"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.
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 in the pot, being sure to caramelize it for about a minute. Add all spices, carrots, garlic, onions if using, and 3 tbs of tamarind. Stir together, then cover with water.
Allow it to lazily simmer for at least 1 hour on the stove-top with lid on before adding the sweet potatoes and dried fruit. While it simmers, preheat oven to 350. Taste it when the hour is up. If it’s not tangy enough for you, add another tbs of tamarind.
Pop it in the oven for another 45 minutes, uncovered. The meat should be very tender, and sticky with all that tangy goodness.
When I had my first savoury dutch baby, it was following Melissa’s recipe from HomespunObsessions. Since then, I’ve made it twice. With eggs, potatoes, roasted tomato and bacon chutney, just like she suggests…and dare I say it? more bacon.
Then one day, my guy asked a simple question: “what if you made an Indian version?” My eyes widened. I can make all the versions. Dutch babies are something you can totally play with, from batter to fix-ins, from savoury to sweet. I have a Syrian idea lined up but first, all I could picture was a turmeric-golden pancake.
Everything else served with it was just the day’s craving. Feel free to mix things up!
For my chutney, a touch of sweet and lots of heat is how I like it.
for the green chutney
-1 1/2 cup cilantro, tightly packed, stems okay -1/2 cup mint (or just use more cilantro) -1 tbs ginger, minced -1 big garlic clove, chopped -1 small green chile, with or without seeds (up to you) -2 tsp tamarind or pomegranate molasses* (optional) -1 1/2 tbs fresh lemon juice -1 tsp freshly ground cumin -pinch of salt -3-4 tbs filtered water (to create desired consistency)
Place everything but the water into a food processor and blend. Add a little water at a time to reach the consistency you desire. Put the chutney in a sealed container and keep in the fridge til ready to use.
Note: one time, I ran out of tamarind and ended up using peach jam. Loved it.
for the chana masala
-10.5 oz cherry tomatoes, divided -1/2 a medium-sized onion -1 tsp cumin seeds -1 tbs ghee -1-inch knob ginger, minced -2 big garlic cloves, chopped -1 heaping tsp garam masala -1/2 tsp turmeric -1/4 tsp cinnamon -1/4 tsp ground red chili -1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained -cilantro, for serving
Chop half of the tomatoes and puree the other half with the onion.
In a pot under low heat, gently toast your cumin seeds til fragrant. Raise the heat to medium and add ghee, ginger, garlic, spices, chickpeas, and saute for about a minute. Add your fresh tomato sauce. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste and add some freshly chopped cilantro.
for the yogurt-marinated chicken
-1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed -about 3 oz full fat yogurt -1/2 cup tightly packed cilantro -1 tbs minced ginger -1 garlic clove chopped -1 tbs lemon juice -1 tsp garam masala -1/2 tsp cumin -1/2 tsp red pepper -1/2 tsp turmeric
Place chicken in a bowl or ziplock bag.
In a food processor, blend all ingredients til everything is fully incorporated and chopped. Add to the chicken, mixing with your hands. Let it marinate up to 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 400. Layer the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for about 20 minutes, til they’ve browned a bit. I like to turn them over once at the 10-minute mark to brown on both sides.
for the dutch baby
-3 large eggs, room temp -3/4 cup milk, room temp -1/2 cup flour (white whole wheat I use) -1/2 tsp salt -1/2 tsp ground turmeric -pinch of red pepper and cumin -2 tbs ghee
Preheat your 9-inch cast iron skillet in a 425 degree oven.
Make your batter by adding your eggs, milk, flour, and seasonings to a large bowl. Using a hand-mixer/blender/food processor set to medium-high speed, blend til the mixture looks light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Take your preheated cast iron out and add the ghee. Make sure the ghee gets spread around, including the sides. Then quickly add the batter and place it into the oven, leaving it untouched for 18-20 minutes. Try not to take a peak or it might deflate on you.
Serve immediately with all the fix-ins. Think about your next dutch baby project.
There have only been two cookbooks my hands have ever taken turns being attached to: Aromas of Aleppo, and Tasting India. With Ottolenghi’s Simple now being added to the list, (thank you Danny) my hands don’t even know what to do with themselves. I’ve made about 8 of his dishes within 3 weeks, and have picked up certain things from them that I can’t wait to try out in some of my own recipes. For instance,
FRIED CAPERS. Shut the front door.
On the day I came back with the first of the asparagus, purple and green, I knew I wanted to smother them with buttered, toasted almonds, fried capers, and dill. Because that’s what page 82 told me to do. Everyone at the table loved that extra touch of salt on fresh tender stalks.
The next day, I wanted to try the capers out in a cantaloupe salad, because while I crave sweetness, I tend to crave the saltier side of things a tad bit more. I’m still developing the recipe for this one but YES, it worked out pretty nicely: cantaloupe, blood oranges, green olives, sumac caramelized shallots, crispy tarragon, fried capers, feta, sorrel and radish microgreens.
ORANGE PEELS and SEAFOOD and SPICE oh my (a much-needed reminder)
My family’s favorite was this shrimp with orzo and marinated feta. It reminded me of mussels I make with orange peels and canellini beans (which is a recipe I should definitely write up!). I’ve had a similar dish, minus the peels, at MP Taverna about a year ago. It was called a seafood paella and it, too, had feta and orzo and lots of red pepper. In short, Ottolenghi had me at orange peels. And marinated feta. If you look back in the archives, I have at least 10 recipes using orange peels, and one with marinated cheese. I’m a little in love over here.
GRATED FRIGGEN CAULIFLOWER
Now on to this bright one. I adored this salad. While most of the cauliflower gets roasted (including it’s leaves, which is so very elegant and is zero-waste friendly), some of it is grated raw and tossed in with pistachios, pomegranate seeds, parsley. It added a beautiful crunch and freshness to this salad and I can’t wait to grate cauliflower into other dishes, too.
PEAS AND CILANTRO (and how it’s currently peas season so let’s play)
I took some liberties with this one by adding cumin and aleppo pepper to the green sauce, and blistered shishito peppers to the potatoes. I want to put this sauce on everything! I also want to try out other herbs and flavors, so look out for something similar by me in the near future. We are in the thick of sugar snap season!
MARINATING TWO DAYS IN ADVANCE: Chicken Marbella
When I read that this chicken can be left alone, in the fridge, with olives and capers and dates and all the things, I was happy. This meant I could spend my Thursday morning working on my blog instead of being in the kitchen, fussing over chicken, because I did all that fussing two days ago. All I had to do was pop it in the oven and go about my business, and return to a beautifully flavored meal, sticky with pomegranate molasses.
I’m not even close to spending less time with this book. My rose harissa just arrived, the very one that Ottolenghi suggests we use. There’s also tomato after tomato recipe, eggplant recipes…I’m simply waiting for the right time.
In the Garden
We just planted Black Cherry tomatoes to go along with 3 other tomato plants, and scarlet runner beans that hopefully will not find it’s way to our Sicilian eggplants’ mauve flowers. If they do, (or if the new furbaby does) well, there goes that roasted eggplant with curried yogurt my hand keeps returning to. Page 66.
The problem I’m having nowadays with my market haul? I want to serve every sunchoke, beet, radish, asparagus, artichoke, and green alongside my Chicketta. Think about it. Chicken that’s marinated in fresh lemon juice, olive oil, with a fig-orange jam whisked in. Then more fig-orange jam brushed on top as it roasts in the oven as if it were BBQ sauce…chicken that’s stuffed with a layer of roasted garlic, basil, pancetta (or prosciutto!), mozz…then served with all the spring things I CAN’T EVEN.
Here’s a spring thing for you: braised baby artichokes.
Purple baby artichokes. Lavender nearest to their hearts. You asked for the recipe, but sadly, I did not write a single thing down as I made it (I will some day!) but if you ever make a lemon-wine sauce, let’s consider that a seriously good start. Sear them, then braise them in that lemony goodness.
But if you’re not in the mood to get all fancy, even a spring pilaf or a salad will do. Chicketta don’t ask for much.
Porchetta-style chicken is where simple meets elegance, and I would gladly serve it during the holidays coming up. The stuffing variations could be endless. Leave it in the hands of your current season. Mix up the herbs, and the jam. Use fresh or store-bought. A variety of veggies. Maybe smoked mozzarella next time. Or just honey with extra red pepper.
It’s got sweetness from the jam, earthiness from the rosemary, heat from the generous amount of red pepper, and very fresh ingredients layered up inside. Cheese oozes out of it in a classy fashion, and you seriously can’t dislike something that has roasted garlic inside of it…can you?
You cannot. When roasted for over 40 minutes, it becomes nutty and sweet. My hands end up smelling of the stubborn cloves I squeeze out of their tiny homes and, guys, I ain’t mad at it.
*If you can find the chicken breasts with skin-on, even better! I usually ask the butcher for boneless two breasts attached with skin-on, but I know pre-packaged is easier for everyone to get.
1. Place chicken in a ziplock bag or medium bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lemon juice (or wine), olive oil, rosemary, jam (or honey), salt, and pepper. Pour the marinade into the bag or bowl, moving the marinade around so that the chicken is well coated. Seal/cover and let it marinate for 30 minutes. Any longer and things might get weird.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay one butterflied chicken on a working surface and pat dry. Rub half of the roasted garlic paste onto the entire length of the chicken, then add a layer of basil leaves, a layer of pancetta, and a layer of cheese. From one long side, roll the chicken nice and snug and secure it tightly with kitchen twine. Repeat for the next butterflied chicken.
3. Sear both sides in a cast iron grill or skillet for about 3 minutes on each side. Brush more jam on top, maybe even add more red pepper. Roast in the oven for about 35-40 minutes. Let it sit for a few before slicing them into semi-thin pieces.
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?