I used to have a vague prejudice against cold soups. I’d tasted several gazpachos that were more like V8 or bland salsa than a meal, so I wrote off the whole category of non-hot soups – until a fantastic chilled beet soup changed my mind completely. Now I’m all about these cool customers. Especially right now, when the produce is at its peak, and I will do anything to avoid turning on the stove.
I love a gazpacho that is well-balanced and refreshing: a little sweet, a little acidic, not too heavy on any one flavor. This recipe uses equal parts tomatoes and peaches (or any other stone fruit you have on hand; it’s also delightful with nectarines and apricots).
It’s the perfect heat-wave dinner. Add a crisp glass of white wine, and your “I hate everyone and everything” attitude will slowly start to fade.
It’s not a bad idea to double the recipe. For your future self.
- 2 lbs. tomatoes, cored and chopped
- 2 lbs. peaches (or a mix of stone fruit), pitted and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 pieces crusty bread
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon and a splash of sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh basil or mint, thinly chopped (optional)
- Set aside 2 tomatoes and 2 peaches and roughly dice. Mix together and refrigerate.
- Blend all the other ingredients, except water, in a blender or food processor.
- Add ½ to 1 cup water to achieve the consistency you like. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.
- Put a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Pour the soup into the strainer a bit at a time, using a spatula to press down to push the liquid through. Discard the remaining solids.
- Chill and serve with the reserved diced tomatoes and peaches. Sprinkle with fresh basil or mint (optional).
I used gazpacho recipes from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix cookbook as inspiration.
I have a terrible cold right now, which means I will be a terrible person for at least three more days. I’ve also given it to Brian because I’m just generous like that – and who wants to wallow in feverish self-pity alone?
Of course all I want to eat is chicken noodle soup, because it’s the only thing that will make me feel better (It’s science.) And none of that salt-bomb canned stuff with soggy noodles. I want homemade chicken noodle soup.
Well, you can see the conundrum.
So I made a big pot of this soup to last us a few days. It tastes way better than canned – but doesn’t expect miracles from a cook who can barely get out of bed. I’m filled with rage when I see ingredients like “finely chopped parsley” in a chicken soup recipe (It’s 5 p.m., and I just managed to shower. You seriously expect me to have parsley right now?).
Adjust the following “recipe” (if you can call it that) to your circumstances. Send the healthiest person in your house to the grocery store to pick up a rotisserie chicken and all of the NyQuil. Skip all the vegetables if you don’t have any, or throw in a bag of frozen veggies right before the noodles are done. Whatever it takes to get this soup in your belly.
- Vegetable or olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 carrots, cut into chunks
- 2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
- 1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled off and shredded into pieces
- 8 cups (2 quarts/ almost 2 liters) chicken broth
- Dry pasta (I used 1 cup corkscrew noodles)
- Salt and pepper
- Dried oregano, crushed red pepper and/or poultry seasoning (optional)
- In a large pot, cook the onion in oil for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Add the carrots and celery; cook for another 5 minutes, until they are slightly more tender. Add garlic and cook for a minute.
- Add chicken broth; simmer for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are starting to get tender. Season with salt and pepper (and other herbs and spices, if using).
- Add noodles and chicken pieces, and cook till noodles are al dente.
If you want to offend an Italian, refer to polenta as “Italian grits.” I’m guessing. I’ve never actually had the guts to do this, after getting burned making a similar wine faux pas a few years ago:
Me: I love Primitivo wine. I think it’s made from the same grape as Zinfandel, which we produce in my hometown in California!
Primitivo Winemaker: **look of disdain/horror** We have been making Primitivo wines for thousands of years. It is not the same as this Zinfandel.
Me: …… [nods/ hangs head in shame/ holds out empty glass for more]
But really, polenta – long a staple in Northern Italian cuisine – is just coarsely ground cornmeal. Just like grits. Depending on where I’m living and what’s available at the store, I use Italian polenta and American cornmeal interchangeably. Both are easy and affordable to prepare. Both make a rich, hearty porridge when cooked in liquid. And both absolutely benefit from generous helpings of butter, salt and cheese.
In wintertime, I love to serve polenta with braised short ribs or some other meaty sauce. But as the weather gets warmer, polenta is an ideal base for lighter vegetable-based dishes. This version combines simple roasted spring veggies with creamy, cheesy polenta. I advise making extra for leftovers.
Goat Cheese Polenta with Roasted Vegetables
Fresh vegetables*, cut into 1-inch chunks:
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 8 oz/ 226 g snap peas
- 16 oz/ 453 g button mushrooms
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 medium onion
- 2 small zucchini
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup polenta, or coarse-ground cornmeal
- 4 cups water
- 6 oz/ 170 g goat cheese
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan + extra for garnish
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper
- 16 oz./ 453 g jarred or homemade marinara sauce, heated
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 204 degrees C.
- Place vegetables in 2 roasting pans: the asparagus and snap peas in one pan, and the rest of the veggies in another (the first pan might not take as long to cook as the heartier vegetables). Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until veggies are lightly caramelized and tender.
- Meanwhile, start the polenta. In a saucepan, bring the water to boil over medium heat. Add a dash of salt, then slowly pour in the polenta, whisking to break up lumps. Let polenta cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft and thick and starting to pull away from the edges of the pan (around 20 minutes). Stir in butter, goat cheese and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the polenta onto plates or shallow bowls. Top with marinara sauce, roasted veggies and grated Parmesan.
*You can vary the veggies depending on what you have, and what’s in season.
I love artichokes. I get a huge kick out of seeing their symmetrical little shapes all stacked up at the market this time of year. Growing up in California, I gorged myself on them… and I burned the roof of my mouth more times than I can count because I can never wait for them to cool down before digging in.
Until recently, I would order fresh artichoke dishes in restaurants, but I would never prepare them at home. They just seemed like too much work, and canned artichoke hearts are pretty fantastic. But it’s artichoke season, and we keep getting beautiful artichokes in our CSA basket. I am racked with guilt every time I neglect them and they go bad, so I started playing around with this pasta.
The ingredients are simple, but they complement each other so well. The artichokes are earthy and buttery, and the lemon adds a touch of brightness. And cream and Parmesan are always a good idea; use just a little for a lighter dish, or be heavy-handed for a decadent, creamy sauce.
To be clear, you can make this pasta with canned artichoke hearts, and it will be delicious. But if you have some in-season artichokes just begging to be used… well, here you go.
Lemony Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts
- Olive oil
- 3-4 T. butter
- 8 oz./226 g dried spaghetti
- Zest of 2-3 lemons
- 2 T. lemon juice (plus more for cooking artichokes)
- Generous splash of cream
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 6-8 whole artichokes (or 1 can artichoke hearts)
- Cook artichokes. If using whole, fresh artichokes, roast them with garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice according to this recipe. If using canned artichoke hearts, rinse and drain them. Sauté the hearts with 1 T. of butter, a spoonful of minced garlic and a splash of lemon juice. Roughly chop and set aside.
- Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook pasta until just shy of al dente.
- Meanwhile, melt 3 T. butter in a large skillet. Add lemon zest and cook for a couple minutes. Pour in cream. Use tongs to add the cooked pasta, lemon juice, artichokes and Parmesan. Toss, adding a few spoonfuls of pasta water to thin the sauce if needed.
- Season with salt and pepper, and a splash of olive oil. Serve with additional Parmesan and lemon zest on the side.
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.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-inch piece of ginger, minced
- 3 T. white miso paste
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- Soy sauce to taste
- Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste
- 1 T. mirin, white wine or vermouth (optional)
- 1 tsp. 5-star spice (optional)
- About 8 oz / 227 g dried ramen noodles
- Dried shitake mushrooms
- 1 bunch Swiss chard or spinach
- Bean sprouts
- Green onions, diced
- Cilantro, chopped
- Sesame oil
- Sesame seeds
- 4 soft-boiled eggs
- 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.
Leftover Turkey Mini Pot Pies
- 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.
- I used David Leibovitz’s apricot crumble tart recipe (from My Paris Kitchen, which I love and highly recommend) and Sally’s Baking Addiction and The Kitchn‘s pumpkin pie recipes for inspiration.
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted cold butter (85g)
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 1/4 cup (175g) flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 15 oz can (450g) pumpkin puree*
- 4 large eggs
- 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) packed dark brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoon (30g) cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (60ml) whole milk
- 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.
I’ve always been a fan of teriyaki chicken, that tasty staple of late-night delivery, but the sauce is usually way too sweet, leaving me feeling full of regret and MSG.
So I started making my own simple teriyaki chicken at home. It scratches the takeout itch and makes for awesome leftovers.
I add veggies and serve it over brown rice, so I can feel morally superior as I’m slurping down my salt and sugar sauce (it’s homemade).
Teriyaki Chicken & Veggies
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 T. rice vinegar
- 1 T. wine, vermouth or mirin
- 3 T. dark brown sugar
- 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup water or stock
- Sriracha (optional)
- Vegetable or sesame oil
- 1 lb. chicken breast or thigh meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 head chopped broccoli
- 2 cups chopped snap peas
- 1 chopped red pepper
- Steamed rice
- Make the sauce first. Sauté garlic and ginger in oil for 2 minutes.
- Add all the other sauce ingredients and bring to a boil; turn the heat to low and cook until the sauce has started to reduce and thicken.
- Adjust the flavor, adding a splash of sriracha if you're feeling sassy.
- Mix 2-4 T. cold water with an equal amount of cornstarch. Add to sauce and bring to a boil again. Let cook for a few minutes until it reaches the thickness you want. Turn heat off.
- Coat chicken in some of the sauce and marinate for 20 minutes.
- In a wok or large pan, heat a few T. of oil on medium-high heat.
- Add chicken pieces and stir-fry until browned on all sides and nearly cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside.
- Add veggies and stir-fry, adding a splash more oil. Stir-fry for 5 minutes, then add ¼ cup of water and steam (covered). Cook till tender, 15-20 minutes, adding more water if it starts to stick.
- When veggies are nearly done, add chicken back in. Mix in the sauce.
- Serve over steamed rice.
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.
Vegetarian Chili With Beans & Winter Veggies
- Chile puree:
- 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.
Thankfully Mark Bittman was one step ahead of us with this recipe on the New York Times Cooking site. It’s quick, easy, delicious and totally different from any pasta I’ve made before.
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!