Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Two summers ago, my co-blogger Shana posted a brief photo essay and set of instructions on “what to do with squash blossoms.” Let me tell you, that’s the post that keeps on giving. Even in those times when our blog has been most neglected, readers flock to this post, and Shana recently graphed the seasonal trend on squash blossom post viewing . . . when late June hits, the curve goes vertical.  I cook squash blossoms about once a summer myself, and have returned to Shana’s guide each time. Thinking about squash blossoms helps me to remember that one thing a good food blogger can do is give sensible advice on working with interesting foods that we (or at least many of us) didn’t grow up with.

The first time I ever heard of fava beans was in The Silence of the Lambs (search for fava in the memorable quotes — not likely to inspire hunger). I later learned that the British call them broad beans, which sounds much plainer and more boarding school than favas. I never actually tried them until Anne, our sometimes third on the blog, made them for a spring feast a few years back (sauteed with morels and fiddleheads, mmm),and I was immediately hooked on their delicate bean flavor and their tenderness. Since then, like squash blossom preparation, fava beans cooking is an annual ritual around here, and just as ritualistically, I scurry for the internet, trying to recall just what I’m supposed to do with the darn things (there’s like two layers to remove, right??). So in the spirit of squash blossoms (and future reference for myself), I offer a guide to coaxing out the wonders of the fresh fava.

Favas first need to be shelled. This is a fine job for small hands (those in the picture are four and three-quarter year old hands, so favas are not quite as giant as they appear). Simply pull the string along the seam and squeeze gently to pop open the pods, then run your thumb along the pod to loosen the beans.

When you are finished, your overflowing quart of favas will be much reduced, but still ample. You are, however, only halfway done. That thick light green skin needs to be removed so you can get to the heart of fava goodness.

Blanch the beans in boiling water for about a minute, then drain and run under cold water. The beans will now be loosened inside their outer skin and a bit of bright green will often protrude from one end. If you’re fussy you can use a knife, but I find it easiest just to slip my fingernail inside the slit and then squeeze to pop out the bean. Squeeze gently, as the beans can fly vast distances (or at least a foot or two) under pressure. This will amuse four and three-quarter year olds for short period of time but they will soon find this step tedious and will wander away. You will need to call in some older reinforcements (see fifty three year old hands above). When you are finished, your supply of favas will look smaller still. I find a quart really only enough to feed three or four fava lovers as a light side dish. Or me, if no one is looking, and I don’t cook anything else for dinner.

Once you have your fresh favas all shelled and peeled, there are many things you can do with them (purees, dips, a quick saute with pancetta, toss them in olive oil and add some shavings of pecorino cheese . . .). Some recipes will tell you that you need to cook the shelled beans until tender, for as many as fifteen minutes, but I find the heat of the blanching is more than enough to cook fresh beans. My current favorite fava dish is this simple preparation with mint:

Dice a small red onion and mince a good handful of fresh mint.  Warm some olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add the fava beans and heat until warm through. Toss in the mint and fold through the beans, then turn off the heat and add a good sprinkling of coarse sea salt.

This year, we’ve eaten favas and mint with smoked duck and grilled lamb chops and those were both Good Things. But all on their own, these beans are a pretty Good Thing as well. It’s a small bowl of goodness for rather a lot of work, but one full of midsummer flavor.

Read Full Post »

Couldn’t resist the sssssound of that title.  But let’s make this short and sweet.  This post is really by way of a public service announcement. Because, let’s face it, it’s not even August yet and the yellow summer squash . . . well, it just keeps on coming, doesn’t it? I like summer squash, really I do. I like it grilled. I like it julienned and fried in olive oil or butter until golden brown and almost crispy  (kind of like an almost good for you almost french fry). I like it in pasta, with sausage and feta or basil and cherry tomatoes. I like it in a gratin.  But lately, it seems to multiply in the crisper drawer. It’s voluntarily growing in the compost heap. Really, how’s a girl to keep up?

Before you begin to smuggle squash onto your neighbors’ doorsteps at night or start experimenting with whether the dog might like some, consider this soup from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food. This recipe pleases me in two ways. First, and, I hate to say it, most importantly right now, it uses up a significant amount of squash. Second, it’s light and a bit spicy. I usually think of squash soups as mellow, thick and almost meaty.  Fall food. This one is perfect for summer — it has a little zip and it goes down easy. Don’t neglect to make the yogurt garnish. It really adds to the soup. We had plenty of it, and it’s flavor deepened with a couple of days in the fridge, making it all even better as leftovers.

Spicy Summer Squash  Soup with Yogurt and Mint

Adapted from Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food

For the soup:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion sliced fine

A pinch of saffron

1 t ground coriander

1 t ground cumin

1 t sweet paprika

1/4 t tumeric

1/2 t cayenne pepper

2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

5 medium summer squash, sliced into 3/4 inch slices (I used ten of the smallish ones that have been coming in the CSA box)

6 cups water, vegetable broth, chicken broth or a mixture.

For the garnish:

4 mint sprigs

2 T olive oil

2/3 cup yogurt


Heat the 1/4 cup oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Over medium heat, add the onion, garlic and spices. Stir frequently and cook until soft but not browned. If the garlic begins to brown, splash in a little stock to cool it down. When the onions are soft, add the squash and some salt and cook for about two minutes.  Then pour in the stock or water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the squash is tender (15-20 minutes). When the squah is tender, puree the soup in a blender or, even better, with an immersion blender , until it is very smooth. At this point, if you are going for an elegant presentation, you may wish to pass the soup through a sieve. I’ve done that and approved of the results, but I also like the one-dish-to-wash simplicity of using the immersion blender and then serving right from the pot. The soup can be gently reheated when you’re ready to serve. If it seems very thick, you may wish to thin it with some additional stock.

Before serving cut the mint leaves into a julienne. Take half of them and grind into a paste, whatever way you can achieve this (I don’t like this task, so my method is to hand the leaves and a mortar and pestle to my husband). Add the paste to the yogurt, olive oil and remaining mint and season with a little salt. Dollop onto the soup as you serve. Season with a squeeze of fresh lime. Feel relieved of the burden of squash until the next CSA pick-up.

Read Full Post »


I will not vouch for the authenticity–the “Korean-ness”–of this soup. I will, however, vouch for its being the the thing to make for the person you love who loves spicy food and is suffering from a terrible head cold. The very head cold that you gave him.

It’s also the perfect way to say “thank you” for off-the-chain-delicious chocolate chip cookies he made for you last week when you were the one who was sneezingcoughingrunnynosesick.

While ambitious for a weeknight dinner, a shortcut version of this soup could be dashed off with some store-bought broth, or doctored-up stock from the fridge, and some poached chicken breasts.

Korean Chicken Soup
Adapted from Food & Wine

One 3-lb. chicken
3 1/2 quarts water
1 medium unpeeled onion, quartered
2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large unpeeled garlic clove, smashed
1 t. whole black peppercorns
3 1/2 quarts water
1 bay leaf
A bunch of fresh herbs, like thyme and parsley
Kosher salt
8 oz. thick udon noodles (I buy them pre-cooked in a package from Asian grocery stores, but you could use dried)
2 T. vegetable oil
1/2 lb. shiitake (or other) mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c. finely julienne peeled ginger
One 12-oz. block firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 c. (or more) kimchee, thinly sliced
2 T (or more) Asian fish sauce
1 t. Asian sesame oil

In a stockpot, combine the chicken with the water, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, and herbs and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Discard the skin. Pull the meat off the bones, cut it into 1/2-inch pieces (if you feel like it) and refrigerate.

Return the bones to the pot, partially cover and simmer for 1 hour, until the broth is richly flavored. Strain the broth into a clean heat proof bowl and rinse out the pot. Return the broth to the pot and boil over moderate heat until reduced a bit, about 20 minutes. Season with a generous amount of kosher salt.

If using dried noodles: in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the udon until al dente. Drain and cool under running water. Drain again.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring, until golden, about 7 minutes. Scrape the mushrooms into the stockpot and add the udon, ginger, tofu, kimchee, fish sauce and sesame oil. Season with salt and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer until just heated through. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Read Full Post »

I’m on a bit of a tear lately to organize my digital life. I’m really into the social bookmarking site, del.icio.us, which is where I save and tag all manner of things relating to my work: reports about scholarly communication, blog posts about ebooks and e-readers, links to open source publishing tools, and other such geekery. I tend to keep that space pretty much free from cooking- and food-related distractions. Instead, I’ve been saving recipes I’d like to try to a folder called “eatme” in my Firefox browser bookmarks. But you know what? It ain’t working. I bookmark and forget. And I haven’t yet come up with a plan B.

So while I figure out what to do with my bookmarked recipes to make them more useful and available to me, I figured I’d clean out that virtual folder and share them with you. I even categorized them for ya, because I’m feeling so darn organized. Perhaps working with in a library for the past three years is rubbing off on me.

In the comments, I’d love to hear how you organize the recipes you find online.


Breakfast Polenta
Apartment Therapy – The Kitchn


Red Velvet Cake
The New York Times

Chocolate Swirl Gingerbread

Smitten Kitchen

Oven Crespella with Nutella Sauce

Chocolate Chip Cookies
The New York Times

Poached Pears with Asian Spices
Bitten Blog – The New York Times

Brandied Dried-Fruit Bread Pudding


Steamed Cod with Coconut Chutney
The New York Times


Smoked Paprika Roasted Chicken
Simply Recipes

Guiness Braised Short Ribs
The Jewels of New York

Roasted Marrow Bones
The New York Times

Mock Porchetta
Married With Dinner

Mustardy Braised Rabbit with Carrots
The New York Times

Pork Belly Sandwiches
Bitten Blog – The New York Times


Beet Chips with Curried Sour Cream

Fennel and Celery Salad
The New York Times


The Best Pad Thai
Seattle Post Intelligencer

Addictive Mac and Cheese
Bitten Blog – The New York Times

Rice Noodle Salad
The Wednesday Chef

Brothy Shrimp Noodles
Last Night’s Dinner


The Union Square Cafe’s Bar Nuts
Nigella Lawson – The Food Network

Halloumi Cheese with Chiles [Youtube]
Nigella Lawson


Cocktails (General How-To)
New York Times

Read Full Post »