Soldier Bean + Fall Vegetable Bowl with Walnut Pesto

You arrive home late. Work was horrendous and so you are a coil primed to spring. The Frenchman is on the couch, waiting to say hello, but right away you would like to know why he has not prepared dinner. Nevermind that you did not technically ask him to make dinner (isn’t he just supposed to know?) and that he has likely had a long day himself (but you left before him and came home after him that day, so you win). He expresses his sympathy over your difficult day, and sits you right down to massage your weary shoulders. But the whole day, when you think about it in hindsight, has primed you for anger. All you needed was this tiny little spark to set you off, and so here you are, sitting at the kitchen table with anger building to a boil. Off you go. You say things. You are at least 39%, but up to 68% right. You hate to feel resentful about cooking for the Frenchman, because you actually love it very much, but in this moment you are just so mad about it all, about everything. Later, you insist upon eating your toaster oven-Amy’s-pizza dinner by yourself. You are not a perfect person, and sometimes it is necessary to act like a child. Read more »

Spring Hash

Yesterday evening, after twenty hours of travel, the Frenchman and I arrived in La Rochelle. The trip, maddeningly, took longer than expected: a delayed flight resulted in a missed train, resulted in an extra four hours of airport get the picture. When our (second) train at last pulled into the station, I was feeling decidedly sleep deprived.

But then the Frenchman’s family appeared. They peppered us with kisses, and their sheer enthusiasm was a tonic more efficacious than coffee.

And so we waltzed to the old port, to a café table facing the ancient towers. We ordered a round of frosty beers, and shared a plate of brine-bright oysters from Île d’Oléron. The evening was sunny and breezy. Read more »

Mushroom, Ramp, and Mozzarella Salad

Good salads are all about balance. Here, bitter-bright endive and radicchio play against the umami of baked olives and browned mushrooms. The richness of mozzarella and egg yolk serve as foil to the mellow garlic-bite of ramps, and the acidity of lemon juice. A thin sheen of pesto brings the whole plate together. This salad is best served on a rainy spring day: It’s bright, flavorful, and texturally varied; satisfying, but not filling.

In other, salad-unrelated news, the Frenchman and I are off to Charleston for the weekend. We have never been, and I’m quite looking forward to sampling the local cuisine. As is my custom, I’ve planned the weekend largely around market visits, and late-but-I-don’t-care dinner reservations. (Frenchman, if you are reading this, don’t worry: we’re spending a whole half day at the beach!) I hope to return with wondrous photographs, and a whole slew of new recipe ideas. 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 »

Slow-Roasted Carrots with Lamb and Spring Onion Dressing

Despite the fact that it’s still freezing cold in New York City (literally); despite the fact that the forecast reads “winter mix” more days than not (a phrase that sounds like it should be a jazz CD sold in coffee shops, but is actually a horrendous blend of ice-rain-snow)–yesterday was the first day of spring.

Clearly, my fantasies of delicate pea tendrils and narrow stalks of asparagus aren’t coming to fruition as quickly as I’d like. The farmers market looks much the same now as it has all winter. Still, there are small signs of change: multi-colored carrots, new potatoes, and a small collection of scallions. This recipe utilizes two of the three.

And chives, and tender ground lamb! Two more ingredients that promise spring. My goal for this dish was to create something earthy and balanced; flavorful, but not at all winter weary. I think I’ve succeeded.

This recipe is packed with (brown) sugar, spice, and everything nice (namely, jalapeño slices, creamy dressing, and crunchy peanuts). The combination is fairly delicious, if I do say so myself. Read more »

Lentil Salad with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

lentil salad with Meyer lemon vinaigrette

I’ve been thinking a lot about tone and voice, and how they pertain to this blog. Although I’ve never been one for diary writing, for straightforward personal confession, I admit this is a journal of sorts. It details what I am cooking in a particular moment, as well as selected events around each recipe. I suppose creative writing of any stripe is its own kind of confession.

After a year plus of writing this blog, I’m sure my recipe-developing skills have improved. (I need only look to the archives to know this.) Part of me wants to scurry back and tweak what I know can be bettered, while another part of me is comforted by the fact that I can trace the changes. (I’m sure I’ve read similar sentiments voiced by Emma at Poires au Chocolat, but I can’t find where.) My photography skills have progressed too, as I’ve slowly learned the manual functions on my camera. Post recent birthday, I have loftier hopes still, thanks to a new lens (merci, darling Frenchman), a better editing system, and my first tripod (thanks, Mom).

But what about the other portion of the blog? The essay, the headnote, the this. When I read advice from successful bloggers, the same opinion is often echoed: “find your personal voice”, or “be yourself”. But how does one consciously follow this advice? If the hallmark of a successful blog is the convergence of skilled writing and a defined, likable personality, what qualifies the personality? From the writer’s perspective, where is the demarcating line, the happy medium, between inviting a reader into your life, and giving away the store? Read more »

Pearl Couscous with Roasty Roots, Chickpeas, and Pepitas

pumpkin seed coucous header

Ce soir, the Frenchman and I depart for a nine-day visit to France.

We haven’t been to Angoulins since the summer. Then, we swam at high tide, ate every meal outside, and padded barefoot around the porch. In winter, his seaside home is no less beautiful, although obviously much colder. This time, we will curl up in front of the fire, eat foie gras on toast (it’s Christmas, in France, after all), and meander to the beach with a bottle of Champagne on Christmas Day (avec shoes, thankfully).

I am looking forward to the trip, and to the break. I just have one quibble: if it were up to me, we’d teleport directly from our living room, straight into the Frenchman’s living room. (I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked the Frenchman to invent teleportation. Then, he could sleep at home every night, even during business trips. He assures me he’s on top of it, although I have yet to see results.)

The trouble is, I am terrified of flying. I know, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, plane-safety statistics being what they are, and considering how often I fly. Still, I am thrown into a tizzy every time I board a plane. It’s not great. To make matters worse, the Air France terminal at JFK is just the pits. (I know, my life is terrible!) Unless you enjoy rubbery chicken with sprayed-on grill marks, or Chinese food languishing under a heat lamp, you’re out of luck. Read more »

Arugula Salmon Salad with Crisp Fingerlings and Cotija

salmon salad header 2

I present to you this salad, because soon, very soon, we’ll launch without abandon into holiday-ready, cold weather recipes, and I wanted to offer one last breath of sunshine on the plate before we do. (In fact, my next two recipes will be desserts worthy of a Thanksgiving table. Consider this salad a sort of nutricional counter.)

This dish is based on an old menu item from The Madison in Hoboken. Their model included salmon, arugula, red onion, and crispy fingerlings, but also jicama, tomato, and feta, should you like that combination better. (Clearly I haven’t adapted the original too much; what can I say, it was already a really tasty salad.)

I’ve never been much of a, “Oh, I’ll just have the salad for dinner,” kind of orderer, but for this one I always made an exception. It’s satiating, but never heavy. The flavors are clean and the textures balance well. In short, it’s just the ticket before launching into a holiday eating program. Read more »