutes less than the cook time on the package (it should be too firm to eat, not yet al dente). Drain and set aside.
While the pasta water is boiling, melt 5 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan on medium-low heat.
Add 5 tablespoons of flour, whisking constantly to remove lumps and to keep from burning. The consistency should be a slightly thickened liquid (I added a few more tablespoons of flour here to make a bit more dense). Cook for 5 minutes, whisking constantly.
Stir in milk and dry mustard slowly. Cook for 5-10 minutes on low heat, stirring often.
Add a small cup of the sauce to the bowl holding the beaten egg, whisking constantly.(This is called tempering and gradually raises the temperature of the egg without scrambling it.)
Mix in cheese, reserving a small amount of Grana for the topping. The consistency should be thick and creamy.
Taste sauce and add salt, pepper and other spices or herbs to taste.
In a small pan, toast a few generous handfuls of panko breadcrumbs in a little butter for a few minutes.
Add macaroni and caramelized onions to cheese sauce and mix well.
Transfer mac and cheese to a casserole dish. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture and leftover Grana on top.
Bake at 375 degrees F/ 190 degrees C for 20-25 minutes, until the topping is golden brown.
Sprinkle a little grated black truffle on top if you're feeling extra fancy.