polenta rugelach with roasted tomato jam

I’ve been told rugelach is one of those recipes you shouldn’t toy with, but when did I ever back away from a challenge? Don’t allow the use of polenta here scare you into sticking solely to traditional dough, as it has been a game-changer for me, even when making pies! Remember this polenta tomato galette I made a few weeks ago? Here lies the inspiration for this new recipe. It adds a grainy, crumbly texture without turning a traditional rugelach dough into tiny, devastating bits. And that jam? Oy. Sweet-yet-savory (my favorite!)

While I’ll forever recommend buying in-season tomatoes from your local farmers market, roasting even the blandest store-bought (cherry/grape/Campari) tomato in our colder months will be okay to use for this recipe. But, seriously, a good friend of mine reported that she spotted plenty of tomatoes at Union Square Greenmarket yesterday, and it was the only good news I needed. You probably have at least 2 more weeks to splurge, so get to it.

Polenta Rugelach with Roasted Tomato Jam

a savory-sweet cookie
Course Appetizer, Dessert
Cuisine Jewish
Servings 48 cookies

Ingredients
  

for the dough

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter room temp
  • 8 oz full-fat cream cheese room temp
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup polenta

for small batch roasted tomato jam (makes 2/3 cup)

  • 1 lb in-season cherry tomatoes and/or other variety, halved if big
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • couple of pinches of salt
  • Aleppo pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp allspice optional
  • 2 sprigs thyme and/or rosemary
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

for assembling

  • polenta dough
  • roasted tomato jam
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1 1/2 tbsp polenta for sprinkling over cookies (optional)

Instructions
 

for the dough

  • In a medium bowl, add your flour and polenta and stir until well combined. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together your butter, cream cheese, sugar, and salt. This can also be done by hand.
  • Slowly add in the flour and polenta, and mix until a smooth dough comes together. Divide this dough into 4 equal pieces, wrapping each one with plastic wrap. Place them in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before use, or up to 24 hours. When ready to make your rugelach, you will want them to slightly come to room temp before rolling them out. Give them at least 20 minutes before doing so.

for the tomato jam

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a cast iron skillet, add tomatoes, herbs, spices, and olive oil. Toss until well coated. Roast for about 35 minutes, or until you see that the tomatoes have caramelized a bit.(Not too much, though, as you still want them juicy enough for the extra cooking being done on the stove top.)  
  • Place cast iron on stove top over med-low heat. Discard herbs. Gently smash tomatoes with either a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Add lemon juice and sugar. Stir often, til juices reduce and tomato jam thickens, about 20-25minutes. Allow this to cool completely before use. Can be made 2 days ahead and kept in a small, tightly lidded jar.

for assembling and baking the rugelach

  • Working with one dough at a time and on a generously floured surface, roll out ball of dough into an 8-inch circle. Doesn’t have to be perfect but if looking for a perfect circle, I like to use a cake or pie pan to cut it out. Spread about 2 tbsp jam (a little goes a long way), leaving ¼-inch of the border untouched by jam. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 12 equal triangles. Starting from the outer edges, roll up each into a cookie.
  • Place each cookie point side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle polenta now if using. You may need more than1 sheet pan.
  • Bake for 16-20minutes, until golden in color. Allow them to cool on an oven rack. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Keyword Cookies, Jam, Polenta, Tomatoes

a polenta pie crust for your next galette

a polenta pie crust for your next galette

Today I wanted a pie with texture. Polenta being the key ingredient here for a crumbly, cookie-like crust. The one other food that comes to mind is when we have use semolina for Syrian muenster-filled sambousaks. There’s that buttery, grainy bite that made me fall in love with them to begin with. In fact, I’m going to try that next for a pie dough, and maybe I’ll even top it with muenster!? Make it like a sambousak galette without the time spent on making individual pastries. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the work during colder months, but ’tis not the season for someone who is doing it solo in a tiny UES kitchen.

I used the juiciest heirloom tomato ever and thought the crust would not handle this well, but it actually stood up to the juices far better than an all-flour dough has for me. No leaks, splatters, bubbling over. I didn’t let mom in on the addition of polenta, but she was obsessed with it and said “whatever changes I made, I should continue making pies this way.” As you all know, she’s hella picky and praise is music to my ears coming from her.

I topped this galette with Parmesan and a lot of sliced Korean peppers. They were shockingly mild in heat so any pepper will do if you feel like making something similar. I recommend shishitos which seem to be easier to find these days. I was lucky enough to be gifted a lot of garden goods from a new friend, whose parents are growing a variety of Korean vegetables. But don’t want to use tomatoes? Use whatever’s in season! Stone fruit, berries – this pie crust will taste wonderful with any sweet or savory filling.

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Servings 1 pie crust

Ingredients
  

for the pie crust

  • 1 cup AP flour or GF AP flour
  • 1/2 cup polenta
  • 1 tsp sugar optional
  • 1/4 tsp salt if not using salted butter
  • 8 tbsp butter chilled, cubed
  • 1/3 cup iced water plus more if needed
  • egg beaten, for egg wash

for the filling

  • 1 large heirloom tomato sliced
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • couple of pinches of flaky sea salt
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan optional
  • peppers sliced, optional

Instructions
 

for the pie crust

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, salt and sugar. Gently toss in the cubes of butter til well coated, then quickly break them up into smaller pieces, recoating them with the flour as you go. If you have warm hands, a pastry cutter or food processor might wise.
  • Create a well in the center for your iced water, and pour it in. Very gently knead ingredients into each other til a dough forms. Do not over do it. If it appears dry, hydrate it about 1 tbsp at a time. Pat dough into a disc and wrap it with plastic wrap. Allow it to chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using. It can stay there up to 3 days.

for baking

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Roll out the pie crust on a lightly floured surface and transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. It does not need to be perfectly round, as this is the joy of making galettes.
  • Place slices of tomato in the center, drizzle with good quality olive oil, and add salt to taste. Fold in the edges and brush them with egg wash. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. During the last 10, add your cheese and peppers, if using.

Citrus-Stewed Beans

No one would believe mom is Russian if they’ve tasted her pernil with a side of rice and beans. Seriously. And while I don’t eat pernil these days, I’m perfectly fine with having a bowl of these beans all on their own, or with rice! Or bread.

Mom told me she learned to stew them from her best friend’s mother as a teen. Tomato broth, with potatoes and olives, smoked, salty meat, and tons of fresh cilantro is where her recipe begins, but does not have to end. Sometimes you’ll see sliced carrots in there, too. Or maybe even peppers. There’s a nod to Autumn in this recipe by using the honey nut squash for sweetness. It’s hearty and the recipe doesn’t require that it needs to be. I love that most about it. As long as you have a can of beans, organic Sazon, and tomato puree, you can totally improvise based on what you have around your kitchen. No fuss, EVER. Do you always store sofrito in your fridge? Use some of that, too.

My approach to mom’s beans is always based on the season and what’s in season. The addition of orange zest is not something mom would use, but I happen to be obsessed with cooking with oranges. When flavors of citrus, smokiness, and spiciness meet–it surprises you in an eyebrows-up kind of way. While smoked or cured meat is always involved in her recipe, I’ve added smoked tofu instead.

Now, let’s get cooking! 

Citrus-Stewed Beans

A flexible, hearty recipe
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • olive oil to coat pan
  • 1/2 cup smoked meat or tofu
  • 2-3 long strips of orange zest
  • 2 tsp organic Sazon
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1/3 cup Spanish onion diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 jalapeño diced (optional)
  • 1 tbsp capers or handful of Spanish olives
  • 1 1/2 cup honeynut squash or other veggies diced
  • 15 oz can of cannellini beans or other variety
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 cup water or stock or more
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a medium pot under low-medium heat, add your smoked meat, orange zest, garlic, onion, jalapeno, capers, sazon, and herbs. Saute for a few minutes, til onions are translucent.
  • Add beans, tossing til everything is combined.
  • Stir in the tomato sauce and water. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. 
  • Then add your honeynut squash and any more liquid if necessary. Simmer til tender, about 15-20 minutes. Discard orange zest and woody herbs.
  • Serve with rice or bread.
Keyword Beans, Comfort Food, Quick, Stew

Spiced Wild Rice and Summer Tomatoes

Spiced Wild Rice and Summer Tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes I picked up from Cherry Lane Farm needed to be the star of any dish I put before my family, and this was certainly a winner. The wild rice, which can stand up to any ingredient without becoming soggy, is delicately spiced with baharat and Aleppo pepper. The tomatoes are marinated before adding them to the rice. I imagine you can add any fresh ingredients here, from cucumbers to corn. Serve this warm or even cold, as a salad or side dish or hey, a main.

Spiced Wild Rice and Summer Tomatoes

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

for the rice

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tspn baharat
  • 1/2 tspn Aleppo pepper
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • salt to taste

for the tomatoes

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes in season only, halved
  • drizzle of good quality olive oil
  • 1/2 tspn ground cumin
  • salt and Aleppo pepper to taste
  • fresh herbs chopped, to taste

Instructions
 

for the rice

  • Heat olive oil in a small pot. Add in the baharat and Aleppo pepper, allowing them to infuse the oil for about a minute. Stir in wild rice, stock, and salt. Bring to a boil then, with lid on, simmer for 45 minutes, or until the stock has evaporated. Set aside and cool slightly.

for the tomatoes

  • In a small bowl, season the halved tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, cumin, and Aleppo pepper and allow it to marinate for at least 15 minutes before adding in the rice. Mix in your fresh herbs and serve.
Keyword Farmers Market, Fresh, Garden, Quick, Simple, Summer

By the way, how cute are my chili pepper shakers? Couldn’t resist using them here for the gram. Ha!

Ham and Cheese Muffins

Ham and Cheese Muffins

These savory, cheesy muffins are my go-to for picnics, brunch, hikes, getaways, but sometimes I make a batch just for Danny who can’t get enough of ’em. Have them fresh out of the oven or up to 2-3 days later. Slather some of my strawberry-fig jam on ’em and be smacked with savory-sweet bite.

This Ham and Cheese Muffin recipe is adapted from Lee Bailey’s Portable Food book. I’ve toyed with it a bit and encourage you to do the same once you’ve nailed down the basics. While he uses only cheddar, I love a bit of the smokier cheeses as well. I’ve always made a batch with smoked gouda but tried smoked gruyère the other day and it was just as lovely. Adding fresh herbs and chives is my favorite way to make them, though it is optional. I was growing lots of thyme and rosemary during the summer and decided to toss them into the flour. Best. Decision. Ever. Cracked pepper adds the spice I always prefer in a savory thing, add as much as you want! I haven’t omitted the ham in this recipe, but if you do, let me know how it comes out. Add a bit more cheese and I’m sure they’ll be perfect.

Ham and Cheese Muffins

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12 muffins

Ingredients
  

  • 2 c AP Flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c chives chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh woody herbs minced, optional
  • 1 large egg room temp
  • 1 c buttermilk room temp
  • 1/4 c oil
  • 7 oz smoked ham steak diced
  • 1 c cheddar grated
  • 1/4 c smoked cheese grated

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, stir flour, salt, pepper, and herbs til combined. Add grated cheese and toss into the flour til evenly distributed.
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk in the egg, buttermilk, and oil. Stir in ham. Stir egg mixture into dry ingredients and try not to over mix. Spoon fully into greased muffin pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, til they've reached their golden-ness.
Keyword hike-friendly, kid-friendly, savory muffin

Grilled Spicy Corn Chowder with Cilantro and Basil

Grilled Spicy Corn Chowder with Cilantro and Basil

Sitting at the corner table in Estia’s Little Kitchen with Connie, a spoonful of corn chowder in my mouth, I’m immediately taken back to my previous home in Jamaica, Queens. A burst of heat and plenty of cilantro in the broth is exactly how I enjoyed Momma Lupe’s soups. I called a gentleman over and asked in a single word, “tomatillos?” And in a single word returned, “poblanos.” Again I was back in a little kitchen of my own, in another time and place, where sounds of the blender filled the room as poblanos and cilantro became one, beautiful green.

Gratitude to this garden-to-table family restaurant for allowing me a taste of memory. Our waiting area was the best wait I’ve ever experienced in my life. They serve iced coffee in a truck out back where they are currently growing many lettuce greens and herbs, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes. Check out that dragonfly chillin’ on a garlic scape. We walked around til our names were called and made sure we would return before heading back into the city.

Inspired by their chowder (I had never seen a green corn chowder, have you?), I made my own and I am loving every morning, afternoon, and night with a bowl of this. It’s good hot and room temp, probably even cold. It goes perfectly with an egg, avocado, a sprinkle of cotija, crispy tortillas. To make it a bit light, I use coconut milk instead of cream and I leave out potatoes. I also grilled the ingredients to get that summer flavor I love.

Grilled Spicy Corn Chowder with Cilantro and Basil

A corn chowder that gets it heat from poblanos
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 6 ears of sweet corn
  • 3 poblano peppers deseeded if you prefer less heat
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small spanish onion diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano or few sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 2 c cilantro chopped, stems ok
  • 1 c basil
  • 5 c chicken or vegetable stock hot*
  • 13.5 oz organic coconut milk full fat
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Place 4 ears of corn in a cast iron skillet, or on a grill, and char them a few minutes on each side, turning often. This should take no more than 8-10 minutes. The other 2 ears of corn you will cut into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
  • Spend about 10 minutes charring the peppers as well, 5 minutes a side.
  • When cool enough to handle, stand each ear of corn into a bowl and cut kernels off of them. Slice your poblanos, deseeding if you'd like.
  • Take about half of the kernels and put them into a food processor along with the poblanos. Blend for a few seconds then add your cilantro and basil. Continue to blend til it reaches desired consistency.
  • In a pot, warm up your coconut oil and sauté your onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin for about a minute. Then add the green mixture along with the rest of the kernels and 1-inch pieces, sauté for another minute. Stir in your coconut milk and hot stock. Simmer for about 8. It doesn’t take long!
    Enjoy <3 Corn is making their summer appearance now but soon, it’ll be EV-ERY-WHERE.

Notes

*I use stock that has been heated up beforehand so that the greens do not over cook. I like the bright, fresh green look of it. We are only waiting for the corn pieces to cook through, which only takes a few minutes. 
The broth thickens up once you take it off the heat, in case you’re wondering why it seems loose at first!
Keyword Fresh, Green, Grilled, Light, Quick, Simple

sofrito pirozkhi

sofrito pirozkhi Jump to Recipe

My favorite Russian pirozhki couldn’t be more simple. I take a whole onion, couple of garlic cloves, a handful of dill, and blend them together til they reach a puréed consistency. I simmer ground beef with a bay leaf, the onion and dill mixture, generously adding salt and pepper. That’s it. That’s the flavor of them I recall from my grandmother’s kitchen. It didn’t take long for me to make the sofrito connection, which has the onion and garlic, but also sweet peppers, cilantro instead of dill, and spices. Grab the recipe for mom’s small batch sofrito and make these fluffy baked buns.

I was thinking about making a full-on pastelillo filling, but decided on the Russian’s less-is-more seasoned beef. But by all means, add some chopped pimiento-stuffed olives, small diced potato, raisins, more tomato paste or sauce, etc! You’ll just need less meat than this recipe calls for.

You may also fry them in batches, which is the only way I enjoyed them at Brighton Beach many moons ago, with the most fantastic oil dripping onto my bathing suit. Pero, nothing wrong with baked, either. Less standing by the pan, less oil-burns, less oil.

Note: this dough can be used for many other fillings, both savory and sweet. It can also be doubled (no need to double the yeast, just everything else). I’ll have dessert options posted soon. And meatless options!

Sofrito Pirozkhi

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Proofing Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 15 mins
Course Appetizer, Bread, Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean, Fusion, Puerto Rican, Russian
Servings 10 buns

Ingredients
  

milk and yeast dough

  • 1/4 oz active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup whole milk lukewarm
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter softened
  • 2 egg yolks room temp
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups AP flour sifted
  • 1 egg lightly whisked, for egg wash

ground beef filling

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup sofrito see recipe link in intro
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp sazón organic, not Goya
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 cup water
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro chopped

Instructions
 

ground beef filling

  • In a deep pan, heat olive oil. Add your beef, breaking it up with a slotted spoon while adding in your spices.
  • Move some of the browned beef aside so that a little of the oil pools to the corner. Directly into the oil, stir in the tomato paste and allow it to caramelize for a minute or so before mixing it into the beef. This will enhance the flavor.
  • Stir in sofrito. After a few minutes, pour in the water and let it simmer til most of the liquid evaporates, occasionally giving it a stir.
  • Add in the cilantro and let the meat cool to room temp before using.

yeasted dough

  • In a small bowl, sift your flour along with the salt and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, gently whisk together your milk, sugar, dry yeast and let stand for 10-15 minutes, or until very active.
  • Whisk in the butter and egg yolks, then slowly add in your flour, kneading as you go along for about 10 minutes. The dough is so supple and soft within a couple of minutes but I like to continue kneading for good measure.
  • Cover the bowl and allow it to double in size, about 2 hours.
  • Divide the dough into 2 oz pieces, about 8-10. Roll each into a disc and add 2-2 1/2 tbsp of the filling. Pinch the discs closed. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, place the buns seam-side down next to each other, giving them a tiny bit of room between each other.
  • Cover them with a clean tea towel and let them prove for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Brush the beaten egg on each and bake for 20-30 minutes, til they've browned.
Keyword Baked, Dough, Sazon, Snack, Sofrito

Citrus Marinated Manchego

Citrus Marinated Manchego

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!

Citrus Marinated Manchego

Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Appetizer, Homemade Gift, Snack

Ingredients
  

  • 7 oz young manchego cheese 3-6 months
  • 2 tspn Aleppo pepper (or other red pepper, to taste)
  • 3/4 tspn cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tspn ground coriander
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 strips zest from an orange
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed into pieces
  • 1 bushy sprig of thyme or rosemary
  • 1/4 tspn dried wild thyme flowers, crushed optional
  • 1 tspn honey

Instructions
 

  • 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.
  • Bring it to room temp before serving.
Keyword Picnic, Simple

Braised Cabbage Piccata

Braised Cabbage Piccata

Y’all should know me by now (particularly if you follow my Instagram: cookonyournerve). Braising wedges of cabbage has been my THING, for years! So I thought it was about time I actually share a recipe doing just that. And don’t think I haven’t noticed within the last year or so a bunch of wedged cabbage recipes poppin’ up on big-name magazines, and food blogs, too! It’s about time cabbage got some major love.

This one’s got the stuff that many dig about veal or chicken piccata: lemon, butter, wine, broth, capers. Just minus the veal and chicken. And it’s got the stuff I love most: braising cabbage til a caramelized-nutty-sweetness takes over them.

braised cabbage piccata

Crystal Rivera
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lb green or savoy cabbage (medium-sized cabbage)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus more as needed
  • 1/4 c butter divided
  • 2 tbsp flour* see note
  • 1/2 c white wine good quality
  • 1 1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock plus more if needed
  • 2 leafy sprigs thyme or rosemary
  • 3-4 thin slices lemon
  • 3 tbsp capers rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp parsley chopped, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350. Leaving the cabbage's core intact, halve the head through it's core, then cut each half into 3-4 thick wedges through the core.
  • Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet or braiser. Sear the wedges of cabbage cut side down for about 2 minutes, til lightly charred. Set aside to work on your sauce.
  • In the same pan, melt 2 tbsp butter and whisk in 2 tbsp flour to create a light golden roux, about 1-2 minutes. Continue to whisk while slowly adding in the wine and the stock.
  • Carefully add in the cabbage wedges, char-side down, along with your sprigs of thyme, sliced lemon, capers, and 2 tbsp butter. Bring it to a boil then shut off the stove. Spoon sauce over cabbage. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the wedges. With a cover on, let it braise in the oven for about 40 minutes, til tender. If, at this point, the sauce appears to be running dry, add more broth or water. Spoon more sauce over the cabbage, then bake another 45 minutes or longer, uncovered, til they have caramelized to your liking. Season to taste.

Notes

  • I’ve made this recipe before without making the roux, as pictured below. Still delicious, just not gravy-like. 
  • While recipes tend to call for lemon juice, I find that the use of lemon slices, with rind, give it a nice burst of rich lemony flavor as well. 
Keyword braised cabbage, caramelized, Simple

braised whole cauliflower and syrian meatballs

braised whole cauliflower 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, if you have) circle around it, completing this meal. I’ve added garlic scapes this time around. It is, after all, summer.

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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
-tsp of harissa (optional)

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. Rub harissa over it if using. 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 rice, soaked in warm water
-1 spring onion/scallion, sliced then chopped, or 1 sm onion finely chopped
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 tsp allspice or baharat
-1/2 tsp aleppo pepper
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-1 egg (optional)

Make the hashu by gently mixing all ingredients in a bowl. Form medium-sized meatballs and sear them in a lightly oiled pan. Don’t over-cook them as they’ll finish off in the sauce. Transfer them to a plate while you work on the sauce.

for the sauce

-olive oil
-2 big garlic cloves, sliced
-sprig of thyme
-aleppo pepper, as much as you’d like
-1 8 oz can tomato sauce
-2-3 cups water or vegetable stock
-a handful of castelvetrano olives (optional)

In a braiser under medium heat, add the olive oil and saute your garlic, thyme, and red pepper for about a minute. Stir in the tomato sauce and stock and bring it to a gentle boil.

At this point you can take the cauliflower out and transfer it to the center of the braiser, spooning some of the sauce on top. Surround the cauliflower with meatballs* and olives and put the pan back into the oven for 20 minutes.

Transfer the meatballs to a bowl and spoon more sauce over the cauliflower. Finish it off in the oven til it reaches desired tenderness and some of the head has caramelized. You can put the meatballs back in during the last few minutes to warm them up.

Note: If your braising pan is not big enough to hold both the meatballs and cauliflower to cook together, cook the meatballs first, transfer them to a bowl, and then braise the cauliflower.

When ready, transfer to a large serving bowl, though we ate straight from the pan! It looked just fine there.

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roasted garlic and carrot lentil soup with crispy brussels sprouts

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 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 and roasting

-pound of Brussels sprouts, halved and sliced
-more olive oil

Can you believe that’s it?

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Laying the garlic flat on aluminum foil, cut the tops off the head and drizzle olive oil over it. Seal it shut.

Lay your carrots on a sheet pan and toss them in olive oil, salt and pepper.

Put both the garlic and carrots in your oven. The carrots should take about 40-45 minutes to caramelize, and the garlic about an hour.

While that’s in the oven, drizzle olive oil into a preheated pan and add your shredded Brussels sprouts. Stir only occasionally, as you want most of them to be crispy.

When everything is out of the oven, carefully take the cloves out (you can wait about 15 minutes if you have the time) and add them to a blender along with the carrots and enough stock to make a nice puree.

In a pot, gently toast your ground cumin til well-scented. Add a drizzle of oil and your red pepper flakes. You want to infuse that oil with some heat. Then stir in the puree and the rest of the stock. Add the red lentils and simmer til they are cooked.

Pour into bowls and top them with the nutty goodness of Brussels sprouts. Let me know what you think!

citrus cod and olive stew

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 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.