Spring Archive

Thursday, June 24, 2010

strawberry-rhubarb pie, improved

strawberry rhubarb pie slice

Do you have a favorite pie? I always think of pies falling in two categories, the prom queens, the blue ribbon prize winners, the ones that the president can’t keep out of his thoughts, and the rest of them. In the latter category there are the soggy bottoms, the overly-gelled fillings, the mortarboard crusts, the treacly sweet and those flawlessly latticed, magazine-ready specimen that turn out to have [insert your least favorite pie filling here] under their pretty lids.

all butter crust
last gasp strawberries and rhubarb

I was invited to participate in a “cooking smackdown” yesterday on The Takeaway, a morning radio show (produced by WNYC, The New York Times, BBC, WGBH and Public Radio International) in which a pie of my choice would go up against a cherry pie from New York Times columnist and collaborator on more cookbooks than I can count on two hands and all of my toes, Melissa Clark and my first reaction was: nope, no way. Because as far as I’m concerned, cherry pie is at the top of the pie heap; it’s epic, it’s iconic and it even has a metal song this kid likes to watch me head bang to dedicated to it. Strawberry-rhubarb pie? Not so much.

chopped rhubarb, sliced strawberries

Continued after the jump »

Friday, June 11, 2010

crushed peas with smoky sesame dressing

crushed peas with smoky sesame dressing

I’m not really a pea-eater. 99 percent of pea dishes do absolutely nothing for me, no matter how buttery, minty, creamy or how close they come to winning a Top Chef honor. I enjoy them in Indian food and I won’t leave them on the rim of a bowl of pasta, but you’ll never catch me hoarding a bag of them in the freezer, waiting to meet their end on my stove.

peas in pods and then more pods

But all of this changes when I can find them fresh. Fresh peas, at least for this pea-ambivalent, are a whole different animal: they’re bright and sweet and they have the most wonderful crunch that’s impossible to retrieve from a freezer bag, where they always seem to defrost with a sigh and then a slump. The labor involved in shelling them is virtually nothing — no ends that need to be snipped, as with sugar snaps or slipping from skins, as with favas; they get from field to table with the pop of a pod, sweep of your finger and a quick roll off the counter and onto the floor — d’oh! — because like most cute things, they are also troublemakers.

many peas

Continued after the jump »

Saturday, May 29, 2010

shaved asparagus pizza

shaved asparagus pizza

I had a shaved raw asparagus salad last month for the first time and was fascinated by it. It was tossed and tangled with olive oil, salt, pepper and a gratuitous amount of Parmesan cheese and while all of these things were wonderful, I felt they only interrupted the deliciousness that was the raw asparagus. I decided immediately that I had to make a pizza out of it, where the asparagus could be as uncluttered as possible.

stalks
shaved asparagus

Of course when I came home and Googled my idea — certain that nobody could have ever laid claim to such brilliance, such a stroke of asparagus genius, before me — I learned that I had been beaten to the punch by one Jim Lahey, who has apparently been serving a shaved asparagus pizza at Co. on 9th Avenue for months. Years, even. Foiled again! From Lahey, however, I learned all sorts of fancy-fancy things you can do with my simpleton ideas. For example, he shaves black truffles on to the pizza, and dots it with quail eggs. Lahey only uses extra virgin olive oil and forgoes the mozzarella entirely for knobs of tomme de savoie, a semi-firm French cow skim milk cheese with a gray rind that I have no doubt will raise this pizza to previously unimaginable heights of deliciousness.

peeling the stalks

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

rustic rhubarb tarts

rhubarb tarts

I hadn’t intended to audition any new rhubarb recipes this year. Between last year’s cobbler and previous seasons’ filled crumb coffee cake, strawberry rhubarb crumble, strawberry rhubarb pie, loaf cake and even compote, I was pretty sure I had the rhubarb terrain well-covered. But then I walked through the Union Square Greenmarket two weeks ago with Adam and we were both lured in by the bundled stalks. Because they’re shiny and pretty and pearly and pink and I cannot speak for Adam but I am incapable of resisting shiny pretty pearly pink things, nor do I wish to.

shiny pearly rhubarb stalks

I also hadn’t intended to bake another recipe from my new cookbook obsession, Good to the Grain, just yet. For the sake of my hips. For the sake of repetition, given that I already cannot stop talking about it (“The photos!” “The fresh ideas!” “Those danish, aaah!”). I needed to put it on a top shelf and come back to it with some willpower. Problem was, in the process of putting it away, those free-form rhubarb tarts on the cover taunted me once again, “Don’t you have rhubarb to use up? You know you wanna!”

rhubarb cross sectionrhubarb, sliced on the diagonalyolks, cream and dry ingredientspressing down the doughfilling the tartrhubarb tarts, ready to bake

Continued after the jump »

Monday, May 17, 2010

carrot salad with harissa, feta and mint

carrot salad with harissa, feta and mint

There’s nothing better than a recipe that gives you a feeling of promise, especially when it involves something as mundane as carrots. Yes, carrots. I mean, just when I thought I’d done everything worth doing with carrots — shredding them into my favorite carrot salad, pickling them, roasting them for an avocado salad, grinding them into a ginger dressing, grating them into Indian vegetable pancakes — a reader (Hi, Sasa!) came along, emailed me her favorite carrot recipe and with one look, I knew exactly what my carrot routine was missing.

soaking the carrots
garlic

It turned out to be a lot of things (fortunately, none of them were striped socks), actually, but small things: paprika, caraway, cumin, harissa, mint, garlic, parley and also feta. The carrots are grated, the spices are heated with a pinch of sugar in olive oil, whisked with lemon juice and poured warm over the carrots, with minced mint and parsley — think North African pesto. You let the flavors muddle for a bit and then you add feta. And I know this is when I should say “You can eat it with lamb! At a picnic! With skewers off the grill and pitas!” But honestly, I just ate it with a fork. Because this salad is fascinating.

peeled carrotsshreddedharissa, cumin, corriander, paprikaspices to heat

Continued after the jump »


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