"You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, “Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep.” That’s for the writing poems part." -Frank O’Hara, Personism: A Manifesto // It’s for the cooking part, too.
Bite-sized young manchego sitting in a bowl of olive oil and spices has been my go-to for five years now…and I like it even better with a few strips of orange zest, fresh herbs, honey, and lightly smashed cloves of garlic. Those cloves soften up and become addictively sweet, AND 👏 THAT 👏 OIL 👏, totally meant for dipping so don’t forget the bread. I don’t even know which part of this is my favorite. I’ll let you decide.
Adding in some dried wild thyme flowers is not necessary, but I have them and I love how peppery they are. You can totally play with the spices if you’d like! This recipe is flexible. Bring it to your next picnic or give it as a gift!
Break a part your manchego into bite-sized pieces and place them into a jar or bowl that comes with a lid. Set aside.
In a small saucepan set over low heat, gently toast your spices, about 1 minute, til fragrant. Then pour in olive oil, zest, garlic, sprig, and honey. Keep it on low and allow it to barely bubble up for about 5 minutes, then let cool completely before adding it into the jar or bowl full of cheese.
Refrigerate over night or for at least 24 hours before serving.
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 of minutes, along with your red pepper and cumin seeds.
Stir in tomato paste, letting it caramelize in the olive oil for about a minute. Stir in your tomatoes and orange zest. Pour in the wine and allow it time to decrease by half in volume.
Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Nestle cod pieces and orange slices into the sauce. Drizzle olive oil onto the exposed pieces. Salt and pepper them too.
Leave it uncovered and bake for about 20 minutes, then broil for about 5-7.
Stir in herbs and serve with cooked veggies, salad, and/or rice.
“…What is Z’hug!?” was a popular question I received last week when I shared the recipe to a Citrus and Z’hug Marinated Manchego party-starter (and maybe ender. You decide). While it used a spice blend inspired by z’hug’s main ingredients, this is all fresh and seriously addictive.
It’s a gorgeous green sauce originating from Yemen that is delicately spiced with cardamom, cumin, coriander, and crushed red pepper. It also packs a punch from using fresh, hot chile peppers and garlic. What makes this z’hug (AKA zhoug) a bit less traditional is that I’ve added citrus flavors because, well, it’s still citrus season and I’m still celebrating. You’ll want to drizzle this onto everything, spoon it into anything, swirl it, plop it, drop it (like it’s hot). Okay, I’ll stop.
Need some ideas?
It goes with ANYTHING tomato. Fresh or roasted or even sauce!
I made a pumpkin cannellini bean stew and swirled green right into it. You can add this to any stew, soup, spread. It’ll also make a nice addition to your next cheeseboard.
Use it as a quick marinade by adding some more fresh juice to it. I’ve rubbed a fair amount of blood orange z’hug onto a whole chicken, veggies, and even a tenderloin, which roasted so nicely in the oven. It’d be perfect for grilling season.
It shares a similarity to my other favorite green sauces: chimichurri, sofrito. But it’s my go-to now because it contains the spices I love most. Try to only use freshly ground spices or high quality bottled up ones. This sauce is as much about the spice as it is the green. You can use plain (but very good) olive oil, and any hot pepper you adore. Play with the greens, too. Some recipes use all parsley or all cilantro. Some add mint. Sky’s the limit on which citrus you’d like to use. I hear Sumos hit the markets very recently and everyone’s going crazy for them.
Blood Orange Z’hug (Yeminite Green Sauce), small batch
– 1 cup fresh cilantro with small stems, tightly packed
– half cup parsley leaves, tightly packed
– 2 garlic cloves
– 1-2 jalapeños, sliced (or other pepper variety)
– 1 tsp freshly ground cumin, toasted
– 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
– 1/2 tsp ground coriander, toasted
– 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (I use Aleppo), or more to taste
– 1/4 cup plus 1 tbs Blood Orange Olive Oil
– juice from 1 small blood orange, or other orange variety
– small squeeze of fresh lemon
– zest from orange
– salt, to taste
Directions: Add everything to your food processor and blend til thoroughly combined. Feel free to add more olive oil and fresh juice if you’d like a looser consistency. Use z’hug for all the things.
Let me know how you end up using it!
This is what z’hug looks like when you use a blender instead of a food processor BTW:
If you can find me competing with squirrels for my neighbor’s figs, then you best believe I was found, on vacation, taking the neighborhood’s oranges from trees bustling with these thick-skinned globes.
As if I didn’t have enough of them, I purchased honeybells, meyer lemons, and tasted a variety of oranges at the farmers market. They made a wonderful addition to a refreshing green bean salad that I made not once, but twice.
Inspired by a meal I shared with Victoria Anzalone in Astoria at Milkflower right before heading to Englewood, Florida, I fell in love with it’s simplicity. The green beans were kept crisp, tossed in a vinaigrette, and topped with sharp cheese, orange segments, slivered almonds, and quick-pickled radicchio. That’s it.
Mine was inspired by Florida and everything I fell in love with at Englewood Farmers Market.
Wild orange roasted nuts, which were handed to Dan and I with the promise that we’d pay this kind man a week later because we ran out of cash. We paid Ashley Gray, suitcases in tow, an hour before hopping on the plane heading to NY. The cheese we used was a creamy asiago aged with raspberry ale from Stamper Cheese Company. The oranges were sorta-kinda stolen, and used for a citrus vinaigrette to toss the beans with.
We’re using a pound of green beans, trimmed, boiled in salted water for 2 minutes, placed in ice water, then drained. The color of your beans should be bright and glorious. Toss them with a citrus vinaigrette (juice from half a small orange, couple of splashes of apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar, little bit of olive oil, salt and black or red pepper.) Keep in fridge marinating in this dressing for at least 30 minutes before serving. Plate the beans, top them with orange segments, crushed nuts of your choosing, your favorite sharp cheese.
I love seeing them on the plate. When I returned home, I made this again but with blood oranges, feta, no nuts, and golden raisins. The dressing was a fig balsamic. Use what you got, I always say!
I served this with brothy, Tuscan-inspired beans with greens. A beautiful lunch made with ingredients I bought from a Korean farmer at Fresh Harvest who is head-over-heels in love with everything she grew. She handed me the perfect cherry tomatoes, long beans, chinese broccoli. The leafy broccoli and colorful tomatoes were perfect for this.
for the beans – 1 cup dried baby lima beans, soaked over night – 1 large garlic clove, smashed gently – half a small onion – bay leaf or sprig of rosemary for the “soup” – 4 garlic cloves, chopped – 1 small onion, diced – 1 large carrot, diced – cherry tomatoes, chopped – fresh thyme – dash of white wine or rose, optional – parmesan rind – 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock – 1 cup variety of greens (parsley, chinese broccoli)
In the morning, drain beans after it’s over night soak, cover with fresh water in a medium saucepan along with 1 garlic clove, half onion, and bay leaf. Let simmer for 2 hours or til tender. Time varies. In a pot, drizzle olive oil and saute garlic, onion, carrot, tomatoes and thyme for a few minutes. Add the cooked beans and everything but the greens. Cook for 30 minutes more and then add your greens. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve with garlic crostinis and salad.
New Years celebration involved a cheese platter with everything from the market, including a Pear Habanero Jam and a Strawberry Chocolate jam. I smuggled these onto the plane and have been using them like crazy.
Dessert was kept simple, thanks to Jamie Oliver’s New Years advice: frozen grapes with chocolate bark.
2019 started off beautifully and, I might say this every year, but I think it’s going to be a good one. I’m moving out next month. I’m getting a shout-out in Edible Queens magazine for the Swedish Meatballs I recently shared on my Instagram. My friendships and family remain fiercely solid. I’m going to live about 30 minutes away from my job, which gives me more time in the kitchen and even more time to do personal chef side jobs in the summer. I’m finally listening to Danny: no more maybes, much more doing, a whole lot less self-induced anxieties. I hope your year started off on a good note as well. We need a good one, don’t we?