Vegetarian Archive

Monday, August 5, 2013

burst tomato galette with corn and zucchini

tomato, corn and zucchini galette

I have a long history of spectacular tomato tart failures. There was the one that enchanted me on TV a decade ago, with a parmesan crust, bacon, fine breadcrumbs and roasted garlic, that — several hours of work later — ended up tasting metallic and clashy against the acidic tomatoes. There was the tomato tarte tatin flop from a fancy French chef, for which I have only myself to blame. And two summers ago, there was an heirloom tomato galette, with colors like a rainbow, that fell apart before we ate it. The problem more often than not is a basic one: tomatoes are very wet and tart crusts need to stay fairly dry. But this has never stopped me from trying again, and I’m glad, because it led me to this.

a pretty mix of tiny tomatoes
diced zucchini

Sort of. This too spun from a disaster, a gnocchi failure last week that involved these same fixings. But we were so in love with the combination — lightly charred and slumped cherry tomatoes, sauteed zucchini, crunchy sweet corn, scallions and parmesan that I’ve become convinced it should be applied to everything this month from pasta to farro to omelets.

burst and sauteed tiny tomatoes

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, August 1, 2013

charred corn crepes

charred corn crepe stack, mexican street corn style

For the last three summers, I have had “fresh corn crepes” on my cooking wish list. I was mesmerized by the idea of mixing roughly chopped kernels of the ridiculously sweet bi-color corn we get around here with eggs, milk, some melted butter and salt and cooking them thin and lacy in a pan. What I didn’t have was a clue of what I’d do with them, you know, besides just eating them. Whenever I thought about them, I fell down a culinary philosophical rabbit hole — Why not just put corn on a plain crepe? Does a recipe require a reason, a bigger purpose? Did this need to be done? Was it going to raise the bar somehow on crepes or was it just cool that you could do it? I have found myself at a handful of restaurants lately that have me questioning all the things I love to do in the kitchen (namely, mixing disparate things to make a new thing I think would be quite delicious) because I felt that they were innovating for the sake of innovating, and not actually making a grander version of anything while they were at it. Oh, you cannot imagine how dull the inside of my head has become. The worst outcome of this was that I never made the crepes, despite still wanting to very much.

snap, crackle, charring the corncharred corn smells amazing

Fortunately, after spending the first half of this week chasing a philosophically fascinating (“Can this really work?”) but utter flop (“No, it cannot.”) of a recipe, I was so tired of cooking and thinking about cooking I told my husband my earrings hurt. Like, I was tired to my earlobes. But I had corn. And I had milk and eggs and flour. And so I gave them a spin and they were every bit as delicious as I’d always imagined they’d be, especially the batch where I first charred the corn over a gas flame as a makeshift grill, like we once did here.

de-cobbing the charred corn

Continued after the jump »

Monday, July 15, 2013

one-pan farro with tomatoes

one-pan farro with tomatoes

I was not, in fact, looking for a new farro dish. It rarely occurs to me over the summer, when there’s more eggplant/zucchini/tomatoes/peaches/plums/berries than anyone could fathom going through in the scant weeks they’re available, to wish I had more whole grains in my diet. And since we’re being honest, only occasionally in times that it probably should, such as in February, when refined flours and pasta are used to fill the endless gap in growing seasons. But, as it happens, because I’m terrible at timely meal-planning, I was attempting to make this chicken for dinner a couple weeks ago and it wasn’t ready on time, or even close to it, and I remembered a one-pan linguine dish I’d read about in Martha Stewart Living last month that sounded fascinating. Realizing I had almost all the ingredients on hand, I rustled it up instead and felt like such a domestic diva, I nearly took a bow when I brought it out, but resisted, as I prefer to only drop one dish a season. In the dish, pasta, only enough water to cook it, an onion, garlic cloves, some cherry tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt and red pepper flakes are combined cold, brought up to a boil and cooked until the pasta is al dente and everything else becomes the dish’s saucy servant, all in a single saucepan, all at once. I realize you’re all leaving me right now to make it this very moment, and I don’t blame you. At the very least, you need to bookmark the recipe for when you’re in a pinch, and really, when is anyone not?

tomatoes, farro, onion, basil, garlic, parmesan
whole farro

The thing is, it totally fit the dinner bill when we needed it to but I wasn’t as crazy about it as I should have been. It was… soft. The sauce seemed a little gummy. I had barely finished my second bite when I became obsessed, yes, actually preoccupied to the point of sickness, with making the dish with farro instead. Farro, a variety of wheat grain (here’s a fantastic guide I found to more) that that has a meaty chew I find appealing in salads, soups, faux-risottos and more, isn’t bad the way it is usually cooked — in water, maybe with a pinch of salt — but it’s hard to argue it wouldn’t benefit from a more complex flavor base. To wit, you rarely see farro dishes or salads that don’t include at least one sweet thing (dried fruit or roasted-until-sweet vegetables), one bright thing (vinegar, lemon juice or a bit of pickled onion), one salty thing (crumbled feta, ricotta salata or anchovies), one crunchy thing (usually toasted nuts) and a good helping of a fat, usually olive oil, and if you’re lucky, all of the above. But imagine if farro arrived from its saucepan already perfectly balanced and ready to eat?

grape tomatoes that taste good at last

Continued after the jump »

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 »

Friday, June 14, 2013

bowties with sugar snaps, lemon and ricotta

bowties, sugar snaps, mint, ricotta, lemon

So, I didn’t really know how to tell you this earlier, but we’ve gone to roam. I mean, we are in Rome, here, for a week and a half. Why so long? Why Rome? Does it even matter? The itch for travel that was more than an overnight book trip to one city or another was intense, as I remember a time pre-kid when we used to go places all of the time, just following the promise of cheap airfare passable-enough hotels to Vienna and Prague and Paris, just because. But we were scared of travelling with a three year-old because I don’t want to wreck the reputation of the one that’s been assigned to us, but you see, as normal as this makes him, he doesn’t always listen. Sometimes he yells? He’s not so good at airplanes. Or fancy restaurants. But I knew there would be a point where the inconveniences incurred by travelling with a preschooler would feel less of a burden than spending another minute taking a serious family vacation somewhere we’ve always wanted to study up close, to linger in long enough that it might almost feel routine after a few days, and here we are. At last.

places a three year-old will lead youwhy would you eat lunch if you could run, run, run?the only tourist-free view is upone of the many hideous alleys of rome
vroooomsweet feet and a dapper jacket just this old building in our 'hoodespresso granita, unsweetened cream

My obsession with travel, and finding a way to do more of it again, is more of a desire to do things that take me out of my comfort zone. I like studying the way people walk or talk, or even take their coffee, in other places, and I like trying to figure out why. I like learning that everything I thought I knew about something (currently: pizza; soon, hopefully: everything else) was wrong. And I like being far enough away from home that even figuring out small things, like where we might buy some milk, or what all those buttons on the washing machine do (just cross your fingers we did it right, okay?), requires full concentration and at least one furrowed brow. Because while I’m having my mind bent by maps with streets that have no name, or streets that have names but aren’t on maps, things that plagued my brain earlier are neglected, and when revisited, have found a way of readjusting themselves into really no longer a big deal. How could they be, in the bigger realm of things? How could they be, in a place with “alleys” so stunning?

sugar snaps, get extra for cook's snacks

Continued after the jump »


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