Author: Crystal Rivera

whatever-you-have minestrone

You know what I have? Canned and frozen goods. Know what I need? Soup. This is what I used: -a small ziplock filled with saved beef bones from the freezer -1 leek, sliced after a good cleaning -3 cloves garlic, chopped -2 celery stalks, sliced -1 large carrot, diced -2 bay leaves -dried red pepper, I use aleppo pepper -14.5oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes plus same amount of water -parmesan rind, I keep mine in the freezer -14.5oz canned cannellini beans plus 2×water or stock, more if you want it brothy -275g potatoes (a little over a cup), I use golden varieties but any will do -200g zucchini (about 3/4 cup), cored if large and very seedy, diced -handfuls of frozen peas, or any frozen veggie -chopped greens such as kale, swiss chard, whatever you have Literally, whatever. Any kind of bean or green or herb or saved rind. A different allium or canned tomato or root vegetable. I wish I had pumpkin or sweet potatoes, but I didn’t. Frozen peas was a …

A soup of leeks, potatoes, sunchokes, roasted garlic

Decided to share this super simple recipe with you after a few requests from friends on Instagram. Especially from those who just got their Misfits delivery in and now have lots of potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes (aka sunchokes) to use. This soup becomes super silky and creamy with no milk added and serves 4-5. All you need is: -few tbs butter or long drizzle of olive oil -1 large leek, light green and whites cleaned well and sliced, or 1 small onion, diced -2 sprigs of fresh thyme or dried herbs -550g potatoes (a little over 2 cups), diced, I used a golden variety but any will do -200g Jerusalem artichoke, about 1 large, peeled as much as possible, then diced -200g carrot, about a cup, peeled and diced -roasted garlic (optional but totally a game changer) -good quality stock, veggie or chicken -salt and pepper to taste In a pot under low-medium heat, saute your leeks til they break a part, about 10 minutes, stirring often. As Nigel Slater warns several times in his …

roasted chicken noodle soup

It has taken me 11 days in quarantine to slow.thefuck.down. How ’bout you? I found myself rushing from room to room, hurrying up the cooking process as I’m used to doing when I actually HAD a job. The key word being had. I’ve lost mine, like so many others, and it didn’t really sink in til today while I was trying, for the 7th time, to file for unemployment. The site keeps crashing. The phones are too busy. The application itself sounds like it’s gearing towards those with a w2 and not a 1099. Do I even qualify? And while I’m tearing my hair out, I hear my mom on the phone losing her job as well. I hear crying. And I can only imagine all the crying being done today around the world at that exact moment. It’s a lot, I know. And so I’m needing to slow.thefuck.down. Making pots and pots of soup every other day while sticking to cookbooks cause I can’t think beyond that. This one is easy. A rich stock …

tender are the teeth as we speak

I have held onto Nigel’s narrative for years. ‘Tender’ would be the perfect word to describe Tender, perhaps too tender for me to cook from in previous years, but not today. Tender are the teeth as we speak. I decided to self-quarintine March 12th, days before social distancing was practiced around me, and before NYC schools would shut down. Here’s what I learned so far: streets in the Upper East Side, where I live, are still buzzing with people who are not practicing social distancing. They are walking in groups, sitting in parks, treating this like a vacation. We need a mandatory lockdown. Nurses and doctors are risking their lives every day, and these people are part of the problem. many have lost jobs. MANY. and others are forced to go in. several teachers after the shut down went in doing work on the computer that could’ve been done at home. why? my current situation with work is this: coworkers are asking me what is going on, and I have no answers because I haven’t …

baby carrot salad and a warm hello

It appears I’ve taken a blog-writing hiatus without ever having planned on it, but let’s chat. After being diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia half a year ago, a rare condition that has left me, to this day, not able to use the right side of my mouth without flinching in very strange, fiery pain, I fell into a depression that led me to holding a camera more often than using words and seeing friends. Believe me, I am still obsessed with food. The obsession is quiet, though. (And mostly on Instagram.) But I am eating. Mostly softer foods, veggies, grains, and poultry. I am slowly cutting out red meat. I am even trying to cut out dairy (say what!?) but that’s a challenge. I’m not chowing down on a wedge of cheese anymore so I do consider that progress, though a friend of mine did tell me the parmesan in my fridge is no danger to me at all in the realm of lactose. And another friend suggested I make her ginger and ghee tea for …

braised whole cauliflower with olives and syrian meatballs

Mom says this might be the most beautiful meal she’s ever seen, and I think she was mostly referring to the whole-roasted cauliflower which was then basted several times before showcasing it’s good looks. It’s a beauty draped in tomato-red and turmeric-yellow. Tender syrian-style meatballs and olives circle around it, completing this meal. Preheat oven to 425 (or 400 for powerful ovens) for the cauliflower -1 medium head cauliflower -pot of generously salted water -tsp turmeric -1/2 tsp cumin -pinches of salt -olive oil Place the cauliflower in boiling, salted water for about 5 minutes. With a pair of tongs, remove the cauliflower and transfer it to a sheet pan. Add a generous amount of olive oil all over, including upside down so that the oil truly gets inside. Season it with turmeric, cumin, and salt. Pop it in the oven while you work on the meatballs and braising sauce. for the Hashu (spiced ground meat with rice) -1 pound grass fed ground beef -1/4 c dill, chopped -1/4 c parsley, minced -1/3 c basmati …

allspice chocolate cake with sesame seed crumble

Pretty excited about this one, loves! The idea of sesame seeds in a buttery, sugary crumb-topping has been sitting with me for WEEKS, and adding allspice to the chocolate batter was literally a last second decision. And guess what? It works so beautifully I could cry. Entirely inspired by a lot of my favorite middle eastern desserts, both savory and sweet. From savory ka’ak to sweet sesame cookies…to those rich with honey and rosewater and orange blossom…I am crazy about this. AND THE EDGES ARE BROWNIE-LIKE. allspice chocolate cake with sesame seed crumble Preheat oven to 350. sesame seed crumb topping: -1 and 1/4 cup flour -1 cup light brown sugar -1/4 cup white sesame seeds, 1/2 ground and 1/2 kept whole -pinch of allspice and salt -8 tbs room-temp butter, cut into pieces -1/2 tbs black sesame seed, for sprinkling Whisk together the flour, sugar, sesame seeds and allspice. Add the butter, tossing the pieces into the dry mixture, and using your hands, start squeezing them together til big crumbs form. Leave it in …

roasted garlic and carrot lentil soup with crispy brussels sprouts

When I told Dan this is too simple to put on the blog, let’s just say he might’ve called me crazy. Yes, it’s simple. Ridiculously simple. But when he said “not everyone who roasts a whole head of garlic will think to turn it into a soup,” well, he makes a point. Roast your garlic and a pound of carrots for 45 minutes to an hour, and you’ll have something so wonderfully flavorful you’ll want to do very little to it. But maybe you’ll want to add shredded, crispy bits of brussels sprouts…which REALLY elevates this whole dang thing. I’m not even spreading lies. Just don’t buy an entire stalk of em along with other heavy things from a farm that doesn’t offer bags cause, that’s not so simple. (Totally worth it, though). You will need: -1 medium head of garlic -pound of carrots, peeled or not -1/2 cup red lentils -6 cups vegetable or chicken stock -1 tsp ground cumin -red pepper, as much as you’d like -salt, to taste -olive oil, for pan …

citrus cod and olive stew

I’m back to my cooking-with-oranges shenanigans, though I doubt I ever took a pause on that, did I? Summer’s recipes included the zest of oranges in both my Syrian Meatball Stew, as well as a citrus caper dressing for heirloom tomatoes. This cod stew has the zest aaaand some, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The sweetness of orange and vidalias becomes underwhelmed with the addition of olives, herbs, and fish. A beautiful sweet and salty dance. You will need: -2 long cod fillets, cut into 4-inch pieces-olive oil-1 med vidalia, halved and sliced-3 garlic cloves, chopped-red pepper flakes, as much as you’d like-1/2 tsp cumin seeds-1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped-3 strips orange zest-1 tbs tomato paste-1 cup white wine-8 oz can tomato sauce plus 8 oz water-1 cup castelvetrano olives, halved or kept whole-1 slice of orange, halved-few tbs minced herbs (parsley, cilantro, dill) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. We’re making the sauce first. In a dutch oven under medium heat, saute your onion and garlic in olive oil for a couple …

Aleppian Stew with Dried Figs and Apricots

When I don’t want to make Syrian stuffed grape leaves but still want the sweet and tangy tamarind flavors that are smothered all over them, this is my go-to. Let me tell you: it is DEC-A-dent. You can serve it with rice and lentils, a generous amount of salad, or even some of my spring greens kibbeh (Autumn coming soon *wigglingeyebrows*). Aleppian Stew with Dried Figs and Apricots -2 lbs oxtails or short ribs -1 heaping tsp tomato paste -3 garlic cloves, chopped -2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced -6 pearl onions (optional) -10 dried mission figs, 8 dried California apricots -1 bay leaf -1 1/4 tsp allspice -1 tsp ground cumin -1 tsp aleppo pepper -pinch or 2 of cinnamon -3-4 tbs tamarind concentrate* -water, enough to cover a quarter of the way -medium sweet potato, peeled and diced -salt and pepper, to taste Using a dutch oven drizzled with a little oil, you’ll want to brown your meat in batches under med-high heat. Stir the tomato paste into a pool of oil left …

golden matzo ball soup

Last month, when I was diagnosed with a rare facial nerve condition and couldn’t really chew much, my mind’s eye saw nothing but matzo ball soup. It saw a rich, golden broth with fluffy filling floaters so very tender on the teeth. How you like that alliteration? Anyway, I couldn’t make it. Matzo ball soup needs your head on straight (okay, maybe a little straight) and all the heart you can muster. (Seriously, all). Speaking of hearts, Dan got me a quart of it from PJ Bernstein near my place, with a side of mash and mushroom gravy, and for a split moment, the love of it transformed pain into pure happiness. Which didn’t last as long as I liked. Pain hit me that same night, real bad. Meds that were given to me weren’t working, and even though Dan had just traveled to me from Brooklyn, he hopped back on a train to get me stronger pills that were once prescribed to him. And guess what? When he returned, with meds, he also carried …

Syrian-inspired roasted figs and grapes

Before we started cooking for my brother’s engagement party, I made this platter to try later on after the dinner was over and everyone had gone home. It was an idea for a recipe I had for awhile, playing with flavors we use for stuffed grape leaves, with zero intention of making it part of the dinner (especially if it were a fail). I figured why offer it to such a picky crowd, anyway? I already heard my brother from another room ask, “what the hell is this? Who roasts grapes? Such a weird-ass thing to do.” I rolled my eyes, as I forever do when my ownly sibling’s goal in life is to annoy his big sis. I stepped out of the kitchen after cakes and coffee were served. My introvert butt needed a moment. When I returned, everything but one damn fig on the platter was left. So, I guess it’s a weird-ass keeper. Preheat the oven to 400. You’ll need a sheet pan covered with parchment and: -8 figs, halved or quartered …