Side Dish Archive

Thursday, June 27, 2013

pickled vegetable sandwich slaw

mustard seed-pickled sandwich slaw

If you’re one of those people who saw the word “pickled” in the title and said “Ugh, no, sorry, not for me,” do know, I was the same not too long ago and encourage you to fight the good fight for as long as you can, because once your tastes cross over to the vinegar side, there’s little going back.

fact: colorful things taste better

Something of a gateway pickle, these should be eyed suspiciously as well. The thing is, one day you’re eating the foods you’ve always liked — sandwiches, salads, tacos, cheese — and you wouldn’t change a single thing. And then, once day, the quadruple-threat crunch/sweet/salty/punch of a pickle gets under your skin and suddenly, the food landscape is a bleak, depressing place without them. You need pickled red onions on your tacos, pickled celery in your tuna and egg salads, cucumber slices in your potato salads, grapes with your sharp cheeses and pickled carrot sticks in the fridge whenever the mood strikes, and nothing’s ever quite right without them again. I can find a clear demarcation in my pre- and post-pickle junkie days (it’s just about 10 (!) years ago, when I took up with this Russian I married) and think there’s still hope for you. Here, how about some granita instead?

julienned radishes, maybe not recommended

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

zucchini rice gratin

zucchini, tomato and rice gratin

As promised, I am here to aid you with you midsummer afternoon’s zucchini nightmare, er, bounty. But please, just because I try to help people who weren’t wary enough of friends bearing baskets of zucchini doesn’t mean that I should be mistaken for someone who never lets zucchini expire on her watch. I went away for the weekend and left my last haul to meet a terrible end in my kitchen. Let this gratin be my zucchini repentance.

sliced zucchini
lightly roasted tomatoes and zucchini

I started making this zucchini rice gratin a few years ago. At the time, well, rice wasn’t my thing. I wouldn’t say I didn’t like it, just that it never, ever occurred to me to make it, which likely related to the fact that I burned it 100% of the time I made it, which led to pot-soaking and -scrubbing and a plague about our apartment known as a Grumpy Dishwasher. It hardly seemed worth it for a bit of rice. I’ve since figured out that nearly every package of rice lists the wrong amount of water (I always need more) and that on the gas stoves I’ve had, even the thinnest wisp of a flame, the lowest I can make it before the burner goes out entirely, will cook my rice in about 2/3 of the suggested time. I share these tips just in case any of you out there also need to go to Rice Remedial School, though you guys seem smart. I bet you’ve got this figured out already, and long before you wrote a cookbook that uses it no less than three times.

mixing rice, onions, herbs, parmesan

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

broccoli parmesan fritters

broccoli parmesan fritters

Last week, it was pointed out to me that among the 750 recipes in the archives, there is but a single recipe that utilizes broccoli. Just one! (It’s a great one, though.) For comparison, there are 11 recipes that use cauliflower and 26 with mushrooms. What terrible oversight could have led to this? I buy broccoli (and its friends) approximately once a week, year-round but this wasn’t always the case. I never disliked broccoli — I’m not this guy — but it wasn’t until my toddler took a great interest in chomping down on huge florets, raw, cooked, or three days old, that it became part of our regular rotation.

we go through a lot of this
choppped roughly

Please understand: this is not one of those stories about how preciously advanced my toddler’s tastes are, how early he took an interest in foie gras and how he turns his nose up at white flour pastas, preferring farro. Oh no. It is, in fact, the opposite. Let’s say you called me on the phone day — you know, presuming we lived on a planet where people still spoke on the phone — and said “My toddler! He eats nothing but macaroni and cheese and graham crackers! How do I get him to eat vegetables?” I would respond, without blinking twice: “Fritters.” Except my enthusiasm for fritters is so great that it would come out “FRITTERS!” in the background, I’d be doing jazz hands, and in my head, there would be Rockettes singing and high-kicking to this tune that I promise to never sing for you in person that goes, “Fritterrrrrrrrs! Fritters are the answer!” Let’s definitely never speak about this part again.

best part: mashing the broccoli

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Friday, June 1, 2012

asparagus with almonds and yogurt dressing

roasted asparagus with almonds and yogurt

One of the things I love about my city is the way we jump at the chance celebrate local events as unofficial, illogical holidays, just because. I get redorkulously excited about the Mermaid Parade, as well as the dapper sea of white uniforms all over the city during Fleet Week. I still haven’t convinced my (Russian! it’s in his blood and everything, I tell him) to do a Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge with me on New Year’s Day, but I did get him to stand on a center median of 14th Street looking west on Wednesday night at 8:16 p.m. (along with such a confusing cluster of people that a second crowd formed to scratch their heads at us) to catch a glimpse of this season’s Manhattanhenge. The events are random and even a little absurd, but NYC is no place to miss a chance to let your goofy flag fly.

asparagus headshot!
asparagus, from the sky, er, stepladder

I have another, smaller, day that I add to this list, which is the day that the mini-Farmer’s Market in my neighborhood opens each May. (Were you to dig through the archives, there’s a clear day every May when the site switches from pantry-raiders like soup and pasta to fresh new happy things.) Like a hopeless nerd with a shiny apple for the teacher on the first day of class, I show up the minute it opens and make a beeline for the broccoli, spinach and baby watermelons. I buy too much. I come back later and buy more, anyway. After six months of brown vegetables, you can’t blame me for overdoing it at the prospect of pearly stalks of rhubarb, lawns of asparagus, and strawberries that are red all the way through.

toasted marconas, lemon, hard-cooked eggs

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

dijon-braised brussels sprouts

saucing the sprouts

Is there anything so dull as a brussels sprouts recipe just days after the brussels sprout-ing-est holiday of the year? No? Phew. Because these sprouts, they’re a long time coming. It took me forever to get them right. I’d originally intended them for the cookbook. I made them six different ways in the fall of 2010, and I never found what I was looking for. It was a year before I could even look at brussels again, and by that time, the book had moved on without them. But I had not.

a sad bag of sprouts, much to peel
halved

I wanted a brussels sprout dish that was the opposite of what I’ve been seeing around in the last couple years — that would be free of nuggets of slab bacon, toasted nuts, buttery breadcrumbs, crumbled cheese or individual leaves, deep fried until crisp as potato chips. Do I dislike any of these things? Heavens, no. But they’re all so heavy. And rich. And brussels, with their cabbage origins, are hearty enough. I wanted to cook them in a simple braise, and then finish them with a piercing, heavenly sauce, something that cut right through the leafiness without adding mountains of pork fat. I wanted the cabbage equivalent of our favorite chicken dish.

pan-browned brussels

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