How is it already thisclose to being June? I'm holding tight to the well-worn marks of weekly routines to remind myself of the borders between these days, rather than accepting them as a smear across the calendar.
I am happiest with a schedule, and yet want Monday to feel different than Wednesday. Saturdays are for the farmer's market and tacos for breakfast, Tuesdays are often a standing bibimbap lunch, and Sunday night is when I make granola.
When I was fine-tuning the recipes for my book, certain ones that had always been part of my weekly to-do list became even more so entrenched in the way we do things around here. The soft sandwich bread took over the bread box, instead of sharing the space with the milk-and-honey-enriched loaf that was our alternate. I was giving away jar after jar of the pickled strawberry preserves. I had a freezer's worth of variations on the Walnut, Cherry Butter Tart Pie (there was one with milk chocolate, one with bittersweet, and one with cacao nibs; then one with pecans instead of the walnuts, another with bourbon, and one with dried cranberries, and every permutation in between). The clumpy granola became our one and only, and it was made with such devotedness that there was usually a surplus stashed in the pantry.
Once the book was done and out in the world, I took a break from many of those recipes, first off because—and nobody tells you this—while you're promoting a book you end up doing very little cooking. Then it was summertime, when our schedule had only the loosest of parameters. Slowly, slowly with fall and winter and school and holidays, I found my way again to the little ceremonies of my kitchen.
I'm back to a varied bread baking program, and the yeasted ones from the book are supplemented with a rye-heavy sourdough on the regular. The butter tart pie was was on the table at Thanksgiving, and it'll be shuttled to the cottage this summer.
Now the granola has its antithetical compatriot sharing a shelf. While mine is rough with clusters, this one from Emma Galloway's My Darling Lemon Thyme, is snappy, crackling and light. Hers is a toasted muesli, with a combination of flaked grains, coconut, seeds, and nuts, plus such a collection of dried fruit that each bite is a change from the one before. The kicker really is Emma's ingenious binding agent; tahini, mixed with coconut oil and honey. The resulting syrup is rich without going overboard, and not overly sweet. It is fragrant yet not sickly, evocatively savoury almost. In short, it's compellingly good.
Sarah wrote about this recipe just last month, so I consider this adding my voice to the chorus of praise as this muesli is one for encores.
EMMA GALLOWAY'S TAHINI, ORANGE + COCONUT TOASTED MUESLI
"Muesli-making was always my dad's domain when we were little. Late at night he would set himself up in the kitchen, toasting and chopping like a mad man, before decanting the goods into his giant glass muesli jar. I remember him saying how expensive it was to make but, and this is a huge BUT, homemade muesli beats that store-bought sweetened stuff hands down. This is my favourite version, and it's filled to the brim with the goodness of quinoa flakes, shredded coconut, nuts, and fruit all bound together in a sweet (but not in-your-face-sweet) mixture of coconut oil, tahini, honey, and orange zest. To keep things strictly mean you can use pure maple or brown rice syrup in place of the honey. Also, whole-grain oats can be used in place of the quinoa flakes."
— From My Darling Lemon Thyme: Recipes from my Real Food Kitchen by Emma Galloway (Roost Books, 2015)
Makes 1.5kg | 2 pounds
INGREDIENTS (please see below and the note for my changes)
- 5 cups | 500 g quinoa flakes
- 2 cups |180g unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut (I used both)
- 1/2 cup | 65g cashews, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup | 75g whole raw almonds, roughly chopped (I used flaked)
- 1/2 cup | 65g pumpkin (pepita) seeds
- 1/2 cup | 60g sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup | 35g sesame seeds
- 1/3 cup | 80ml virgin coconut oil
- 1/3 cup | 80ml un-hulled tahini
- 1/3 cup | 80ml honey, pure maple or brown rice syrup (I used maple)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- The finely grated zest of 2 oranges
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup | 200g natural raisins or sultanas
- 1 1/2 cups | 165g dried cranberries
- 1 cup | 95g firmly packed dried apple slices, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup | 80g pitted dried dates, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C. Combine quinoa flakes, coconut, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower and sesame seeds in a large bowl using your hands to combine thoroughly. Combine coconut oil, honey or syrup, tahini, vanilla, orange zest and sea salt in a small pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring constantly until melted and combined. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well.
Transfer to a large deep baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until toasty and golden brown. Watch those edges like a hawk as they have a tendency to burn. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Stir in the dried fruit and transfer to a large glass jar or airtight container. Will keep for 2-3 weeks as long as airtight.
NOTE FROM TARA:
Instead of quinoa alone, I used 3 cups rolled oats, 11/2 cups quinoa flakes, and 1/2 cup buckwheat groats. I tailored the fruit to my sons' preferences, using 1/2 cup sultanas, 1/2 cup chopped figs, 1 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup dried blueberries, 1/4 cup minced candied ginger, and 1/2 cup pitted dried dates, chopped.
Last but not least, thank you for the generosity of your kindness in response to my post about my grandfather. You guys are the absolute best. xo
Under the counter where the coffee things sit in my kitchen, third drawer down on the left, is a waffle iron. We bought it on a whim years ago when Sean and his parents were talking about the waffle ice cream sandwiches at the CNE.
Due to that association, whenever I make waffles instead of the usual French toast or pancakes, it feels like a festive thing. The waffles here however, are celebratory on their own, since they're from Heidi Swanson's very soon-to-be-released cookbook, Near and Far. (Cue the confetti canons and cheers.)
Heidi is known for getting details right. It comes as no surprise then that this new book is an extraordinary object, smartly designed and impressive to hold. The raised cover, reminiscent of tin ceilings and anaglypta, is slightly velveted. Its pattern is elaborated upon in the endpapers, and the creamy off-white echoed in the matte pages between them. Every inch is considered.
It is a book with clear, learned perspective. Divided into categories—recipes her inspired by her home, then those she likes for journeys, and finally recipes from the around the world—while reading Near and Far it is impossible to ignore a prevailing, longing wanderlust. Through Heidi's evocative photographs and passages, and her characteristic care in choosing just the right ingredients, you are transported to her kitchen and table, even when that kitchen is in Rabat, New Delhi, or Tokyo, rather than her native San Francisco. There is a distinct sense of real, rooted places, and an intimacy in the shared experience.
Often it is a matter of alchemy in developing recipes; a combination of time, surroundings, outlook, and trend all contribute to a sort of collected whole. Heidi once said certain things "are simply in the air." In Near and Far, you're in that atmosphere with her.
(For some more on Heidi's cooking philosophy—vegetarian, with an emphasis on whole foods—here's what I wrote about her last book, Super Natural Every Day.)
The breadth of this latest collection is all-embracing, and I've an eye on some to become new-to-me favourites—tempeh with shoyu butter, Lillet shrub, and farro salad (with this lip-smackingly piquant olive dressing) are all in the running. Then recently, Heidi told me her nephew Jack is a fan of the whole wheat waffles in the book. That was all the endorsement needed.
These waffles, like so many of Heidi's recipes, are familiar, but somehow that little bit better than you recalled. Lacily, crackly-crusted as you expect, but the centre has a set-custard quality, vaguely eggy and slightly elastic, so there's chew to back up the initial crunch. In my mind, that's not just the mark of a good waffle, but a superlative one.
Utterly fitting, considering where they came from. Tonight, with the leftovers, there'll be ice cream. Hooray, that.
And, once more, Heidi, well done. xo
WHOLE WHEAT WAFFLES
"These are the waffles I make most often—big, and Belgian-style. A combination of flours and rolled oats is lighted up with a bit of rice flour or organic cornstarch. It is a blend that conspires with lots of buttermilk to give the waffles a nice, moist interior and a crisp, golden crust."
— from Near and Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson (Ten Speed Press, 2015).
Makes 16 Belgian-style waffles
- 1 cup | 4.5 oz | 120 g whole wheat flour
- 2 cups | 9 oz | 225 g all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup | 1.75 oz | 50 g rolled oats or 1/2 cup | 1.5 oz | 40 g wheat germ
- 4 oz | 110 g organic cornstarch or rice flour
- 2 teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- 4 cups | 1 L buttermilk
- 1/2 cup | 4 oz | 115 g butter, melted and cooled
- 4 eggs, separated
Preheat the oven to 225°F | 110°C. Combine the flours, oats, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, and egg yolks. In a third bowl, using an egg beater or an electric mixer, beat the egg whites into stiff peaks.
Heat the waffle maker, and when it is ready, add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture just starts to come together. Dollop the egg whites across the top of the batter and fold until uniform, using a few strokes as possible.
Use a scoop to ladle the batter into your waffle iron and cook until deeply golden and crisp. Transfer to the warm oven while you make the remaining waffles—the dry heat of the oven helps them set a bit. Any leftover batter will keep for a day or so, refrigerated.
NOTES FROM TARA:
- I used the wheat germ suggestion rather than rolled oats.
- I served the waffles with Five Spice Roasted Peaches, mapled blueberries, and sweet labneh. I prepared the peaches as written, then stirred some wild blueberries through the leftover maple-vanilla syrup while the peaches roasted. I made the labneh from my cookbook, with orange zest, brown sugar, and vanilla (p. 229). The sprinkles are a bit of bee pollen.
- This recipe does make quite a lot of waffles; my waffle iron isn't super deep, so I think the yield was about 18. I froze the extras on a sheet pan, then transferred them to a freezer bag. They toasted up beautifully when needed. If preferred, the recipe halves neatly.
I wrote about Sara Forte's last book, her first book, right after my grandmother passed away. That sounds a morbid opening, but I don't mean it to be. In truth, the association offers its own kind of comfort. Sara's food is very much a means of taking good care of yourself, and a means to do so for those you love. My association of welcome and Sara is indelible, and I think that may be the same for a lot of you, too.
Sara's new book with photography by her husband Hugh, Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon, is just memorable as that first, and once again arrived at a time when my grandmother was on my mind.
With my own book coming out in 12 days (12 days!!) the reality has settled in. It has landed on my shoulders not as weight, but as something else, like the static shocks you get from rubbing your feet on the carpet. It feels like a current buzzing between my shoulder blades.
And, with each day closer, I wonder more and more often about what my grandmother would think of the book.
Gigi had a tendency to grant praise partnered with just enough criticism that the compliment didn't go to your head. While it may have come across as feisty, or perhaps sharp of her to say so, the critique kept things in perspective. And, there was the added value of that.
Once, upon reading an article I'd written, she told it was very good, but maybe too serious. It would benefit from a joke. Preferably a dirty one.
In my view, Sara's book, and her work in general, offers both deliciousness and perspective in balance. Interwoven with her inventive combinations of texture and taste is subtle encouragement and simple advice on making sensible, responsible choices for our health and environment. Beauty and flavour are not sacrificed in her commitment to whole food and eating healthfully, but rather highlighted by it, as she creates meals without anything to get in the way of the natural gorgeousness of her ingredients.
The book is centred around what Sara calls "bowl food", an inherently soul-satisfying concept. That style of serving, with everything nudged up close in a vessel with nothing overwrought in its presentation or eating, is actually my favourite sort of meal. I like how you can gather up whatever components in your ideal proportion and how, often, it's a one-utensil, no-cutting-required kind of ease of mealtime. (Especially helpful for when you're feeding kids, or particularly tired adults. Or particularly tired adults attempting to feed children.)
Sara fills her bowls with all manner of grains, pulses, and vegetables, with lean proteins included now and again. She has morning to night sorted, including dessert. One day for lunch I made her Baked Eggs with Barely Creamed Greens and Mustardy Bread — it was supposed to be bread "crumbs" but I have an affection for a fatty-fat chunk of bread, so made rustic croutons instead. Some were small about a half-inch or so, others big, for double-dunking into the egg. The mustard on those toasty cubes is a winner, along with their bit of salt. The vinegar and assertive seasoning splits the richness of the cream, yolk, and cheese in the bowl. I used kale for my greens and they were perfectly silky but not obscenely rich. I've made her ribboned salad with maple-glazed tofu, am making her leek and pea soup for a friend today, and have plans for her soaked oats and Eton mess once the local berries arrive. (Please tell me that spring is coming. Today it's freezing rain. Again.)
Bowl and Spoon is the perfect companion to Sara's first book, and very much the extension of what she started there. It's Sara through-and-through, which may be all I need to say.
Before we get to the recipe, a bit of housekeeping. First off, thank you to those of you who have preordered my book! For a moment there it was at #1 on two categories on Amazon, and I almost fell out of my chair. Seriously. You guys are too great. It has been such a treat to see folks cooking from the preorder recipe bundle, and I hope you're loving the brownies. (Please tag me when you share images or thoughts — @taraobrady on all social media — or use the tag #sevenspoonscookbook, if you can! I don't want to miss any.)
That said, the two recipes exclusive to the bundle (there are also five recipes from the book, including flaky biscuits!), are just that — only available with preorders. So if the one bowl, crackly-topped, gluten free brownies or garlicy, herby, chickpea yogurt soup are recipes you'd like, that's the way to get them. (The link to claim your recipe pack are on the sidebar.)
There's more! Penguin Random House of Canada has posted their own preview, with not only except of some of the book's text, but also my Bee Stung Fried Chicken with Korean gochujang honey to finish, and my method for Avocado Toast. Take a look, here.
Also, I've started adding events to the News + Events section on the top bar. There will be more there soon!
Finally, for I truly appreciate all the feedback on what sort of information you'd hope to see in regards to writing a book, and how the opportunity came about for me. I'm working on the posts, and so keep any such suggestions coming! Until then, Heidi shared the most beautiful look at her proposal process, and it is truly inspiring.
That's it for now. I want to pop in once more before the book comes out, so I'll see you then.
BAKED EGGS WITH BARELY CREAMED GREENS AND MUSTARDY BREAD
"This started as a Bon Appétit recipe that got repurposed for the blog, and now has made its way into bowl format for this book. I am always looking for everyday breakfast that can be put together relatively quickly, especially with eggs. I bake these in small shallow baking dishes, but a large ramekin or cast-iron pan works great as well. I assume two eggs per person and serve it with fruit and toast for dipping in the yolks.
The French, who more beautifully call baked eggs oafs en cocotte, often use a bain-marie for ideal egg texture, but I find the following approach just as suitable. "
— From Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon by Sara Forte (Ten Speed Press, 2015)
- 1 tablespoons coarse ground mustard
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups fresh torn bread, in bite-sized pieces
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (or spinach, kale, or a mix), stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 9 cups chopped)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for the pans
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- Fresh ground pepper
- 8 eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup grated Gruyère
- Few sprigs fresh thyme, for garnish
- Chopped freshly parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F and set a rack in the upper third. Wipe the insides of four gratin dishes or large ramekins with butter and set on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together the coarse ground mustard, 1 tablespoon of the Dijon mustard, the olive oil, and salt. Add the bread crumbs and toss to coat. Spread the on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until crispy. Set the bread crumbs aside, but leave the oven on.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add just enough water to cover the bottom; add the greens. Toss until wilted down, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a strainer and press out the excess liquid. You should have about 2 heaping cups greens. Wipe out the skillet and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté until translucent, about 1 minutes. Add the greens, the remaining tablespoon of Dijon mustard, the cream, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir until warmed through and just thickened, about 3 minutes.
Divide the greens between the prepared dishes and bake on the sheet in the upper third of the oven for 8 minutes. Remove sheet and carefully break two eggs onto the greens in each dish. Sprinkle the tops with a pinch of pepper and a few tablespoons of the Gruyère and bake for 6 minutes, until the whites are just cooked but the yolks still runny. Let them sit for a minute to settle. Garnish with the bread crumbs, thyme, and parsley.
NOTES FROM TARA:
- The well-prepared cook I am, I was out of parsley and thyme, so had to leave them off. I added dried chile flakes for some extra colour and because I have an addiction to spice with eggs and cheese.
There are many reasons why I could never be a photojournalist. Chief among them being that when I travel, I regularly forget to take many photos.
Case in point, when I went to Seattle at the end of October, most of the pictures I have of my time there were taken over two days, even though I was there for eight.
Instead, of documenting things as I intend, I get distracted by them. Lost the view on a drive down the coast; the road that winds and climbs beside the shore, and mountains that look like a theatre backdrop. Or caught up in people watching and the rose petal dukkah at The London Plane, or the roast chicken and the staggeringly-piled meringues at The Whale Wins, or the pizzas sold by the kilo at Pizzeria Gabbiano — two fingers' width worth of four types makes a fine lunch. (By the way, those pizzas are Roman-style, and brilliant with toppings like pistachio with mortadella, squash with mushrooms and blue cheese, and I hear they currently offer one with persimmon and 'nduja. If you go, please try it for me.)
Then it is the brioche at Le Pichet, a breakfast sandwich to write home about, too many coffees to count, and a walk through the art museum, and a few through the market, and return trip to a trio of food shops (here, here, and here). The guava ginger beer at Rachel's reminded me of India, my grandfather's house, and sitting on the dark green hood of his car eating guavas from the tree in the yard.
Or its the multiple feasts between Delancey and Essex; skinny-and-wood-fired pizza (a crust with bubbles and char and chew), lamb barbacoa on toast, oysters, and succulent-as-all-get-out burgers the size of my fist. And The Man About Town, Ashley's Sazerac, and the scent of flamed cinnamon stick for that one cocktail (it stings the nostrils. In a good way.) Those spaces are immediately welcoming, with tables close enough to feel like everyone's at the same party. And where everyone seems to be a regular. I want to be a regular.
(I need to get back for Taco and Tiki Tuesday.)
And then people.
Aran is the one that brought me to the Seattle, to lead a workshop on the mechanics of telling stories across multiple disciplines — basically, how photography and words, and even food, can be teamed up, and how we can make the best use of each to serve an overall whole. We covered the elements and principles of design, the fundamentals of writing, and copy and developmental edits. We took photos and made notes, and swapped inspirations. Aran and Bee made recipes from my manuscript for lunch (one of which is below — if you hover your mouse over the photo, details will swoosh up like magic). I talked a lot about working with intention, which made me think a lot about what my own aims and goals are with what it is I do.
It was a grand group in the studio that weekend.
I was in the midst of a community of creative people, each driven in their different ways; some writers, others artists, designers, business owners — all actively pursuing their own goals. And again, with such company the topic of conversation meandered to work, ours and others, comparing approaches and the challenges of experiences. (It wasn't always so serious. Subjects also included Bollywood films, high school dating, bleaching one's hair with lemon juice, numbered streets, scarves, and the O'Hooligan boys).
One night, Tara and I stood on the near a bonfire with high flames that deserved photography, and talked about our cities, about purpose and plans, and family. There was a chill in the air, but we didn't need coats. You could see downtown from where we were, multicoloured and evenly glowing, and between there and where we were was the silken rippling expanse of the inlet, reflecting that light here and there like sparks.
My book went to the printer on December 1st.
In a printshop somewhere, its starting to exist as something real. Physical. With a weight that can be held in hand rather than felt in the abstract. Once I am able to share a more about its contents in this space, I have every intention of then sharing that much more about what I was trying to get across with its writing. Seattle gave me a chance to practice what I want to say.
I'm looking forward to it.
Since I've been home, I've started a habit of soup. I think it's Aran's influence, as she has this witchy ability to make simple soups with remarkable depth.
One that has been a large part of this current trend, is from Amy Chaplin's book At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, which was released just over a month ago. It is a curry-bright carrot bowlful scented with lime leaves and lemongrass, spiked by chilies and smoothed out with coconut milk. It starts with aromatics in the pan to sauté, then in goes everything else. It's a breeze to get together in less less than 10 minutes, then it is left to blip contentedly on the stove for 20 minutes more. It is voluptuous and comforting, with enough heat to restrain the vegetal sweetness and an aromatic freshness. While it is vegan, I wouldn't call that it is its selling point. It is an excellent, stomach-and-soul satisfying meal, simple as that, which is to say, everything Amy's food is about.
Amy has 20 years experience in the food industry, as a former executive chef, teacher, recipe developer, and private chef. She is a vegetarian, and her recipes are often vegan, yet once more, that status doesn't come across as first impression. Amy cooks seasonally, with a globe-covering collection of influences, never encumbered by unnecessary fuss, or sacrificing flavour for dietary restriction. There is never a feeling of absence with the recipes, they have everything they need. The dishes are sometimes soothing, others vibrant and rousing. It is truly good food, first and foremost, which just so happens to be accompanied by a sensible, and adaptable approach to feeding ourselves in a conscientious way.
It is an impressive collection of over 150 recipes, from pantry staples to full meals, beginning with an in-depth discussion of ingredients and Amy's practices when it comes to how she cooks. It is an invaluable resource, a true reference as well as a cookbook. It gives the reader the tools to change the way they eat, and by extension, their health, and our environment. The book itself is almost intimidating in its beauty, verging on an object to behold rather than use — but then Amy's enthusiasm and quiet, approachable expertise shines off the pages and you're charmed.
Amy, mission accomplished.
And Seattle, I can't wait see you again.
SPICY CARROT SOUP WITH LIME LEAVES AND COCONUT
Making a pot of this invigorating soup in the middle of winer is the perfect antidote to cold, gray days. The lively flavours of ginger and chill are tempered by a good splash of coconut milk, creating a gorgeous texture and bright orange colour. The lime leaves and lemongrass give the soup a nice lift, but if you don't have them on hand, don't worry. I have made this dish many times without them with delicious results.
Note: in cold weather, coconut milk is solid at room temperature. To melt it, place the can in a bowl of a hot water for a few minutes, then shake well before using.
— From At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well by Amy Chaplin (Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., 2014)
FOR THE SOUP
- 2 stalks lemongrass, halved lengthwise and chopped in 2-inch pieces
- 6 lime leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 1 serrano chili, seeded and minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons curry powder (see note below)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 3 tablespoons minced cilantro stems, leaves reserved for garnish
- 10 medium-large carrots (2 1/2 pounds) cut into 3/4-inch dice (about 8 cups)
- 6 cups filtered water
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk, stirred and divided
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- Cilantro leaves
- Sliced red chilies
Wrap lemongrass and lime leaves in a piece of cheesecloth and tie it tightly. Set aside.
Warm coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until golden. Add garlic, ginger, serrano chili, and salt; cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, lowering heat if mixture begins to stick. Stir in curry powder, turmeric, and cilantro stems. Add carrots, water, 1 1/4 cups coconut milk, and lemongrass-lime leaf bundle. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots are tender. Remove from heat and remove lemongrass-lime leaf bundle and compost.
Blend soup in batches in an upright blender on highest speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until completely smooth and velvety; return to pot and season to taste. Stir in cayenne pepper, if using. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a drizzle of reserved coconut milk, cilantro leaves, and chilies.
NOTES (from Tara)
- Lime leaves are often sold frozen at Asian groceries and will keep for ages in the freezer. They might also be called murkat lime leaves.
- I used Amy's curry powder from the book, but any one you like will be fine here. The water can also be replaced with vegetable stock.
- To serve, I added browned cubes of paneer, along with cashews I'd bashed around in a mortar and pestle.
Now! Finally! Since you made it this far! To in addition to sharing this recipe, Amy and Roost Books generously sent a copy of At Home in the Whole Food kitchen for me to pass on to one of you! If you'd like to be in the running, please comment below to that effect, and be sure to include an email address when you sign in (i.e. on the form, not in the comment field). A winner will be randomly selected after 8 PM EST Friday, December 12, 2014. UPDATE! Congratulations to CASEY on winning the book! I'll be in touch via email. Thanks to all who entered.
One more thing! On the topic of coming home, my friend Tiffany Mayer's book on Niagara and its food was released this fall. It chronicles the region's farming history, its present food culture, and the hopes for its future in an ever-changing environment and economy. The book, called Niagara Food, reads like a chat with a particularly smart friend, and celebrates not only this area's bounty, but also the people who make it their life's work to feed others. She did such a great job with it.
About two weeks ago I walked out on a pier that stretches into Lake Ontario. That pier runs parallel to another one, one that crops out from the edge of the neighbourhood where I grew up. It was a grey and windy day, with cotton batting clouds to almost the horizon, but you could still see Toronto from this shore. There was a queue of steamships, the kind my father used to sail, anchored in deeper water; they were waiting for their turn up the canal, or for a pilot to board, or something like that. The pier doesn't look that long until you've made it to its end — at which point you'll find a park bench, a collection of boulders, and a life preserver on a stand.
Over the last two months, I finished my book. Recipes, headnotes, and photos, sent off into the world (really to the offices of my publisher). We've worked through one round of edits, the design is well underway, and in just less than seven months from now, it will be in bookstores. Then it will really, no-turning-back-now out in the world.
Very soon I'll be able to share more, including, fingers crossed, a peek at the cover (!!) and some of the nitty gritty about what you'll find inside.
It's funny. A friend told me recently that she thought I'd been quiet about the book, and I was speechless; flabbergasted even. (As an aside, flabbergasted is such a fine word.) From my perspective, I've lived and breathed this book for the last year or so. I've often heard it said that writing a book is like having a child, like the delivery part — the effort, the stress, the worry and then the relief and reward. For me, writing a book was like having a child. Not being in labor, but when the baby is home and you're tasked with the care of it. The Book was on my mind always, even when I was away from it. I went to it first thing in the morning, and put it to bed each night. Some nights, I went to bed with it, quite literally sleeping with a stack of pages on the nightstand.
Now it's a Sunday afternoon and I'm reconstructing our dining room. When I was in the depths of the book I found it more productive if I could write right beside the kitchen instead of working upstairs. Even if I wasn't cooking from the manuscript, cooking while writing kept me in the proper mindset . So this table, intended to seat eight, currently seats a monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, external hard drive, a stack of notebooks, another of books, my camera, its battery, a bottle of Tylenol, a pile of receipts, and a tin of cookies a friend sent me from Paris.
One of the books in said stack, fittingly enough, is David Lebovitz's My Paris Kitchen. Since that book came out, it's not made it to my bookshelf, but rather has spent its days on this table or in my kitchen, since I've been using it so much. In the first week, we made David's croque-monsieurs twice, with lots of mustard and cornichons on the plate, and a salad of bitter greens to join them. Then I made two of his tapenades —the artichoke with rosemary and the green olive with almonds — for summer afternoon snacking, then, when the basil and vegetables were plentiful in our weekly CSA box, his soupe au pistou made quick work of the bounty. Now that the weather is cooling I'm eyeing the scalloped potatoes with blue cheese and roasted garlic and the roast lamb with braised vegetables and salsa verde.
I have such faith in his recipes that the first time I made the dish that follows, I went for a double batch. It's a bowl of fat couscous studded with nuts and fruit, including preserved lemons. We had it warm with a roasted chicken and some green beans, then the next day I had it at room temperature with bronzed slices of halloumi. It was filling without too much heft, fragrant and refreshing with fruit. The pinch of cinnamon provided an elusive, purring sort of backnote of spice that was especially effective.
This is such a useful book, full of the kind of recipes my family and I adore, including unexpected additions like caramel pork ribs, meatballs with sriracha, and naan stuffed with Laughing Cow cheese. And I've not even gotten started with the desserts (why hello, coffee cème brulée and carrot cake).
My Paris Kitchen is beautiful. Ed Anderson's photography is stunning; he conveys the beauty of Paris as artfully as he does the food. Then there are David's essays; longer passages that give context to the recipes, and offer a glimpse into his past experiences and his present days. He is sharply funny, charming, and so damn knowledgeable. This is the kind of book you want to spend some time with.
Speaking of spending time, I've missed this. It's good to be back, and it's good to see you.
LEMON-PISTACHIO ISRAELI COUSCOUS
Recipe by David Lebovitz, from his book My Paris Kitchen. (Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved). The recipe and method as they are in the book, with my notes below. As David says in the headnote, orzo is a good substitute for the Israeli couscous.
SERVES 4 to 6
- 1 preserved lemon
- 1/2 cup (30 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (80 g) diced dried fruit (any combination of cherries, cranberries, apricots, prunes, or raisins)
- 1/2 cup (65 g) unsalted (shelled) pistachios, very coarsely chopped (almost whole)
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 1/4 cups (225 g) Israeli couscous or another small round pasta
- Freshly ground black pepper
Trim the stem end from the lemon and cut it into quarters. Scoop out the pulp and press it through a strainer into a bowl to extract the juices; discard the pulp. Finely dice the preserved lemon rind and add it to the bowl along with the parsley, butter, dried fruit, pistachios, salt, and cinnamon.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the couscous and cook according to the package instructions. Drain the couscous and add it to the bowl, stirring until the butter is melted and all the ingredients are well mixed. Season with pepper and serve.
NOTES (from Tara)
- The same weekend I made this salad, my good friends Adam and Tamara catered an event with a salad of couscous with grapes and pine nuts. So inspired , I used diced red seedless grapes instead of the dried fruit, adding them once the couscous had cooled to warmish room temperature.
- I went a bit generous with the herbs, using a mix of (mostly) parsley and cilantro — probably using about 3/4 cup (45 g) chopped herbs in total.
- I bashed the few pistachios left in the jar to a powder in a mortar and pestle as garnish.
- To serve, I layered the couscous with about 9 oz ( 255 g) halloumi, which had been cut into 1/4-inch slices and fried in a medium-hot nonstick pan until they were golden on both sides.
- If you don't have preserved lemons, this quick version from Mark Bittman is quite good and only takes a few hours of sitting at room temperature. The ratio of lemons to salt and sugar is 1 : 1 teaspoon : 2 teaspoons, so you can do as many or as few lemons as you'd like. If using these lemons, simply mince the flesh and peel very finely and add them, along with accumulated juices, to the bowl in Step 1.
I'm well aware that many of you are counting down the hours (minutes?) until Thanksgiving. To that end, I'll cut to the big tah-da: a spectacular savoury galette, one with caramelized onions, Fontina cheese, and roasted butternut squash.
For all of us not celebrating a holiday tomorrow, consider that lack of turkey, stuffing and pie an unexpected boon, as your oven is now free and clear to make said galette — which, if you don't mind the suggestion, is something I think you should do.
Deb is a superstar already, hardly needing any explanation or introduction as to why her recipes are crowd-pleasing and craveworthy, or how her writing gives only a glimpse of vivacious personality behind those words. All the things you've come to expect from her site have been seamlessly translated to her book; it is chock full of photographs, detailed procedures and helpful notes. She is right there with you for every step of the recipe.
A particular and attentive cook, Deb is one that considers details. She’s like America’s Test Kitchen with less suspenders and more fun, with the added bonus of an adorable toddler. She tests recipes thoroughly; she talks about what worked and what didn’t, she explains her thought process of why she tried this and not that, why she recommends a certain technique — she does her best to consider every angle, every possibility, every variation she can, to get to the best possible result.
So when she presents you with a golden-crusted, filled-with-goodness galette, it will, indeed, be as delicious as it looks. And oh, that crust. Made by hand, it comes together quickly, gorgeously pliable and forgiving to work with. Where lesser crusts might put up some resistance or even crack, this one feels like cool, weighty fabric and smoothly falls into neat pleats. When it bakes, it puffs into layers, opening up those folds and rounding out. The edge shatters into large flakes, and where it is thicker, it goes pillowy with air.
I can see this pastry as means of conveyance for all sorts of deliciousness, kale and feta maybe, or sliced tomatoes with roasted shallots. There's endless possibilities there; keep it bookmarked.
The filling is hardly a slouch either, lush with sweet onions and cubes of succulent squash, bound with cheese and set off with thyme. It is elegant and rustic, decadent and comforting, and absolutely autumnal.
In one of her earliest posts, Deb writes:
“I think that the basic instinct that gets us in the kitchen 'after all those messy sustenance issues have been attended to' is a deep-seated desire to make something taste a little better than the way we’ve come to accept it.”
That sums up why we keep turning to Deb, and her boundless generosity when it comes to her time, recipes and advice. She sincerely wants our meals to be better, and does her darndest to guarantee they are.
I'm thankful for her efforts, and her friendship.
Last week, I was honoured to host The Cookbook Store's author event with Deb in Toronto. Cheers to Alison and all the staff for organizing the night, to the chef school at George Brown Collegeand Chef Scott for the welcome and the best signs I've ever seen. To everyone who attended, y'all were amazing. Your enthusiasm got me through some nerves.
And, congratulations Debbie on the book. It deserves all the success it’s getting, and more. Here's to another visit soon, French 75s all around. Tiramisu too.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CARMELIZED ONION GALETTE
For the pastry
- 2½ cups (320 g) all-purpose flour, including 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour if you like, plus more for work surface
- 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) table salt
- 16 tablespoons (227 g) or 2 sticks, unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (64 g) sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt, strained
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup (79 mL) ice water
For the filling
- 2 small or 1 large butternut squash, about 21/2 pounds (1134 g)
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) oil
- 1½ teaspoons (5 g) tsp table salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) butter
- 2 large sweet onions, such as Spanish or Vidalia, halved, thinly sliced in half-moons
- 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional
- 2 cups (180 g) grated Italian Fontina cheese
- 1 teaspoon (4 g) chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp (4 g) water, for glaze (optional, but makes for a croissant-looking finish)
To make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the whole sticks of butter and, using a pastry blender, break up the bits of butter until the texture is like cornmeal, with the biggest pieces the size of pebbles. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar and water, and pour this over the butter-flour mixture. Stir with a spoon or a rubber spatula until a dough forms, kneading it once or twice on the counter if needed to bring it together. Pat the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic and chill it in the refrigerator for an hour or up to two days.
To prepare squash: Peel the squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into ½-inch to ¾-inch chunks. Pour 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the olive oil into one or two smaller baking sheets, spreading it to an even slick. Lay the squash chunks on the baking sheet in one layer, sprinkle with ½ teaspoon (2 g) of the salt, and freshly ground black pepper, and roast in a 400 F oven for 30 minutes, or until squash is tender, turning the pieces occasionally so that they brown evenly. Set aside to cool slightly. Leave the oven on.
While the squash is roasting, melt the butter and remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy frying pan, and cook the onions over medium-low heat with the sugar and remaining teaspoon of salt, stirring occasionally, until soft and tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in the cayenne pepper, if using.
Mix the squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.
To assemble the galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 16- to 17-inch round. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the squash-and-cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a 2 to 2½-inch border. Fold the border over the squash and cheese, pleating the edge to make it fit. The centre will be open. Brush the outside of the crust with the egg-yolk wash, if using.
Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the galette from the oven, let stand for five minutes, then slide onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Makes 1 hearty 12-inch galette, serving 8
- One day I used a mix of Fontina and Gruyère for the cheeses as I happened to have both in the fridge, but not enough of either to make up the full amount called for in the recipe; it was a nice combination.
- In another incarnation, I added a diced Empire apple to the filling.
- Dried red pepper flakes make a good substitution to the cayenne.