Zucchini-Corn Fritters with Spicy Yogurt Dipping Sauce

A couple weekends ago, the Frenchman and I absconded from the city to the country. It was a necessary escape. New York in the summer is stifling, the heat gets trapped between the buildings and it makes you crazy. It took us two hours just to get out of the city, but it was all worth it, when we crossed the Rip Van Winkle Bridge (yes, it’s a real thing), high above the broad band of the Hudson, straight toward the dusky outline of mountains.

I’d booked our farmstay in January, so you could say that I was looking forward to it.

We pulled into the farm past 9pm, and it was so dark we had to use our brights as flashlights. There was a rib eye from the farm store waiting for us in the fridge. I flicked on the chef’s range and seared that baby over hot, hot heat with just a bit of Maldon sea salt and black pepper. I stirred olive oil and lemon juice and more salt into mixed diced tomatoes for a quick salad, and the Frenchman poured us tall glasses of red wine. We ate dark chocolate for dessert, over a fierce game of Scrabble.

Kinderhook Farm is impossibly bucolic, verdant, and lovely; such a stark contrast from the noisy, rush-about city. The renovated barn where we stayed had soaring ceilings and stripped wooden floors that creaked slightly, satisfyingly under bare feet. We spent much of our time shuffling languidly between the wide, open kitchen and the picnic table/double hammock situation in the yard, although I won’t soon forget the view from the shower: yawning pasture, stretching greenly in three directions. Read more »

Roast Eggplant Dip

I spent most of my kitchen-time last week testing ice cream recipes, none of which were successful. I had high hopes for a ripe market cantaloupe and buttermilk ice cream, but the results were consistently too icy. I moved on to a doughnut peach base, swirled with rivulets of deeply purple blackberry quick jam. But the flavor was always too muted; doughnut peaches might be better for eating juicily, messily over the kitchen sink than stirred into ice cream.

Now I have three new ice cream recipe ideas burning a hole in my pocket (did I mention I really love ice cream?), but I needed a break–ice cream can be finicky to make, it’s time consuming to test, and it makes me grumpy-pants when I get it wrong. And August is not a month for finicky, time-consuming recipes.

Instead, I went in the opposite direction: a (relatively) quick, savory dip, starring a deep-summer vegetable. Read more »

Not-So-Virtuous Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

Trust me, dear readers: I so badly wanted to provide a super verdant, completely fresh, hugely springtime recipe today. I wanted to be like every other food magazine, extolling the virtues of tender spring peas swimming in warm cream, or mashed with hot pepper against a scrap of olive oiled toast. Of course I want to stir ramps into my Carbonara, or braise skinny stalks of asparagus in Meyer lemon. I’ve been siting on a fava bean soup recipe for the better part of a year.

But do you know what I found at the farmers market yesterday? Root vegetables. Oh, root vegetables: it’s nothing personal, but you’re starting to depress me. Beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Turnips, and not the sweet baby spring ones (that should be roasted and eaten at room temperature, dribbled in spring-garlicky aioli), but turnips the size of softballs. There was not a single stalk of rhubarb hidden behind the parsnips.

I did find kale and brussels sprouts in abundance, though, and while I’m not a huge fan of either–the kale (in everything) and brussels sprouts (with bacon) craze is largely lost on me–I jumped at their mere greenness. It’s almost a spring salad, right? Right? Read more »

Kitchen-Focused Holiday Gifts, Part 1

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My original plan was to write a whole slew of holiday-gift-recipe-ideas from scratch. Then I realized how overwhelming that would be.

Also, it wouldn’t be overly useful: a quick google search yields plenty of ‘edible holiday gift’ lists, curated by magazines with far more resources than I.

So instead, I’ve decided to present a mashup of recipes, ideas, and products I love and use myself. (For the record, no one is paying me to endorse any of this, but if someone wants to know, I accept payment in the form of milkshakes and Japanese chef’s knives.)

My goal was to offer plenty of practical options that wouldn’t break the bank. (I love looking at fancy magazine gift ideas, but what they recommend is often designer, and really expensive.) With the exception of a few items, most of what you’ll find here is reasonable on any budget.

Finally, the recommendations you’ll find below are personal to me–much more than sending you off to make dark chocolate bark with dried cranberries would be, I think. I hope this collection of ideas acts as a insight into my kitchen, and helps get you through the holiday, too. Read more »

Three Husk Cherry Recipes

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I received a punnet of husk cherries a few weeks ago in my CSA box (their season is September-October around these parts), and I’ll be honest with you; upon first inspection, I didn’t really know what they were. I’d seen them a few times before, adoring desserts in European restaurants, but in those cases I’d pushed them to the side of the plate–surely they were meant more for decoration than actual consumption?

As it transpires, husk cherries (also know as Ground Cherries, Golden Strawberries, Chinese Lanterns, and in French as the very charming Amour-en-Cage, or ‘caged love’) are quite delicious. Read more »

Pan-Fried Shishito Peppers

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Welcome to The Roaming Kitchen’s brand new, very first, Friday mini-post! I’ve decided to share my kitchen exploits with you, lovely readers, more than once a week.

These installations will fall somewhere between actual recipes and photographic inspiration; they are meant to be very simple, and manageable for even the most reluctant cook. Some ingredients will reflect the season, but more often than not, this column will show you how to coax new life into a leftover slice of bread, a nub of cheese, or a vegetable wilting in the crisper.

So, without further ado, Shishito peppers: Read more »

Gazpacho with Peaches and Jalapeño

To all my friends who say, “Cristina, I enjoy looking at your recipes, but I would never attempt one,” please let me tell you upfront: this is one you can (and should) make. It’s really, super-duper simple. It requires few dishes. The instructions boil down to: chop vegetables, mix vegetables.

It also happens to be really delicious. The ingredients are a riot of summer–a balance of sweetness and acidity, with just a gentle nudge in the direction of spicy. Those Spaniards are really on to something, because gazpacho is an ideal hot weather dish.

Here’s where some readers will groan, but please bear with me: Read more »

Crab Cakes with Fennel, Scallions and Green Apple

Life lesson: when making a mayonnaise or aioli, it is advisable to find yourself an able-bodied Frenchman. Because here is the thing—you really have to beat the bejesus out of that thing. Your arm should hurt when you are done. Further advice: it is not sagacious to ask your Frenchman to make said aioli when he is trying to get ready for work in the morning, although if you ask very sweetly, he will probably do it for you anyway.

I have been meaning to make crab cakes for a while, mainly because previously mentioned Frenchman adores them, and because I spotted some lump crabmeat at the fishmonger the other day. (It really doesn’t take much.) Before you get yourself into a tizzy, let me concede up front that these are not “traditional” crab cakes. I added a couple extra ingredients I thought would complement the taste of crab, without overwhelming it. Read more »